Biographical Non-Fiction posted July 23, 2016

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Non-Fiction Contest Entry

Not-So-Perfect Crime

by kiwisteveh

It is often said that there is no such thing as the perfect crime. That, of course, is nonsense. By its very definition, the perfect crime is one that is never detected. The perfect theft is one which is never reported -- think of accounts people, who juggle the books in such a way that they can rob a company blind without anyone suspecting money is even missing. The perfect murder is one where motive and means are so convincingly hidden that the death is ruled to be an accident or a suicide.

I believe I would be quite adept at pulling off the perfect crime -- this is because I learnt at a young age the three prime requirements: invisibility, preparation, and keeping your stupid bloody mouth shut. Let us venture now into the dark and musty recesses of the past to discover an adolescent adventure that taught me just how essential these three prerequisites are...

A little background first.

When I was of an age to attend high school, my devoted parents decided to send me to boarding school. It was an honour not bestowed on any of my siblings, because I was considered 'the smart one', who would undoubtedly benefit from learning French and Latin, estimable subjects not offered at the local High School. Although I managed to obtain a scholarship to pay some of my fees, I am sure the decision cost my family dearly. Perhaps they were anticipating some return on their investment. If so, I am afraid they were sorely disappointed, but that is another story.

I was a shy little bookworm from the country when I entered Carruth House, as our hostel was named. I knew nothing of Matrons and Housemasters and Prefects, of Laundry Duty and Lights Out, and the daily two-hour torture known as 'Prep', of Dorm Inspections, Uniform Inspections, Communal Showers (another more furtive Inspection) and how to brace yourself to receive the regular canings. I didn't know how to pinch the peak of my school cap into the correct shape to be immediately identified as a Carruth Boy and I was still fumbling with tying my own shoe-laces - after all, this was the first time I had been required to don such footwear.

However, over the next two years a wondrous transformation took place, akin to the miracle of the creeping, earthbound caterpillar metamorphosing into that cavalier of the skies, the butterfly. In short, by the time I turned fifteen, like every other teenager of that age, I knew it all.

Now to the crime... Not really a crime, but certainly a deception of colossal magnitude, a stunt that could have landed me in a world of trouble if discovered. It came about when a long weekend holiday coincided with an important match for my cricket team.

On some long weekends, Carruth remained open and the boys could decide whether or not to go home for the holiday. Disastrously, in my eyes, this occasion was different. It was decreed that the hostel would close and everybody would go home. I knew that there was no way I would be able to persuade my parents to make yet another trip to the city to take me to the match, but I had already said I would play. If I pulled out now, I would not only be letting down my team and my coach, but also lowering my own estimation of myself as one to whom such pettifogging rules did not apply.

The solution was simple really; the hostel may be going to close, but one boarder would remain, hidden from the eyes of the pesky authorities who had had the gall to interfere with the way he wished his life to be. A brief phone-call to my parents convinced them that this was one of those weekends when returning was optional. That took care of the invisibility of the 'crime'; the school would believe I was at home, while folks at home believed I was safe in the care of the school. Magic!

Now for preparation. I knew I would not be able to sleep in my own hostel bed - too obvious, and anyway the dorms would be securely locked. However, there was another location that would make do, a storage building on Carruth grounds that housed dusty old furniture. That would be locked too, of course, but what was a fairly open secret amongst the boys was that you could access it from the crawl space via a trapdoor in the floor., No doubt the secret space had been created by earlier generations of Carruthians to engineer a hidey-hole where they could carry out illicit activities such as smoking and poring over girly magazines. There was even a couch in there that would serve admirably as a bed. With a bit of luck, I might find one of those magazines, which would take care of entertainment.

So far, remarkably, I had kept my mouth shut. Friday afternoon rolled around and parents arrived to take their offspring back into the bosom of family. I strolled out the gate with the others, carrying a bag containing my cricket gear and a change of clothing. Picking a suitably hectic moment, when no one would notice, I quietly vanished in the direction of the town, where there was one more vital piece of preparation to be made.

Food. I was a fit, healthy, and therefore hungry, teenager. There would be no loving Matron supervising the kitchen staff as they served up the three square meals a day I was used to. Scraping together the meagre pocket money saved up over a couple of weeks I made cautious and well-planned purchases of an apple, a banana, a packet of chocolate biscuits and a small stash of aniseed wheel lollies, my favourite sweet of the time. That was the extent of my limited resources, and how I imagined it would keep starvation at bay over the three long days of the weekend is now far beyond my recall.

My escapade began well enough; I returned to the deserted school buildings under cover of dusk and clambered through the trapdoor into my improvised accommodation. After demolishing precisely half of my total store of provisions, and a stealthy but unsuccessful search by torchlight for casually discarded magazines, I settled down for a good night's sleep, not a care in the world.

It speaks volumes for my youthful innocence and constitution that I slept at all, hungry, alone in a strange building, huddled on a lumpy couch with no proper bedding and with only the unidentified creatures that scuttled along the floor and through the ceiling above me for company.

The morning dawned fair, good weather for cricket, and having taken care of the last of my provisions, bar a few precious aniseed wheels, I set off for the nearby park, where the game was to be played. My secret. it seemed, was safe; nobody asked any awkward questions about how I'd got to the ground, or how I was getting home afterwards. Let the game begin!

If this was fiction, I would embellish the yarn at this point with cricketing heroics, how I snared a hat-trick with my mesmerising spin bowling, or how in a plucky last-wicket stand, I smashed the winning runs off the very last ball of the match. Since it is fact, I will have to state, that I remember nothing of the result. We probably lost; we usually did.

What I do know for certain, is that I was going through a delicious torment, keeping the secret of my bravado and fiendish brilliance under wraps. What kudos I could earn, by revealing that I was a free agent, totally uncontrolled by family or school. My exploits would surely be celebrated as one of the great Carruth adventures. Perhaps, some day, a budding writer might even immortalise the events of this weekend in glowing prose, a kind of 'Ferris Bueller's Weekend Off', albeit Ferris did not yet exist, even as a figment of any script-writer's imagination. Yes, the excitement and temptation of braggadocio got the better of me. I broke the third and cardinal rule of getting away with things - I blabbed.

The 'blabbee' was a freckled and chubby-cheeked young fellow called Barry McKenty, better known to all as Bazza. Having sworn him to secrecy, on peril of losing all that was most dear to him, such as his transistor radio and stash of illicit cigarettes, I spilled the beans. I had chosen my confidant wisely - or not. You be the judge. Within five minutes, Bazza had whispered the news to another boy. Within half an hour, it had spread like galloping diarrhoea after one of Carruth's notorious curried egg dishes. My team-mates congratulated me on my pluckiness, and even the opposition team seemed somewhat in awe of this adventurer in their midst. I basked in the glow of their adulation

Then the unthinkable happened. Bazza's Mum turned up to watch the end of the game and to pick him up. In horror, I watched as Bazza blurted out the news of the day. I saw bewilderment, surprise, disbelief, and finally a grim determination sweep across her face. She spoke curtly to her son and he pointed me out. Abruptly she turned and marched in my direction - the jig was up!

Where are you today, Bazza's Mum? If you are still of this world, God bless you for what you did that day. If you have passed to a better place, I hope you are being well rewarded. A hundred and one terrifying consequences flashed through my imaginative mind, as you strode those few short yards towards me. You adopted none of them.

You didn't call my parents, you didn't call the school, you didn't call the police or the social workers. You didn't even berate me for my foolishness and irresponsibility. Instead, you did the motherly thing and took me home, fed me, provided me with a comfortable bed for two more nights, and on Monday afternoon, dropped me off outside Carruth House as if I were your own child. I remember I let Bazza wander off towards the dorm first, then I turned back to thank you. I thanked my lucky stars in equal measure, and I vowed never to forget the lessons I learned over that long holiday weekend.

Gotta go. I'm busy preparing for my next big caper. You won't hear about it on the news; it's going to be invisible. Shhh! Don't tell anyone.


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