By Paul Jamison



Chapter – 13


Will’s viewpoint


I spent the night back in my old room in our house with dad. We talked about all sorts and I’d felt I’d really connected more than I’d done for ages. I told him about school and how I wanted to stay at the Royal Grammar, mostly because of Justin of course, and I told him how I was beginning to feel about Justin too.

We talked about Mum and how Dad felt when she became ill and died and about all that happened that day with the funeral and how I was so much more in touch and knew the way my feelings were working towards Justin. Dad seemed to understand.  He told me lots about being careful and also to watch my step because not everyone was going to be tolerant towards gay boys. I told him I knew that already and had been and would continue to be very careful. Dad also talked about Granddad and how he was going to sell up his house and make major alterations at home to accommodate him.

“That’s great.  So Granddad will be here soon then?” I asked.

“Not soon.  He’s still terribly injured and needs a lot of rest and physiotherapy to get the use of broken limbs back again. He’ll be at the hospice place for a few months.  Then hopefully if the builders get stuck in and we sell Granddad’s old place, okay, then he’ll be here for good after that,” Dad said.

“Oh, okay, but when he’s here I can see him most days and stuff then?” I asked.

“Oh yes, I’m sure that won’t be a problem,” Dad said. “He’ll be pleased to see you, I am sure of that.  He asks after you most days I go in to see him,” Dad said.  “So how’re things going with Paul and Rick? Is everything okay?”

“Oh yes, it’s just brilliant.  I love my room there, the bathroom too and my new computer that Paul’s just built.  I know it’s not my birthday till Wednesday, but I was so pleased it was done this weekend,” I said.

“I’m pleased that you like it.  It does seem very good and fast?”

“Yes, it whizzes through stuff that took ages on the old one,” I said.  “Thanks for that, but I do need some new clothes too.  I’ve been trying stuff on and loads of it’s too small or getting that way. I’m a bit desperate for some things,” I giggled.

“Didn’t Granddad and Grandma get you stuff when it was needed then?” Dad asked.

“Yes, but I’d to remind them several times and then it was always a quick trip.  I never had much time to choose.  They didn’t seem to like shopping really,” I said.

“No, Granddad never did.  Did he wait in the car and read his newspaper? He always did when mum, your gran, had to take me to the shops for things,” Dad laughed.

“Err, yeah! He did actually,” I agreed.

We both laughed at that and carried on chatting till Dad noticed the time.

“I think you’d better slip up to bed here.  It’s late and we don’t want to disturb. We’ll go on a proper clothes shop tomorrow, okay?” Dad said.

“Okay, thanks” I replied and went off to bed, feeling ever so much better after talking with my dad.

I was looking forward to Sunday very much. Justin was coming round again and we’re all going to see some canal and locks and have lunch out. I was really thinking that mostly because I’d be seeing Jus again. Rick had called him a stalwart and I rather liked the description.  He’d stood by me all that day of the funeral and I’d so needed him too.


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


The following morning, Saturday, Rick and I were lounging in the kitchen at around ten getting some breakfast. I was beginning to wonder where Will was when the back door crept open and he sheepishly appeared.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied “where’ve you popped up from?”

“Oh, I stayed at ours last night.  Dad and I talked till gone twelve and he said not to disturb you two, so I just crashed in my room,” he explained.

“Good thinking on your dad’s part,” Rick chipped in. “It was a hell of day yesterday and I expect you had lots to talk about?” he asked.

“Yes, we did, about Mum and Gran, Justin and me too. We talked more than I can remember ever doing with Dad,” he said.

“Dad understands about Jus and me now and knows he’s really important. We talked so much too about Mum.  We never really did when she died.  I think I never really knew how Dad felt. I do now though. Dad’s not as worried about me as he was.  We really got closer… I think…” he trailed off.

“That’s probably the best that’s come from all this then,” I suggested.

“Yeah, I think so too. Oh, and we’re going shopping for clothes this morning and having lunch out in town before Dad heads back up to Scotland,” Will enthused.

“More clothes?” I asked.

“Yeah, almost all my trousers are too short and my decent shorts are getting tight and my T shirts I’ve had since I was thirteen,” he replied.

“Oh, so it’s get re-stocked while Dad’s in the mood to indulge you is it?” I grinned at Will. “Well, your Dad’d better take his credit card then. Have a great time.  Guess we’ll see you sometime this afternoon then?” I said.

“Um; guess so! Bye for now,” Will said as he left through the kitchen door again.

“Bye,” we both echoed as the door closed behind him.

“Which brings us back to last Saturday.  I’ll go and plant daffodils,” Rick said.

“Crikey, all this in a week!”

“Yup, fun isn’t it being a surrogate parent!” Rick laughed.  “Only three more years to go!”

“Oh gosh, put like that it’s… a bit …”

 “We’ll cope, stop fretting,” Rick laughed.  “Come and help me in the garden.”

With that we both cleared away breakfast and went out through the back door to the garage and retrieved the bags of bulbs hurriedly put there the last Saturday and Rick carried them out together with his dibber. He made the holes and spread a handful of sharp sand in each; I dropped the bulbs into them and covered over. We spent a happy hour or so engaged in that, then between us we cut the front lawn and weeded our one small border. I’d just returned from dumping the bag of grass cuttings into our compost corner in the back garden when Frank’s car pulled into their driveway and Frank and Will got out. Will rushed over quite full of the morning’s shopping and the lunch out.

 “Where did you end up then?” I asked.

“The Bicester Shopping Village,” Will said. “There’s loads of shops there with huge discounts and stuff that’s being discontinued and all that,” he said.

“Oh yes, I know that well.  I get shirts and suits there too. I’ve three favourite shops there,” I continued.  “So you’ve bought the place out then?”

 “Um… no, not quite, but I’ve got loads of stuff and it was all brilliant prices,” he enthused.

“Well, take it all in and you can show us later,” I said, as I carried the last of the tools and gardening implements through to the garage and closed up.

While we had been chatting Frank had been quietly unloading the bags from the boot, some eight or nine, all resplendent with their store logos, and carried them through to our kitchen. Having done that, he came over and made conversation about the garden tidying, looking sadly at his.  We both realised that it’d been his parents that had maintained his back garden, the front being fully block paved to allow for easier car parking.

“I’ll have to have a garden maintenance service, I think,” he commented.

“You’ll need to talk to Rick about that.  He could well know people.  He’s always down the garden centre getting stuff and asking advice, okay?” I replied.

“Good thought,” he replied, “one more thing for the list of things I have to do,” he smiled.

“I guess it’s time to have a bit of a conference?” I said.

 “Yes, if we could.  I’d like to be on my way by four if possible,” he replied.

Just then another familiar car drew up and parked. I was very surprised to see our lawyer friend Adrian get out and saunter over greeting us both. Turned out that he was both our friend and Frank’s family lawyer, having acted previously when Frank’s wife died and also in drawing up the wills for him and his parents.

“Don’t you guys answer phones?” he laughed.

“Not when we’re outside gardening,” I replied with a grin.

“I guess your mobiles are inside too?” he said.

“Um… yes I guess so,” I admitted.

“Well, that’s why you’re surprised to see me. Frank called me yesterday and as you’re old friends and Frank’s a good client we stretched the work a bit this weekend so we can get things tied up before school begins and put your situation on a proper footing,” he said. “And,” turning to Frank, “begin the process for your mother’s estate also,” he finished.

We all headed into the kitchen and after Rick and I had cleaned up our hands from the gardening work, went into the dining room as it seemed more appropriate to sit at a table to deal with the various items of paperwork that Adrian had brought with him in a well filled attaché case.

Adrian got straight to business. He had the documentation to formally appoint both Rick and me as the named guardians of William Barnes to act on behalf of his father in the event of the permanent incapacitation, long term absence during naval service, or death of his father Frank Barnes, if that last event should occur before Will’s eighteenth birthday. Adrian passed round the copies for signature that once Frank and we had signed in the boxes, he witnessed and countersigned. That done, he gave us a copy kept one for his files and Frank took the final one.

We moved on to the other arrangements regarding money and payments from the estate for Will’s upkeep in the event of Frank’s death. It was basically that everything was left to Will in trust until he was twenty-five, so the estate could be called upon to cover all legitimate expenses of education and housing etc until Will inherited fully. Adrian’s firm were the trustees. There were more provisions, but that was the gist of it all.

Adrian then moved on to Frank’s mother’s will. It would appear that she had simply left everything to her husband, Frank senior, except for half of the probated contents of one building society account that was to be equally shared between Will and his cousin Rory, his gran’s younger sister’s boy.

“How much is in that?” Frank asked.

“We’ve just received a printout from the society and the last balance was twenty four thousand six hundred pounds.  Now there’ll be a delay of about four to six months for probate to be obtained and a little more interest will get added of course, but Will and Rory should get at least twelve and a half thousand each.” Adrian said.

“Who’s Rory?” I asked Frank.

My mother’s sister Abigail had just one son, Rory, before her husband left her. He must be thirteen or so years old now,” Frank replied.  “So nothing at all to her sister Abigail then?” Frank asked Adrian with a smile.

“Not in the will we have lodged and it’s fully current,” Adrian replied.

“Oh, Abigail will be furious,” laughed Frank. He turned to us.

“I’ve had three conversations with the woman ever,” he said, “once when I was married, once when my wife died, and once to tell her that mother had died,” he explained. She didn’t come to either funeral and I’ve never met Rory at all,” he said and then continued “End of subject as far as I’m concerned. Dad never got on with her either,” he added.  “I won’t tell Will until it actually happens and we have the cheque and then we can deposit the money somewhere for him?” Frank finished.

“Seems like a reasonable plan,” I said.

Frank and Rick had a little discussion about the finance for Will and made arrangements for regular transfers to cover Will’s living expenses. Frank also settled up with us for the new school uniform we’d purchased that week.

That having pretty much wrapped things up, Rick and I went to the kitchen to make drinks for all. Adrian and Frank continued to discuss other matters in our absence. We returned with trays of tea and biscuits and enjoyed a general chat. Frank then looked at his watch, took his leave of us and just as we came out of the dining room Will appeared and went with his dad to say his goodbyes. Rick and I went back to the dining room and Adrian who was tidying away his papers.

“So how’s it with you and James?” I asked him.

“Oh great guns,” he replied, “never happier in fact.”

“Good to know, I always thought you two were a matched pair,” I laughed.

“Yes, me too.  Oh, I’ve brought something for you too,” he said. “It’s only a map and guide of the route I suggest you do in the boat.”

“Oh good,” I replied.  “We’d thought to do the Four Counties Ring,” I said.

“That’s exactly what I am suggesting also,” he said. “Here’s the map and also a cruising guide too. It’s got all the route details in large scale and full canal side facilities information, as well as the route plan,” he said, handing me a folded map and also a guide book.

“Many thanks for those.  We’ll take a good look later and do some more nearer the time as well I’m sure,” I said as I thanked him for his trouble.

With that Adrian got up and we saw him off to his car. Frank was just loading up his car and Will was saying goodbye.  We waited for him to drive off and the three of us went into the house together.

Will spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out his clothes and going back and forth to his house to collect further items now he was pretty permanently moving in. We helped where asked and took a largish bag of stuff to a local charity shop of his outgrown but still very serviceable clothes. The rest we binned at the recycling depot.

We took a break at around six-thirty and I suggested we went to the cinema. Will was keen as was Rick.  So we set off into town to our local multiplex. We chose to see the latest Indiana Jones film and had a great escapism evening. We ate in a little Italian restaurant off the main area and had good value lasagnes with large Cokes each, then home again.  It was after eleven pm when we came out of the restaurant.  We were certainly its last customers that night. Once home we locked up and Will made his way rather wearily up to his room. I checked our emails and then followed Rick up to bed.


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

Sunday morning, and the sun was out with not a cloud to be seen. We were enjoying our usual lazy Sunday breakfast of toast and tea, when a sleepy eyed Will appeared round the kitchen door.

“Hi, you okay, Will?” I asked.

“Yeah, just a bit shattered that’s all,” he replied. “Can I just have a mug of tea and then I’ll get showered and come down.”

“Of course,” I said, switching on the kettle as I spoke, getting down a mug, dropping in a teabag and a spoonful of sugar. “Take your time there’s no rush Justin shouldn’t be here for an hour or so yet,” I said.

“Okay, thanks,” Will replied quietly, as he took his tea and made his way back upstairs.

 “Taken its toll by the looks of it,” I remarked to Rick after Will had gone.

“Hardly surprising really, considering all that’s happened this last week,” I replied.

We continued our breakfast and then spent a while checking email and sending replies. I cleaned down the cooker in preparation for that evening’s Sunday dinner. I then began to prepare the vegetables, so I would have little more to do when we returned from the afternoon out than to cook the joint.

“Are we letting Justin stay tonight if we’re asked?” I asked Rick.

“Yes, I think so,” he replied.  “After all it’s the last chance these holidays isn’t it?  Mary won’t let Justin out the night before school goes back and we shouldn’t let Will out either,” he said.

“No, I agree,” I said.

I finished the preparations and left the pans covered on the hob and went upstairs to the little box room to look for my lock windlass. I found it in the back of the cupboard and dusted it off; it had been at least five years since I last used it. I was fairly sure there’d be a few boats going through the locks by the Boat Inn and I hoped the boys would get the opportunity to work the lock for one of them at least. I went back down to the kitchen and spread out the map and guide book that Adrian had given me the previous afternoon.

Just as I’d done that and Rick and I were looking at the big route chart, Will appeared back in the kitchen.

“Okay now?” I asked him.

“Yeah, fine, thanks.  It just took me a while to get going today,” he replied with a smile.

“Want anything?” I asked.

“Just some toast and more tea,” he replied.

“Well, you know where it all is? We’re just looking at probable routes for the boat holiday,” I replied.

“Can Justin stay over tonight?” he asked, as he prepared his tea and toast.

“We were expecting you to ask that.  Yes, he may,” I smiled.

Will came to the table with his brew and toast and looked with us at the map and guide book.

“So where are we going to go then?” he asked, as he took out his mobile and sent a text.

“I’m letting Justin know he can stay tonight,” he grinned.

“Right, here is the boat.  It’s moored here at Great Hayward in Staffordshire on the Trent and Mersey canal here.”  I showed him on the map. “Then we take this route round through the four counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and the West Midlands getting back to the base a week later.  It’s a distance of a hundred and ten waterway miles and there are almost a hundred locks to operate as well,” I explained.

“So when Justin gets here we’ll take Paul’s windlass and go and have lunch at the canal side pub, see if any boats come along and help them with the lock if we can and they’re happy for us to,” Rick added.

Will seemed to brighten a bit and I hoped Justin’s arrival would soon put the smile back on his somewhat sombre expression that morning. I personally was putting it down to the stress of the previous week’s happenings, where pretty much all he’d known got turned upside down with new circumstances having to be dealt with and got used too all very quickly.

Will’s mobile bleeped just then and he checked and then turning to us both said “Justin’s left home.  He’ll be here in five,” he grinned.

“Right, I’ll get the car out,” I said. “Get Justin’s stuff up to your room and then we’ll go and see what’s what up at Stoke Bruerne.”

I picked up my keys and headed out for the garage.  I’d just got the car out and was headed back into the house when Justin arrived on his bike; I suggested that he put it in the garage and chain it to one of the security rings and then we could go. He did that and I closed down the garage and we went into the house. Will greeted Justin with a big smile and the two of them headed off to his room to dump his overnight kit. A few minutes later they re–appeared downstairs and we were ready to go.

We set off for the canal side pub, the Boat Inn, and made good time reaching the carpark in only three quarters of an hour.

Walking through to the tow path the canal stretched away in front of us a deep double width lock right beside the public house. The boys were keen to look over the lock and its working gear.

Rick went into the bar to order a round of drinks.  We all stayed on soft as we were driving. I looked up and down the canal and noticed a boat heading towards the lock. I strolled down to the top gate with the boys and saw that the lock was almost full and would not need much water let in before the gates would open. I put my windlass onto the gate paddle gear and showed Will and Justin how to set the ratchet so that it held up the rack and paddle as they were wound to open the water inlet and allow the lock to fill up. Once this was done I pushed myself against one of the top gate balance beams and the gate began to open slowly. The boys cottoned on fast, ran over the footbridge to the other side of the lock and pushed against the other balance beam. Within a short time both gates were open and ready for the oncoming boat to steer into the lock chamber for its descent to the lower level of canal. Once the boat had entered the lock chamber the steerer called to us that there were in fact two boats and the other one was just behind them so they would wait until they arrived to ‘save water’ by going down the flight of locks together..

Once the first boat was safely in the lock and the crew held it to the side with mooring ropes, the second boat appeared and slowly entered the lock also. We then closed the two big top gates and lifting the ratchets, wound down the paddles so no more water could enter. The crew then operated the bottom gates water control paddles to empty the lock to let the boats down to the lower level. Both boys found it to be strenuous work operating the 19th century winding gear with just their own arm muscles to do the work. It took the pair of them to wind up the bottom gate paddle fully. The lock emptied with ferocious pressure and the two boats rapidly descended.  Within four or five minutes the lock was empty and the bottom gates could be opened and the boats headed off down the canal to the next lock which was less than a hundred metres further down. The crews would have to do those on their own.

As we watched another boat came round the corner wanting to go ‘up’ the lock. It had tied up and waited for the lock to clear before entering. It only had a crew of two, so they were glad of the extra help we gave them to work through the lock to the level with the pub. We helped them tie up as they were going to connect up to a water point to fill the onboard water storage tanks and take the time to have some lunch as we were also about to do.

The boys collapsed at a table where we watched another boat go down the lock. Rick had ordered some sandwiches for us and cheeseburgers and fries for the boys. The food arrived just then and was devoured with alacrity.

“So you’ve only ninety-seven of those to do in the week,” I laughed. “It seems you need a rest after just the one? Of course the ones we’ll be doing are only half that width, they’re the narrow ones, seven feet wide, so take a little less time and effort,” I said.

“Crikey, we’ll be knackered after a week of that!” Will exclaimed.

“No way, you’ll soon develop muscles you didn’t know you had,” I laughed back.

“The boats are really long aren’t they?” Justin remarked.

“Yes, indeed, you’ve got a fixed width and maximum length so builders cannot go mad with designs. They’ve all to be able to get through the small bridges too,” I replied.

“So are we looking forward to a week away doing that?” I asked them both.

“Definitely!” Justin said.  “Beats going to my nerdy cousins while my folks are in bloody Paris,” he continued. “Plus, and this is the biggy,” he went on, “I’ll be away for the whole week with Will.”  He sneaked a sidelong glance as he slurped some Coke.

Will visibly coloured up and turned his big smile onto his boyfriend and with a giggle said

“Well then, all those new muscles might come in handy after all?”

We all laughed at that and having finished our drinks and food wandered along the canal side looking at some of the boats that were moored up. After a half hour or so we decided that we’d seen enough and headed back to the car and home. The boys were full of what the holiday might be like and the various ‘skills’ they each would display at boat handling and opening locks single handed. Rick and I simply glanced at each other with many a smirk during that ride home.

Back at home I asked the boys to lay up the kitchen table for the four of us for dinner. We were all pretty tired and were not in the mood for formal eating in the dining room. I got started on the roast lamb joint and the boys went off up to Will’s room for a while.

We had a quiet Sunday roast meal, just the four of us, Rick and I, Will and his boyfriend Justin. It was very relaxed and we did not go for ceremony. Rick and I had some wine with the roast lamb and the boys tried a little but didn’t care for it.  They preferred ice cold Cokes. Justin announced that he had to be home by one pm the following day as his mother had a hairdresser appointment for him prior to school the following morning. I looked over at Will and thought perhaps he would need one also. The look did not go unnoticed and he chirped up with

“Yes, I do need to get one too.  Our form master next term can’t abide untidy hair and I just don’t want the hassle,” he said.

“Where d’you normally go?” I asked him.

“Oh, Hair Today in the precinct,” he said.

“Well, I’ll take you in then when I go into the studios,” I said.  “You can hang around till Rick’s done at five or head home here on the bus, but let us know, okay?” I replied.

“Sure, I’ll need to do some shopping too, just stationery and stuff, nothing exciting,” he grinned.

We cleared away and loaded the machine.  The boys disappeared up to Will’s room and Rick and I took a coffee each through into the sitting room and collapsed out onto the sofa. We just chilled for an hour or so, then went to our room for a long shower and some TLC to each other, something that had been just a little lacking during the whirlwind of the previous week…


End of Chapter 13

I hope that you are enjoying this story. Thank you all for your emails all of which I have replied to. Do write and tell me what you think? I love getting emails and do reply to all of you. 

I've  now a Google Group and a Yahoo group with chapter files and information there especially for non-British readers. Also all the pictures that I cannot include on the Nifty publication are also there as well. You can also find me on IOMFATS 

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