Rent
by Taran Geary

 

Chapter Two: Pavel

Pavel woke up. His head ached and he was disorientated but as he slowly climbed into consciousness he became aware of a pain in his bottom he gingerly felt down there and realised that something was stuck up there – it felt like some sort of cloth. He felt something on his hand and realised he was bleeding or at least he had been.

He wanted to cry out but something inside him told him that he must be as quiet as a mouse.

He didn’t know why those men had drugged him and done those things to him that had hurt so much. Where were his Mummy and Daddy? Why didn’t they come and rescue him? He wanted to cry-but he was a big boy now and big boys don’t cry.

He started to make sense of his surroundings. The room was lit by the light from the streetlamps outside and as his eyes got accustomed to the dim light he saw his clothes on a chair. He quickly got up and dressed himself. He forced the pain to the back of his mind; He looked out of the window at the wind and rain and quickly realised that he would need more than his ordinary clothes if he was to last any longer than five minutes outside.

He rifled through a large chest of drawers and found some old woollen jumpers, they were miles too big but they’d do. He found some scarves and an old trilby hat that he forced down over his ears. Luck was on his side as he found a very old folded up plastic mackintosh, he managed to unravel it and put it on; it came down to the ground but it would keep him dry.

Now to get out; he took off the Mac and folded it up, it made too much noise as he walked so he carried it; he crept to the door. It opened; Pavel gave a prayer for that. He could hear the buzz of voices and he recognised a raucous laugh; he felt his hackles rising as he crept out, He found a bunch of keys hanging on a hook, he took them and made for the front door. His heart was pounding so much he thought he would choke. The door was locked and one by one with shaking hands he tried the different keys in the locks. At last!! One turned, and he was outside in a stairwell. He carefully closed the door, relocked it and put the keys in his pocket, he unrolled the Mac and put it on and headed down the stairs, through the outside door and he was free.

The cold and rain hit him like a hammer and knocked the breath out of him but he quickly regained his composure. Which way to go? Left or Right? He watched the traffic on the street and saw that there was more going left than right and he surmised that that must be the way to the city. He started walking, then trotting and very soon running as fast as his oversized clothes would let him. He saw traffic lights up ahead, perhaps there will be road signs there that he could make some sort of sense of. Some signs at home were written in English so perhaps he might recognise something.

He got to the road junction and looked at the signs. City Centre, he recognised those words and he knew what they meant. He gave himself a pat on the back and headed off briskly towards the centre.

Those two boys he met; what were their names? Mick he remembered but the other one? That was a funny sound he couldn’t recall it.

He came to a big iron bridge; he climbed up, looked over and saw the river flowing underneath it. The river was swollen and angry with all the rain and flowing very fast. Pavel stood and looked at it for many long minutes; he even thought about jumping in. Surely it couldn’t be any worse than his life now. He forced those thoughts out of his mind; he felt tears welling up again.

BIG BOYS DON’T CRY!

He climbed down from the bridge.

He felt in his pocket and found the bunch of keys he’d taken from the house where he’d been held. He climbed back up on to the bridge and threw the keys as hard and as fast as he could. That made him feel better and he smiled as he imagined those men frantically searching for their keys and not being able to get out of their house.

He climbed back down and continued on his way. He pulled the trilby down even tighter to keep the driving rain from his eyes as he pressed on towards the City Centre.

Those two boys, he thought, could he find them? They seemed kind and he guessed they been through similar things to himself. I wonder, he thought what are the chances?

The streets were now lined with shops. Odd little shops, Not City centre shops but he guessed he must be getting close to the main streets now.

He ran across roads narrowly missing being run over and several drivers blew their horns at him, but he kept going and eventually he found what he supposed was the City Centre; Big wide street, big clock tower, big shops.

Big Boys Don’t Cry!

Pavel wandered around falling ever deeper into despair. He didn’t recognise anywhere or anyone. All the big streets looked the same, he thought.

But wait; he recognised where he was! Those boys were sitting just up here; could they still be there?

He speeded up and his heart sank. There was nobody there. He knew he had been foolish to expect them to be, but he had hoped; he felt the tears coming again, he sat down slowly in the shop doorway and, big boy or not, he let them flow. A screaming, wailing surrender to his despair, anger and frustration and he pounded his fists on his knees; a kindly lady spoke to him while he cried, he didn’t know what she said and he waved her away with his hand and he buried his head in his knees and sobbed.

When the tears passed he looked around him; nothing had changed except that it felt even colder and it was perhaps even darker. Something made him look down and he saw something stuck in his shoe. It was money; he knew enough to know that it was a five pound note.

The nice lady must have put there while he cried; so, there are nice people in this country after all. Now at least, he could get something to eat.

He stood up, his bottom was still sore and sitting on cold slabs hadn’t helped but the pain was manageable and he started to walk to find some food.

He could smell food and his mouth watered as he approached a fast food shop. He went in and the young men behind the counter started to laugh at Pavel’s appearance. Pavel realised that he must look ridiculous with his Mac hanging to the floor and the trilby hat wedged on his head and he thought that perhaps it was a good thing that he had no idea what they were saying. But he had managed to work out that one of them was called Sadik.

Pavel used sign language to show that he didn’t understand and he pointed to what he wanted. After he had got his food, Sadik, perhaps regretting his earlier comments gave Pavel a can of Coke for free, despite the fact that Pavel hadn’t understood a word he said.

Pavel went back to what he considered “his” doorway and sat and ate his food. He was feeling tired now and he had no idea what to do next. So, he just sat and waited; he was ignored by everyone and the way he was feeling now, that suited him fine.

Eventually he got up and set about finding somewhere to sleep. He found himself back at the food shop; he saw boys going around the back of the building; so Pavel followed them and he saw other boys sitting by a hot vent he went and stood and looked at them. None of them were Mick or his friend but one of them looked up and saw Pavel; he patted the ground beside him inviting Pavel to come and sit with him. Pavel did sit, he nodded his thanks and there he stayed until a fight broke out over something and it turned nasty so Pavel ran away back to his doorway only this time he ducked down an alley which he found led to a yard where the dustbins were kept. Pavel felt the tears coming again. Big boys don’t cry! He told himself he’d already sobbed like girl today and he wasn’t doing it again!

Pavel found a quiet corner out of the wind behind the big dustbins and settled down to try and get some sleep.

 

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