Put it in Writing

Life written up


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Red-Riding Hoodie

Little red riding hood
Image by c@rljones via Flickr

Here is the third in my series of modern fairy tales:

Saturday morning and Scarlet Hood
pulled the duvet over her head when her mother called up the stairs yet again
that she should get up. ‘Come on Scarlet, I need you down here now.” Scarlet
sighed and gave in. She put on her blue jeans and red hoodie and went downstairs
to the kitchen.

Her mum was loading the washing machine with one hand and the dishwasher
with the other. Scarlet’s baby brother was in his highchair, spreading the
contents of his porridge bowl all around the tray.

“At last!” said her mum, as Scarlet poured herself some cereal. “Can you
take Robin’s bowl away and clean up the mess he’s made?’

Scarlet made a face as she mopped up. “I’m not surprised he just plays
with it – disgusting stuff,” she said. The only person she knew who actually liked
porridge was her best friend, Goldie. Porridge sure seemed to play a big part
in her life.

But then Goldie was weird in lots of ways – nice but weird. Her latest
porridge-based adventure – if you believed her and most folk didn’t – was
that  she’d gone into a deserted house in
the woods, trashed the place, eaten some oats, fallen asleep and been awakened
and chased by bears. The other girls at school didn’t know what to make of
Goldie. Some of them tried to bully her and mocked her stories and her appearance.
She dressed like someone out of a Disney fairytale – all gingham and ringlets
albeit combined with biker boots and a whole lot of piercing. But Goldie was
tough. She didn’t care what anyone thought. ‘I’m my own person,’ she’d say to
Scarlet. ‘I dress how I like and I do what I want.’ That’s what Scarlet liked
about her.

“I need you to go to Grandma’s,” said Scarlet’s mum.”‘I did some
shopping for her.” Her mother pointed to a couple of plastic carrier bags
sitting by the kitchen door.

Scarlet rolled her eyes, her mouth full of cornflakes.

“It’s not too much to ask,” said her mum.  You can see how busy I am. And you like
seeing Grandma, don’t you? ”

“Mmm, but I was going to hang out with Goldie.”

“You still can. Maybe she could go with you.”

In the end Scarlet arranged to meet Goldie at Grandma’s house, since
Goldie hadn’t yet got out of bed when Scarlet texted her.

It was a couple of miles to where Grandma lived – just outside the
village on the edge of the forest. The girls agreed to cycle there and then
they could bike into town afterwards.

“Put your cycle helmet on and keep to the paths,” her mother called
after her, as Scarlet put Grandma’s groceries into her panniers.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Scarlet under her breath.

When she got to Grandma’s cottage, she propped her bike under a tree,
hung her helmet on the handlebars and unhooked the panniers. The forest seemed
very quiet – not one bird was singing. There was a sudden gust of wind as she
walked towards Grandma’s door and a startled, screeching crow lifted off from a
treetop. Scarlet jumped at the noise and then shivered.  The forest didn’t normally scare her but
today it felt weird. She hoped it wouldn’t be long before Goldie arrived.

Scarlet knocked on the cottage door and went straight in. She expected
her Grandma to be sitting in the living–room, sitting in her usual chair, doing
her Sudoku – or on her laptop, updating her status on Facebook. But Grandma
wasn’t there. “Hello,” she called.

“Hello,” her Grandma called back. “I’m in the kitchen, come through.”

Scarlet was very surprised to see Grandma putting away grocery shopping.
There were still several full bags on the table. And sitting in a chair at the
table was a young man, sipping a mug of coffee.

“Oh,” said Scarlet. “Mum asked me to bring you some shopping but it
doesn’t look like you need any.”

Grandma smiled. “I told your mother last week that I’d make my own
arrangements to get the shopping. She’s been very good since I’ve had to stop
driving and they reduced the bus service to once every two months. But I know
how busy she is.”

“Right,” said Scarlet. “What will I do with this lot?” She held up the
panniers.

“Never mind that now. It’s lovely to see you anyway. And let me introduce
you. Scarlet this is B.B.”

The young man looked at Scarlet and smiled. She stared back. His teeth
seemed too big for his mouth. And his outstretched hand seemed unusually large
and the knuckles were covered in hair.

“Pleased to meet you, Scarlet, ” the man said, grasping her hand in his
and shaking it vigorously.   “B.B. Wolf’s
the name, but everyone just calls me B.B.”

“B.B.’s the supermarket delivery man,” Grandma said. “It was great – I
don’t know how he knew that I needed my shopping delivered, but he knocked on my
door and offered. All I have to do each week is give him my list and my bank
card and he does the rest.”

“Really,” said Scarlet. She didn’t like the sound of this, and she didn’t
like the look of B.B. – all big teeth and hands. She frowned.

“Don’t scowl and don’t stare at B.B. like that. It’s not polite,” said
Grandma.

“I can’t help it. He has awfully big hands and teeth,” said Scarlet.

“Scarlet!” gasped Grandma.

B.B. roared with laughter. “Yes, you’re not the first person to say that
– but the teeth and hands come in very useful sometimes.” He smiled at Scarlet
– a sinister, chilling, ghastly grin.

But she knew she must keep her wits about her. She sensed she and
Grandma were in considerable danger.

“Grandma, how can he get your
shopping without your PIN?” Scarlet asked

“Oh he has the PIN. It’s okay, he only uses it for the groceries and
then gives me it back.”

Scarlet’s heart sank. She knew how trusting her Grandma was – always saw
the best in folk. And it had been Grandpa who always checked the bank
statements. Grandma wasn’t interested in that sort of thing. B.B. could easily
have cleared out Grandma’s account.  She
decided to phone the police. She’d say she needed the toilet and then once in
the bathroom she could call them on her mobile.

Her hand went to her pocket. Her mobile wasn’t there.

“Looking for this?” asked B.B. holding up her phone.

“What? How did you-”

“I took it when we shook hands – thought you’d prove to be trouble.” He
laughed his horrid laugh, bared his horrid teeth.

“Give me it back,” said Scarlet. She didn’t let him see how scared she
was. She tried to snatch it but he stood up, towering over her and holding the
phone just out of her reach.

“He’s ripped me off, hasn’t he?” said Grandma. “How could I have been so
stupid!”

“It’s not your fault Grandma,” said Scarlet. “Go and get your coat-”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” said B.B. He took hold of Grandma’s arm and
pushed her down onto one of the kitchen chairs “I don’t think I can let you
go.” He got between Scarlet and the door.

Scarlet was determined not to panic. She needed to think of a way to get
her and Grandma out of the house and away from this creep. If they could get
outside, they could perhaps take a forest path to the main road. Someone they
knew was bound to come past in a car. She needed to keep him talking while she
figured out their escape.

“There’s no delivery van outside. How did you get here with all the
shopping?” she asked.

“Oh, I carried it. I’m very strong and I took a shortcut from town –
through the forest – I know the forest very well – every path, every hiding
place.” He reached out and grabbed Scarlet. He twisted her arm behind her back
and pushed her towards Grandma. Scarlet was very scared but she struggled and
kicked. She managed to get him in the shin. He let out a howl. “You little-” he
raised his arm and she saw his huge paw coming towards her face.

Crash! The kitchen door clattered against the wall. Scarlet heard
footsteps and shouting and Grandma screaming. “Get him constable!” came a
woman’s voice.

Before B.B. could hit Scarlet, his arm was grabbed in mid-air. A
policeman pushed him to the floor and handcuffed his wrists.

“Sergeant Woodman,” said the policewoman, going over to Grandma and
shaking her hand.

“Good kick!” said a familiar voice.

“Goldie!” said Scarlet and she hugged her friend. “When did you get
here?”

“Oh I was just behind you. But you know me. I like to look around the outside
of a forest cottage – peep in all the windows before I go in. Especially after
last time and you know…”

“Ah, yes the bears.” Scarlet smiled.

“Quite – and I was right to do so because when I looked in the kitchen
window – I saw this –  this creature and
I didn’t like what I saw. I recognised him from ‘Crimestoppers’  – he’s preys on elderly ladies – cons them
out of their money.” She pointed at the snarling B.B. who was being bundled
outside.

“I’ll get him in the van, ma’am,” said the constable.

“Your friend did well,” said Sergeant Woodman. “She called us when she
saw what was going on – gave us an excellent description. We knew it had to be
the guy we’ve been looking for.”

A few weeks later, Scarlet and Goldie both received bravery awards from
the police and Grandma got a spot on Crimewatch warning other elderly people
not to be taken in by doorstep conmen.

And when they grew up Scarlet became Head of the Fraud Squad and Goldie
became Chief Constable – after a successful career as a detective investigating
vandalism and burglary.

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