Excerpts from 'Kate' by Kevin Burgemeestre 

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From the first page...

Kate dug her hands deep into the pockets of her hoodie and sniffed; she hated how the cold weather made her nose run so freely. Her eye caught a motor-oil rainbow shimmering across the soft sheen on the damp asphalt and wondered briefly how it was that ugly things could sometimes appear so beautiful. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand, shrugging with disgust as she did so.

With the passing flash of her fingers, she noted chipped, black nail polish and felt a shard of sadness seeing the knotted, multi-coloured bracelet around her wrist. The bracelet was still there, but Jess, her best friend, was gone. 

Wilde the dog...

The vertical line of ribs standing out clearly through the dull coat, and the crisscrossed scars scribed into the fine front legs made her frown. What she thought was a collar was in fact a length of electric cord that choked the dog each time he pulled against it. She looked further and noticed an open wound on the back and another across the leg. Both were angry, red and weeping. Even though she had to get to school, she felt she needed to do something about this dog.

... 
 Jess could not get used to the dog. For his part, now he knew Jess was family he was doing his utmost; licking her hand in greeting and once even rolling over in front of Jess inviting her to scratch his tummy. It was hard to know if she really appreciated the spontaneous gesture of trust.

Mal the "bad boy"...

“But why did you help me? I just stole your dog!” 
 “Me Aunty reckons you should always help damsels in distress – shit like that. And about the dog, I reckon he might be better off with you just now. I’ve been a bit off me head lately. I can get nasty.”

...
It was Mal, standing across the road, leaning against a tree. He couldn’t have looked more out of place if he’d been riding a unicycle and juggling. His worn clothes, thin battered face, old thongs, and sunglasses up on his head, all painted a grim picture. And to top it off, his manic stare made him look like he was planning to bomb the place.

... 
 He was medium height, wiry build, short, cropped hair. I think he had, yes, that’s right, a red t-shirt over old training pants. Tough.” 
 
Kate’s heart sank. It just had to be Mal. Of course he would be noticed. It was like seeing a panther in a kitty show. 

Upset...

It was as if she suddenly had the worst case of Tourette’s Syndrome – as if she would never stop. But she did eventually, and found herself blubbering, holding Alice Small’s hand, perhaps even crushing it a bit. From her other hand she smelt lovely perfume and realised that Ms Small must have handed over her expensive and exquisite smelling hanky; or it would have been exquisite if it hadn’t been drenched in Kate’s snot.

Danger!...

The girls stared at one another. Jess shook her head, unable to believe that they could be in any danger on such a sunny afternoon, in their own neighbourhood.

The man with the hoodie looked around, saw the girls, and began running down the yard towards them. Kate scrambled to get hold of the bike, trying desperately not to panic, “Move, Jess! MOVE!” 

The bikes wobbled, the man was gaining, the sand on the path dragged at the wheels. “MOVE, JESS, GO!” she bellowed hearing the puffing and grunting of the man right behind her, and then a cry of pain.

Kate...

“You need to ask your daughter why she has been associating with a known and convicted drug dealer. You may also need to ask her if she is aware of what happened to his sister.” Kate felt like she was going to vomit.

 ...
 Wilde’s excitement had subsided and his Kate radar finally kicked in. He swung around and nudged her gently with his head. When this seemed to have no effect, he thudded a paw as softly as he could onto her arm. She tried to rally for him, put on a brave face, but really, from deep down inside, it felt like she was drowning.

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