The Cup Bearer
Greeting each other with smiles and hugs, Sandy's being more like a bear hug which left Gypsy with a thudding heart as he remembered how he'd had to partly reject him while wishing he could have told the guy the truth, that he loved Sandy in the same way, they sat down on Gypsy's favourite bench. Careful to keep a space between them, Sandy studied Gypsy carefully. "You're different. What's 'appened?"
"What do you mean, I'm different?"
"Somethin's 'appened to you; I expected to see you all miserable and silent like you were last week, but I've never seen you so alive. You know the old phrase, bright eyed and bushy tailed? And you're not so, well, you know?" Suddenly Sandy laughed. "Oh, I get it! You've met someone. Don't tell me, you're in love?" Gypsy smiled guiltily. "Come on, tell Uncle Sandy, who is she?"
Gypsy began to laugh. "It isn't a she, it's a he."
Sandy's face saddened with disappointment. "You're kiddin'!"
"No I'm not."
"Okay, what's 'is name then? Not that I'm interested, of course."
"You big lump, I've given my heart to Jesus, and the feeling is pretty awesome. I saw him."
Sandy sat up suddenly, his heart hammering. "You saw -?"
"Yeah; it was all hazy but it was Him all right. I was with Elijah when it happened and he saw Him too. He wants me to be a child again. So do I; I'm sixteen and I want to be ten. I feel I'm going crazy with a happiness I've never felt before. Does that sound crazy to you?"
Sandy frowned at him. "I don't know."
"Have you done the same yet?"
"Done what? Oh that?" Sandy shook his head and felt quite ashamed. "I keep on thinkin' about it, you know?"
"Well don't think for too long. You could fall under a bus tomorrow."
"There's only thing wrong about what you said, though. Elijah passed away six weeks ago, isn'it?"
Sunday 7 th April 1996
"Hi, Manuel, how are you? Is everything all right?"
"Sorry, to spoil your weekend but there's been an incident at the Rosscroft and we need you to come back straight away."
"Is it Gypsy?"
"Lucy has a little friend, a new patient in the children's ward. He arrived yesterday for psychiatric analysis. They were playing together outside. Gypsy was on the veranda and Lucy ran to ask him if she could go and see some puppies. Apparently a gardener said he had some and the little boy went off with him, but Lucy knew she should never go off like that and came to ask Gypsy's permission. Gypsy had a bad feeling about it and saw the gardener and the little boy on the bottom terrace, just approaching the last set of steps to the greenhouses. He sent Lucy to raise the alarm and took the shortest route, straight down over the flowerbeds to try and stop them. The other gardeners are creating at the damage he did."
"And where were you when this happened?"
"Don't accuse me of neglect, Don. I was having talks with Edward and Thomas. The little boy's father chased after him. Gypsy caught the gardener and the boy at the bottom of the steps. He rescued the boy and the man ran off. Gypsy carried the boy back up the steps and just as I arrived, the boy's father grabbed his son and pushed Gypsy down the steps. I think the man mistook him for the abductor."
"How's Gypsy? Is he hurt bad?"
"He has a broken nose and some severe bruising. He's in X-ray now, to see if there is any other damage. The reason I'm phoning you is that the fall has somehow jarred his memory, and he's remembering things. He also said something garbled about the boy's father. He seems to know him from somewhere and is very agitated about him. He indicated he wanted to talk to you as soon as possible and insisted I ring you. Can you come?"
"What's this guy's name?"
"A Mr. Payne. Do you know him? Gypsy seemed to think you did."
"I'm on my way; just keep him away from Gypsy."
Gypsy lay back against his pillows and wished his head would stop pounding. His nose ached and he hurt all over but he was determined not to let the pain defeat him till he heard what Payne had to say. He also wanted no one else, not even his father, to hear what was said between him and Payne. After seeing the man staring at him in the children's' ward and trying to remember where he had seen the man before, the moment Payne had grabbed his son and glared at Gypsy before pushing him off the top step, Gypsy had recognised him. He remembered little of his tumble down the steps, only the smack of his nose against a balustrade and sitting up at the bottom and looking down at the blood on his T-shirt.
His dad had charged down the steps to support him as his head swam, and he remembered mumbling, "It's okay, Dad, it's only Guido's blood." He awoke to pain all over, and nurses surrounding him as they put him to bed. He woke a few times after that to find his dad sitting by him, holding his hand. He tried to make his dad understand about Mr. Payne and his need to speak to Don, but his face felt numb and he couldn't talk properly. The way his dad looked at him, puzzled, made him so agitated a doctor gave him an injection that made him sleep. When he woke again, he had asked to see Payne although his dad objected to the idea, and he threatened to get out of bed and find the man himself if Manuel didn't comply.
If Payne made a full confession, as Gypsy hoped, he had the right to privacy, just as if Gypsy was a priest. What was said would not be spoken of to anyone. It was up to Payne to go to the police of his own volition, and not because Gypsy wanted him to. He had already been taken to the local police station to answer the charge of assault, and had been released on bail. He just hoped he could persuade him to do the right thing about his past before Don came back and threw his weight around. Rosscroft and Monclare had already given him a talking to him, especially when they discovered things about the little boy which they were duty bound to report to police.
Gypsy watched his father walk reluctantly out of the room and pause in the doorway to give Payne a long, warning look. Then he stepped aside and Payne closed the door and approached the bed. Stepping round to the left side of the bed he stood close and gazed down at him. Gypsy met his gaze steadily. "Hello, Jimmy Boy."
Gypsy watched the man's face fill with alarm. Then the alarm changed to one of shame as he lowered his eyes.
Gypsy invited him to sit down in the chair Manuel had vacated. He sat with his hands restlessly clamping and unclamping between his thighs. "So, you remember me."
"Yes, I remember you, but that's not what I want to talk about, is it?"
Payne shook his head. After a few seconds thought, he said, "I suppose they told you I've been hitting Rory."
"I didn't have to be told. I saw the bruises myself. They seemed familiar but I couldn't remember why. I guess you know I lost my memory? Well, it seems your anger did some good. That tumble brought my memory back, and I remembered. I used to have the same bruises when I was a kid."
Jimmy lifted alarm filled eyes to look at Gypsy. "You remember everything?"
"Every sordid detail, except what happened when I was hypnotised or drugged." Gypsy watched Jimmy's face fill with relief, and added, "Are you sorry you hit Rory?" Payne nodded. "Have you told him you're sorry?"
"Not yet. I mean to when Rosscroft lets me see him."
"Did you hit your wife too?"
"Yes, and I'm sorry about that as well. I don't know what comes over me. Something snaps and I hit out. Now I've hurt someone else." Payne surveyed what bruises he could see on Gypsy's body. "I'm so sorry. Are you in much pain? Stupid question. I suppose."
"Just when I try to move. I'll heal, but Rory will never get over what you did to him unless you get help."
"Yes, I know. I've already had a word with Mr. Sherbourne. Mr. Rosscroft advised me to. It'll go better for me in court if I say I'm having treatment. Will you be pressing charges?"
"Not as long as you own up to who put you up to this. There was nothing wrong with Rory was there? You just used him to gain entry into the Rosscroft. You were meant to shut my mouth in some way. I bet you were wondering how you were going to do it, but you saw an opportunity and you grabbed it. I'm tougher than I look, Jimmy. I know how to fall. Am I right?"
Jimmy Boy nodded. "It's pointless my denying it. But I can't tell you who told me to do it. I'm being watched, and if I talk they'll kill Rory and my wife then they'll kill me."
"You could ask for police protection. You must tell the police everything, name names if you have to, and you must tell your wife."
Payne dropped his head to his hands. "I can't. You don't know these people, or what they're capable of. They look after their own, but they also punish they're own. People who talk tend to disappear. That's how they earn the total loyalty of their employees. I can't give any names. My wife knows nothing of my other life. It would kill any love she has for me. She'll never let me near Rory ever again and I love them too much to let that happen."
"Did you know that someone else loves you just as much, if not more? He loves you so much he was willing to die for you."
"You're talking about Jesus," Payne said with a cynical edge to his voice. "I'm past redemption."
"No one is past redemption. I thought like you once, but a guy talked to me and showed me what the bible says about sin. I was at the bottom of the heap, or so I thought. I had a foster father in the States and he was murdered. I found my mother and she died too. Then there was Guido and his dirty tricks, including you. I thought I'd got rid of the guy but last summer he sent someone to attack me. I got over that but this Christmas Guido came charging back into my life saying he was going to kill me, and he died too."
"Did you kill him?"
"It was an accident, but what I'm trying to say is, no matter what happened to me. Jesus was there for me, just waiting for me to accept him. I just didn't want to admit it. He got me through it all, including what you did, like no one else could, and he can do it for you too. He loves everyone and He's the only one who can help you now. He's waiting for you to accept Him as your Friend and Saviour. He's waiting for you to admit your sins and ask for forgiveness."
"Do you want to be saved?"
Payne stared at him for a long time before he nodded. "Yes." And his head dropped again.
"Do you believe that God is your Father in Heaven?"
"Doesn't everybody? I used to go to Sunday school."
"Going to Sunday school or church doesn't make you a Christian. It's what you believe in your heart and how you live your life, that makes you a Christian."
Payne raised his head to look at Gypsy again and his eyes were brimming with tears. "What do I have to do?"
Don marched into Gypsy's suite, spoiling for a fight. Ignoring the other people already in the room he took in the sight of his little bro sitting up in bed, all battered and bruised, and leaning forward over a pile of pillows while a nurse applied something to his back. Biting back an unholy curse he nodded to Manuel and Rosscroft Sr. before moving to the bed to take hold of Gypsy's right hand.
He tried to make light of the fact that his stomach churned. "Well, you'd certainly do a panda out of business." He knew the black eyes would fade as his nose healed but it was still a sickening sight. He turned to Manuel. "Where's Payne. I want words with him."
"Don't we all." Manuel replied. "Do you know this man?"
"Don't I just! The sooner I eyeball him the happier I'll be."
"Hold on, Bro." The grazes on his back redressed, he allowed Sean and the nurse to ease him back against the pillowed bed rest. After a few gasps and groans, he said, "If you don't mind, Dad, Mr. Rosscroft, I'd like to talk to Don in private."
Sean opened the door for Rosscroft and Manuel to leave then said, "I'll be outside if you need me."
Once they were alone Don sat down close to the bed. "All right, I'm listening. What have you got to say that will stop me finding Jimmy Boy and wringing his neck?"
Gypsy gave Don the details of the attack and of his talk with Jimmy Boy. "I don't want him frightened off otherwise he'll refuse to talk. I've done a deal with him and I want everyone to honour it, especially you. No assault charges against him if he'll give the police the information we're looking for. But first you'll need to cover your back so he doesn't put you in the shit. Go and see him, get him to tell you what he knows and then we'll decide whether or not we pass that information to the police."
"So you're thinking we can crack this organisation alone? You must be joking. Cissy and I have been to five countries already and we've come up against a wall of silence already. We went looking for signs of the Mellors. So far we've found no records of them owning their house in California, and no bank details. It's as if they don't exist. That's what we've been doing for the last two months. They bought the house in Los Angeles under the name of Mellor but that's just a fictitious name."
"Maybe Jimmy Boy knows them."
"Maybe. It could also be that Jimmy Boy's gang are not connected to the Farm. Meanwhile, he's shown us that the Rosscroft is not as secure as we thought if guys like him can get in so easy."
"I'll be okay."
"Will you? Your police bail is only valid if the place you're in is secure, and people like Payne can't get to you."
At this, Gypsy's face fell. "I don't want to go to prison."
Don said, "Don't worry, kid, I'll fight like the devil to keep you out. I'll go and talk to Manuel. You get some rest; you look as if you need it."
On his return from talking to Payne, Don found Manuel in Rosscroft's office, deep in conversation with the learned medical man. Manuel rose to his feet, his eyes questioning. Don said, "That was a wasted journey. Payne's not talking till he's had a word with the police and he has their protection; I can't blame him for that. He did confirm that the organisation he works for is a lot bigger and a lot more dangerous than we thought. They're an international concern with their own financial backers, and they know Cissy and I have been digging around"
Manuel sat down again. "Is he going to say anything about seeing you and Gypsy together?"
"He's promised not to, but who knows what he'll say. He's a really scared man. He's planning to disappear with his wife and son and I've given him a few useful addresses. One thing is certain; this place is not secure enough for Gypsy. Payne didn't do his job so they'll keep sending someone else till Gypsy is silenced for good. They might not stop with him either."
"What do you mean?"
"They might use his family to get at him."
Rosscroft rose to his feet and paced to the window. "Where else can we place the boy?"
Don turned to Manuel. "I'd think about Chilvers if I were you. I liked the look of the place when you took me to see it. It's as secure a den as I've ever seen."
Manuel shook his head. "It's a temptation but way beyond my finances."
"I understand, Manuel, but what value do you place on Gypsy's life." Don watched Manuel chew the end of his pen while pondering the problem. "Manuel, isn't there a clause in the terms of Gypsy's Trust that releases the money in exceptional circumstances? I guess this is such a time."
At last Manuel turned to Rosscroft and asked if he could use the phone. He made two calls, one to Thomas Grafton, and the second to Erskine Trumble. "Erskine, have you found a buyer for Chilvers yet? Then I'd like to rent it. Yes, as soon as possible." He sat back in his chair with a deep sigh. "I'll ask Barry to arrange minders and security personnel but with you away and my having to take on extra work to pay for the place, that poses the problem of who is going to care for Gypsy. He will need a companion of some sort."
Don smiled. "Cissy thought about that on the plane over. What time is your flight tomorrow?"
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