The old lady found her other bag and looked out the train window. What was happening? Why was there a big crowd? Where was that tall boy with the brown hair? Quickly, she got off the train.
As soon as she put her foot on the platform, a policeman moved towards her.
‘Excuse me. Did you leave a suitcase on the platform?’ he asked.
She looked for her suitcase and saw it behind some people’s legs.
‘Yes, I left it with…’
‘Is that it over there?’ asked the policeman.
‘Yes,’ answered the old lady, ‘It is. But I don’t understand. Why…?’
‘I’m sorry, but I must ask you to open it.’
The old lady looked at the faces of the people who were looking at her. Some of them looked excited, some of them afraid.
‘But what is all this about?’
‘Would you please open your suitcase. Now!’ said the policeman. He looked angry.
‘Yes, of course,’ said the old lady. The people in the crowd moved to the side and made a road for her through them. That was when she saw it: red all over the platform. And the it was coming from her suitcase.
‘Oh!’ she said in a small voice.
‘Who was the boy that was watching your suitcase?’ asked the policeman, standing close to her. She could hear the words ‘train station’ and ‘blood’ coming out of his radio.
‘…Sorry, what?’ she asked.
‘The boy that ran away,’ said the policeman. ‘Who was he?’
‘His name was Tommy. I asked him to look after my suitcase while I got my other bag. You see, I left my small bag on the train.’ She held up a small, brown bag. ‘I didn’t want to carry my heavy suitcase into the train again, and I didn’t want to leave it on the platform.’
‘This boy – Tommy – ran away when he saw me coming,’ said the policeman.
‘He helped me with my suitcase – that’s all I know about him. Perhaps he ran away because he was afraid of you.’
‘Hmm’ said the policeman. ‘Open your suitcase.’
The old lady brought out a key from her small bag and put it into the suitcase’s lock.
She turned the key and the suitcase fell open. Inside, there were lots and lots of paints – and paper too.
‘You see,’ said the old lady, ‘I’m an artist and I use all of these colours to make pictures. But look at the red. It’s everywhere! Oh dear!’
Suddenly, someone in the crowd began to laugh, then another person and another. Soon everyone was laughing, the policeman too. In fact, he was laughing the loudest.
‘What’s happening?’ asked the old lady. ‘Why is everyone laughing?’
‘I’m so sorry,’ said the policeman, ‘this is all just a big mistake. We thought that the red paint was blood!’
‘Blood? My goodness! Did you all think I was a murderer?
‘I’m very sorry,’ said the policeman.
The old lady smiled, but then she remembered Tommy. ‘But what about Tommy? He must think the police want him!’
The policeman turned to the crowd. ‘Has anyone seen that boy? The one who ran away.’
But no one was interested. People turned away and began leaving the platform or getting on trains. There was nothing exciting to see: there was no blood; there was no murder; there was no dead body. The old lady was just an old lady with a suitcase full of red paint.
‘Sorry,’ said the policeman to the old lady. ‘But don’t worry – he’ll be fine.’
The old lady looked sad.
‘Let me carry your suitcase’ said the policeman, picking it up. ‘Do you live here?’
‘Thank you,’ said the old lady. ‘And no, I don’t live here. I’m just visiting. I am staying at the Kings Hotel in the centre of town.’
‘Well,’ said the policeman, ‘let’s find you a taxi.’
Paint (n) – We use this to make pictures. You can buy it in many colours.
An artist (n) – Someone who makes pictures/paintings.