‘He’s there again!’ said the tall sixteen year old with his school shirt pulled out and his tie sticking out of his trouser pocket.
‘Of course he is, he’s always there David.’
Replied Craig to his mate as they strolled down Market Street on their hour lunch, it has been their ritual since year nine and with it now being there last year of school nothings really changed.
It was during these times they had their brightest ideas. They had decided they wanted to be detectives when they were thirteen as they wanted to arrest all the bad people in the world. But then they realised from observing people each day that some of the people which they thought were bad were actually totally different. It made David and Craig realise that this is what they loved. Finding out about people, making people aware things are not always as they seem. Journalists were what they wanted to be!
They chose media studies as one of their GCSE options and with that and their excellent English grades they were all set.
The man they are speaking of, who was on the bench in the centre of Market Street every day, was ‘Fat Mike’. Everyone knew him, everyone had heard stories about him. You see it is well-known that ‘Fat Mike’ came to Manchester from London, it is also well known that he is stark raving mad, he comes down every day and sits on the same bench, spending the whole day smoking cigarettes and watching the world go by. He is about sixty but from the state of his matted greying hair and his discoloured nails and fingers he looked much older. He always wore the same clothes, black hemmed trousers and a dirty white shirt, if anyone ever attempted to speak to him he would just scream at them saying ‘DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM’ As the majority of people would flee at this point and never return. He also often had a note pad in his hand and would often be seen scribbling notes down with a non-existent pen, he was so strange and odd but Craig often spotted him looking into the distance with a distressed, tormented look in his eye. David also said he once saw a tear rolling down his face when he heard the carol singers play in the street last Christmas, whatever his real story was the boys new they had their GCSE Media Studies project, right there in front of them.
The next day in school they started their planning, they would use everything they had learned about journalism and create the greatest news story they could. They decided they would firstly attempt the direct approach, simply go up to ‘Fat Mike’ and explain who they were and what they are hoping to achieve. So that lunch time they went to Market Street and approached the old man.
‘Excuse me sir, we are from…’ David began before mike leaps up and screams ‘SHHHHHHHHHHH’ in his face.
Slightly taken aback David steady’s himself and grabs Craig’s arm in a moment’s uncertainty. Mike returns to his bench and continues to look at the world as it goes by, Craig try’s a different approach and attempts to sit next to mike, well as close as mikes obscenely potent body odour would allow him. David looked confused but without wanting another dose of Mike’s breath in his face he decided to walk away slowly and sit on a bench nearby, but close enough to be in reaching distance in case his friend needed him. Craig sat there for the next thirty minutes, every once and a while he’d take a side glance to inspect Mike. He realised that every time Mike attempted to write in his note book he would be mumbling something.
After thirty minutes Craig slowly rose and walked over to David to explain the plan he had.
‘Look I think I have an idea, we need research right?’
‘Oh yeah and it looks like we are going to get it from him aren’t we! He nearly took my head off’ David croaked with an attempt at anger.
‘well we know now the direct approach won’t work, listen he seemed quite happy with me just sat there so why don’t I do that for a while, try and gain his trust and in the meantime you get as much background info as you can on the guy.’
‘Hmmm are you sure mate?’ David said reservedly.
‘Yes, look we can do this David and if it’s good we can use it to get into collage’
David thought about it long and hard, this was real and although it was scary this is what they loved. And so, with a smile that grow on his face they began. David asked everybody he knew about ‘Fat Mike’ and started compiling a portfolio, he asked old residents in the area and local police all of whom new of mike but did not know much about him.
Craig sat with him every day for a week not saying a word, eating his lunch and observing Mike and his life on the bench never once attempting to interact with him.
On the second week he was eating his sandwich as usual and noticed Mike glance over, Craig stopped and with his sandwich in one hand he picked up the packet which contained the remaining half and slowly offered it to Mike without speaking. After 5 minutes of sitting like this Mike placed his notebook next to him, in between Craig and himself, and took the second half, acting very nonchalantly Craig carried on eating his own. Craig finally getting the chance to see the notebook close up realised there was a faint imprint of a once embossed name ‘Michael Macintyre’ without wanting to rush anything Craig waited until it was time to leave before whipping out his phone to tell David.
‘I got his name’ Craig told David as he walked back to school.
‘What? How?’ asked David
‘Don’t ask just look it up, it’s Michael Macintyre’
Whilst David was still in the library he went online and typed the name in Google, there was no results for Michael Macintyre, but there was an article from 6 years ago about an Amy Macintyre.
19th December 2007
….It was a sad day today in Lambeth when four children were murdered by a drive-by shooting today as they stood with friends carol singing. It is believed to be in relation to the resent gang related crime which has broken out in the area. Amy Macintyre, aged 8 was caught up in the crossfire early Saturday morning whilst carol singing for local neighbours. This is just one month after MP Paul Richards gave his speech about reducing police patrol numbers in the area to save taxes.
David quickly prints off the article and races back to school, once he’s in he shows Craig what he finds.
‘Oh that’s bad, did you find anything on Michael?’ Craig asked
‘No but I’m going to go back after school, why don’t you come?’
‘OK I will, two heads are better than one.’ Craig replies.
They spent hours in the library that night, digging around online and in old newspapers.
Just as they were about to give up David spotted something in the obituaries of the following year.
20th March 2008
MIKENZIE MACENTYRE Aged 55
Makenzie (known as Michael to friends) will have a memorial service next Wednesday after the search ends for his remains from the Thames, Makenzie lost his fight to live after the death of his 8 year old daughter Amy at the end of last year. MP Paul Richards shall be making an appearance at the event to show support for his widow Janice Macintyre. Showing his respect to his long-time friend and trusted bodyguard Michael.
‘Oh my god David do you know what this means?’ Craig screeches to David so excited he almost pops.
‘Oh my god we are onto are first big story’ David says standing up slowly
‘We have found Makenzie Macintyre’
‘But wait. what do we do know? ‘Fat Mike’ won’t speak to us so where do we go from here?’ David proclaimed.
‘Print that off now and follow me I know what to do.’
David prints the article of and follows Craig, they get to Market Street and they spot ‘‘Fat Mike’’ he’s walking away from his bench, they decide to follow him to see where he goes. They follow him for at least 3 miles before they reach an old shelter and they watch him enter.
‘That’s it, that’s what we needed. We can now call her!!!’ whispers Craig always to himself.
‘Call who??’ David says confused and slightly irritated.
‘His wife you idiot, we can reunite them. Let’s go’
They rush back and the following day they ring the number on the obituary column, an old woman answers and they slowly and delicately explain everything. Janice Macintyre firstly goes silent and the boys think she’s hung up but then they hear whimpers, she explains how on the night day of Amy’s death Michael was supposed to of taken her carol singing but work had called to say MP Paul Richards was to hold an emergency speech in London and security was high,
‘He had called Mike in as he was his best bodyguard. He always made notes about anyone who looked suspicious for future recollection. He never forgave himself for not protecting Amy and said I was better off without him. That night there was sightings of him near the Thames and an anonymous call to say a man had jumped of the bridge. They searched for weeks but said his body had probably been washed to see.’ She explained.
After being on the phone for a few hours they arrange for her to come to Manchester. Their meeting was amazing, very emotional and very rewarding for David and Craig.
To thank them they let them write a beautiful article about their story which even made the papers in Manchester and London.
– THE END –
By Liz Daniels