The Cup Bearer

by DJ

Chapter 77

"Der Shana

Helo. eH Yes this is me. Lucy sas yu ar my girl frend. Sori for enee mistakes in this leter. I am triing hard to rimember hw tu spel and rite. The doctor sas I am sufeing from a form of d y s l e x i a which maks me spel things rong. Forgiv the messy ritin; I hav to rite with my rite hand now. It is not eesy. Dad has told me I killed a man and I have to go to court soon. I don't rimember. Dad sas sumthing teribl hapend tu mi yers ago. I am tring tu rimember but it is hard and I hav nitemers at nite. I get scerd wen this happens as I don't rimember wot the dreems ar about. George says he is going to try sumthing difrent tomorrow to help mi remember."

Gypsy tapped the sheet of paper with his pen and wondered what to say next. In his mind he had the picture of a lovely dark skinned girl who had been with him when he first woke up. He couldn't remember where she had come from or having been with her before then. He stared at the untidy scrawl and wished his left hand would work better. He knew his spelling was bad but his dad had explained that it didn't matter, so he wrote words as he spoke them and hoped Shana would understand what he was saying. He sighed and wrote, "I hop yu can visit sun. Lots of luv Gipsi

A shadow darkened the paper. He glanced up and saw his father smiling down at him. "Have you finished it?"

"Yes." Gypsy replied. "I don't know what else to say." His father nodded and handed him an envelope already stamped and addressed. "Blackpool; where is that?"

"It's about two hundred miles north of here."

"Can I go and see her?"

"I'm afraid not. The police won't let you travel so far away from this clinic. It's a condition of your police bail."

"Did I really kill someone, Dad?"

"I'm sure it was an accident."

Gypsy sighed, folded his arms on the table, and rested his head sideways on them so he could still see his father. "What will happen to me?"

"I don't know," his father said, and sat down beside him, laying a hand on his head. "It all depends on you, how much you can remember by the time the police come to interview you. Tomorrow, George is going to show you some things that may jog your memory."

"Will you be with me?"

"Of course."

Gypsy closed his eyes and wished he were far away, riding the clouds with the angels he had seen when the calming voice whispered comforting words to him. The voice was there now, saying, " Fear not. I am here."

"Tell me about the house, Dad. Is it really big or are you just kidding?"

An hour later, Manuel stood in his hotel room and took out the letter Gypsy had written, stared at for a long time. Wiping away a stray tear, he then sat down at the bedside table and began to write his own letter to Shana.

Tuesday 26th March 1996

Manuel walked into Percy's office wondering why the owner of the clinic had called a conference on a Tuesday morning when he was normally visiting the Northern Rosscroft, unless there was a problem; naturally Manuel was worried. For the last four weeks Erskine Trumble had worked hard on his behalf. He had called in favours, pulled strings, phoned contacts in the music concert fraternity, and generally showed his mettle as a manager. As a result, when one booking ended the determined Erskine Trumble had another ready to present to Manuel who never knew where he would end up until Erskine told him, with a promise that the next tour would be more organised. Erskine just wanted to get him started and was obviously testing his abilities to keep up with a busy schedule. If Erskine could provide the work, Manuel had the stamina to match him. During the first week, when he had only two concerts to play, he had spent the time in the recording studio at Chilvers with a recording whizz kid, and a gifted pianist, who both owed Erskine a big favour. The resulting CDs, adorned with a black and white photo of himself and the usual list of those involved, he sold at the concerts, and by the end of the tour he had sold two hundred of them. Now he was tired and welcomed a few days break to be with Gypsy, and he certainly wasn't in the mood for serious talk.

Percy sat behind his desk with George to his right, and Manuel was surprised to see Monclare and Edward there as well.

"Good morning, Manuel." Percy indicated the last vacant chair in front of the desk, his cheerful smile failing to hide the worry in his eyes. The others nodded their greetings to him; he returned the gesture and sat down, his heart beating a little faster.

"Is there something wrong?"

Percy nodded to Edward who said, "The police are pushing for an interview, as you know, and Thomas can't hold them off for much longer. Our contact has now informed me that the person who gave the police certain facts about Gypsy's past is none other than my own dear nephew, Peter."

"Tony's son?" Manuel asked.

Edward's normal stern features darkened with embarrassment. "Yes. Without Gypsy's evidence to the contrary, the prosecution will have a case of a male Lolita ensnaring his stepfather for his own use then killing him to shut him up.

"But that's not true,"

"Of course it isn't true," George assured him. "I'll take the stand myself to verify that, but Gypsy has all the facts in his memory and he's the only one who can say what really happened to him. He's the one who was raped and beaten by Gomez, but according to Edward's contact, Peter Grafton has strong character evidence against him. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Peter who sent the birthday presents to Visick Street but as yet we have no proof."

Manuel realised then that the contact must be Rudkin. As the case was being handled by the homicide department and not by the child abuse unit, Rudkin would have no qualms about feeding Edward information about the case.

"There is someone else who is determined to blacken Gypsy's character and add to the mess," Edward said. "Brian MacCaffrey has told the police about Gypsy's affair with Shana and the fact that they shared a bed together while on tour last year."

"There was no affair," Manuel insisted. "Not in the sexual sense."

"Are you sure of that?" Edward asked.

"Gypsy said so and I believe him. They shared a bed because there was no other place to sleep. Brian claimed Gypsy's bed after a row with Shana."

"So she shared a bed with Brian?"

"Shana told Gypsy nothing ever happened."

""That is hearsay unless she takes the stand. Is she still a virgin?"

"I don't know."

"Would she submit to a medical examination to prove it?"

"That's for Shana to say."

"If she did, that would refute Brian's statement. As for Peter's evidence, only Gypsy can deal with that. We need him to remember everything that ever happened to him, including how Guido was killed."

"And if he doesn't?"

"We have no defence. Gypsy was still holding the murder weapon when Sandy and his father found him. Even on that evidence alone, the prosecution have a clear case of murder for which Gypsy will be locked up for a long time. I don't think any of us believe your son will survive incarceration among people who will take advantage of his past experiences."

Manuel knew what Edward meant without him explaining further. He glanced round at the solemn faces and a chill of fear swept over him. "What can we do?" he asked in a choked voice.

"Help him remember," George said, "and as soon as possible. I know I said we should leave it to Gypsy to set the pace of his mental recovery, but we've reached a point when he needs a nudge or two. I know he's trying to remember things, Manuel, but each time he does the headaches and the migraine attacks start. Monclare has confirmed that there is no reason for this and I'm of the opinion that it's psychosomatic, the body's own defence mechanism cutting in to stop him reliving the horrors of his life. I suggest we let him look at Tony's diaries, just a couple of pages at a time, and show him photographs of his home in Tamarigo. There are plenty of them around. It might be a good idea to get Sandy Roberts to visit and chat about their time in school together."

"I wouldn't want to put Sandy through that; he's still only a boy."

"Neither would I, but I'm sure he'd want to help if we asked him."

"What about Shana?" Manuel searched his mind desperately for the names of friends closest to his son.

"She only knows what she was told by Gypsy," George replied. "We need someone who was on the scene when things started to go wrong. Once Gypsy begins to remember, we can ask Perquita and Maria to visit and help him remember his childhood."

"They wouldn't know anything, surely."

"They saw him being beaten, and Maria witnessed the assaults although she was too young to know what she was seeing at the time."

Manuel met George's look of sympathy, knowing the man would do all he could to shield Gypsy from the worst of the horror to come. He rose from his chair and walked to the window to stare out across the garden. A few of the patients were making use of the unusually warm spring morning, and he saw Gypsy and a nurse playing on the lawn with Lucy. Gypsy dribbled a large ball and Lucy squealed with delight as she tried to take it from him. She tripped and fell over, and Gypsy scooped her up into his arms to comfort her then set her on her feet and let her have the ball. Now it was his turn to try and take it, pretending he had a really tough opponent. Gypsy was in a time warp, happy to be a kid again in his temporary innocence, the darling of the children's ward where he helped the staff keep the more boisterous patients entertained and in line. Now all that was to end; and it was Manuel's decision to make it so. The heartache of it weighed him down.

"I have a few photographs Tony sent me over the years," Edward offered. "I'll bring them with me next time I come."

"When will you be back?"

"Thursday, early morning I think; I'm in court till then. If I can't bring them myself I'll send Thomas; I take it you still have the diaries?"

Manuel nodded and turned to face the other men. "They're at Mrs. Cole's house, in Gypsy's trunk. I'll have Barry find them and bring them down. Meanwhile, how is my son?"

Percy smiled. "He's still enjoying being a child as you have just witnessed. He's playing his guitar a lot better now, much to the delight of the younger patients. I was thinking that while he's here we ought to see what we can do to improve his face. That's why Monclare is here."

Relieved at this news, Manuel gave Percy a thankful nod. "I like your idea of using music as healing therapy. How is the venture progressing?"

Percy's smile widened. "Couldn't be better; it isn't the first time we've used the idea so it just needed the recreation hall to be changed a bit. It's hardly used for anything these days, the patient's lounge being the more popular venue. The hall has been cleared of all unnecessary furniture and we've had the instruments and music brought out of storage. We have keyboards, drums, guitars etc. At first, Gypsy didn't want to join in, but yesterday he disappeared from his room and Sean, his care assistant, found him on the stage in the hall. He was sitting behind the drum kit. Sean didn't go in at first, and watched through the observation window. Gypsy started touching the cymbals, then each drum as if trying to remember something. Then he took up the drumsticks and started tapping away at them. After he finally worked out what was what, he started playing well enough for Sean to sneak in. switch on a keyboard and join him in an impromptu jam session. It all went well until Gypsy realised he had quite an audience, including some of the staff who wandered into the hall. When Sean asked him where he had learned to play the drums he said he didn't know and walked out. He sent the rest of the day in a mood of non-communication."

"Well, we all have our black moods, for whatever reason," Manuel replied. "Till Thursday, I suggest we let him carry on being a moody child. His return to the real world will come soon enough."

Five days later. Manuel walked into Percy's office for his morning conference and found the elderly consultant already in deep conversation with Thomas Grafton, George Sherbourne and Percy Junior. Four pairs of curious eyes glanced his way as he closed the door. His surprise at finding Thomas there must have shown on his face because the solicitor gave him a gentle smile. "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Manuel, but I'm afraid we can't keep the police at bay for much longer. They're sending a medical examiner down to look at Gypsy's apparent amnesia and mental state, and they'll want to take a statement from him as soon as possible. So do I, but only so I can build up a good defence for him. I now have a copy of the evidence for the prosecution, as required by law. Till Gypsy tells us his story, it would seem the police have a very strong case against him." He passed a buff A4 file to Manuel who settled down in a chair beside Percy Junior to read it. "It's not good, I'm afraid."

When Manuel had finished, he sat, drained of energy while he decided what action he would take regarding the Pathologists findings.

"We understand that you want to protect your son," Percy Junior said. "But he has the right to know what they have found. He's bound to want to know what all the tests and injections were for."

"How soon will we know for sure if he's clear or not?"

"A couple more weeks when we run more tests; I agree, he has to be told, of course; and as soon as possible. It's only fair."

"I'll break the news to him if you'd rather," George offered. "It won't be the first time I've taken him through this. I know how he'll react and it won't be very nice, for him or for you."

"No." Manuel shook his head sadly. "Thankyou all the same, George; as his father, it is up to me to tell him he might be HIV positive. Just tell me what to expect."

"Well, at the moment he's hurting and not just from his injuries. He's recalling every rotten detail of his past life and it's effecting his reaction to people around him. Is there someone he's expecting to visit?"

"I don't think so; Shana perhaps. Why?"

He spends a lot of his time with his face in his hands or at the window of his room, staring out at the front gates. When we ask him who he's looking for, he just shakes his head and says nothing. In fact he doesn't say anything to anyone, not even Lucia. He's very depressed, but I don't think corrective medicine would help much in Gypsy's case. First I want to find out if this state is a form of self-protection; against being hurt if you like. In which case he'll deal with it himself like he's dealt with it before. If it isn't, then maybe, just maybe, I'll think about medication."

"He's done this before?" Manuel queried.

"Yes, when Tony rescued him from that pit of vipers in South America. There was nothing we could do except to give him a new life full of love and care; he did the rest himself. I'm hoping he'll do it again, if folks give him enough time. All he needs is the right people to lean on when the need arises. Sean, his personal carer, is a good man to start with. He's into music in a big way, being a Mick Jagger fan. Looks like him too, except when he wears his glasses. He does a Jagger lookalike routine in clubs and pubs. You'd be surprised at the number of mentally ill patients I've helped get well with the aid of music at my Los Angeles clinic. It was Gypsy who gave me the idea in the first place."

"I'll vouch for that," Percy Junior chipped in. "Gypsy has already started the ball rolling here. I agree with George that Gypsy should be given the chance to heal himself first. George can delay the police interrogation by declaring the boy is unfit to plead."

Manuel glared at him. "My son is not insane."

"Of course he isn't. He's the victim of deep mental trauma; but it wouldn't be in the interests of the prosecution to question him while he can't think straight."

Manuel suddenly felt so frustrated and helpless. He wanted to take his son away from all this but he knew he could never win against such experts as George and Percy. Chilvers was certainly a temptation, but he would have to find suitable staff and reliable minders acceptable to the police. What else could go wrong for the boy?

When the meeting ended he walked down the corridor to Gypsy's suite and found him already out of bed and standing by the window, staring out towards the main gates. Sean had managed to get him into the lightweight ankle length dressing gown Manuel had brought in. He seemed not to notice when Manuel approached and stood behind him and a little to his left.

"Gypsy?" His son stiffened. He had his hands pressed against the glass, more for support than anything, Manuel suspected. "Are you expecting someone to visit?" Gypsy shook his head slowly and continued to stare towards the gates. "Tell me. I'd like to help."

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