I’m about a quarter of my way through a new novel, Halfway House, told through the eyes of central character Wayne at the ages of twelve and nineteen. In this section, the twelve-year-old Wayne is having problems with his mum’s boyfriend Simon who’s becoming increasingly nasty. Like my previous novel Secrets, Halfway House is part psychological thriller.
Time to go. I inch open the bedroom window and slide it up. Climb over the window ledge and land on the other side, nearly falling flat on my backside. My heart hammers in case Simon comes out after me and stops me from getting to Uncle Graham’s. I hurry down the rear steps in the wet, past the lock-up sheds, along the dark side alley that links to the main road. Then I’m on the main road, running towards Uncle Graham’s house, ready to tell him everything about the last few days. The rain and wind thrash me as I run, soaking my anorak and digging deep into my trainers and socks. A few people pass by, turning to stare as I leg it along the street.
I reach a second set of lights. Nearly there now. Suddenly, a car pulls up by me and a bloke jumps out.
Simon’s mate from Sunday. The one who watched me from the kitchen, cracking his knuckles. ‘Oi,’ he shouts. ‘Get in the car.’
The street’s empty. I make a dash for it, but he’s quick. Within a split second, he’s caught up and grabbed me, yanking my arm back roughly. ‘Word of warning,’ he says as he pushes me into the car where the other mate’s sat behind the wheel. ‘Play up in the car, and you’ll get a hammering from us and a hammering from Simon. Got that?’