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The Knife

Page 2

Barry Revill

Mr Quimper, well, he lived over the road. He had two sons, Eddy and John, and a daughter, Joan. She had what was called infantile paralysis. Some days she made it to school, some days she did not. At the weekends she would wave to me and I would wave back, and we had signals which would tell each other if it was ok for me to come over and muck about for a while. She had irons on her legs which made a funny rattling sound when she walked and she had a funny way of walking by swinging her hip around, and most of the time I thought she was going to fall flat on her face. I told Joan about Betty Forsyth, she lived two doors up but one. I told her that Betty had asked me to come into the empty block we had in our street where she was going to show me something. Joan said I was the third kid she had asked in a fortnight.

Betty Forsyth’s father was a fisherman. He used to fish off the Victorian coast. Sometimes he would be away for a few days. People said there were Jap subs off the Victorian coast.  One day he went away and did not come back, did not come back at all. People said the Japs got him, that’s what people said in our street, because I heard them say it. Joan and I talked about it. We talked about it nearly every day for a week. Then we decided to forget about it and we started to talk about other things as well. We talked all the time. That’s what we did, we talked. Then we talked about it again another day and we wondered what it would have been like to be a fisherman, out there in all that cold wind and stuff, with the sea bobbing up and down, which we figured would make the boat bob up and down as well. That’s what we figured.

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