Billy: Boy Statue (excerpt from chapter five – ‘The Secret’).
by Callum B. Downes
It was exactly 7:15 in the morning when Billy regained consciousness. When he sat up on the floor that he had passed out on, he was surrounded by the all too familiar sights of the Barley Bay R.S.L club. The first thing he noticed was the surfboard hanging above the bistro counter. A makeshift menu board, the solid timber structure covered a length in excess of 12 feet. Every time he looked up at it, the hairs on his back and arms stood up in fear. Flashes of foul shore dumps pounding him into the sand always hijacked his thoughts. And the recurring nightmare of grotesque seas, sweeping him out into a lonely abyss, plagued him.
The second thing he noticed was the bar. The same three or four men, aged well beyond their 80s, sat motionless, unless they were sipping warm beer or hassling the young girls behind the bench. The third thing he noticed was his sister, Livy, leaning on the huge windows to the left, which were more like walls, covering the entire western side of the clubhouse. She breathed circles of fog onto the glass and scribbled frowny faces in them. Both hands planted either side upon the window. Billy rushed over next to her and peered out the glass expectantly.
“Livy!” He shouted. “Livy, look quick! Do you see him?”
She ignored Billy, as usual, choosing to draw more frowny faces instead.
Livy, I’m serious, you don’t want to miss this! Do you see the statue?” He grabbed her by the arm and shook her body a little too hard.
“Lay off, statue boy! Don’t you know people can see us?” She turned around and smiled at a disapproving lady, who was nursing a child, then returned to drawing frowny faces. Not once did she acknowledge Billy’s existence. “So what is it? You’re obsessed with statues now? They don’t even move. They are the most boring things in the whole world! You’re such a boring loser sometimes.”
“No, look! The statue is waving at us! Look, Livy!
She froze mid frowny, raised her eyebrows at Billy, made direct eye contact for the first time in weeks, and returned to her drawing, finishing the sad mouth and rubbing it out with her jumper sleeve to start again.
“I’m not trying to trick you! I swear to God there’s a statue that is waving to us right now!”
“You don’t even believe in God,” snapped Livy.
“Yes I do”
“Well Mum and Dad say he’s not real.”
“Well Mr C at school says he is.” He crossed his arms to make himself feel bigger. Big people were smarter than little people. Another reason he hated being short.
“Well maybe the teachers only say those things to stop us being naughty. God isn’t real and statues don’t wave to people.” Livy pivoted on her toes in a perfect pirouette and walked briskly away.
“I don’t care what you think! Mr C is smarter than you’ll ever be!”
In a statement of victory, Livy didn’t turn around to fight back. It was obvious she had won the argument and Billy always felt tiny and insignificant when she ignored him like that. But not this time. This time Billy knew he was right. In fact, he felt strangely satisfied that Livy didn’t see the statue waving. It was as if he had been chosen to keep a highly important and valuable secret. Like he was the only person in the world worthy enough to know that statues can walk, talk and wave. He felt special. His life mattered to someone. He wasn’t a loser at all. Livy is the loser for not believing the truth.
With this in mind, he turned back around to wave at the statue, but the bearded soldier had vanished. There far below him, in the hedge gardens of the R.S.L club, stood two, brave, clean-shaven and young soldiers. One carrying the other over his shoulders to safety. Both standing completely still. Like any good statue would.
“There you are, Tiger. We were worried sick about you.”
“Oh, darling. How could you run away like that? Into the worst storm in Barley Bay history.”
The panicked voices of his parents were another familiar sound of the R.S.L club. This was the fourth time they had been evacuated here for flooding. But this was the only time their house had actually been flooded. And the only time they had to stay here for longer than an hour or two.
“You’re grounded for a month, mate. I’m sick and tired of your foolin’ around,” threatened Mr Baker.
Billy didn’t really hear him. He just took of right past them, down out the door into the gardens. He called out to the bearded soldier, and to his surprise, the old statue appeared from behind the hedge instantly.
“Pssst, over here,” he whispered. Billy ducked and crouch-walked over to meet him, desperately trying to hide from his parents.
“We don’t have long, kid, so listen up.” He dropped his voice lower and whispered behind gritted teeth, as he could hear Billy’s mum and dad pushing the club door open.
“Don’t you ever pull anything like that again,” he whispered.
“You know what I mean. You can’t tell anybody about me, it will blow my cover.”
“I don’t know what you’re on about,” Billy said in a loud talking voice.
The statue covered Billy’s mouth with his hand before he continued whisper shouting. “Just promise me, you won’t tell anyone about me. Not a soul. Especially your sister. People will recognise me.”
Billy’s parents were getting closer, their yelling voices were now clear and tonal.
The statue put a hand either side of Billy’s head, forcing him closer to prove his seriousness. “Listen to me. I’m not a real statue. I’m just a street performer.”
“A what,” asked Billy in confusion.
“You know, like a busker. I stand on the corner of Archer and Market Street, pretending I’m a statue so people will give me their money.”
“You’re the Jesus Statue out the front of the church?” Billy shouted this question and the statue was forced to clamp his mouth shut.
“Yes I am. You thought that I was a real statue?” The soldier dropped his hand away from Billy’s mouth in disbelief.
“Yes!” Billy whisper shouted this time. He could hear his parents on the otherside of the hedge. “Yes, that’s why I recognised you yesterday! You’re Jesus on Market street. I walk past you on my way to the supermarket.”
“Yes I am, but promise me you won’t tell anyone.”
Billy could tell the old man was pleading with him. He nodded his head slowly.
“Billy! There you are! Get back inside right now!” Shouted Mr Baker.
Billy stood up from his crouched position, stroked the arm of the bearded statue in front of him, which was completely frozen and astonishingly real, and walked back inside next to Mr Baker.
Author’s Note: Happy Easter folks! This will be my last full length installment of Billy: Boy Statue, before I intend to publish the complete story. From here, I will only post brief phrases or paragraphs, alongside my own annotations like this, to keep you posted on the my progress.
I hope that my posts so far have left you wanting more, and I hope you have many questions bubbling away in your heads. I promise you will never guess what happens next and it’s my prayer that the finished product will change the way you and your children view life’s many obstacles.
Peace and love to you all on this auspicious day!