A Wartime Evacuee

by Andrew Passey

Part 10

I felt much better about things when Fred came home. I wanted to talk to him straightaway about my thinking we should tell his parents about me. First of all though he wanted to get changed so I turned my back as he did so.

"How was school?" I asked, wondering at what stage of undress he was. My imagination was running wild!

"Schooly. You know what it's like Tom."

"Yeah school is school I guess. Listen, I've been thinking we need to tell your parents. I'm sure your Mum almost caught me earlier," I said, throwing it out there.

Fred looked thoughtful. "I still don't know. I've been thinking about it at school today. I think we should......." Fred stopped mid sentence and put his finger to his lips as he must have heard something. Then I heard it too, it was his Mum coming up the stairs. Then to my horror she knocked on the door.

"Ok boys, downstairs, we need to talk!" She said and I gave a look of panic at Fred. Boys?! How did she know?

"Um, there's just me in here Mum!" Fred lied.

"No there isn't Fred. We both know you have another boy in there. I imagine you're trying to protect him which is admirable. However this arrangement can't continue so come downstairs now and tell me all about it!"

I looked at Fred and actually felt a bit of relief. The decision was now being taken out of our hands. Fred shrugged, opened the door and we both filed downstairs into the lounge where Fred's Mum was sitting down on a comfortable looking chair. I stood there nervously next to Fred.

"Ah there you both are. Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend Fred?" She said with a warm smile at me. I felt a bit better about things and the nest of vipers in my stomach calmed slightly.

"This is Tom. Tom this is my Mum," Fred said without much enthusiasm. I expect he was nervous about things like me.

"Hello Tom. I'm Mrs Candlin but you can call me Edith. I'm guessing you're the runaway that Mr Arch has been asking about?"She was clearly on top of the whole thing and I wondered how she knew. Then again how many strange boys she didn't know were on the loose around here?!

I was about to reply before Fred interjected, "Yes he is and you can't send him back there. He's treated him terribly!"

Edith had an unreadable expression on her face but then smiled slightly. "I see you've made an impression on Fred already Tom! No one is making any decisions on anything just yet. Tom, please sit down and tell me how you ended up hiding in my son's bedroom. You didn't do an awful job of it but I'm not sure I'd want you hiding or Fred trying to hide you if my life actually depended on it. Neither of you are particularly light on your feet! So, talk away Tom!" She said smiling her warm smile that did make me feel confident enough to tell my story.

I took a deep breath and told her everything. It was hard going through it again and Fred chipped in a few times which I wasn't sure was totally helpful. I was just reaching the end of my story when Mr Candlin came home early from work. This complicated things as I suspected I'd have to tell the story yet again.

Edith introduced me to Mr Candlin. And he was very much Mr Candlin, not whatever his first name was. He was a tall, serious looking person who didn't have the instinctive warmth that Edith did. Then again I remembered him laughing with Fred in the garden so he must have had a lighter side. Edith convinced him that I had an important story to tell so yet again I went through it all. My mouth was dry and I was finding it hard to get all the words out. He listened quietly and calmly apart from chastising Fred when he interjected to call Wilfred a pervert.

"Fred! I know there are stories about him and Wilfred might be a bit strange but this sort of tittle tattle and rumour doesn't help anyone. Now on with the story please Tom," he said firmly. I gave Fred a sympathetic look. To have your molester defended by your father must have been hard and it only made me think that Fred should tell them about what happened. That was for later though, for now I told Mr Candlin everything.

He looked at me with a serious expression as I explained how I ended up in the shed. It wasn't quite suspicion but I wasn't convinced he was completely convinced. I then said Fred had caught me in the bathroom and had hidden me for a couple of days. At this point Fred got involved again. "Dad! You can't send him back to Mr Ars..I mean Mr Arch and let him beat and abuse him again!"

"It might not be my decision, Fred. If that's where Tom is supposed to be in the eyes of the law then that's where he's supposed to be. It's not that I don't believe you or Tom but it's a very serious accusation. I might not have raised my hand to you and your brother but plenty round here do. A bit of firm physical discipline is allowed. That doesn't mean it's physical abuse."

"If you saw how his bum looks you wouldn't say that!" Fred protested in an annoyed tone. I liked that he was standing up for me but I also wasn't sure how productive it was. Mr Candlin looked like he was going to chastise Fred but then looked at me instead.

"Well Fred seems convinced by what he's seen. If there is physical evidence of what you both say then I need to see it," Mr Candlin said. I shrugged and stood up and started to undo my trousers.

"Not in front of everyone!" Mr Candlin said looking slightly shocked before asking me to come with him to the drawing room. I did as he asked and once there I turned away from him, loosened my trousers and pulled them and my pants down slightly.

"A bit lower please." He said as I gently pulled them down wincing slightly as they touched my painful bruises. "Fine that's enough Tom, you can pull them back up now."

I followed Mr Candlin back into the lounge.

"Well?" Edith asked.

"We can't send Tom back to that place whatever the law says. I've never seen anything like it. It looks like he's been beaten many many times with real brute force. Tom, I'm afraid embarrassing as it might be for you we do need to get the doctor to check you over. It's probably just bruising but it's best to be sure. It'll also be useful if I have to argue about not sending you back. Let me call John now," Mr Candlin said, standing up and going to use the phone.

It turned out John was the local doctor and he turned up half an hour later. He was tall with ginger hair and a stern but sympathetic tone. Fred fussed around me as the doctor talked to me and he looked like he was going to stay with me for the appointment even when I was told to completely strip off and lay face down on the bed. Luckily the doctor told Fred to leave the room and the doctor then examined my bum in great detail. Prodding and poking, looking with a magnifying glass. It was all a bit embarrassing but necessary I guess. Then I was done and I was told I could get changed. We went downstairs and he gave his diagnosis.

"The bruising is terrible. Clearly this was from repeated violent beatings. It'll hurt for a few days still and take a while to completely heal but I don't think it's anything more serious than extreme bruising. I couldn't see any splinters from the broom handle that Tom says was used. Tom needs to rest and I've got some cream to rub into the bruises that I'll send over tomorrow. Twice a day, morning and night. Someone will have to rub cream into those bruises for Tom given their position."

"I'll do it of course," Edith said which I'll be honest I blushed at the thought of before Fred took pity. "No Mum, I'll do it. It'll be less embarrassing for Tom I imagine." That was true although it would also be a bit embarrassing for Tom to do it to me.. After all, no one had touched me gently there for an awful long time!

With that the doctor left and the room went quiet. Fred clearly decided to strike while the iron was hot.

"Tom should probably move into my room as well. Norman's is full of stuff and Tom's been having nightmares. It'll be more comfortable for him," he smiled at me as he said this and I smiled back. I would just be happy to sleep anywhere that wasn't Mr Arse's

"Sharing a room? I see you've moved him into your room quickly! I don't know how comfortable the floor is and it should be up to Tom as to what he wants to do," Edith said with a smile at her son. Fred wasn't done though.

"I know it should but my bed is definitely big enough for two really. At least for now. Neither of us is particularly large. I'll set some bedding up on the floor so if it gets too uncomfortable I can move on to that and Tom can have the bed," Fred replied clearly thinking all of this through.

"I'm happy with that," I said simply. I didn't really want to cause any trouble and Fred had been so good to me up to now then it would be nice to share the room. I was also acutely aware that I wasn't the only one having nightmares and that I could comfort him too.

"I pity Tom sharing a room with you but if you're happy with that Tom then all good. There's a wider issue of Mr Arch and what we do about that, and then school and that sort of thing. I'll speak to some people at work tomorrow. Can you give me your date of birth and your home address?" Mr Candlin asked, pulling out a notepad. I did as I was asked before Edith went off to finish cooking dinner and me and Fred went upstairs.

"So that went well!" Fred said with a grin. I grinned back and agreed before I looked at him seriously.

"Fred....I've now come clean to your parents. I think you should as well. I'll help you to do it but you heard what your Dad said about that fucker Wilfred. He's got away with it and he might be doing it again to someone else. Well he would have been molesting me if I hadn't escaped. I know it's hard but give it some thought, for your sake as well as everyone else's."

Fred looked upset and just said "I'll think about it," in a very grumpy tone. I'd spoiled the moment but I wanted Fred to know he had agency in this still. He could expose Wilfred and while nothing may happen at least he would know he'd done what he could.

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