By Paul Jamison



Chapter – 12


The following morning we were all gathered in our kitchen at around nine for a slightly later than normal breakfast. Frank had come over from next door to join us. I’d suggested the previous evening he did so as he hadn’t had time to stock up much on fresh grocery supplies.

As soon as we’d finished eating our breakfast.  I organised a production line for sandwich making for the reception after the funeral. Will and Frank were at the work top buttering up four loaves of bread two of white and two of granary. I’d prepared the fillings and was adding quantities of egg mayonnaise, salmon mayonnaise, grated cheddar and sliced tomato and sliced ham and tomato to the buttered bread as it was passed to me. In less then half an hour we had all the sandwiches made sliced and laid out on foil platters covered with cling film. I then laid out on a baking try about sixty buffet sized sausage rolls and put them into the oven to bake off. While they were cooking, I prepared another tray of chicken drumsticks, returning them to the fridge and which I would bake off just as soon as we got back from the funeral. The sandwiches, sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, tea, coffee and soft drinks we’d decided while shopping the previous day would be more than sufficient for a snack lunch.

Once those preparations were complete I glanced at the kitchen clock and suggested it was time for us to get ready to be back downstairs for the arrival of the hearse at ten thirty. Frank bade us goodbye for the moment and exited from the kitchen door to cross into his house. Will slipped upstairs to his room and we headed off to ours.

It was at about twenty past ten that we all re-assembled in the sitting room, Will very smart in his school uniform with black tie. A few moments later we were joined by Frank in his full naval uniform which was a first for us as he’d always travel to and from bases in ‘civvies’ as was normal. The minutes ticked by no-one having much to say until I noticed through the window the hearse and following car arrive outside.

We rose from our seats and waited for the ring on the doorbell from the funeral director. We followed Frank to the door and then out onto the drive, Frank having been formally greeted by the director. Frank glanced at the huge Daimler limousine and beckoned us to come with him and Will.

“No point bringing more cars with that and just the two of us in it,” he said.

The funeral director held open the door and Frank got in followed by Will. We then seated ourselves facing them on the back to the driver seats. Once we were buckled in, the cortege moved slowly off to the town crematorium. It took about twenty minutes to reach the Crem and we waited for a few moments for the director to open our doors. We stepped into the brilliant sunshine and were shown to the waiting rooms.

There were about fifteen people there, mostly friends of Frank’s father and mother, a couple of neighbours from our road who knew them through their looking after Will during Frank’s times at sea and Justin and Mary Naylor, Justin smart in his school uniform and also wearing a black mourning tie his mother had found in his father’s wardrobe.

The minister arrived; Frank had engaged the services of the one from the Methodist church that his parents both attended from time to time when they were at their own home and he chatted pleasantly to the party. The minister then told us that as there was no funeral before ours in the chapel designated, we could go through and take our seats and then if Frank and Will would go with him they would follow the coffin into the chapel and the proceedings would commence.

Frank nodded his agreement and he and Will followed the minister out into the sunshine where the bearers were preparing to lift the coffin to process into the chapel. We trooped through into the chapel and with Justin sitting near where Will would seat himself and the rest of us taking up only three more rows we waited for the procession to enter.

The doors at the main entrance were opened and clipped back by the funeral director who then asked us all to stand. The procession entered the chapel with the director in the lead, the bearers with the coffin, the minister, now robed and finally Frank and Will side by side walking slowly down the aisle. As it reached the top of the aisle the director turned and supervised the sliding of the coffin onto the dais. The Director and pall bearers discretely withdrew through a side door. The minister took his place, Will slipped into the seat next to Justin with Frank taking the next alongside him.

The minister conducted the short proceedings.  He then announced that Frank would read a poem. Frank stepped forward to the lectern and read…

You can shed tears that she is gone ‘Anon’

“You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

Will became noticeably upset during that. I saw tears begin to stream down his face as he valiantly tried to stay serene. I noticed that Justin had slipped his hand into Will’s during the reading.

Frank returned to his seat and then finally the minister pronounced the committal. As he did so the coffin slowly slid from view and the curtains closed. The organ played quietly as the minister led Frank and Will down the aisle. They stood alongside to talk, greet and chat to those who’d attended and to remind them of the reception back at our home. Justin quietly stayed behind Will throughout those proceedings. I briefly shook hands with Frank and complimented him on the choice of poem.

“My mother had already chosen it,” he said.  “It was in her instructions in her will for her funeral.”

“It was a very good choice,” I agreed.

We moved away and let all the other friends chat with Frank and Will. Justin stayed behind him throughout and it was plain to see Will appreciated his friend’s constant support. After a few minutes Mary Naylor came over and greeted us. We chatted for a few moments and then we mentioned the reception and hoped she would come over for a while.

“Well, it looks like Justin will want to be there with Will,” she replied, “so I’d better come too, for a while at least. See if I can help out.”

“Yes, it does rather; they’ve become close friends over the holidays I guess?”

“Oh quit fooling!” Mary turned to me and said “It’s completely obvious to me that they’re way beyond just good friends… Mothers can see these things you know,” she finished.

I smiled back.  “Is it that obvious?” I asked.  “I mean if it is they’ll need to be more careful at school, won’t they?” I said.

“No, not to outside eyes, but to me yes.  I know Justin very well indeed,” she smiled at us, “and he’s happy. That’s been so obvious to me these last few days.”

“Well we’ll do everything we can to keep it so. You can count on that,” I replied.

“Oh! I’ve no doubts at all about that,” she smiled back. “It’s not telling his dad that I think we’ll need to keep a weather eye on, as I’m not convinced he’d be too supportive at the moment.”

“Oh,” I replied, “you think there could be some trouble there then?”

“Not trouble, like physical bad treatment, or anything like that, just not supportive. I think he’d feel very disappointed to discover Justin’s probably gay and wouldn’t like him to be… if you see what I mean.”

“Well, hopefully you’ll argue his case then?” I asked.

“Oh, of course, but there might be a cooling between them for a while, so best if it’s later rather than sooner is my opinion for what it’s worth,” she finished.

“I tend to agree with you there,” I said turning to Rick for support as he’d been quietly listening in to our chat.

“I’m with Paul on that,” he agreed. “Let’s not stir any problems till it can’t be avoided?”

At that point Frank, Will, Justin and the minister came over to us. It was time to get organised to go back to the reception that wasn’t going to happen till we got there! We arranged that Will would go with Justin and Mary and the minister who’d been brought there by the funeral directors would travel with Frank and us in the funeral car. That all arranged, Frank gave a nod to the director and he had the car brought up. We got in and set off for home. Frank introduced the minister as the Revd John Faversham. We made polite conversation on the return journey, accomplished in half the time of the outward one, as we weren’t going at hearse speed.

We pulled up outside our house just as Mary, Justin and Will arrived. They parked on the driveway and were waiting for Frank to finish with the funeral director and lead the way to our door. I opened up and quickly went through to the kitchen, followed by all. Mary stepped in and unwrapped all the sandwich platters. I put the chicken legs into the oven for a warm through and got another kettle from the cupboard, filled them and made two pots of tea and coffee. Frank disappeared to his house and was back in just a few minutes changed out of uniform and with two bottles of spirits and handing them to me commented that there’re some duty free advantages in the services that come in handy from time to time. I placed the previously cooked sausage rolls onto a serving platter. Mary collected those and set them with the other food in the garden room. I opened the doors to the garden and put the umbrella shades up on the two bench seat tables we had, so people could wander freely around and chat. Will and Justin disappeared upstairs and came down changed in a few minutes and began edging towards the food tables eying up the goodies on display. Mary spotted them and in no uncertain terms said

“Justin, touch that food before the guests and you won’t survive the day!”

“But Mum, I won’t survive anyway if I don’t,” he replied.

I laughed and said “Perhaps we might as well give them a plate to get going on then we’ll get a few minutes peace?” I suggested.

“Mmm,” Mary responded. “Perhaps you’re right. Let’s give them a few of the spare sandwiches and some chicken when it comes out. That should keep them going for a while, I hope.”

I got a plate and piled on several sandwiches and then got the chicken out of the oven as it was cooked through, placed four drumsticks on it and gave the platter to the boys with a couple of Cokes from the fridge and suggested they went into the garden for a while till things were less busy. I found another serving bowl and displayed the rest of the chicken and took it through to the food table.

From then on for the next hour and a half we opened the door to callers and made conversation with neighbours and family friends of Frank and his parents. The minister left after an hour in a taxi, having enjoyed a glass or two of Frank’s scotch. Pretty convivial for a minister I thought to myself. Mary had tidied up the food platters, consolidating the remaining sandwiches onto just one. The chicken and sausage rolls were all consumed and I felt we’d provided just enough for those who came. I poured two G&T’s, added some ice and lemon slices and made my way through to the garden. Rick was at a table with Frank, there now being no other guests left. I handed Rick a drink and asked Frank if he needed a fresh one. Mary joined us and I asked if she’d like to have a drink.

“Oh, just the one and not too much either. I’ve still to drive back,” she replied.

Frank nodded and passed me his glass for a refill. I went through to the kitchen noticing there was no sign of the boys and smiling to myself made the drinks and returned to the garden.

“Well, how do you feel that went Frank?” I asked.

“Rather better than I hoped,” he replied, “and in no small way due to your help here with this.” He indicated with his arm the garden and reception we’d just hosted.

“Well thanks, Frank, but it wasn’t that hard to sort, you know.”

“Not to you perhaps, but to me, well, it’s not what I’m good at,” he replied.

“So what’s next on the agenda?” I asked him.

“Well,” Frank began, “we need to set up guardianship papers for you two over Will, and that’ll take a lawyer to make final, but in the meantime I’ll do a witnessed statement that will do for his school and one of our responsible guardians forms for work.  Oh you’ve already done that, haven’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, just a week ago when all this started,” I replied.

“Goodness! Is that’s all it’s been?” Frank said.  “Less than a week?”

“A full week tomorrow, late morning actually, it’s been quite a rollercoaster for us too,” I replied.

“I can well imagine,” Frank said, “all a bit shattering really too?”

I found myself agreeing with Frank on that. It’d indeed been a whirlwind of a week and there were many more to come, perhaps not all as dramatic as this week had been, since the routine of school would begin in a few days and I thought that’d bring things back into some sort of normality.

 Frank got up from his seat and turning to us all said

“Well, thanks again, guys, Mary for all your help today. I don’t think it would have gone as painlessly without. If you’ll excuse me I am going to go and rest for a bit and sort through some things back home. I’ve still calls to make and matters to sort out. I’ll come back later and have another chat with Will, okay?”

“Yes, of course,” we both said.

I got up and accompanied Frank to the door.  “Call round later for a meal, say seven-thirty, if you feel hungry,” I said.

“No, I won’t impose any more.  I’ve quite a lot to do.  I’ll just have a chat with Will a bit later. That’s all, many thanks,” he said as he walked down the adjoining strip between our two homes.

“Okay, if you’re sure, we’ll see you sometime later then,” I replied, as I turned back into the house and made my way back to the garden.

Mary had finished her drink and got up straightening her skirt as she did so.

“I’d best go find my rascal and get off home.  My husband’s due home this evening, so he’ll want all the news and to know how Justin did at swimming,” she said.

“Of course,” I replied. “A bit more than just a swimming course happened this last week though,” I commented.

“Very true, I’ll not be filling Philip in on all of it… just yet though,” she replied.

“No, indeed, whatever you feel is for the best,” I agreed.

With that we both entered the house and I went to call Justin from where I imagined him to be, upstairs with Will in his room.


 * * * * *     * * * * *      * * * * *      * * * * *

Will’s viewpoint

Justin and I had our plate of food while the others were all getting served and then we sneaked back when his mum wasn’t looking for a bit more, scooted up to my room with the food and a couple of Cokes. I was almost shattered after all that had gone on that day. I put the food on my table with my Coke and then put away my school uniform into the wardrobe, shoving the shirt into the laundry. Justin tidied up his and folded it carefully into a suit wrapper and hung it on the back of my door.

We collapsed onto the bed together. He just snaked his arms around me and held me close. I liked to listen to his breathing close to me and it made me feel safe.  I’d been so pleased he’d come with me today and been with me through the funeral service. I got a bit upset when dad had read the poem that grandma had chosen. I knew it was coming, as he’d showed it to me the night before when we’d chatted about stuff and what was happening about me and where I’d stay and all that. When he read it though, it got to me and tears started falling. I couldn’t stop them and hoped he didn’t think I was a dope or anything. No, he just put his hand in mine and squeezed to let me know he was there with me. It helped me ever so to carry on. He was a fantastic friend.

“Jus,” I said, “thanks for being there today.  I don’t think I could have managed too well without your being there too.”

Justin raised himself up on one elbow and looking in to my eyes said “Don’t be a dope. We’re a team now, you and me. We do stuff together… even the hard stuff, okay?”

“Okay,” I quietly replied.

He kissed me gently on the lips and I responded, just ever so gentle kisses that showed he cared and that he felt for me. I just loved him all the more for that. We broke away and smiled at each other. I got up from the bed and went for a bathroom break, on returning Justin followed suit. I sat at my computer desk and munched on a couple more sandwiches and nibbles we’d brought up. Justin came back from the bathroom and helped me finish the food and Cokes. We dropped the empty cans into the bin.

Just then there was a knock on the door and it was opened by a lady with a headscarf and pushing a vacuum cleaner.

“Oh, sorry to disturb you young sirs,” she said, “buts I always starts at the top and works me way down, Friday’s me day for cleaning,” she said.

“Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot about that,” I said.  “We’ve just been to my gran’s funeral today,” I said.

“Yes,” she replied. “I’s told downstairs and sorrys I’m sure,” she continued.

“I’ll be changing your sheets too, so’s if you’d just take the plates down I’ll get on and have it done in a jiffy,” the lady rattled on.

“Oh, okay,” we both said and collecting up the plates and Justin’s bags we both went back downstairs to the kitchen.

“Goodness who’s she?” Justin asked with a giggle.

“Don’t. She’ll hear you,” I said, “she’s the lady wot does.” I hooted back at him.

We were both giggling away when we got back downstairs and headed for the kitchen where we could hear the others talking.


 * * * * *     * * * * *     * * * * *     * * * * *


“Time we went now. Your dad’ll be home soon and I’ve to get a meal ready for him and you can fill him in on your week and tell him all about success at the swimming,” Mary said to Justin.

“Okay mum,” Justin said still giggling.

“I hope you two’ve not upset Mrs Watson, our cleaner,” I said.

“Nah, we’ve done as she asked, cleared out and brought the plates down, okay?” Will chirped up grinning away.

“Good, we don’t want to upset her she’s too good and doesn’t break stuff like the first one we had,” Rick added, “though she’s a way with words that’s not exactly grammatical!” he laughed.

The two boys burst into giggles and we gathered they’d had a sample of her forthright style.

“Got everything, Justin?” Mary asked him.

“Yes, mum.” He indicated his uniform and bag.

“Right, well we’ll be off then.  I’m sure we’ll see you all again sometime soon though.

“Oh, I’m sure of that. Would you like to join us for lunch at the Boat Inn on Sunday?  We’re going to show the boys how to work locks and have a bite also,” I said.

“I’d love to, but Philip’s been away all week so it’ll give us time to catch up on things.  Justin’ll be round after breakfast though, okay?” she replied.

“Well, make it mid-morning, Jus, okay?” I replied. “We’d like a bit of a lie in on a Sunday morning, okay?” I suggested.

“Okay, no probs,” he grinned back. “See ya, Will,” he said.

With that they were headed for the door, said final farewells and drove off home. Will watched their car turn the corner at the top of the road and then shutting the front door came back to join us in the living room and collapsed onto a sofa looking dead beat.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, am now, Justin was great today.  I’m so glad he came,” he said.

 “We noticed. He’s turning out to be quite a stalwart,” I said.

“What’s a stalwart?” he asked quizzically.

“It’s one who firmly supports a cause, or, as in your case, his friend,” I answered.

“Oh, he’s one of them alright,” Will smiled.

“I’m going next door to chat with Dad for a bit.  Okay?” he asked.

“Yes, of course your dad said he wanted to chat some more before he went back to Scotland tomorrow afternoon,” I replied.

Will pulled himself wearily out of the sofa and padded out of the room to leave by the kitchen door to his own house next door.

I pulled Rick to me on the sofa. He momentarily pulled away and got up, flicked through the CD selection put an Enya CD on the player, then rejoined me on the sofa and we cuddled and kissed while listening to the strains or Orinoco Flow.

“What a day!” I said…

“What a week!” he replied…


End of chapter 12


Thank you for all your emails, I have enjoyed reading and replying to them all. I have both a Google and a Yahoo group now where you will find the illustrations that I'm unable to include in the Nifty publication.

I am also now published at IOMFATS  and will genrally be first there with chapters.

Paul Jamison

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