Reluctant readers

I mentioned yesterday that my three short novels for reluctant readers (can read, won’t read) are now available on Etsy.

I didn’t write them to with any idea of them being seen anywhere other than in a classroom; it started as a comprehension with a cliff-hanger ending – a young lad finds the caravan where he lives with his alcoholic father wrecked, and three big men all dressed in black with baseball bats in their hands are knocking on the door – and my students wanted to know what happened next. I wrote another comprehension, which became another chapter – and within half a term I had a complete twelve chapter story!

My students had loved the story, and “forced” me to write a second, and then a third. I used these same exercises over the next few years, editing, tweaking, modifying… and once I had left teaching to write full-time I had these stories published – and they are now available to buy as paperbacks! They will also be available as e-readers by the end of the year.

Here is an excerpt from chapter one of that first story of the lad who lied in the caravan, Blue:

I was so pissed off I stamped all the way back home. Home. A mobile home. A bloody caravan.
As I went through the gate Earl came out. He ran the site, he was a little thin whippy guy and he always smelt of cat’s pee.
“Hey, Blue!” he called to me. The wind was up and it lifted his long greasy hair and he had to keep his hand on it to cover his bald head.
“See you, Earle,” I said trying to walk more quickly. I knew what he wanted and I didn’t want to hear it. I’d had enough shit today and my legs and back were killing me.
“Hey Blue,” and he caught up with me and took my arm. “Look I need the money. You’re two months late with the rent and you’ve got to give me the money.”
“You’ll have to see my old man,” I said, trying to pull away.
“Yeah, well, he’s indisposed isn’t he? Look I’ve got to have the money. I understand, and it’s not me, but Mr Goode, he’s the boss and he wants his rent. It’s not up to me, I only work here.”
“I haven’t got any money, you’ll have to see my Dad,” I said, getting really angry now. The fat bastard I’d worked for all day – if he had paid me I could have given Earl something. As it was I had worked all day for sod all and now –
“Yeah well, Blue if Mr Goode isn’t paid he’ll have to take action, won’t he?”
“Well, he can take a jump,” I pulled my arm away and started to walk up towards the caravan. It was beginning to rain and I was hungry and sore and angry.
“Look Blue – “
I turned round and socked him in the face. There was no power in it but he fell over all the same.
“I’m calling the police!” he scrambled away on all fours. “You scum won’t be here much longer – “
I managed a hobbling run and kicked his arse so he toppled into the puddle by the overflowing rubbish bin.
Without a backwards glance I marched up the road to the van. I got there and the door was open and swinging in the wind, banging against the side of the van. With a sinking heart I climbed the steps and went in.
The place was always a tip, piles of stuff, clothes, dirty dishes, fag ends.  As I looked into the lounge I saw that the telly and video were gone. I went into the kitchen and all the cupboards were open and everything pulled out and the drawers tipped on the floor.
Was it dad? Had Dad done this? I went into his bedroom. It stunk as much as usual but he wasn’t there. His cupboard was open and the clothes scattered everywhere. Not that unusual. I went through to my room, my tiny little room. Even before I looked I knew. I knew I would not find my Gameboy, my Walkman, all my tapes, and my best trainers were gone.
Jesus. Oh Jesus.
I picked up my tin. The bastard had taken the silver chain and locket that had been Mum’s. It wasn’t worth anything to anyone but me but he’d taken it. And the necklace I had made at primary school. It was rubbish, it was only cheap glass beads but I’d kept it all these years.
I sat on the bed and if I’d felt like crying earlier, I sure felt like it now.
Had Dad done this? Had some other drunk broken in and taken the few things we’d had.
I sat and stared at Bob Marley and he stared back at me.
“Well, Bob,” I said. “I shot the sheriff but I didn’t shoot the deputy down.”
I pulled out the drawing pins and took down the poster. Taped onto the wall behind it was an envelope. I took it down and stuffed it in my pocket. Then I folded Bob and took him too. I found the sports bag I’d used when I’d bothered going to school. I stuffed in a few of the old clothes I had.
As I went back through Dad’s room I happened to glance out of the window.
Earl hadn’t bothered ringing the police. Walking up on either side of him was Timmy and Tommy Goode, Mr Goode’s twin brothers. They had baseball bats in their hands, Tommy was swinging his backwards and forwards as he walked. Timmy was thwacking his bat against the palm of his massive hand. God, they were evil.
I went back into my room, kicked out the window, jumped out and legged it.

© Lois Elsden 2017

Find ‘Run, Blue, Run!’ here on Etsy:

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