The Pick Up
After a bizarre incident in a playground leads to accusations of molesting someone else’s child, a father of two turns to the media to defend himself – but gets rather more than he bargained for. A long-ish short story (11,000 words) about bringing up children, media hysteria and building sandcastles.
The bin was really starting to stink. Every time he went into the kitchen to make himself another coffee, it made him feel nauseous. He wondered if he should empty it.
He went upstairs and peered cautiously out of the window of one of the kids’ bedrooms. The street was deserted. He scanned the parked cars, searching for bored-looking figures slumped in the front seats, sipping coffee or reading a paper as they waited for him to emerge. But he couldn’t see anyone.
Returning to the kitchen, he lifted the black plastic sack out of the bin, taking care not to tear the sides. Released from its stainless steel container, it bulged outwards as he lowered it gently onto the kitchen floor and tied the handles together. When he reached the front door, he noticed that a thick brown liquid was oozing out of the bottom of the sack – although it was sufficiently viscous that it was not in any immediate danger of dripping onto the carpet. He thought about returning to the kitchen to put another bag around it, but decided not to bother. It would be fine, as long as he was quick – which he fully intended to be.
Opening the front door, he darted round the side of the house, lifted the lid of the wheelie bin and with one beautifully fluid movement swung the bag up and over, flipping the lid back down again with his free hand. Or at least, this was what he had intended to do. But mid-swing, a shout of ‘Mr Challoner!’ from the direction of the front gate made him turn suddenly. The bag hit the top of the wheelie bin and burst, depositing the slimy remains of four days’ food waste all over his jeans.