He said, 'I have spoken to your father and he says that you didn't mean to hit the policeman.'
I didn't say anything because this wasn't a question.
He said, 'Did you mean to hit the policeman?'.
I said, 'Yes.'
He squeezed his face and said, 'But you didn't meant to hurt the policeman?'.
I thought about this and said, 'No. I didn't meant to hurt the policeman. I just wanted him to stop touching me.'
Then he said, 'You know that it is wrong to hit a policeman, don't you?'.
I said , 'I do.'
He was quiet for a few seconds, then he asked, 'Did you kill the dog, Christopher?'.
I said, 'I didn't kill the dog.'
He said, 'Do you know that it is wrong to lie to a policeman and that you can get into a very great deal of trouble if you do?'.
I said, 'Yes.'
He said, 'So, do you know who killed the dog?'.
I said, 'No.'
He said, 'Are you telling the truth?'.
I said, 'Yes. I always tell the truth.'
And he said, 'Right. I am going to give you a caution.'
I asked, 'Is that going to be on a piece of paper like a certificate I can keep?'
He replied, 'No, a caution means that we are going to keep a record of what you did, that you hit a policeman but that it was an accident and that you didn't mean to hurt the policeman.'
I said 'But it wasn't an accident.'
And Father said, 'Christopher, please.'
The policeman closed his mouth and breathed out loudly through his nose and said, 'If you get into any more trouble we will take out this record and see that you have been given a caution and we will take things much more seriously. Do you understand what I'm saying?'.
I said that I understood.
Then he said that we could go and he stood up and opened the door and we walked out into the corridor and back to the front desk where I picked up my Swiss Army Knife and my piece of string and the piece of the wooden puzzle and the 3 pellets of rat food for Toby and my £1.47 and the paperclip and my front door key which were all in a little plastic bag and we went out to Father's car which was parked outside and we drove home.
2. This is not a metaphor, it is a simile, which means that it really did look like there were two very small mice hiding in his nostrils, and if you make a picture in your head of a man with two very small mice hiding in his nostrils you will know what the police inspector looked like. And a simile is not a lie, unless it is a bad simile.
I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can't tell lies.
Mother was a small person who smelt nice. And she sometimes wore a fleece with a zip down the front which was pink and it had a tiny label which said Berghaus on the left bosom.
A lie is when you say something happened which didn't happen. But there is only ever one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are an infinite number of things which didn't happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn't happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn't happen.
For example, this morning for breakfast I had Ready Brek and some hot raspberry milkshake. But if I say that I actually had Shreddies and a mug of tea3 I start thinking about Coco-Pops and lemonade and Porridge and Dr Pepper and how I wasn't eating my breakfast in Egypt and there wasn't a rhinoceros in the room and Father wasn't wearing a diving suit and so on and even writing this makes me feel shaky and scared, like I do when I'm standing on the top of a very tall building and there are thousands of houses and cars and people below me and my head is so full of all these things that I'm afraid that I'm going to forget to stand up straight and hang onto the rail and I'm going to fall over and be killed.
Excerpted from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Copyright © 2003 by Mark Haddon. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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