Because they blocked my way to the front door and Horrie’s new back fence was too high to scale, escape options were limited, but I had recently discovered a new hiding place above the ceiling. I had to climb onto the kitchen bench and from there to the top of the tall cupboard in which all the jars and packets of things were kept. Above the cupboard, in the ceiling, there was a hole covered by a square of plywood through which I could slip into the ceiling space. It was a dark, cobwebbed, dusty place, and not at all comfortable, but it was out of their reach, and safe.
In my mind were frightening images of the man running away through the cobbled sewers, his long shadow chasing him down the great curved walls—his sweating face as he heard the soldiers footsteps and voices down each tunnel—the fingers reaching out through the holes in the iron manhole cover—the single echoing shot that ended it. It would be at least a decade before I would be able to attach those stunning images to the brilliant film to which they belonged—The Third Man—and the shadowy images of half-lit Orson Welles stalked my nightmares for years before I knew who he was.
Of course, they knew right away where I was. It was impossible to move up there without every thump reverberating in the kitchen below.
“Come down here this instant,” my mother called helplessly. “You can’t stay up there for long, you know.”
I was perfectly sure that I could.
“Your father will be home in a minute.”
Maybe I couldn’t.