By Paul Jamison

Chapter – 12

Paul’s viewpoint…

Craig and I sat in silence, lost in our own thoughts, and I mulled over the events of the last several months and wondered how an earth we had managed to be in the position that Rick and I now were… as foster guardians to two gay teenagers. The facts were amazingly simple. We had been asked for our help and responded. One thing had led to another and I wondered if it was about to lead to yet one more.

My thoughts were interrupted by Craig nudging me and saying

“They’re coming back and Chris looks out of it.”

I looked up and saw Vanessa and a tear stained Chris with Jamie whose arm was over his friend’s shoulder in a re-assuring way approaching us. We both stood and waited for them to draw closer and then Chris said

“Mum didn’t make it through the op. She’s died,” he managed to get out before the tears just rolled down his cheeks again.

“Chris, I’m so so sorry,” I said. “I’m Paul and I’m guardian to Will and Liam. Craig and Jamie live just down the road and you all go to the Royal Grammar,” I prattled on, not at all sure what to say… “What do you want to do now?” I managed to get a grip to ask.

“Um… can we get a drink, perhaps something to eat?” Chris asked. “I’ve not had anything since a snack before the play while waiting for my mum.” He teared up again at that last word and his shoulders heaved with more quiet sobs.

I looked at Vanessa and she said “Yes, that’s an excellent idea. Give me five minutes to get out of my scrubs and I’ll be heading home. Craig, Jamie, you both go with Chris and Paul, please, okay?”

“Yes, Mum,” they replied. I stepped aside as Vanessa turned to leave and quietly said

“Leave this to us. I’ll call Rick and get the spare room ready and some food on the go. Do you think your doc could give Chris something for tonight?” I asked.

“Are you sure? We were going to bed him down with Jamie for tonight and see how the land lies tomorrow morning. I’ve already sorted a scrip,” she said showing me a prescription form already filled out and signed by a doctor. “It just needs collecting from the pharmacy. I’ll do that on my way, okay?”

“Right, but we’ve a room ready without needing to find and set up camp beds at nearly midnight,” I replied.

“Good thought,” Vanessa replied. “Okay, I’ll leave him with you tonight and tomorrow… well that’s another day and a lot to sort out,” she said as she then turned and called to the boys.

“I’ll see you all at Paul and Rick’s. Jamie, you may stay there with Chris tonight. That’s if he would like you to, okay?” she added smiling at us all.

“Yes, please, if that’s okay,” Chris replied with a semblance of a smile.

Vanessa went away to get changed and go to the pharmacy in the hospital and we turned and trailed out through reception and the main doors to the car park. I sent a text to Rick while we were walking and within seconds got a response. I checked it and, seeing a capital ‘OK’, displayed slipped my phone into my pocket and once again safe in the knowledge that my other half was as always, rallying round, I moved at a smarter pace towards the car. It was now really quite cold and the boys were shivering as none had come out dressed for a winter night.  No-one spoke a word as we got to the car and got in. Jamie had Chris in the back with him and Craig joined me in the front. I belted up, checked the others had and set off for home through the now frosty night.

We journeyed in silence and I quietly pulled onto our drive. We all got out and while I put the car away, Craig led Jamie and Chris up to the kitchen door which was opened by Rick just as they tapped quietly on the glass. I followed the boys into the kitchen.

The sight that met my eyes was amazing. Liam and Will were making burgers and bacon rolls and a pan of soup on the hob warming through. Plates, mugs and cutlery were all out around the kitchen table. I looked at Rick in obvious surprise and he just laughed and said

“You didn’t really expect these two to stay in bed when there’s food cooking, did you?”

“Um… well, no obviously not,” I replied smiling back at the two who’d by now plated up enough filled rolls to feed the street let alone the now seven soon to be eight of us when Vanessa arrived.

“Okay, guys,” I said, “get some food inside of you and then off to bed for all of you. Will, please show Jamie and Chris the spare room and where the bathroom is. Would you lend them something to sleep in too? Just for tonight, okay?”

“Yeah, sure, no probs,” Will replied, bacon roll in one hand, mug of soup in the other.

Craig and Jamie had a brief chat together on the other side of the room, then I noticed all the boys merge around Chris and they just took care of him.

Rick and I grabbed one quick roll and a small amount of soup each as we were not really hungry after our good supper earlier. Then Vanessa arrived and tapped on the kitchen door. Craig let his mum in and she handed us a pack of pills saying

“One before bed, no more, there’s one week’s supply. That should be enough. He’ll have to see his own doc after that, okay?” she said.

I took the packet and slipped it into my pocket, nodding as I did so.

Vanessa looked around the room and seeing that the boys had pretty much finished eating she said

“Craig, it’s time for you to come home to bed now. Jamie, you and Chris to bed just as soon as you can… no arguments and no staying up talking all night either. You both need all your sleep. Chris, Paul has some tablets that will help you get off to sleep. Please take one, okay?”

I nudged Rick and grinning said “See, that’s where we’ve gone wrong. We’ve no sergeant-major here.”

Will laughed and said “No, and we don’t need one either. My dad’s enough, thank you very much.”

With that Craig and Vanessa left for their home, Liam helped us tidy up the remains of the midnight feast and when we’d all done I remarked to Rick

“I guess I’d better ring that social worker guy in the morning. Best we get in touch than he finds out through the hospital or something,” I said.

“Mr Robinson?” Liam asked.

“Yes, the one who dealt with your situation,” I replied.

“I’ve got his card in my wallet. I’ll get it for you,” he said as he quickly shot out of the kitchen and away to his room, returning in less than a minute with Mr Robinson’s card.

“Thanks, Liam, that’s really helpful,” Rick said, taking the card and putting it next to the phone for dealing with in the morning.

“Night, then,” Liam said as he headed off to bed.

“Night, Liam,” we both said in reply.

Rick turned to me and said “I know what you’re thinking and if it’s right and what he wants and those in charge agree, I’m okay with it.”

I must have shown relief all over my face for before I could reply he said

“You are so obvious sometimes, I can read you like a poster banner.”  He laughed.  “Come on, bed. Looks like you’re going to be busy tomorrow.”

I nodded in agreement and we both made our way upstairs to our room having locked up and put out the downstairs lights on our way.

* * *

 The following morning Rick and I got up rather earlier than usual and while Rick took his shower I sent an email to work to take a day’s leave as I knew that there was an awful lot to get arranged over the day regarding Chris’s situation. As soon as Rick was free from the shower I took mine and joined him downstairs in the kitchen.

“I’m taking the two spare room boys some tea and suggesting that Jamie cuts over to his home fast and gets ready for school. Then I’ll do the school run with your car, come back here, swop cars and then shoot into the office. I’ve no appointments till ten so there’ll be no problem there. Would you get my car out onto the drive so I can do a quick change over when I get back?” Rick said.

“Yes, sure,” I replied, then added “I’m going to call Adrian and then Mr Robinson, okay?  After that, I’ll take Chris to get some clothes from his house and see how he’s doing regarding being fit to go to school. I reckon he may need a day or two off, but not more as that’ll just give him too much time to dwell on it all.”

Just then there was a knock at our kitchen door and Rick went to answer it. Both Craig and Vanessa were there and he quickly invited them in. Once inside Craig said

“I’ve brought Jamie’s school stuff. Shall I go up and give it to him?”

“Yes, please, if you would. I’ll be up with some tea for them both in a jiffy,” I replied.

“Don’t take Jamie any tea in the bedroom. We won’t see him for ages if he thinks he’s got time to spare… take Chris one, but get Jamie into the shower, dressed and back down here ASAP, please, Craig,” Vanessa told him.

“Okay, Mum,” Craig replied smiling at us as he took the mug of tea from Rick, picked up the carrier bag of clothes he had brought over for Jamie and headed out of the kitchen and up to the first floor to the guest room.

“Sorry about that, but I know Jamie. Any excuse to loiter,” Vanessa explained.

“Not at all, we were just planning the campaign for today,” I replied.

“Good, glad I caught you then,” Vanessa began. “I looked at Chris’s notes before I left the hospital last night and he’s got no serious damage except for one cut on his arm which has five stitches. The rest and the bruising are all superficial and will easily repair given a few days. His mental state is another matter. To all intents and purposes, his world caved in last night. I’ll find out from Jamie in a moment what sort of night he had, but whatever it was like, I think he needs those pills for sleep for the rest of the week at least. He will certainly need some counselling to get through his traumatic loss and the fact that his life is going to change permanently even if he’s not realised it yet.”

“We’ll take whatever advice that’s suggested and arrange whatever is needed,” I quickly said.

“Are you thinking of taking him on if there’re no relatives at all?” Vanessa asked.

“Yes. Last night we decided that if it was found to be in Chris’s best interests we would put ourselves forward as guardians.”

“That’ll all depend on what provisions were made for Chris in his mother’s will. That’s if she even made one, of course,” Vanessa replied.

“Oh yes, we realise that there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ to consider. I’m going to be calling the social worker we know as soon as their office opens and get the ball rolling anyway,” I replied.

Just then the usual sound of teens clattering down the stairs for breakfast took over and Craig, Liam and Will appeared through the kitchen doorway, quickly followed by Jamie who said

“How come Chris gets to have tea brought to him in bed and I don’t?”

“Because he’s suffered injury and trauma and no arguing, please. Get yourselves sorted and then Rick will take you all to school,” Vanessa replied.

There were ‘Okay, mum’ from Craig and Jamie and nods from Will and Liam who were already busy making toast to go with the tea that we had already made for them.

Five minutes later and the room had cleared leaving Vanessa and me in relative silence.

“I’ll go and see how he is if you don’t mind,” Vanessa suggested.

“Yes, sure. Let’s both go up. Did you have a chance to ask Jamie anything about how he was last night?”

“Yes, not very much though. He took his pill, Jamie helped him undress and he fell asleep quickly, but Jamie said he was restless during the night. Chris kept waking him up with his moving around. Hardly surprising really, considering all he’s been through,” Vanessa explained.

We reached the door of the guest room and I tapped gently and called out

“Chris, may we come in?”

Chris replied with a yes and we entered to see him sitting up in the bed finishing the tea I’d sent up earlier.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Not brilliant. I did sleep though. I guess that was the pill,” he replied.

“Probably,” Vanessa answered. “May I look at your damage?” she continued.

“Yes, sure. Is there any chance I can have a shower soon?” he asked.

“Maybe, if we cover your stitches with some protection. It will be okay to have a really quick one. You can do the essentials only. No soaking for ages, okay?” Vanessa suggested.

“How does the rest feel?” I asked.

“Oh, just achey and sore really, not real pain or anything now,” Chris replied.

“Chris, we will have to start soon… um… making arrangements for you and everything that goes along with that. Some horrible things happened last night and we’ll need to start with some preparations for what’s going to happen next. Okay?” I said.

“Yeah, I know. I’ve no idea what’ll happen to me though. I mean I’ve no aunts or uncles that I know of,” he replied.

“Any grandparents at all?” I asked.

“Yes, one somewhere, Scotland, I think. My mum’s father.

“Chris, what did your mother do? Did she have an occupation? Is there someone we should call at where she works for instance?” I asked.

“Yes, she’s… was, a legal secretary at a solicitors’ firm,” he answered.

“Do you know which one?”

“Yes… mm… Machin, Lowes & Webb… that’s it,” he said.

“That could just save the day, Chris.  My best friend is one of the lawyers there. I’ll give him a call right away and he will know just what we have to do as well,” I said and then added.  “I’ll let Mrs Sutherland here see to your injuries and decide if you can shower, okay?  I’ll go and make some calls now and we can see what we can get started. When you’re ready we’ll see about some food for you and organise what we have to do next. I’m going to call school too and have you signed off sick for today at the very least. Then we’ll see what a doctor says later about any more recovery time you need. Okay?” I said.

 Chris nodded and I left the room and headed back to the kitchen. I looked up the school first and made the call to the Headmaster’s secretary. She took the details and undertook to inform the Headmaster immediately. I then rang Adrian at his office. He picked up instantly.

“Adrian?” I said.

“Hello Paul… sorry, I seem to be answering my own phone this morning. There’s been no sign of my secretary and no answer to her phone at home or mobile either… most odd never happened before.”

I paused, a cold chill ran though me and Adrian said

“Still there, Paul?”

“Um, yyes… I don’t quite know how to say this, but was your secretary a Mrs Griffin, Marylyn Griffin?” I asked.

“Yes, as it happens, but how do you know? And what were you calling about?” Adrian asked back.

I quickly explained the events of the previous night and how we were all involved and that Christopher Griffin was presently recovering in our guest room as that was the simplest option at that time of night.

There was a pause at the other end of the telephone and then Adrian in what seemed to me to be a somewhat forced professional voice, came back with

“Right, I have all of that. Leave it with me. There’s indeed a lot to do. Keep the boy at your house. He’s certainly safe enough there with you and I will get all the necessary underway and the will opened. There’ll be a will here. It’s a staff perk that we do one for all employees. She died in the hospital, you said?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “I am so sorry to tell you all of this.”

“Not a problem, we would have found out eventually. But it’s so much better to have early notification of such things. Marylyn was a real asset, a truly loyal and respected member of our team. She will be very much missed, believe me.  Oh, how old’s the boy now by the way?”

“Thirteen, maybe fourteen,” I replied.

“Okay, there’ll be the question of guardianship to consider then. If there’s nothing in the will the local authority will have to be brought in, but we’re not at that point yet,” Adrian added.

“Well, right then. Oh, if we can help in any way then we are happy to,” I said.

“Am I reading too much into that?” Adrian asked.

“No, I don’t think you are. I talked to Rick last night and if it works out as being in the boy’s best interests and what he would like, then we would like to make ourselves available,” I replied.

“Right, well we’re nowhere near those sorts of decisions yet. Let me get to the paperwork and see what’s been arranged… if anything. A large number of parents make little or no provision in their wills for minor children, you know. It creates havoc amongst warring relatives as well, when matters are not clearly defined, believe me,” Adrian said.

“Okay, chat later then. Oh, is it okay to go to his home and get some of the lad’s clothes?” I asked.  “His were ruined in the accident.”

“Yes, he has to have something to wear. Nothing more than that though, okay?” Adrian replied.

“Okay, consider that done. Bye for now.”

Bye, Paul. Good luck on this one,” Adrian said and rang off.

I had just put the telephone down when Vanessa, followed by Chris, came into the kitchen. Chris was wrapped in a large bath robe from our guest bathroom.

“Best we could find for now. I’ve been through Chris’s uniform. There’s nothing except his shoes and socks that’s saveable. It’s all for the tip,” she explained.

“Well, we shall replace it all for the same things and the receipts will be sent to your mum’s firm as they will be handling all claims as a result of that accident. I can imagine it might be quite substantial, but anything we have to get for you to replace anything spoilt last night we want a proper receipt for,” I said.

“My school backpack got lost… it had all my homework and some textbooks in it,” Chris said quietly.

“It might have been recovered by the police or ambulance service. We’ll not give up on that just yet,” I said. “Now… do you need some food?” I asked.

“Yes please, if I may?” he replied.

“If I may, well you are very well spoken Chris,” I commented, smiling back at him.

Chris coloured up, not unlike Will when embarrassed, and smiling said “Mum would always correct my grammar errors,” and then his eyes glistened and a tear rolled down his face and with a sigh he put his elbows on the table and buried his face in his hands to hide his grief. Vanessa stepped around the table and stood behind Chris and put a re-assuring hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently as she quietly said

“It’s okay, Chris.  You are among friends. It’s all right to be sad and it’s all right to cry too. Boys do cry… believe me… I’ve two that did plenty when they lost their father a few months back,” she said.

I grabbed a box of tissues from the worktop and put them near to Chris as he sobbed for a few moments. Then raised his head and said

“Jamie was so kind last night. He told me he knew how I felt as he’d done so too when you got the news about his dad,” he sniffed, then reached for a tissue and then another, had a good blow and seemed to be okay as he smiled and said

 “What’s for breakfast?”

Vanessa and I both laughed to a bemused expression from Chris. I turned to Vanessa and said

“The teen returns to life… appetite restored!” I said, then added “Full English do for you, young man?”

“Oh, yes please, no baked beans though. They make me…. you know,” he giggled.

“With two teens and a would be teen already in the house, yes, I can safely say I DO know, Chris,” I laughed.

I turned on the grill and hob and took out some sausages, eggs and bacon from the fridge. I set the sausages to grill while I prepared a frying pan for a couple of eggs, then opened a pack of bread and dropped two slices into the toaster, filled the kettle and remarked

“I guess everyone’d like some tea or coffee?”

“Yes, please,” both Chris and Vanessa replied.

I laughed and asked “Well, which? Tea or coffee?”

“Oh, tea, please,” Chris replied. Vanessa nodded in agreement also. So I took a teapot from the cupboard and after dropping a couple of teabags into it filled it from the just boiled kettle and set it on the kitchen table with three mugs and a jug of milk.

Once the sausages were well underway I added the bacon and began to fry the eggs. Five minutes later I set everything on a plate and put it in front of Chris with the comment

“Here you are. Get yourself on the outside of that lot and let’s see if you feel any better.”

He gave me a grin showing for the first time his smile and tucked into the food.

“Gosh, makes me hungry looking at it,” Vanessa commented.

“I can just as easily do one for you too,” I joked back.

“Oh, goodness no way. Couldn’t burn that much off, thanks Paul, but no, I mustn’t,” she replied.

I poured the tea for all three of us and we sat at the table drinking our tea while waiting for Chris to finish his food. When he had done so, I suggested that we found him something to wear and then went to his house to get a few clothes and some overnight things to last a day or so at least.

I went through to the laundry room and found some washed, but not ironed joggers and a hoodie of Will’s that I suggested he nipped into the cloakroom to put on and then if he found his shoes and socks we would set off to his home.

A few minutes later Chris came back into the kitchen dressed and carrying the remains of his own clothes with him.

“Is any of this any good now?” he asked.

“No, none of it, I’ve looked through it. Sorry Chris, it’s ruined.  Have you got a house key for your home?” Vanessa asked him.

“Yes, should be in my inside blazer pocket,” he replied. He picked up his school blazer from the pile of damaged clothing and investigated the pocket, retrieving the door key fob and tucking it into the joggers’ pocket.

“Should we keep that damaged stuff?” Vanessa asked.

“Oh yes, we may need it as evidence of costs incurred as a result of the accident and that would all be part of the claim against the driver of the car involved,” I said. “When I talk again to Adrian, your mother’s boss,” I said turning to Chris, “who happens to pretty much be our best friend, I’ll ask him what we should do about stuff like that.”

Chris nodded, but was still sensitive to any mention of his mother, so I quickly said

“Right, let’s go over to your house and get what you need for a day or so and then once back here we will see what arrangements have been made so far,” I said as brightly as I could. I then ushered Vanessa and Chris out through the kitchen door to the car, which Rick had returned and swopped for his own and we set off to Chris’s home. The trip took just ten minutes as we discovered that Chris lived in a small semi-detached house in the same area as us some seven or eight streets away. We pulled up outside and Chris hopped out, went to the front door, got out his key and opened up. We all entered the compact hallway to see a telephone table with the phone blinking and beeping to indicate several messages had been left.

“Leave those for now, Chris,” I suggested. “They can be dealt with later. I suggest you turn the heating down to low just to keep the frost out and leave a light on in the sitting room. But for now go and get yourself a bag of clothes for a couple of days, okay?”

Chris nodded and headed upstairs to collect some clothes from his room. He returned after about ten minutes with a backpack stuffed with clothes, some books and a carrier bag of what seemed like school work as well. He also had his iPod and charger in a separate carry case.

“Is that all for now?” I asked.

“Yes, I can cope now. Um… when will I be back at school?” he asked. “I’ve stuff here that should have been handed in today, that’s all,” he added.

“We’ll be talking to the school this afternoon as soon as your own doctor has seen you.  Would you find his details while we’re here?  Or did you get an appointment from the hospital to go back to outpatients for your stitches to be taken out?” I asked.

“No, the hospital said just to go to my doctor in few days and he’d do the stitches,” Chris replied.

I think we could do with your being seen before then just to see if you may go back to school yet or not. How do you actually feel now?... just physically, I mean?” I asked Chris.

“Um… okay I guess… My arms ache a lot and my face hurts a bit and the arm that was stitched is sore, but not too bad really,” he answered.

“When I looked at you this morning that wound is healing very well indeed. So I think you will be fully recovered there in less than a fortnight. Those bruises will take that long as well. You’ll go some odd colours until it has all receded to normal,” Vanessa explained to Chris.

“Yeah, I’ve been bruised before when I came off my bike. That took two weeks as well and funny browns and yellows all over where I was bruised,” he said.

“That’s perfectly normal and a good sign of healing taking place,” Vanessa explained.

Chris opened the drawer on the telephone table and took out a small book. Flipping through he found what he was looking for and said

“Here’s our doctor’s details and number.”

He held the book out towards me and I took out my mobile and made a note in the memo section of the details. Chris was about put the book back when I asked

“Does that have the phone numbers of your mother’s friends and family? People who should be informed of what’s happened?” I asked.

“Probably, but I don’t think I want to make those sorts of calls just now,” he replied.

“That’s fine, just leave it there where you can get it easily when you do need I suggested.

“Okay,” he replied.

We gathered up the things Chris needed and left the house, locking up carefully, and got back into the car and drove back home.

Once there Vanessa excused herself and went off to her house as she had to go and get ready for her shift at the hospital again. Chris and I went in to find the answering machine blinking away with messages. I pressed the play button and listened.

The first message was from Rick, just asking where I’d disappeared to and what news was there. I moved on to the next. That was from Adrian and asking me to call him as soon as I got his message. I looked at my watch and then made the call. Adrian picked up almost instantly.

“Hi, Paul here, got your message.  Have you any news?” I asked.

“Hi, yes, lots in fact. We have the will and have opened it. We’re sole executors and it’s actually well organised and straightforward. Not surprising for a legal sec to be honest. One of my older colleagues did the will when Christopher was born thirteen years ago. His mother is one of our longest serving employees actually. She came here directly from college, it seems, and has worked for a number of the partners over the years until she became my secretary about three years ago. She really is going to be sorely missed here. She was one of those goldmines who could instantly recall details of cases and clients at a moment’s notice. The main thing is that there’s a grandfather and he’s named in a supplementary document and also referred to in the will as being the appointed legal guardian and joint trustee with us of Christopher, her son, and of his inheritance of the estate in its entirety, if he should still be a minor at her death. There’s also a letter in which she states very clearly how she wishes her funeral to be arranged and also how Christopher’s to be looked after and his education continued, in the event she dies before he reaches majority.”

“Goodness, who is he and where does he live?” I interrupted.

“He’s her father, a retired naval officer, and he moved to a bungalow in Scotland on the shores of Loch Lomond near a place called Luss some five years ago on the death of his own wife. I’ve just spoken to him and he’s very shocked at the news and also at the implications that he’s now got a thirteen year old to be responsible for. It was something he took on years back thinking, as many do, that it would never happen… but as you and I know, the unexpected can and does happen often right out of the blue.”

“You’re so right there,” I said, then added “We’re already a family of four now. Who’d have thought that when we did our partnership… eh!”

“Exactly so, my friend, exactly so.  James and I are full of wonder at how you two are managing it all as well. Now, back to Christopher. Grandfather Rory will be coming down as soon as he can book a ticket on the train. He reckons he will be able to arrive at the Central station on Saturday afternoon and hopes someone can meet him and take him to Chris’s home where he’ll stay until after the funeral and arrangements have been made. I’ve told him that Chris is with school friends right now and that he’s injured too, but recovering fine and didn’t need more than patching up. He’s obviously relieved at that, but seems to have not much idea as yet of what happens next. I’ve told him all the details from the will of course and he recollects being told some of it by his daughter when the will was made. I’ll have more for you later when travel plans are sorted out. There’s actually quite a lot to do. The police want a statement from Chris as to anything he saw and can remember about the accident.  They want that very soon. I shall accompany him and you to do that later today, if possible, please.”

“I’m sure he’s okay to do that… we’ve just been to the house and collected some clothes and some school work he had. I’ll talk to the school again too. Can you fix a time at the police station and we’ll meet you there?” I replied and added “Oh, I don’t suppose the grandfather has said anything about Chris’s future yet, has he?”

“No, nothing except asking how old Chris was now and then he said that the nearest academy high school was over ten miles from where he lives and he’s no idea how he’ll deal with all this yet,” Adrian replied.

“I bet. It’s quite a shock to all of us actually then. Well, we can only wait and see. Okay, Adrian, we’ll wait your summons to the police station later.  Bye for now,” I said as I hung up after Adrian had said bye also.

I sat down at the kitchen table and looked at Chris, who’d been listening to my end of the conversation.

“I can tell you that your Grandfather Rory, who lives in Scotland now has guardianship of you and he’s coming down from Scotland on Saturday and will stay at your place while everything is sorted out, you know, the funeral and arrangements for the house and for you too,” I explained.

“I knew about him, but I’ve never met him. He was always away at sea or some naval base. I think I might have seen him once or twice when I was little. I’m not going to go and live in Scotland, no way!” Chris said vehemently.

“It’s not come to anything like that yet. It’s far too early days to worry about things like that anyway,” I said as soothingly as I could.

“I’ve a full scholarship at the Royal Grammar anyway. Surely that’s important and doesn’t what I think or want count at all?” he said politely, but with more than a hint of agitation in his tone of voice.

“Chris, I can’t answer your questions right now. You need to calm down and we’ve to make an appointment for you to see your doctor to find how long he feels you need to be off school, if at all. Then get the interview with the police out of the way and see where we are after all of that’s been sorted.  Okay?” I said, trying to be as reassuring as I could.

“Okay,” he said speaking more calmly, then adding “If he thinks I’m gonna live with him in Scotland he’s got another think coming!”