Highly Commended Story - Zany Danny
“Zany Danny” by Liam D’souza, Rustomjee Cambridge International School, India, is the Highly Commended story in the sub-junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Liam is a Fifth Grader at Rustomjee Cambridge International School, Dahisar. He’s been wishing for the Queen to adopt him as her great-grandson for some time now. Such is his love for the language of her land!!! Liam possesses a voracious appetite, not just for the culinary feasts, but for the literary treats as well! Ruskin Bond, JK Rowling and Roald Dahl are a few of the authors who’ve fired his imagination. He aspires to be a children’s novelist in the future whose writing is an irresistible amalgamation of Bond’s simplicity, Rowling’s awesomeness and Dahl's rib-tickling humour.
I never imagined there could ever be an upside to belonging to a family of six brothers. We were boisterous, loud and quite poor! Mother had seven kids to tend to, my eccentric father included! But one raised eyebrow from her usually lowered our pulse dangerously. So, when Police Chief McArthur brought in a raggedy-looking boy to live with us, it didn't frazzle Mother one bit. Never mind that our tiny cottage was bursting at the seams!
Danny, a mousy boy, and a key witness in a tragic double homicide of his parents, was surreptitiously inducted into the Witness Protection Program. It was Chief McArthur's ingenuous idea to lodge him at our place. What safer haven could there be than a nondescript house in an unremarkable town, overflowing with testosterone! Not one of the townsfolk batted an eyelid at the increased head count. No vengeful murderer in his right mind would ever dare to lock horns with us brothers, who drew more blood in our fistfights than he’d ever spill in his career! And then there was Mother, who could make the vilest killer turn the knife on himself in shame!
As per protocol, Danny would be moved to a new home shortly to shake anyone who might be on his trail. We'd been sufficiently admonished by Chief McArthur not to get too close to the victim but Danny really felt like a brother from another mother!
Which is why we were all rattled when we couldn’t find him anywhere this morning. We scoured every inch of our humble homestead, from the dusty attic to the unruly hedges, and even our rudimentary treehouse. Summoning all the courage we possessed collectively, we explored the nooks and crannies of our eerie wine cellar with a fine tooth comb. Yet, none the wiser about his whereabouts. Mom snivelled uncharacteristically, the rest of us moped about listlessly. The Chief would surely wring our necks in his swarthy hands!
Presently, a pitiful moaning reverberated through the house. Had we inadvertently unleashed a ghoul? The moaning transformed to chuckling when we mopped our nervous faces and swallowed palpably, looking around wildly for the source. Suddenly, something disgustingly black came whooshing down the chimney at full throttle and flew right into mother's lap! If it weren’t for the tears clearing off the ash from his sooty face, we’d never be able to tell it was Danny!
The six of us roughed him up for giving us hell before Mother’s voice boomed in for quiet.
“Explain yourself, young man.”
Danny gulped visibly. Stuttering, he said,
“I-I only wanted to hide from Chief McArthur as I didn't want to leave such a fine f-f-family. But when I d-discovered you care for me as much as the family I lost, I couldn't control...” he dissolved into tears. “P-please let me s-stay...?”
Mom's stolidly awaiting the Chief’s arrival. It’s payback time! Why not give the little imp a mini-stroke before officially asking the Chief for permission to adopt him!