Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

Entangled Tales - 1 - Justin

This is just a story - fantasy and fiction - and has no basis on any reality that I know of. However, this story ventures into places that are deep and dark and shows some of the damage that can be done. It could raise issues that you may prefer not to read about.

If you have things that you need to discuss, or have been affected by the issues raised in the story, please raise them in http://forum.iomfats.org or contact me at by clicking here or both. While we’re none of us professionally trained to help. The simple airing of previously unspoken concerns to a stranger is often the best way to handle things.

Midnight in Westpoint, a cold and wet midnight. Well it wasn't really, more like 3am, actually. But anytime Paul was out and about late at night in the empty town, he thought of it as midnight.

Gusty driving rain lashed the sleeping town. You could say it was a 'dark and stormy night', but it wasn't really - the weather could do much more than this. This was just wet and windy, cold and dark.

The solitary car crept east along the main street. A police car. Senior Constable Paul Jamieson drove along slowly, one hand on the wheel, eyes scanning back and forth, checking, patrolling.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil." And, it did look like a valley in the night. Shops and businesses huddled behind their brightly-lit verandahs and the long straight street shone under a thousand lights.

Everything else was lost in the darkness of the night. The normally bustling, busy main street was as empty as the valley of death. You could fire a shotgun down the street and hit no-one, no-one who had any business being there anyway.

One good thing about a night like this, it kept all the low-life at home, snug in their beds. Only the poor old policeman was out in the night. Still, better that than the other way around. Thank God for warm and dry police cars on cold wet nights.

He cruised along, eyes on automatic, not thinking of much at all, except for the hot coffee pot waiting back at the station. Then his brain belatedly realised that he'd seen something odd, across the road, back under the verandah at the front of the Adelphi Hotel.

He did a U-turn at the next intersection, (well there was nobody around), drove back and stopped outside the Adelphi. Several overstuffed plastic supermarket bags sat on the sidewalk against the wall, more or less out of the rain. Between them was what looked like a large heap of clothes, but on closer inspection, the clothes had legs, and sneakers, and arms wrapped around drawn-up knees.

"Hello, hello, hello," he clichéd to himself. "What have we here then?"

Grabbing his long flashlight, he slid out of the car and stepped over to the hunched down person on the sidewalk. "Hey. Hello there," he said in his best gruff policeman's voice. "Are you okay there?"

His booted foot reached out and nudged the small figure, which toppled sideways and opened out on the wet ground.

"Bugger!" He bent over inspecting the small figure before him. Not so small really, but skinny - long arms and legs splayed out. Cheap black and white sneakers, faded, baggy, black jeans, a grubby, gray, hooded sweatshirt and a dark cap jammed down on the long, dark hair. (Visor to the front!) Just a kid apparently, a teenager.

Unconscious, he lay there unmoving apart from the chest gently heaving, and making small groans. Sleeping? Paul couldn't see the eyes because of the pair of dark, wrap-around sun-glasses. Sun-glasses! In the middle of the night?

He squatted down and lightly tapped the boy's face with the back of his hand. Feeling something warm and sticky, he looked at his fingers and realised that they were smeared with blood.

"What the?" He flicked on the flashlight, swung the sun-glasses up, and looked closely at the face. No open wounds were apparent, but both cheeks were covered with blood which seemed to have come from the closed eyes.

"Oh, you poor little bugger. What're you doing out here?"

He sat back on his heels looking at the kid, then, making a sudden decision, got up, opened the door of the car, then picked the featherweight kid up and slid him onto the back seat. He collected the three supermarket bags and a battered old guitar, and put them in his car boot.

Paul then hopped back into the welcome warmth and drove across town to the hospital. He rang the bell at the back door of the hospital and stood waiting while the night-shift nurse came down the corridor inside.

She peered through the glass panel, then opened the door with a smile. "Hello Paul. What are you doing here? Are you on business, or are you just looking for a cuppa?"

"Hello Marcie. No, it's business I'm afraid. I've got a kid in the car, he's out to it and his face is covered in blood."

"Well that's what we're here for. Bring him in, I'll get a trolley."

Paul picked the kid up again and slid him out of the car. Kicking the door shut, he walked up and carefully laid him down on the stretcher trolley where Marcie stood waiting.

"Oh, Sweetheart! What have you been up to?" She glared up at Paul and growled, "Did you do this to him Paul Jamieson?"

"No, of course not, Marcie. You know me better than that. I just found him like this - hunched down on the sidewalk outside the Adelphi. What do you think's wrong with him?"

"Well, I don't know! Let's just take him down and we'll have a look. You'd better wash that blood off your hand. Who knows what sort of bugs a street kid could be carrying?"

"A street kid? In Westpoint? I don't think so. We'd already know all about him. I've never seen this one before."

"No, me neither - but I suppose they've all got to start sometime. What's this in his hand?"

She extracted a crumpled envelope from the boy's fingers and handed it to the policeman. Marcie wheeled the trolley away to the ER, and Paul went to wash up.

While he sat waiting, he inspected the white envelope, smoothed it flat, and then, seeing as it wasn't addressed to anyone, ripped it open and took out the single page within.

"Dear Mum and Da, Hi! Long time no see. Must be about sixteen years already. Hope you're well, I'm doing fine, never been better. I'm off to India with my new boyfriend. Cool eh? I've always wanted to see the world, now at last, I'm off! I'm so excited!

Sorry I couldn't stop, we've got to catch the late ferry to Wellington and the plane's going first thing in the morning. So, it's all rush, rush. I'm so excited!

This here's your grandson, Justin Reynolds. I can't take him with us. They'd never let such a sick kid into the country. Probably got more than enough of their own with the poverty and everything, eh? Besides, I'm sick of being tied down. I was never cut out to be a mother anyway. This is my time to live. You're only young once.

I figured that you'll have plenty of room in the old hotel to take him in. I hope you're still there. If you don't want him - well give him to the child welfare people. He's still only 14 and they have to take kids that no-one wants. That's their job.

Well I must go - to India!! Much love, Kathy

PS. I'll see you when I get back, if ever. Yay India!! Wish me luck. K."

Paul sat in the hospital corridor feeling quite stunned as he read and reread this incredible letter. "This here's your grandson ...such a sick kid.....I'm sick of being tied down.....Kids nobody wants . . I, I, I" He tried to imagine dumping his own daughter with strangers while he went off to see the world, but couldn't. She'd probably kill him if he tried.

Marcie came back yawning, "Well, that's got him cleaned up and settled down for the night, what's left of it anyway. Doesn't seem to be a lot wrong, apart from being bloody cold. Pulse and pressure are okay, maybe a bit weak. But, oh, those eyes! We'll just let him sleep until a doctor can have a look at him in the morning. At least he's warm and dry now. I don't think I've ever seen such an underfed teenager. Time for that cuppa I think. Is that the note he was carrying? What's wrong Paul? What does it say?"

Paul silently handed the letter to Nurse Marcie Sheridan and sat watching her face as she read it. Color faded and her mouth clenched tight. She finished reading and handed the letter back. "I hope the bloody plane crashes! What a selfish bitch. That poor kid, he's just a boy. How could any mother do such a thing? Couldn't you stop her, Paul? Get the cops in Wellington to catch her at the airport. There can't be that many planes going to India in the morning."

"Well, he's not an abandoned baby. I don't know what laws she's actually breaking. The time's pretty short, and, anyway I don't know that I'd want to. Wherever the kid finishes up, he's got to be better off than with that cow. He's got what is presumably all his worldly goods with him - out in the car, three supermarket bags of clothes and a beat-up old guitar. Some kids just never get a chance do they?"

"No, you're right. Our lot don't know they're alive, all tucked up safe and warm in their beds while we're out working for them. I'm going to have that cup of tea. Do you want one?"

"No. Thanks, Marcie, but I'd better get back to the station. I'll come back later, ring me if he wakes up."

He walked away, thinking, and stopped at the door. "Hey, the kid's name is Reynolds. Bob and Kathleen Reynolds own the Adelphi, They must be the grandparents. Didn't they have a daughter who ran off years ago? Yes, that's right - Kathy Reynolds, town bike. What a slapper. Looks like she's never improved."

"Well done, Sherlock Holmes. I wouldn't know about the history. I'm a newcomer in town, remember? Only been here ten years. Bob Reynolds is all right - nice old guy. But Mrs. Reynolds, she's something else! I don't think that my Lucas could live with a fierce old dragon-lady like that, even if she was his granny."

"No, but your boy has got a home hasn't he? 'Bye Marcie, I'll see you later."

For the rest of the night, nothing much happened. Paul sat in his warm office, drank a lot of coffee, and caught up on some paperwork. When the wall clock finally clicked over to 6am., he shut down what he was doing and went out to the car for the short drive around to the Adelphi Hotel. It was still raining and there was no sign of daylight yet.

He pulled in to the back of the old hotel and was pleased to see that the kitchen lights were on.

"Morning all," he said as he knocked and entered. (Paul was fond of clichés.)

"Gidday Paul," smiled Mrs. Connors, the hotel's genial cook. She was a walking, talking cliché herself - the classic picture of a professional cook. Middle-aged, large, plump, and insufferably jolly - even at six o'clock in the morning.

"Lovely day, isn't it? Grab yourself a cuppa and pull up a chair. You're out early, or is it the dog-end of the night-shift? Bloody freezing in here today. Still, it'll soon warm up with all the stoves going. Bugger the power bills, eh?"

"Hello Betty. No more coffee for me thanks. I'll be sloshing when I walk. I just wanted a word with the Reynolds. What time do they arise?"

"We won't see the boss for hours yet - likes his beauty sleep does Bob. Madam will appear any minute now, but she doesn't really wake up before her second cup of coffee. It pays to stay well clear until then. I wouldn't tell her that the old place was on fire until she's had her shot of caffeine. Uh oh - speaking of trouble.”

The door crashed open and a tall dour-looking woman shuffled in. Her long, graying hair hung over her shoulder in a loose, untidy plait. A cigarette hung from her grim mouth and her eyes were still half-closed. She went straight to the percolator and poured her first coffee for the day. She drained the cup in three gulps, then glared around the room.

"Just taking it easy there are we Connors? What are you doing here, Jamieson? On the scrounge again are you?"

"Good morning, Mrs. Reynolds," Paul's smile faded at the glare. "Um, er, well, have a look at this"

"What have you got there?"

She snatched the proffered envelope from his hand and unfolded the letter, quickly scanned the contents, then pulled out a chair, put on her reading glasses and sat at the big table to read it again slowly. Bent over the letter, her hands rested on top of her head.

She crumpled the letter with one hand and threw it towards the rubbish bin, then stood and went back to the coffee. She turned to face Paul, "We have no daughter and know nothing about any grandsons. Where did you get that thing anyway?"

"I found it on a kid. He was sitting out by your front door at three o'clock this morning."

Kathleen Reynolds picked the crumpled note up off the floor, smoothed it out again on the kitchen table, and glared at it. "Sixteen years. Hi, goodbye and wish me luck. Well I suppose that Robert will have to see it. Where is this kid anyway, Paul? Sitting on the doorstep at three in the morning. Hasn't it got the sense to get out of the rain? Well? Where is it?"

"He's, umm, not here. I took him around to the hospital. He wouldn't wake up and had blood on his face. Marcie cleaned him up and bedded him down for the night."

"Blood? What's the matter with it? Was it in a fight?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. There were no cuts or bruises - the blood seems to have come from his eyes."

"His eyes? What sort of a sick kid is this? Well, you'd better get on to the Child Welfare people hadn't you? Some of us have got work to do." Opening the bottom cupboard, she began banging and crashing the pots around.

Paul raised his eyebrows at Mrs. Connors, shrugged, and headed out the door. Connors followed him out, closing the door behind her.

"Paul, wait up. Don't go troubling the welfare people just yet. I did warn you that she was no good in the mornings. She does improve, slightly, once she wakes up properly. Give her time to build up steam, and she'll be around to the hospital - if only to tell them that they're doing it all wrong. A grandson eh? I hope that he takes after his granddad. See that there?" (She indicated the letters "T B D" chalked on the doorframe) "She thinks that stands for 'take back down', whatever that means. It's actually Bob's little reminder to himself - 'there be dragons.'”

Paul drove back to the hospital and Marcie accompanied him in to the ward to see the kid. The boy lay still, on his back, one hand by his side on top of the covers, the other cupped around his eyes.

"He hasn't moved a muscle since I put him there. He's still asleep, which is good. A doctor will be here in another hour or so."

They sat a while, chatting, in the small nurse's station, when the doorbell rang - long, loud bursts.

"Oh, oh. Here we go!" said Marcie going down to open the door.

"Took your time didn't you? It's cold and wet out here you know." Mrs. Reynolds hurried in. "We've come to have a look at that boy. Where is he? Come along Robert, hurry up - you're letting all their nice warm air out."

"He's just down there in Room 5. But he's still asleep."

The nurse, the cop, and the sleepy publican trailed along behind Mrs. Reynolds as she strode along the corridor to the indicated room. She went straight to the side of the bed and stopped - short. All the fire and bluster went out of her like a deflating balloon as she stood and stared down at the small, pale figure on the hospital bed.

She reached out a trembling hand and taking hold of his wrist, slid the boy's hand away from his face. Still holding his hand, she sank into the chair at the side of the bed and sat staring at him. Tears ran down her crumpling face.

"Oh, Robert. Robert look at him. He's so - so - beautiful. Our grandson. Our beautiful, beautiful grandson. Oh, baby boy. So many years. So many, many, lost years."

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