By Paul Jamison
Chapter – 17
The following morning Craig and I quietly
got out of bed and I booted up my computer to see if there had been a reply
“They’re twelve hours ahead at least, I think,”
“So it’s after nine pm today still there?” I queried.
“Think so. You can always check online
you know. Search for
“Yeah, okay, I will.” After a few minutes
searching we found a site that had world clocks and we easily got the current
I opened my email and there was a reply. I quickly clicked to open it. Craig and I read through the message quickly.
It was hard to know where to begin when there’s been over six years since I last saw you. To hear you again last night and to learn how happy you are with Craig and since you’ve left your mother’s house was good. I had been extremely worried, but that’s just the parent in me re-surfacing after the six year break I didn’t want, but inevitable, considering the circumstances. You never actually stop being a parent even if you are apart. Something that’s difficult to explain, but it’s true, believe me. I won’t make more excuses, but simply ask if we could draw a line and restart our relationship from last night’s call.
I’ll call again next Saturday at the same time if that’s convenient for you and you guys. I’ve attached a selection of pictures of me, and Michael has found a few for you as well. We took some pictures of my flat today and will during the week find more of the area to send you in emails.
I have to say I am relieved and very, very happy that we’ve made contact again. I will make sure that I don’t ever let losing contact like that happen again.
Oh, both Michael and I are totally gobsmacked with how Rick and Paul have got things set up there… we’re actually rather jealous… instant gay family! We can’t believe it. The pictures you sent are amazing. Wow! Paul and Rick are good lookers too! That holiday must have been lots of fun from what I see in those super pictures that you attached and something we might have done when you were a little older. Looks as if it was pretty energetic too? Sadly, that was not to be. The ones of you, Craig and Will just being boys and goofing about were simply great. It’s such a joy to me to see you happy.
Love you, Liam,
“Oh wow!” Craig spoke first. “He’s for real, isn’t he?”
“…Y…e…s.” I managed to get the word out as the tears streamed down my face. I hurriedly got up and rushed to the bedside table for my box of tissues. Grabbing a couple I dried my eyes and blew my nose to hide my embarrassment at being so emotional. Craig immediately came over and just held me. The sounds of Will going from his room to take a shower broke our moment and we just hugged and kissed each other. After a few minutes we broke away and returned to the computer screen. Together we scrolled through the pictures that Dad had sent and we looked at them all. He certainly had a really nice flat in a modern small block. I saved them to a new folder on my machine. Will had finished in the bathroom, so we both took a shower and got dressed. After drying our hair, Craig and I made our way down to the kitchen for some breakfast.
We entered the kitchen to find it empty. We were first down. Not especially unusual on a Sunday, as we were both used to Rick and Paul taking their time to emerge at the weekends. Will would appear at the first tempting aromas of bacon cooking, but even he could be found on occasions sat on the window seat with a mug of tea contemplating the world outside and lost in his own thoughts.
I put the kettle on to make Craig and me tea and Craig got some slices of bread out of the fridge, slipped them into the toaster and turned it on. I’d just made the tea and glanced at the clock noticing it’d just turned ten when the doorbell went. I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a smart car in the driveway but couldn’t see anyone. I stirred into action and went along the hall to open the door and see who it was.
I was so surprised to see Adrian and James on the doorstep.
“Hello, Liam, may we come in?”
I shook myself out of the surprise I must have been showing and said
“Yeah, sorry, of course, do come in. It’s just we weren’t expecting you guys. Paul and Rick aren’t down yet, neither’s Will or Chris,” I managed to explain.
“And you, no doubt, are relishing in the fact that your dad phoned
“Err… yeah, how did you know? Oh, and thank you so much for all you did to make that happen.”
“It was actually an amazingly easy matter to accomplish. I still feel it was that photo that sealed it as a cert though,” he replied.
“Dad as much as said that in his email. He also said last night he thought at first it was my mum up to her old tricks. Luckily he knew your firm.”
“Yes, that was fortunate… we all know what she can get up to when
she decides to make mischief. I trust there’s been no further difficulties on
“No, nothing since you wrote,” I said.
“Right, where’s my tea then?”
Craig and I leapt up and between us switched the kettle back on took down two extra mugs and had two more teas made in a matter of a couple of minutes. Adrian and James helped themselves to milk and took a seat at the kitchen table.
“So, how did things go with your dad last night?”
“Oh, really good,” I replied and when I said nothing further he added
“Just ‘really good’?”
“Well, we had a really good chat and have sent another email since with loads of pictures this time,” I explained.
“So, you reckon things will work out fine then?”
“Yeah, I do actually. I’m pretty sure he really does care and things happened six years ago that he couldn’t do too much about at the time.”
“Without actually reading the divorce proceedings papers, I think we both know enough to surmise that things were not too pleasant at your house up till when he left, at least between your mother and father anyway.”
“There were lots of rows.”
“Enough said then.”
We all laughed and some ten minutes later he re-appeared dressed and tidy and with a sheepish smile on his face he said
“Sorry, I don’t normally do that when there’s company.”
“You weren’t to know Chris,” James said smiling at him. “Come on, you two, the injured lad needs tea and toast too,” he laughed.
“I can do my own. It’s okay, thanks,” Chris replied.
“We know that, but they’re already going to make us some, so can add
a couple for you too,”
Chris grinned, took the mug of tea Craig passed him, added his own milk and a spoon of sugar. He went and sat in the window seat quietly drinking his tea and watching the rest of us.
“Where’s Will today, over at Justin’s”
“No, Jus was here yesterday, but he’s gone home. Will had loads of homework, so was prolly up late doing that. He’s usually first down on Sundays, though,” I said.
“Hi, good morning, Rick, how are you this bright, sunny, but cold Sunday… Yes, I’m sure… We’re here in your kitchen being entertained to tea and toast by three nubile youths…”
There were sudden noises of movement in the room above the kitchen and some three minutes later both Paul and Rick appeared in jeans and sweaters at the door.
“You ratbag, you might have given us a call,” Paul remonstrated with
“We do our ’umble best, melud. We dursent give ’em meat, theys gets
far too uppity if we does,” Rick said, stooping towards
Adrian and James hooted with laughter.
“Oliver Twist,” Craig said laughing away.
“Well done Craig, yes, you’re right on the meat bit of course. It’s
Mr Bumble, but, the ‘ever so umble’ is Uriah Heap from…?”
“Oh, that one’s David Copperfield,” Craig said grinning.
“Indeed it is. Good on you,”
“To what do we owe the pleasure…?” Paul asked, grinning away as he took a mug of tea from me.
“We’ve come to take you all out for a nice pub lunch, okay?”
“Who’ll drive?” Paul asked.
“None of us,”
“Yes, certainly is,” Rick answered. “I’ve a few thoughts I want to
share with you too,” he said to
“Let’s go and have that chat now, okay?”
“Sure,” Rick replied. “Come through to the sitting room.”
Rick and Adrian left the kitchen and disappeared into the sitting room leaving me and Craig with James, Chris and Paul. There was still no sign of Will.
* * *
Adrian and I made ourselves comfortable on the sofas.
“How are things progressing with arrangements for the funeral?” I asked.
“Very well. We’ve got the death certificate and permission to proceed with a funeral. The circumstances cannot really be challenged. It’s just a question of arguing for compensations now. Chris will get a bit for his injuries and who knows maybe other claims too. My colleague is dealing with that. I’m more concerned with the trust side of things.”
“Any thoughts about the house?” I asked.
“I’ve not got to that yet. I need to get it valued for probate of course, but what’ve you been thinking?”
“I don’t know what the terms of the will are, but if everything’s been left to Chris…”
“Off the record… it has, in its entirety,”
“In which case, the house is worth about a hundred and fifty five to a hundred and seventy five thousand. That’s well below the inheritance tax threshold. Now, with the current low interest rates and poor return on capital, it’d make better sense to keep the house and get some rental income from it for a few years until Chris reaches eighteen. The housing market should’ve recovered sufficiently to make selling an option again and interest rates on investments ought to have recovered by then too,” I explained.
“Wow, you have been thinking,”
“Yes, I’ve just been dealing with something similar for another client and especially as there’s no inheritance tax liability and consequently no necessity to sell the house, I imagine the balance of the estate doesn’t take it over the limit?” I asked.
“No, I don’t believe so. There’re some shares and some savings in
various accounts, but nothing that would take it over the £325,000 that’s currently
allowed before inheritance tax liability is incurred, as far as I can see at
“In which case do consider that. It’d pay for quite a few of Chris’s needs during the four years until he reaches eighteen and I guess it’s all his then?” I asked.
“Yes, it is. We’ve a letting agency and property management section
and I’ll ask them to take a look and give me a viability report. Thanks very
much for that thought. Could well maximise the return for Chris, not that money
is much compensation for the trauma and upheaval he’s had and has still to
come. I still have no clear idea what Rory Griffin is planning to do regarding
his guardianship responsibilities at all. I’ve made a few enquiries on Chris’s
behalf and unless there are things I’ve not been able to find out, it’s not
going to be that easy to whisk him up to
“I see, and does Mr Griffin know all of this yet?”
“I don’t know. he’s not as yet responded to my latest letter. He hardly uses the phone and doesn’t have email. So it’s back to good old ‘snail mail’, I’m afraid,” he replied.
“Any funeral date yet?” I asked.
“No, but it’s in hand. It should be within the next ten days or so.
We can at least go ahead and arrange it. I confirmed identity of the body to
save Chris further distress. The coroner’s been informed and awaits the police
accident report. Things like that don’t happen instantly,”
“Oh definitely. Many thanks for this,” I said.
“We were just in the mood for a Sunday, out so thought we’d pressgang
you lot along as well,”
I laughed too and we both rejoined the rest of the gang back in the kitchen.
* * *
“Where’s Will this morning?” Paul asked. “Not like him to miss out on breakfast,” he added.
“I’m not sure. We heard him take a shower ages before we came down. I guess he must be doing homework,” I suggested.
“Would you go and raise him, explain that James and Adrian are here and we’re all going out for a pub lunch. So would he get himself sorted and down here soon, okay,” Paul asked me.
“Sure,” I replied as I got up and headed back upstairs to Will’s room. I knocked gently on his door, but there was no reply. I guessed he might have his iPod on, so I slowly opened the door and stuck my head in. Will was at his desk head in his hands and it seemed like he was sobbing quietly to himself. He had his iPod going on the earphones and so didn’t hear me knock or come in.
I crossed the room to where he was sitting and the movement must have caught his eye as he raised his head and turned round to look at me. I saw at once that he’d been crying and that there was maths homework spread out on his desk with several pages of work all screwed up and tossed aside.
“Hey, It can’t be that bad,” I quipped, trying to lighten the mood.
“It is though. I just don’t get this stuff at all and it’s all got to be in Monday or I’ll get crappy marks and then Dad’ll get upset if I don’t get through. I’ve got to pass this stuff somehow,” he haltingly explained.
“How long’ve you been trying?”
“Um… I went to bed about half past one and got up early,” he explained.
“Yes, we heard you go for a shower this morning. Why’ve you all this stuff still to get done?”
“Jus and I did fun stuff Friday night and most of Saturday. I only started homework last night,” he explained.
“Still seems a lot for one assignment?” I replied.
“It’s two actually. I failed last week’s one and have to do it again. But, I still don’t get it. I’ve been trying for hours now,” Will replied looking very close to tears again.
“Hang on a moment. I’ll go and get you some help. Go and wash your face again and wait here, okay?” I said as I went to the door and hurried back downstairs to the kitchen where everyone was gathered just chatting away.
I went in and saw that James was near the window chatting to Chris. I moved over and as soon as I could, asked him if I could have a quiet word. He smiled, nodded and we went into the hallway.
“Will’s upstairs having real problems with maths again,” I said.
“He needs help?” James asked.
“Definitely, he’s been up half the night trying, there’s a huge pile of screwed up attempts in his room,” I explained and added “He’s quite upset now too. He so doesn’t want to let his dad down with bad marks.”
“Right, let’s go and see if we can sort this out,” James replied.
“Okay, he’s in his room, do you want to come up?” I asked.
“Lead on. Let’s see what the problem is and then I’ll know how to help.”
We both headed upstairs to Will’s room and I knocked on his door. Within seconds, Will opened the door with a look of complete surprise on his face when I said… “You needed help… here it is.” I laughed at his amazed expression at seeing James with me.
“How…!” he began, then continued “Sorry, hi, James. Liam’s told you then?”
“Yes, seems that you’ve another problem. Shall we take a quick look and see if we can get to grips with it all?” James suggested.
“Please, I just don’t get this stuff at all right now. I’ve been trying half the night and got nowhere,” Will explained as he led us into his room and got his books sorted and cleared a space by shoving all the screwed up paper into a heap.
James pulled up a second chair that I noticed Will had in his room and made a mental note to ask Paul or Rick if I could have one too, and then I said
“I’ll leave you too it then, see ya downstairs soon,” and added. “Oh we’re all going out for a pub lunch and we’re leaving around 11:30, okay.” I explained.
Will nodded and James said “We’re just taking a quick look now. Don’t worry. We won’t be late for the taxi.”
I nodded and headed out of Will’s room and back down to the kitchen. As soon as I entered Paul looked up and asked
“Where’re Will and James?”
“Will’s having maths problems and James’s seeing if he can help,” I explained.
Chris smiled and said “It won’t be long till he can do it then. James really helped me the other day too.”
“May we have a little chat, please, Chris?”
“Um… sure,” Chris replied.
They both went off for a good few minutes, but both came back
smiling and I heard
“Now, don’t forget what I said. It’s what’s best for you that’s important here, okay?”
“Okay, and thanks,” Chris replied.
Chris came and sat down again next to me and I turned to him and asked
“What’s that about then?”
“Oh, just stuff about Mum, the funeral and how things are going and
what I actually thought would be best for me. I said I wanted to stay at the same
school if it was at all possible and
“So you might be able to stay here then and carry on at the Grammar?” I asked.
“Possibly. He didn’t say either way. It all rather depends on Granddad, I guess,” he said.
“I suppose so,” I agreed. “Have you spoken to your granddad about any of this yet?”
“I’ve spoken to him on the phone, but not about school, or what’s going to happen after Mum’s funeral, or anything like that yet. He seemed to be in a hurry to get off somewhere when I called him,” Chris explained.
“Bit odd that, isn’t it?” I asked.
“I dunno really. I mean, I don’t know my Granddad very well at all. I think I’ve only met him twice. I’ve talked to him on the phone on Christmas Day, when mum called him to wish him a happy Christmas and chat, you know,” Chris replied.
“Oh, so you haven’t a clue what he thinks yet then?” I said.
“No, not an earthly,” Chris said, with a hint of sad finality in his voice.
“I shouldn’t worry too much though. I mean, things worked out fine for me in the end.” I smiled broadly in an attempt to cheer Chris up.
“Yeah, I know, but you were already over sixteen and that makes a
“I hope it does. It’d be good having you here too,” I replied.
Just then James and Will came down and into the kitchen and Will came over to us and said
“James’s coming back here after we’ve been out to lunch to go through more stuff with me. Then I should be okay to get it finished this evening.”
“Oh, good,” I said. “But hey, don’t hide away next time, okay? Ask someone for help. Rick’s okay with maths too you know,” I said.
“I know. I should’ve done really. Anyway, James is better at explaining things than Rick is,” Will giggled.
A large people carrier pulled up and sounded its horn. We all
hurried to get coats on and left to go out to lunch. A minute or two later we
were all seated in the car and headed off to the pub that Adrian and James had
booked. About forty minutes later we pulled into the large carpark of a country
pub that was advertising a ‘Sunday Carvery’ as its speciality. We piled out of
the taxi and after
The procedure was explained to us. We could have one, two or all
three courses for set amounts. We all chose to have a main course and a dessert
rather then starter courses. That meant we went right up to the carvery and a
chef carved our choice from the three roasts on offer of rib of beef, turkey or
pork. I chose the beef and then you helped yourself to vegetables and roast
potatoes from the hot display selection and finally I poured some gravy over
the lot and made my way back to our table. Craig had chosen beef too and when
we were all seated again
“So, Chris, are you looking forward to being back at school tomorrow?” James asked.
“Yeah, I am really. I want to get back to normal as soon as I can. I know I’ve still got the funeral and stuff, but I’m hoping that I can somehow stay at my school, if possible,” he replied hopefully.
“How so? Will asked and added “I mean where’s Chris going to live?”
Paul jumped in immediately with “We were going to have a family discussion tonight, but as we’re all here now and as long as Chris doesn’t mind this being discussed right now then I’ll tell you what we hope might happen.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind,” Chris said.
“Chris has asked if it might be possible for him to live with us. So if it works out, then he’ll have a room on the first floor. It will all depend on how his grandfather deals with all of this and what generally comes out as being best for Chris, in the long run.”
“It’s okay with me,” Will said between mouthfuls. “Which room is he having though? The one he’s in now?”
“No, come tomorrow we’re starting on a conversion of the old little room into a new bathroom. The old bathroom becomes a new bedroom and the spare room, the one Chris is sleeping in now, goes back to being our guest room again,” Paul explained, and then added “That room was wasted space anyway really. It only had a computer and loads of junk in it. We now get another proper sized bedroom, regardless of whether Chris is able to come and live with us.”
“What’s stopping Chris just coming to live with us like Liam did?” Will asked.
“Rules, regulations and parental responsibilities,”
“Um… oh yes, I definitely do. I’ve been very happy in your house,” he said to us all.
“Oh, my dad’s home next weekend, by the way. I got an email this morning. He’s got 32 days leave due and is taking it all. He says he’s emailed you guys too,” Will said, looking at Paul and Rick.
“Oh, that’s excellent news,”
“Okay, I’ll tell him that when I reply tonight,” Will said.
“That’s fine. Thanks very much for that Will.”
We’d all finished our roast dinners and while the waiting staff
cleared away we went to the dessert display to select what we wanted. Craig and
I chose the crème caramel. Chris and Will went for a whopping great piece of
chocolate gateau and Paul and Rick both had fruit salad and cream while Adrian
and James had sticky toffee pudding with crème anglaise. We returned to our
table to eat that and there was silence for a while. Then
A few minutes after we’d got our coffee,
We all finished up, got our coats back on and were ready and waiting when the taxi arrived. I was stuffed. James said to Will
“After all that brain food we’ll crack those problems in half an hour, okay?”
Will smiled back, rather weakly I thought, and just nodded. I could see he was not really looking forward to that bit of schoolwork at all. The taxi arrived a few moments later and we all headed back to our place. Once inside Paul, Rick and Adrian went to the sitting room to talk. I took Craig up to my room to get his stuff as he felt he had better go home and get some reading done for school and Will took James up to get some help with his maths.
Craig packed his stuff and after a good long kiss I saw him downstairs and after he’d said goodbye and thanks to everyone he went out through the kitchen. I then went back to my room to read too. About half an hour later I heard James and Adrian get ready to leave and I went down to say goodbye and thank them for taking me and Craig out to lunch. Will looked a lot happier then as obviously the maths was now a done deal and he could get the rest of his homework sorted. Chris had been in his room reading and had come down to say bye and thanks as well and then he’d gone right back to his reading.
On the way back upstairs Will turned to me and said “All we’ve got to sort now is a boyfriend for Chris,” he said with a wicked grin.
“Don’t you think he can manage that in his own good time?”
“Nah, you couldn’t. We had to have a chicken dinner party to get you and Craig organised,” he quipped.
“We? Who’s the ‘we’ in all of this! I invited Craig to a meal. You and Justin merely assisted,” I replied.
“Errrr… Don’t think so… I did all the shopping and pretty much all the preparation with Jus helping till you got home from work,” Will laughed back.
“Mmmm, I suppose so. But don’t you two go making plans for Chris without asking him first. He’s not out everywhere and like you two doesn’t want to be either… so be careful what you say and to whom you say it, okay?” I warned, giving him a look that I hoped showed I meant it.
“Yeah, okay, you’re getting to be no fun anymore, though,” Will replied, and quickly disappeared inside his room before I could answer back.
I grinned to myself and went into my room, booted up my computer and looked at my dad’s emails. So much had happened this last week and I wanted to read it all through again before replying.
* * *
Rick and I had just seen our unexpected visitors away and returned to the sitting room with a tray of tea. After pouring a cup for each and sitting back on the sofa I said “Did Will say there was an email for us from his dad?”
“Yes, he did and that he’d be home next weekend for quite a break,” Rick replied.
He got up and went and retrieved our laptop from the kitchen. He set it on the coffee table and after turning it on we waited until we could open the email programme. A handful of emails came down and the last was the one from Frank.
Rick opened the email and we both read the message. All the queries we’d sent to Frank he’d answered. Rick turned towards me and said
“That’s a turn up for the book. Frank knew Chief Griffin on the first ship he served on as a young lieutenant. Describes him as old fashioned and rather set in his ways…”
“Oh heavens, that’s not so good, is it?”
“Hard to say. Frank ends with ‘leave him to me!’ whatever that’s supposed to mean?”
“He’ll be back next weekend. So let’s not jump to conclusions. Chief Griffin will be down the week after for the funeral anyway. Let’s hope we can get it all sorted out then,” I replied.
End of Chapter 17
thanks for all the emails, I have enjoyed reading and replying to you
all. I believe I am up to date on that now.
Many thanks for all the emails, I have enjoyed reading and replying to you all. I believe I am up to date on that now.
By Paul Jamison