By Paul Jamison
Chapter – 16
I’d got the phone call from Rick at a little after four-thirty; he’d been visiting a client, so was home some half an hour earlier than usual. I immediately suggested he change cars and drive out to the crash scene to recover the bikes and bring the boys back.
“Good thought, I’m on my way in right now,” he rang off.
We met up in the radio station car park and I got the latest details from him,
“Seems that the boys were cycling home in a group and one of them shoved Will, but it was Justin who’s crashed,” he told me.
“I’ll go straight from here to the Infirmary then, unless you call and tell me different. Okay?” I said.
“Okay, seems like a good thought. I’ve got to rush now. I’m picking up Mary Naylor from her office and driving out to where they are as soon as we can,” he explained.
“I won’t delay you. Phone me, okay?” I said, as I briefly kissed him bye on the cheek and turned to go back into the studios.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We sat in that waiting room for about an hour. Then Mrs Naylor appeared from the double doors leading to the treatment areas and signalled us to come over. We all got up and crossed to where she was waiting.
“Okay, he’s doing just fine; they’re a bit concerned about concussion, as he lost consciousness for a few moments when it happened. He’s had an X-ray and there’s no apparent damage inside. Seems he’s got a thick head. They’re stitching him up and we can take him home shortly. It appears he’s had a lucky escape this time. I’ve had instructions about bringing him straight back if he gets confused, vomits or gets vision impairments. Those are symptoms of concussion. The doctor thinks, though, from what he can see on the X-ray that he’s escaped anything serious altogether,” Mary told us.
“Can I see him?” I asked immediately.
“Yes, come back through with me now. He’s been whingeing to know where you are ever since he got here,” Mary added.
“So he’ll be fine then?” Rick and Liam asked.
“Yes, but there’ll be no more cycling to school for a while until this matter’s sorted out,” Mary added. “I don’t know what we’ll do about it. Depends on what the school and police will do I guess,” she finished.
“Jus’s bike isn’t up to being ridden anyway,” I said. “Front wheel’s buckled and I think the chainset’s bent too,” I added.
“Well, that settles it for now anyway. Can we come to some sort of pool arrangement to get the boys to school, or is that not practicable?” Mary asked Rick.
“We can get them there in the morning, I’m sure. Collecting them at the time they come out’s not as easy, plus they’ll have after school stuff too, though I’m not sure what or when at the moment,” he replied.
“I can handle anything that’s after four-thirty, which is only forty-five minutes after school’s out anyway, or there’s the bus of course. They’ve both used that countless times before now,” Mary said.
“We’ll sort something anyway,” Rick said. “Why don’t you go back there with Mary now and see if Justin’s ready to come home?” he said, turning to me.
I nodded at once and followed Mrs Naylor back through the doors to the cubicle where Justin was sat up on an examination trolley. He’d a nurse with him who’d just finished putting a couple of stitches into a gash on the side of his head where he’d hit the road surface. Jus caught sight of me and his face lit up instantly.
“At last,” he said, “I’ve been waiting hours for them to let me see you. Have you been here all the time?” he asked.
“Yeah, pretty much,” I replied. “We waited a little while for Rick and then came straight here; we’ve got the bikes in the back of Paul’s car. Liam’s here too.” I said.
“Oh, why?” Justin asked puzzlement showing on his face.
“Liam was just behind us in his Mum’s car and saw everything that happened,” I explained. “He stayed till the ambulance and police arrived too and then helped with the bikes when Rick and your mum got there. Then we all came on here,” I said.
Mrs Naylor turned to the nurse to ask if it was all okay for Justin to go home yet.
“I’ll just check with the A&E sister, but I think so, yes,” she replied.
Mrs Naylor and the nurse went off to see about Justin being discharged. I immediately went up close and leaned into him for a quick kiss. Jus threw his arms round me and pulled me to him and we kissed deeper then I thought possible in a hospital treatment bay!
“Jus, I’m just so happy that you’re okay,” I said, beginning to tear up.
“It seems that I’m not all that easy to get rid of,” he laughed back, but continued “I’m so, so pleased you’re here though I couldn’t handle it if they wouldn’t let me see you. I made a bit of a fuss till Mum said she’d go and get you,” he finished.
“Glad you did. We didn’t know what was going on sat back there in reception,” I told him.
“What’s going to happen about this anyway?” Justin asked.
“I dunno,” I replied. “I mean, I was shoved and it wasn’t an accident. He meant to do it. I’m sure of that. Darren’s a bloody idiot, that’s all I can say!”
“Let’s get home soon,” Justin said.
A few moments later Mary Naylor returned with Justin’s discharge letter to take to his own doctor whom he should see within a week to check the stitches had done their job. I commented…
“It’s a bit late for stitches. What little brain there was escaped at the scene!”
Justin looked daggers at me and Mrs Naylor laughed and said…
“Too late, love, there was only ever air there in the first place… so nothing’s been lost,” she said.
I giggled loudly to Justin’s protestation of…
Jus slid off the exam trolley and winced when his feet landed. It was obvious too that his trousers were in a well ripped state, ruined by the accident and the medical staff cutting them to attend to many minor cuts and bruises.
“They’re ruined,” Mary said. “Lucky we bought you two pairs. I’d better go and get you some more this weekend if you’re going to go through them this fast. We’ve only to get to the car park, or we could ask Rick to bring the car to the pick up by the main doors,” she said.
“Yes please, Mum. Can you get Rick to bring the car round? I don’t want to go walking around with half a pair missing,” Justin said. He reached for his coat only to see that the collar of that was soaked in dark red and brown stains of road muck and blood, quite a mess, in fact. “Yuck!” he said looking at us both.
“New coat needed as well?” his Mum asked.
“Yeah, looks like it, unless this can be dry cleaned off.” he replied.
“It might be possible. We’ll try specialist dry cleaning first and if that’s no good then you’ll have to have a new one. As it’s not your fault it got damaged your father and I will pay for it this time, okay?” his mum replied.
With that sorted, we left the treatment area and went over to where Rick, Liam and now Paul were waiting for us.
“How’s the victim?” they all asked us.
Justin gave a grin and said
“Despite what some think, I’m okay and I’ve not lost my brain or anything, so stuff that,” he replied.
I giggled; Liam, Paul and Rick look confused, Mrs Naylor laughed.
“He’s a bit sensitive because he got teased about his brain leaking away at the crash!” she replied.
“Oh! I get it,” Paul grinned back at us.
“Can you get the car to the doors? I’ve not got much of my trousers left.” Justin asked.
“Yeah, sure let’s go and sort that now,” Paul said.
“Liam, how about I give you a lift home?” Rick suggested.
“Yes please, if you could that’d be great. I’ve some homework to do and my mother’ll be home from her bloody church meeting soon too,” he said.
Paul and Rick swopped over car keys and went off to the car park with Liam after he’d said bye to us all.
Me, Justin and Mrs Naylor waited by the main doors for Paul’s car to pull into the pick up area. He was only a few minutes and as soon as we saw it we all piled out of the hospital and over to the car. I got in the back with Justin and Mrs Naylor got in the front with Paul. Once we got belted up Jus simply collapsed against me holding my hand tightly, his head resting against my shoulder. In The front Mrs Naylor brought Paul up to date with all that had happened. Paul turned momentarily to us and asked,
“Have you two very much homework tonight?”
“No, only some reading for a test later this week, Friday, I think,” I told him. “We’ve not got into the routine yet. It’s only first day back,” I explained.
“Okay,” he said. “Just as well really,” he commented to Mrs Naylor. “I guess Justin’ll need a couple of days off to recover from the injury and possible complications?” he asked Mrs Naylor.
“Well, we’ll go see our doctor first thing tomorrow,” she replied, “and then follow his advice. Justin knows there’ll be no time off school that’s not medically necessary,” she emphasised. “I’ve already taken tomorrow off when I first had Rick’s phone call, so I’ll be in touch with the school tomorrow to find out exactly what they plan to do about this too,” she said.
“We’ll be calling the school as well; I mean it was clearly intended as an assault on Will that ended up in Justin being the one who actually got hurt,” Paul replied.
“Yes, of course. Will you be phoning Frank Barnes as well?” she asked.
“Oh yes, definitely, he’s
All through this chatting Justin had been lying against me holding my hand quite tightly. We pulled up to his house and Mrs Naylor got out and came round to his door. He slowly let go of me whispering “I love you Will,” to me as he slid off the seat and out of the car and slowly limping away to their front door as best as he could. Mrs Naylor, me and Paul got Justin’s bike and backpack out of the back of the car and I waved at Jus as I wheeled it lopsidedly into their garage. Mrs Naylor took Jus’s backpack and locking down the garage door went and opened their front door and the two of them went inside waving us bye as they did. Paul and I got back into his Citroen and headed off for home.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Liam followed me from the hospital reception to the car park. He’d never seen my car before, so had no idea it was such a top line sports model.
“Here we are,” I said as I clicked the key fob to unlock the car. “It’s a bit crowded in the back with the Citroen’s spare seats just now, but slip into the front seat,” I told Liam.
“Oh cool,” Liam exclaimed. “Wow! What a car!”
He quickly unlatched the front passenger door and slid into the seat of the MR2 Terminator and feeling for the seat belt clicked it locked.
“This is just totally amazing,” Liam enthused.
“Well, I rather like it,” I replied smiling at Liam.
“Does Paul like it too?” Liam asked me.
“Yes and no… he enjoys the rides we take, but I think he prefers his ‘bus’ from the comfort angle,” I replied.
Liam laughed and said
“Yeah! I gathered that. Still it was handy today with the ‘accident’,” he said.
“What do you know of this Darren boy?” I asked.
“Not much really. He’s a bit of a gobby lad, shoots his mouth off and that. I’ve never heard of him actually lashing out ever before,” Liam said. “His Dad’s a builder. They did stuff at our house a few years ago,” Liam continued.
“Oh, I thought I knew that name from somewhere. Mr Clarke did the top floor bathroom conversion in our house just after we bought it,” I cut in. “Henry Clarke & Co, that’s it, I’m sure,” I continued. “He’s doing a quote for Commander Barnes to have downstairs rooms converted for his father and some improvements to the upstairs too, another bathroom and ensuite shower in the Commander’s room. Will’s dad told me all this at the funeral,” I told him.
“That’s how Darren knows stuff then,” Liam stated. “Stands to reason doesn’t it? He’s heard his dad talking and thought he’d stir it?”
“Rather looks like it, I guess,” I responded.
We were both lost in thought for a few moments, then changing the subject I inclined my head momentarily towards Liam and asked,
“How’s things for you at the moment?”
“Oh, not brilliant,” he admitted ruefully. “Mum’s getting right under my skin over all this church stuff. I’m plain not going there. I just don’t believe in what they say about lots of stuff,” he continued. “She wants me to go on some retreat thing at half-term for teens and I’ve said, no way! Now she’s on my case all the time over it. I’m totally pissed off actually,” he confided.
“Is there just you and your mother at home then?” I asked.
“Yes, Dad’s no longer around now,” he replied.
I didn’t push further on that and after a few moments thought said,
“If things get to be too much just come and see us, okay?”
“You really mean that?” Liam asked.
“Yes, and I can safely speak for Paul too on this point. We do mean it.”
“Thanks, I really appreciate it. Just to know I can go somewhere and talk helps a lot,” he replied.
“I know, both Paul and me are just beginning to realise stuff like this and well, if we can help, then you can count on us if things go pear shaped or nasty,” I said.
Liam nodded his head and seemed deep in thought. I thought he was about to say some more when we reached Liam’s road, so I turned in and pulled over to the side to let him out. Just before he got out I gave him both our mobile and landline telephone numbers. Liam entered them into his mobile and then tanking me for the lift, he climbed out of the car, shouldering his backpack and with a quick wave made his way up their driveway and in through the side door. I turned the car and headed for home myself.
After a few more minutes driving, I pulled into our driveway to see Paul’s car parked up and lights on in the house. I took the Citroen seats out of my car and put them on the garage floor, intending to refit them with Paul later on; I garaged my car and went into the house via the kitchen door.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A few minutes after we’d got home and into the house, I was asking Will if he needed food, as he’d obviously had nothing since the lunch break at school, when I heard Rick arrive home and garage his car. A few minutes later he came through the kitchen door to see us both sat at the kitchen table nursing a mug of tea each. I silently got up and made him a coffee as he slid into a chair alongside of mine and just rested head in hands.
“Not a good day really?” I ventured.
“No, it’s not been and not over yet either,” he said, wearily. He took the mug of coffee, turning to me. “Thanks, I’ll drink this and then go and call your Dad, Will.”
I got up and took my empty mug to the sink, rinsing it quickly and then putting it into the dishwasher. Turning round to Will I said,
“How about you take your stuff up, take a shower and by the time you’ve done that we’ll have supper on the table, okay? And Will, things’ll work out, I’m sure of that. Justin’s not badly hurt, luckily. He’ll very soon be back to his normal self again. It’ll prolly only take a good night’s sleep…” I finished.
Will finished his drink, and getting up form the table crossed to the dishwasher handing me his mug said,
“I guess you’re right… it’s just that I was so, so worried today when Justin didn’t speak after falling off his bike and I felt blood when I went to help him.”
“Hardly surprising. You’ve all had quite a shock today and I think after we’ve eaten and you’ve done the homework that has to be done for tomorrow an early night might be a good thing. You’re bound to be tired and all this has been a bit of a toll on you really, you know,” I said.
“Yeah… I guess so,” Will replied. “But I want to call Justin before bed, though,” he continued.
I gave Will a reassuring squeeze to his shoulder and looking right at him said,
“We’ll call Mrs Naylor and see what’s what, but I fully expect Justin to be out for the count tonight to be honest. I wouldn’t be surprised if he slept for ten to twelve hours after that bump he had.”
Will seemed unsure as to that answer, but said no more. He wearily picked up his backpack and went out of the kitchen and climbed the stairs to his room.
As soon as Will had gone upstairs I began on supper. I’d in mind a quick spag bol and got the ingredients out and started on the sauce. I set a pan on the hob with a tablespoon of olive oil and then finely chopped an onion, adding it to the pan and placing on the lid. I then finely chopped some sun dried tomatoes, just a couple and set them aside, then sliced a couple of mushrooms and grated a carrot setting all aside until the onions were nicely caramelised. I then added a whole tin of chopped tomatoes and added all the other ingredients and slowly simmered. Then browning off the mince in a frying pan I added that to the sauce that’d been gently simmering and went to find Rick.
He was sat in the lounge in conversation on his mobile. I sat down on the sofa alongside him and waited for him to finish. He clicked off his mobile and turning to me said
“Well, Frank’s on his way back right now. He’d intended to come down to be here for Will’s birthday by surprise and it’ll still be one as he’ll just slip in next door and be round here at breakfast time to surprise Will.”
“Right, so that’s good really. He can come with me down to that school tomorrow morning and we’ll see what the Headmaster has to say about what’s happened,” I replied.
“Yes, he certainly intends to… in uniform too!” Rick went on. “He thinks its quite appalling, but until he’s spoken to Mr Clarke, he’s not going to take further action as Will wasn’t actually hurt.” Rick said.
“But he ever so easily could have been!” I remonstrated.
“I know, but it’s all really
a school or police matter, or possibly both and we ought to just wait and see
what comes of those investigations first, before we decide on any action.
“Okay,” I replied. “So let’s go eat in five minutes, okay? I’ve just the pasta to cook now,” I finished.
I got up from the sofa and went back into the kitchen. Taking another pan I set it to boil with one and a half a litres of water from the just boiled kettle, and a teaspoon and a half of cooking salt. I added three generous handfuls plus a bit of tricolour fusilli pasta, put the lid back on the pan, turned up the heat and waited for it to reach the boil again. Then taking off the lid I let it continue to boil vigorously until I had the plates ready and the sauce well stirred. Going back to Rick I asked him to call Will down so we could eat. He got up from the sofa and headed off upstairs to find Will. I went back to the kitchen and set the table for the three of us.
Table set, I turned back to the hob and tested a bit of pasta, it was just al dente. I turned off the heat and going quickly to the sink poured the whole contents into a colander over the sink and letting the colander stand over the pan to drain further I gave the sauce a final stir before switching that off also. I placed a dish of freshly grated parmesan onto the table and served up three plates of the pasta supper.
Just then Rick re-appeared with Will in tow. Will now showered and changed, seemed a little less anxious than he was before he’d gone upstairs. We sat to eat and were all surprised at just how hungry we were. There was pasta and sauce left over in the pans, but there wasn’t a scrap left some fifteen minutes later.
“I’d like to speak to Jus,” Will said, “but his phone’s off. I’m just getting straight to voicemail.”
“I am not really surprised. I rather expect he got fed and watered and sent to bed to be honest,” I replied. “I’ll call Mrs Naylor though in a minute and see how he’s doing and if he’s conscious see if you can have a goodnight chat, okay? But if he’s in bed asleep, don’t be surprised, alright?”
Rick nodded in agreement and we all looked up in surprise as the doorbell went. I got up and made my way down the hallway to answer the door. As I opened the front door I was aware there were two figures on the step which to my amazement turned out to be Mr Henry Clarke our builder and who would appear to be his son with him a lad of about Will’s age, hanging back somewhat with a very sorry for himself expression all over his face.
“Mr Clarke?” I said questioningly.
“Good evening, Mr Frost. I’m really sorry to disturb by calling on you, but the fact is, it’s really rather important. My idiot son’s gone and disgraced himself by, as I understand it, shoving Will and one of his friends, on the ride home from school,” Mr Clarke consulted a notebook. “Yes, Justin Naylor was hurt as a result of Darren’s idiocy.”
“I see, yes of course we’re aware of what’s happened, but why the visit tonight?” I asked.
“Darren’s seen the error of his behaviour and wishes to personally apologise for it to the lad he pushed or shoved,” Mr Clarke continued. “I’ve brought him round so he can do just that, if that’s okay with you, that is?” he said.
“Just a second,” I replied. “I’ll just go and see if Will’s okay with this. I won’t be a moment.”
I went back down the hallway and into the kitchen where Rick and Will were sat at the table.
“Um, I’ve got Mr Clarke and Darren on the doorstep. According to Mr Clarke, Darren needs to see Will to apologise for his behaviour,” I began. “You don’t have to see him if you don’t want to, but it might be helpful to hear what he’s got to say for himself. It’s entirely up to you, though,” I said.
Will looked uncertainly at us both, then said,
“What do you think? Should I see him?” he asked.
“I think I agree with Paul,” Rick said. “It might just help if we knew what he had to say for himself.”
“Okay, I’ll see him then,” Will agreed.
“Go through into the garden room. We’ll send Darren in there to see you. Then you can talk privately, okay, and we’ll just be here if you need us at all. How’s that sound?” I asked him.
Will got up and nodding went through to the garden room and sat in a comfy chair. I left the kitchen and went back down the hallway to the front door. Pulling it fully open I invited Mr Clarke and Darren through to the kitchen.
“Many thanks, Mr Frost,” Mr Clarke said. “I’m hoping that we can sort things out between us all,” he continued.
“That all rather depends, I think, on the police, doesn’t it?” I asked.
We got to the kitchen and Rick welcomed Mr Clarke and nodded at Darren. I pointed through to the garden room and said to Darren,
“Will’s through there. Go through and have your chat, okay. We’ll stay here so you are not interrupted,” I told him.
Darren looked uncertainly at us and then moving towards the garden room opened the door and went through sliding it closed behind him. I saw Will point to another comfy chair opposite his own and Darren sat down seemingly very uncertain how he was going to continue… if at all. I turned to Henry Clarke and indicated that we should all sit down. He followed our lead and pulled out a chair for himself and sat.
“Bad business,” he said,
“Yes, indeed,” Rick replied, “but what’s it all about? That’s what I would like to know?”
“Putting it simply Darren overheard conversations between me and my wife regarding quotations for the commander next door. I was also telling her of William’s situation because the Commander’d told me about the reasons behind the work needed and what the position was.” Mr Clarke paused for a moment and then continued. “Darren’s not a spiteful boy but I think he thought he’d got a nice bit of gossip and couldn’t resist blabbing it all over school first day back.”
“Yes, we’d already got that far ourselves,” I said.
“Yes, well then he goes and gets himself torn off a strip by that Mr Stonebridge and doesn’t like it, but, to be fair, he deserved it because what he came out with wasn’t pleasant from what I’ve been told.”
“That’s true,” I said. “We heard the full story on the journey home from the hospital,” I told him.
“Has Will been hurt also?” Mr Clarke asked.
“No Will’s suffered no injuries at all, just shocked and shaken up, which he’ll get over, his bike needs a new tyre and front rim where it collided with the kerb in his attempts to stop and got badly scraped and bent a little.” I said.
“Please let me attend to those repairs, if you would. I’ll be replacing the other boy’s bicycle as well as his damaged clothing. I spoke to his mother about half an hour ago and we reached an agreement on that. Darren has also been interviewed with me down at the police station and we’re waiting the outcome of their enquiries. I also have an appointment at nine at school with Darren and it seems he’ll be suspended as this happened on a school journey while they were all in uniform to and from school,” He finished.
“I see, so what are you hoping will be the outcome?” I asked him.
“That we can put right the damage, the boys accept Darren’s apologies and then we can move on and forget this ever happened,” Mr Clarke said.
“That may be possible. We’ll be talking to Commander Barnes shortly anyway, so we’ll see how he feels about it. I think if Darren is genuine then Will’ll probably accept his apology. What do you think?” I asked Rick.
“I don’t think Will’s one to harbour grudges, but by the same token he’s not likely to become bosom pals with Darren, I’m afraid, not for some time at least,” Rick replied.
The discussion had ended, so I glanced through the glass doors to where Will and Darren were now in conversation. After a few more exchanges they both got up and came towards the partition door and through into the kitchen. I looked questioningly towards Will and he simply smiled and nodded an okay at me.
“All sorted, Darren?” Mr Clarke asked.
“I think so, Dad,” he replied.
“Right, we’ll be on our way then,” Mr Clarke said to us all.
We all got up and I saw Darren and Mr Clarke out. Closing the front door I returned to the kitchen to where Rick and Will were sat round the table and joined them. I raised my head quizzically towards them,
“Well?” I asked.
“He’s apologised and I think he means it,” Will said. “Seems his dad’s tore into him something rotten when the cops called round earlier. His dad’s really mad at him over it all.”
“I am not at all surprised,” Rick said. “All in all tonight’s been a big damage limitation exercise by Mr Clarke to save the huge job of work he’s accepted from your Dad. That’s now absolutely plain to see. Something like twenty-five to thirty thousand quid’s worth to be precise. Mr Clarke simply can’t afford to loose that kind of job because of his idiot son’s behaviour. That’s it in a nutshell,” Rick finished.
“Oh, of course, I replied. Mr Clarke wouldn’t want to lose that work over some daft behaviour at school by Darren. Makes perfect sense to me.” I turned to Will and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes rather nice to you from now on, on his Dad’s instructions for fear of his messing up again,” I said.
“Yeah, I wondered that too. He looked very red-eyed as well. Did you notice?” Will said.
“You think he’s been crying?” I asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Will replied.
“Well, we’ll see what’s what in the morning,” I said. “I think you ought to go up and do your reading, then get to bed, Will. It’s been a hell of a day all in,” I suggested.
“Yeah, I’ll do that, but can you call Mrs Naylor to see how Justin is first,” he asked anxiously.
“Sure,” Rick said reaching for the house phone and dialling as he spoke… “Hi, Rick Masters here… Hi, Mary, how’s the patient?” he asked. “That’s good. I’ve an anxious friend here, is he awake to take a call?” he asked… “Oh, okay, I’ll tell him he’ll have to wait till tomorrow then. Okay good night.” Rick hung up. “Seems Justin’s gone to bed and was out like a light,” Rick told us. “The Police have been round and talked to Mary, Mr Clarke has phoned and also talked to Mary, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Sorry Will, no chat tonight, okay.” he said.
Will looked like he was about to tear up, but he rallied and got up from the table. I moved over and simply gave him a hug,
“Now, don’t worry, he’ll be fine, he’ll bounce back tomorrow like it never happened. You’ll see.” I reassured him.
Will disengaged himself and said,
“Thanks, Paul. I guess I know that really, but I’d just like to have spoken to him for a moment,” he said, then with a thin smile took his leave and headed up for his room.
“Crikey, what a night,” I said as the door closed behind him. “Have you spoken to Frank yet?” I asked Rick.
“Yes, I have and he’s on his way down. I told you earlier he intended be here for Will’s birthday tomorrow afternoon, but decided to get on the way the minute I told him about today’s goings on,” he replied.
“Yes, I remember you saying,” I said.
“Yes, and it should cheer Will up somewhat. I hope, there’ll be quite a little meeting at that school in the morning,” he grinned.
“What do you make of Mr Clarke?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing more than as I already said… damage limitation for that big job,” Rick replied. “Let’s go watch some telly and unwind for a bit. We can deal with the rest of this tomorrow, okay?”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I said, and we went into the sitting room and watched an hour or two of TV. Then after the news had ended I suggested we adjourn for a shower and massage and some time for us after all the stress of that day. That’s exactly what we did.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Around two hours later I was aroused from sleep by the phone ringing. I came to and picked up; the number displayed was not familiar so I carefully answered
“Hi, Yes?” I said,
“Is that Paul?” the voice answered.
“No, it’s Rick, Paul’s out for the count and it’s half one in the morning. Who’s this?”
“It’s Liam. I’ve got to get out of this house,” he said.
I sat up, suddenly paying more attention to the call. “What’s happened?” I asked.
“My mother’s gone over the top and told me I’ve got to accept her Church’s line and get cured of being gay or I’m not welcome in her house anymore,” he replied.
“She’s actually chucked you out?” I asked.
“No, not actually physically cos she couldn’t if I refused to go, but she’d get someone to, I guess, we’ve had the most awful row and I don’t think I can stay here,” he said.
“You’re absolutely sure in your mind that it’s got that bad?”
“Yes, completely, she’ll send me off to be re-educated at half-term break if I stay here any longer,” Liam replied.
“Right, pack a few things, and any bank books, birth certificate, health card, anything like that you can quickly find and your school stuff and I’ll be at the bottom of your road in thirty minutes, okay.”
“Okay, thanks Rick,” Liam rang off.
I slipped out of bed and booted up the laptop. I got dressed quickly and turning back to the laptop I fired off a quick email to Adrian explaining what was happening regarding Liam and the fact I was about to go and collect him from his home in the small hours and asking him what the legal position might be? I sent that and left the laptop online. Then gently picking up Paul’s keys and my own mobile and after making a note of Liam’s number I crept downstairs to the kitchen. A few moments later I was on my way quietly down the road to collect Liam.
I had only gone a couple of
hundred metres when my mobile rang. I pulled in and answered the call. It was
“Hi, Rick, just seen your mail. I’ve done a quick answer, but I thought I’d follow up with a call as I guessed you’d be out collecting the lad. First, how old is he?”
“Oh, he’s a few months over sixteen, I’m sure of that,” I replied.
“Oh good. Any younger than sixteen and it’s social services immediately,” Adrian said, “but as he’s over sixteen and you said his Mother told him to go?” he asked.
“Yes, he says so,” I replied.
“Then we can argue he’s
leaving home with permission and that’s okay for anyone over sixteen,”
I resumed my journey and arrived at the end of Liam’s road a few minutes later to no sign of life at all. I quietly turned the car and waited for him to appear. About ten minutes passed and I was beginning to wonder if he would appear, when a figure appeared from a doorway and quietly made its way to where I was parked up. I slipped out of the car and raised the rear hatchback.
“Hi,” I whispered to him.
“Hi,” he answered.
We loaded the back with the three bags that he’d managed to haul along and he slipped into the passenger seat as I shut down the hatchback. I got in and started the engine and with minimum throttle slowly glided away back to our home. I turned to him and asked
“Really bad then?”
“Yes, a long horrendous row. She called me all the names you can think of,” he replied.
“Okay, look, we’ll talk all about this tomorrow, okay? Let’s just get you back into a bed for now,” I said.
“Okay,” he smiled in reply. “I just don’t know what I’d have done if you’d not said I could come to you for help,” Liam said quietly.
“That’s okay,” I replied just as we pulled onto our driveway. “Just grab one of your bags and I’ll get the other two,” I said as I switched off and parked.
We quietly got out and took Liam’s things through the back door and into the kitchen. Just as I set Liam’s bags down on the floor the light came on to reveal Paul stood by the door with a mug of tea in his hand and grinning all over his face. I nearly had a fit and poor Liam was blinded by the sudden flood of light.
“The wanderer returns and with rather more baggage than usual?” Paul said.
“God! You could’ve said something rather then just flood us with light,” I returned.
Paul giggled and then said.
“It’s okay. I woke up when I heard my car driving off. I saw the laptop open
and the email and
“Yes, he thinks it’ll be fine, but more of that in the morning,” I replied.
“Tea, anyone?” Paul asked.
“Yes please, and then we must get Liam to bed okay?” I said.
Liam said yes too and we both got mugs of tea. When we’d finished drinking we put the mugs in the sink and then each took a bag and beckoned Liam to follow us quietly up the stairs to the top floor. When we’d got to the top landing, I very quietly opened the bedroom door opposite Will’s room and we entered silently closing the door behind us. The bed was still made from young Justin’s sleepover and it was evident it’d not been used. I pulled back the covers for Liam after setting his bag on the floor. I quietly showed him the bathroom and we both gave the lad a quick re-assuring hug as we bade him goodnight and quietly withdrew back to our own room.
“Good God! Did you see that coming?” Paul asked me once we were back in our own bed.
“Err, yes, actually it’s been in the air for a week, I think. Liam hinted at trouble a while back, but it didn’t seem as imminent as this though,” I replied.
I reached over to the table and powered down the laptop which was still running as I’d left it and then turning to Paul snuggled down and said
“Let’s get some sleep. We’ve so much to sort out tomorrow now,” I said turning off the bedside light.
“Yeah, okay,” Paul murmured alongside of me, obviously halfway towards sleep already. How he could do that I’ll never fathom. I turned over to spoon up to him and drifted off myself within minutes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My alarm went off as normal the next morning. I picked up my mobile from the bedside cabinet and looked to see if Jus’d replied to my text of last night. No messages, so somewhat disappointed, but guessing he was simply out for the count I got out of bed and opened the curtains on another sunny day… I was fifteen, my birthday, but I didn’t feel too much like jumping for joy right now. I went towards the bathroom dropping my boxers as I got alongside the dirty clothes basket and carried on into the bathroom to take care of business and shower for school. I breezed through the bathroom door to be suddenly confronted by a stark naked… Liam stepping out of the shower…
“Bloody hell! What’re you doing here?”…
End of chapter 16
firstname.lastname@example.orgWell one more chapter completed.... but what happens next? Do tell me what you think - I have Google and Yahoo groups where the story chapters are stored and also information especially for non-British readers. I love getting emails and do reply to all of them as promptly as time allows. There are also on the groups a Pdf file of the complete story so far with all the illustrations in situe.
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