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Advanced level reading resources Intermediate reading resources English grammar online Language games and puzzles
Linguapress Intermediate English

THE WIMP  - A short story in two parts   Part 1 

by Andrew Rossiter

B1 - Intermediate English

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"Right, Wimp, you know what I mean, don't you?"

The 17-year old with untidy blond hair held a large, clenched fist very close to James's nose. He looked menacing, just like the bulldog tattooed on his arm.

"Yes," said James, blinking. "Tomorrow. I'll do it."

Snoo walked off with a sneer on his face, leaving James wondering what to do next.

Sixteen-year old James Raisin was probably the cleverest boy in the school, but he was shy, very shy, and everyone picked on him. Whenever something happened that shouldn't have happened, someone would point a finger at James; and since James was not terribly good at defending himself, he often got blamed.

The principal, Mrs. Arbuthnot, seemed to believe every story that anyone ever told her; and as a result, she was convinced that James Raisin was not just a very clever boy; but also a very disruptive pupil. 

James knew that he was not; so did Snoo. And so did Salima, who was about the only other pupil who understood James. In fact, Salima got on rather well with James.

As James came out of school at the end of the day, Salima was waiting for him. "Well, what's Snoo been up to now?" she asked.

"Homework again," James answered.

"What's he making you do this time?"

"All his science project. It'll take ages."

"But James, why don't you just tell him where to get off?" she said. "You can't just go on letting him do this to you. Why don't you tell someone?"

"Cos I'd end up in hospital if I did."

"Don't be ridiculous. Of course you wouldn't."

"I would. You don't know Snoo...."

"Well if you're not going to do anything about it, I am... I'll go and see Mrs. Arbuthnot tomorrow."

"Don't you do anything of the sort. You'll just make things worse if you do that.... Snoo's dangerous, I tell you. And to be quite honest, he's more dangerous for you than he is for me."

"Oh come on! No wonder Snoo calls you Wimp! You're just frightened of him, aren't you?"

"Yes, and you would be too, if you knew some of the things that I knew about Snoo."


"Well, he knows I know."

"So what?"

"Listen, Sally! I'm not a wimp! But he's put people in hospital before now... and I'd rather not be the next one."

"Oh come on, he hasn't really!"

"Dream on! But I know he has, 'cos I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time once.... And he saw me. Now I'm not going to say any more about it. But if I were you, I'd try an' stay on the right side of Snoo."

The science project was not easy; Snoo had had three weeks to prepare it, and done nothing at all until the day before it was due to be handed in. That was one of the reasons he had given it to James. He had other reasons too, of course, and two in particular.

Firstly he couldn't care less about science, and secondly he had other things to do after school, rather than home-work. He had his business.... well a sort of business. Not drugs, or any-thing like that; Snoo was maybe lazy, but he was not stupid, and he wasn't going to get involved in dangerous activities of that sort.

It was 11 p.m by the time James finished the science project. His mum had already gone to bed – but it was after midnight before James got through his own homework, and turned out his light.

At ten to eight next morning, Snoo was waiting for him at the usual place.

"You're late, Wimp," he snapped. "Have you done it?"

James handed him a USB stick, and Snoo plugged it into his portable computer.

"It's all there, is it? "

"Yes," James answered. "You'll understand it all quite easily."

"I'd better," Snoo answered, turning the computer off.

A bus was coming. Snoo jumped on the bus, leaving James to wait for the next one. Snoo didn't want them to be seen arriving at school together.

James sat in the bus shelter, alone. At that moment, there was an electronic buzz from the ground below the grey metal bench on which he was sitting. James looked down; it was a mobile phone, and he recognised it at once, it was Snoo's. He let it beep, picked it up, and pressed the message button. A message came up on the screen. "Bengal Store: 11 p.m."

Continue to Part 2

WORDS been up to: been doing - blink: shut and open eyes very fast - clenched: closed - disruptive: causing problems - no wonder: it is not surprising - pick on : blame, criticise - snap: say in an aggressive tone - shy: timid - sneer: malicious look.

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The Wimp - part 1.   Student worksheet  



Interactive exercise.  After reading the story, complete the following sentences in your own words. Add all the words you need; the box will expand to take your text.

1. James Raisin often got 
2. Salima and James 
3. James does  because 
4. Salima and James 
5. Snoo gave James  because 
6. At the bus stop next morning, James 
6. Snoo took the USB stick, but 

For teachers

Grammar -  Neutral quantifiers: some, any, no, every and their compounds. Note a number of uses of these words in the first paragraphs, which illustrate use of  everyone someone something anyone.  Compare and contrast the uses of someone and anyone. In paragraph 4,  there is the phrase someone would point a finger at James.  We use someone here because it implies a singular, some individual person.  In the next paragraph however we find the expression every story that anyone ever told her. Here anyone is used because a plural number of people is implied.

  Later Salima asks "Why don't you tell someone?"  she might also have asked "Why don't you tell anyone?", but there is a subtle difference in meaning. By using someone, she means some individual person.  If she has used anyone, that would mean "why do you not tell people?" implying a potential plural..

 Further on there art several examples of any used in classic situations, in a negative clause and in a question. Remind students that any is used in interrogative and negative contests, where some is used in an affirmation. For example I can see something. Can you see anything?  I can't see anything.  Can you see something? is also possible, but as in the example above, there is a difference between some and any when used in questions.

Negation.  Pay attention to all the examples of negatives used in this story. There are a lot.

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Revised  from a sotry originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Level - Intermediate.
CEFR LEVEL :  B1 intermediate
IELTS Level : 
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:   89  Easy 
Grade level: 3 +
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