Duncan Richardson

Duncan Richardson writes prose and poetry for children and adults. His verse play The Grammar of Deception will be broadcast on ABC Radio National in 2008. He lives in Brisbane where he conducts writing workshops. Previous children’s books include Wennabees and Yum-worms and Revenge


I glanced back up the street. I couldn’t see any fire so my kidnappers must’ve been able to put it out. Which meant they could be after me any second. Which meant I had to get out of sight.

The closest doorway looked heavy and strong. I’d never make much sound on that. My arms were too skinny. I hurried on. The next one was lighter but also made of wood. It wouldn’t rattle.

I spotted a glint of light across the road and ran over. Yes! A sheet of that crinkly iron stuff. I kicked it hard, hurting my toes. Again, with the side of my foot, like passing in soccer. Whang!

“Help! Help!” I yelled.

“There he is, the yellow devil! Get ‘im!”

I turned. Giraffe and Shorty were charging down the street. In the dark, it was hard to tell how close they were. I bashed the iron with my shoulder and yelled out the only Chinese word I could think of.

“Chou! Chou!” I couldn’t remember what it meant.

Giraffe’s boots were pounding the dirt. I could almost smell Shorty’s bad breath. I kicked the iron and yelled, not sure whether to stay or run.

A strong hand grabbed my shoulder. It pulled me into a dark space beside the metal sheet. I’d been bashing on a wall. A wooden gate crashed shut. A chain clanked. One figure stood by the door. The hand on my shoulder didn’t let go. I sensed the man who owned the hand just behind me in the dark. I heard his breath about level with my ear. He spoke quickly and quietly in Chinese and two more figures came out of the shadows. Giraffe and Shorty were outside, cursing and swearing. One of them kicked the iron.

“Leave us alone,” said a voice from nearby. He had a strong accent. A bit like that boy from Taiwan in Grade Six, when he’d just arrived. “We don’t want trouble.”

“Well you’ve got it,” Giraffe grunted, “unless ya give us that little runt back.”

“What do you want with him?” said the Chinese voice.

“Mind ya own darn business,” said Giraffe. “Give ‘im back. He’s ours.”

The strong hand let go of my shoulder. My whole body went tight. I took a deep breath, thinking it could be my last ever. Whew! Strong stuff. Fish and fruit.

A match flared. Two hard brown eyes stared at me. He said something sharp in Chinese to the man by the door then shouted to Giraffe and Shorty. “No!” he said. “You go away. He is ours.”

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