I once had a little red notebook. It could rest quite comfortably in the palm of my hand. I was only twelve at the time this all happened but I had pretty small hands. Anyway, this book had been in my family for generations. Lots of the pages had been torn out. It didn’t seem like much when I found it amongst the boxes in the attic. We were clearing out junk and I pulled this little red notebook from the dustiest box, hidden in the darkest corner.
“What’s this?” I asked my mum.
Her eyes widened. She was never one for dramatics but I saw a true look of fear on her face that day mixed with general bewilderment. “That was your gran’s,” she replied.
My gran had lots of weird belongings. I remember some of the strange statues we had found after she moved to sunnier climates. They looked eerily like little people carved out of wax. Some some of them had needles sticking in what I would imagine would be very painful places. Mum melted all of the dolls down and threw them away. My gran was a little weird. I always thought so but as a kid it was really fun to be around. When I stayed over with her she would show me all sorts of old books and tell me ghost stories. I said I could handle it but she told them so vividly that I would wake up in the middle of the night and swear that the ‘goober man’ was watching me. ‘Goober man’ was one of her favourites. He was a dusty old creature who stalked the ancient streets where my gran lived. The fingers and toes of little girls – just like me – were his favourite delicacy. He had long thin strands of hair covering a liver spotted head. His eyes were bulbous and yellow. His fingers were long and he had sharp teeth for gnawing on little bones. He sounded awful. I didn’t want a visit from him. As I said gran loved telling me stories of ‘goober man’. She would see how scared I would be getting and she would laugh. She was a little strange.
“Can I keep this?” I asked my mum of the little red book.
Mum wrinkled her nose. “It’s all rotten and there are hardly any pages left.”
I agreed but I did like the red cover. It gave the notebook some importance. Mum shrugged her shoulders and continued sorting the junk so I slipped the book into the back pocket of my jeans and helped.
That night when everyone – mum, dad and my little brother Ray – had gone to sleep, I kept my night light on and finally had a look at my new red notebook. There was an inscription inside that read:
ENEMY LIST; ENEMIES BEWARE. GONE FOREVER.
This actually made me smile. Even the most patient and tolerant of us would love the chance to make certain people in our lives disappear. One name came to mind – Stacey Willen. She was a nasty girl in my class who had being going out of her way to make my life a misery since we first started school. She would tease me about my hair, my clothes and pretty much everything about me. She had her loyal band of supporters who laughed at her jokes that really weren’t that funny. They were all so eager to gain her approval that they wouldn’t even help me up when she pushed me into the mud. They just stood there like grinning hyenas like it was the best comedy in the world. Just that day I had been sat underneath the tree reading a book. It was a very sunny day. The tree was offering a nice cooling, shady breeze. I was enjoying my reading, blocking out the nonsense screaming of my classmates in the school yard. Stacey must have spotted me from across the yard and felt unable to leave me content. She marched over to me and snatched the book from my hands.
“Give me that back!” I protested.
Stacey sneered. She wasn’t particularly bright. She opened the book in the middle and spat on the pages. Not quite having caused enough havoc she turned to the end and ripped out the last three pages. Seeing I wasn’t reacting she got bored and threw the book back at me, hitting me hard on the arm.
Staring at my gran’s enemy list I took a pen from the night stand. It had thick black ink. She would have to be the first name. STACEY WILLEN. Content with myself I turned off my light and fell into a comfortable nights sleep.
The next morning when I arrived at school I had half expected Stacey to be there to greet me, somehow knowing I had added her to my enemy list. To my surprise her usual band of supporters were gathered but there was no Stacey.
“She has just disappeared. Her parents say she was in her room last night and when they went to check on her she was gone! They think she has ran away. The police were around and everything,” Stacey’s appointed ‘second in command’ was telling the others.
Stacey disappeared? After I had added her to my enemy list? Surely this was just coincidental. I knew my gran was weird but surely she wasn’t that weird?
Mr Perlman was the caretaker at the school. He was always shouting at the kids and he spat when he spoke. He was a bitter old crank and never had a nice word to say about anyone, even sweet old Mr Faben – the headmaster – who was technically his boss.
He sat at a table in the entranceway making sure the students made their way to class in a timely and organised manner. He wore a battered old hat that was once red but now yellowy and in desperate need of a wash.
“Move it along Wilson!” he spat at me even though he could clearly see I was moving to my first class. I turned and looked at him to verify exactly what it was he was shouting at me for. I had after all just crossed the threshold into the school. He pointed savagely at his brown forehead. “Are you a moron!? I said move along!”
I shook my head and grunted. I took out my red notebook and smiled to myself as I wrote down, in heavy letters, MR PERLMAN. It did make me feel much better. I walked along to my class. If I had turned at that moment I would have noticed the seat where Mr Perlman had been in just moments before, empty except for the battered old hat.
That afternoon over lunch I saw Mr Faben wandering around the hall looking for Mr Perlman. I didn’t think anything of it. I just saw it that the student body was getting a break for an afternoon both from Stacey Willen and Mr Perlman so it was win win. I overheard the girls at the table next to me discussing the maths test we were to have later that afternoon. They were in my class, they knew me well by name but never invited me to join them. It seems they thought I was a little odd. They hadn’t met my gran. As the girls left the lunch room, offering me but a fleeting glance I began to think of how under prepared I was for the maths test. I and many twelve year olds would much rather be doing anything else than sitting a maths test so for kicks I took out my red notebook once again. This time I added MISS PARSON AND THE S32 MATHS CLASS to the enemy list.
Eventually the bell rang and I swung my bag over my shoulder and took a deep breath. I arrived at my maths class and it was empty. Everyone had gone, even Miss Parson.
Whilst the school was in turmoil trying to find out where an entire class of students, a rookie maths teacher and the caretaker would have disappeared to I slipped my red enemy list back into my pocket. I was going to have to learn to use it wisely…
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