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Searching for Scarlet - part 3

by Rob Watson 6 months ago in Mystery
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Chapters 11-14 of Murder Mystery Novel

Chapter 11

‘Much of a baseball fan Scarlet?’ The kidnapper asked.

‘More of a football girl myself.’

‘Which team?’

‘The Raiders.’

‘Sorry.’

‘The Raiders.’

‘I heard I’m just sorry!’

‘A kidnapper who thinks he’s funny, fantastic.’

‘It was such and easy joke, I couldn’t resist.’

‘So who’s your team?’

‘I never really had a team as such, then I saw that Ravens team that won the Superbowl, really like their defence so I’ve been a fan of them ever since.’

‘So you’re not actually from Baltimore?’

‘No I’m from Oklahoma originally but I’ve moved around a lot.’

‘I don’t even know your name.’

‘Is this you trying to become friends with your kidnapper? Is that what the psychologist suggests you do in your situation?’

‘I can just call you kidnapper if you like, but I thought seen as you know my name I should know yours.’

‘Aaron.’

‘There you go, didn’t hurt did it? And so much nicer than kidnapper.’

‘Anyway. The reason I was asking about baseball was that I’m about to watch a game on TV so I thought I’d watch it in your room if you wanted to watch it too.’

‘How caring.’

‘Do you want to watch the game or not?’

‘Sure put it on, it’ll be one way to pass three hours stuck in here.’

‘I’ll even let you share my chips.’

‘Wow, this place is starting to feel like a hotel.’

‘No need to be sarcastic.’

‘So who’s playing?’

‘San Francisco and Detroit,’ Aaron said as he switched on the television set. ‘I’m sort of a Detroit fan, not really sure why. I like the old teams with some history and their fan base seems really strong which I like.’

‘As good a reason as any to pick a sports team I suppose.’

‘Yeah there are too many bad things about sport these days, I like to see some semblance of tradition,’ he said as he sat down on the bed next to her.

‘Pretty much all those bad things can be traced back to one thing, money,’ she commented.

‘Got that right.’

‘Still can’t believe that once they had to kick off a Superbowl again because the TV cameras missed it the first time.’

‘That was hideous,’ Aaron agreed.

‘Also it’s all about win at all costs now, the idea that sport is there as a form of entertainment seems to be long gone.’

‘Most players seem amazingly unaware that fans pay their wages, if nobody wanted to watch them they would be amateurs,’ he said.

‘Don’t get me started on baseball players going on strike.’

‘Yeah best stay clear of that topic otherwise you’d see me really angry,’ Aaron nodded his head in firm agreement.

‘I never feel sorry for sports people, even if somebody misses a last second field goal in the Superbowl to lose the game. I’m not going to feel sorry for that person because they are, after all, there playing in the Superbowl, they have a great life and are a millionaire. I save my sympathy for people who have terminal diseases or get abused, things like that.’

‘Damn right. You know who the worst people in sport are?’ Aaron was getting comfy on his soap box.

‘I’d find it hard to pick just one group.’

‘Agents.’

‘Oh yeah, I’m with you now.’

‘Absolute parasites living of other people’s talent.’

‘Agents in general not existing would make the world a better place.’

‘Absolutely. Oh God what a miss field that was,’ Aaron commented on the action in front of him on the television screen.

‘Whenever I watch baseball I find myself underwhelmed by the fielding,’ she said.

‘I think baseball has been very lazy when it comes to fielding. You ever seen any cricket?’

‘No not really.’

‘Those guys can field. No gloves or anything, they take some unbelievable catches. Plus their ground fielding is far superior in my opinion, they pick it up and fling it back in one motion. I reckon if one baseball team brought in a cricket fielding coach and worked really hard on their fielding for a year then they would win the World Series. Then everybody would have to copy them.’

‘That’s a big problem with a lot of American sports if you ask me, no international competition. Basketball is the closest I guess. We don’t really know how high the standards are because we are just playing against ourselves. If other countries played baseball and football seriously and they started to beat us then it would make us take a long hard look at ourselves and improve our standards.’

‘Good point,’ he nodded the stuffed his mouth with some savoury snacks.

Chapter 12

After their not all that successful trip to the house Sabine and Jordan went back to Sandi’s room at UCLA.

‘So anything in particular you’re looking for?’ Jordan asked.

‘A journal, a real one. I’m thinking that anybody who comes up with the idea of writing a fake journal to a friend, might just be the sort of person who keeps a real one,’ Sabine replied and opened up Sandi’s laptop.

‘Doesn’t anybody write anything down anymore?’ Jordan asked.

‘Actually I would think that most journals are still written down, but we’ve searched this room and all round her house and no sign of any journal.’

‘That’s true. I suppose if you’ve got a lap top to yourself it’s probably just as easy to type onto that each night as it is to write one.’

‘Plus saving some trees.’

‘Environmentally friendly journal. Apart from the electricity the computer uses.’

‘Being green can be difficult,’ Sabine said as she looked through the documents on the lap top. ‘This could take a while, you fancy a cup of coffee?’

‘Does that really mean, go get me a cup of coffee?’ Jordan checked with a knowing look.

‘Oh I love that you’re already on my wavelength, black no sugar.’

‘Go on then seen as you’ve asked so nicely.’

By the time Jordan got back with Sabine’s coffee she had checked thirty documents and still had another two hundred or so to check.

‘Any luck yet?’

‘No journals yet,’ Sabine replied as she continued the process of going through the documents alphabetically.

‘Wait a minute, open the one called Mina,’ Jordan suggested with a good deal of enthusiasm.

Sabine looked at him a little strangely then said. ‘Okay, I’m going to open them all eventually anyway.’

‘Just trying to save you some time,’ Jordan replied. ‘There you go,’ he added as Sabine opened the document called Mina and it did indeed contain a journal.

‘You’re going to have to explain that,’ Sabine said.

‘Dracula reference, I love that book. It’s made up of diary and journal entries of the characters.’

‘One of which is called Mina.’

‘Exactly, you read it too?’

‘No, just seen one of the film versions to be honest, remembered the name now you mention it.’

‘Let’s hope this is the real thing,’ Jordan said.

‘Surely nobody keeps two fake journals.’

‘I suppose we may as well read and see how true it rings.’

Once again Sabine emailed the journal to the police and Jordan, then Jordan emailed it to Sabine.

‘Come on Sandi, please help us out,’ Sabine said

It was early evening so they decided to do the reading at their respective homes, this time Jordan was confident he could stay awake.

Sandi Lords Journal:

January

Move my stuff back into my college room. A room where I will be spending the majority of my time for the next couple of weeks. Did some revision over the holidays, but I know I still need to do a lot more work if I’m to get the results in my exams that I want. It’s times like this when I am glad I don’t have many friends. Need to have minimal distractions from my studying, and friends can definitely be a distraction. See Stacie, the closest thing I have to a true friend on campus, catch up on what we got up to over the holidays which in both our cases wasn’t much. Said ‘hi’ to Amy next door, she continues to be friendly and polite without us ever looking like becoming friends. So I suppose that makes her my perfect neighbour for this time of year. Throughout my revision I allow myself to watch one or two films on dvd each day, but no TV until the exams are over.

So far all of my exams are going reasonably well, can never absolutely tell how well they go, but no nasty surprises with any of the questions. After each exam I allow myself some time off to de-stress, by way of a gym visit. I’m glad that I joined a gym off campus. As well as not having to put up with all the sports teams people thinking they’re superstars, I also don’t bump into people asking me about the exam at a time when I am doing my best to forget all about it. During one gym session I have and unusual occurrence for me of actually talking to somebody in the gym. A girl sat on the bike next to me and we got chatting for a little while. Nothing too much just a few getting to know you sort of questions and some chats on trivial matters. Her name is Scarlet and although she seems considerably wilder than me, I found myself getting on excellently with her. She tells me she’s trying to make it as an actress and at the moment does some modelling work and works in clubs to make ends meet. She’s the sort of wild free spirit that makes me a little envious, even though I know I could never be like her.

Fri Jan 20th

Finish my exams today!!!! Most people who finish today either go straight to bed to save up energy for their celebratory night out, or start that night out right away. Instead I feel the need for a gym visit. Feel like I’ve been sat down studying for the best part of a month and need to move around and get the blood flowing. After I’d been in there for about half an hour, Scarlet comes in. I can tell when Scarlet is around because all the guys in the gym can’t seem to stop themselves from looking in her direction. She certainly is an eye catching figure, her bright red hair alone means that most people will have their gaze drawn towards her. From then on her slim, fantastically toned figure, not to mention what she wears or more precisely doesn’t wear, keeps the attention of the guys. I’m not criticising the clothes she wears, if I’m honest I wish I had the confidence to wear the Lycra hot pants and bra top combination, instead of my longer, looser shorts and baggy T-shirt. She walks straight over to me to say hi, which proves to be the best way to get any of the guys in there to notice me. I’m happy she comes over, because although she seemed to enjoy our chat last time, I’m never sure whether people particularly remember me, so I was half expecting her to ignore me this time, as if we’d never met. But she’s very friendly and jumps on the bike next to me. I tell her about finishing my exams today, she’s surprised I’m not out getting drunk with the rest of them, but seems to appreciate me being different and certainly doesn’t hold it against me. She tells me about her most recent frustrating, failed auditions. On the upside she’s done a couple of reasonably lucrative photo shoots this month so she’s still surviving fine, plus she knows she can get work in clubs whenever she wants. As well as the companionship, another advantage of meeting Scarlet is that I stay in the gym longer. Time on the bike and treadmill goes so much quicker when chatting to her, I end up staying on them longer so that I can keep talking to her until she’s done. She also shows me some great exercises for toning up my abs. A silly plus point is that having the guys leering at her and hanging around her, means they give me the odd look as well. I feel like I’m at high school and I’m best friends with the coolest girl in school. She also shows me how to hit the punch bag correctly and we have great fun taking turns pretending who the bag is and unleashing as many blows as we can muster. I’d been in there for over two hours when Scarlet announces that she’s done for the day. She asks me what I’m planning to do tonight, I tell her that I was planning on going around some cocktail bars asking for work. She asks if I fancy going out with her instead, saying we could have a meal then maybe go dancing. When I look a little hesitant she says I should do something fun to celebrate finishing my exams. Then in a rare carefree moment I take her up on her offer, saying that I can look for jobs the next day. We arranged to meet at a restaurant, which we both know and like, at eight. On my way back to campus I feel happy, bordering on ecstatic, not just at my impending night out, but that I’ve been personally invited on a night out. Without wishing to sound like an annoyingly giddy high school freshman girl, I’ve been invited to go out by one of the cool chicks.

The night itself went great. We had an excellent meal, and both of us appreciated it not being expensive. At no stage were there any awkward silences, as we always found something to talk about. Scarlet is happily single right now, just like me. She’s had a few boyfriends but none of them serious. After we finished eating she took me round some great clubs, most of which I didn’t know existed until tonight. The music was fantastic and we danced all night. A great bonus of going out with Scarlet was that we never had to buy a drink the whole night. Guys were queuing up to buy her drinks and all of them always bought me one too. Even though I knew that they were only doing it to impress Scarlet, I still enjoyed the fact I didn’t spend any money after dinner.

At the end of the night I ask her if she wants to swap phone numbers, she says she’d love to but that she doesn’t have one. Normally I’d take that as a pathetically poor excuse for saying no, but with Scarlet I believe her and what’s more I think it’s so cool of her not to have a phone in this day and age, when a lot of people make out it’s impossible to live without one. So instead we swap email addresses. She says she knows that’s another modern way of communication but she doesn’t mind it so much because it’s much easier to ignore for big chunks of the time and people can’t track you down wherever you go. I really do like her strong will and individuality. Granted some of my feelings are still those of wanting to be more like her, especially after seeing her on a night out, but I really do think I have found one of those rare people who I could be good friends with.

Sat 21st Jan

Wake up mid morning and don’t actually have any hangover at all. Scarlet made sure we kept drinking plenty of water through the night, and it seems to have done the trick. My main objective of the day was to get myself a job. After walking into a couple of cocktail bars who weren’t looking for new staff, I found one that was hiring. As has always been the case as soon as I find one that wants new staff I have no problem getting the job. A ten minute or so demonstration of my precise, yet still flamboyant, cocktail making skills, is more than enough to secure me some employment. Bar managers don’t tend to care who you are or where you come from, when you can mix drinks as well as I can. I’m starting tomorrow night. The only thing he wanted me to change was my look, wanting me to make more of an effort to be more appealing to his male customers. Be more like Scarlet, was what I thought. I email Scarlet, telling her about getting my job and thanking her for last night.

Stacie comes round in the evening and we have one of our girlie nights in. Watch a couple of films, whilst munching on various snacks. Stacie fills me in on any gossip she’s heard on campus over the last couple of weeks. She asks what I got up to last night, I merely tell her I went out with a friend I met at the gym. The night is fun, as it always is with Stacie, but throughout the night I find myself wondering what Scarlet is up to and whether she’s emailed me back yet.

Thurs 26th Jan

After almost a week I finally get an email back from Scarlet (Oh God I sound like a girl waiting for a guy to call after a great first date). Her email tells me that she’ll be at the gym tonight around seven. I was thinking about going to the gym tonight anyway, so that made my mind up to go. Got to nearly half past seven and whilst I’d been in there long enough to build up quite a sweat, there was still no sign of Scarlet. Have to admit that when she did walk through the door it did brighten my day. She walked straight over to me and I got up off the leg extension machine I was on and she gave me a big hug and apologised with a big smile for being late and not emailing me back sooner, but that she hasn’t got Internet access where she’s living at the moment and she has to wait till she gets to the library before she can get to her email. In the few moments she took to tell me that, all my anxieties about the delay in her response were taken away and I was completely comfortable in her company again. We had a short work out by our standards then went to the Cinema.

Fri 27th Jan

Today I got back into my Internet gambling. I’d let it slip over the exam period and have been a little slow getting back into it. I remain convinced that it’s possible to make a good living out of sports gambling and my profits from last year certainly back that theory up. Research is the key, there are so many sports out there and most betting firms take bets on all of them. Indeed it is probably the more obscure sports where the easier money can be made, because the bookmakers knowledge in those areas can be somewhat weak, as I thankfully exposed several times last year. Badminton, bowls, table tennis, cricket, handball, two forms of rugby, squash and rowing are sports that I really don’t understand as such. But from my research I can have a pretty good idea who is likely to win in any contest in those sports. Pretty sure I’ve never seen any of them played professionally, but the numbers on the scoreboard, or race positions, tell me all I need to know as to whether my account will be getting bigger or smaller. Then there’s the sports I already know about like basketball and ice hockey, but I can bet on leagues in Europe, on players I couldn’t pick out of a line up, but again I’ve done my research. Of course luck comes into it, some “good” bets lose and some “bad” bets win. But with my research I firmly believe that over the long term I’m making luck almost an insignificant factor.

Chapter 13

Sat 11 February

The cocktail bar where I’m working lets you wear your own clothes whilst on the job. After several comments from the manager about his desire for me to dress more provocatively and Scarlet's insistence that doing so would mean I’d earn a lot more tips, I decide to go clothes shopping today. To give me a better chance of buying the right sort of stuff I invite Scarlet along. I was expecting her to take me to the sort of classy, expensive places I never go to. Quite the opposite in fact, she insists that the most stylish, cool looking clothes can be found in much cheaper shops. We were out shopping for about four hours and had a great time. Scarlet revelled in her role of adviser. I bought a couple of pairs of very tight, low cut hipster jeans, that went really well with a couple of tight, slightly cut off T-shirts, one dark blue, one dark green. Scarlet eventually persuaded me to buy a black pair of shorts that were very close to being hot pants and a seriously short denim skirt, both of which to be fair did go very well with a grey vest top I had bought earlier. To complete that outfit Scarlet found me a pair of what she called “fuck me boots”, they were black and reached up almost up to my knees. The final outfit was a tiny, tight, black dress that went down to a few inches above my knees and went equally well with the boots. Amazingly I spent less than $150, an amount I’d covered by winning a few bets this week on Badminton and Swedish Ice Hockey.

Sun 12th February

Scarlet comes round to my room about an hour before I’m due to head off to work. I want to ease my way into my new look with the jeans and T-shirt combination. Eventually though after much persuading from Scarlet I pluck up the courage to put on the shorts, vest top and the boots. At first Scarlet just tells me to try them on and see how I feel. When I get them on and look in the mirror I have to admit I like what I see. As soon as she sees me smile at my reflection Scarlet says: ‘Right that’s it, decision made, now let’s work on your hair.’ After playing with my h air for a bit she ultimately decides on giving it a wet look then pulling it back in a seriously tight pony tail. Once again the result is pleasing to my eye. When I see myself in the mirror I’m thinking of the extra tips I will get. I’m not near ready for anybody on campus to see me like this yet, so I put a big coat on and put the hood up as I walk to the car.

When I park by work I think for a moment then decide to leave my coat in the car. When I walk into the bar the manager is the first person to see me. ‘Wow! Now that’s what I’m talking about!’ He says after his jaw had dropped upon seeing me.

‘I’m just thinking of the tips,’ I reply.

As the night wears on my tips do indeed mount up, and when I add them up at the end of the night, I find that I’ve made over fifty percent more than I’ve ever made before in one night. It appears men really are that predictable, maybe one or two women as well. Two separate guys even asked me what time I was finishing work, I just smiled and told them I had a boyfriend.

Wed 22nd February

See Scarlet in the gym in the evening. She’s disappointed I’m still wearing my lose shorts and baggy T-shirt for my gym excursions, fearing that her mission to boost my self esteem and turn me into a sexy bitch is doomed for failure. I tell her that the new look is strictly to get more tips when I work. That I’m still comfortable with the way I look and behave in my everyday life.

She seems a little down, especially by her normal upbeat, standards. When I ask her about it she tells me that she’s getting fed up of the place she’s renting, saying that it’s a dive and she can still only barely afford the rent. For once it’s me who comes up with the crazy idea. I suggest we share a place. Renting with someone is always much cheaper than both renting separately and I was about to look for somewhere to rent at the start of spring break, so I had somewhere else to go other than campus. I definitely wanted a place for summer and this way we could get a place between us all year round. Scarlet loves the idea, her face lights up as soon as I mention it and when I finish explaining why I think it’s a good idea, she jumps off the bike and kisses me emphatically on both cheeks. I laugh and feel genuinely happy, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever been so instinctive and yet it felt so right to make that decision.

Sat 25th and Sun 26th February.

An exhausting weekend spent with Scarlet looking at possible places to live. We look at six on Saturday and six on Sunday. Some are definite no’s pretty much from the moment we walk in, others would do for now and one or two are completely acceptable. Yet none of them really capture our imagination enough to have our hearts set on them. Until the last one we see, it’s early evening on Sunday and we both fall in love with the place, even before we set foot inside. Its setting is gorgeous, on a coast road with the back of the house overlooking the beach. No other houses within at least a quarter of a mile or so in either direction. It’s an old beach house which the owners no longer have a use for but rather than sell the place, they want to rent it to get some regular income from it. Inside it’s clear there is some work that needs to be done, but not near enough to put us off, both of us think it has a great homely feel to it and although it’s a little more expensive than some the other decent places, we waste no time in agreeing to move in. The other good thing is that because of the type of property it is we can move in whenever we want, with the rent starting on the first of March.

To celebrate we go out bowling and for a pizza, the late success re-energising us just when we thought we were about to drop. We’re so excited about the new place that we frequently find ourselves laughing during the night. People in the next bowling lanes to us probably think we’re both drunk because of our giggly girlieness, but neither of us really care what anybody else thinks.

Wed 1st March

Having no classes on a Wednesday afternoon works out perfectly, Scarlet isn’t busy either, so we can both move our stuff into our new house. Neither of us have many belongings, so it really isn’t that big a job, but it’s good to make moving in official. The place is already furnished and although not much, if any, of the furniture in there is the type we would have chosen ourselves, neither of us sufficiently dislike it to throw any of it out and spend good money on new furniture. Scarlet will be living here pretty much all of the time, whilst during term time I’ll still probably spend most of my time in my campus room, but I’ll come to the house every weekend and of course during all the holidays.

We’re both working in the evening so we don’t have time to make a fuss about the first day in our new house. I do spend the night there after work, wanting to at least spend the first night there. I get back just after midnight, Scarlet's still at work so I head straight to bed. Must have fallen asleep almost immediately, don’t hear Scarlet come in. When I get up in the morning to go to class I check in on her and she’s fast asleep lying on top of her covers, still wearing her work clothes.

Fri 3rd March

A funny moment occurs when I’m at work tonight. I’m dressed in what I now call one of my Scarlet outfits, fully dressed for tips, and when a couple of guys who are in some of my classes come in, I serve them and they don’t recognise me. I’m very friendly with them and give them my best tip inducing smile, but still there’s not a flicker of recognition from either of them. It really is amazing what a change of clothes, fixing your hair, a touch of make-up and a little attitude change can do. It’s like having two personalities.

Spring Break

Living with Scarlet is such a change, we don’t actually spend that much time together, but just knowing I’ve got someone sharing a house with me is cool enough. She works and lives strange hours and of course I work most evenings, especially during the holidays. Her bar work tends to start and finish later than mine. After a week or so of living together she tells me exactly what her bar work entails. She is in fact a lap and pole dancer, which she’s not at all ashamed of, and I tell her she is completely right to not be ashamed of it. Also she lets me know that there’ll be some nights when she doesn’t come home at all, and warns me that there’ll be a few times when she brings somebody back here at night. I tell her she can do whatever she wants. Turns out that a lot more often than not she does spend the night here and she does have company. Also turns out that when Scarlet fucks she is far from quiet. It doesn’t bother me though, if it’s ever stopping me from sleeping then I can just put my headphones on and listen to some relaxing music.

The amazing thing about Scarlet, or should I say one of the amazing things about Scarlet, is that almost every single day she gets up at nine o’clock in the morning and goes for a run for around an hour. Even when she’s been up fucking till about six. She leaves her latest conquest in her bed sleeping away, understandably exhausted. I’d tell her to make sure she’s looking after herself and not over exerting, but she looks so amazing and is always so full of energy. She puts it down to her two hour sleeps she often has in the afternoon.

Although the neighbours are quite far away I have had some contact with them. One day I was out in our back garden and a playful looking dog came bounding along. Without any shyness or aggression he came straight up to me, wagging his tail and sniffing all around me. From the tag on his collar I found out that he belonged to one of our neighbours. Turns out that house is owned by a delightful old couple. It’s the lady who opens the door and she’s very appreciative of me bringing Sundance back. We chat for a few minutes and she makes it clear both Scarlet and I are welcome to come round if ever we want to, adding a comment along the line of realising that a couple of young girls like us wouldn’t want to be spending too much time with an old couple like them.Whilst I’m out I decide to walk down to the other neighbour. Turns out that there is a guy living there on his own. He tells me he’s a writer and likes living here because it’s peaceful and has so few distractions. From his tone and facial expressions I take the hint to leave him alone.

After a couple of weeks of barely seeing each other Scarlet and I agree that we should spend the occasional night in together, we both know we’ll enjoy it. We hire three films, buy some popcorn and Scarlet makes some divine tasting chocolate brownies. Close the curtains and turn out the lights for cinematic effect. Get that wonderful feeling of being completely cut off from the rest of the world and enjoy six hours or so of fantastic escapism.

The last weekend before College started up again, Scarlet and I have a couple of fun days out. Neither of us had ever been to Disneyland, both agreed that was a crime, so on that Saturday we had a trip there. We had great fun acting like kids, going on all the rides we could get on without ridiculously long queues. Then we played on the arcades and generally had a laugh. By the time we got back to the house both of us were exhausted but we still both went to work. My cranky, mean and moody attitude did reduce my average tips a little, but I’m sure there were some guys who tipped more than normal because of my scowling performance.

The next day we had a water park day. After much persuasion from Scarlet I wear one of her bikinis. Once again the kid in us came racing to the surface and we go flying down water slides a dozen or so times. Might just be my imagination, but I feel like throughout the day I get almost as many lingering looks from guys as Scarlet does, almost. Boosted by the response to the bikini I decide to wear the scandalously short denim skirt with the tightest vest top I can find, to make up for those lost tips last night.

Back in school the next day, so it’s back to looser, much less revealing clothing, natural hair and no make up. Still feel comfortable with that persona and I get right back into the daily college life with no problems.

Chapter 14

‘So I’m guessing you haven’t got any kids Scarlet?’

‘You making assumptions about me based on my look again?’

‘As much as it would be difficult to have had a baby and still have your figure, that wasn’t what I was basing my assumption on. The fact that you haven’t mentioned them or asked if they are all right, suggests strongly to me that they can’t exist.’

‘I’ll believe you. No I don’t have any kids and the world would be a better place if a lot more people didn’t.’

‘I’m guessing you don’t like kids.’

‘I love kids, its some parents I can’t stand.’

‘I’m sure its tough being a perfect parent.’

‘I’m not expecting them to be a perfect parent, that would be expecting the impossible. All I do ask is that they actually give a crap about their kids.’

‘I’m sure all parents give a crap about their kids.’

‘For an assassin you have a rosy view of the world. There are certainly a lot of parents that act like they don’t give a crap. I think it’s strange that when a couple want to adopt they have to go through such a long process. A process that requires them to reach so many standards, and yet to have a kid of your own all you need is the ability to mate.’

‘Never thought of it like that before,’ he conceded.

‘It’s another one of my rants, or should I say ideas, that would be difficult to do anything about when it came to the practicalities of it. Being a parent is the most important job in the world, so I do find it strange that there’s no qualifications needed to be one, no courses you’re obliged to go on. There are so many ways we go wrong with kids I can’t believe it.’

‘Like what?’

‘The whole education system for one thing.’

‘You don’t agree with the idea of schools?’

‘I fully agree with the idea of learning, I just feel we go about it in completely the wrong way. So many kids grow up thinking that school and learning is something they have to do. As soon as any kid, or any person for that matter, thinks of something as them having to do it then they are going to have a negative opinion of it. Kids hate being told what to do and they get told to go to school all the time.’

‘So you think school should be voluntary?’

‘Again that would be impractical. What I would like to see is a change in the way school is presented to kids. As soon as you tell a kid that something is important, and that they have to concentrate hard, then one word is going to spring into their mind, “boring”. If instead we told them school and learning is fun and that showing an interest in school will make it more fun, then I’m sure kids would have a much better opinion of schooling.’

‘You really think that changing a few words here and there will make that much difference?’

‘I think kids, especially young kids, are extremely impressionable. If society as a whole made it clear how good a thing learning was then I’m sure most kids would go along with that. Learning for the sake of learning should be promoted, instead of telling kids they have to do well in high school so that they can get to college and get a good job. At the moment kids motivation for doing well at high school is future success, as soon as you tell yourself that the reason you are doing something is purely to get some reward later, then you are saying that you don’t really want to be doing what you are doing now. Learning and gaining knowledge is a great experience and should be classed as a reward in itself. If kids thought like that then they’d enjoy school a lot more, and undoubtedly the more you enjoy something the better you become at it.’

‘I think our society promotes the value of going to school.’

‘It tells kids that it’s a good thing, but only that it’s good because of all the follow on effects in later life. The great contradiction comes whenever somebody shows a good knowledge of something, either by answering a quiz question or maybe just talking to people about what they know, then they’re talked about as being geeks or being sad. Having knowledge should be applauded, not mocked. Kids pick up on things and I bet there are millions of kids who underperform at school because they want to be seen as cool. Kids probably daren’t admit that they like any school subject, for fear of being branded sad or a geek. That is fundamentally wrong. School should be about so much more than a stepping stone to college and a job, it should be a great learning experience in itself. Most people are in school before college for about twelve years, that’s twelve years of five days a week for about thirty five weeks each year of nothing but learning. Yet I’m sure most people leave high school thinking that they’ve not learned anything like as much as they should have done in that time.’

‘So you think the wrong things get taught in schools?’

‘I think the main problem is that school learning is geared purely towards being able to pass exams, rather than actually gaining knowledge.’

‘What sort of things should be taught then?’

‘Everybody that finishes high school should come out of there with a strong general knowledge. After that amount of time in school we should have a distinct picture in our head of a timeline of human history, with many major events firmly entrenched in our memories. We should be able to point at every single country on a map, we should know most capital cities, the language each country speaks and the currency it uses, where all the major mountains and rivers of the world are. Everybody should have a good grasp of basic arithmetic and how to use the English language as well as being able to speak maybe a hundred words or so of half a dozen other languages. Science classes should be about all the great inventions and all the basic, yet fascinating facts about the earth and the universe, as well as giving us a good understanding of how the human body works. Art and music classes should be about the great artists and musicians, we should learn about their lives and what inspired them, if that doesn’t inspire a kid to pick up a paint brush or a musical instrument then nothing will.’

‘Sounds like a lot to learn to me.’

‘I really don’t think so, not when you add up all those hours we spent in school.’

‘So how do we get kids to absorb all this knowledge?’

‘The key is to let them learn, not make them learn.’

‘How exactly?’

‘Kids love two things, fun and competition. Make learning things fun, present information in a way that has bright colours, lots of pictures and most importantly links it in with other things they learn. You could start with a modern celebrity that most if not all of the kids would have heard of, then find out what country they are from, then find out the capital City of that country, then learn something about the history of that country and so on. Classes could be split into teams then have quiz competitions. Even better would be to have the kids write the questions for the other teams, they could even ask questions to the teacher.’

‘You’ve thought about this a lot.’

‘I remember even when I was in high school thinking that there should be more to school than what I got. Ever since I’ve wondered what it should be like instead. Fundamentally I think it all comes back to kids learning best when they do it their way. Think of a really young kid learning to walk, they don’t get told how to do it, they don’t go to classes on how to do it then have to revise for an exam on how to walk. They simply get up and try to walk, fall over a bunch of times, but keep getting back up and learn through trial and error. If we learned to talk before we learned to walk then we would be screwed, it would take so much longer to learn how to walk. We’d have all sorts of adult relations trying to teach us how to walk, by giving us verbal instructions that would do nothing but confuse us. What the heck are you smiling at?!’

‘I’m just thinking how glad I am to have kidnapped such an interesting and loquacious person.’

‘Loquacious? Bet that’s a word you didn’t learn in school.’

‘I’m sure you’re right.’

‘The style of teaching needs to be looked at. Telling once isn’t teaching, everybody learns better if they find out answers from themselves. Kids should be asked questions, not just told things.’

‘Socratic Method still alive and well in the twenty first century.’

‘It should be.’

‘If you ever run for President then you’ve got my vote, purely because I’d be so intrigued to see how this idealistic world of yours would be put into place.’

‘I would make some interesting changes. Of course you’d have to let me out of here first.’

‘No rush, you’re way too young to run for President just yet.’

Mystery

About the author

Rob Watson

I love writing, and I love sport. So many of my stories will be about sport. But I also love writing fiction too, so there will be short stories, extracts from novels and maybe some scripts and even some poems too.

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