The Only Way to Fly
Now the crisis was at an end, Jake pawed at the bathroom door and whined. Daley knocked on it and when it opened, Jake pushed his way in ahead of Daley who beckoned for me to go in with him. Safety in numbers, I guessed. Billy was towelling his hair dry, his hips still covered by the first towel. This was the first time I took a real good at him, and what I saw took my breath away. Far from being the skinny boy I expected, he packed the beginnings of some good muscle round the shoulders, upper arms and pecs. He had a slim waist and hips and a sturdy pair of legs, but not a sign of bodily hair anywhere. Was this kid really only sixteen?
"Are you okay?" Daley asked him.
Billy nodded and when Daley asked him what happened he signed, and Daley interpreted. He was in the shower when Ken walked in on him, suggesting he accept an apology from him. Then he reached into the shower, grabbed him round the waist and started fondling his penis. Billy tried to sign no and to get lost but Ken said that meant yes in his book. Billy grabbed Ken's wrist, twisted it and used a judo shoulder throw on him. That was when Ken yelled. He scrambled to his feet and attacked Billy but Ken didn't know Jake was in the bathroom, lying in the corner by the bath. Jake intervened and chased Ken out of the bathroom. Hence the scene we had witnessed.
"Okay," Daley said, "as long as you're all right; I've told Ken to pack his bags and go. I just had a phone call from Mr Watson. The snow has started to melt and he's got his own snowplough out. He'll be cutting a way through to us as soon as he can clear his own lane. So, we'll be well shut of Mr Wandering hands sooner than he thinks; and now to something else entirely." Daley folded his arms across his chest, and looked as if he meant business. "Would you like to tell us about a certain hospital appointment you were supposed to attend last week?" The vigorous towelling slowed, and Billy looked up at Daley, guilt written all over his face. Then he dropped his head and waited for the axe to fall. "That was a bit silly wasn't it?" Daley went on. "Did you think I wouldn't find out about it? It's all there on your dad's computer, in his daily journal. What was it for, Billy?"
Reluctantly, Billy signed that he had headaches and felt sick, and had started suffering minor fits; that he didn't want to be poked and prodded by a load of dumb doctors again; that his dad had been fussing over nothing.
"Well that's a bit daft. Bill wouldn't do that; he's not a man to panic over nothing. This could be serious, Billy. I'm calling the hospital to make a new appointment. And we're going to make sure you stick to it, you understand me?"
It took a long time for Billy to nod his head and resume drying himself. Daley signalled that he was satisfied and led me out of the bathroom. Outside, he closed the bathroom door and turned to me, his eyes full of worry. "In Bill's journal he mentioned the possibility of a tumour. That's why his doctor made an appointment to see a specialist at the local hospital. I think that was another reason why Bill asked me to come and take care of the kid, he probably guessed Billy would try and wriggle out of going somehow."
"If it is," I replied, "what if he gets sick?"
"It might mean us having to look for another drummer."
"But what about Billy?"
"Someone will have to stay with him."
"I'll stay," I said without thinking. Then I realised my words might sound too impulsive.
But Daley smiled his strange smile. "I know you will."
"I think it's time for you and me to have a little talk." Daley said, and took me downstairs where we locked ourselves in the study. We sat on the sofa and Daley studied his hands, as if trying to figure out how and what he was going to say. Finally he said," You asked me what Bill said to me when he saw you at the ward window. Remember I told you he vowed he wouldn't die until he found someone special for Billy. Well, he took one look at you, asked me who you were, and said, Job done, I can go now."
"Oh, come on," I protested, "The guy didn't know me from Adam."
"He didn't have to. Bill was as canny as his son. He could tell a good'n within seconds of seeing him. He made the choice without any encouragement from me, although Billy might have had something to do with it."
"How, for crying out loud?"
"He did a lot of talking, did young Billy. I suppose you never noticed from where you stood by the window. Billy has been known to have premonitions. One of them told Billy that someone was going to come and take care of him and told his dad before we got there, and he didn't mean me because it was a stranger he saw in the premonition. You saw Bill turn his head to say something to Billy? He asked him if you were the guy, and Billy said yes. You do like him, don't you?"
"Well, yes," I spluttered, "but this is a bit hard to take in. What if the kid doesn't like me?"
Daley chuckled. "You're not very observant are you? He's been watching you very carefully these past few days. I suggest you make up your mind what you want to do by the time the snowplough gets through because that boy is getting ready to trap someone in his net."
"Nah! I don't believe that."
"Oh well," Daley said as he got to his feet, "time will prove one of us right."
"But, hey! I'm not gay."
Daley stared down at his hand on the doorknob. "What the hell has that got to do with anything?" He left the study, chuckling to himself, and I sat there, staring into space with my thoughts in a shambles. Did I like the kid? Of course I did but… I wiped my hands over my face and realised they were shaking.
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