An excerpt of an original short story:
Harry's Gold by David Carman
End of term
It was snowing. It often did in winter. Harry Watkins aged thirteen and a half sat on his small brown suitcase in the main entrance of Wainwrights boarding school for boys. It was the end of term and Harry was waiting for that familiar noise, the low growl of his granddad's car, an Alvis. It looked and sounded like a racing car and boy, did it go fast. Granddad was a great driver, in fact Granddad was just great!
While Harry waited he looked out across the courtyard of Wainwrights and thought about his parents, his mother and father, who were in America when the war started. They had sent Harry to the boarding school in Somerset before the war and then when the Germans started sinking boats and ships in the Atlantic, they had sent a letter explaining that it was too dangerous to try and come back to England and that Granddad would be around to look after him in the holidays. Harry missed his parents very much, especially his mother who used to send him parcels of sweets and chocolate and books from America. There was often a letter and a photograph and Harry sometimes wondered how the parcels managed to get through but his parents never made it back to England. Harry had been apart from his parents for so long he sometimes had trouble remembering what they looked like. Granddad had taken care of him since he was old enough to walk as both of his parents worked, but Harry didn't really mind as Granddad was great fun and very, very clever. Suddenly he was startled by a voice. "You still waiting Watkins?" It was the headmaster, Mr Montague. He was a tall, broad shouldered man with a big moustache. He was nearly as old as Granddad, Harry thought. "Yes sir" said Harry. "Granddad is a little late Sir." "Well, I'm sure he'll be here soon" he smiled and just as he said it the familiar sound of Granddads' car blasted through the silence. The snow had stopped and the Alvis had made deep tracks on the driveway up to the main doors of Wainwrights. "You wait here a second will you Watkins" said Mr Montague and marched off towards the car where Granddad was fumbling with his tie. Granddad always wore a tie, in fact Harry had never seen a Granddad without a tie, whether it was a normal one or sometimes a bow tie which was very dashing. As Harry bent down to pick up his small suitcase he realised that the catch had come undone. "That was lucky" he thought, as if he'd picked up the suitcase straight away it probably would have come open spilling the contents all over the polished wooden floor. Harry refastened the catch, clutched the suitcase firmly and stood up straight. As he did so, to his surprise he saw Mr Montague and granddad standing on the steps. Through the half closed doors and stained glass panels he was sure, well quite sure anyway, that Mr Montague was saluting granddad. But that was silly, why would Mr Montague, who Harry knew was an ex-army Captain salute his Granddad? "Off you go Watkins, see you after Christmas." "Thank you sir" said Harry and rushed past him towards the car. "Pop the case on the back seat and jump in old bean". Granddad always called Harry old bean. He really didn't know why but he didn't care, Granddad was here at last. As they sped off through the snow Granddad offered Harry a toffee. Granddad loved toffees almost as much as Harry did and he always carried a paper bag of them in his big coat, along with lots of other things, penknives, string, a magnifying glass, pens, pencils and a notebook. In fact it was a wonder how he managed to walk with all that stuff in his pockets. As they sped along the country roads lined with trees and hedges the noise of the Alvis's engine sounded like 1000 galloping horses with thunder in the background. "Soon be home" called Granddad over the noise. Harry smiled to himself.
Battleships and bull's-eyes
The smell of the wood burning on the fire and the taste
of the cup of sweet cocoa was bliss. As he sat almost swamped by the huge
wings and arms of the soft chair in Granddads sitting room he wondered what
was for tea. He couldn't quite make out the delicious smell coming from the
kitchen, but as Granddad said, his kitchen and his study was out of bounds to
Harry and also to Mrs Finch, the housekeeper. She only came in to "do" for
Granddad three mornings a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings,
regular as clockwork but never when Harry was there. Granddad said it was
because he liked to spend time with Harry "without women fussing around
little boys and calling them little loves". "Yuck" thought Harry.
"Tea's ready old bean" came Granddad's voice from the kitchen. The old wooden table was laid out with the roast vegetables grown on Granddad's allotment and the centrepiece was a huge roast bird – a turkey maybe? Although rationing continued long after the war it didn't seem to affect Granddad much as he seemed to be able to either forage for, grow, catch or shoot all the food he needed. The small amount of garden at the back of his cottage backed onto Lord Winston's estate and as he and Granddad were old school friends he was allowed to shoot birds, rabbits and deer on the estate.
As they ate Granddad asked Harry how he was getting on at school, about his classes and how well he had done in his exams, how his friends Jumbo, Freddie and Blinky were doing and how many goals and tries he'd scored in sport. It was always the same, he would ask the questions, Harry would answer over the meal and then it was time to wash up. Harry always helped, "as a young gentleman should" explained Granddad. After tea Harry sat beside the fire looking into the flames. There was a knock at the door. "Stay there" said Granddad and lifted his shotgun down from the mantelpiece. "You can't be too careful" he said, putting his finger up to his mouth indicating to Harry to be quiet.
But there was no need to be worried, it was only Mrs Finch. She'd brought round a telegram for Granddad and he'd asked her in for a sherry and a mince pie. "Hello Harry – how's my little love?" She cooed. "Very well thank you Mrs Finch" Harry replied in his best "I am thinking yuck but don't show it" voice. "You're so very lucky to be able to spend so much time here with 'Major'.... I mean 'Mr' Watkins. You be a good boy now. I must be off, cheerio," and off she went in such a rush she almost fell over the rug at the door. "Women eh?" laughed Granddad and put the gun back on the mantelpiece. "I should think you'd be old enough to teach to shoot by now eh, Harry old bean? You're nearly 14 aren't you?" "Well almost and yes, I would like that very much thank you." "Well, we'll have a go tomorrow then but first, how about a game of battleships?" Harry loved battleships. If you've never played it, it goes something like this. Each player draws a grid of squares on a piece of paper, usually 10 squares wide by 10 squares high, making 100 squares in all. They are labelled 1-10 on the bottom row and A -J on the edge. Each player then fills in groups of squares to show where his ships are. One row of five squares is an aircraft carrier, one row of four is a battleship, two rows each of three can be either a cruiser, frigate, corvette or submarine and two rows of two are torpedo boats. Each player calls out a grid reference like A2 or G6 and if a hit is scored on the other players ship then it gets crossed off until all of the opposing players ships are sunk. Harry and Granddad loved this game and always but always ate bull's-eyes when they played it. Harry liked bull's-eyes even more than toffee, but not quite as much as chocolate. "Harry, you win again." He always did and he was sure Granddad let him win because he always seemed to put his ships in the same places. It was always in the same pattern and each night they played the pattern would turn around like the hands on Granddad's big clock. 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, six, nine and back to 12 again. Harry had spotted this a while ago but Granddad didn't seem to mind at all. He always smiled and tossed Harry another bull's-eye every time he lost another ship. Over Christmas Mrs Finch came around with milk, butter, bread and more letters and telegrams for Granddad. They always went into the garden to talk, except when it was raining. Then they went into the parlour which was Granddad's "best room for entertaining guests" he said. It was full of nice chairs, cabinets displaying china plates and cups and another tall cupboard that was always locked. Harry had tried the door once but it was firmly and securely locked tight. He'd tried looking through the keyhole and could see a wooden box with yellow writing on it. The only word he could see or make out was the word 'hand'. Later in the week Harry was learning how to shoot a shotgun. He'd never even held a real gun before so this was very exciting and also a little scary. Granddad had loaded it and had shown him what to do. "Now remember, pull the gun into your shoulder and lean into it to counteract the kick . Then just squeeze the trigger slowly. "Kabaam!" Granddad couldn't stop laughing as he bent down to pick Harry up off the leafy ground. He'd flown back about 6 feet and shot the bird table clean through instead of his intended target, the marrow on a stick. "How did I do?" Harry wheezed. "Fine, just fine" Granddad laughed. "A few more like that and you'll be a pro and I'll have to rebuild the garden! Har Har Har!" They both laughed until their sides ached. After a few more shots and a few more falls, Harry got the hang of it and managed to hit four marrows on sticks. Granddad then showed him how to follow a moving target by swinging a marrow from a tree branch on a length of hairy string. Much to his surprise Harry hit it first time. Over and over again he did it until it was getting too dark to see, so they went indoors for some sandwiches and lemonade. "I can see you'll to make a fine marksman, perhaps even a fine soldier one day, Harry old bean." "Thanks" Harry mumbled through his cheese and onion sandwich.
To be continued when it gets published...........Whenever