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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Page 2

Mark Haddon

  I decided that my best plan would be to wait for a really sunny day and then use my glasses to focus the sunlight on a piece of my clothing and start a fire. I would then make my escape when they saw the smoke and took me out of the cell. And if they didn't notice I would be able to wee on the clothes and put them out.

  I wondered whether Mrs. Shears had told the police that I had killed Wellington and whether, when the police found out that she had lied, she would go to prison. Because telling lies about people is called slander.

  29. I find people confusing.

  This is for two main reasons.

  The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words. Siobhan says that if you raise one eyebrow it can mean lots of different things. It can mean “I want to do sex with you” and it can also mean “I think that what you just said was very stupid.”

  Siobhan also says that if you close your mouth and breathe out loudly through your nose, it can mean that you are relaxed, or that you are bored, or that you are angry, and it all depends on how much air comes out of your nose and how fast and what shape your mouth is when you do it and how you are sitting and what you said just before and hundreds of other things which are too complicated to work out in a few seconds.

  The second main reason is that people often talk using metaphors. These are examples of metaphors

  I laughed my socks off.

  He was the apple of her eye.

  They had a skeleton in the cupboard.

  We had a real pig of a day.

  The dog was stone dead.

  The word metaphor means carrying something from one place to another, and it comes from the Greek words meta (which means from one place to another) and ferein (which means to carry), and it is when you describe something by using a word for something that it isn't. This means that the word metaphor is a metaphor.

  I think it should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards. And when I try and make a picture of the phrase in my head it just confuses me because imagining an apple in someone's eye doesn't have anything to do with liking someone a lot and it makes you forget what the person was talking about.

  My name is a metaphor. It means carrying Christ and it comes from the Greek words χρίστοζ (which means Jesus Christ) and φερείν and it was the name given to St. Christopher because he carried Jesus Christ across a river.

  This makes you wonder what he was called before he carried Christ across the river. But he wasn't called anything because this is an apocryphal story, which means that it is a lie, too.

  Mother used to say that it meant Christopher was a nice name because it was a story about being kind and helpful, but I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me.

  31. It was 1:12 a.m. when Father arrived at the police station. I did not see him until 1:28 a.m. but I knew he was there because I could hear him.

  He was shouting, “I want to see my son,” and “Why the hell is he locked up?” and “Of course I'm bloody angry.”

  Then I heard a policeman telling him to calm down. Then I heard nothing for a long while.

  At 1:28 a.m. a policeman opened the door of the cell and told me that there was someone to see me.

  I stepped outside. Father was standing in the corridor. He held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumbs touch each other. We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I do not like hugging people so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me.

  Then the policeman told us to follow him down the corridor to another room. In the room was a table and three chairs. He told us to sit down on the far side of the table and he sat down on the other side. There was a tape recorder on the table and I asked whether I was going to be interviewed and he was going to record the interview.

  He said, “I don't think there will be any need for that.”

  He was an inspector. I could tell because he wasn't wearing a uniform. He also had a very hairy nose. It looked as if there were two very small mice hiding in his nostrils.2

  He said, “I have spoken to your father and he says that you didn't mean to hit the policeman.”

  I didn't say anything because this wasn't a question.

  He said, “Did you mean to hit the policeman?”

  I said, “Yes.”

  He squeezed his face and said, “But you didn't mean to hurt the policeman?”

  I thought about this and said, “No. I didn't mean to hurt the policeman. I just wanted him to stop touching me.”

  Then he said, “You know that it is wrong to hit a policeman, don't you?”

  I said, “I do.”

  He was quiet for a few seconds, then he asked, “Did you kill the dog, Christopher?”

  I said, “I didn't kill the dog.”

  He said, “Do you know that it is wrong to lie to a policeman and that you can get into a very great deal of trouble if you do?”

  I said, “Yes.”

  He said, “So, do you know who killed the dog?”

  I said, “No.”

  He said, “Are you telling the truth?”

  I said, “Yes. I always tell the truth.”

  And he said, “Right. I am going to give you a caution.”

  I asked, “Is that going to be on a piece of paper like a certificate I can keep?”

  He replied, “No, a caution means that we are going to keep a record of what you did, that you hit a policeman but that it was an accident and that you didn't mean to hurt the policeman.”

  I said, “But it wasn't an accident.”

  And Father said, “Christopher, please.”

  The policeman closed his mouth and breathed out loudly through his nose and said, “If you get into any more trouble we will take out this record and see that you have been given a caution and we will take things much more seriously. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

  I said that I understood.

  Then he said that we could go and he stood up and opened the door and we walked out into the corridor and back to the front desk, where I picked up my Swiss Army knife and my piece of string and the piece of the wooden puzzle and the 3 pellets of rat food for Toby and my £1.47 and the paper clip and my front door key, which were all in a little plastic bag, and we went out to Father's car, which was parked outside, and we drove home.

  37. I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can't tell lies.

  Mother was a small person who smelled nice. And she sometimes wore a fleece with a zip down the front which was pink and it had a tiny label which said Berghaus on the left bosom.

  A lie is when you say something happened which didn't happen. But there is only ever one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are an infinite number of things which didn't happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn't happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn't happen.

  For example, this morning for breakfast I had Ready Brek and some hot raspberry milk shake. But if I say that I actually had Shreddies and a mug of tea3 I start thinking about Coco Pops and lemonade and porridge and Dr Pepper and how I wasn't eating my breakfast in Egypt and there wasn't a rhinoceros in the room and Father wasn't wearing a diving suit and so on and even writing this makes me feel shaky and scared, like I do when I'm standing on the top of a very tall building and there are thousands of houses and cars and people below me and my head is so full of all these things that I'm afraid that I'm going to forget to stand up straight and hang on to the rail and I'm going to fall over and be killed.

  This is another reason why I don't like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn't happen and they make me feel shaky and scared.

  And this is why everythi
ng I have written here is true.

  41. There were clouds in the sky on the way home, so I couldn't see the Milky Way.

  I said, “I'm sorry,” because Father had had to come to the police station, which was a bad thing.

  He said, “It's OK.”

  I said, “I didn't kill the dog.”

  And he said, “I know.”

  Then he said, “Christopher, you have to stay out of trouble, OK?”

  I said, “I didn't know I was going to get into trouble. I like Wellington and I went to say hello to him, but I didn't know that someone had killed him.”

  Father said, “Just try and keep your nose out of other people's business.”

  I thought for a little and I said, “I am going to find out who killed Wellington.”

  And Father said, “Were you listening to what I was saying, Christopher?”

  I said, “Yes, I was listening to what you were saying, but when someone gets murdered you have to find out who did it so that they can be punished.”

  And he said, “It's a bloody dog, Christopher, a bloody dog.”

  I replied, “I think dogs are important, too.”

  He said, “Leave it.”

  And I said, “I wonder if the police will find out who killed him and punish the person.”

  Then Father banged the steering wheel with his fist and the car weaved a little bit across the dotted line in the middle of the road and he shouted, “I said leave it, for God's sake.”

  I could tell that he was angry because he was shouting, and I didn't want to make him angry so I didn't say anything else until we got home.

  When we came in through the front door I went into the kitchen and got a carrot for Toby and I went upstairs and I shut the door of my room and I let Toby out and gave him the carrot. Then I turned my computer on and played 76 games of Minesweeper and did the Expert Version in 102 seconds, which was only 3 seconds off my best time, which was 99 seconds.

  At 2:07 a.m. I decided that I wanted a drink of orange squash before I brushed my teeth and got into bed, so I went downstairs to the kitchen. Father was sitting on the sofa watching snooker on the television and drinking scotch. There were tears coming out of his eyes.

  I asked, “Are you sad about Wellington?”

  He looked at me for a long time and sucked air in through his nose. Then he said, “Yes, Christopher, you could say that. You could very well say that.”

  I decided to leave him alone because when I am sad I want to be left alone. So I didn't say anything else. I just went into the kitchen and made my orange squash and took it back upstairs to my room.

  43. Mother died 2 years ago.

  I came home from school one day and no one answered the door, so I went and found the secret key that we keep under a flowerpot behind the kitchen door. I let myself into the house and carried on making the Airfix Sherman tank model I was building.

  An hour and a half later Father came home from work. He runs a business and he does heating maintenance and boiler repair with a man called Rhodri who is his employee. He knocked on the door of my room and opened it and asked whether I had seen Mother.

  I said that I hadn't seen her and he went downstairs and started making some phone calls. I did not hear what he said.

  Then he came up to my room and said he had to go out for a while and he wasn't sure how long he would be. He said that if I needed anything I should call him on his mobile phone.

  He was away for 21⁄2 hours. When he came back I went downstairs. He was sitting in the kitchen staring out of the back window down the garden to the pond and the corrugated iron fence and the top of the tower of the church on Manstead Street which looks like a castle because it is Norman.

  Father said, “I'm afraid you won't be seeing your mother for a while.”

  He didn't look at me when he said this. He kept on looking through the window.

  Usually people look at you when they're talking to you. I know that they're working out what I'm thinking, but I can't tell what they're thinking. It is like being in a room with a one-way mirror in a spy film. But this was nice, having Father speak to me but not look at me.

  I said, “Why not?”

  He waited for a very long time, then he said, “Your mother has had to go into hospital.”

  “Can we visit her?” I asked, because I like hospitals. I like the uniforms and the machines.

  Father said, “No.”

  I said, “Why can't we?”

  And he said, “She needs rest. She needs to be on her own.”

  I asked, “Is it a psychiatric hospital?”

  And Father said, “No. It's an ordinary hospital. She has a problem . . . a problem with her heart.”

  I said, “We will need to take food to her,” because I knew that food in hospital was not very good. David from school, he went into hospital to have an operation on his leg to make his calf muscle longer so that he could walk better. And he hated the food, so his mother used to take meals in every day.

  Father waited for a long time again and said, “I'll take some in to her during the day when you're at school and I'll give it to the doctors and they can give it to your mum, OK?”

  I said, “But you can't cook.”

  Father put his hands over his face and said, “Christopher. Look. I'll buy some ready-made stuff from Marks and Spencer's and take those in. She likes those.”

  I said I would make her a Get Well card, because that is what you do for people when they are in hospital.

  Father said he would take it in the next day.

  47. In the bus on the way to school next morning we passed 4 red cars in a row, which meant that it was a Good Day, so I decided not to be sad about Wellington.

  Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don't speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don't eat my lunch and Take No Risks. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn't very logical.

  I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. And I said that some people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it made them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn't have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day.

  I said that when Father got up in the morning he always put his trousers on before he put his socks on and it wasn't logical but he always did it that way, because he liked things in a nice order, too. Also whenever he went upstairs he went up two at a time, always starting with his right foot.

  Mr. Jeavons said that I was a very clever boy.

  I said that I wasn't clever. I was just noticing how things were, and that wasn't clever. That was just being observant. Being clever was when you looked at how things were and used the evidence to work out something new. Like the universe expanding, or who committed a murder. Or if you see someone's name and you give each letter a value from 1 to 26 (a = 1, b = 2, etc.) and you add the numbers up in your head and you find that it makes a prime number, like Jesus Christ (151), or Scooby-Doo (113), or Sherlock Holmes (163), or Doctor Watson (167).

  Mr. Jeavons asked me whether this made me feel safe, having things always in a nice order, and I said it did.

  Then he asked if I didn't like things changing. And I said I wouldn't mind things changing if I became an astronaut, for example, which is one of the biggest changes you can imagine, apart from becoming a girl or dying.

  He asked whether I wanted to become an astrona
ut and I said I did.

  He said that it was very difficult to become an astronaut. I said that I knew. You had to become an officer in the air force and you had to take lots of orders and be prepared to kill other human beings, and I couldn't take orders. Also I didn't have 20/20 vision, which you needed to be a pilot. But I said that you could still want something that is very unlikely to happen.

  Terry, who is the older brother of Francis, who is at the school, said I would only ever get a job collecting supermarket trollies or cleaning out donkey shit at an animal sanctuary and they didn't let spazzers drive rockets that cost billions of pounds. When I told this to Father he said that Terry was jealous of my being cleverer than him. Which was a stupid thing to think because we weren't in a competition. But Terry is stupid, so quod erat demonstrandum, which is Latin for which is the thing that was going to be proved, which means thus it is proved.

  I'm not a spazzer, which means spastic, not like Francis, who is a spazzer, and even though I probably won't become an astronaut, I am going to go to university and study mathematics, or physics, or physics and mathematics (which is a Joint Honor School), because I like mathematics and physics and I'm very good at them. But Terry won't go to university. Father says Terry is most likely to end up in prison.

  Terry has a tattoo on his arm of a heart shape with a knife through the middle of it.

  But this is what is called a digression, and now I am going to go back to the fact that it was a Good Day.

  Because it was a Good Day I decided that I would try and find out who killed Wellington because a Good Day is a day for projects and planning things.

  When I said this to Siobhan she said, “Well, we're meant to be writing stories today, so why don't you write about finding Wellington and going to the police station.”

  And that is when I started writing this.

  And Siobhan said that she would help with the spelling and the grammar and the footnotes.