By Paul Jamison
Chapter – 5
The following morning I was in the kitchen making breakfast for both Paul and myself when Liam positively bounded into the kitchen with a Cheshire cat grin on his face.
“Wow, some smile,” I commented grinning back at him. “So, what’s with all this energy this morning?”
“Oh, nothing special. I think things might start to work out soon, that’s all.”
“In what way? School, Craig, your mum, finding your dad?”
“Oh, I think my mum’s a lost cause but the other things could well sort themselves out, I hope,” he replied.
“I tend to agree with you on that. Have you replied to Mr Robinson yet, or made any arrangements to meet him as he asked?”
“Um… No not yet. I ought to do that this morning. Trouble is I’ve got swimming after school today and Friday so that really only leaves tomorrow after school.”
“It’ll have to be Thursday then. If you’re busy every other evening, it’s the only option left,” I suggested.
“Yeah, s’pose so,” Liam answered just as Will came down and busied himself with toast making.
“You’re quiet today, Will?” I ventured.
Will looked up from where he was putting bread into the toaster and grinned at us all before saying
“I’m still a bit tired from the holiday, I think. Don’t seem to have had any time to just chill for a while. Jus seems to be a bit low too, can’t quite work it out, but he was a bit snappy with me yesterday. I think he thought he wasn’t invited to the twins place on Sunday, but Steve told him he was definitely invited, so that sorted that out. He’s been okay since then.”
“That’s good to hear,” Paul said and turned to me and asked “Did you phone Mrs Clayton last night and accept for all of us?”
“I was going to, but it slipped my mind when Liam had a chat with us. I’ll do it this morning from the office. Oh, and I’ll be calling Adrian today as well to have a word with him about our discussion and the fact that you’d like to see if any steps can be taken to locate your father,” I said to Liam.
“Really!” Will interjected. “Are you going to start a search to find him then? Wow, that’s cool!”
“Not a search as such, but perhaps a few enquiries just to see if he’s where I last knew he was and perhaps he might get in touch as a result. I’m hoping so anyway,” Liam explained.
“Oh, right, still cool though. I hope it works out of course.”
Thanks, Will. I really don’t know and I’m not counting on anything, but it would be good to know and hopefully I might get a few answers to stuff that happened when I was ten and all that.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Will replied.
“Right, you guys, two minutes okay? I’m just going to get the car out and then we’ll be off as soon as Craig and Jamie get here,” I said as I picked up my keys and headed out of the kitchen to the garage.
“Okay, Rick,” the boys replied.
I got the car out and having waved goodbye to Paul, waited the few seconds for the boys to hurry out of the kitchen and get in and a few moments later we were joined by Craig and Jamie. So we set off for Justin’s. On the way the chatter was still very much about the exploits of Jamie, our newly discovered karate brown belt, the previous day’s events and Terry Naismith getting rather more than he’d been expecting from the encounter. We arrived at the Naylor’s as the discussion was still in full flood. I was surprised to see both Justin and Mary Naylor come out to the car. I smiled and when she came over to the window I opened it and said
“Good morning, Mary, I trust all is well?”
“Oh, certainly with us. I’ve just a word of caution. Naismith’s father was ringing round the governors last night trying to get them to agree with him that homophobic comments are neither here nor there and certainly not worth a suspension. I’m on the governors’, as you know, so got a call. Oh, it must have been well after half past ten too, which was a bit much. Needless to say, he didn’t get my support. I hasten to add, he shouldn’t get anyone’s, considering the fact that that sort of remarks and bullying are now an offence, but some people never learn!”
I leant over to the window. “Thanks for the warning. I’ll call Paul and also Adrian our lawyer friend, too so if there’s going to be any fall out we’re ready,”
“Yes, good thought. Well have a good day. Bye all.”
We pulled away and the boys were soon chatting again about the latest developments. I turned my head momentarily at the traffic lights and said
“Don’t start reading more into this than it is, okay? I’m sure the Head will squash this quite firmly and none of you’ll have anything to concern yourselves with at all, right?”
There were general mutterings along the line of “but what if….” from various quarters, but I said no more and within minutes was pulling up outside the school. The boys thanked me and decamped as usual and headed off across the car park towards the pupils’ entrance. I pulled away and headed off to my office.
Once at my desk, I dealt with
the morning post and then my e-mail. I was quite surprised to see one from
“Hi, Rick here.”
“Oh, excellent. I wanted a chat with you before we did anything on this.”
“This is all James’s fault you know. He started this idea off at dinner on Saturday night. Liam’s been thinking of little else since.”
“Oh, I’m well aware of that. I actually agree with James this time for a change (laughs). I think there’s more than reasonable hope of finding Mr Russell, if he’s still in the vicinity and wants to be found. He could, of course, simply ignore all the simple cheaper methods of tracing and then it would be down to detective work and personal approaches. They can be very expensive and not always a guaranteed success either.”
“Especially on the other side of the world.”
“Yes, very much so. Still with yours and Liam’s permission I propose a couple of advertisements, along the usual legal style… you know… ‘Would Mr Russell last heard of in… wherever… formerly of… wherever… please get in touch with Blah, Blah & Blah, in connection with his son…’ and then we wait and see. Hopefully he may then think it’s quite important or even a matter of life and death it being a lawyer’s address, e-mail and also the phone number we’ll give as well. I think that any reasonable person would tend to react favourably to such an announcement and get in touch. Especially, as it’s not direct contact with family members… like for instance the ex-wife or Liam himself. Until the guy knows what it’s about he can make contact discreetly through us with us maintaining his privacy as to his whereabouts until he allows us to reveal etcetera, etcetera. You know the sort of thing. To have any chance of success I think we need to play the honest broker role here, I reckon.”
“I’m sure you’re right. Okay, that sounds like a good plan. Oh, by the way, Liam’s found a good picture of himself with his dad taken just a few weeks before he upped and left. He’s also got a birthday card with his dad’s handwriting albeit only love from Dad, but the envelope has the New Zealand Postal Service frank and it looks like Christchurch but the last few letters of church are smudged. It was posted from there in 2004.”
“That’s excellent; can you scan that lot and get it e-mailed to me as soon as you can? I’ll see what we can do for Liam that won’t cost an arm and a leg, okay?”
“Glad to help. We both admire you two for taking on such responsibility actually. I mean James can at least leave them at school. You’ve got them to think about 24-7…”
“Thanks for that. I think without our friends we may not’ve been able to cope. So far, touch wood, we’ve had nothing insurmountable and have been amazingly lucky with both lads. They’ve been reasonable, responsive and pretty much well behaved too.”
“Mmmmm, anyway rather you than me, I think. I’ll be in touch again this evening, okay? Bye for now.”
I opened my briefcase, took out the picture and envelope and the birthday card. I called through to my secretary and when she came in asked her to do good scans of all of the items and print them off as well as save them to a file for me. She took the items and set off to do as I’d asked. I then returned to my other work.
* * *
Everyone had chatted incessantly about my ‘karate kid’ skills the previous day and it then occurred to me I could well be landed with that as a nickname. Not as bad as ‘poofter’ I thought to myself as we pulled into the drop off area outside of school. I’d really hoped to keep a low profile and those hopes had gone right out the bloody window yesterday morning before lunch! As I hurried into school and down the corridor to my locker, I was definitely aware of slightly hushed talk and wary looks from other pupils. I got to my locker and was a little surprised to be greeted with a quiet “Hi” from the boy with the locker a couple away from me who previously, like myself, had kept himself to himself. I turned sideways to see him properly and saw that it was Christopher Griffin, one of the two guys I had thoughts of becoming friends with. I smiled and returned the greeting.
“So, you know you’re now famous,” he continued.
“That’s what I was so dreading,” I replied. “How bad’s it got then?”
“Oh, nothing more than ‘The Karate Kid’ so far but that might stick though,” he admitted with a wry smile. “Do you mind awfully?”
“I guess not. I s’pose it had to come out sometime. So at least now it’s out and done with,” I sighed.
“Umm… I saw what happened and told Mr Stonebridge and the Head too that you weren’t to blame. It was spectacular though. You had Naismith howling on the floor in like… two seconds… I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
“It wasn’t a big deal, really only basic defensive stuff. Twats like that are easy to take down.”
“Easy for you perhaps… but not for guys like me… He’s been going on at me for over a year now. It seems my face doesn’t fit.” Christopher explained.
“Oh, well I can’t see anything wrong with it from here…,” I grinned widely at him then continued “… anyway we need to get to class. Last thing I need is late marks after that stuff yesterday.
Christopher nodded his agreement turned and locked his locker, shouldered his pack and shot off down the corridor to his first class while I did the same. As I headed to mine, I thought that I might make a friend here and was keen to see him again at break, if I could spot him around.
It wasn’t till lunchtime that I managed to see Christopher again. I saw him in the food line in the cafeteria. I stood out a little from the line so he could spot me if he wanted to and after I’d got my food wandered more slowly then usual across to the table where Jus, Will and my brother were already seated.
“Hi,” I said as I sat down.
“Any hassle ’cos of yesterday?” Will asked.
“Apart from I’m now the Karate Kid and there’s a sort of wariness as I go down corridors, so far today, that’s all,” I replied.
“Oh, so you’re famous then?” quipped Justin.
“Wouldn’t say that exactly, but I’m not getting any comments or stuff except from those glad to see Naismith ‘sorted’ as they put it.”
I saw Christopher leave the till just then and look round for a table to sit at. I just managed to catch his eye and he warily, I thought, made his way over towards us. I got up and waved him over with a smile. He smiled back and continued towards our table.
“Who’s this?” my brother asked.
“Hi, Chris, sit here if you like,” I said before turning back to the others and saying “This is Chris, he’s in my year, we’re friends.” I firmly gave Chris a reassuring grin as I sat back down and he carefully took a seat beside me, his eyes darting around the rest of us.
“So Chris, was the ‘karate kid’ good yesterday?” Justin asked and added
“Oh, by the way, I’m Justin Naylor, this is Will Barnes,” he said poking Will in the arm, “and next to Jamie is Craig Sutherland who’s Jamie’s bro, but you already know that and next to Craig is Liam Russell,” Jus grinned at Chris.
“Um… hi, yes, I knew most of you by sight. I’ve seen Liam at swimming. I didn’t quite make the team last try out.”
“Oh, yes I remember. You know it was touch and go. I think you should’ve got in. Why don’t you have another go? I reckon nerves got to you that time and you can do better. I said so to Mr Wellings, but he said it’s a question of being able to do it even when you’re nervous, So you missed by a whisker. Ask Mr Wellings if you can try again. I’m only saying as I know he’s short on swimmers this year.”
“Oh, right, I might actually, as I’m really only keen on swimming,” Chris answered.
“Tell you what, I’ll have a word with Mr Wellings for you after practice tonight if you like,” Liam offered.
“Um… thanks, if you would that’d be great. Let me know what he says and I’d like to have another try if he says that’s okay.”
“Yeah, you could try out again on Friday. We’re having two practice sessions this week. I’ll let you know at lunch tomorrow, okay?”
Liam turned back to Craig and continued chatting and eating his lunch as had the others. So I turned to Chris and said
“So, anymore comments since this morning?”
“Nah, you’re stuck with Karate Kid though. I mean you were so fast guys are still talking about it.”
“It’s actually pretty simple.
I’ve not been to karate since we moved as my old club is way too far to travel
to and there’s been so much going on after my dad was killed in
“Oh, I see, I’m sorry about your Dad. I mean we see it on the news and stuff, but I’ve never known anyone who’d actually lost a parent ’cos of it all before now.”
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t nice at the time and my bro Craig was great during all the stuff we’d to do and the military funeral and everything.”
“Crikey, that must have been a bit of an ordeal?”
“Don’t know really. It was all a bit of a haze that day… somehow we all got through it. Craig was with me all the time and that helped, but the army was good too. We didn’t have to worry about any of the arrangements. They sorted it all. We went to RAF Lineham when the transport plane brought Dad back. Then, we also slipped into the crowd without anyone knowing we were the family at Wooton Bassett. It’s the town all the funeral cars pass through after leaving the airfield and where all the people come out in respect for those who lost their lives on active service.”
Christopher silently listened to all I’d said, then turned to me and asked
“That must have been really hard standing there and seeing all those people on the pavements?”
Yeah… I only just managed not to cry. But, you know I don’t really remember too much about that day or the funeral a week or so later either. It’s a bit of a blur to be honest.”
“Yeah, I mean, we sort of expect those.”
“Yeah,” Chris replied, just as the bell went for end of lunch.
“Um, see you later then,” I said, as I rose from my chair and headed for the trolleys with my tray. Chris tagged along beside me and we both loaded our used stuff onto the trolleys.
“Where do you live?” Chris eventually asked.
“Oh, not far from me then,
“Right, look, we’ve got to rush now. Can you hang on a mo after school so we can exchange numbers and e-mail addy?”
“Yeah, see you by our lockers then,” Chris said. I nodded in reply, as we both hurried away to afternoon registration.
* * *
I sent a text reply to Mr Robinson as we journeyed to school and at lunchtime I checked to see if he’d replied back. I flipped through and found a couple of messages from swimming team members about the practice after school and then found one from Mr Robinson. He’d got my text and Thursday at school’s out time was fine by him. I’d told him we finished at three forty-five and that I’d be out five minutes after that at the latest. He’d suggested we meet at the Lite~Bite tea shop at four pm. I sent a text back to confirm that was okay. About a minute later I got another to confirm that was fine. I closed my phone and carried on chatting to the others at our table.
“What was that?” Craig nudged me as I finished the messages.
“Oh, I was just replying to a message from my social worker. He said when I moved in at Paul and Rick’s that he’d be having another chat with me after a few weeks to see how things were and if I’d go back to my mum’s.”
“Not much hope of that, is there?”
“What do you think?”
“Hmmm, none, I guess?”
“Exactly,” I said firmly. “Even more so after her latest antics with messages and turning up with that reverend bloke on the day we went away.”
“Yeah, glad we got off before they turned up.”
“Me too. Oh, are you able to stay over on Saturday?”
“Yes, of course, I mean if you want me to. I’ll have to go home Sunday morning though. I’ve two long essays to finish and loads of reading too.”
“Yeah, course I want,” I grinned wickedly and then added. “That works out okay. We’ve to go to the twins place Sunday for lunch and I don’t see us getting back till late afternoon. Then I’ll have loads of reading to do too.”
“Yeah, they’ve started to pile on the work now, haven’t they?”
“Yeah, but we need those grades so it’s got to be done, I s’pose?”
“We’ll spend some time on Saturday checking uni sites too, okay?”
“Yeah, and possibly checking a few other things too?” I grinned slyly at Craig.
“I was rather hoping so… we’ve been interrupted so much recently.”
“Yeah, well, this time we won’t be. I’ll drop the catch on my door!” I grinned at Craig who grinned back and said
“I’m ready when you are,” and he fluttered his eyes at me.
I giggled and dropped my head smirking away to myself, then bobbed back and replied
“Yes, no doubt about that. I see Jamie’s made a friend. Something good come out of yesterday’s hoo-ha then?”
“It looks like it. Not seen him before. Still Jamie always takes time getting to know people. It’d be good if he did have a few friends of his own soon.”
“Anyway, bell’s gone so we should be going.”
“Yeah, what you got this afternoon?”
“English with Mr Stonebridge followed by P E. What’s on your timetable?”
“P E. with Mr Wellings followed by drama with Mr Stonebridge, and that’s another day done,” Craig grinned.
“Yeah, it is indeed,” I said, smiling at Craig as we headed out of the cafeteria and walked down the corridor to our form rooms for afternoon registration.
* * *
I got home an hour or so after the others as I’d been to swimming practice. On entering the kitchen I saw Paul busy cooking supper and Rick sat at the table with a mug of tea, reading some papers. They both looked towards me as I came in through the kitchen door.
“Hi,” I said dropping my backpack to the floor and looking towards the kettle “Any tea going?” I asked.
“None made, I’m afraid,” Rick replied. “I used a teabag, but kettle’s not long boiled, so it won’t take you a minute.”
I grinned back and made a
quick mug of tea, then sat down opposite Rick. I noticed that he’d got some
scans of my picture with my father at
“Crikey! We’re moving quickly. I’ve not even had time to see if anything’s come of the three I sent at the weekend have been replied to yet.”
“No, well, we’ve all been pretty busy, you know,” Paul added.
“So what’s the advert going to say?” I asked.
“We thought you’d ask that. So
I looked at the two sample adverts that Rick and Adrian had composed and mocked up and had to agree that the one with the picture was obviously the better eye catcher.
“I agree. I think the picture one is the one with a better chance?”
“We were both hoping you
would say that and agree to what
“Yeah, it does make sense. Otherwise I think we’d have to keep repeating the advert if it was just printed text until by chance someone read it or your dad had cause to look through the legal and community announcements and adverts.” Rick added.
I sat and thought as I looked from the advert with the picture and back at the plain text one and then said
“Yeah, go with the picture and that text. It’s fine by me. It’s got the best chance of working,” I agreed.
“Excellent, I’ll e-mail
I must have looked downhearted as he broke off suddenly then continued
“… Liam, it could well take a month or so for them to come out a couple of times and actually be seen. Then your dad has to get in touch or think about getting in touch and that doesn’t happen in seconds.” So just be patient, okay.” I think a few weeks and we might just be lucky… let’s hope so anyway.”
I smiled back and said
“Yeah, I guess I was expecting instant response. It takes time to sort these things doesn’t it? I just hope it works, that’s all. I really want to know his side of the story.”
“It could be very interesting! But we’ll all have to be patient, I’m afraid,” Paul added. “But don’t forget we said we would stand by you and we will. There’s no question about that, okay?”
“Yeah, I know and I really am so very grateful for all you’ve done. You hardly knew me and just came and collected me in the middle of the night when things were really awful,” I choked.
Paul and Rick got up and came and stood either side of me and squeezed my shoulder reassuringly.
“Come on, you’ve done just fine so far. So there’s nothing to worry about, believe me.” Rick said.
“I know,” I replied. “Oh, I’m seeing Mr Robinson after school tomorrow in the Lite~Bite at four, okay?”
“Oh good. Take a copy of the
picture advert with you to school tomorrow to show him, okay?” Rick suggested.
“And don’t forget to tell him all about your mother’s antics. In fact, I’ll
“I think he’s already had
“Yes, okay we won’t bother unless he asks for a copy then. Oh, and we’re all expected at the Claytons’ for twelve thirty on Sunday for lunch at one. So make sure you’re up and dressed on time. Is Craig staying over on Saturday?”
“Yes, I think so I’ve asked if he may, and he said he could.”
“Okay, we’ve a house full then. Jus is staying with Will too. Not too much noise Saturday night, please… I’ve some sleep still to catch up on from the holiday too. All down to those bloody ducks!”
“Yeah, they were persistent, weren’t they?” I laughed and picking up my backpack headed out of the kitchen and upstairs to my room. I’d just got to our landing when Will came out of his room and grinned.
“Hi, how’s things?” I said.
“Oh, pretty good again now. Jus is coming over on Saturday and I was wondering what’s going on about your dad, that’s all.”
“We’re getting something
sorted this week. Come in a mo I’ll show you the advert that
We went into my room and I showed Will the advert with the picture, he sat down and read it then carefully handed it back.
“Well if he’s there he’s bound to see that isn’t he?” I mean that picture’s not that ancient, only six years and adults don’t change as fast as we do, do they?”
“I reckon not and yes, Rick, Paul and Adrian think it might work. I hope so, as I really want to know his side of it all now I’m old enough to understand.”
“Yeah, hope it works out, thanks for telling me,” Will said as he got up and headed back to his own room.
I undid my backpack and tipped it out on the bed, sorting the books I needed for that night’s prep. I began to undress and get ready to take a shower before getting down to some work before supper. Thirty minutes later I was disturbed by a shout from downstairs that supper was ready. I’d hardly begun my prep. I put the book down and clattered down to the kitchen closely followed by Will.
After supper both Will and I went at once back to our rooms to continue our prep. It was not till almost eleven before I finally finished packed the books back ready for the morning, undressed and slipped into bed. I can barely recall turning out the bedside light, I was out to the world within seconds.
* * *
End of Chapter Five.
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.
Don't forget, my Yahoo group has all the story chapters in the files section.
Paul Jamison - Autumn 2009
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