THE BOY WASN’T TURNING OUT RIGHT
Sandra and I didn’t have kids of our own. We thought about it, but I wasn’t so keen, and she’d already got two, so I tried to be a dad to the ones we had. They never took my name. They never called me “Dad”. But I did care for them, look out for them, try to teach them rules and manners and riding a bike and stuff. Sandra often worked in the evenings, so I did bathtime and bedtime too. I wasn’t hands-on, Fred was 6, Nikki was 11, when I arrived, I just tried to keep order.
Well, there was no worry with Nikki – she had her plan. School – Uni – Lawyer – Money! Fred was another case. He didn’t much care for school, I understood that, I didn’t either, but he had to do something. I let him be until he started to grow up, and then I got him booked on my card at the gym. Caxton’s great for things like that – there’s even a swimming pool. I guess he was about 12 when I started to make a fuss about it. He was a weedy little bugger. To start with, I showed him how to use the machines. But he didn’t like me there. I guess that’s a kind of privacy thing. I used to check out how his muscles were developing, but there came a time he didn’t like that either.
It was about the time I started to notice a change in him. It’s hard to explain it. He seemed happier than ever in himself, but totally down on everyone else, wanted nothing to do with us. Sandra was hurt. Nikki was at Uni, but I’m sure she’d have got the same treatment.
Then one time I was walking back from the shops across Caxton Mead, and there was Fred in the distance, with some other guy. I couldn’t see clearly, and Fred was leaving – maybe because he’d seen me? – but I think he kissed this guy. Fred had gone, and as I got closer I saw it was an old guy, well, much older than me. My blood was boiling. I just knew something was wrong. He was a scrawny, grey-haired, middle-aged bloke, with a beard. Posh. “I see you were talking to my son”, I said. I always called him my son. Except when he was listening. “Fred? What a nice lad – a credit to you!” “What was he doing here?” “I’m often here after work, he sometimes keeps me company between the gym and home – he’s not in trouble, is he?”. “No, he’s OK”. I walked on.
He was not OK. I had no proof, but this man was taking my boy. I knew it.