By Paul Jamison
Chapter – 4
I quietly pondered recent events as we journeyed back to school on the first morning after half-term break. I thought that I was settling in rather well. No strong friends yet, but then it’s still early days. There were two boys in my year group that were decidedly friend material and I’ve been slowly cultivating their attention and interest over the previous half-term. I’d also joined the swimming team and had, according to Mr Wellings after our first training session, shown skill, determination and natural talent. That was all going well.
My brother Craig, though, just hadn’t been the same since we’d all moved after Dad was killed. My mind ran back over some of the changes I’d noticed in him that’d been most apparent. The major one was very obvious to me since he’d come back from the holiday on the canals. When our Dad had been around Craig was quieter, he kept his feelings and personality hidden and in the background, worked well at school too. I guess so’s not to cause ructions at home. There’d nearly been some big arguments over what subjects Craig’d do for his A levels. That had all changed when they got the news of Dad’s death though. Craig selected his options with Mum’s approval. He was, though, always there for help and advice when I needed it, but never prominent. I was sure I knew the reason for that. Back when I was twelve or so Craig’d confided in me that he thought he was gay and that I’d better not tell anyone and definitely, definitely not Dad. Since Dad had been killed, Craig had slowly changed and come out of ‘keeping things to himself’ all the time. He was being a little more flamboyant than he’d ever been before, laughing and joking much more too and always going round to Liam’s when he could. It’d become obvious to me that Liam was way more than a best friend; Craig had got himself… a boyfriend.
Was I bothered? I’d decided way back that Craig was my brother come what may. The fact that he’d told me that he was gay seemed to be neither here nor there as far as I was concerned. Me? I didn’t really know and to be honest haven’t given it very much thought either. ‘I really can do without complications like that for now’ I thought to myself as the car drew up at school. I said goodbye to Mrs Naylor and the others and hurried into school to get to my locker and sort books for first period.
The day had plodded on as much as usual until the end of last period before lunch. I was at my locker together with most of the others from my year when I heard from behind a loud comment definitely aimed at me about Craig. I turned to see who was gobbing off and saw a bigger year three or perhaps a year four boy whom I don’t recall having seen around before. He was leaning back nonchalantly against the opposite wall’s row of lockers and holding forth to those who’d listen.
“Oh, so you’ve got ears then and do know who we’re talking about.” The boy sneered at me and carried on. “So, who wants to be on the swimming team with Sutherland since as we know his brother’s a poof, so it’s more’n likely he’s one too,” the guy carried on.
I turned back to my locker having decided to try and ignore him… if I could. I didn’t know him and couldn’t see that his opinion would count for much since I’d already seen and heard how the school didn’t tolerate any bullying or homophobic insults and stuff at all… unlike my previous one. Then as I turned away from my locker the guy came right at me, I thought to give me some more of his ‘advice’, but he suddenly pushed me back against the lockers. I dropped my backpack and went into auto mode. The twat’d used both hands to hold me round the neck to the lockers. I grabbed his two little fingers and forced them back against his hand. He suddenly let go with a howl. I took his right arm with both hands locked my right onto his wrist and forced his elbow straight and down with my left as I rotated the arm. Down he went and before any of us knew it Mr Stonebridge and Mr Wellings had come rushing down the corridor, I guess having heard the shouting and commotion.
“Release that boy at once,” Mr Stonebridge said firmly.
I did as I was told and stood aside as whoever it was struggled to his feet moaning away and accusing me of assault and all things. Mr Stonebridge glanced round quickly, I guess to see who was there. He turned to me and said
“Come with me, please. We’ll hear your side of the story before we go any further.”
“Yes, sir,” I quietly replied.
I followed Mr Stonebridge to a classroom and sat down at a desk when he told me.
“Right, Jamie, please explain exactly what’s been going on, how that fracas started and how you got involved. Do you understand?”
So I told him what had happened, about the remarks that I remembered very well. Then I said I was a brown belt at karate and had used defensive moves only to get the other boy off my neck. He listened carefully to my explanations and made some notes as I spoke to him and then he said
“Right. So, briefly then, you were sorting your books at your locker when you heard comments about your brother Craig? Then, when you ignored them and continued with what you were doing, the other boy, Naismith, made further derogatory remarks about you and Craig and when you again ignored him, he went for you pushing you into the lockers, whereupon you released yourself and pinned him to the floor using your karate skills… which he probably had no knowledge of, as neither did I until now. Does that seem to be a fair summary?”
“Yes, sir, that’s exactly as it happened. May I talk to my brother, sir?”
“Yes, I’m sure that’ll be fine in a little while. I’m going to have to ask you to remain here until I’ve spoken to others who were there to ascertain if what you’ve just said to me is a fair account of what went on. Is that understood, Jamie?”
“Yes, sir.” I sat down and waited while Mr Stonebridge went away. After a little while Craig came in and said
“Hi, what’s been going on, Jamie?”
“There was some trouble at the lockers. Some guy from the next year started on about you, then tried to get me going by including me and then he made a rush at me. Silly dickhead used both hands round my neck. I had him on the floor in about three seconds,” I grinned. “Don’t think he was expecting that either.”
“Very few are from you. You’re pretty advanced at that karate stuff now. I’ve been told to stay here until Mr Stonebridge gets back.”
“Oh, right. I’m in trouble?”
“Don’t know yet, but I doubt it. You didn’t use any heavy offensive stuff, did you?”
“No way. I only used just enough to get him off me and down. Mr Wellings and Mr Stonebridge both rushed down the corridor then. I don’t think they saw anything, more the noise what’s-his-name made, I think. But there were at least half-a dozen others from my year group about at the same time. Mr Stonebridge said he was going to talk to them now before he saw the Headmaster.”
“Yeah, he told me that too. I shouldn’t worry, Jamie. The Head’s very fair by all accounts. So what was being said?”
“Oh, I must be gay ’cos you were and did the swim team really want to have one of those on the team. I just tried to ignore it.”
“God! That’s such pathetic rubbish. I’m gay so you must be. Utter bullshit. I’m sure the Head’ll see through it though. Seems he did over Justin and Will’s so called bike accident.”
“What was that? I haven’t heard about that.”
“Oh, you’ll have to ask Will sometime. Apparently, Darren Clarke tried to push him or something. Seems both he and Justin got their bikes damaged and Jus got some minor injuries, but enough to get a few days off school it seems!”
Mr Stonebridge came back in the classroom then and said
“Craig, can you see if you can contact your mother. We’ve not been able to.”
“I’ll try, sir, but if she is not taking calls she’s in theatre and not available till that operation is over.”
“I see,” replied Mr Stonebridge. Then turning to me he said “In that case you’d better return to your classes and the Head will send for you later in the day. There’s only ten minutes of lunch left, I’m afraid. Try and grab something if you can before the bell rings.”
“Yes, sir,” we both replied and left the classroom together. Craig said
“I’ll see what I can grab for us, okay; you stay out of sight here until the bell goes. Let’s not have any more battles today, eh?”
Craig didn’t get back with any food. So I just slipped into classes when the bell went and waited a bit anxiously for the summons to go see the Headmaster. At last half way through last period I got a message to go over to the admin block to see the Head. I waited on one of the chairs outside his office as directed by his secretary until I was called in.
The Head said that my version was very much as Mr Stonebridge had ascertained. He’d also spoken to several other pupils who’d been there and their accounts tallied with mine in all salient detail. So, as a consequence, he said there’d be no further action against me as I’d done no more than extricate myself. I must have sighed with relief, as he then went on to say that that did not mean he approved of violence of any description, as that was never the answer to problems and in future it would be better not to have to use the obvious skills I had if at all possible. But, in the circumstances and because I’d shown considerable restraint with my actions, he was letting the matter rest there. The other boy, Naismith, would be suspended for a week for the remarks aimed at me and for his unprovoked attack in going for me as he did. I was dismissed from his room and headed off to my classroom to collect my books and then to my locker to collect the rest before going on out to the car parking area to wait with the others for our lift.
At home Craig gave Mum the letter from the Head and I had to explain all over again exactly what happened. Mum asked if I really did only ‘get stuck in’ when I was set on and I assured her that that was all I’d done. We then got on with our homework.
After we’d had supper, I was up in my room playing about on the internet when there was a quiet knock on the door
“Yeah, who is it?” I called out
“It’s me, Craig,” my brother said, as he opened the door
“May I come in?”
He came into my room and sat down on my bed. I turned round to face him from my computer and waited.
“Not so good at school today then?”
“No, not really, I didn’t want anyone to know particularly about my karate and stuff. I really don’t like that big mouth either. How come Liam doesn’t get hassle like that too?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. To be honest you’ll have to ask him. No, don’t do that. I’ll talk to him later, but it’s odd. I don’t know this boy who started it at all and I s’pose you’ve not come across him before either?” Craig replied.
“No. Don’t recall even seeing him till today either,” I replied, before continuing. “It’s a real hassle too. I could do without stuff like this.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s not fair you’re taking flak that’s obviously meant for me. It seems the guy picked what he thought was going to be the easy target and found that it bloody well wasn’t as easy as he imagined… not by a long chalk…!”
I grinned. “No it wasn’t. He didn’t half howl too, a typical dickhead who just thought his size would intimidate. Tough, it didn’t. Ha!”
Craig grinned widely back at me, then said
“No, it bloody didn’t, did it? Now I bet you’re the talk of your year tomorrow, you know, after that little performance for them all today.”
“Prolly, yes, already am, I expect, not what I wanted though… Still, if it means I get left alone now that suits me,” I grinned back. “He did howl something rotten when I got him down though. What a wimp… then had the cheek to accuse me of going for him when Mr Wellings and Mr Stonebridge turned up.”
“That sort always do. They haven’t any real guts, just bravado in front of their mates. Anyway just thought I’d see what was what and that you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay. I just hope it won’t get awkward for you and Liam. I like Liam. He’s very funny when he comes out with his little jokes and stuff like that. Also he’s really good at swimming practice too. He takes time to explain stuff properly to us younger team members.”
My brother sat silent for a moment, then said
“It’s rather more than like him… you know. It’s gone a bit past that now. We are boyfriends and thinking of making sure we can go to the same uni and everything too.”
“Will you be able to? I mean can you get the right courses at the same one? I thought Liam wanted sports sciences?” I asked. “At least, that’s what I thought you said he said.”
“Yes, you’re right. He does. To be honest, neither of us knows the answer to that one just yet. We’ve only talked about it all while we were away and have hardly had time since we got back to go on the net and search. I’m just hoping it’s going to be possible, that’s all,” Craig replied.
“Um… have you … you know… done stuff?” I asked.
“Nosy brat… actually apart from usual kisses and hugs… no, not really, so mind your own… okay!” Craig laughingly replied. “And don’t even think about asking about ‘other stuff’ as we’re not going to say… so there!” he laughed. “But I was a bit worried about today. Seems I needn’t have been?”
“Not physically no, but I’ll always need your advice and stuff like that. It felt lonely just waiting to find out what was going to happen. I was pleased that you were there. That’s all really. It’s just you got into a group of guys and got friends so quickly and I’m just finding out people I might like to be friends with so far.”
“Yeah, I was so, so, lucky there. I get on great with Will and Jus, and Paul and Rick too and hmmm… of course Liam. It all happened so fast too. Anyway, don’t rush. The right friends’ll turn up. Don’t worry, okay?” Craig grinned at me and then getting up for his seat on my bed said “Right, I’m back to my prep. See you later?”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied. “Thanks for chatting though,” I said as he wandered out of my room closing the door behind him.
* * *
I’d just got back to my room when a blip on my computer told me an e-mail had arrived. I sat down and clicked on my inbox and saw that Liam had sent me a mail. I opened it and read through. It seems as if he’d gone through all the stuff I’d printed off last evening about looking for relatives and had sent some exploratory e-mails to see if his circumstances fitted their criteria. I’d just composed a reply and was about to send when I heard Mum shout from downstairs
“Craig! … Craig, you’ve a visitor. Come down, please.”
I quickly sent the mail and rushed to the door and calling down to my mother
“Okay, coming down. Who is it?”
“You’ll find out if you come down,” my mum replied, laughing as she went back into the kitchen.
I hurried down the two flights of stairs and saw that Liam was waiting just inside the front door grinning away as I came down the last few steps.
“Hi, sorry, I forgot we were going to get together this evening. So much’s been going on what with Jamie and that Naismith idiot. I forgot, sorry.”
“Yeah, is Jamie okay?”
“Oh yes… he’s more resilient than he looks actually.”
“He’s certainly got skills no one knew about till today anyway,” Liam laughed back, as he thumped one closed fist into his other palm in demonstration.
“Yeah, well, more of an arm lock than any thumping though… best that way as it happened…?” I said.
“Yeah, I agree, anything more and he’d’ve been in the wrong too.”
“Yeah, come up to my room… you’ve not seen it since we got all that stuff that day from IKEA, have you?”
“Um, no don’t think I have actually,” Liam replied as he followed me back up to my room.
“I just got your e-mail. Sent a reply as you arrived,” I explained as we climbed the stairs.
“Oh good, well there’s no need to go over much then. I just sent e-mails to three of those organisations that carry out tracing just to see if I fit their criteria, that’s all.”
“Oh, from what I read you do with two at least,” I replied.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Anyway we’ll know soon.”
We reached my room by then, so went in and I closed the door behind us. “So, what do we do next then?” I asked Liam.
“Wait, for replies, I think. There’s not much we can do till I hear from them that they can help or not. Oh, I also sent an e-mail to Rick and Paul’s solicitor friend Adrian. I was just letting him know what I’d done. It was more because it was his partner, James, who gave me the idea in the first place at dinner on Sunday.”
“Oh, right, s’pose not really. Good thought to let the solicitor guy know too,” I agreed.
“Yeah, well it could be easy or it could end up as impossible to find him… that’s if he’s still around, and doesn’t mind being found, of course. He ought to be findable though. He’s the same age as Mum and there’s nothing wrong with her… physically at least… mentally is another matter,” Liam laughed.
I laughed with Liam at the last comment and then asked him
“How come it’s me that gets the abuse through Jamie, is what I’m wondering. Have you ever had hassle at school?”
“I was wondering that too. The answer’s no. I haven’t in the past and still haven’t had any hassle since I met you either. Don’t know why. I’ve not had a boyfriend till now of course, so I suppose I appear to be like any other so called normal guy, I imagine?”
“Guess so… whereas I’m not the immediately sporty sort to look at I s’pose?”
“You’re not a weed or anything like, so stop thinking that. No, it must be something or somehow else. Who was it again?”
“Some boy a year or two ahead of Jamie, called Terry Naismith I think. Hang on I’ll go check with Jamie.” I got up and quickly called out across the landing to Jamie’s room. In a few seconds he appeared round his door with a questioning look on his face.
“What was that boy’s name? The one you sorted today.”
“Um… Mr Stonebridge said it was Terry Naismith. Why do you ask?”
“Liam’s here. He wanted to know who it was and I couldn’t remember his name, that’s all.”
“Oh, I see. Hi Liam,” Jamie called out and disappeared back into his room without further word.
“Hear that?” I asked Liam.
“Yeah, Naismith. I know that name from somewhere.” Liam looked thoughtful for a few moments, shook his head and looked back at me.
“It’ll come. Don’t worry, but I do know that name.”
“Okay, so where do we go from here?”
“Have you looked at universities yet? I haven’t had the time, but I guess we’d better start soon?”
“No, not yet, same reasons, no spare time at all. Yes, let’s make an effort this weekend, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. Do you think you could stay over on Saturday?”
“Don’t see why not, as long as homework’s up to date Mum won’t say no, I’m sure.”
Liam’s face lit up into a wicked smile at my reply.
“Are you thinking what I might be?” I asked.
“And, just what might you be thinking?” Liam replied, as he got up and came towards me. I hurriedly got to my feet as he approached and he put both arms around me drawing me tight into him and then placing both his hands on my bum began to rub me into his groin. I quickly felt arousal in my jeans and was sure that he was too. We were just about to kiss, when another knock on the door followed by
“Craig, can you help me with my homework?”
“Okay, I’ll be over in a minute,” I said, as I broke away from Liam and sheepishly smiled at him before saying “Looks like we’ll have to wait till Saturday!”
“No worries. It’ll keep!” Liam smiled back radiantly.
“Oh, yes, I’d better go see what he needs help with. Sorry.”
“I’d best get back too. I wanna have a chat with Rick and Paul tonight before I go to bed. Seeya tomorrow then?”
“Yeah, deffo, I’ll see you down, okay?”
We both headed down and I quickly said goodbye to Liam at the door before running back upstairs to help Jamie.
* * *
I got back from Craig’s to find everyone in the kitchen. Will was stuffing his face with biscuits and drinking a mug of tea while Paul and Rick were looking at brochures for what looked like cars.
“Hi, I’ve just been round Craig and Jamie’s to see if all was okay after today’s fracas.”
“How are they all?” Paul asked.
“Oh, fine. Seems no one’s specially worried as the Head took the view he was merely defending himself and no more.”
“I see. So Jamie’s off the hook trouble wise then?” Rick asked.
“Yeah, seems so. Hope it stays that way. I’m sure I know the name of the boy who did it from somewhere, but I can’t think where right now,” I added.
“It was Terry Naismith, wasn’t it?” Will piped up.
“Yes, you’re right.”
“He’s always been obnoxious, but with school rules an’ all he’s stayed just clear of getting into trouble. I wonder why he’s started on Jamie?”
“I think he wanted to get at Craig and Jamie seemed like the easy target,” I replied. “But it turned out rather different though,” I laughed. “Naismith got much more than he bargained for… serves him right. Jamie’ll not get any more hassle now his skills are known about,” I said.
“I expect that’ll be the case,” Paul replied. “But, how do you feel about the fact your boyfriend’s been ‘outed’ at school now? Have you ever had any problems at all?” Paul asked.
“Um… I’m not sure really. It’s something I’d rather’ve avoided if I could’ve done, I think,” I replied.
“Yes, I can imagine that. I guess because you have been a natural sport, in the swim team and generally, not an obvious type. You’ve escaped attention so far from the homophobes?”
“Guess so. I’ve never really thought about it, not till now anyway,” I replied. “Oh, I meant to say. I got a text from that social worker guy, Mr Robinson, this morning. He wants to have a chat with me sometime this week. He asked if he could see me one day after school.”
“Did he say what it was about?” Rick asked.
“No, it was only a text.” Liam took his phone from his pocket and after flipping through some messages handed the mobile to Rick and said
“Here it is, just asks if we can meet up for a chat. That’s all.
Rick took the phone and quickly scanned the message displayed, then handed it back to Liam and said
“I expect it’s the routine follow up that he said’d happen after you’ve been here a while. I think he said back when you came to us that it would also be to explore how things are between you and your mother, to see if there had been any progress to a reconciliation or even an improvement in relations.”
“Oh yeah, he did say stuff like that when we talked then. I remember now. Well, he won’t get very far with the relations between me and Mum… not after she came round here with that pastor bloke creating on the day we went on the canals. You know, what Mr Clarke came over to tell us about.”
“Yes, I certainly recall that incident,” Paul said while Rick nodded in agreement. “Can’t imagine what she hoped to achieve by it though, except a lot of unpleasantness,” Paul added.
“Oh, she wouldn’t worry about that the way she was thinking back then. I’ve not had a word since that letter was sent though? I mean I guess it has been delivered by now?”
“No, it may have been written, but I can’t imagine there’s been enough time for your mother to get it in the post yet. It could only have been sent out today at the earliest.” Rick said.
“Guess you’re right. Well, I hope it was sent today. I don’t want any more hassle from her at all. Oh, there’s something else I would like to talk about though.
Rick and Paul looked up and towards me and then Paul said
“Go on sit down. What’s on your mind?”
“Do you remember James on Sunday said it might be worth my while looking into finding out where my Dad is and perhaps trying to get in touch?”
“Yes, I do,” Paul replied and Rick nodded agreement.
Craig did a bit of digging and found a government booklet about missing
relatives. It was mostly about people going missing on holidays, or short term
working abroad, that sort of stuff. But at the back of the booklet were some
other agencies and organisations that did do searches and helped people look
for missing relatives more like the situation I’m in. I mean, I’ve not seen my dad
since I was about ten and a half. I got two presents which Mum said had come
“So you would like to try and find him, assuming he wants to be found that is?” Rick said.
“Yeah, I would if at all possible. I sent off e-mails to three organisations tonight to see if they could help in my circumstances,” I replied.
“Okay, let’s wait and see what response you get from those and then we’ll sit down and work out the best way to proceed from there. If there are some costs involved, don’t worry, we’ll meet them as long as it doesn’t involve round the world travelling. I don’t think we could stretch to that at the moment. Oh, you don’t by any chance have a picture of your father, do you?”
“Yeah, I think I have actually. I’ve a box up in my room that I brought with me. It’s got the cards he sent me and a picture too of me with Dad at a funfair when I was ten,” I replied. “He left a couple of weeks after that holiday,” I quietly added.
gives us quite a bit to go on. Would you go and scan that picture and I’ll also
have a chat with
“Yeah, I can if the scanner’ll work. It’s been playing up since we moved it here. Sometimes the computer just doesn’t find it. It’s quite old… It was the original one we got so it must be five years old now.”
go get the picture for me and I’ll do it on the office scanner. It’s new and
very high resolution. It’ll give me a scan to send to
“Okay, I’ll go and get it now. Thanks for doing all this.”
“No worries, Liam. It’s important for you. So we will do our best, okay?” Paul said. “Now go and find that picture for Rick, okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, as I got up, left the kitchen and returned to my room to look out the picture.
soon as I entered my room I went straight to my wardrobe and pulled down an old
box file and after setting it on my desk, opened it up and took out a tatty A4
brown envelope and tipped the contents onto the desk. There were two birthday
cards still with their envelopes and a picture in a card mount. I set the
birthday cards on one side and carefully slid the photograph of me with my dad,
Liam & Dad
were in the queue and just about to go on the ride. My mum must’ve taken the picture as she hated
going on rides like that I remembered. I looked for another envelope to put the
picture into in my desk drawer, but didn’t seem to have any. I then noticed the
two cards were still in their envelopes. I took the cards out. They were
typical boys’ birthday cards, one with a high speed train and the other with a
fast sports car on the front. I was just about to use one of the envelopes when
my eye suddenly caught the postmark. I looked closely and could easily make out
the picture. That’s one of the birthday cards I got too. It’s got Dad’s
handwriting inside as well as the postmark shows
“Oh, well done, yes, this may well be the key as long as he’s not moved on since. This must be 2004, if you were ten in 2002?”
“Yeah, I think so. So you reckon there might be a good chance then?”
“If, and it’s a big if, he’s still there, wants to be found and wants to get in touch again, then yes, a reasonable chance of us finding him, I think. But, the ‘IFs’ are big ones... so no getting hopes too high yet, okay?” Paul added.
“Okay, thanks,” I said, but could not help being secretly elated inside and I almost bounced back upstairs to start my homework.
* * *
End Chapter Four
Very many thanks for all the emails, it's always a pleasure to recieve them and I think I've managed to reply to them all. I did take a long summer break and I hope the new story, the sequel to William, is enjoyed as much as William seems to have been.
Dont forget my Yahoo group has all the story chapters in the files section.
Paul Jamison - Autumn 2009
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