By Paul Jamison

Chapter 30

Chris’s viewpoint…

I was woken earlier then usual by thumping and banging sounds coming from my new room. I shot out of bed, slipped my shower robe on and went over the landing to the shower and through the open door saw my room being prepared for the new carpet. By the time I was out of the shower and dried off I saw my new carpet being carried into the room for fitting. I got dressed quickly and before going down to the kitchen for some breakfast I could not help but sneak a look to see how it was all going.

The gripper rods had been nailed to the floor close to the walls and the underlay was down and fastened. It had been the nailing and the commercial sized stapler they were using to fasten down the underlay that had disturbed me. The carpet was being unrolled and pulled into place for final cutting and fitting. I hurried down to the kitchen to find Paul sat at the table drinking tea and munching toast.

“Hi, seen your carpet going down?”

“Yeah, the noise woke me. Doesn’t seem like they’ll be very long either,” I replied.

“No, I think they’ll only be about another half an hour, at a guess. Then we can move your furniture up there, set that all up and hang the curtains too. Tomorrow your bed’ll be delivered, hopefully before lunchtime, and you can sleep in your room from tomorrow night.”

I made some toast and tea and sat down opposite Paul. I was munching quietly away when he said

“So, Marcus appeared to get on pretty well with you lot from what we saw yesterday at lunch. What do you make of him, Chris?”

“Yeah, he did. I like him too. I’d like to be friends with him and get to know him better.”

“He certainly seemed to like you and I thought he came out of his shell after a while,” Paul replied.

“Yeah, specially when we were all talking about his dialect, then when he did a bit too. I wonder if he’ll lose that after being here for a while.”

“No, I think it’ll always stay with him, but if he’s got acting skills and he’s keen, then he’ll learn to act in other dialects and styles too, I expect,” Paul said.

Just then Will arrived in the kitchen and after yawning said “What’s all that banging going on in your room, Chris?”

“Carpet’s being fitted,” I replied.

“Oh, right. So you’ll be moving in there today then?” he asked as he started making himself a brew and toast.

“Nah, not till tomorrow. No bed till then,” I replied.

“Oh, I see,” Will replied as he sat down opposite me and began to munch on his toast.

“You’re up early?” Paul remarked.

“I’m going off with Dad to see my granddad at the care place he’s in. Dad wants to be off at half nine and I got woken up anyway with the banging noises,” he explained.

“Oh, yes, of course. Frank told me that yesterday. It slipped my mind,” Paul replied.

“Can we invite Marcus and his mum to Christmas Dinner?” I asked.

“It’s ‘may we’ invite? I’m sorry, Chris. It went through my mind too, but we’ve already got all of the Sutherlands coming and Will’s dad, so we’re a bit full up to add more, or I’d’ve done so, I’m afraid,” Paul replied.

I nodded a little glumly and Will smirked at me and said

“So, you like Marcus then?”

“Yeah, I’d like to be friends with him.”

“Just ‘friends’?” Will replied, turning his head to one side and wiggling his eyebrows at me.

I giggled at his antics and replied

“Yeah, for now I’d just like to get to know him properly, you know, to start with anyway,” I said.

Will nodded as he munched, considering my reply and then he said

“Yeah, Jus and I’d known each other since, um… first year at the Grammar. So we were good friends already, before, y’know, we became actual boyfriends.”

“I’m going to be late!” Liam exclaimed as he burst into the kitchen and flew over to the kettle to get a brew going.

“Can I have your second bit of toast?” he asked me as he shoved two more slices of bread into the toaster and set it going.

I grinned and said

“Yeah, here you are,” as I passed it over to him.

He quickly buttered it, added some jam and with one hand crammed it into his mouth as he made a brew with his free hand and then adding some cold water from the tap to cool it sufficiently to drink quickly, gulped it all down, rinsed out the mug and with a quick

“Thanks, bye, see you all later,” was out the back door and off to work.

Just then the carpet guys came back down the stairs carrying the remnants of the fitting and one of them said to Paul

“D’you want to keep these offcuts, or do we chuck ’em?”

“Oh, we’ll keep any sizeable pieces, please. Just put them in the garage for us, would you?” Paul replied and added “So you’ve all finished then?”

“Not quite. We’ve just the clear up to do, but yes, we’re almost done. Ten minutes, okay?” the guy replied.

“May we do my furniture and curtains now, then?” I asked.

“Yes, we should be able to get that sorted in an hour or so and then I’ve to get down the road for a chat with Mrs Sutherland about Christmas Day food,” Paul replied.

“I’ll call Jamie. He wanted to help me set up my room,” I said.

“Okay, yes, do that and ask him to tell his mum I’ll be down there by eleven,” Paul replied.

“Yeah, okay,” I said as I fished my phone out of my pocket and sent a text to Jamie.

I finished my breakfast and as I was putting my crocks into the dishwasher there was a knock at the kitchen door and it was almost immediately opened and Jamie came in grinning and said

“Hey, hi Paul. Mum says that’s fine,” and then turning to me added “So, we’re going to set your new room up now?”

“Yeah, wanna brew?” I asked. “They’ve not quite finished fitting the carpet,” I explained.

“Oh, okay,” Jamie replied and sat down at the kitchen table while I made him a tea.

About five minutes later the carpet fitter stuck his head round the kitchen door and said to Paul

“All done now, sir. If you’d come and inspect?”

“Okay, yes, thank you we will,” Paul replied getting up and following the guy back up to my new room with us close on his heels.

Paul pushed open my door and there it was, all ready for me.

“Should we vac it first?” he asked the guy.

“No need, sir. We’ve just done it. You can set the room up right away. It brushes a bit on the door bottom, but that won’t last long once there’s been some traffic in and out. If it’s still doing it after a week then perhaps a shave off the bottom of the door might be needed, but it’s so little I doubt that’ll be necessary,” the guy explained.

“Yes, okay. We’ll keep an eye on that, thank you,” Paul replied.

He went back downstairs with the guy after a quick check around and saw them away. Then he called back up to us to come and get the stuff shifted out of the garage and up to my room.

Jamie and I rushed back downstairs and out into the garage and between us got the wardrobe and worktable packs up to my room. Paul brought up Rick’s tool box and we started to open the flat packs and sort out what was what.

After an hour my wardrobe was up and the shelves and baskets fitted into place. We then got the worktable that was going to be my desk unpacked and assembled also. Then Paul unpacked a table work lamp and gave me a multiple power socket outlet extension that I set on the floor under the desk for the table lamp and other stuff like my MP3 player and phone charger that I might need to plug in anytime. Finally, we got the curtains out that Paul’d bought and sat on the floor fitting the hooks to the top tapes and with the stepladders then hung them through the eyes on the runners and tested that. They opened and shut okay on the pull cord and it all looked just great. While Jamie and I’d been hanging the curtains, Paul’d gone down to the garage and came up with another box for us to unpack.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Open it and see,” he replied, grinning at us both.

We pulled off the packing to reveal a nice office style computer operator’s chair with arms. It was smart. We set that up and then tried to sit in it together, but all we managed to do was to fall out into a heap on the floor giggling.

I lay on the carpet while Jamie picked himself up and sat in the chair looking down at me.

“Craig says you’ve found a new friend?”

“Nah, not really. I only met him yesterday for the first time, but we did seem to get on okay,” I admitted.

“That’s good. So when do I get to check him out then?” Jamie grinned.

“Hmmm… They’re moving into my old place on Christmas Eve,” I explained. “I’ve asked Marcus to come to our Harry Potterthon on Boxing Day though. You can meet him then and suss him out.”

“Yeah, I’ll be doing just that!” Jamie replied grinning. “So, what’re we doing next?” he asked.

“Dunno. Paul’s gone out. He’s round yours to talk Christmas food ’n stuff with your mum. We could move all my gear over from the spare room into here,” I suggested.

“Yeah, let’s get you all set up,” Jamie agreed.

* * *

Marcus’s viewpoint…

I woke just after eight thirty on hearing the door intercom buzz and my mum talking to Uncle James. I shot out of bed and over to the bathroom to wash and then struggled into my clothes as quickly as I could before I rushed into the kitchen to see Uncle James leaning back against the worktop with Mum and they were both drinking brews.

“Hello, Marcus, did you enjoy your trip ‘down south’?” he grinned.

“Hi, Uncle James. Yeah, I did. I’m knackered though,” I admitted.

“Well done on getting into the Royal Grammar, by the way, Marcus,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied.

“Right, lot’s to do today. I’ve brought about thirty cardboard boxes for packing stuff up in. You need to get started on your room right away. Oh, and yes, it’s time to dump anything that doesn’t fit or you’ll never wear again. So anything you don’t want anymore into this blue sack and worn out and other junk for the tip into black ones, all right?” he said smiling.

“Uh… okay,” I stammered out, not quite ‘with it’ by then.

I grabbed some breakfast and then took a mug of tea and some bags back into my room, dropped the bags onto my bed, sat in my chair and drank my tea contemplating the move. A few minutes later my mum appeared carrying some boxes and a hand parcel tape dispenser.

“Start by packing the clothes you won’t need till we get there in these boxes. Write on these labels what’s in them and then seal them with the tape gun, okay?” she instructed.

“Okay, Mum,” I said as I took the boxes, parcel tape gun and sheet of labels from her and dumped them all on the bed with the sacks. It was all fast becoming a reality that we would soon be gone from here. I finished my tea and took the first drawer out and making room on the now cluttered bed, started going through the stuff, packing some and dumping junk stuff as I went.

An hour or so later Uncle James came in to see how I was getting on and said

“Great, you’ve got on really well. I’ll take the boxes you’ve done and stack them along the hallway for carrying down on Wednesday, okay?”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said.

“Much more to do?” he asked.

“Nope. Just a bit of stuff in the wardrobe and bedclothes really,” I replied.

“Your mum says that we’ll be doing all the bedclothes just as soon as you get up on Wednesday. It’ll be a pull them off the beds and dump them straight into a sack of stuff, to be washed as soon as you get there.”

“Okay, so what’s next?”

“I’ve been doing the kitchen and it’s obvious we’ll need more boxes. So I’m going out to get some now. Your mum’s almost finished her room, so when I get back you can help me in the kitchen, all right?”

“Yeah, bring us a pizza or something back will you?” I asked.

“Your mum thought fish and chips for supper. She’s getting some soup and cheese rolls done for now. Will that do you?”

“Yeah, fine, Uncle James,” I grinned and went back to my packing as my Uncle James carried out and stacked the boxes I’d filled and sealed up.

Another hour saw me all finished, except for the clothes I needed for the next couple of days. So I went into the kitchen to see if lunch was ready. Mum was at the cooker heating up some soup and there was a plate of made up cheese rolls on the table.

“How’re you getting on, Marcus?” she asked.

I’m all done, except for bedding and two days of clothes,” I replied. “I need a cardboard tube for my posters though,” I added.

“Oh, yes, I forgot about those. Take them down carefully, won’t you? We don’t want to be charged extra for damaging the wall when you peel them away,” she said.

“I used Blu-Tak, so it shouldn’t’ve done any damage,” I replied.

“Well, let’s hope so. Be very careful anyway.”

“I will. You can’t get some of those posters anymore and I don’t want them spoiled,” I explained.

“Just be careful, that’s all I ask,” Mum said.

“Okay, Mum,” I said and got stuck into some soup and rolls.

“What do you need a cardboard tube for?” Uncle James asked as he came into the kitchen, having finished stacking the filled cardboard boxes in the hallway.

“Packing away my posters safely,” I explained.

“I’ll try the carpet shop when I go out for some more boxes,” he said.

“Good thought. An old carpet centre tube’ll do nicely for that, I reckon,” Mum said.

We finished lunch and Uncle James went off for more boxes and my cardboard tube while Mum and I got stuck into packing stuff in the sitting room. It turned out that that room had the least as there were only a handful of ornaments, three pictures and about thirty videos and DVDs to deal with. I’d already said that the old videos that I’d liked when I was younger could go to a charity shop, which just left our TV, video recorder and DVD player to be put in the van on the day we left.

“I think we might get a DVD recorder. You know, one with a video player on it as well,” Mum said.

“That’d be a lot neater and we could transfer some of our recordings to DVD,” I said.

“Can you do that?” Mum asked.

“Yeah, it’s easy. All those types of machines allow you to dub from one format to the other,” I explained.

“Find out about those, will you, Marcus? That old VCR of ours is well past its best now.”

“I know cranky, or what,” I laughed.

So we disconnected the DVD and VCR, packed up the cables and remote controls and just left the TV working and I asked

“May I have the old DVD player for my room?”

“No, that means you’ll want a TV in there as well and I’m not allowing that while you’re still at school,” she replied.

“Oh!” I replied looking glum, as I’d hoped to pull that one off.

“Were there any TVs in the bedrooms of your new friends’ rooms on Sunday?” Mum asked.

“Err… no, just computers,” I admitted.

“Good, I thought there seemed to be a lot of common sense reigning in that household,” Mum announced with what I thought sounded like a decidedly satisfied tone of voice, and added “Marcus, until you’ve finished with school, there’ll be no TVs in bedrooms for you.”

“All right, Mum, but I really do need my own computer,” I said hopefully as I carried on with packing the DVDs and videos we had into a box.

Mum said nothing, but occasionally glanced over at me smiling away to herself as we continued with the packing until she thought we’d done enough for one day.  All that was left to do was the rest of the kitchen utensils, crockery and the appliances that were our own, like the microwave oven, toaster and of course our electric kettle, that were going with us. Uncle James went down to the local chippy and brought back fish and chip suppers for us all.

* * *

Chris’s viewpoint…

Tuesday morning I got up when my evil alarm went off at eight thirty. I didn’t want to be caught out like I had on the day before when the carpet arrived. So by a quarter to nine I was down in the kitchen having my usual tea and toast when Liam rushed into the room.

“Hi, I’m in a rush again,” he grinned as he hurriedly made himself a mug of tea and shoved two slices of bread in to the toaster and set it going.

“You were yesterday. Has your alarm packed up then?” I asked, grinning back at him.

“Nah, it’s just I chat late to Craig on Messenger when he’s not staying over,” he explained, “and then I hit ‘snooze’ on my alarm in the morning and leave it till the very last minute,” he added.

I laughed and carried on munching my own toast.

“Where’s Will this morning?” Liam asked as he sat down at the table and hurriedly buttered his toast.

“Dunno… hardly saw him yesterday, except at supper. Then he went over to Justin’s place. He might’ve stayed over, I think?”

“Yeah, I think he went to see his Granddad with his dad, didn’t he?” Liam said.

“Oh, yes, he said that at breakfast, but Jus’s going to his grandparents with his mum and dad on Christmas Eve till Boxing Day and Will wanted to see him as much as he could before they went away, I think, anyway,” I replied.

“So you all sorted in your new room?” Liam asked.

“Almost, yes. The bed’s s’posed to arrive this morning, Paul said, and… well that’s it. I’ll be in my new room from tonight, I hope,” I explained.

“Bet you’re pleased?” Liam asked as he put his things in the dishwasher and turned towards the kitchen door to go out.

“Yeah, for sure, it’ll feel like my room when I’ve got all my things sorted and some posters up and stuff,” I said.

Liam nodded as he put his coat on and opening the back door said

“See ya later,” and was off to work.

I finished my breakfast, had another cup of tea and was just loading my stuff into the dishwasher when the doorbell rang. I looked out of the window and saw that a delivery van was in the drive and a bed was being unloaded. I went to the door and showed the guys where to put my bed. They’d just finished when Paul pulled up and had to park on the road as the van was blocking the driveway. He came into the kitchen via the back door and was just in time to come and check the bed and sign the guys’ delivery sheet.

“Thanks,” he said to them as we saw them off. Then turning to me, he said

“Okay, let’s get the new bedding onto your bed and the stuff from the spare room changed over and then you’re all sorted, right?”

“Yeah, sure,” I replied and followed him up to my room to help.  Ten minutes later we’d made up my new bed with matching sheets and pillowcases with a new duvet and cover to go with the décor of the room.

“So, how’s that Chris?” Paul asked.

“It’s really great. Thanks, Paul,” I said.

“There’s another set of the sheets, pillow cases and duvet cover so you can have one in the wash and one on. Mrs Watson’ll do the changing on Fridays, but you already know that. Don’t forget room tidying is your job, not Mrs Watson’s, all right?” he said.

“Yeah, I know. Liam and Will explained all that to me when I’d moved in properly,” I explained.

“Good, not that there’s been any problems, or I’d’ve heard from Mrs Watson. You can be sure of that!” Paul laughed.

“Yeah, Will said that she’d soon let us know if we were messy.”

“Yes, she’ll be very blunt about that. Make no mistake,” Paul smirked.

I laughed with Paul and we went back downstairs to throw away the packaging from the bedclothes and the new bed. Once we’d dumped that in the dustbin we sat back down in the kitchen.

“Any plans for today?” Paul asked.

“Get some presents wrapped, that’s about it, really,” I replied.

“Have you moved everything over from the spare room now?”

“Yes, except for the bedding and stuff. Jamie and I did it all yesterday.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. When we’ve had a coffee we’ll just pull the sheets and duvet cover off and put them into the wash and put a fresh set on in case we have any guests staying,” Paul said.

“Okay, no problem,” I replied.

Once we’d finished our coffee I went with Paul to help with changing the sheets in my old room, now the spare room again, and then after we’d put the used ones into the washer and started the programme, I went up to my room. I sorted through some of my books as Jamie and I had just piled them on the floor when we moved them. I made a mental note to ask if I could have some shelves over my desk so I could store books, DVDs and other stuff. I went back down to the kitchen and saw Paul still at the table doing stuff on his laptop.

“Is there any chance I could have some shelves over my desk in my room?” I asked.

“Yes… um… but would a bookcase with storage below be better?” he asked.

“Err… yeah, probably,” I replied.

“It’s just I think we’ve a flat pack in the garage that was supposed to be for the room that’s now the new bathroom, but obviously it won’t be going in there now and it’ll just be going to waste otherwise. It’s just I’m not sure if it’s the same finish as the other stuff we just got for your room… let’s go and see what it is. I’d almost forgotten we’d bought it. It was before all you lot came to live here anyway. It’s in the garage I think,” he explained.

I followed Paul to the garage and we found the packs right at the back behind the lawnmower. There was a base with two shelves and two doors, a bookcase top with three shelves and it was all in a light oak finish.

“What’s the finish you had, Chris?” Paul asked me.

“Beechwood. Is that close?” I asked.

“Close enough. It’s not a living room. So if you don’t mind a slight mismatch, then you’re welcome to fix this lot up.”

“Yes, please. I think it’s only the wardrobe that’s different and that’s in the other corner. You can’t see the bed much now the bedding’s all on it and my desk table’s white with steel legs so that doesn’t really matter either, I suggested.”

“Okay, let’s get it all up there then,” Paul said.

We shifted the five packs up to my room and Paul went and got me the toolbox again. The units were as simple to assemble as the wardrobe had been and it was not too long before we had it all done. Then we moved it into place at the end of my desk, pretty much filling all that wall space.

“Right, Chris, are you happy with that now?” Paul asked, looking around my room.

“Oh, yes, deffo,” I replied happily.

“Good, the colour’s not a perfect match, but as long as you don’t mind, it’s just right for what you need, isn’t it?” he said smiling. I nodded and said

“Nah, I can hardly tell the difference. Yeah, it’s definitely just what I needed. Thanks.” I grinned at Paul. He smiled and went back downstairs to carry on with what he was doing.

I started to put my books on the shelves and tidied my other stuff into the cupboard underneath feeling pretty good all round. Once I’d finished, I got up, sat in my chair and swung idly round looking at my room layout. I was pretty chuffed with it all.

* * *

Liam’s viewpoint…

I had just got in from work and found Will and Justin in the kitchen making a brew.

“Hi, Liam, do you want a brew?” Will asked as he turned towards me.

“Yeah, deffo,” I replied as I sank into a chair at the table. Work had been particularly busy as there was just one more day to go till Christmas and I was dead on my feet.

“What’ve you guys been doing today?” I asked

“Oh, this and that and some of the other,” Justin replied grinning.

Will went red and I just laughed and asked

“So, when do you go off to visit your relatives, Jus?”

“Tomorrow. We’re back again on Boxing Day. Don’t worry. I’ll be here for the Harry Potterthon, no danger,” he grinned.

I nodded and asked

“When’s Marcus moving into Chris’s old place?”

“We’ve all been roped in to help tomorrow. They’re supposed to arrive mid-morning according to my dad. He’s going to take us over there as soon as they call him to say they’ve arrived,” Will answered.

“Oh, right, okay. Sorry I can’t be there really, but I’ve got to work till four… and then that’s it. I’ve given up that job now,” I explained.

“Yeah, you said. I was wondering if I could get it, but my Dad’s not at all keen,” Will said.

“You don’t actually need a job. I did. My mother gave me nothing except bare minimum for school. I didn’t get an allowance like you did. So I really needed that money for getting by,” I explained.

“I didn’t get a proper allowance till I came here. Dad just wasn’t that well organised before. It was Rick who got all that sorted out. It’s fine now though,” Will said.

“So who’s helping them move in tomorrow then?” I asked.

“My dad, me, Chris and Jamie so far. Craig said he might come too,” Will replied.

“Oh, you’ll have set off by then, won’t you?” I asked Justin.

“Yeah, we’re going mid-morning. So I can’t come,” he said.

“There should be enough of you then. From what Marcus said they’ve not got tons of furniture, just their own stuff mostly,” I said.

Will and Justin nodded in reply as Will handed me the brew he’d made which I immediately polished off despite its still being pretty hot.

“Wow, want another one?” Will asked grinning at me.

“Yeah, please, that one hardly touched the sides,” I said.

He grinned again and taking my now empty mug put a tea bag into it and made me another mug of tea.

“What’s for supper then?” I asked.

“Dunno yet. Not seen Paul since this morning. He helped Chris with his room and then went out. Rick finishes work tonight till after Christmas. So perhaps we’ll go out? … Not sure really…” Will tailed off.

“Where’s Chris then?” I asked.

“In his room… I think,” Will replied. “I’ve not actually seen him. He could be down the road at Jamie’s though.”

Just then Chris and Jamie came in through the kitchen door and Chris announced

“We’re all having supper at Jamie and Craig’s, okay?”

“Oh, right, what right now?” I asked.

“Yeah, come back with us now, all right?”

So Will and I grabbed our coats, locked up and followed Chris and Jamie back to Jamie’s house.

* * *

Marcus’s viewpoint…

My alarm went off at a quarter to five. I stumbled from my bed, hit the off button and headed for the bathroom, only to find that Mum had beaten me to it and I had to wait.

“Marcus, please put the kettle on and get some toast on the go. Uncle James’ll be here at five and we want to be sorted and away as soon as we possibly can. I won’t be much longer in here, then you can have your shower and we’ll pack up the few last bits of stuff,” Mum called from the bathroom.

“Okay,” I called back and went to the kitchen, filled the kettle and put some slices of bread into the toaster and set it going. I was just putting tea bags into mugs when the doorbell rang and I pressed the button to let Uncle James into our block. A minute later I opened our door to let him in just as Mum rushed from the bathroom saying

“Morning, James. Go and sort yourself out a tea, will you? Marcus, go and have your shower now. I’ll have tea and toast ready for you as soon as you’re done. Then pull off all our bedding and put it in the sack,” she said indicating a sack of stuff we had kept for the last minute things.

“Okay Mum. Hi, Uncle James,” I said as I disappeared into the bathroom to shower and stuff.

About fifteen minutes later I was showered and dressed and Uncle James helped me to clear the rooms of bedding and last minute things. We then carried all the stuff to the lift and went up and down in relays taking stuff to the van that we had parked as close to the entrance as we could. After about an hour and a half of solid moving of boxes and the two main appliances we were taking with us, the hardest being the heavy boxes of kitchen stuff. Then my mum took final readings from the gas and electric for phoning through to the companies and sorted all the house keys into a padded postal bag.

“Why’re you putting the keys in the post?” I asked.

The agents are closed now until after Christmas. So I’ve arranged that we’ll simply lock up, turn everything off and post the keys into their offices,” Mum replied.

“Okay,” I replied, nodding.

My mum emptied the last couple of things from the fridge into the rubbish saying

“I hate throwing good food away, but there’s so little left and it’s so hard to transport easily. It’s simpler to chuck it and go for a full shop as soon as we can when we get there.”

As soon as we’d checked every room, Mum turned off the gas and electric, opened the fridge door so it wouldn’t go musty, picked up a last few bits and the rubbish bag and we left our flat and went down to the van where Uncle James was already sat behind the wheel ready to go. I got in the middle next to Uncle James and fastened my seatbelt. A few moments later Mum got in, after dumping the rubbish bag, and said.

“Well, that’s it. Goodbye Wakefield.”

I looked out of the window towards our old flat and suddenly saw a figure rushing down the road towards us.

“Wait, hang on a sec,” I said to Uncle James.

“Why, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“It’s Dougie. I must see what he wants. I mean, he’s never been up this early in his life!” I joked.

“Okay,” my Uncle replied as Dougie drew level with the van.

I’d got back out of the van and my mum and I went round to where Dougie was standing on the pavement.

“So, you’re off. That’s it then?” he asked.

“Yeah, I s’pose so,” I replied. “Thanks, y’know, for being me mate and stuff,” I said.

“S’okay, be safe won’t yous,” he said. I nodded and thought I saw the beginnings of a tear in his eye as we banged fists and he shoved a carrier bag into my hand.

“Yeah, you too. I’ll be on messenger and stuff. So we won’t lose touch,” I said lamely as I guessed that after a while we probably would. He’d been a good friend though and I couldn’t help leaking from my eyes too.

“Raight pair we make,” he said as we bumped shoulders, grinning and then after saying a quick “Bye, Mrs Ashton,” Dougie turned and  quickly headed off back the way we’d come.

“That was so nice of him to come and see you off, Marcus, wasn’t it? How did he know when to come?” my mum asked.

“Yeah, he’s been okay, has Dougie,” I sniffed, as I watched him hurry away and added “Oh, I sent him a text to say ‘Bye, we’re off’ about ten minutes ago. I didn’t know he’d come rushing round. Let’s go, Mum. There’s nothing else for us here now.”

My mum nodded and we both got back into the van and as soon as we’d fastened our seatbelts Uncle James pulled out from the kerb and headed for Denby Dale Road and the M1 motorway.

 Many thanks for all your emails guys. I have so much enjoyed reading all your thoiughts and comments. I think I am now up to date with replies to you all. Sorry about the longer gap in chapter releases. Real life just gets in the way sometimes...

Don't forget all chapters and a downloadable Pdf of all stories are at my Yahoo Group.

Paul Jamison. July 2011

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