Puppy For Sale
Chapter 12 - How I Came To Be
I sat, staring at Max intently; too nervous to pick up my cup of tea just in case he should start talking. I wanted to look at him when he started to explain. I wanted to see it in his eyes that what he was telling me was the truth. I had been told so many lies over the years, so many mistruths. At last, there was a man who could, and hopefully would, finally be able to lift the veil of my origins.
"So, me and ya mum?" he let out a long sigh. "God, where to start!"
"Just tell me where how you got together, because I heard that you were a lot-"
"Younger? Yeah, that was very true."
"So, how did you meet?"
Max chuckled. "Jensen, I'll tell you if you let me speak."
I sighed. "I'm sorry, I'm just really eager to know that's all. It's important to me."
Max Nodded. "I met your mother around sixteen years ago while I was on my lunch break from school. She worked in a small Café in east London which a few friends and I used to frequently go to. The place was really run down, but the food was cheap and you could normally get a roll or sandwich cheaper than what the school supplied."
"Wow, you were still at school?"
"Uh huh, anyway, my friends and I always used to say how pretty your mum looked while she worked. Her hair was always done up real nice and she was so friendly to all us boys who used to visit. To be honest Jensen I had a real school boy crush on your mum."
"Yep, and that was all it was until one day I managed to lose my bus pass. It wasn't until I was getting near the bus stop that I realised I didn't have it. I remember that day because it was raining so hard and I was stuck shivering in a shelter across the road from the café. I planned to take the long walk home once the rain had eased a bit because I had no money left… back then we didn't have a cell phone where we could just call for a ride, they were just too expensive."
"So what happened?" I asked, hanging on his every word.
"Well, your mum must have seen me across the street through the window of the café because moments later I was being tapped on the shoulder with her holding an umbrella. I was just expecting her to give it to me and send me on my way, but she kindly invited me back to the café for a hot drink and said if I was willing to wait a little while she would drive me home."
"Wow, thank god for rain," I said, managing a hint of humour. It actually felt really nice hearing the start of this story because it said that I had a history… it said at one point, I came from an almost normal background. "So then what happened?"
"So I waited patiently until she was let off for the day. We got in her car and she handed me some paper towels to dry myself with and then as promised, she drove me home. To say thank you I thought about getting her some flowers. So while we were driving I asked if I could have her number, telling her that I might surprise her one day she was not working."
"So then what happ-"
"Hmm, well, I dunno how to explain the rest to you Jensen," Max said, cutting me off.
"You mean it got romantic?"
Max did a huge belly laugh. "Ye-yeah, something like that… look, as I said, I asked for her number so I could get her some flowers. I didn't tell her I was buying them, I just said could I have her number and I think we got our wires crossed.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when I did call her, she gave me her address and told me to come round. So with the flowers in my hand I went to her address and she invited me in. She gave me a beer and told me to take a seat, and then…"
"Well, you know?"
"No, I don't, what?"
"We had… relations."
I stared at Max, wondering what that meant… and then the penny dropped. "Ooooh, you mean you-"
"Yeah Jensen," Max said quickly. "So that's how it happened."
"What I didn't know at the time was that your mum was involved with some pretty nasty people," Max declared, his face now turning serious and solemn.
"Nasty people?" I repeated, wondering what was coming next.
"Well, Jensen, after that day with your mum at her house she pretended like nothing had happened. I went to the café as usual with my friends and tried to talk to her but she just looked straight through me. I managed to get her alone and asked if I could see her again and she said it was out of the question."
"But why, she obviously liked you… and you liked her right?"
"I was very young Jensen, your mother was twenty seven years old when we… when that happened."
"So who was the guy I remember as my dad then?"
"Hmm, I was getting to that. You see, one of the people your mum was seeing was a man called Brian. I didn't know this at the time of seeing your mother at the café. It was only after I had left school and was going to college that he pulled up in a car one day and threatened me. He told me if I ever went near your mother again, there would be consequences. Seeing as I hadn't seen her for months it totally baffled me"
"Wow, so… so, why did he do that?"
"Well, that's what I wanted to know so I called your mother who, as I said, I had not seen for around 4 months. I asked her what it was all about and she told me she was pregnant and that I was the father. She told me that when things happened between us she had in fact been seeing this guy, Brian. She revealed he was involved with the mafia and that I needed to take what he said seriously."
"The Mafia? Wow, I thought that was like, TV stuff."
"So did I at that age Jensen."
"So how did you feel?" I asked, thinking back to my mum being pregnant.
"Yeah, about mum having your child?"
"I was shit scared Jensen, and to make matters worse this man caught up with me again and asked why I had contacted your mother. He then gave me a choice."
"Yes, Jensen, a choice. He said that he knew I was the father and that I either leave London or he would have my unborn son aborted and then have me killed."
"That's…oh my god, that's horrible." I said, a feeling of total shock overcome me. I felt faint.
"Like I said Jensen, your mother was involved with some nasty people I had no idea about."
"Brian Stibbings," I muttered, staring into space.
"Sorry Jensen?" Max asked, maybe not hearing me.
"The man… Brian, he was Brian Stibbings, he was the man I thought was my dad."
"And I understand that would have been all you would have grown up knowing, Jensen."
"So… so what did you do?"
"Well, you are here and so am I so I think you can guess."
"You left London?"
"I had to, it was the only way. It was tearing me apart that I had a child I would never see, but I would rather that than you not exist at all, and that's what would have happened… so I did as the man asked."
"Wow, that's so sad Max. What about your parents?"
"I managed to convince them that I was enrolling in a new college just outside the city. It was enough until they moved to Australia a year later. I think they were just waiting until I was eighteen. But I was already staying with a friend anyway because of not wanting to be seen in London so what difference it made to them I don't know."
"So how did you see them, I mean, did they ever want to come and see where you were studying for example?"
"Nah, my parents didn't really mind what I did, and to make it look authentic I used to visit them once a week by travelling late at night with my dirty washing and college books that I borrowed from a friend, who I was staying with"
"So what were you really doing?"
"Haha, I was packing mushrooms into boxes. It was very glamorous Jensen I can tell you. But it was enough to pay my friend some rent money and allow me to eat."
I didn't say anything to Max's last comment, instead I just looked at him thinking about the sacrifice he had made just so I could be born. It's true that life may not have been great for me and yeah, I have my problems, but to think about not ever existing, well, man, that takes a lot to get your head around.
I was now able to finally pick up my cup of tea, which was now just about warm, and it occurred to me that we had been locked in conversation for quite some time now. My mind turned to Cindy.
"My friend, you know, Cindy I was telling you about?"
"I was just thinking how she is probably climbing the walls now wondering what is going on in here." I said, smiling.
"You two are very close you say?"
"Very," I said, with heart.
"How would she feel if you left?"
I shook my head. "She tells me that she is happy for me, you know, that I've found you, but she puts on a brave face. I think she will find it very hard alone."
"And you?" Max asked, softly.
"Sometimes it drives me crazy thinking about it, we have been together for so long, it's hard to think of life without her now."
"Hmm, I wish there was a way I could make that better Jensen."
"Yeah, it sucks! So, I hear you are a tree surgeon?" I said, feeling it better to change the subject for a moment. Max nodded, taking his last gulp of tea.
"That's right. I have my own small business. We have three workers not including me."
"And what do you do to the trees?"
"All sorts of things Jensen. Sometimes trees need to be reduced down, or have parts of them that are unwell. My job is to fix that. Some trees grow so big they become too large for an area and so have to be chopped back, and some have to be taken down altogether."
"I get it, and do you enjoy it?"
"I do, and it's a job I take very seriously, even if some people don't," Max said, a grin forming.
"I guess it does have a funny name. I always think of surgeons of people who fix people, not trees."
"Exactly… it does have a funny name, but essentially it's the same job, although I probably wouldn't let me loose on a human body with my hands."
"Hmm, so what happens now Max?"
"In what way?"
"I mean, do I come and live with you? I don't know how this works."
"I was rather hoping you would, I would love to get to know you better, but I understand this is a massive development in your life Jenson… in both our lives. I want you to do what you feel comfortable with. For me? It's enough to know that you are alive… that I have seen you, talked to you, and told you what happened. The rest? Well the rest is a bonus to me, but I would really like to try and make you a part of our family and hope you'll consider that."
"I have waited my whole life to hear someone say that to me Max, but really never expected to be my real father, it's just a little unreal right now. Like a kind of dream in a way."
"I know exactly how you feel, but trust me, I mean what I said earlier, I was prepared to accept you in whatever condition you were in. But it seems I have been very fortunate to find my son to be a healthy happy boy."
"Say I did come and live with you… would I have my own room?"
"Well, that's something I need to work on."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well I wasn't expecting to find you out of the blue like this so when I discussed this with my wife a few days ago we talked about having an extension built onto the house should you ever come to live with us. But, that will take time, so for now if you did come and live with us you would need to share with Steven."
I chuckled. "I see, and how does Steven feel about that?"
"Ah, well, that part I haven't told him yet, as I didn't know how things were going to go today."
"Ok, well can I think about all of this?"
"Of course you can Jensen, there is no pressure from anyone on this. Like I said, I am just over the moon I have found you."
"Yeah… yeah me too Max."
Just as I was about to ask more questions there was a knock at the door. It was Charlotte.
"I'm sorry to disturb you but Max you have Theorpy soon with Doctor Listern, I just wanted to let you know."
"Oh damn, I forgot about that," I said, before looking at Max to see his reaction to the fact his son was a wacko.
Hi didn't reveal anything.
"That's fine Jensen, we can meet again soon, if that's ok with you Mrs Grange?"
"Sure it is, I am certain you both have a lot of time to make up and I am sorry to have to break up the meeting but Puppy's health is very important."
"No, no, I completely understand."
"Which reminds me Mr Chase, would you like to see Puppy's files."
"If Jensen says its ok, yes that would be good, thank you."
"Mr Chase, as the boy's father you do not need his permission," Charlotte declared, almost irritated.
"I know I don't Mrs Grange, but I still want it," Max said, defiantly, before looking at me and smiling. I just shrugged. Max was going to find out about me sooner or later because of all the pills I take, so I didn't see I had much to lose.
"He can see the files Charlotte, I don't mind."
Charlotte tutted and left the room leaving us to start our goodbyes. Max agreed to call the home to arrange another meeting and suggested that perhaps next time we made it a weekend so I could come away from Greenstone to meet his family. This idea sent adrenaline rushing through me, but the opportunity to get out and experience a new environment was one too good to pass up, plus I guess I did want to see where I might end up living in the future, so I reluctantly agreed.
A few tight hugs later, and more tears from Max, he was taken by Charlotte to view my case files and medical records. I found myself alone as I had so many times before, but this time I knew It would not be for long this time. With a big smile on my face which oozed satisfaction, I made my way towards Doctor Listern's room, where I was sure I would have a lot to tell him.
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