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Chapter 24 continues:
In the garden Luke led Curly and Squirt away from Dad’s flower beds.
“We might not be able to stay here,” he told them apologetically, “but don’t worry, I’ll come with you, wherever you go.” He stroked the back of Curly’s neck while he considered their options and very soon it came to him. “We could live at the country park!” he said, “there’s trees to climb and woods to hide in, and plenty of grass for you to eat. It’d be like livin’ in Sherwood Forest!” It was a brilliant idea. He wondered why he hadn’t thought of it before. “On’y thing is,” he added, “the chickens are comin’ tomorrow.” He sat on the lawn and pondered. He was sure he could figure something out but it would require more thought. Squirt laid down next to him and put his head on Luke’s lap. Luke looked at him and smiled. “It’s alright,” he said, “I’ll think of something.”
SATURDAY 14 JUNE
When Luke woke up at half past eight the house was quiet. He was greeted by Dudley when he went downstairs but everyone else was out. Dad had left a note on the fridge.
Luke called Joe.
“Can you come round?”
As soon as he put down the phone Luke let Dudley into the garden and checked on Curly and Squirt. They’d made themselves at home and were enjoying the abundance of dandelions in the damson patch. Joe arrived five minutes later and Luke took him upstairs to help look for his tent.
“What d’you want the tent for?” he asked.
“To live in.”
Luke put Joe in the picture.
“So you and Curly and Squirt are gonna run away and live at the country park?”
“What about school?”
“I won’t go to school.”
“It’s the law. You have to go to school.”
“I’m an outlaw.”
“Oh yeah. But how will you live? What will you eat? And what about the chickens?”
“Don’t worry,” said Luke with a conspiratorial smile, “I’ve got it all worked out.” He took his walkie talkies out of the wardrobe, opened the box and handed one to Joe. “I’ll keep in touch with you on this – channel six – and then if I need anything I’ll tell you and you can bring it.”
“Food for a start. You’ve got your own food allowance.”
“It’s only enough for me.”
“Yeah but if you look for stuff that’s buy one get one free, you can give the free one to me. And if you go to the Co-op at the end of the day when they’re sellin’ things that are goin’ out of date – like bread for 10p a loaf – you can get stuff cheap so your money’ll go further.”
Joe nodded slowly. “Yeah, I s’pose I could do that.”
“Good. Oh, here it is!” He pulled out a bundle of grey nylon fabric from under the bed and spread it out on the carpet.
“You’re not going to be very well camouflaged with that picture of Spiderman on the side,” Joe pointed out.
Luke was unconcerned. “I’ll hide that with twigs and leaves.”
After checking nothing was missing he rolled the tent back up and went to the airing cupboard for his sleeping bag.
“Your mum and dad are gonna be pretty upset about this,” Joe told him.
“Well they’re not ezzactly givin’ me a choice are they? My first duty is to protect Curly an’ Squirt.”
Joe nodded. “Yeah, okay, but what about the chickens? Your mum and dad don’t know they’re coming so if you’re not here to look after them …”
Luke grinned. “It’s alright, I told you, I’ve got it all worked out.”
“I’ll come back when they’re not here. Simple.”
“How will you know when they’re not here.”
“I already know. Dad goes to work at seven every mornin’; Jared’s gone before eight; and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Mum works at the Co-op.”
“What about Tuesdays and Thursdays? And weekends?”
“Well she’ll have to walk Dudley won’t she?”
“But you don’t know what time she’ll go.”
“That’s where you come in.”
“Well, you can keep watch and then tell me when she leaves, with the walkie talkie.”
“But I’m s’posed to be at school!”
Luke frowned. “We all agreed to rescue the chickens together. They’re all our responsibility, not jus’ mine. We’ve all got to work together.”
“I know but how can I do it on school days?”
“Look, I’m riskin’ prison by not goin’ to school at all,” Luke reminded him, “so the least you can do is risk bein’ marked late! That’s not askin’ too much is it? I mean, it’s life and death for the chickens don’t forget!”
Joe nodded. “Yes, you’re right. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Now then, Tania should be here with the chickens by three. That should give us plenty of time to get them all settled in to the damson patch before Mum and Dad get home.”
“When will they be back?”
“They said they’d be gone all day so I s’pose that means after five.”
“What about Jared?”
“We haven’t gotta worry about him. He always disappears on Saturdays.”
“Nobody knows. Skate park prob’ly.”
“So you don’t know when he’ll be back.”
“Late. He’s always late back on Saturdays.”
“Joe! Don’t worry about Jared! We just need to make sure we’re out of here before Mum and Dad get back.”
Luke nodded. “Yeah. But I’d like to be away by four.” The two boys sat in silent agreement for a moment before Luke added “oh, but you’ll have to come back when it gets dark. I’ll give you a gate key.”
“On my own? Why?”
“To lock the cat flap on the chicken house so a fox doesn’t get ’em.”
“Why can’t you do it?”
“Well I can’t leave Curly and Squirt in the park by themselves can I? And I can’t bring ’em with me – they’re not ezzactly stealthy!”
Luke stuffed his tent, sleeping bag and walkie talkie into his rucksack. “I’d better get some rations,” he said, “come on.” Downstairs he crammed every pocket and crevice of his bag with food and a couple of bottles of water. “Now let’s go to the allotments and get some straw!”
Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀
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