Sometimes little things can be very important and by pure chance you do something you wouldn't usually bother about, but it turns out almost like you'd had a premonition. That morning everything changed.
There was a loud banging on the farmhouse door. At first I paid it no attention, what I mean is I thought I was dreaming, but it didn't stop. It was still dark outside as I dragged myself out of bed. I met Gareth on the landing, he too must have been woken by the noise. We looked at each other, both half asleep, we looked downstairs, but were slow to react, my brain was just not awake.
It was the voice at the back door that put an end to things. "Police! Open up!" I heard the voice, it was loud enough, but I was frozen to the spot staring towards the back door.
More banging. Gareth ran downstairs to the door. His action forced me to move, and I turned back to the bedroom, went over to Matty and started shaking him.
"Get up! Get up Matty!" I was quite loud, agitated, the adrenalin was flowing.
Matty looked up at me, not properly awake, like he was forcing himself to consciousness.
"What is it? What's wrong?" He managed.
"The police are here," I told him.
At that moment I heard several footsteps coming up the stairs. Seconds later they were standing in the bedroom. "Right lads," one the the policeman said, "let's have you both downstairs."
We didn't say anything, I turned back to go down and Matty climbed out of bed and followed me with the quilt wrapped around his shoulders and trailing along the floor. The three of us were left standing surrounded by four policeman, well three in uniform and one, I suppose a detective in plain clothes.
"You are Mr Gareth Jones," the detective addressed Gareth, "and you live here with your grandfather, Mr Elwin Jones. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Gareth replied, "only my grand da's in hospital."
"I see," The detective replied. "And you two are?" He looked over in our direction now.
"I'm Alex and this is... my friend Matty," I answered rather hesitantly.
"That would be Alex and Matty who?" He seemed just a little impatient.
"Alexander Weston," I told him.
"Mathew Tetherton," Matty added, following my lead.
The detective smiled. "And you two are how old?"
I had the distinct impression he was looking us over, trying to weigh up our probable ages. "I'm sixteen," I decided to exaggerate, just a bit, "Matty, I mean Mathew is fifteen."
He turned to one of the policeman who seemed the older, the more senior of the three and asked him to go and radio in the names. Whilst he was going outside, the detective then gave Gareth an official looking piece of paper. "Mr Gareth Jones, I have here a duly signed warrant to search these premises for any drugs, namely class 2 substances prohibited by law. Do you understand?"
Gareth nodded, and it was then I thought, what a lucky break that I'd cleaned up last night and emptied the ashtrays. Perhaps, I hoped, they wouldn't find anything.
"You two," he looked back to us. "You both occupy the same bedroom?"
Matty and I both nodded. "And how is it that you are staying here? Where are your parents?"
Before I or Matty could answer, the policeman who had been outside came back and took the detective aside. He said something to him that I couldn't hear.
There was a pause whilst he paced around the living room. I followed him with my eyes, I noticed Gareth looked a bit on edge, he was fidgeting about.
"It seems," the detective finally broke the silence, "that you Mathew Tetherton are a missing person." Those last two words he emphasised as if they were stuck on his tongue.
I guessed that was it then. In that instant things had just been decided for us. What happens now, I wondered.
Actually it was all well organised. First off, two policeman went with me to our bedroom and searched the room whilst I stood there watching. They did ask me if they would find something and said it would be best for me if I told them right away. I said we weren't into drugs, didn't even smoke.
They left Matty and me sitting on the sofa with another policeman keeping an eye on us whilst they went, I presume, to search Gareth's bedroom. I heard the detective ask him if he knew a guy called Steve, and I heard them moving around upstairs. I don't know what went on upstairs, but when they all came down, it seemed like they gave the living room and rest of the house only a cursory going over.
The detective gave instructions to a policeman to call in that they didn't need the dogs. That was good, because if they had brought in a dog, then they would find traces at the very least.
We were told to get dressed and get our things together, that they would be taking us back to the police station with them and contacting our parents. It was difficult to say anything much to Gareth in front of four policemen. We kind of looked at him in passing and I managed, "Bye Gareth and thanks." Matty echoed my "Thanks." Then we were outside sitting in the back of one of the two police cars.
As we drove out of the farm yard the dawn was just breaking over the hills and I couldn't help wondering if I would ever see Gareth again. It was the end of the adventure that much was sure.
Being in the cop shop was like being in any other official place, you know, like a hospital or at school. The walls are all painted in pale colours, the floor is covered in lino and you sit on uncomfortable plastic chairs, for hours. At least they gave us a cup of tea and later a nice young police lady gave us a sandwich each.
I asked her how long we would be here, but she didn't know of course. She just said that our parents were on their way to collect us. The morning disappeared into the afternoon, we paced around to relieve the cramp of sitting all day, and I watched the clock. Neither of us said much.
It was three twelve exactly, when the police lady announced Matty's parents had arrived, and she took him with her to meet them. He glanced back over his shoulder as he disappeared from the other end of the corridor into a side room. Next I saw his parents being led into the same room, I don't think they noticed me.
Three fifty-six and Matty, his parents and the detective came out of the room and left the way they had arrived, heading away from me down the other end of the corridor. It was another half an hour before my mum arrived.
When I left the police station with my mum I was a bit surprised to see Michael waiting by the car. He came up and hugged me. It was a nice surprise to have him there, and it stopped my mum from being too angry with me. Maybe that's why she let him come, I don't know, but I could tell she was not best pleased.
Michael wanted to know where I'd been, and wanting to be nice to him I said we'd been staying on a farm, then quietly I whispered, "Tell you later," and winked. I really didn't want to start explaining everything in front of my mum. So I stared out the window watching the countryside go by until it became dark and I found myself looking at my own reflection.
I had my phone in my pocket with the sound off when I felt it vibrate. A message from Matty, it read, 'folks pretty pissed don't know what will happen will try call u 2nite.' I showed Michael, who smiled, then slipped the phone back in my pocket. I didn't think too much about what might happen because even if I wasn't allowed to go round Matty's anymore, we went to school together. We would work something out.
It was around quarter to ten when we got home and although my dad was there waiting for us he wasn't angry or anything. He just said, "We need to talk about things, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow evening." Then he put his arm on my shoulder and gave a squeeze, "I'm glad to have you back... and in one piece." We had a hot chocolate each, then we both went to bed. It had been a long day.
Actually, I was hoping for a call from Matty, but it didn't come, only another message. This one read, 'cant call now things are not good.' My parents were handling things better than Matty's, they weren't pleased about what I had done, but by contrast Matty's parents were going ballistic. Why the fuck send him to his aunt's in the first place, talk about overreaction.