‘What’s up with Franklin now?’ Henrietta cheeped, carefully putting her feather duster and polishing accessories into a large blue plastic mesh container. She untied her floral apron, folded it with pin sharp accuracy and hung it over a wooden backed chair next to Percy. Percy was too wrapped up admiring the completed Tiger Moth to hear his wife’s chirpings. Henrietta hurriedly left the living room. Franklin continued his high pitched yappings at a large dark shadow looming outside the frosted glass panels of the front door. Henrietta stopped abruptly and gasped at the size of the shadow. Franklin scampered back into the living room, trembling beneath the drop leaf table.
‘Who’s there?’ Henrietta squeaked. There was no reply. She carefully slid the bolt in place in the brass door chain and slowly opened the door. She peeked through the gap. Henrietta couldn’t believe what she saw towering above her. She gulped, gasped and quickly slammed the door shut. She pressed her frail back against the door and in a quivering voice shouted, ‘Percy! Percy!’
‘Whatever’s the matter, dear Henrietta?’ Percy asked calmly, pressing his wire rimmed glasses up against his long thin nose on entering the hallway.
‘Th-That,’ stuttered Henrietta, pointing to the dark shadow beyond the door.
‘Who is it?’ Percy was soon to find out. The shadow thumped on the door, shaking it in its doorframe.
‘Out of my way, Henrietta. I’ll deal with this,’ Percy bravely offered. Percy unlocked the door chain and swung the door open. ‘Now look here my f – f – fellow,’ the words stalled to a halt in Percy’s throat. Percy blinked hard. The huge shadow blinked back.
‘I’ve come for Ben,’ Mad Mick told Percy, but with Mick’s permanent scowl and size it came across as an order.‘Y-Y-Yes of course,’ Percy stammered. ‘J-just a minute.’ Percy gently closed the door and turned to Henrietta.
‘Well?’ she asked.
‘He wants Ben!’ Percy exclaimed.
‘Ben? Ben? Whatever does he want with Ben? Tell him to go away.’
Percy sighed, apprehensive as to what action the monster may take if he disobeyed orders. Ben had heard the commotion in the hallway and came running downstairs to see what the fuss was about. Percy put the bolt back in the chain lock and nervously opened the door. He peered through the narrow gap and looked up at the giant. ‘I’m afraid Ben isn’t in at the moment.’
Mad Mick appeared stumped, unsure what to do next. ‘When will he be back?’
‘Who is it Dad?’ Ben shouted.
‘Huh?’ Mad Mick grunted.
‘Oh no!’ squeaked Percy, smiling apologetically, turning away from the door, hoping the ogre would have disappeared when he looked back.
‘Who is he?’ Henrietta whispered.
‘He’s my mate, Mick. Mad Mick.’
‘You can’t mix with thugs like that,’ she told Ben.
‘Mick isn’t a thug. He’s my friend.’
‘Tell him to go home, Percy. Our Ben isn’t to mix with his sort.’
Mad Mick could hear all of this through the gap in the door. Maybe it was a mistake to believe mistakes could have friends. Maybe he would be better going back to his old ways of terrorising the local kids. Who needs friends? The shadow began to fade away from the frosted glass, rays of light penetrated the hallway.