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One Foggy Night

a short story in two parts - Part 1 

 by Andrew Rossiter  

WITH AUDIO. ►: Click to open/close audio player

         When an anxious mother calls the Police to report that her teenage son has not come home, the policemen find themselves looking at more than just a couple of missing teenagers  .....

      “He should have been back by eleven thirty,” said the voice on the phone. “I’m so worried. It’s the first time he’s been out with the car at night .”
    “And how old did you say your son is?” asked Sergeant Parker.
     “Seventeen, officer. He only passed his test a week ago. And Melanie’s only 15 .”
    “Well Mrs. Hoskins, I can only say that I haven’t had any reports of incidents involving a blue Fiesta; but I’ll put out a message. Just make sure you call us back immediately if ‘e comes home. We can’t afford to waste police time, can we ?”
    “No, officer, of course not. But you’ll let us know at once if you find them, won’t you ?”
    “Yes Ma’am, we will.”
    Parker looked at the clock on the wall. It was just after two. “Constable Shepton!”
    “Sir ?”
    “Put out a message to all cars. Look out for a dark blue Fiesta, registration number J47 HPK. Driver’s a young lad of 17 called Paul Hoskins - just passed his test. His mum expected him home before midnight. Hasn’t shown up .”
    “Any idea where he is ?”
    “Went out for the evening with his girlfriend. She’s not home either .”
    “What’s the problem then, Sarge?” asked Shepton. “Probably out clubbing! If we had to look for every youngster who stayed out late... .”
    “Yes, I know. But ‘is mum says he’d promised to be back home by midnight. “
    “Yes, but... .”
    “Seems like he’s a sensible lad, who does just what he’s told..... And the lass is only 15 .”
    “Blue Fiesta!” said Constable Wells. “It’d be a bit easier if it were a yellow Ferrari. How are you meant to recognise anything in this?”
    A heavy sea fog was rolling in off the Channel, bringing visibility down to less than thirty yards.
    Constable Bradstock got back into the car. “Well there isn’t anything going on round here. Place is deserted.”
    At that moment, two lights surged out of the mist, and drove past at high speed. “Bloody idiot,” said Wells. “Shall we go after ‘im ?”
    “What? In this fog? What’s the point? Let’s just get on with the round.”
    Bradstock started the engine, and the patrol car moved slowly forward into the blanket of dark white mist.
    “Brad! That was an Fiesta, wasn’t it?”, asked Wells, all of a sudden.
    “Where ?”
    “The car that just went by .”
    “Might have been. I hardly saw it .”
    “What colour was it ?”
    “Don’t ask me! I can’t tell colours under orange streetlamps at the best of times; can you? Let alone in this fog .”
    “Let’s follow it.. .”
    “It could be anywhere by now, couldn’t it!” But Wells was already talking into the radio.
    “Car PB to base. Suspicious vehicle speeding west along Esplanade, near east Pavillion. Could be the missing Fiesta. We’re following it, but slowly due to fog. Over.”
    The mist was patchy; then suddenly, as they drove in front of the Imperial Hotel, it lifted, and a long line of lights stretched out ahead of them, picking out the gentle curve of the Esplanade round as far as the harbour. There was no traffic, just cars standing empty at the roadside. Apart from the streetlamps, the only other lights to be seen were in the distance at the harbourside, where a group of cars seemed to be parked at the water’s edge.
     Bradstock switched on the blue flashing light, and Wells accelerated. As they approached the group of cars, two of them drove off up a street towards the town centre. The third stayed where it was. “It’s an Fiesta,” said Bradstock. “Dark blue. P’raps it’s the one we’re meant to be looking out for..... .”
    “Pull up behind it,” said Wells. Although its headlights were on, the stationary vehicle looked empty. Brad jumped out.
    A moment later, he was back. “You’d better call up the station. Engine’s running, but no one in it. Just this on the back seat.” He held up a wad of £50 notes.
     “Whoever was in it left a couple of grand behind. Must have seen us coming and bunked off in a hurry!”.
     "Doesn’t sound like a 17-year old kid, does it?” said Wells.
     “You never know these days, do you?” Brad replied.

test -
driving test, to get a driving licence - involving: concerning - afford to: allow ourselves to - constable: policeman - registration number: the number of a car - lad: boy, man - sqhow up : appear - lass: girl - deserted: empty - surge: come very fast - mist: fog - round: circuit - patrol car: police car - let alone: and certainly not  - over : end of message - patchy: irregular - pick out: define, show - harbour: port - p'raps : perhaps - stationary: not moving - wad: group, packet - a grand: £1000 - bunk off: go away -

Continue to part 2  
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Student worksheet Intermediate English

One Foggy Night - Part 1

Grammar: Prepositions - Interactive exercise

Replace all the missing prepositions and adverbs from this extract from the story.:
  "Let's follow it..."
"It could be anywhere  now, couldn't it!" 
But Wells was already talking  the radio. "Car PB  base. Suspicious vehicle speeding west  Esplanade,  east Pavillion. Could be the missing Fiesta. We're following it, but slowly due  fog. Over." 
     The mist was patchy; then suddenly, as they drove  front  the Imperial Hotel, it lifted, and a long line  lights stretched  ahead  them, picking the gentle curve  the Esplanade   far as the harbour. There was no traffic, just cars standing empty  the roadside. Apart the streetlamps, the only other lights  be seen were  the distance  the harbourside, where a group  cars seemed  be parked  the water's edge. Bradstock switched  the blue flashing light, and Wells accelerated. 


Using this story in class :

Listening comprehension/ oral expression : 

Careful listening
There are a number of small differences between the printed text and the audio recording. As students listen to the story, either individually or collectively, they should look out for these differences, and note them down. In particular, the printed version of the story has been brought up to date. The car, an Escort in the audio text, has become a Fiesta in the printed text. The Ford Escort went out of production in the UK in 2002; and the cash that Brad finds in the car has been increased to take account of inflation. Other small changes involve synonyms – a word in the printed text being replaced by a synonym in the audio version.

Grammar points: This story is full of language points that you can develop in class: note in particular: prepositions (see exercise above), prepositional/phrasal verbs, modal verbs (should, can, will, shall, might), tag questions.

All these points are clearly presented in the author's  new Descriptive Grammar of English - paperback or ebook

Creative Writing: Anticipation.  Have students  imagine how this story could end...

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Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource

Readability easy.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 2.5
Reading ease level:  91.2
CEF level: B1
IELTS Level 5

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Originally published as a Freeway Focus in Freeway magazine.
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