(C) Sam Liddicott 2004
Of course, he'd heard of boats. Instead of a steering wheel they had two sticks – paddle things – that you waved around in the water to tell the boat which way to go. Sort of like a steering wheel cut in half with the two halves dipping in the water. Like steering wheel – but in the water. That didn't sound too hard, he'd used steering wheels before.
The water stank of ducks, rotting leaves, rank damp bread and the sort of things that gets left behind by ducks that eat too much rank damp bread thats been floating around in rotting leaves. And it was wet – raining that is. He had no hat and so tried to make do with putting his hands over his head and wriggling down further into the bushes by the boat house. Looking up in the dusk light, he noticed with resigned pessimism that he was right below the eaves, which, without guttering, were dripping a regular beat upon him. There had been a guttering. He looked at it beneath his feet, wondering if it would be of any use for anything.
There were no boats in the water. This escaped him for quite some time, and he cursed quietly as he realised. First, panic that he was in the wrong place; that maybe this wasn't the boat house on the lake by the south entrance as the map had shown. Then he fetched the crumpled map out of his pocket and squinted at in in the halflight, parting the bushes for more light to be able to see clearly. This was the place, and the boat house was marked on the map, and there was the island in the middle of the lake. Boat house – what a funny name, he thought to himself. It was probably called a boat house because it was right by the place they kept the boats.
His legs were beginning to ache from too much crouching in the low bushes, and shuffling his feet only served to make him lose his balance and sit down in the mud. He noticed (as he turned around) a litter bin close by. There was something moving in the bin, he could tell by the noise. Probably a rat. Then he remembered about rats in the water. It would be hard to tell if rats had weed in this water, it was so dirty anyway.
These hardships recalled his purpose to mind. Soon he'd be on the island, a new home of his own with no-one, no-one, to bother him; and a big bonfire to dry him out, warm him up and cook his dinner. A tin of scotch broth! Later he'd trap rabbits and things, but that took time, of course. The idea of a fire was comforting. He felt in his pockets for his cigarette lighter - just a flame to wam his hands while he waited - but it was missing; his mother had been through his pockets again.
Then a clap of thunder broke out and the rain increased to a torrent. So much for “overcast” he thought as he trudged back home. At least the rain would wash the mud off his trousers.