Stevie twisted about in the back seat of the car, sucking
in his stomach as the need to pee hit him again. He looked
out the rear window to check for his dad again but wasn’t
surprised when he didn’t see him. It had only been
twenty minutes or so, though it always seemed longer, and
when his dad called into the bookies on a Saturday afternoon
it could easily be an hour before he returned. Of course
he might not be in the bookies now, he could have slipped
out to the pub next door.
Stevie was sweating a little as he dug the pencil into
the palm of his hand to distract his mind from peeing. The
day was hot enough, (unfortunately his dad tended to spend
even longer in the bookies/pub during the summer), but fighting
with his bladder was making Stevie hotter. He wound down
the window beside him a bit further but there wasn’t
a breeze to cool his reddened face.
The boy studied the round marks dotting across his palm
as he pushed into his soft skin with the lead. He always
carried pencils for there was always something to draw and
somewhere to draw it. Today Stevie had remembered to bring
a few blank pages with him and that certainly would have
helped to pass the time, but now with this urge to pee he
couldn’t concentrate. He should have mentioned it
to his dad before he had left the car, but it had only been
a hint of something then and Stevie hadn’t wanted
to risk annoying his dad. Most likely dad would have suspected
it was a plan inspired by mum in order to make them come
Stevie let out a long sigh as the need to pee receded.
Digging a pencil into his hands always helped to take his
mind off things. It wasn’t as much fun as drawing
but sometimes drawing alone wasn’t enough, especially
at the weekends when mum and dad had to spend more time
together. The boy knew that his mum would be sat at home
now fuming as she did most weekends, knowing where dad was
to be found most Saturday afternoons after shopping. They
rarely went shopping together because of the rows it inspired,
but she would encourage Stevie to go along because sometimes
his presence did make dad come home sooner. Sometimes.
He kept watch on the bookies and its neighbour the pub
trying to will his dad to appear, hoping there wouldn’t
be any winning bets to keep him away for longer and wishing
that he didn’t feel like crying.
The rap at the window surprised him and the pencil fell
and went rolling around the messy car. Stevie looked to
his right and saw a woman bent over peering into him.
“Are you alright luv?”
Her voice was cheery but concerned. She had a bright and
shiny face with a lot of white teeth showing as she was
smiling, and her hair looked almost yellow as it shone in
the sun. There was nothing frightening about her, but Stevie
was unsure all the same, mostly because he was embarrassed
at the thought that she might find out he had to pee.
“Are you okay luv?” she repeated when Stevie
didn’t respond. “Are you waiting on your mum
“Yeah,” said Stevie. “My dad.”
“Has he been gone long?” asked the woman who
continued to stare into him with her big grin.
Stevie wasn’t too sure what to say. He didn’t
know who this woman was, and he didn’t know why she
was so interested in him, and he didn’t want to get
his dad in any trouble. He wished his dad would come back.
“Not long, no.” Stevie said, though it had
to be ages now.
The woman stood up briefly and looked around her. She was
tall, taller than his mum, and she was dressed in black.
A black jacket and t-shirt, and black leather trousers.
She looked glamorous. She looked like she could be one of
those women off the television who danced to music, one
of those women his dad would watch even if he wasn’t
interested in the music. His mum didn’t like those
As she stooped down again Stevie caught sight of a man
with white hair and wearing dark glasses watching them from
a car parked along the road, but then the woman’s
face blocked everything again. She wasn’t smiling
anymore; she was frowning into him.
“Are you sure you’re okay, honey, you look
awful hot? Do you want a drink of water?”
She held a half full bottle of water up to the window.
Stevie knew he was getting redder in the face as the woman
talked to him, and the need to pee was starting to build
“I’m okay,” he lied, and certainly the
last thing he wanted was water at the minute.
“My dad’ll be here soon. Thanks.”
Stevie always tried to be polite. His mum liked it. His
dad didn’t really care but sometimes he would shout
at him for not speaking up and saying “please”
or “thank you”; his dad just enjoyed shouting
though rather than being too worried about manners, that’s
what Stevie thought.
“Here, have a drink of water,” offered the
woman and she began to unscrew the top.
” It’s a hot day, luv, you must be sweltering
in that car.”
Stevie just shook his head this time.
“What about a sweet then, luv?” and suddenly
she had a packet of sweets in her hand, waving them at the
There was something not right here, not right with this
woman. Stevie’s heart was suddenly beating fast and
his stomach felt sick too. He looked about but the people
passing in the street seemed to be taking no notice, and
there was still no sign of his dad. He wished he had his
From the corner of his eye Stevie saw something that distracted
him from the woman. It was the man from the car with the
white hair and dark glasses, he was walking towards them.
Stevie panicked. He was lucky that his glance towards the
man had momentarily caused the woman to look round for she
was too slow as he jumped to the door and wound up the window.
At first Stevie wound it the wrong way (he always did that)
but he recovered in time and didn’t stop when the
woman tried to force her hand into the closing gap. He didn’t
stop even though the woman was speaking to him – “Honey,
it’s okay, don’t worry luv, I’m not going
to hurt you.”
Her face said different though, Stevie could tell that
and he was only a young boy. The window snapped on her thin
fingers and she pulled them clear rather than put up a fight.
Stevie closed it tight and then moved away across the back
seat checking that none of the other doors or windows were
“Aw come on, honey, “ she tried, her voice
muffled now and her face no longer bright and shiny, but
glowing like his mum’s when she was arguing with his
“Open the window, luv “ and she rapped it with
her knuckles. “I just want to talk.”
Stevie watched her, his chest heaving in and out. He wasn’t
a brave boy or so he felt.
Then the white haired man was touching her shoulder and
whispering in her ear. His dark glasses flicked in Stevie’s
direction and then he gave the woman a tug on the arm. She
said something mean at Stevie. He couldn’t hear the
words but he could see her face, and it was a different
face from before. Stevie knew he had been right to shut
the window on her even if he had risked hurting her fingers.
The man and woman walked briskly to the car, got in and
drove away. They were gone.
After a couple of minutes Stevie hunted for his pencil,
found it and dug it into his hands really hard. It hurt,
but it helped. He cried some because he was scared and because
he’d peed himself a little. After a while his dad
came back to the car, didn’t notice anything wrong
with Stevie, didn’t even speak to the boy. He slammed
the car door shut and was clearly in a bad mood about something.
No winners for him today, or maybe a row with someone in
the pub. His dad often had rows.
Stevie got home, rushed to the toilet and then to his room,
the sound of the argument already below him. Tonight he
would sit up for hours peeking out his window into the dark
looking for them, as he would do for many days and nights
to come, while the pencil stabbed into his hands, into his