THE TRAP - A short
story in two parts Part 1
by Andrew Rossiter
many teenagers, Martin needed a bit of money; and the offer of a job clearing out an old
house seemed to be just what he needed..
was not happy.
He'd wanted to work during the half-term
break and earn a bit of much-needed money, but wherever he'd asked he'd
got more or less the same reply.
"Sorry young man, we don't need any help," said
the man in the supermarket.
"I'm afraid not," said the lady at the newsagents
Then, on the Tuesday before half term,
he spotted a small ad
in the local paper.
HELP WANTED.Two people required for one week. Packing. No
experience needed. Phone 25573.
Without wasting a moment, Martin was on
the phone. To his surprise and disappointment
all he got was an answerphone, with a message: "You've reached 25573.
I'm sorry but there is no-one here at the moment. Please leave your
name and number, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible."
"Oh well, too bad," thought Martin.
"They'll have a whole pile of people leaving messages. I might as well
forget that one."
At nine fifteen that evening, however,
the phone rang. "Martin," called his Mum, "It's for you. Someone about
as he picked up the phone. "Hello!... Yes, it's me! Next
week?... Yes perfect!... Sixteen.... No, but I can easily
find a friend..... Tomorrow after school? Yes, that's fine...... O.K.,
we'll come round tomorrow."
"What was all that about?" asked his Mum.
"A job; I've got a job for half term
— with a bit of luck. I've got to go and see a bloke
"The guy that just phoned. He wants to
see me first."
"And what's the job then? Babysitting?"
"No, clearing out some old house or
"Well you just be careful Martin, I
don't want you getting into any trouble or anything. There's so much of
it around these days."
"Oh Mum, for goodness sake, I'm sixteen!"
It was an address in Hollydown, a leafy
district of big Victorian
houses that had seen better days. No.6 Royston Road was a two-story
house. The garden was decidedly overgrown
and giant weeds
were competing for prominence against untamed
roses and white-flowered convolvulus.
A man with a thick grey beard answered
the door, and invited Martin in.
The house smelt damp, as if no-one had
lived in it for several years. Most of the floor was covered in cracked
brown lino, and the walls decorated with cream-coloured
wallpaper. All the woodwork was dark brown.
"Rather unusual, isn't it?" said the man.
"Yes," answered Martin, slightly
surprised by the ancient air that seemed to hang over the house.
"I want you to get the whole place
cleared out by the end of next week. Drawers, cupboards, attic
... the lot.
Everything's got to be sorted out and packed carefully in boxes. I want
a complete descriptive inventory
of everything that's packed, down to the smallest teaspoon."
"What for?" asked Martin.
"It doesn't matter what for. I want it
done. D'you think you can do it? You'll need someone to help you.
You'll get £400, if that's O.K."
Martin, who had not expected to get more
than £100, was astonished — though he made sure he
didn't show it, in case the man changed his mind.
"Yeah, that'll be O.K.. I'll be back on
Monday morning then, with a friend."
"I'll get you started," said the man,
"Then I'll leave you to get on with the job. And by the way, my name's
McAlister. Doug McAlister. If you need to call me, you can always leave
a message on my answerphone."
Finding a helper was not as easy as
Martin had imagined it would be; the friends he asked had all got other
things arranged. "What about Emily Winter?" said Phil Dawson; "I know
she wants to earn some money."
Martin hadn't thought of getting a girl
to help him, but if Emily was looking for a job, well why not? They got
on pretty well together, and she was fairly reliable
On Monday morning at 8.20, Martin got on
his bike and rode round to Emily's. Just before nine, they stood
outside no. 6 Royston Road.
A young man opened the door. "You're
Martin, I suppose. Good. I'm glad you're on time. Come on in."
End of part 1.
Continue to part 2.
shop - ad :
announcement - disappointment :
sadness - spirits:
feeling - bloke,
guy: man - Victorian -
full of vegetation - weeds:
that are not wanted -
below the roof of a house - inventory:
list - reliable:
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The Trap - part 1. Student worksheet
Imagine the complete
telephone conversation that took place when the man phoned Martin's
home at 9.15.
to Martin) Martin, It's for you. Someone about a job.
(Martin comes down and
picks up the phone.)
Yes, it's me.
No, but I can easily find a friend.
Tomorrow after school? Yes that's fine.
OK, we'll come round tomorrow.
using this story in class :
Have pupils read this story
carefully, then, collectively, ask them to tell the story orally in
their own words. To encourage oral replies, you could ask the following
questions. Why was Martin not happy? / How did he find his
job? / What sort
of job is it? / Where is he going to have to work? / Why does he think
good job? / How does he find someone to work with him?
What is the "Trap"? Who has set it? Who is going to get caught in it?
Why? What role are Martin and Emily going to play?
in a short story, the writer is often obliged to
jump from event
to event, without mentioning what happens between. Where does the
in this story? What events happen in the periods over which the writer
This text is deliberately rich in examples of the words get and got.
Have pupils mark them as they read through the text, and divide them
categories: get/got = obtain, got
= obligation, get
= auxiliary (I'll
get you started
— compare with I want the
whole place cleared out), get/got
= other meanings (notably in prepositional uses).
done this, have students to write other sentences reusing get/got
here are synonyms of words and expressions used in the story. Have
the original words: (answers below):
noticed / advertisement / phone answering machine / a
lot of / became excited / very / emptied / arranged /
Answers: spotted / ad / answerphone / a whole pile
of / ('s) spirits bounced up / decidedly / cleared out / sorted out.
Other words to note: note the five adverbs of degree
used in this story: decidedly, rather, slightly, pretty,
the meaning of the expression: I
might as well ...
verbs. Have pupils pick out all the irregular verbs in this article,
that they know the principal forms of each one (infinitive, preterite,
Writing activity: completing the story:
The first part of
this story sets the scene; there are plenty of ideas that can be
followed up, and lots of potential endings to this story. Encourage
students to be imaginative as they write their ending.
There are a number of
interesting language points to look at in this story. Note in
particular further use of get/got a number of prepositional verbs, and
that may need explaining:
on the dot (precisely) / I could do with (I would like to have) /
That'll do (that is adequate)., etc . Try getting students to guess the
meanings of these words and expressions. This exercise can be
well done with students working in pairs.
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching
materials or exercises.
copyright Linguapress 1996-2016.
Revised 2015 . Originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level
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