‘No, no, no! The Bend is not included in the deal!’
Jack’s grandfather’s voice was loud and angry. Jack could hear him stomping around the kitchen and banging his fist on the counter tops as he spoke to someone on the telephone. He was glad he was outside on the verandah. When Pop Monahan was in a bad mood, it was best to keep out of the way and he was often in a bad mood these days.
Jack paused the game he was playing and looked in through the window. His father was in there with his grandfather, trying to keep the older man calm.
‘I know I’ve signed the contract and I know what it says,’ Pop roared. ‘ “All pastoral land and buildings”, it says. “All pastoral land” does not include green belt land. The Bend is green belt!’. The telephone was slammed back into its cradle on the wall.
‘Settle down, Dad.’ John Monahan’s voice was low, concerned. ‘I’ll put the kettle on. Come on. Sit down.’
Jack sighed, moved back to the verandah steps and resumed the battle with the goblin army. He had passed the Gates of the Asran Empire and was carefully easing his way through the Forest of Dread when the door opened.
‘Jack, turn that thing off, grab your bike and get on down to the gate. When you see the ambulance, direct the paramedics up here.’ His father looked worried and the urgency in his voice sent a cold stab of fear through Jack.
‘What’s wrong? What’s happening? Is it Pop?’ Jack’s hands were shaking as he shut down the game and jumped to his feet.
‘Yeah, he’s not doing too well. Now, on your bike. Get going!’ John Monahan waved a hand in the direction of the gate, gave his son a half grin and a nod and disappeared back into the house.
Jack swore under his breath, hopped onto his bike and raced off down the driveway toward the gate. He continued swearing as he pedaled as fast as he could.
‘Don’t die, Pop.’ he muttered between curse words. ‘Don’t die.’
It only took a few minutes to reach the gate but it seemed like hours to Jack. He stood astride the bicycle, heart pounding, whispering silent prayers as he squinted down the road. It stretched away to the east shimmering in the early summer heat.
‘Where is the damn ambulance?’ he shouted, startling some birds in the nearby trees. As if answering his question, they screeched back at him. ‘Shut up, stupid birds!’ Jack yelled. ‘I’m not talking to you.’
He started to ride slowly down the road and, then, faintly, he could hear the tell-tale wail of the ambulance siren. He turned, rode back to the gate and waited and watched as the flashing lights came closer and closer. He waved his arm as if he were hailing a bus and, as the vehicle slowed and turned in at the gateway, he yelled to the driver, ‘Straight on! Up at the house!’
The ambulance moved off towards the house, lights still flashing but with the siren now silent.
Jack followed slowly. He was scared. His stomach felt cold and fluttery. His grandfather was an old man. He had had trouble with his heart before and he was supposed to stay calm, avoid stress.