The Organ Grinder’s Monkey

Rudi let out a breath that he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. He nodded and – after taking a careful look around – they made their way back to the street and started walking past the front of the house. To anyone watching, they appeared to belong. A solitary street light on the corner lit up the front garden; a dim porch light dispelled any shadows at the front door. They turned the corner and walked down the other road, Raven keeping one eye on the house for movement while Rudi kept one on the street.

Once past the arc of the mist-shrouded street light, they once again paused to take a look around and then ran quickly but quietly into the carefully manicured bushes that bordered that side of the house. It was darker on this side. Even though the house stood at an angle, the front facing the corner and the street light, the house next door provided for extra cover. They were still in view of the street but, if they kept down and quiet they ought not to be seen by anyone passing by. As if on cue, lights from a car turning the corner bathed the house in sudden daylight, washing over them as they hunched down, stock-still in the bushes. Now it was Raven’s turn to let out a breath.

“I didn’t even hear it coming,” she said, rubbing at her temples with both hands.

“We should quit now,” Rudi said.

Raven shook her head.

“No, we’re here. Let’s do what we came for.”

They made their way to the first window. Rudi squatted with his back to the wall while Raven raised herself up carefully and looked through. This time, the curtains where not drawn.

“Dining room,” she hissed down to Rudi. “Come have a look.”

Rudi pulled himself up beside her. The curtains were indeed open, and there was just enough light from the hallway light to make out some of the details. A wooden table with six chairs made up the centre of the room, and pictures and display cases covered two of the walls.

Raven, a triumphant look on her face, pointed towards the third wall. There, in a large wooden and glass case, was the military uniform that they had seen, just once, on the afternoon they came driving into town. It felt like ages ago now.

Raven hunched down again and reached into her jacket pocket. She retrieved her phone.

“What are you doing?” Rudi hissed.

“I need to get a picture,” she replied, raising herself up once again. She shook her head. This will never work, she thought. There is no way a cell-phone camera will get a picture of an object from across a dark room, both through the window and then through the glass of the cabinet.

She put her phone back in her pocket and started to feel along the bottom of the window, her fingers feeling for what her eyes could not see.

Rudi looked at her in horror.

She raised herself up further and began trying to work the window loose.

“What are you doing?” Rudi hissed.

“Shhhhh!” Raven glared at him. “How else must I get this picture?”

Rudi reached out and grabbed her arm. Raven snatched it back and pushed him.

“This is crazy!” Rudi said, louder now.

“Then go home!” said Raven.

Rudi grabbed her arm again. “Let me go!” Raven said, louder this time. “Just let me…”

In this first book of the series, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey explores the pitfalls, the successes, the comedy, and the tragedy, of growing up and trying to make sense of the world around us. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always human, Rudi and Raven learn to peel back the layers in the town, in their relationships, and in their family. In doing so, they may peel back the layers of who they are, and discover something magical underneath.