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Sunday 30th November

Mei’s mum has been out and picked up from groceries from a grocery shop in St George’s shopping centre. I haven’t seen Harold yet. I’ve been to work and now I’m just getting ready for an afternoon of gaming when there’s a loud bang at the door. And I mean loud. Like a giant is pounding its fist against it.

‘Who the hell is that?’ I say to Mei, who is sitting beside me.

I answer it. I was wrong. It’s not a giant; it’s an ogre. Jason’s mum is there wearing a large gown kind of dress that only Homer Simpson could pull off.

‘Have you seen Jason?’ she asks frantically.

‘Not if I can help it,’ I reply.

Mei and her mother come and watch.

‘He’s not been home since he left the house at yesterday lunchtime.’ She’s clearly bothered by this, as any mother would be. A small part of me feels sorry for her. She shows deep signs of care that I never thought possible from her. Then her demeanour changes and I hate her again. She scowls and yells, ‘If you’ve done something to him, I’ll tear you apart!’ She turns and walks back up my path. She doesn’t close the gate. She leaves it wide open and marches to Harold’s house.

I put on my shoes and close the gate. It’s freezing outside and the path is slightly slippery. If she falls down it’ll be like a tortoise on its back.

Behave, Lee. I’ve told you before. She’s looking for her son. It’s just hard not to be nasty to her.

I watch her pound on Harold’s door.

He doesn’t answer. His car is there, which is odd. Perhaps he knows it’s her and he’s hiding. I wouldn’t blame him.

She leaves him after trying one more time and storms back to her home.

I go back inside with Mei and her mother and we continue with the day like nothing has happened.

How would any of us know where that little brat has gone anyway? Has she tried the police station?

Later on in the evening we go out for food to the restaurant on Fylde Road. As we walk the short walk to the carpark, I look back along the street at one twenty. There’s a police car parked outside it. A Corsa.

I think nothing of it. Maybe they’ve found him and brought him home. I doubt it’ll be the last time I see a police car outside the house.

While we’re at the restaurant I let them jabber on while I look on my phone for something to buy Mei for Christmas.

She looks at me. ‘What are you doing?’


‘Stop playing games for once, will you?’

Her mother looks at me.

‘What? It’s not like I can join in the conversation is it?’

She shakes her head.

Maybe I should look for a humour transplant for her. Or some bolt cutters for this ball and chain around my leg.

‘If you must know,’ I say, ‘I’m looking for your Christmas present. What do you want?’

She cheers up a bit. ‘I don’t know. Lots of things.’

‘Like what?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How can you want lots of things then?’ We go through this every year.

‘Just buy me whatever you think I’ll like, OK?’

I scoff a little bit. What the hell kind of use is that? She likes chicken and bacon pasta, shall I get that?

Until the food arrives I search Amazon. Almost anything is available online and almost all of it is on Amazon. Problem is where to start. It brings up my recent searches and recommendations. Right away I’m looking at sexy underwear from the other week when Mei caught me looking. I think I need to change some settings on this thing.

The food arrives.

As we eat, I’m in daydreaming mode. I need to get her something. It’s actually driving me mad. Driving? What about driving lessons? Well that’s a turn up for the books. Driving lessons it is. She’s had her provisional license for a few months now, so that’ll do nicely. Of course I’ll get her a smaller gift like a teddy bear or something. Or underwear. Wink.

The food this time consisted of my favourite Singapore fried rice and some chicken in Szechuan sauce. Or is it Sichuan? Who cares? It was nice and spicy. I’ll look forward to that in the morning.

Afterwards, I order her a teddy bear. A largish one. One that stands out. Though I don’t know how I’m going to hide it from her.

We head back home and I manage to park in my spot. I did expect some trouble this time, as seems to be the norm of late when we go out. The police Corsa isn’t outside Jason’s house now, which is good. It means I won’t be bothered tonight. I’m so full I just want to sit on the sofa and never move. Ever.

My day is complete when I flick through the channels and find that the Christmas films have started. And Christmas Vacation is on.

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