Arnold wasn't sure why he didn't want the present, maybe it was
because he didn't trust his new friend. He wasn't sure, what he was
certain about though was that the present was more than just a present
it was imposition. Arnold didn't know Stanley that well and was
suspicious, maybe too suspicious for his own good!
"Go on, take it!" Said Stanley
"I don't know, I don't feel uncomfortable getting presents of people I
hardly know." Answered Arnold.
"Don't be stupid, take it." The present was gaudily wrapped in silver
and red paper, but then, only brown paper isn't gaudy wrapping paper
and that's a bit dull.
"OK" said Arnold taking the gift, he hesitated for a moment, looked at
Stanley and unwrapped it, Stanley just stared at the present, smiling.
Arnold exposed a box, a brown box, he looked at Stanley again, unsure
of the old man or the box. "Go on, open it." Instructed Stanley. Arnold
turned it on end and took the tape off the box, pulled the flap out and
looked inside, it was a book. Arnold pulled the book out of the box
interested and somewhat relieved that the present hadn't turned out to
be anything else.
Arnold read "The Book of Revelations, (from cradle to grave)." The book
was old, very old in fact, it seemed that it had been read many times.
"That saw me right, when I was your age," said Stanley. Arnold looked
at the old man who was still staring intently at the old book. He was
looking at the book so fondly Arnold wondered what fantastic insights
the tattered covers contained.
Arnold opened the book carefully, the first page had no print type on
it but from top to bottom was penned with different coloured ink
inscriptions, towards the top of the page these were faded, one in
pencil was unreadable, but there, at the bottom, was an inscription in
fresh blue ink, it read, "To Arnold, your life will mean more than you
thought possible with this book, read it and remember the words." Some
of the other inscriptions were in old fashioned ornate writing,
difficult to read. One inscription Arnold could read said, 'to my son,
the secret to a happy and fulfilled life lies within these pages, use
Arnold looked up at Stanley, "what is this" he asked. "This is it,
Arnold, this is the way, but close the book now, read it later, when
you are alone." Arnold reluctantly closed the book, but kept it on his
lap. "I must be going, now" said Stanley. He laboured to get out of his
chair, "will you walk me home, it's hostile weather outside."
"Yes, of course." Answered Arnold, putting the book in his rucksack and
zipping it shut. Arnold put the bag on his back and went to help the
old man to the door of the pub.
Outside it was dark and windy, the autumn leaves, brown and shrivelled
scooted across the pavement, small vortex's lifted leaves high and
dropped them to be picked up again in another direction. Arnold walked
Stanley out to the road and on towards Stanley's house. They were both
quiet, Arnold wanted to ask about the book, but the old man looked
distressed. "What's wrong Stanley?"
"It's difficult to pass on something so dear to me, Arnold."
"The book? Why did you pass it on?"
"I want you to have it."
"You remind me of myself, when I was your age, that's why" Stanley
stopped and fumbled for his wallet, out of it he pulled an old
photograph, Arnold looked at it and was astonished, apart from his
hairstyle, the man in the picture could have been him. "This is you?"
"Ar, you see now don't you, I couldn't believe it, when I saw you,
since having the book in my possession, I have not wanted for anything,
I have no heir, but have never wanted one, but I wanted to pass the
book on, the book brought me you!"
Arnold remained silent and the two walked on through the autumn
At Stanley's door, Arnold asked if he would be alright, Stanley nodded
and put his hand on Arnold's shoulder, a smile grew on his face and
then he turned and entered his house, Arnold stood on the street
outside Stanley's house for a moment and then turned for home. What
secrets were in this book, he could wait to see and wished it was not
so far to his house on the other side of town. He walked quickly, head
down, mind swimming with what might be.
As Arnold was leaving the other side of the town centre, he heard
laughing, he turned but saw nobody in the yellow-lit street, he carried
on. There it was again he thought, he turned but nothing. He quickened
his pace. "Oiii, where are you going!" Arnold turned again, there were
four youths, they approached him menacingly. Arnold thought about
running but didn't, he continued walking and ignored them. "Stop you
idgit" Arnold hesitated, but continued to walk, faster now. "Oiii you,
you better stop right now." Arnold broke into a run. The chase was on,
the four youths shouted and screamed behind him as they closed the
distance. Arnold glimpsed over his shoulder two of them were fast and
closing quickly, Arnold turned into an alley and ran into the darkness.
He stopped and hid behind two bins and looked. The two youths who were
fastest ran past the end of the alley, Arnold released a sigh of
relief, then the other two appeared, and stopped, they talked and
pointed for a moment and then shouted to their mates. Laughing, the
other two came back "Thought we missed you, did you."
"Come on, where are you" they taunted as they walked towards him.
Arnold panicked and appeared from behind the bins. "Ar, there you
"What do you what?" Arnold was playing the part of the victim well
before the crime.
"We want your money."
"Here have it." He said
Arnold threw his wallet at the feet of the youths, one picked it up,
"ten pounds. What's in the bag?"
"Student boy, hey. Throw us the bag." Arnold stood for a moment
"Throw us the bag," Said one of the fast ones, another produced a
Jack-knife and said "Now!" Arnold took off the bag and threw it at
their feet. The four picked it up and the shortest one laughed, "Thanks
mate!" They turned and walked off joking with each other, Arnold stood
petrified for minutes after they had disappeared, he then tentatively
walked back to the road, there was no sign of them.
Arnold walked back to his house, exhausted by the exertion of the last
hour or so. He got home and shut the door behind him, he picked up the
phone and waited to report the incident to the police. After a few
minutes he got through to a detective.
"Hello Detective Robinson speaking, you're the gentleman who had his
rucksack and wallet stolen tonight?" Arnold, a little surprised
"Well we have your wallet and three of the perpetrators."
"That was quick," exclaimed Arnold
"Well, there seems to have been an argument between them, two were
DOE's and a third died after giving us information about who was
responsible and what was stolen."
"Their all dead?" asked Arnold
"Yes, I'm afraid so, all knifed, two in the throat, one in the chest
and one in the back, there were four assailants weren't there?"
"Well the fourth, appears to still have your rucksack, what was in it,
it must have been valuable, I presume that was what the argument was
Arnold dazed, stood with the phone at his face, "just a book" he
"Well come down to the station tomorrow and make a statement,"
"OK" said Arnold, "I'll be there at nine"
Arnold put the phone down and went and sat in the front room, what was
in that book he thought, he decided to get his bike and go and see
It was twelve thirty by now and the roads were quiet, Arnold cycled
fast, not stopping to catch his breath, the wind was behind him and he
shot through the night streets. He was in shock by the events of the
night, he wanted some explanation. He turned the corner to Stanley's
road and there it was, the ambulance. "What is going on?" Asked Arnold
of the paramedic who was shutting the ambulance door.
"Who are you?" He asked
"Is that Stanley?" Asked Arnold pointing into the ambulance.
"You kno0w this man?"
"I've got some bad news for you I'm afraid, Stanley Whittingchester has
been hit on the head by a roof tile about an hour ago, his neighbour
found him. His just become conscious again, would you like to ride with
"Yes, I would." Arnold climbed into the back of the ambulance, there
was a paramedic in the back who was busy in a cabinet. Arnold leaned
closer to Stanley. "Are you OK, Stanley?"
"Have you read the book?" croaked Stanley
"Stanley, I&;#8230;I lost it." Stanley's gazed fixedly at Arnold's
face, Arnold looked down.
Then Stanley laughed, "don't worry my boy, the book is special, but
only different to any other book because it alters itself. It reads
your mind while your reading it, your fantasies, your dreams, your
hopes and fears and as you read it, your future unfolds before you.
However the prefix is always the same, and that is this: Every book is
your future, some aspect of your life, know yourself, and read this
book, to help you avoid some strife."
At this point Stanley smiled, Arnold began to ask him what he meant,
but before he could Stanley started choking, the paramedic pushed
Arnold aside, but after a few minutes the paramedic looked at Arnold
and shook his head, "sorry." He said, and Stanley passed away.