Upton Close And Personal - Part Four of Five
Part four is here! This one was a lot of fun to write! I love writing Frank as a character, as he's likeable even though he's a little bit of a scumbag.
Upton Meadow - Frank Harris and Holly Haynes
The old man hobbled to the door on crutches, the little dog yapping at his heels.
“Are you the dog walker?” He asked.
Frank had mumbled something and stared down at his phone. He was the dog walker, of course. But that didn’t mean he had to be happy about it.
“Great! Great!” He had replied, beaming. “Hear that, Bertie? You’re gonna go walkies!”
Then there was another voice in the background. A little girl.
“Grandad, can I go?”
Frank gave a deliberate sigh.
The man hobbled back behind the door for a moment, warning the girl about the “stranger from down the street.” But she protested, arguing that since he was married to the “pretty nurse lady” he was “basically a good guy.”
The old man poked his head around the door.
“You’re ok with kids, aren’t you?”
“I’d rather not deal with…”
“Oh, that’s great.” He replied. “Holly, come on out here!”
“You’re wearing football boots.” Was the first thing she said to him.
“Why? Are you a footballer?”
“I couldn’t find my other outside shoes.”
Frank sighed. “You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?”
“No. You just have a lot of answers.” She said. “If you’re a footballer I’m gonna get my ball. You can teach Bertie to do football tricks.”
She skipped back into the house for a moment, quickly returning with a bright red football. She punted it down the street with surprising force, sending the dog yapping and chasing after it.
“Oh yeah.” She said. “I forgot. You’ve got to keep Bertie on his lead, or he runs away.”
“Great.” Frank groaned.
Things went a little more smoothly after that, or at least after Frank managed to wrangle the energetic Scottie dog onto his lead. He let the dog lead him out onto the meadow, stopping occasionally to sniff at flowers or bark at white butterflies that fluttered lazily through the warm summer air. The girl followed them like a little shadow, kicking her ball along carefully and occasionally interjecting with any inane statement that came to mind.
“Mr Football Man?”
“Where do you play football?”
“For goodness sake.” Frank snapped. “Why do you care?”
The girl crossed her arms. “You’re being mean to me. Grandad gave me his phone, and if you don’t stop, I’ll call him, and he’ll be very cross.”
“Fine. Fine.” Frank said, exhaling sharply. “I used to play for the town club. But I don’t anymore.”
“I kicked a football through the sports centre window.”
The girl snorted, before guffawing in delight. “You’re not a very good footballer, then.”
“Is that a challenge?” Frank said. “Me? Not a good footballer?”
He handed the dog’s lead to the girl, before taking the ball and placing it down in front of him.
“See that fence, all the way over there?”
“Do you think I can hit it from here?”
“I’m gonna hit it.”
Frank took a few steps backwards and paused momentarily to steady himself, before running full pelt at the ball and giving it an almighty kick. It sailed through the air in a graceful arc, before bouncing off the fence and landing in the grass with a dull thud.
“Again! Again!” The girl called out, jumping on the spot and clapping vigorously. She dropped the dog’s lead in her excitement, and he ran away, his tail wagging wildly.
“You want me to do it again?” Frank said. “This time, I’ll kick it from all the way over there, and then you kick it back to me.”
He ran over to the ball and readied himself to kick again. Brimming with bravado, he punted it with much more force than before, and it flew massively off-course.
The world seemed to move in slow motion as the ball travelled towards Mrs Coates-Lee’s house, shattering one of her windows.
“Oh crap!” Frank shouted, putting his head in his hands. “Not again.”
The girl ran up to him, the dog yapping along behind her.
“Don’t worry about it, Mr Football Man.” She said, patting Frank gently on the back. “I know what to do when you get in trouble.”
She pulled a mobile phone from the little front pocket of her dungarees and fumbled with it for a second.
“Hello? Is this the nine-nine-niners? The Football Man kicked a ball through Mrs Frowny Face’s window, and he’s in big trouble.”
“The police?!” Frank shouted, snatching the phone out of her hand. “Why the hell are you calling the police?”
“Grandad said I should always…”
“No!” Frank replied. “We need to run away before someone sees and figures out it was us.”
“But the window!”
“Sod the window! Do you want an ASBO? Cause’ that’s how you get an ASBO.”
He grabbed her hand and took flight, running across the field as fast as his legs could carry him. The little dog followed, panting wildly, his forgotten lead dragging along the ground behind him.
Finally, they arrived at the old man’s doorstep. Frank thrust the dog’s lead into the little girl’s hand and rang the doorbell.
“There.” He said. “Doggy has had a lovely walk. And if your grandpa asks, nothing happened.”
“But… But something did happen!” She replied.
Frank raised a finger to his lips and shushed. “Nothing happened.”