Tommy jumped out of the way – just in time: the taxi missed him by a metre.
‘Hey, you stupid kid!’ shouted the driver, his red face sticking out of its window. ‘I nearly hit you!’
‘Sorry,’ said Tommy. ‘I was…’
‘If you aren’t careful, you’ll wake up in hospital!’
‘I didn’t see you,’ Tommy said.
‘You didn’t look!’ said the taxi driver. ‘What’s the matter with you anyway?’
Tommy said nothing. There were lots of things were worrying him – running away from a crime and the police chasing him were just two! He stood there silently.
The taxi driver shook his head. ‘Next time, just be careful. Okay?’
‘Okay,’ said Tommy and the taxi began to move away. ‘Kids! What do their parents teach them, eh?’ he heard the driver say to someone. The taxi went past and Tommy’s mouth fell open: the passenger in the back seat of the taxi was the old lady!
‘Hey!’ called Tommy, ‘Come back.’ But it was too late. The lights were at green and the taxi was already half way up the street.
What’s going on? Why was she in the taxi? Why wasn’t she in the police station? Tommy kept his eyes on the taxi, following it as it went through the traffic. A few minutes later, it stopped at the King’s Hotel – the best and most expensive in town.
Immediately, Tommy began running. He was in the town’s busiest street and there were crowds of people enjoying their shopping in the summer sun. As fast as he could, he went through the people and past the shops, but then began to slow down. The third last shop on the other side of the road was his father’s gallery. As he came nearer, he looked across at its large windows and the name ‘WINTERBURN’S’ in gold letters above them. Perhaps his father was watching! Tommy hid behind a group of tourists. Following them all the way to the hotel, he stopped when he was outside it and looked in.
Inside the hotel, a man at a desk was smiling and giving the old lady a key. Tommy couldn’t see the suitcase. Where were the police? Why did no one call them? He didn’t understand. ‘Now what do I do?’ he asked himself. ‘Wait and see’ was his only answer.
Next to the hotel, on the same side of the road as his father’s gallery, there was a coffee shop. Tommy was hungry and he needed somewhere to wait. Soon, he was sitting outside in the sun with a sandwich in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other and his iPod in his ears, waiting and watching.
Over an hour went past. Taxis arrived and left every minute from the hotel and twice Tommy thought he saw the old lady, but twice it was someone different. ‘How long is this going to take?’ he thought. He looked at the money he had: not enough for another coffee. He was about to stand up when an old man came out of the hotel and began walking along the street. He wore a dark green suit, and a green shirt and tie. Tommy sat down, but he didn’t take his eyes off the man. There was something strange about him. Something…Just then, the old man stopped and looked hard at Tommy before walking quickly away.
Tommy jumped to his feet. The old man’s eyes – one green eye, one brown – and that green suit! Was it true? There was no other way to explain it: the old woman was now an old man –and that old man was now opening the door to WINTERBURN’S Gallery.
A gallery (n) – a shop that sells paintings
Tourists (n) – people on holiday