See Inside

Here´s a short extract from the opening of the book:

I

lie is worth living

The kid from across the road stopped being invisible the instant he got home. Of course, Thomas hadn’t really been invisible at all, he’d just managed to disappear for a little while. Which was odd, because his face had actually been seen pretty much everywhere recently; the papers, the news, even posters around the neighbourhood, though there hadn’t actually been a sighting.  And now he was there for all the world to see, and indeed everyone wanted to see him.  By which I mean the adults wanted a look in:  The police were called, social services arrived, the tabloid press camped on the doorstep.  It was like the freak show at a circus.  Henry watched it all from his window, world-weary, because after a while, even scandals get boring.

Henry couldn’t really see why such interest should be taken in a 12 year old getting home at 6:35pm on New Year’s Eve? After all he was only ten days late. But Henry’s mother was not like other mothers.  She’d given her boy four names Henry Horatio Heldur and her surname Hunter, but now seemed  incapable of remembering any of them or indeed that she had a son at all.  But Henry was not like other boys.  After all, it was from Henry, the incredible disappearing boy himself, that Thomas had learnt a trick or two.

When Thomas got home that ought to have been the end of the problem, but really his problems had only begun to multiply; trying to explain to his parents, the police, the social workers, the newspapers, the whole circus, where he had been, what he had been doing, and why he had come back so late.  Not that he didn’t have a story and an alibi.  He had the best alibi anybody could have had.  It was better than the truth, or at least more believable.  His friend had seen to that.  He was that kind of friend.  He looked out for you when you were up to your neck in quicksand with a Tsunami on the horizon.  He wasn’t his best friend or anything, but he was his only friend, unless you counted Kim, and she was just, well, weird.

And so Thomas was not excessively worried.  Yes, his loving parents would question him and confront him and ground him.  After all, they were good parents.  He knew that the police would be there to interrogate him.  After all, it was their job.  The doctors would come and check him over.  The social services would look concerned.  They were the caring professions, after all.  He knew that his first and then his second story would come unravelled.  That he would have to give them answers.  That was part of the plan.  No-one believes a story that comes too easily and too readily.  That’s why he had at least three versions to tell.  He knew that at the end of the interrogation, they would have a statement, but that it would not really add up to anything much.  Henry had made sure of that.  They shouldn’t find out about the house in West London where Thomas had been, less they should start to disentangle the true nature of the series of incidents that had apparently taken place there; espionage, breaking and entering, trumped up kidnappings, not to mention the blackmailing. Above all, they ought not to get wind of the blackmail. They shouldn’t look too closely at the Private Members Library in Charing Cross Road, which had aided and abetted in the concealment of a boy for whom there was an ongoing national police hunt.  Furthermore, the very nature of the library for people with something to hide either from society at large, or at the very least their families and friends, might be jeopardised if the police were called in to investigate.

On the other hand, it didn’t really matter if they visited the Underground Gentlemen’s club for People with no fixed abode.  These were people, and this was a place, that had remained invisible far too long, and a bit of publicity couldn’t do them any harm at all.

But most of all they ought not to get hold of the truth.  As the saying goes, a little bit of truth goes a long way.  If there was one thing that Archie and Kim had taught him, it was that it is inconvenient to burden adults with the whole truth.  Adults were much better off with just a small part of the picture.  They didn’t cope well with the reality of a situation.  And none more so than the police, who tended to give such magnified importance to accuracy and to make such an exaggerated use of the facts.  So the adults would have to settle for the smokescreen, rather than any kind of solid result, the corrective fluid solution, rather than the unadulterated page full of the mistakes. For Thomas and his friends had made a multitude of mistakes.

But what a story! Doubtless, you’ve already done the maths and know that about ten days ago, or to be precise one morning, one week, three days, eight hours and thirty five minutes ago, just before the start of the holidays, Thomas had set off from school on a school trip; not a lengthy mountaineering excursion, but a morning in a museum 25 miles away.  Simple enough. But from then the particulars become more complex.  It was all so very complicated, that Henry had had to map it out in one of his notepads, ostensibly so that Thomas could get a grasp of the finer details, but since drawing gave Henry the greatest pleasure, more even than the multiplication table, this might also have been a secondary motive. The resulting map looked a bit like a line dropped diagonally, transacted by another at a steeper angle, and finishing in a spider like knot, that might have represented the moment of splash down of some uncontrollable flying object, but was in fact the descent from muddle into maelstrom. But then, Henry began to elaborate with little diagrammatic intersections, and the whole thing began to take shape.  He began with his bedroom showing clearly the position of the bed and various hypothetical alternatives.

That morning, Henry felt sure he had got out of bed on the wrong side.  In fact, he almost always got out of bed on the wrong side.  He had tried different sides.  He had moved his bed away from the wall.  He had even tried the top and the bottom.  But it was all wrong and the best thing, he was sure, was to stay put.  He certainly wished he hadn’t got out of bed that morning and remained snug in his room with his things and none of this fuss.

Not that everything had been awful that week.  But pretty much everything had.  What’s more, pretty much everything had been awful for as long as Henry cared to remember.   Yet nobody else cared to notice anything was wrong at all.   And even Henry couldn’t put his finger on any one day and say, hand on heart, that yes, here is where it had all begun to get a little screwy and that from this or that hour and minute and from then on, everything had been wrong, one way out of bed or another.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s