By Paul Jamison


Chapter – 9

Paul’s viewpoint…

I’d tidied up the kitchen after Rick and the boys had left for school and work and got out my Christmas notebook again. After glancing through the list I’d made the previous afternoon I switched on our laptop and went online to check a few recipes and after printing off the ones I needed, I made a quick call to the farm that supplied the best free range turkeys and placed an order for a six to seven kilo bird which would more than cope with the nine of us expected at the table. Once done, I made a list of dried fruit to be bought for the Christmas cake and slipped that into my jacket so as to have it handy when I next did the supermarket run. I then caught up with my other emails, somewhat neglected over the last day or so with us being out a lot and then I made myself a cup of coffee before setting off for work myself. I was just pulling into the studio’s car park when my mobile went off. I quickly pulled into my space, glanced at the screen to see it was Adrian calling and pressed the ‘accept call’ button on the handset.

“Hi, Adrian.”

“Hi Paul,” Adrian replied. “Good news. We’ve had a reply from Christchurch in New Zealand to the local newspaper advert. It looks as if we’ve found Liam’s Dad,” he continued.

“Already? That was amazingly quick!” I interupted.

“Yes, he saw the advert last week and replied with some questions of his own to a colleague who’d handled his divorce here, some six or so years back. He needed to know his ex-wife wasn’t involved in any way…”

That I can well believe,” I interjected.

“…Yes, we’ve re-assured him over that and the other points he raised last week. Now he’s emailed me, agreeing to let us put him in touch with Liam directly. He’s provided us now with the confirmation answers we needed to make sure we’d got the right guy. I’m sending Liam an email today with his dad’s email address, so now he can take it from there on his own.”

“That’s great news. I mean Liam’s going to be over the moon over this, you know,” I replied.

“Yes, I think he will, but counsel him about getting too excited. It’s very early days. We’ve no idea what, or how the split happened back then, or Mr Russell’s attitude to gays, or anything like that. He may turn out to be as bad as Liam’s mother’s been, for all we know right now,” Adrian explained.

“Hmm, what an awful thought,” I replied and continued, “Let’s hope not, though, for Liam’s sake. He’s pinning some hopes on this outcome, I know.”

“Yes, I was very aware of that when he first spoke to us all about it. We must all help him through this, as it’s fraught with unknowns at this stage of the game,” Adrian replied.

“Oh, we’ll all be making sure that we’re decidedly ‘here for him’ if this goes pear-shaped in any way,” I replied.

Oh, I’ve no doubts about that whatsoever. Still, if this works out it’s actually been remarkably simple all told… one advert and ‘Bingo’,” Adrian laughed.

“I can’t quite believe how easy it’s been actually,” I said.

“I’m almost certain from the email we’ve had that it was the picture that caused that. Most never would’ve read the little advert otherwise, but that picture caught the attention of the right eyes and we’ve got a result,” Adrian replied.

“I guess you’re probably right there. It was a real piece of luck Liam had that excellent snapshot,” I said

“Very much so. Well, I’ll be going, lots to do here. Keep me up to date won’t you?” Adrian said.

“Certainly, will do, bye Adrian, and very many thanks for your efforts on this one… We owe you an awfully good dinner,” I replied.

“Bye, Paul… Yes, you most certainly do and James and I both look forward to that. Bye for now,” Adrian said as he rang off.

I put the phone back in my pocket and considered what to do as I went through reception and up to my office in the studio block.

Once at my desk, I booted up my computer and sent a brief email describing my conversation with Adrian to Rick. I followed that with a text message to him, to check his email as soon as convenient. A few minutes passed and I received a reply and found… Just read email, wow that was quick indeed. Shall we send Liam a message or wait until he gets home this afternoon? I mean it’s after 11 pm in New Zealand right now, isn’t it? I think they’re about twelve or more hours ahead of us. Rick.

I considered Rick’s email for a few moments and then replied that I thought it best we waited until Liam was home from school before telling him such important information as that. It’d be a total distraction from any classes he had for the rest of the school day. Rick was right; there was a thirteen hour time difference between us and New Zealand during our winter and eleven hours during our summer due to our daylight saving time.

A few minutes later my mobile buzzed that I’d had a text message. I quickly glanced and saw it was from Rick. ‘Taking short lunch, will be home early to chat with Liam, Okay – R.’ I sent a one word reply and carried on with my day.

* * *

In New Zealand

Jeremy Russell looked at his watch. After a busy time earlier replying to emails from the UK law firm, now confirmed as only representing his son, and after he’d replied with details to confirm his identity he now had to wait to see if he got an email from Liam. The ball was now very much in Liam’s court as to what happened next.

Jeremy had very mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, he deeply regretted the way that it had happened in the rush and hurry that it had, over a weekend when Liam had been away at a swimming camp and that must have appeared to Liam to be pretty much total desertion when the boy was still so young. But on the other hand, matters had come to such a head and there really wasn’t any other option. But he wondered what Liam had been told and what, if anything, he’d believed from the stories his ex-wife must have fed the boy over the last six years. Jeremy began to think about how he could convey the full truth of all the circumstances to his son without risking the chance there might now be of re-kindling some sort of relationship with him. The fact that Liam was still only sixteen, but apparently no longer living at home with his mother, was most intriguing… “What the hell’s been going on there?” he wondered to himself. “Time, and perhaps a few emails and phone calls will tell,He considered, as he turned off the computer realising it wouldn’t now be until the next day that he’d hear anything more due to the time differences.

Jeremy began to mull over the possible consequences of renewing the contact with his son broken by the break up of his marriage and the circumstances surrounding all that… and turned his thoughts to the situation that was beginning to develop with Michael and what and how he was going to tell Liam about everything that’d happened. Early days yet, he considered… we’re nowhere near those sorts of revelations… he hoped to himself, but could not help but wonder how and why his ex wife didn’t seem to be in the picture at all with regards to Liam’s current situation. Where and who’s he living with and what are the circumstances that seem to have brought about such a sudden change in the previous status quo? he wondered.

Just then the phone rang and Jeremy came out of his thinking mood and picked up the handset on the desk nearby.

“Jeremy Russell,” he said into the receiver.

“Jeremy, hi, Michael here… How’s you this evening?” Michael asked.

“Oh fine, just dealing with some emails and thinking about stuff, that’s all,” he replied.

“Hope it was something… or someone good?” Michael laughed back.

“Perhaps, I’m not sure yet… jury’s out on that one for a bit,” Jeremy replied.

“Now that’s just plain mysterious you can’t just leave me hanging,” Michael remonstrated back.

“I am mysterious, that’s why you’re interested, isn’t it?”

Oh hell! You’ve sussed me out already,” Michael laughed back.

“God, you’re impossible!” Jeremy laughed, and then added “I’d better tell you some stuff soon about me and my past, or it just might come out of the blue sooner rather then later… Um… what are you doing tomorrow evening?”

“Only if you want me to know, I’m not pushing you at all… but you have me somewhat intrigued now. So if you want to talk, I’ll listen… promise not to butt in either,” Michael replied.

“Okay, how about a drink at the Tap Room after work tomorrow? I’ll try and tell you all then…”

“On Oxford Terrace?” Michael asked

“Yeah, that’s the one, we could eat there too?”

“Sure, that’s a great idea. See you there at say seven then?” Michael suggested, and then added. “Gives me time to get home, shower and change first.”

“Sure, I’ll do the same. See you tomorrow… and thanks for calling Michael. Bye for now.”

Bye Jeremy, see you tomorrow,” Michael replied and rang off.

Jeremy replaced the receiver and pursed his lips, deep in thought. Then with a sigh, he raised himself up and wandered into the kitchen to prepare and eat that evening’s meal. He had lots to think on before his meeting with Michael the following evening.

* * *

Liam’s viewpoint…

Justin’s mum had just dropped us all off outside our house. I quickly said ‘bye’ to Craig as Will did the same to Jus before we turned to go into our house while Craig and Jamie headed off down the road to theirs with a parting wave.

I was quite surprised to see Rick sitting at the kitchen table with tea already made and two mugs poured ready for us. He must have sensed my surprise as he said.

“Yes, I’m home early as there’ve been some developments. Liam, would you come through to the sitting room with your tea. I need to tell you something. Will, could you give us a few minutes on our own, please?” Rick said.

Will looked up with an inquiring expression on his face and looked between me and Rick, but he just nodded and grabbed a bun from the plate and went and sat down in the window seat with his tea eating the bun. I picked up my tea and a bun and followed Rick into the sitting room and sat down on the sofa facing Rick who’d sat in an armchair. He placed his mug on the coffee table and looking at what must have been my very expectant expression said

“Nothing’s wrong, at least nothing we know of, but when you’ve had that tea go and have a look at your email. Adrian’s been in touch today. It seems your dad’s seen the advert and has replied…”

“What!” I exclaimed, jumping up almost knocking the coffee table flying in my haste. Rick reached forward and steadied me with both arms and replied

“Calm down, there’s no rush. It’s only his email address for you to write to him, not a message as such, okay?”

I sat back down and hurriedly swallowed some mouthfuls of the tea and a few bites of the bun whilst I took onboard this news.

“So, what’s actually happened then?” I asked after a few moments.

“It seems your dad saw the advert last week and made enquiries with Adrian’s firm independently to make sure that they were not acting in any way for your mother. It appears that the same firms’ matrimonial department dealt with your dad’s side of the divorce years back.”

“Oh, I see… I think,” I said.

“There’s been a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, but the upshot is you’ve an email from Adrian with your dad’s New Zealand email address… It looks as if he does live in Christchurch, New Zealand, as it was that newspaper advert that he’s replied to. So, it’s now down to you what to do next.”

“What do you think I should say?” I asked. “I mean should I tell him all about why I’m not at home anymore?”

“You could say something like there were ‘irreconcilable disagreements’, without spelling out everything, until you’ve some idea of how things are with your dad. How does that sound?” Rick suggested.

“Yeah, I mean he’s bound to want to know why I’m not still at home and why I’m living with you lot… I want to tell him everything eventually and hope he accepts me. I mean, all of me, gay an all,” I said.

“That would be the ideal situation but it’s really early days and I think you’ve to tread carefully to begin with. After all, he might have the same views about homosexuality as your mother appears to have,” Rick said.

“No way, it was Mum’s church mad views that caused the split. I’m as sure as I can be about that. There were rows that I heard at night when they thought I was asleep in bed,” I replied.

“Mmm, I see,” Rick said. “Not being in tune with your mother’s views doesn’t automatically mean he’s approving of your situation either… but it could be a good sign that things’ll be fine between you. Let’s hope that’s the case. Anyway, this is all supposition right now. You need to get your first email composed and sent. Have you much homework tonight?”

“No, not that much. I’ll have time to do an email, I’m sure,” I replied.

“Good, well, I don’t have to say that we’ll all be here for you over this, do I? But, please don’t go expecting the moon just yet. He could still not want to be involved, but I have to admit that his getting in touch as quickly as he has, is rather a hopeful sign,” Rick smiled back at me.

I finished my tea and after carefully putting down my mug looked at him and said

“I’ve known that from the moment you collected me from my house that night. I can’t believe how much you and Paul have done for me since,” I said.

“You’ve been an easy young man to help and a valuable addition to this household,” Rick replied and then with a big grin continued. “Now go and get your homework done and a reply sent before I get all mushy.”

I got up, picked up my mug, smiled back at Rick and went back to the kitchen where Will turned towards me as I entered and asked

“What’s all that about?” Will asked.

“Seems Adrian’s found my dad in New Zealand and I’ve a contact email address for him waiting upstairs in my computer,” I replied.

“Ace!!” Will replied. “So, what’s going to happen now?”

“I’ve only a contact email so far. I’ll send him an email after I’ve done my homework, then it’s wait and see time again,” I explained.

“Can I tell Jus?” Will asked me.

“Can you wait till after I’ve had a reply and told Craig, please,” I replied.

“Yeah, sure, no probs,” Will said. He got off his seat, put his plate and mug in the dishwasher and headed off up the stairs to his room. I followed suit and headed up to my room after him.

Once inside I dumped my school bag down on the floor next to my desk and booted up my computer. While it was doing its thing, I changed from school clothes to jeans, trainers and hooded sweat top. Once done, I sat back down and opened my emails.

I quickly spotted the email from Adrian and opened it. He simply stated that after enquiries my father had been in contact and he was very pleased to say that I could correspond via email and that his email address in New Zealand was as follows… the same webmail as I used for friends. It all seemed so straightforward and matter-of-fact. I just stared at the address for a few moments and then got up and went out of my room and tapped on Will’s door.

“Yeah?” I heard him reply.

I opened his door and stuck my head round. “Would you take a picture of me with your digital camera?” I asked.

“Yeah, okay, you want to send it with your reply?” Will asked.

“Yeah, I’ve only swimming pictures and some of Craig and me on the canal holiday and I don’t want to spill everything out just yet,” I explained.

“Good plan,” Will agreed as he took his camera out of his desk drawer and asked “How and where then?”

“Um, how about just sitting at my desk in my room for now?” I suggested.

“Sure,” Will said as he got up and followed me back to my room. He took several pictures of me with and then slipped out the memory card and said “Here you are. Give it me back when you’ve transferred them to your computer, okay?”

“Yeah, thanks, I’ll do that now and you can have it right away,” I replied.

“Oh, okay,” he replied and waited as I quickly transferred the jpeg images to a file on my computer.

I handed back the memory card and said “Thanks Will, I’ve just got to work out what to say now…” I tailed off into silence.

“Good luck with that,” Will said as he slipped the card back into his camera and shut the case. “See you then,” he said, as he left to go back to his room.

“Yeah, see you, thanks, Will,” I replied, as I turned my attention back to the screen.

What to write, I wondered, as I opened a new blank email and entered my dad’s address into the To:- line. After some thought and a bit of re-writing it ended up like this…

Hi Dad, It’s been quite a while and to be honest I’d not thought I’d see or hear from you again, after what Mum said back when you left. I don’t think then I actually wanted to either… That is until I had to leave home and move in with friends. Don’t worry, I’m still at school and doing my ‘A’ levels and am definitely going to go to uni when they are done to do a degree in sports sciences and hope to become a high-school sports teacher specialising in swimming and diving if it all works out okay.

I really want to make contact with you as things at home with Mum went horribly wrong over the summer. There were several irreconcilable difficulties that meant I just had to move out. She tried to force me into her way of thinking according to her religious belief and I got it thrust down my throat at every opportunity. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I’m living with good friends now and at long last happy again. Mum’s been pretty awful about it all and tried to cause lots of trouble with the authorities. But, my social worker saw the situation my way and it seems as though the law is mostly on my side. She didn’t like that and caused some hassle. My friends’ best friend is a lawyer and he intervened and now she’s been told to back off. There’s been no hassle since then. He also arranged the advert in New Zealand that you must have seen too.

I’ve attached a picture taken a few minutes ago by my school friend Will who lives here with me in this house and hope you like it… It’s a bit different from the one taken at Blackpool that summer I was ten, just before you left us. I’m about a foot taller for a start!! I know what mum said and was quite upset when I heard nothing more after my 12th birthday.  I’d like to know your side of things, please, as what I now know of Mum I’m pretty sure I got only her version.

You’ve got my email at the top of this… please reply, Dad… Liam.

I read through what I’d written several times and then before I clicked send I got up and went back downstairs to the kitchen. Rick was preparing some supper for later and as I entered he asked

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I think so… would you look at what I’ve written before I send it to Dad?” I asked him.

“Yes, if you’d like me to. Have you finished it?” I nodded and he continued. “I’ll come and look now.”

We both went upstairs to my room and he sat at my computer and read through what I’d written.

“That ought to stimulate a quick reply,” Rick said after scanning my reply.

“Oh, why?” I asked.

“You’ve left a lot of tantalisingly unanswered questions in that, you know.”

“Oh, um… I didn’t really want to go into too much detail as to why I left my Mum’s in such a hurry, or anything about being gay and having a boyfriend, just yet,” I said.

“That makes perfect sense at this stage, but what I’m thinking is he’ll want to know all about the ‘friends’ that you’re staying with right now and probably about the trouble with your mother too… any parent would. So let’s see what comes back, shall we?” Rick finished and got up. I sat down, clicked send. It was gone. Now it was just a waiting game…

Rick went back downstairs and I got started on my homework. An hour or so later Paul called up that supper was ready and in a shot Will came out of his room and clattered down the stairs to the kitchen and I followed. I was amazingly hungry after all that effort and now I was just plain nervous about the result.

Over dinner we all talked about the email I’d had and I said what I’d put in my reply to my dad. Paul agreed with Rick that he thought I’d get a heap of questions back asking more about how and why I’d left home and who I was living with and all sorts of stuff like that.

“I mean, if I were your dad, I’d want to know who you were living with and what arrangements had been made for schooling and paying for your keep and expenses,” Paul said. “Don’t forget as far as he’s concerned up till now as you’re still ostensibly a minor he imagined you were in the care and custody of your mother and would remain so till you reached eighteen. You’ve just told him otherwise… and with not a lot of detail.”

“He must know that from Adrian’s replies though,” Rick said. “I mean he’s been assured that your mother is in no way involved with your attempts to locate him and get in contact.”

“Of course. Well, if that doesn’t trigger his interest, nothing will. But, I think it already has done. I mean he made the separate enquiries to make sure your mother wasn’t involved and then a day later he sends details back to confirm who he is and then his email address is forwarded to you with his consent. I’d say that was all rather positive towards his being interested in contact at the very least,” Paul spelt out.

“I do hope so,” I replied. “I mean it’s all looking good right now, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Well, without going over the top or raising too many expectations I think contact will be made. We just can’t guess what reaction your dad’ll have to all of your news,” Rick added.

“What, you mean living in a house with three other gay guys?” Will giggled. “That should get his interest! Oh, and not forgetting you’ve gone and got yourself a boyfriend since leaving home too!” he chortled.

“I’m not too sure about putting all that sort of stuff into emails. It’s all quite personal and some of it involves others. I mean I’ve got to talk all this through with Craig. He might not want me blabbing all this out just yet.” I said to Will.

“That’s true and only you can decide when and what you say. But, this is all only supposition right now. Let’s wait and see what sort of reply Liam gets and then we can see the best way forward. How’s that sound, Liam?” Paul asked.

With that we all agreed to let it drop. We finished our meal and tidied away. Paul and Rick went through to the sitting room to watch TV and Will and I went back to our rooms to do some more homework. When I’d finished my English literature essay, I got up, stretched, took a shower and turned in for the night. It took a long time before I fell asleep though I could not help but worry about what was happening on the other side of the world when my dad got to read my email.


End Chapter nine