:: Article

Have You Lost Something?

By Neil Baker.

Sally noticed it first. “Daddy,” she said. “My wobble brick has gone.”

We were on our way to nursery. I didn’t want to be late. “Let’s not worry,” I said.

“But it’s gone,” she said.

I squatted down to her level. “Hey, look there,” I said. “An elastic band. A red one. Let’s go and see.”

She loved elastic bands. The postman dropped them on his rounds. But she wouldn’t move.

“Where’s my wobble brick gone?” she said.

She loved that brick.

The pavements in our neighbourhood were made of house bricks, set on sand. A few would work lose; Sally liked to jump up and down on them as we walked each morning, and again on the way home. Lately someone had been taking the loose ones away. She had a favourite; her wobble brick. Now it had gone.

“I don’t know darling,” I said. “We can look later, but we need to go. We’ll be late.” I gave her hand a gentle tug.

“Where is it?” she said, raising her voice now. A tantrum was imminent. I didn’t have time for a tantrum.

“Have you lost something?” It was a man’s voice, coming from the other side of a laurel hedge. I wanted to ignore it, find something to distract her, get going again.

“Are you looking for the brick?” the voice asked.

“Yes!” said my daughter.

In my squatting position, two feet appeared beside me on the pavement. Shoeless. Toes hairy. Nails cracked and overgrown. I looked up, then stood up.

The man was about my age, but with a beard, and with heavy, black-framed glasses. A broad smile revealed perfect white teeth. He wore nothing but a pair of underpants. “Are you looking for the brick?” he asked again.

“Yes,” I said, taking a step away from him, trying not to reveal my alarm, feeling around in the air for my daughter’s hand. “We are.”

“We?” he said.

I turned to my daughter, but she was not there. I called her name. I called it again.

“Maybe she went inside,” he said, pointing to his open front door.

I sprang up the steps but as I reached the door it closed with a locking clunk.

“She’s closed it,” I said. “Where’s the key?”

He patted his hands against the sides of his underpants and shook his head.

“Oh shit,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “My neighbour keeps a set.”

“Is she in?”

“She’s always in,” said the man in the underpants, disappearing into the street.

Then his head popped over the hedge. “I’m George,” he said. “And don’t worry.”

I looked through the letter box, said reassuring words, looked through again. I couldn’t see my daughter. Nothing moved inside. I wondered what my wife would say this time.

The man, George, came back, jangling keys. Behind him walked a woman in her mid thirties. She had blonde hair that fell to her waist and was naked, except for pink knickers and a matching bra; an embroidered rose where the cups joined.

“Hi,” she said. “George said it was an emergency; thought I’d better come. I’m Linda.” She smiled; a slender hand to shake.

George opened the door. We went inside. George first, then Linda, then me. George called my daughter’s name, then Linda did, then I did.

There was a scream from the back of the house. I pushed past them and ran towards the sound. The kitchen. Another scream. French doors and into the garden.

My daughter stood on wooden decking, amid six-foot stands of black bamboo, hands over her mouth, eyes wide open. She giggled. Before her, a brick tower, as tall as me or taller.

Then I realised what it was: a six foot cock, made from bricks – pavement bricks. At its base, massive bamboo balls.

“Look Daddy,” my daughter said.

George and Linda came into the garden. They ignored the six foot brick cock.

After a moment, George smiled. “Well, y’know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, adjusting his pants.

Linda laughed, her breasts shook.

“That’s your brick on top,” said George. “I’ll get the ladder.”

I took my daughter’s hand and we left. She got to nursery on time, but I was late for work. I caught my train, but missed my stop. I found myself preoccupied. In my briefcase, the brick – almost throbbing.

neilbaker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil Baker works as a freelance writer. He studied creative writing at Birkbeck College, University of London, for two years and lives near Rye, in East Sussex, with his young family and his dog. He has had short stories published in Brittle Star, Litro and other places.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, December 10th, 2010.