"Nah nah nah!! Nahnahnahnahnah!!! Nahnah! Nah nah ah naaaaaahhhh!!!!!!" I screamed out the beat at the top of my lungs, knowing full well that my twin brother was attempting to sleep in the next room. My earphones were permanently sealed into my ears in those days. To me, music was the only thing that kept me sane.
My brother and I lived in a house in the richest part of town, set back from the noisy bustle of the city, with a gigantic yard for us to enjoy. The large yard around the house included a perfectly manicured garden, as well as a small apple orchard separating our property from our neighbors', providing us with a huge expanse in which we could be as loud and wild as we liked. And we did like!
Our usual pastime was to chase our formidable-looking, but adorably puppy-mannered rottweiler around, ending up in a heap, often scattering our mother's freshly raked piles of autumn leaves or spring grass clippings. In winter, we would throw snowballs at the house, or the neighbor’s chimney. We were well known for our wild adventures and mischievous ways.
Summer was the exception to the rule. Each season of earth-baking heat, the life would drain out of us. Our parents always left us for a couple of months, going off to some tropical resort to relax their worries away. My brother and I were abandoned with our old nanny who was now far too ancient to even leave her bed, let alone care for two 13 year olds. It didn't matter too much though, we were well able to care for ourselves and, luckily for us, she had her own suite on the opposite side of the house, with a nurse to care for her. Every summer, we had free reign over our grounds and were able to do whatever we liked in town or in the forest.
This afternoon was officially the hottest in five entire years, so of course we didn't even think about venturing outside. We preferred to keep to ourselves during these summer months, and so we each left the other alone and remained in our own rooms. Being a talented musician (Amazing at the guitar, piano, drums and with a beautiful voice) I adore anything musical, my iPod included.
So there I was, listening to my 16GB iPod nano (green, my favorite colour) getting on my brothers nerves, I’m sure. All I really wanted was for summer to be over and autumn to show its multicoloured wonders.
I wondered if my poor brother is yelling at me yet, I couldn't hear anything over my blasting beats. I pulled out my earphones expecting to be abused by Corin's infinite knowledge of swearwords.
Nothing at all.
The house was completely silent.
This worried me, because it never happens, even at midnight. There is always something going on, whether it's the TV in Corin's room, or our rottweiler, Scottie, snoring at the end of my bed. But Scottie wasn't there. I decided to get up and find him. I pulled on my blue and green polka dot slippers and tiptoed out into the hall. I crept silently along to Corin's room, planning to check if Scottie was sleeping there tonight. As I neared the doorway, I noticed that the door was ajar, and wondered if Corin had gone to the kitchen to raid the fridge. Despite this fact, I slipped through the open gap and came to a sudden stop.
The room was completely trashed! Clothes and junk was strewn all over the place, as if somebody was searching frantically for something. I knew Corin would never do such a thing for he was a clean freak if ever I saw one! Not that this was a bad thing, I considered, because he insisted on taking over the tidying and cleaning of the entire house while our parents were away. I was content to cook for all of us and work outdoors. As soon as these thoughts had passed through my conscious, I changed my stance. Lately there had been reports of break-ins in the richer houses, where rooms had been messed with, but nothing taken. I began to seriously worry for my brother.
Stealthily running back to my own room, I searched for, and found, my very real looking fake handgun, and slipped it into my pajamas. As well as music, I was into crime investigation and had loads of CIA merchandise. Next, I crept down the hall, slid down the stair banister to avoid creaky steps, then made my way toward my mother’s study, from which a light shone. I peered into the room using a strategically placed wall-mirror on the other side of the hall. To my surprise, there was my brother, crouching over Scottie with a look of horror on his pasty white face. At this point, I was too overcome with worry for my precious dog to think straight and rushed over to Corin's side.
The door slammed shut behind me. In that split second, I realized what had happened. Scottie was absolutely fine, he was only terrified, being such a wousy rottweiler, and Corin was horrified, not because of Scottie, but because of the sinister looking man holding a knife poised to throw. I recognized this man from gossip at school. He was known as "The Whistler" due to the sound his knives made as they sliced the through the air. The Whistler was a gypsy who traveled from town to town selling his talents to whoever so desired a good show, a fund raising event or even an assassin (or so the gossips insisted).
I had to think fast, for if the unlikely gossip was true, we were in deep trouble. I decided to attempt to find out his weakness. On the lookout for the slightest sign of emotion, I proceeded to question the potential killer.
"Who are you? The Whistler?" I began
"Yes" he replied in a French accent, "the one and only, at your service. Now. Don’t even think about trying to escape, for my knives have truly accurate aim and are quicker than a bullet when it comes to it. They are rearing to go, my pretties just love to bite into young flesh like yours."
I had to have a silent giggle at this one. The guy was obviously in love with his knives. He seemed like the kind of guy who would fluster if messed with, so I decided to try my luck.
"You’re at my service? Well a glass of water would go down nicely, or perhaps some orange juice? Also, you could tell me what the hell you're doing here exactly?" This didn't go down too well in his books.
"Young miss, I do NOT go around getting cheeky little girls like you drinks. If anything, you should be serving ME! I'm the one with the knives, I have the upper hand, so why should I bother letting you in on my plans?" By this time I had realized that the guy wasn't here to kill us, or he would have done it by now. So, going by this theory and hoping he didn't have the steel in him to kill a "sweet innocent young lady" like me, I stood and started strolling casually to the door.
"WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU"RE GOING?!?!?!?!?!" I heard the outraged voice of The Whistler and the thud of a knife hitting the wall right in front of me. As much as this scared me, I didn't let it show, and just kept on walking, plucking the knife out of the wall, and secretly winking to my brother. As I left, I called back over my shoulder. "I'm just going to make you a cup of tea, since you believe I should serve you. Would you rather black or herbal?"
"B-b-but.... Herbal..... GIVE. ME. BACK. MY. KNIFE!!!!" he spluttered at me, and then snapped at Corin, "Stay right where you are.” He followed me out to the kitchen and entered just in time to see me take a hammer I had left on the bench earlier that night and raise it ready to hit the oh so precious knife.
"NOOOOOOOooooooooo Please!" The Whistler was reduced to tears at this sight, which was far more than I had expected. With tears streaming down his face, he fell to his knees and literally begged for his knife back. I stared at him for a moment, wondering if he was serious. Using a sharp diamond ring that I was wearing, I carved a warning into the knife's blade. While I was dealing with the emotional wreck of a man, Corin had sneaked up behind him and stolen the rest of the poor man's knives. My brother learned from his best friend, who has to steal to survive because he is so poor, how to pickpocket so well that nobody would notice if he took their shirt off from under their jacket. A true talent, it came naturally to Corin. When I had finished engraving the knife I had, I flicked it back at The Whistler, who caught it with an ease that comes from a lifetime of practice. He instantly recovered from his sorry state and took up a threatening stance.
"Ha! Stupid girl, why did you give it back? Now get back to the study before I get angry!" he glared at me, his eyes shooting daggers. (As I thought these words, I had to smile at the pun)
That smile shocked The Whistler, as he took it that I was smiling because I knew something he didn't. Which I did really. His face suddenly drained of colour as he reached into his heavy grey coat to find empty space where his knives used to be. He glanced at my smug grin, and I jerked my head in the direction of Corin, standing in the doorway with two belts of nasty looking knives, casually draped over his shoulder. The Whisperer lunged at my overconfident brother and snatched a particularly sharp dagger out of a belt. Corin leaped backwards and stumbled on a thick rug, falling with a clash of steel onto the cold stone floor. His head smashed into he solid ground and he was instantly knocked unconscious. The Whistler turned with the dagger already spinning in his nimble fingers, ready to throw at me, only to look straight down the barrel of a very life-like handgun.
The knife clattered to the floor. It seems that The Whistler was exaggerating when he boasted that his knives were faster than a bullet. Neither of us knew what would happen next. I made the first move. Slowly, I stepped closer to him. He didn't move a muscle, other than his eyes, which never left mine. We were each trying to foresee the others next move. As I drew closer, I kept the gun aimed at the center of his torso. When I was within arm length of the formidable character, I spoke slowly and softly, raising the gun to touch where his heart is.
"When I say go, turn around and head toward the far wall. Slowly. Do not look back. Do not speak. Don’t do anything unless I tell you to. Go."
Hesitating for a brief moment, The Whistler turned and walked towards the wall. When he got there, I told him "Good. Now stay exactly where you are and don't look anywhere but at the wall." He obeyed. I crouched down over my brother, placing the gun next to me on the increasingly bloodstained rug. Corin's head was bleeding profusely but his skull was intact and there was only a slight bump. I rolled him over into the recovery position, all the while keeping one eye on The Whistler. Bandaging Corin's head with my own torn up pajama top, I took my eyes of The Whisperer for barely a moment, when I felt something lightly touching my back, directly between my shoulder blades. Content that my brother was OK, if unconscious, I readied myself for whatever was coming.
I shuddered as I felt the foul hot breath of The Whistler in my right ear. "One tip, never leave your hostage or your weapon unguarded girl. What's your name?"
No harm in telling him that, I thought, "Naomi" I told the man.
"Stand up, Naomi, and turn around." I did what I was told, wondering how he hadn't realized that it wasn't a real gun. He looked at me, eying my chest, covered only by a few shreds of my pajamas left over from making Corin bandages, for a little too long, so I brought his attention back to my face. "Are you going to shoot me, or tell me what you want?" I growled at him.
His eyes raised to look into mine again as he told me to "Get back to the study now."
So I did. I dodged away from him, sprinting as fast as I could toward the study, entering, and slamming the door behind me. As I ran, The Whistler attempted to shoot, realised it was a fake gun, and yelled out a stream of curses and swearwords, many of which I hadn't even heard of, both in English and French. I ran straight through to the en suite (the study was originally a bedroom), and climbed out of the window. Hanging from the steel ladder connecting the third floor to the attic, I called out to The Whistler, "Come and get me!" Then I clambered through to the Attic to await the frustrated man.
He cornered me in the small space of the attic easily, not that I made much of an effort to get away. There, I acted the poor senseless victim, and managed to get him to spill the beans on his break-in. Apparently, One of the wealthy residents of our town, a teenage boy, had stolen one of his throwing-knives. Instead of reporting it to the lazy excuses of police in our town, he attempted to recover he stolen item himself. Knowing that it was more than likely to have been my brother, I sympathised with The Whisperer, telling him that I knew exactly who took it.
"There is a rumor going around that Steven Oberhammmer," I began (Steven is a tough guy who would have no problem dealing with this scrawny man), "stole a valuable item from one of the gypsies." I wished that The Whisperer wasn't one of the gypsies, because I had grown up knowing them to be a friendly and exciting group, and it would be a shame if The Whisperer were to ruin their reputation. The Whisperer vowed to take revenge on Steven, and left me to consider what to do next. I immediately called an ambulance to take care of Corin, and then went over to the opposite side of the house to check on our nanny and her nurse. Amazingly, they were fast asleep, so I let them stay that way. By then it was 3.00 am, and I was getting sleepy. But there was one more thing I had to do.
Sprinting as fast as I could towards the nearest phone, I called my good friend Steven. He answered after the third ring, with a groggy, sleep-deprived voice. Probably due to the fact that I had just woken him up at ten past three in the morning, but then again, he always did stay up late in the summer holidays. After complaining for about five minutes, he finally got around to asking why I rang. I briefly outlined all that had happened in the past hour or so, and then told him what I needed him to do.
I explained that The Whistler would be arriving at his house in the next fifteen minutes or so, and that he thought that Steven had stolen his knife. Steven agreed to ambush The Whistler as he entered his room and tie him up securely to wait for me to arrive. I ensured that Steven would not talk or communicate with The Whistler in any way, other than to make sure that he read the inscription that I had engraved into his knife. Steven agreed, happy to be a part of one of my “Fun thingamabobs that you get up to sometimes” (As tough and fun to be with as he was, Steven wasn’t the most articulate of people), so I hung up and quickly checked on my still unconscious brother, leaving a note for the paramedics, before grabbing my shoes and racing the short distance to Stevan's place.
As i arrived at Stevens house, confident of arriving soon after The Whistler, because I was a top athlete and could run for miles at top speed. As I spotted the house, I glimpsed The Whistler slipping in through an open window. I decided to tiki-tour around the block, to give Steven a little time to work his magic. Afterwards, as I jogged into his driveway, I noticed the light in Steven's room flashing on and off. Wondering if something was wrong, I made my way silently into the house through the unlocked door and crept along the hallway towards the flickering light. Pausing at the door, hoping that everything went well for Steven, I slowly calmed my breathing and relaxed my stance.
The door opened smoothly with a light touch. I let it swing all the way, before strolling on in, again, hoping with all I had that Steven had succeeded in our plan. At the last moment, I considered the danger I could be in. What if The Whistler had tricked Steven? What if there had been a struggle, and Steven had lost? Mentally shoving these worries to the back of my mind, I didn't miss a beat as I made my presence known in the room. Steven looked in my direction, and I was horror struck! There was blood slowly dribbling down his chin, from gruesome looking gash on his lower lip.
He noticed me staring and told me how it happened. Apparently, there was no problem at all with catching The Whistler as he came into the house, but as Steven was tying him up, he lashed out with his Steel-capped boots, and got Steven on the mouth. “It's fine, just a scratch”, Steven tried to reassure me, but I would have none of it. I cleaned it up as much as I could with Stevens first aid kit, then turned my attention to the menace, The Whistler. He glared at me from beneath his greasy blond hair, and spat in my direction. I gathered that he wasn't too happy about what had happened. “So.” I began, what do you think of my little scheme?” I was on one knee, leaning over his trussed up form this obviously made him uncomfortable, so I made no attempt at moving away.
The Whistler lay on the pale blue carpet of Steven's room, with his knife belt and knives spread out on the other side of the room. The only part of him left un-roped was his head. This was lolling at an awkward angle, which looked as if it would hurt a bit when he moved it. “What the hell did you mean by that?!” he jerked his head toward the sharp dagger which glinted in the bedroom light. I got up, stepped towards it, th picked it up. It felt smooth and elegant in my palm. I imagined it flying through the air, and understood the beauty of The Whistler's craft. I read the inscription on the blade and smiled to m self. This had to be one of my most ingenious tricks yet. I had chosen the perfect thing to engrave onto The Whistler's knife.
“It means what it says” I announced simply. He looked at me in confusion and I accidentally let out a giggle. The Whistler gave me the strangest look and raised one eyebrow. Shrugging it off, I got down to business.
"Look Whistler." I said in a determined tone. "We both know that i have the upper hand here. So all you can do right now is play along with whatever i say. I propose we make a deal. I will let you go free, with all your precious knives and belts back, and we can pretend that all is as it should be. You go back to whatever you did before this entire episode, and I'll forget i ever met you. The only thing you have to do, is to forget about your stolen dagger, and just let it go. I know all about you and your trickery, I know that you would go back on your word at the very first chance. A simple promise isn't good enough from you, and you have no reason to trust me either. What we need is a compromise. What can i do that can guarantee cooperation on my behalf to you, and what do you propose you do to guarantee cooperation to me?"
I had removed the gag from The Whistler's mouth before i announced my proposal. He sat in silence for a long while, contemplating what i had said. Eventually he sighed and told me, "When I left my caravan tonight, I never dreamed that I would be bested by a 13 year old kid. Yet here i am, trussed up on the floor of some smelly teenagers bedroom. Who'd have thought it? The saddest thing is, that i have no choice but to let you have your way. Ok young miss, what happens now?"
I actually was stuck for a moment there. 'What does happens now? how could i be sure that The Whistler stops his search for the stolen knife? If only I had something that i could blackmail the man with...' I thought to myself as The Whistler awaited an answer. Thinking back to when he had cornered me i the atticof m own house, I remembered his story of the knife being taken in the first place. something there wasn't quite right.
He had told me that he had been minding his own business, eating his dinner while watching his favourite TV program, when out of the blue, a boy from the rich part of the neighbourhood jumped him, and stole his dagger right out of the knife belt. I glanced down at the belts lying on the floor. I specificly remembered The Whistler telling me that he had the exact amount of knives he needed and no extras. One knife for each sheath in each of his two knife belts. There were no missing knives in the belts on the floor.
This really got me thinking. Why would he lie about a missing knife? If that part of his story was wrong, was he really jumped at all? How did this realisation help me? enough of the questions, I thought. I'll ask him about it now. In the few moments that i had taken to figure out that The Whistler had lied to me, Steven had managed to trip over nothing at all and land on the poor knifethrower. The Whistler had had enough. he wanted out. He turned his sight on me with a glint of desperation in his eyes. This was just what i could have wanted.
The Whistler wanting to get out of this so badly, gave me a huge advantage in any barganing i wanted to do. I untied his legs, only just enough to let him shuffle along slowly, and helped him along the hallway to Steven's lounge. I sat him down, retied his legs, and offered him a drink. His reply was almost comical. He glared at me and said bluntly, "No." in the grumpiest tone i had ever heard!
So i smiled sweetly at him and made myself a hot camomile tea, then sat down on the seat opposite him. I began with asking him to retell the story of why he was in my house in the first place. When he stuck to his original claims, I asked him, "So you didn't have a spare knife to replace it with?" Again, he stuck to his original claims.
"Ok. I know for a fact that you are lying to me. What really happened?" The following conversation went something like this;
"I'm not lying, that's what happened."
"then why aren't any of your knives actually missing?"
"No, It's not."
"Yes, It is."
"Then why does every holster on your belts have a knife in it?"
He was stumped at this one. He knew I had him, that he had been found out. At this realisation, the hard-as-steel knife-thrower,The Whistler, cracked.
The Whistler admitted to the lie. He addmitted to breaking into peoples houses in search of a particular photo of himself doing something so incredibly embarassing, that I'm not even going to say,for the poor guy's sake. Apparantly, a kid had taken this embarrassing picture and ran. The Whistler obviously didn't want his secret to be found out, so he set out raiding all of the rich kid's rooms to find this missing photograph. Well, he had messed with the wrong kids here. So our deal was made.
I told him that it was my brother who took the picture, i suspect it was anyway, and that i could make the whole thing dissapear. I would keep the photo safe, make sure nobody found out about it, and he would go back to living his daily life. As long as nothing happened to my brother, my family, me, or any of our good friends, his secret would stay a secret.
If he so much as looked at me in a funny way, I would automatically send a copy of the photo to everyone i know, including the owner of seven major magazine companies, two nationl newspapers plus the local one, and sixteen news and gossip channels nationwide. He wouldn't dare go back on his word with all that as a consequence!
And so, I let him go.
As it turns out, it wasn't my brother who took the picture at all, but my best friend Damien. He, after hearing my account of the story, agreed not to show anybody the photo, unless The Whistler broke his promise. Damien seemed to think that the inscription i engraved on The Whistler'd knife was a patheticly childish idea. He told me that it was lame and not even the slightest bit catchy. That burst my bubble a bit, because i was particularly proud of what i wrote. The inscription said;