Just Joshua

Just Joshua by Jan Michael Read Free Book Online

Book: Just Joshua by Jan Michael Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jan Michael
His father was snoring in snorts, the way he did shortly before waking up. He turned back to the window and waved. ‘Coming!’
    He scrambled out of bed. He picked his shorts and shirt off the chair where he had left them the previous night and shook them. A beetle dropped to the floor and scuttled away. He shook them again. Satisfied that no more insects were lurking in the folds, he put them on.
    He was almost at the door when he thought of the snake. Perhaps he would show it to Robert after all. For a moment he dithered. Then he went back and scrabbled in the box under his bed for the carving. Tucking it under his arm, he ducked beneath the cotton curtain that covered the doorway and clasped hands outside with Robert.
    ‘I have something to show you,’ he whispered, opening the paper bag.
    ‘Can’t it wait?’ Robert was impatient to get going.
    ‘No,’ Joshua said firmly. Now that he’d decided to share his find, he wanted to do it straight away. ‘Look.’ He held it out.
    Robert gazed at the snake. His eyes widened. One hand reached out. ‘May I hold it?
    ‘Okay.’ Joshua shrugged. He watched anxiously as Robert examined the carving, turning it over in his hands and tracing the coils, just as he had done himself . And he felt relieved when Robert handed it back all in one piece.
    ‘Where’d you get it?’ Robert asked.
    ‘Wait,’ Joshua said. He tiptoed back into the room. His father was still snoring. He put the snake under the bed and went outside.
    ‘Where did you get it?’ Robert asked again.
    ‘At the hospital. Where we were looking the other day. I went back. I reckon the mountain man threw itout to try to tell me something.’
    ‘Really?’ Robert looked intrigued; this was much more exciting than the fishing boats. ‘So let’s go there now. Maybe there’s another one.’
    At the hospital they searched the ground under the mountain man’s window, inch by inch. They used their hands as much as their eyes, turning over stones, uprooting straggly weeds. They ducked underneath sweet-smelling oleander bushes and scrabbled among the drifts of dried blossom and leaves on the ground. There was no sign of a carving.
    They turned. Millie was running towards them.
    ‘Shh!’ Robert hissed at her, his finger to his lips.
    She skidded to a stop in the sand and looked questioningly at them.
    ‘Mountain man.’ Joshua spoke in an undertone, jabbing upwards with his thumb.
    ‘We think he’s trying to speak to us. Well … not speak, but communicate,’ Robert explained.
    Millie looked puzzled.
    ‘He threw me a carving, you see,’ Joshua told her.
    Millie didn’t see at all, but she nodded as if she did. She must tell Tom and see what he made of it.
    Joshua felt that nothing would happen while the three of them were there. ‘Let’s go,’ he said.
    ‘No!’ Robert’s firmness seemed to surprise evenhimself. ‘We mustn’t give up so easily. He just doesn’t know we’re here. Maybe we can communicate with him. Let’s spread out.’
    He gestured to his left. ‘Millie, you stand over there,’ he ordered. ‘And you stay here,’ he said to Joshua, ‘I’ll stand between you.’
    Millie looked uncertain. ‘What am I supposed to do?’ she asked.
    ‘Look up,’ he urged her.
    Robert might be right, Joshua thought. If they all looked up, it was three times more likely that the mountain man would try to get in touch. ‘Think hard,’ he whispered across to Millie. ‘Make him hear your thoughts.’
    Nothing happened, and after a while they went away.

    They came back the next day. And the next.
    On the fourth day Joshua had to help his father in the shop. By the time he reached the hospital, Robert was already there. So were Millie and Tom, as well as Robert’s sister, Miriam. They grinned at each other briefly, not speaking.
    Joshua joined their semi-circle in the shade of the oleander bushes where the ground was still cool. He looked at the open window above their heads. The

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