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Love of and on the Canal

Part 15

The New Start

It was midnight before we headed up to bed. After everyone was washed and changed Carl came in and said good night but instead of going to his room I heard him head down to where Simon and Terry were sleeping. It was about 2oc when I was awoke up by Carl getting into our bed, he gently climbed over me and settled down between us, kissed us both, I am not even sure if he new that I was awake and I am sure he was a sleep before I was. I smiled to myself and felt a tear of happiness escape. What an end to a perfect few months, I turned on my side and snuggled up to Carl and reached across placing my hand onto J chest. Minutes later the 2 dogs climbed onto the foot of the bed.

Boxing Day Monday

Both dogs were barking like mad and they had never done that before, I glanced at the clock it was just after 5 and then I could hear the smoke alarm going off.

'J, Carl wake up' I shouted shaking both of them, I got out of bed and put some trousers on and ran to the door, I could smell smoke. J was just waking.
'Smoke, may be fire' I shouted at him and he came awake quickly shaking Carl. I headed to Simon's and Terry's room and roused them, telling them what I knew. I headed downstairs, the smoke was getting thicker. I glanced towards the living room and kitchen and I could see flames coming from the Kitchen. I opened the front door and the dogs went out. J came to the top of the stairs.
'Get them all out the kitchens on fire' I yelled panic creeping in. I grabbed my walking boots and put them on then flung all the coats and shoes that were in the porch outside. Simon and Terry came down just in trousers with bundles of clothes in there arms followed my J and Carl. Once we were all outside I was a bit more relieved. I phoned the fire brigade on my mobile and gave them the address.

J and myself went back in. We needed to get some things out of the office, keys for Zachire, the computer and disks and books and stuff. The fire was out the back so there was no risk. We also grabbed the camera and a few other things. I headed round the back, Simon and Terry stood there looking, the fire had really taken hold in the kitchen and was hot enough to have broken the windows and you could see smoke in J and mines bedroom above. I caught movement in the lounge, it was Carl. What the hell was he doing inside, my heart pounded in my chest as I ran round the front. J was just coming out of the front door again with some quilts from the beds and some more clothes.

'Carl' I shouted at J and gestured inside. I went in, the smoke was thick as I went into the lounge I had grabbed a cover from J and put it over my head. The flames were eating into the furniture. I drooped to my hands and knees and then I spotted Carl. He was on his knees coughing clutching a bag and putting some more things in it. He turned when he heard me moving, he had tears streaking down his face and he was coughing and shaking. I got my bearings, stood, grabbed him round the waste and headed for the french windows. I shoulder barged into them and they opened and we both flew out onto the patio. We both had inhaled quite a lot of smoke and Carl was having difficulty breathing.

I held onto him, slowly I managed to get my breathing under control, the others stood round us and I could see tears on there cheeks. Carl was in a bad way, why I don't know but I glanced at the bag that he had been filling up. He had dropped it as we tumbled out onto the patio, it contained the Monopoly game he had given me, his new phone and a watch that me and J had given him and by the looks of it the gift cards he had been given and had given to Simon and Terry. I held him tighter as J picked the bag up and we all moved further away from the fire, in the distance I could hear sirens.

The fire brigade arrived and once they had be assured that know one was inside the started work on putting the fire out. Two came across and started to give oxygen to Carl who started to breath a bit better, they also called an ambulance. I looked at the house and realised that we would not be living in it for quite some time, out room was now alight and flames were coming from the roof. I stood next to J who was holding my hand tightly. The ambulance arrived and they checked both me and Carl wanting us both to go to the hospital, Carl was a lot better and refused to go unless I did, I wanted to stay and make sure everything was all right here so we came to a compromise. We would both go later on that day for a check up.

J had opened up Zachire and turned on the heating and hot water then moved the stuff we had salvaged inside. We had never got round to showing Carl inside and he loved it, which was just as well. I made Terry phone his mum and let her know what had happened just in case she heard, he assured her that everyone was OK and that they would still be staying but sleeping on Zachire instead of in the house. The fire was basically out and only one fire engine and 5 crew remained looking round and damping down. J made tea for all that wanted it.

The last fire engine left at just after 10, the whole of the rear of the house was gutted. The firemen had got Simons and Terry's bags from the front upstairs room and some clothes, all though smelling of smoke, had been salvaged for Carl's J's and myself.

I wondered up to the back door and looked into the kitchen it looked safe enough to go in. I explored and found although badly burnt on the outside the fridge/freezer was ok inside. I got out as much as I could and with everyones help took it into Zachire who's fridges were just getting cold, well at least we would eat tonight. J and myself explored the house a bit more and salvaged some more stuff. The lounge was gutted, the wide screen tv, stereo all gone. Do you know, the silly thing was, I was not worried, the house had been to big, we rattled around in it. I had missed the cozy world of Zachire. I just hoped Carl would not mind.

I drove to the hospital with Carl as he was still coughing, I was surprised when we did not have to wait long to be seen. I think the nurses had liked Carl and was mothering him a bit. They checked us both over, took some x-rays and a Doctor gave us some antibiotics to take for a couple of days. As neither of us would stay in for observation they told us to come back in he morning.

J and the other two had been busy, Zachire had been aired and cleaned inside and was now nice and warm. A company had been and put canvass sheets over the roof of the house, we would deal with insurance and builders in a couple of days time, all though we had phoned the insurance hot line to let them know what had happened.

After a dinner of chicken, dumplings and veg we all sat down in the lounge.

'How did you meet' Carl asked Simon 'you know, how did you get involved with Chas and J and where does Terry come in'
Well Simon told his story, every now and then he would stop and look at either J, Terry or myself as he came to one special part or another. Terry was sat on the floor next to him cuddled up close. I was surprised how mush he told, how much detail he went into and above all else how much he had loved it all, even some of the bad bits.
'OK now its your turn' he said to Carl once he had finished. Carl looked at me then the others, then he took a deep breath and after slowly letting it out he started, I had only read his file and did not know that much about him.
'I used to live with my mum and dad, they were druggies and drunks. It got worse in the past couple of years' He paused looking at us all one at a time, I wondered if he would go on but he did. 'About a year ago it got worse they would lock me in my room all the time, even during the day, I never went to school, they let me out once a day to empty my toilet bucket and get some food' We all sat silently looking at him 'I got hit for the slightest thing and' he paused and looked at me 'and they did other things as well' he suddenly smiled
'I was locked in my room ... it was early Feb I think and I looked out of my window ... it was about mid-night' he stopped shook his head smiling 'I saw this boy about my age climb over the fence into my garden, he went to the dustbin and looked in it .... I tapped on my window and he looked up scared but when he saw me he just waved .... he was free ... I was jealous .. the house had been quite for some time so I took the chance and opened my window. I reckoned I could get out onto the garage roof' Once more he stopped and looked at us, he now had a captive audience and Terry signalled for him to carry on.
'Well I got out and down into the garden, the kid just looked at me and smiled. I told him my name and he gave me a thumbs up and beaconed me to follow. Over the next few months we roamed every where staying out 'till about 6 in the morning, he never spoke but he could hear me .... I called him ghost boy' Carl picked up his drink and took a couple of swallows and then looked at us. this time Simon encouraged him to go on.
'One night we found a tenner in the road and we both eat like pigs at a late night Fried Chicken place, we would search the bags outside charity shops for clothes and bins for extra food, he was skinner than me' Carl was quite for a minute or two then he laughed.
'We were nearly caught once by the police skinny dipping in a schools outside pool, we got away with just our undies and a towel ..... they even brought in dogs ..... but they never found us. Ghosty was to good he new all the best places' With that a tear ran down Carl's cheek and he grabbed hold of me, he had finished his story for the night.

The next day Terry's mum came and picked them up, she even offered to let us stay at her house but we said that we were happy on Zachire and we were. By Friday we sorted a lot of things out, insurance, builders and the such. I had phoned Jim to update him but his phone had been on answer phone for the past few days. I e-mailed him but still had not heard back. Well with time on our hands, about 2 months untill the house was re-built, I had even asked for some alterations to be made. We decided to head up to see Tom and see how out boat and butty was coming along and then to do some exploring of other canals. I still had not heard from Jim so assumed it would be all right if we taught Carl. We were going to leave Saturday morning.

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