The Bull Singer
We were getting so bogged down with formalities that I, for one, was glad when everyone's attention switched to this formidable apparition and her obvious shock at seeing someone from her past, Meanwhile, I tried to get my head round the news that I had a load of other relatives further up North; and this Uncle Magnus, well wow; was he a handsome guy! No wonder Joey had hooked up to him; a sax player, huh? But getting back to this person in the doorway; so this was the social worker Joey mentioned when we were in the shower together. Shower? Well that's another story for later. Right now, I was busy watching Jeremy rise from his seat and walk round to where this, well, this fairy tale nightmare, stood with her hands to her face and her shocked eyes like saucers. "Pippin, my darling little apple, where have you been hiding? I've been looking for you everywhere."
Little? Now this was really comic, a literal 'Carry On' casting, as Jeremy was about six inches shorter than the lady and would probably need a soapbox to kiss her. "Oh, JJ, I can't believe it!" I started to giggle but received a crack on the ankle from Pete. Ouch! That hurt! Sorry folks, I've had so many knocks in my life I can't help being cynical. At last the lady wilted and Jeremy quickly put his arm round her waist and led her back into the lounge, making room for Mags to bring our other visitor into the dining room.
"Folks, this is Charlie Breakwell, a member of Mr Chambers' security team," Mags said. "He's got some news we should listen to."
Charlie nodded to Joey first before looking round the table at us. "Good evening. My boss, Mr Benjamin Roach, has been watching the movements of men known to be in the employ of Ms. Street." He looked straight at Pete. "Mr. Crayel, we followed you when you left Bingford but lost you on the A41. We put out an alert for the BMW and were called by one of our agents that you were on the A1 and heading for Cambridge. We were told about the problem with the take away owner in Cambridge, and you can rest assured you will not be approached by the police. The take away owner gave the police clear descriptions of his attackers as soon as he regained consciousness, one of them being a man we know as Jose Gomez, and they are searching elsewhere. I then had word from Mr Roach that you had gone to Colchester and all I had to do was to follow the BMW from there to make sure the ladies arrived here safely. I would have contacted you or Ms Welch to let you know we were keeping you and your family safe, but I thought it best to keep myself and my team anonymous." He gave Mrs Crayel and her daughter in law a polite nod. "Ladies, what we're concerned about now is that you've had someone snooping around here but ran off when Ms Welch made her presence known. I was about to nab him when she nabbed me." With a grin he added, "With Ms Welch here, I don't think I'm needed."
"But Ms Welch isn't staying around here; she's heading back home as soon as the chopper is ready." Mags said.
"In that case, I'd better stick around for a while."
To me, this sounded like something out of a crime thriller. "Hang on a minute, why would our mother want to harm us?"
Richard sighed and sat down at the table. Looking directly at me, he said, "My mother and Uncle Harold would not have split you up if they felt the threats from your mother were groundless. I have never met Angela but my mother has, and it appears she is not a very nice person."
"You can say that again," Joey muttered. I had yet to hear all the details of what happened to him and I found it hard to believe she was as cruel as they made out. I glanced towards Joey and met his angry gaze. We gazed into each other's eyes and messages passed between us that felt so unreal; and I realised that before I could listen to anything else I had to hear what my brother had to say. I lifted Harry in my arms and rose to my feet. "Sorry, folks, I'm feeling pretty tired and I'm feeling my bruises. If you don't mind, I'd like to go back to bed. Harry needs to be changed any way. Joey, we need to talk."
Joey got to his feet, and so did Pete. Not knowing whether Joey had told Pete about what had happened to him, I wondered what I could say without him feeling pushed out. How could I convey to our older brother that this was a twin thing I needed to work out. It was a relief when Ann said, "Pete, can you help Rosie and me, please. We need to sort out the sleeping arrangements while your dad and Mags handle the security with Mr. Breakwell."
"It's okay, Pete," I said, "we'll talk later. You stay and help your mum. Joey, can you grab the basket? The bag is in the lounge somewhere."
"Sure." Joey picked up the basket and we walked out of the dining room, fully aware of Pete dropping onto his chair and staring hard at the table. As we crossed the hall, Joey shouted, "Incoming." And when we walked into the lounge, Jeremy and his lady were sitting on the couch but a few inches apart. The lady had a tissue to her eye and Jeremy held her free hand.
Grabbing Harry's bag, we made a quick exit to the bedroom where Joey dropped the basket and the bag on the bed and closed the door. "Pheeewww, Harry!" I grimaced at the smell. "I thought my farts were bad enough."
"No sweat, Bro. Just let the expert sort things out." Joey took Harry from me and cooed over him like a broody female as he placed him on the bed. "Take no notice of your daddy, chum. It just shows he doesn't know anything about babies, except how to make 'em. You go poop all you like, at least it says you're healthy and everything works okay."
"Oh, yeah? An expert on babies, are we?"
Joey smiled at me as he fished in the bag for the plastic changing pad. "Two years ago, I wanted to be a social worker and went on work experience at a children's home. All well supervised, of course; must keep the protocols, what old boy! I was the only one who didn't turn green handling dirty nappies." I watched the look of total compassion appear on his face as he began to undress him. "There is something so endearing about a new born baby, I can't understand how anyone could ever hurt them."
"Was that what happened to you?"
Joey glanced up at me, the love gone from his face. "Not as a baby, no; it was later that Mum changed." He rummaged in the bag for a nappy sack and pulled it open ready to take the soiled nappy. Next came the wipes and the cream. "She got worse as I got older and she got the smell of money under her nose."
I sat down on the bed and watched him work, quickly removing the baby grow and the soiled nappy. Somehow the sight or the smell didn't affect me as much as I thought it would, and I wondered if it was because Harry was my own flesh and blood. "I thought she was already into crime when we were born?"
"I'm not sure what she was into or how deep, but it must have been bad for her to make our Dad take the rap for it. Once she got an army of agents around her and found they were loyal enough to do anything she wanted, she was into every crime she could put her finger on, and I didn't have a clue until recently." The nappy went into the bag and Joey got busy with the wipes. "Wow, you do like to make a mess, don't you, Harry? It's half way up your back and down your legs, and you must have peed gallons. These first size nappies are no good for you, are they? Next size up or more frequent changing is the thing."
"You were just a kid; how did you know what she was up to?"
"As I said I didn't at first, but you can learn a lot by watching through a keyhole and listening to conversations." Joey paused, watching Harry kick his legs and chew his fist. He ran tickling fingers up my son's tummy, bringing a squeak of pleasure from him. "I was about six when Mum began to show her temper, and if anything went wrong she took it out on me. I was about ten when I found that what she and her boyfriends were doing to me wasn't the norm." Suddenly he straightened up and walked to the door. He went out and I wondered if talking about his past had upset him. I moved round the bed to examine my baby, to feel his petal soft skin and enjoy the way he moved his little legs. I found a clean nappy and managed to secure it round his tiny body, and then I examined his tiny toes; they were so perfect; just like his mother, perfect. I couldn't kiss her and tell her I still love her, but I could kiss my son. Harry started to whimper so I unfastened my bathrobe, picked him up and settled him against my chest, and understood the natural bonding that happened between a mother and baby. As soon as his face touched my skin he quietened and began to search for the absent breast, and I giggled at the feel of his mouth moving over my skin, his whimpers turning to a frustrated crowing. Pulling the bathrobe closed about him, I sat down on the bed and cooed a load of nonsense at him, and he gazed up at me with trusting eyes. If this was fatherhood, I was all for it.
The bedroom door opened and Joey walked in, juggling something wrapped in cellophane and tied with a blue ribbon, a baby bottle and a fluffy white towel. He smiled as he surveyed the moving lump inside my bathrobe. "Aha! Daddy and son getting to know each other, I see?" He dropped his load on the bed and pointed to the blue-ribboned article. "I went to ask Rosie for a bowl we could bathe Harry in and she gave me this. It's a baby bath set from Rosie. It's got everything we need to make our boy smell so sweet, even Uncle Mags will want to nurse him. Let's see, we've got baby shampoo, bath lotion, powder, cotton buds for the tiny places, cotton wool, you name it; it's all here. Let's go, Bro; time to bath the baby."
We had a wonderful time, and I just didn't want it to end; neither did Harry who seemed to relish the smoothness of the soap and the warmth of the water. Once he was dry and dressed in a clean baby-grow, he took to his last bottle of the day with enthusiasm. Winded, he soon dropped off and we laid him down in the basket, and turned to our own needs. What we had done in the shower earlier was in no way sexual, just a brother helping a brother in a shower stall built for one. I had washed Joey's back and he had washed mine as gently as he could, before we gave each other a lingering hug of comfort. Now I just wanted to feel secure in someone's arms; and from the look in Joey's eyes as he put his arms round me, he needed the same security; was it really true about twins knowing what each other thought, and acted in concert when the need arose? Together, we went into the bathroom and side by side as we used the toilet, washed our hands and brushed our teeth as if we had done it for years. No word needed to be spoken as Joey undressed then turned back the bed covers. I slipped off my bathrobe and we both lay down and moved into a warm, loving embrace, and our talk began, but not on the topic I had thought of.
"What are we going to do about Pete?"
"I think he might be feeling a bit left out."
"How do you mean, left out?"
"His dad said something to me when Tom gave you your shave and hair-cut. He reminded me that Pete is just as much a brother to you as I am. I just want to be careful we don't hurt him."
I raised my head to look down at him. "Have you had sex with him?"
Joey blushed. "Not really; it was a comfort thing more than anything else."
"But that's incest."
"Not what we did. There was nothing sexual about it. We took what we needed at the time."
"So no full sex?"
"Well, no harm done. Do you want to have sex with me?"
Joey laughed. "That would be nice but it would be wrong. I wouldn't want anyone of our family to go to prison, Mags included."
"Same here. So, what do we do?"
"We could find us some boyfriends."
I shook my head at him. "If I can't have you sleeping in my bed, I don't want anyone."
"Not even as a cover? We find two guys who get along and who will live with us and fill our sexual needs but they don't share our bed; but they promise not to tell. They are our public image. In the past, several stars have taken a female partner to hide their sexuality. I don't give a toss who knows I'm gay so I'd take a boyfriend if it meant staying with you."
I liked the idea but it didn't solve the problem of Mags and Pete. "What about Mags and our unhappy brother?"
"We find them boyfriends who'll take their minds off us."
"Brilliant! Where and how?"
Joey frowned. "I'm not sure, but there must be hundreds of Billy Junior fans looking for a father figure."
"Well that's Mags sorted. What about Pete?"
"He's looking for a father figure too. Pity they're related, they'd be good for each other."
I lay back down again and let Joey pull me into a close hug. "Sounds good," I said with a yawn. "I might already know someone who'll knock Mags for a loop; Pete too."
"Oh? Tell me more."
"I know a guy who's interested in developing his talent with the Sax. He's single, has no ties, and will be only too willing to move away from the Bristol area. His name is Dave Saunders and he's just turned forty. He's a volunteer youth worker so he'll have the right temperament to handle Pete. He's been hurt a few times and he's given up on finding anyone who'll love him forever. I think Mags would be the ideal partner for him."
"I know a couple of guys who were members of the Clay Theatre project with me."
"Are they cute?"
"I'll say. Donny is super blonde, sixteen, and drop dead gorgeous. Same old story; kicked out when he his father found out he was gay. He lived on the streets with me for a few months until he got a job with accommodation included, but he's not happy with the situation. Jackie is a bit older and is a more sultry character and very experienced, and maybe not Pete's type."
"I think Pete will prefer having someone older to look after him." Joey's last words sounded a little slurred. Then silence.
"Joey?" I raised my head to look at him, and smiled to myself. Is that what I look like when I'm asleep? Well, Mr D'Marco, you certainly knew how to produce pretty handsome triplets!" I placed a gentle kiss on Joey's cheek and reached up to switch off the wall light, plunging the room into a welcome darkness, and soon joined my brother in blessed sleep, until two sounds brought us both awake. The first was Harry demanding attention, the second a scream of terror from beyond the bedroom door.
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