Lying in late this morning, because it’s Sunday, because I can, because I feel like it, because, just because… my mind drifting in luxury, dirty breakfast dishes beside me, waiting to be washed.
When I hear the knock on a door I’m unsure if it’s my door, so I ignore it until I hear it again. I look through the frosted glass pane to see a man waiting.
He’s roughly as tall as Paul, has short hair and a similar build, and there’s no way I’ll let Paul in, so I bolt the security chain, then open the door enough to see two policemen looking at me.
I smile my relief, and say, Sorry, I thought you were my son, then I release the chain and let them in.
One of them flashes his ID and asks; Is your son with you?
It would be rude to mention that as I thought he had been outside my door, he’s unlikely to this side of it.
He points to the trainers on the floor and says “Are these his shoes?”
“No, they’re mine,” I reply.
He says “Oh! It’s just that they look very big.”
Thank you kind sir, yes, now that you mention it, I do have big feet, but they’re healthy. Would you like to see?… I’m so taken aback that I don’t say that. I don’t even think to tell him that Paul’s feet are four sizes larger than mine.
Upon inspection it’s discovered that Paul isn’t in the kitchen, living room, bedroom or bathroom. He’s not in the utility area or the wardrobe, or hiding under blankets between the sofa and the wall, because since the last time he tried that little trick, I’ve put them away, on a high shelf. He’s not on the shelf either.
I’m being unkind, and there’s no need for it, except to nourish my sense of humour. Apart from the inadvertent remark about the shoes, both policemen are polite and respectful, and they’re trying to complete the job I’d like to see done – that of getting my son back to jail, where he’ll be safe. They’ll catch him in the end anyway, and the sooner he hits the cells the greater the damage limitation.
All afternoon the street grapevine buzzes nervously. The phones of addicts and dealers are red-hot from calls to and fro, warning each other that the police are on the prowl, going to all the houses, trying to track Paul down. No doubt those who don’t lose out will profit from the extra sales to replace drugs that have been flushed down toilets.
And me? I’m getting a few calls of the
sort, and I tell them all I know; he’s camping somewhere, laying low until he’s ready to go in, but he never will be. He’s ill because he can’t get hold of money for drugs, and judging by the glare of the sun, he’s probably at risk of sunstroke.
If he’s still at large tomorrow he will have access to money for enough drugs to accidentally kill himself. I’ve seen him on the run before, and he will have reached a state of near insanity where he has no ability to judge his tolerance, and the worst could happen.
No, I don’t know where he is. If I did there would be a police car racing towards him, pulling out all the stops, not so much because they want to cop him, more to prevent him from dying.
©Jane Paterson Basil