The week leading up to the move I had planned and theorised everything. I had tried to second guess every eventuality. I had kept the boys away from all the drama of the solicitors, estate agents, removal companies, buyers and sellers. It was all so stressful. I had plates spinning in every direction. Some precariously wobbling. I made sure we had packing boxes, bubble wrap and tape. Everything was packed and labelled. Not one black bin liner in sight, as this would trigger the many moves they had experienced.
Everything was ready. I knew our last night would be a last supper. The last tango. The final swan song. And so it was.
Everything was sorted. There was nothing left to do. The boys wanted to go out, see their friends for the last time. I knew I had to ride the wave.
They went out. James was first back. His friends had been nasty to him, he hated them. He was glad he was leaving and never seeing them again. He was distraught. He went to see a different friend. I then got a text message:
“Just been past the high school, some lads in school fields messing about. Heard someone shout your lads name. Thought you should know.”
The lad who shouted Tom’s name, was the local ring leader. On bail for breaking and entry. He’s the one who locked Tom in the storage container (An Epilogue) He was the ring leader of the Mate Crime saga. He’s the one who several locals had seen carrying a baseball bat round the village. As much as I want to name him, I shall call him Carl for this.
I got in my car and drove up to the high school. I know Carl would do anything to set anyone up, and also do anything to get himself out of trouble, he would happily blame his best mates to get out of something. He knows exactly who I am and I know who he is. He doesn’t scare me. He doesn’t frighten me. He could, if he wanted, “sort” me out.
As I got to the high school. A group of lads ran off, scattering across the fields. Some stayed put. I walked over, I asked if they knew where Tom was. I told them we had a crisis, something’s happened, I need him to come, I need him now. They shouted, Tom called back, they shouted again, Tom crawled under the hedge.He wanted to know what was happening, I said we needed to go. We left. I explained when we got into the car someone had heard his name and I didn’t want him in trouble on his last night. He was not happy, he was not doing anything wrong. Why did I always think he was doing something wrong. He saw another friend. Could he stay with him? I agreed, but said if he was not home at 11 I would have to report him missing.
11pm arrived. He was not home. 11.05 I had to ring the police. Our social worker had told Tom if he was not in I was to ring the police, with all the other incidents, we needed to know he was safe.
We know the routine for Hide and Seek
The police were great, I explained my concerns, that Tom is vulnerable and easily exploited.
I started to drive round. James came with me. We did the usual circuit, the usual hang out places. Up by the playing fields, by the library, near the church, we passed Carl’s house. Then round again. Again. Again. Again. We occasionally drove to our house, to check Tom was not at home. Then did the circuit again. I had a feeling the gang were going to set Tom up, then walk away from him. They had nothing to lose. Tom was going. He was surplus to requirements.
It was gone midnight when we drove towards the library. The head lights caught five or six lads running in different directions when they saw the car. All of them ran, except one.
Carl stood in the middle of the road. He was staring right at us, through the car lights. Hands in his pockets. Hood up. Unflinching. I drove towards him and then indicated, and turned down a road on the right.
We did our circuit again and again. We saw Carl a couple more times. No one else. Just Carl… By the playing fields wall. Standing outside the library. Near the church. It was nearly one in the morning. We drove towards our house, to see if Tom was there. He was. Stood under the front door light. Stood looking out for us. He had no key. He was tired. We went in. I called the police to say he was home. I gave Tom a sandwich. We all headed off to bed.
I got removal company in to move us. Then we had time to watch and absorb what was happening. I invited people round to be with us, at the old house, then at the new house, to have continuity. We put a few bits in our car, not much, not like the time they moved in, when their belonging squashed into the car and even on top of them. We took loads of photos, selfies with us all in. Making and keeping memories.
The removal men were done by eleven. One final check. We locked the door. We drove away from the house. None us looked back. We drove out of the village. We drove past the playing fields, the library and the church. We moved.
Names have been changed. Although would love to name and shame.
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