By Paul Jamison
Chapter – 19
Mr Robinson came in and I closed the front door behind him.
“This way,” I said and went down the hallway into the kitchen where Rick got up to greet our visitor.
“Mr Robinson from Social Services,” I said. Then turning to him I introduced us both. “I’m Paul Frost and this is my partner Rick Masters.”
“Do you have Liam Russell staying here?” Mr Robinson asked us.
“I can’t say for obvious reasons of confidentiality, but I do need to check out the situation thoroughly for myself.”
“Of course. Ask anything you wish. Talk to both boys,” I said, placing the mug of tea in front of Mr Robinson.
“Both boys?” Mr Robinson asked.
“Yes. We’ve two of them staying now; one from next door due to a sudden death in the family, but his father, Commander Barnes, is next door right now. So by all means chat to him too, but I suggest you do that today as he’s off to sea again almost immediately,” I told him. The cooker alarm sounded and I got up to deal with it and turned on the heat under the steamer with the vegetables, reset the timer and turned back to Mr Robinson.
“Well, I’d like to speak to Liam right now, so if you could call him and if there’s somewhere where we can talk privately that’d be fine,” Mr Robinson said.
“Yes, of course, no problem at all,” I replied. I turned to Rick and asked “Can you call the lads down?”
“Yeah, sure,” Rick replied as he left the kitchen to call them down, returning in a short time with a large G & T for me and a folder, soon to be followed by two noisy teens clattering down the stairs.
“Was someone at the front door?” Will asked.
“Yes, we’ve a visitor, Mr Robinson.” I indicated with a wave of my hand to the boys, “He’s a social worker and has come to make some enquiries about Liam and possibly you, Will.”
“It’s my bloody mother, isn’t it?” Liam burst out looking very worried indeed.
“There’s nothing at all to worry about. Mr Robinson needs to hear your side of it all, okay?” I replied. Turning to Mr Robinson I said “I expect you’d like to talk to Liam now?”
“Yes, please. Is there somewhere where we can talk in private?”
“Yes, of course. Come through to the dining room. You won’t be disturbed,” I said leading the way across the hallway with Mr Robinson and Liam following me. I let them sit down facing each other and then left the room closing the door behind me and returning to the mêlée in progress in the kitchen where I could hear Will holding forth on what he would like to have happen.
They stopped as I came back in and both looked enquiringly towards me.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, okay? Let’s just wait and see and not jump to conclusions, okay? Oh, and while I remember, Will, your dad’s joining us for dinner Saturday night before he goes back to base. Shall we make it a dining room affair? I asked.
“Oh yes, can we, and can Jus come too?” he asked.
“Yes, if Mrs Naylor agrees, but we’ve other things to deal with now,” I said.”
I was interrupted by the telephone. I picked up.
“Hello… Hi, Mary, how’s the patient? … Oh, excellent, fed up and raring to go back to school, eh? Not quite raring, but well enough then … Yes, of course. Oh may Justin come over on Saturday and stay for dinner and the night? Will is very keen to have him here as his dad goes back to sea on Sunday ... Okay, I’ll tell him. He’ll be very pleased, I think … Has Mr Clarke made good? ... Yes, he’s done so here. Will’s bike is fixed and back here today… Oh right, thanks for that. You know there’ll be two of them from here as we’ve Liam staying now? … You’d heard on the grapevine … Yes, I imagine they have … Righto, bye for now.” I rang off and turning to Will and Rick said
“Well, obviously that was Mary Naylor. Justin’s going back to school tomorrow and Mary will be doing the school run both ways. Okay? So you be round there on time with Liam, right? Yes, Justin can come over Saturday afternoon as long as his homework’s done and stay till Sunday lunchtime. All right?”
“Yeesssssssssssss!!” whooped Will. “I’ve got to go and call him now,” he said rushing from the kitchen and heading upstairs to his room.
“That’s one happy bunny,” I remarked to Rick. “Just leaves one to sort now then,” I said glancing towards the door and the private conversation in progress in our dining room.
“Yes… fingers crossed on that one, I think,” Rick replied, “not quite as simple to fix I fear!”
“No, a few possible outcomes and no certainties as yet,” I replied.
I picked up the house phone and called Frank’s number. After a few seconds he picked up.
“Hi, Frank, Paul here. We’ve a social worker just arrived to talk to Liam and us about his leaving home and he also wants to know the background surrounding Will’s circumstances and how he came to live with us. Could you have a chat with him now as he’s here?” … “Not a problem, Frank, I’ll direct him over when he’s finished here with Liam, okay?” I replaced the phone and turning to the others said
“It’ll be fine. Frank’ll have a chat to him before he leaves about Will’s circumstances. Best it comes from Frank,” I said, “rather than us I think?”
* * * * * * * *
* * * *
I followed Paul and the guy from social services into the dining room and we sat down at the table. Paul left us alone to talk. He opened his briefcase and took out a file, then he looked up at me and smiled.
“Liam, I’m here to make sure that your best interests are looked after. I’m not here just to enforce what some others might think is best for you. Do you understand that?”
“Yeah, I think so,” I replied.
“So how about you tell me what’s gone so wrong that you had to leave home yesterday?”
“It all started back in July when school broke up. I decided to tell my mother that I was sure that I was gay. She didn’t take it well at all and said that it was impossible that I was gay and that being gay was a choice, not a fact, and that I would be able to change and be normal again.”
I took a deep breath and looking over to Mr Robinson saw he was making careful notes as I spoke. So I continued.
“She became really very angry and started talking to her friends and the minister at church about it all. She goes to quite a strict type of church that I don’t like at all anymore and I stopped going to it months ago. She was very unhappy about that too and kept on at me to come to the services with her again, but I wouldn’t. I just don’t agree with what they say about being gay and stuff. I know Will through school. He’s going to be in the swimming team and over the summer we were both on a life saving course. That’s how I met Paul and Rick and Commander Barnes too. I knew about what happened with Will’s grandma and how he got to stay with Paul and Rick.”
I paused to think for a few moments.
“Take your time. There’s no rush. I fully appreciate this is all very difficult to talk about to a stranger and one who’s in an official capacity as well,” Mr Robinson said.
I grinned weakly at him. Then I carried on.
“Then, when my computer went wrong, Paul fixed it for me and I came over here, had a meal and saw how happy things were in this house and I was pretty torn up and really mad at my mother and I realised then that I didn’t believe her anymore or what she said about being gay. I knew that people could have proper relationships and be gay. Rick and Paul are in a civil partnership. That’s what I want when the time’s right and I’ve found the right person.”
Mr Robinson listened and continued to make notes as I spoke. So I thought that at last someone apart from Rick and Paul was listening to me.
“The other night we had an awful row. It started late and was mostly to do with the teen residential thing she’s been trying to force me to go to. They think they can turn boys like me straight and all will be fine… That’s just crap, I told her and then she really started calling me all sorts… pretty much said it was go to that and be ‘converted straight’ or get out of her house. So I locked myself in my room till she’d given up and gone to bed. Then I called here and Rick answered. So I asked for help. Rick came over and I got out with some of my stuff and came here. They’ve offered to let me stay here as long as needed. I’d like to do that. I’m so desperately unhappy at home. I don’t believe the crap my mother says and I’m not going back to live there again. I’m well over sixteen and I know I can leave home if my mother consents… Well she said I could only stay if I went along with her ideas and went to that residential seminar thing and got made straight. I’m not going there.”
I paused for a few more moments watching Mr Robinson making notes, then added “If I’m forced to go home, then I’ll keep bunking off till I can leave anyway. It’s only eight months…”
Mr Robinson looked up and smiling at me said “Remember what I said right at the start?”
“Yeah,” I replied,
“Well, I meant exactly that,” he said.
I smiled not very convincingly back at him and waited.
“Right, Liam, let’s see if I have everything right here,” Mr Robinson began. “You’re sixteen years four months old, born on 15th May 1992?”
“Yes, that’s right,”
“Yees, that’s right. How did you know all of that?” I asked, somewhat amazed.
“Oh, your mother and the school have confirmed known facts. Nothing to be worried about there,” Mr Robinson said smiling at me.
“What accommodation do you have here? I mean do you have a room or are you sharing a room with anyone else?”
“Oh, I’m up on the top floor. There’re two bedrooms up there. Will has one and I’ve got the other. There’s a bathroom too that we share,” I replied. I giggled to myself as I remembered Will finding me in the bathroom that first morning.
“I’d like to see the rooms, please, and then I’ll speak to Mr Masters and Mr Frost again,” Mr Robinson said as he got up from his chair, tidied away his papers and put them into his briefcase.
I got up, went round the table to the door and opened it for him. He followed me out into the hallway and I heard the guys chatting in the kitchen, so I headed there. I stuck my head round the door and saw Paul and Rick sitting chatting together. They looked up as I came in.
“Hi. All okay?” Rick asked.
“Yeah, I think so. Mr Robinson would like to see our rooms and chat to you guys. Is that okay?”
“Of course,” Rick replied. “I’ll show you round,” he said to Mr Robinson. He got up and led the way up the stairs to the top floor. He turned and knocked on Will’s door
“Will, we’ve Mr Robinson. He’d just like to have a look at your room.” Rick said.
Will opened his door and said, “Yeah, come in. This’s my room.”
“You guys show Mr Robinson your rooms and the bathroom facilities then come back down to the middle floor.” Rick said.
Mr Robinson took a step inside and glanced about taking in the size, layout and modern fittings installed in the room.
“Is this all new?” He asked.
“Mostly yes, except for the bed, curtains and carpet. They were here before, but the wardrobe, computer stand and desk are all new for me,” Will replied.
“Thanks, that’s just fine,” Mr Robinson said and went back through the door and out onto the landing and to my room that I’d just opened and entered.
“I’m living out of bags and things just now,” I explained. “Paul and Rick said they’ll get some furniture the same as Will’s this weekend though. I was a bit of an unexpected arrival.” I smiled at Mr Robinson.
“That’s all fine,” Mr Robinson said “and the bathroom’s through there?” he asked pointing at the end door.
“Yes,” I replied. I went to the door and opened it and continued into the bathroom. Mr Robinson followed me through. He looked around, then said
“Thanks, Liam, That’s all I need to see for now.” He followed me back onto the landing and we headed downstairs after Rick to the middle floor.
“The front room on the right is Paul’s and my room. That’s en suite. The one on the front left is a guest room. That’s got a connecting door into the old family bathroom here,” he said as he opened a door “and over there is the smallest room. That’s now got a computer and junk from our homes and old college flats that we don’t want to chuck out just yet,” Rick explained.
Mr Robinson briefly glanced around and said “Many thanks. I’ve seen enough and that’s all fine as far as I’m concerned. I can see the boys both have separate accommodation from each other and also from yourselves and that’s quite satisfactory.”
We all headed back downstairs. Rick called for Paul and they both went into the kitchen with Mr Robinson and closed the door. I went back into the sitting room with Will and just collapsed into a chair. I was shattered.
I looked up to see Will looking at me with concern all over his face.
“Hey, don’t worry. My dad’ll sort that guy out, when he talks to him about me. No worries,” he quipped with a smile.
“He sorta seems okay with things, doesn’t he?” I asked anxiously.
“I reckon so. He’d’ve had a cop with him and hoiked you off before now if he was going to,” Will said. “Nah, he’s just here to check things are okay and then they’ll tell your mum to go and get stuffed!, I hope,” Will smiled.
“I hope you’re right. I really do,” I replied, sinking back into the chair lost in my own thoughts…
* * * * * * * *
* * * *
Rick, Liam, Will and the social worker came back downstairs and it seemed as if ‘the inspection’ had gone just fine. So I came out to the hallway when I heard Rick call and he, I and Mr Robinson went back into the kitchen for a private chat. We took seats round the table and then Rick reached behind him to the worktop and picked up a file folder and bringing it to the table, opened it and started looking through some documents. We both looked to Mr Robinson.
“Right, I’m happy with the accommodation the boys have here and from what I’ve seen I’m happy with the general situation. I have to commend you both on the way you’ve adapted. All very different to what you must have been used to before the boys descended on you both, quite a change from your previous lifestyle?”
“Yes, it’s certainly been a steep learning curve,” Rick replied. “But having said that, one we’ve enjoyed every minute of… well perhaps the funeral was a sombre reminder of why we were doing this,” Rick added.
“Yes, I can appreciate that, but to return to here and now. Pending further enquiries and discussions with my managers, I cannot see any obstacle in Liam’s remaining here for the time being. Clearly there’s estrangement between him and his mother over religious beliefs. I don’t think that’s going to change in the immediate future. He’s sixteen and as he’s said to me, simply returning him home for him to ‘bunk off’ again achieves nothing and it’s actually likely to be detrimental to his schooling and by simple cause and effect to his future prospects. But, I’m not going to rule out a reconciliation, many times things said and done in the heat of the moment, when considered in the cold light of day, or after some time has passed, may not be as irreconcilable as one first imagined.”
“Yes, I can well understand that being the case,” I said.
“Exactly so,” Mr Robinson continued. “So I’m allowing Liam to remain with you for now, as I said, pending further enquiries and my report to my manager. Then after that time we’ll have a full review of the situation to see if there’s any change in attitudes or if reconciliation might be possible.”
“That seems perfectly reasonable to me,” I said. “We’ll take full responsibility for Liam, his needs and school attendance. I just hope that his mother’ll leave us to get on with it uninterrupted, I somehow doubt that given the phone call I got from her.”
“Oh, can you tell me what was said?” Mr Robinson asked.
“Yes, it was simply that she gave her name and said that if Liam was not back home after school that day, she’d inform police and social services instantly. Oh yes, and she added something about this being a sinful place,” I said.
Mr Robinson made a few more notes and as he was doing that Rick took some papers out of his folder and slid them over to Mr Robinson.
“These are copies of our civil partnership certificate and also the most recent CRB check forms. The originals are here for you to see as well,” Rick said sliding another set of papers over the table, among which I noted Rick had included a sheet detailing both our details of college qualifications and current jobs with names, addresses and contact numbers.
Mr Robinson took the originals and looked briefly through them. Then he took the copies and made some notes.
“I’m just noting that I’ve viewed the originals of these. It saves time and effort later,” he remarked. “Thank you for providing those; it helps with the paperwork. There could of course be a legal challenge from Mrs Russell, though to be honest given Liam’s age and his ability to express himself and how he feels articulately, I don’t see it succeeding, but it’s something you might need to be prepared for,” Mr Robinson added.
“Our lawyer’s already warned us about that possibility and we’ll face it as and when it happens, though as time goes by it seems less and less likely due to Liam only being a matter of months away from seventeen and his options change then anyway?”
“You mean his being able to leave home legally without parental consent? In theory, yes, but his mother may well still decide to make waves and you need to be prepared for that possibility,” Mr Robinson told us.
“So what happens now?” I asked.
“Well I’ll tell Liam that he may remain with you for the time being and that there’ll be a review in a couple of months to evaluate the situation again. I’m happy with the situation here and your provisions for the boy and will report that to our team. You’ll hear shortly of the official decision. That’s it for the moment,” Mr Robinson said.
“Well, let’s have Liam in and tell him just that then,” I suggested.
“Good idea. He must be worried out of his skull waiting,” Rick added.
I went through to the hallway and called Liam out of the sitting room. He quickly appeared and it was obvious he was under considerable stress.
“Hey there, come in. It’s going to be fine,” I told him.
We all gathered in the kitchen and I closed the door. Liam looked round us all expectantly.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s in order for you to remain here in the care of Messrs Masters and Frost for the time being. The department’ll be carrying out further checks and investigations and we’ll also be monitoring the situation as time progresses, with a further review of the position in a couple of months’ time to establish if there’s been any change of circumstances that might allow a renewal of relations between you and your mother. I accept that for the present they’ve broken down and that you won’t remain with her if returned”
“Definitely not, not while she tries to force me to go to her church and stuff like that,” Liam replied.
“So, for the time being, as I said, subject to some further checks and monitoring you may remain in the care of Messrs Frost and Masters.” Mr Robinson reiterated.
Liam’s face lit up and he visibly smiled all over as he said, “Thank you so much,” to us all.
Mr Robinson gathered together his notes and papers together with the copy documents we had furnished him with.
“Well,” Rick said, “Thank you for coming over to assess this situation. We were obviously going to help Liam where we could but had no real idea of what could be allowed,”
“A lot is never clear cut in these matters and you did the sensible thing in informing authorities through your lawyer when all this came about,” Mr Robinson said.
“I’ve called Commander Barnes next door. He’s happy to have a chat with you to explain more fully Will’s situation,” I said
“Yes, under the circumstances it’d be good to talk to Commander Barnes now, especially if, as you say, he’s off to sea in a day or so. Thank you.” Mr Robinson replied
“That’s good. I’ll show you over right away,” I explained. “You’ll get all the info in one visit now, and from the right person, but I can confirm that we’ve an official guardianship arrangement with William’s father, which has all been legally arranged, signed and sealed.”
took Mr Robinson out through the front door and over to Frank’s house. He
opened the door to my ring. I introduced him to Mr Robinson and leaving them to
it, returned to our kitchen. I smiled broadly at Rick as I knew he’d sorted all
that out with
“Sorry, Will” I said. “Yes, it’s all okay for now. Liam is staying for the time being, okay? Mr Robinson’s just gone to talk to your dad for a bit.”
“Yeessss!!!” Will leapt up and joined Liam at the table. “Brilliant,” he said to Liam. “I bet my dad’ll sort him out,”
“Right, guys, it’s time to eat,” I said.
The next few minutes were spent in silent thought as we all got down to eating and considering all that’d just happened. Liam looked uncertain as he sat down and toyed with his food, deep in thought. Will simply tucked in as normal, but with sidelong glances at Liam and obvious concern showing on his face too.
“Don’t forget you’re over sixteen. It makes a world of difference. You wouldn’t automatically be returned just like that if you don’t agree. Your opinions count for a lot, okay?” I reassured Liam.
Liam began to eat and slowly regained some of his prior equilibrium and said
“So what I think and what I’ve told him’s important then? My feelings do get taken into account?” he asked.
“I would say definitely so, but, and it’s a big but too, I really don’t think there is anything for you to be worried about. It’s becoming clear, reading between the lines so far, that the situation, as your mother may have told the authorities as being the case, is rapidly being shown as patently not so and therefore I’m more than optimistic that matters won’t go the way she thinks or expects.”
Rick said after a while. “For a start we informed the authorities. At least
“Thank goodness, Liam said. “I just couldn’t take any more of all that, you know. My mum’s been going on at me for months now”
“Yes, we realised that the night you called us,” I said quietly.
“Yes, very much so,” Rick chipped in. “I’ve been talking to Adrian, too quite a bit today and yes, your opinions are very much a major part of what will eventually be the outcome of all this,” he said.
Liam began to look very much happier and started to eat as he normally would.
“Okay, guys, homework if you can. It’s still a schoolday tomorrow and not too long on the phone to Justin either, please, Will. You’ll have all day tomorrow to bring him up to speed, okay?”
“Okay,” both boys replied and after helping to load the dishwasher with the supper things, headed for their rooms.
As the lads left the kitchen, the phone went. I picked up the receiver
“Hello … Oh, hi Frank … Yes, indeed, we’re most grateful for that … Well, yes, it’s all been a bit fraught. … You did? … Um … many thanks indeed for that. I reckon that’ll go some way to sorting this out. … Thanks again. … Bye.” I replaced the phone and sat back down with Rick. “Frank, but you guessed that.” Rick nodded. “He’s just explained what he said to Mr Robinson. We’ve quite an ally there, you know. He said that he’d told the guy that if he’d had any shadow of a doubt about our suitability to look after Will, did he, (that’s Mr Robinson) really think that Will would be living with us? Seems Frank told him rather plainly. Oh well, only time will tell…”
End of Chapter 19
Hope you all are enjoying the story so far. I am also published on IOMFATS I've now both Google and Yahoo groups, they have the same content
just choose the one that suits you best. Chapters, pictures and
information is all there especially for those non-British readers.
Hope you all are enjoying the story so far. I am also published on IOMFATS I've now both Google and Yahoo groups, they have the same content just choose the one that suits you best. Chapters, pictures and information is all there especially for those non-British readers.
I have very much enjoyed your emails and yes, I do get to answer them all. The next chapter will be up soon.
I have very much enjoyed your emails and yes, I do get to answer them all. The next chapter will be up soon.
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