Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 4

I showed Steve out, apologising as I did for Bernard bouncing him into an arrangement that made me part owner of the yard.

"Forget it, Johnny," Steve instructed. "I still have the yard and I have control. I suspect if your uncle had not come up with this plan, I would probably have lost the yard. There was no other way I could have raised the funds to get control."

"I know, Steve, but it still feels as if he has bounced you into making me a partner."

"He probably has, though, to be honest, I had already thought of offering you an interest in the business once you had qualified as a boatbuilder. It just seems you are getting it a bit earlier than I had expected."

As I was walking Steve to his car, I was surprised to see an Aston Martin DB9 turn into the yard followed by Dad's Santa Fe. Trevor's parents climbed out of the Aston Martin. What was more surprising was to see Arthur helping Trevor out of the back of the Santa Fe.

Dad came over and spoke briefly with Steve, who apologised that he had to go and collect the children from childcare that he and Peter were fostering. I turned to Dad and commented on the fact that Trevor had been released.

"They did not want to release him, but he was threatening to discharge himself. I don't think anybody was willing to section him, so they got him to agree to attend the health centre in town for physio and speech therapy. He also has to see a psychiatrist."

Trevor had been standing by Dad's car talking with his parents. He then turned and started to move off towards the Stable House.

"Just w'ere do 'ou think y'ur going young man," Grandma said, standing in the back door. She did not shout, but she damned well projected. Her voice reached right across the yard. "I've got a room made up for 'ou and Arthur, and thou ain't going to waste my work.

"There's some dinner cooking and one of me apple pies in the oven. So, get in over 'ere. If you need anything from your flat, Arthur can get it for you later." Trevor obeyed. The lad might be a bit stupid at times, but even he had the sense not to defy Grandma.

Steve started his Land Rover and drove out of the yard. I made my way over to Trevor and Arthur. There was something about the way Trevor was walking that did not seem right.

"It's OK; my left foot is dragging a bit." Trevor said.

"I didn't say anything," I pointed out.

"No, but I could see you were looking at my foot. I have to make sure it is in place before I put much weight on it," Trevor informed me, having noticed where I was looking.

"Is that going to be a problem?" I asked.

"The doctors assured me that with some physio it will be sorted, though it will take a couple of months. My arm is the problem. Just can't control it the way I used to. Stabbed myself with my fork, twice, while eating lunch."

"You'll have to try eating like the Yanks," Dad said, coming up behind us.

"How do they eat?" Arthur asked. I was about to ask the same.

"A lot of them cut the food up on the plate using their knife and fork first, then transfer their fork to the right hand and eat the meal just using the fork," Dad stated.

"Sounds barbaric," I commented.

"They probably think the way you use a knife and fork is barbaric," Dad replied.

"Having seen the way he attacks a steak, it definitely is," Trevor commented. "There was blood everywhere."

"I like my steaks blue," I said in my defence.

"You like your steaks resurrectable," Arthur commented. "A good doctor could probably bring it back to life."

"I don't know how you can eat them like that," Trevor said as we came up to the back door.

"Eat what like what?" Grandma, who was still standing in the doorway, asked.

"Steaks, the way your grandson eats them," Dad said.

"Oh, he takes after his grandfather, then. Don't know why I put his in the frying pan."

"I suppose it's from spending all that time in France," I commented.

Dinner was served at seven. There was no sign of Uncles Ben and Phil or of Tyler; Ben had phoned and said they would be eating in Town and not to expect them back until after nine. Even without them, dinner was served in the dining room. After all, there were fourteen of us. There was no way we could all fit around the kitchen table.

Mom had offered Bob and Susan rooms for the night, but they had declined. It turned out that Bob had to fly to the States the next day, and he needed to get into his office first thing to sort out all the papers he required for the trip. Also, they had been invited to a New Year's party at the Savoy, and it would upset some important contacts if they did not turn up.

"You're cutting it a bit fine getting there, aren't you?" Dad asked.

"Not really," Bob replied. "I reckon we will leave here about half-eight and should be able to make it there for eleven. Nobody who is anybody will be there before then."

After dinner, Bob and Susan made use of one of the spare rooms to freshen up and change before they set off for Town. Fortunately, they had their party gear in the car as they had expected to go to the party directly from the hospital.

It was just after nine when Uncles Ben and Phil got back with Tyler. It turned out that they had been at a production meeting regarding Snowball, Tyler's next film. I stated that I thought it was an odd day to have a production meeting, but Uncle Phil informed me that they had to move it from next Monday because Sharon Stevens, the director, had been called back home due to a family crisis. It was either get the meeting in today or leave it till probably February, which would have caused a massive knock-on effect on the plans.

"Now, young man, why didn't you tell us?" Uncle Phil asked.

"Tell you what?" I asked.

"This," Uncle Phil said, putting a copy of the Evening Standard on the table. It was open at a page with the headline Teenage Gun Hero Gets GM. Dad told them that I could not have told him. One of the conditions of the honour was that you do not tell anyone, not even your family, until it has been officially announced.

"But you knew," Uncle Phil said.

"Only because I was there when the letter arrived. Johnny thought it was a joke, so handed it to me to read."

Once that had been explained, there was a round of congratulations being made. The thing was, it just did not feel right being treated as a hero. My actions had resulted in John Henderson's death. He would probably still be alive if I had not kicked him.

Trevor had said he needed to lie down for bit, so he went to the room Grandma had made up for him and Arthur. Arthur joined him. He had not long been gone when James arrived back from the trip to Town. He confirmed that he had taken Marcia and the children to see The Lion King, then they had a meal on the way back. I know Dad had the Santa Fe all day, so I wondered how they managed to get the five of them in the XJS. Then, I realised that it had been parked in the yard all day. James enlightened me with the information that they had taken taxis to and from Southminster station.

Just before leaving, Dad's agent, Bob, had spoken to Dad and given him some papers. Before James arrived, Dad and Uncle Bernard had vanished into Dad's study to discuss something arising from some papers Bob had given Dad. Grandma, Mom, and Aunts Jenny and Debora had ensconced themselves in the sitting room, watching some soap opera that they all seemed to enjoy. Grandad was with them, though I got the impression he was not enjoying the soap.

Uncle Ben, Lee and Joseph had managed to commandeer the kitchen table, upon which were a number of pieces of paper spread with what looked like architectural plans. From what I could make out, they were discussing the dojo plan and the information that Lee and Joseph had got from Uncle Phil.

James went into the sitting room, no doubt to join Jenny, which left Uncle Phil and me alone in the library. I mentioned to Uncle Phil that I was surprised he was not at a show-business party.

"We normally are, kid," he replied. "Usually the one at the Savoy, but this year we did not get invitations."

I looked at him, puzzled for a moment. "Look, Johnny, given the allegations that were made in the Sentinel and other papers, there has been a lot of mud thrown at me and Ben in the last month. Some of it stuck. At the moment, we are somewhat personae non grata in the entertainment world."

"That bad?"

"Actually, it is probably good for us at the moment. We've got a lot on, so not being invited to events is useful. I don't have to think up plausible excuses for not attending."

"But won't it affect your career?" I asked.

"Yes, it's bound to. It's already been made clear that I am no longer in consideration to direct the next Bond film, so that is out. Though to be honest, that might not be a bad thing. It will allow me to concentrate on making UFC."


"Yes, The University Flying Club. Just finished tying up all the rights to it. It's going to be Trevor's next film, and he is going to be great in it."

"You presume he is going to make another film. I got the impression he just wanted to give everything up."

"Johnny, if he gives everything up, he will lose everything. Acting is Trevor's life. I think half the reason behind him hanging himself was the thought that he would no longer be able to act because of the publicity. What he needs is a part to play, a part that can only be played by Trevor."

"I thought he had a part to play in Snowball," I stated.

"He does, but it is only a small part, and he gets killed off in the first ten minutes of the film. Also, because of the shooting schedule, that part will not be filmed until the end of the schedule. I want to get him involved in something as soon as possible. Now, I have all the rights for UFC tied down and can start to plan and get Trevor on board with it."

"You can't call it UFC," I pointed out. "And University Flying Club is a bit of a mouthful and boring. You'll need another name for it."

"You're right. Got the publicity people already working on that."

Shortly after eleven, Dad started to get everybody organized. Arthur went over to the Stable House and set the bells to chime. Neal and Maddie arrived soon afterwards. I asked what they were doing here as I thought they were staying at the Belmont.

"We are," Maddie informed me as she gave Neal a poke. "However, this dolt heard there was a party on here tonight, so insisted we come."

"I had to be here, didn't I?" Neal responded.

"Why?" I asked.

"Now that would be telling," Neal replied.

The Stable House clock chimed the quarter, and we all started to move out into the yard, Trevor included. It seemed his short lie-down had reinvigorated him. I stood with him on one side and Joseph on the other beside Arthur who was next to Trevor. Marcia and the kids came down from the apartment; I noticed that Martin was with them. It occurred to me that he had probably gone into Town with them earlier.

Dad was busy handing out glasses of mulled wine for everybody to enjoy. Trevor declined, informing Dad he had been given strict instruction not to drink alcohol whilst on his medications.

"That's right, lad," James replied from behind us. "Alcohol and the stuff you're on do not go together. Though I don't think half a glass of champers at midnight will do much harm."

"You're sure?" Arthur asked.

"Yes, Arthur, it will be safe for Trevor to have a small amount of champagne, provided he goes straight to bed afterwards."

"Oh, I'll make sure he does," Arthur stated with a smile.

Shortly before midnight, our glasses were replaced by flutes of champagne; even Trevor got one, though he poured most of his out, topping up Arthur's, Joseph's and mine. At one minute to midnight, the clock started to chime the quarters. Then after a pause the clock sounded the first chime of midnight.

"Happy New Year!" Dad shouted, holding up his glass.

"Happy New Year!" we all chorused, taking a drink from our glasses.

There was a sudden whooshing sound that seemed to come from the direction of the Tithe Barn; then rockets exploded overhead. They were followed by a sequence of airbursts and more rockets.

"Well, that worked," Neal said. I turned to look at him. He had a very satisfied look on his face.

"You set that up?" I asked.

"Yes, your father asked me to."

"Why did he do that?"

"Well, I am a member of the UK Pyrotechnics Society," Neal stated. "Somehow, your father found out. Since I was here, he asked me to sort something for tonight. First time I have set up a computer-controlled firing."


"It's OK, Johnny, I've been involved in setting them up before; it's just this is the first time I have done it all by myself."

Maddie laughed.

"My uncle was in that," Joseph said.

"In what?" I asked.

"The UK Pyrotechnics Society. I used to help him make fireworks sometimes when we stayed with him."

I was wakened New Year's Day by Joseph, paying particular attention to part of my anatomy, which was responding with some vigour, Joseph's attention being quite determined.

"Slow down. What's the rush?"

He removed his mouth from my person and looked at me. "It's quarter to ten, and we are leaving at eleven. I want some breakfast, but I wanted this first."

Shit, I had forgotten that Uncle Bernard was taking Joseph home this morning. I pulled him in for a kiss, then let him get back to what he was doing whilst I proceeded to do the same to him. We were in the shower half an hour later and down for breakfast by half ten.

"I was just about to send somebody up to find you two," Uncle Bernard said as we entered the kitchen.

"We've still got half an hour," Joseph pointed out.

"Probably longer," Uncle Bernard said. "Your mother has just decided to discuss curtains with Anne. We may well be here for at least another hour, knowing your mother."

"What do you want for breakfast?" Grandma asked Joseph.

"Any chance of a bacon sandwich?" Joseph inquired.

"Of course, son," Grandma replied, moving to the fridge to get the bacon out.

"Any chance of making that two?" Uncle Bernard asked.

"No, you don't, Bernard Lebrun," Aunt Debora announced from the doorway. She had clearly finished whatever discussion she had been having with Mom. Bernard looked at her with a pleading look which would have done justice to a puppy.

"After twenty plus years of marriage, that does not work," Aunt Debora informed him.

"It never worked in the first place," Bernard commented.

"Here, this should keep you going," Grandma said, putting a couple of pieces of toast in front of him. Bernard looked at them reluctantly, then started eating them with gusto.

Grandma dished up a couple of bacon sandwiches for Joseph and a plate of bacon, egg and fried bread for me. She knows what I like. Over our late breakfast I asked Uncle Bernard how things were going with the Sentinel.

"At the moment, not much," Uncle Bernard replied.

"I thought you would be hitting them with writs," I commented.

"We will be, but not till next week," Uncle Bernard said. "It will be Martin that will be dealing with things; I'll be in hospital." I had forgotten that Uncle Bernard was going into hospital on Monday.

"Is he up to it?" Joseph asked. "He is new, after all."

"Of course, he's up to it. I would not have employed him if he weren't."

With our late breakfast finished, Debora and Bernard took their cases out to the car. Joseph, of course, did not have one; he keeps a set of clothes in my room. I gave Joseph a farewell kiss and saw him out to the car. Mum came out to say goodbye to them.

As they drove off, I asked Mum where Dad was.

"Oh, he's taken Trevor into Maldon. Trevor can't drive whilst he is on the tablets, and Neal wanted to discuss something with Arthur, so your dad offered to take Trevor in."

"I wonder what he wants to get so badly that he has had to go into Maldon?"

"I think it is something to do with his phone," Mum replied. "Something about changing the number."

That would make sense; he would have to go into the dealership to get things sorted. I knew Trevor was with T-Mobile, and he still had nearly a year left on his contract. We had discussed him moving to GiffGaff before Christmas, but it had not been possible due to the twenty-four-month contract he was on.

At that point, I noticed the end stable unit under the apartment was open and empty. That meant Dad had used the Morgan to take Trevor into Maldon. So, I asked where the Santa Fe was?

"James has taken JayDee and Tariq to look at the place he is buying. Jenny went along for the ride."

"I'd better find Lee then and see what he's up to?"

"He's gone out with your Uncle Ben," Mum informed me. "Lee wanted to show your uncle something."

"Is there anyone around?"

"Well, your Uncle Phil is around somewhere. Not seen anything of Tyler. Your grandfather's gone off to help the lads in the garden. If you are stuck for something to do, you can always give me and your grandmother a hand."

The look on my face must have provided the answer to that comment. Mum laughed, then walked off back to the kitchen. I followed.

I found Uncle Phil in the library reading through a folder of papers. He confirmed that Trevor had gone into Maldon to get his phone number changed. Apparently, the press had got hold of it, and he was being pestered with calls. It had been switched off for the last two days.

"That's bad," I commented. "He does not need that sort of pressure."

"No, he doesn't." Uncle Phil confirmed. "But how are you doing?"

I looked at Uncle Phil, surprised by his question. He continued. "Look Johnny, everything changed for you. You're a national hero. I'm sure you've had the press onto you."

"Fortunately, they do not have my mobile number, though a few have tried the landline," I commented.

"Just hope it stays like that."

We chatted for about half an hour. Uncle Phil asked me about college. Told him I had done my French paper, only had my oral to do, then I had AS papers in Maths and Physics starting end of May. Uncle Phil told me about the plans he had for Manston and for his next film. We were still talking about things when Uncle Ben returned with Lee.

"How was it?" Uncle Phil asked as the pair entered the library.

"It could work," Uncle Ben stated. "Depends on if it is still for sale and what the price is."

"Price of what?" I asked.

"There's a couple of old workshop buildings that Lee told me about. I'm looking to see if they would be any use for a dojo."

"Thought you were going to use the far end of the Stable House?"

"Not feasible," Lee stated. "Joseph and I went down to see Matt about it yesterday; he pointed out that the floor would not take the impact of throwing people around on it. It would have to be reinforced, and that is going to take time and money. This place is already set up for martial arts."

"How come?"

"There used to be a Taekwondo club there. A friend of mine from the estate used to run it. Unfortunately for him, it went bust; that was about two years ago."

"If he could not make it pay, what makes you think you can?" I asked, looking at Lee and my uncle.

"We don't need it to pay," Uncle Ben pointed out. "I just need a place where I can teach actors to fight. I suspect that the reason the old club failed was that there is no local population there."

"Where is this place?" I asked.

"If you follow the road over the hill and turn along the marsh road, it is a right turn off that. About two or three miles along," Lee said.

"Then you have a mile-and-a-half run back towards here," Uncle Ben said. "I strongly suspect that the back of the workshops abuts onto this property."

"Why do you think that?"

"Because, Johnny, from the side windows of the property we could see the end of the sidings."

In that case, my uncle was probably right. The end of the sidings was only about a hundred metres from our back gate, and our property went well past that. In fact, thinking about it, I recalled there were a couple of old buildings that did back up against the property; they formed part of the wall on the bottom edge of the property.

"What are you going to do about them?" I asked.

"Well, there is a rather faded for-sale or to-let board outside of the building, so I am going to phone the agents in the morning and see if it is still on the market. I would need to get Matt in to have a good look at them, but if they are not too expensive, I will probably put a bid in for the pair."

"The pair!" Uncle Phil exclaimed. "What are you going to do with the second one?"

"Not sure yet," Uncle Ben said. "Though I did think it might make a nice open-plan pad where we could stay when we came down."

"Why should we need a pad? We can stay here and be looked after," Uncle Phil pointed out.

"Yes, that's fine for the odd week here and there, but if I am creating and teaching fight sequences, I am likely to be here for a number of weeks. Don't want to impose on my brother for that long."

Uncle Phil did not seem too happy about things, but nodded. "Makes some sort of sense. Not sure how, but it does make some sense."

I left Uncles Phil and Ben discussing things and left, Lee with me. As we were going towards the kitchen, I asked him what had taken so long for them to go a couple of miles?

"We had to go to Southmead first to pick up the keys to the place. My mate, who ran the Taekwondo club, still had a set, then we had to take them back."

"Lee, I thought you said it was too dangerous for you to go to the estate?"

"I'm not that stupid. Phoned him last night and arranged to meet at the petrol station where he works. He let us have his set of keys, and we took them back to him there."

"He must trust you to let you have the keys," I commented.

"He does. He's my best mate; he's also my cousin." Lee went silent. There was a troubled look on his face. There was nobody in the lounge, so I suggested to Lee that we go in there. Once inside the lounge, I grabbed the wingback chair by the fireplace. Lee took the chair opposite me, nervously sitting on the edge.

"You miss him, don't you?" I asked.

Lee nodded. "Yes, I do. Jarrom's five years older than me, but he always treated me like I was his younger brother. Nothing he could do was too good for me. He told me I had to get out of the estate, that education was my way out. He had it all planned out for me. A-levels, university, then a career in broadcasting.

"He tried to get out of the estate as well; he put everything he had into starting that club, and it failed. Now he's working petrol pumps on minimum wage."

"Well, Lee, maybe you can help him."

"Me, how? I'm an ex-con out on licence. What can I do?"

"Well, for a start, you can make sure Uncle Ben gets that dojo sorted out."

"How will that help?"

"You said your cousin did Taekwondo, right?"

"Yes. He's been doing it since he was eleven. He's even won some major competitions. Why?"

I almost sighed but thought better of it. I could not see how somebody as intelligent as Lee clearly was could not see the obvious answer. "Lee, Uncle Ben wants to open a dojo where he can teach fight sequences. Isn't that the idea?"

"Yes, he was telling me about it in the car. He does more fight directing on films than acting."

"From what Joseph has said, he teaches Atemi Jutsu, Aiki Ju Jitsu and Aikido. Is that right?"


"Well, he does not teach anything that has all those fancy kick and punches in it, does he?"


"But directors like those in films; they look impressive. So, if Uncle Ben is going to run a dojo to teach fight techniques and direct fight sequences, he is going to need someone who can teach the high kicking and punching, isn't he?"

For a moment or two Lee looked puzzled, but finally something clicked, and he smiled. "Jarrom."

"Yes. You can't do much now because you don't know how things are going to work out, but if the place proves viable and Uncle Ben buys it, then it will be worthwhile suggesting Jarrom to him. At the very least, he will need someone there to manage the place when he is not around. I don't think Dad would be too pleased if it all fell on your shoulders."

Lee sank back into the chair. A smile touched his lips. "You know, Johnny, you're bloody smart."

"Of course, I'm smart. I survived my mother for fifteen years, didn't I?"

Lee looked at me, puzzled. It occurred to me then that Lee had no idea about my past. I used the next half hour to explain to him about my mother and what my life had been like.

"Fuck! Johnny, I thought my life was hard, but at least I knew I was loved. My parents loved me, my sister loved me, and my cousin loved me. I might not have had all the stuff you got, but I think I was probably better off."

"I don't think you were; I know you were," I stated. "I saw it all the time at the schools I attended: the sons of rich parents who could have anything they wanted except the one thing they needed."

"How did you cope? How did they cope?"

"Some didn't. They escaped…with drugs or alcohol."

"You didn't go that way?"

"No, Lee, I used sex. I thought I could buy love with it."

Lee looked at me with an expression of puzzlement on his face, then, slowly, understanding came to him, and the puzzlement was replaced by sorrow. I spent the next half hour getting Lee to understand that things were a lot better for me now and that I was coping.

Lee thanked me for telling him and said that what I had told him explained a few things he had picked up over Christmas. He also told me if I ever wanted someone to talk to, I knew where to find him. I assured him I was OK, and everything was good now. Now, I had Joseph to help me coping with things.

Lee left; he was due to meet his parents for lunch and did not want to be late. I sat in the lounge, thinking. I had told Lee that I was coping, but was I? Everything was great. Dad loved me. More importantly, he was prepared to let me be who I wanted to be. I did not have to meet expectations. Dad and Mum really made me feel wanted; so did Joseph. There was, though, an emptiness in me as well. Most of the time I kept it hidden, carefully pushed away at the back where it could not disturb things. Sometimes, though, it could not be avoided.

My gut feeling told me that this was not a good time to be on my own, so I went to see who was about. I was in luck; Dad and Trevor had just come back. Trevor went up to his room but said he would be back to grab a tea. Whilst he was gone, Dad asked me to stay with him. I had nothing to do, and it would mean I would not be on my own, so I said I would. I asked Dad where he would be.

"Probably in my study; your uncle wants to discuss property with me."

I had a pretty good idea what that was about. I went and put the kettle on for some tea, then looked in on the sitting room to ask Mum and Grandma if they wanted anything. Grandma went for a tea, and Mum wanted coffee. I had just finished making the tea when Trevor returned. I handed him a mug of tea, then took a tea and coffee through to the sitting room for Mum and Grandma. Then I suggested to Trevor that we might as well move to the lounge; it was a bit more comfortable in there.

"Been told to keep an eye on me?" Trevor asked.

"Not quite, but nearly."

"Everybody is scared I might try again."

"I suspect they are. Will you?" I responded.

Trevor looked at me puzzled, as if trying to work something out. "Don't think so, at least not at the moment."

"But you may in the future?"

"I don't know. I might when Arthur leaves me." There was a definite dejection in his tone of voice.

"Why the fuck will Arthur leave you?" I asked.

"I'm not good enough for him," Trevor stated.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm nothing more than a whore who let men fuck me so I could get parts in films. It's the only way I can get parts."

"If you think that, you're a bloody fool," I asserted. "Those men used you. Did you have sex with anybody to get the part in That Woman's Son?"

"No, but I would have if they had asked me to."

"Who did you have sex with to get the part of Romeo last year?"

Trevor looked at me puzzled. "No one."

"No, you did not get those parts because you had sex with anyone. You got them because you were the best person for the part. I'm fairly certain that is why you got your part in the Renegade Elf series. You would have got the part whether or not you were having sex with Mark Gleeson. In fact, you already had the part before you started having sex with him."

Saying that surprised me, but when I thought about it, I realised it was true. Trevor had already been cast in the part before he had sex with Mark Gleeson. Oh yes, Gleeson was grooming him from the start, but it was not the fact that he was having sex with Gleeson that got him the part.

Trevor must have been thinking the same thing. There was a look of surprise on his face. Then doubt as he said, "But—"

"There's no fucking BUT, Trevor. You got that part before you had sex with Gleeson. Having sex with him did not get you the part. Once you were cast in the part and the first film was a success, there was no way they could get rid of you. You were the Elf Prince, the Renegade Elf the whole series was about. Once you had that role, it was yours; they had to use you."

I was not sure that Trevor understood what I was saying. To be honest, I was not sure that I understood what I was saying, but it seemed to make some sort of sense. At least it did to me. Not sure it would to anyone else, but I had to hope it made sense to Trevor.

"So, I didn't have to do all that?"

"No, Trevor, you did not. They tricked you and used you."

"But I…" He paused, unable to say what he wanted to say. I could guess what it was.

"But you wanted it."

"Yes, but how did you know?"

"Because I was the same. I wanted the attention, the praise, the love. I wanted what I was not getting. No, it's more than that; I needed what I was not getting, so I gave sex in exchange for it. It's the devil's deal. You give them what they want, the use of your body. They give you what you want: attention, something you take as being love, and physical pleasure."

"You enjoyed it?" Trevor asked.

"Of course, I did, sometimes. Didn't you?"

"Yes." That was accompanied by a deep sigh.

"Of course, you did. You're a young male just entering puberty. They were supplying sexual stimulation; you were bound to enjoy it. You probably even looked forward to it. That does not mean you did anything wrong. It just means that those men knew how to use you, and they were using you."

"Like the men used you?"

That caught me unprepared. However, when I thought about it, Trevor was right. Oncle Jacques and Marcel had both used me. I, though, had been using them. The men at the villa had also used me. The thing was, I knew that, I just did not like admitting it; not to myself or to anyone else.


Trevor looked surprised.

"Let's go for a walk," I suggested. Trevor looked more surprised but agreed. Trevor went up to his room to get a coat; I got mine from the coat stand by the mudroom and also changed my shoes for a pair of stout boots. When Trevor came down from his room, I noticed he was wearing sneakers. I suggested that he needed something a bit more robust.

"These are all I've got over here," he informed me.

"Do you have anything suitable in the flat?"


"Then, we'll call in there first so you can change your footwear."

Trevor expressed the opinion that it would be a good idea as he would be able to let Arthur know where we were going; so that's what we did. When we got there, Trevor went off to sort out the footwear issue. I went through to the office to talk with Arthur and Neal. Most importantly, I wanted to let Arthur know I was going for a walk with Trevor and where we would be walking just in case Arthur was looking for him later.

I made the mistake of asking Arthur what they were up to. He and Neal then started a complicated description about load balancing and load switching, of which I understood nothing. I was just asking if they could explain it in simpler terms when Trevor came in, wearing more sturdy footwear.

"Don't bother asking," Trevor said from the door as he entered. "Even when they say it is really simple, it takes a rocket scientist to understand it."

"Rockets are easy," Neal stated. "Is all about getting the right degree of thrust to overcome gravity. Now load balancing, that's a different matter. Take—"

"Don't bother," I interrupted. "We only came over so Trevor could sort out his footwear, and he could let you know what we were up to." I assured Arthur that we would not be all that long. Maximum would be an hour. Arthur told Trevor that they should be finished by then, so he would see Trevor back in the house. Trevor said he had put some stuff in a suitcase and asked Arthur to take it over to the house for him. Arthur said he would.

We set off down the back drive, which led to the new back gate. As we walked along the side of the walled garden, we heard what sounded like a small motorbike being revved. Trevor commented that my friends sounded busy. I put my head through the top gate to the garden to see what was going on. It appeared Grandpa had got his hands on a petrol-powered string trimmer and was intent on using it. I noticed both Jim and Steven were standing well back. Having established what was going on, I withdrew, not wanting to risk going into the garden. Well, Grandpa did have the string trimmer, and Grandma was saying he needed his eyes tested. Hopefully Jim and Steven will keep well out of his way.

Trevor and I proceeded down the drive till we were almost at the back gate, then turned left along the hedge line that backed up against the security fence that Matt, our architect and builder, had installed when the gate was put in.

There had been a path at one time along here, but it was now pretty much overgrown, with brambles trailing out of the hedge. I mentioned to Trevor that maybe I should suggest to Grandpa that he could bring the string trimmer down here. Trevor responded with a question as to whether the hedge would be safe to work at. Thinking about it, I decided it was probably best to mention something to Jim or Steven. I recalled that part of the deal they did with Dad was that they would take care of maintaining the estate.

"I've never been down this part of the property before," Trevor stated as we walked along the hedge line.

"Can't say I have much," I told him. "Looked around when we first moved in and we went over it in detail when Joseph and I assisted Sarah in doing the survey. Mostly, though, if I am out for a walk, I follow the paths through the wood and down to the pond."

"Who's Sarah?"

"Didn't you meet her?" I asked, but thinking about it, Trevor probably did not. He was not at the Priory most of the time when Sarah was doing the survey. In fact, I could not think of any time when he would have met her. I thought I'd better fill Trevor in about her. "She's the archaeologist who did the survey of the site for the County Museum. Joseph worked with her a lot. I only helped out on a couple of occasions, like when we were mapping the site."

Trevor just nodded in acknowledgement of the information. We made our way further down the pathway, what little there was of it. I really must make a point of speaking to Jim about it.

We got to the end of the hedge. It gave way to a brick wall, a good eight-feet high, which ran for some thirty metres or so. About a third of the way along the wall, it became the back of two Victorian railway sheds. At the end of the sheds, it returned to its eight feet of brick construction, turned sharply to the left and ran back towards the front of the property. The path turned to follow it.

I stood and looked at the sheds for a bit, not that I could see much. The lower level of the side of the buildings was obscured by the wall. The back of the buildings had no windows or openings in the lower level and a single oculus window in the upper level of each shed.

Trevor looked at me as I studied the buildings. "What's so interesting?"

"Uncle Ben is thinking of buying them," I stated.

"What for?"

"He wants to turn one into a dojo and training area for when he is working as a fight director. The other, he was talking about changing into a pad for himself when he is down here doing fight direction."

"It's going to be a pretty big pad if he does."

"If he uses all of it, it will be. He'll probably split it up and make two or three apartments out of it. That way he will have accommodation for the people he is training."

"I'd better have a word with him and see if he will let me have a place," Trevor stated.

"Why? You've got the Stable House apartment."

"That's Arthur's, and he is going to want me to move out sooner or later."

"Why would he want that?"

"Because I'm not good enough for him. I'm a washed-up, two-bit actor with not that much of a future. He's going to get tired of me sooner or later; then, where am I?"

"Like fuck! I repeat what we talked about earlier; you are not a washed-up actor. If you were washed up there is no way you would not have two films on offer?"

"Two films?"

"Well, you've got a part in Snowball," I stated.

"I get killed in the first ten minutes; that's a bit part."

"Well, the part in University Flying Club is not a bit part."

"What part? What film?"

I looked at Trevor surprised. Then I understood.

"I'm going to kill my uncle!"

"Which one, and why?"

"Uncle Phil. He clearly has not spoken to you about University Flying Club. I was talking to him this morning, but he never said anything about it being confidential. I thought he would have discussed it with you."

"What's it about?"

"How the fuck should I know? All I know is that it is something to do with the Battle of Britain. That's why Uncle Phil was in London yesterday; he had to get the final rights tied up."

It hit me then that Trevor was looking very worried. I asked, "What's up."

"There's no way I can be in a war film like this."

"Like what?"

"Like this. I'm a fucking cripple. My leg doesn't work properly; I can't even use a knife and fork properly."

"Then you better bloody get onto getting it sorted out," I snapped. "If you want to sit around and feel miserable for yourself as a result of you being stupid, go ahead and do it. That's one way you probably would lose Arthur.

"If you want to hang onto Arthur, then get fit. Get yourself sorted out. Not only physically but mentally, as well."

I do not know if I hit the mark with Trevor or not. He was just very silent after that. We made our way back towards the house. As we turned to go towards the gate between the Stable House and the Coach House, Tyler came through the gate, clearly walking back to his place.

"Trevor, Matthew is looking for you," he called across.

Trevor nodded, then said to me, "We better hurry up so I can find out what your uncle wants."

We speeded up slightly and less than a minute later entered the kitchen of the Priory. Mum was busy prepping for dinner.

"Trevor, Phil is looking for you, you will find him in the library. There's a message on the board for you, Johnny."

Trevor stated he needed to change and went off to his room. I picked up the message from the board. It was from Steve, asking me to open up the yard in the morning. I wondered why he had not called me on my mobile, then remembered that coverage on the back end of the estate was pretty iffy, to say the least. Most of the time it was non-existent. Pulling my phone out, I checked and saw that I had two missed calls.

One was from Steve; the other was from Joseph. I returned Joseph's call first. We chatted for about ten minutes. Nothing important, just Joseph moaning about having to go back today and then finding there was nothing for him to do. He told me he could have stayed up here and gone down with us tomorrow. That put me in a panic, I had totally forgotten we were going down to Uncle Bernard's Kent house tomorrow afternoon. There were a hundred-and-one things I needed to sort out first.

Once I had finished my call with Joseph, I phoned Steve.

"Thanks for calling back, Johnny," Steve said when he answered the phone. "I tried calling your mobile, but it went straight to voicemail."

"Was down the back of the grounds by the sidings. There is no mobile coverage out there."

"No, there wouldn't be; it's behind the rise." Steve's statement made sense. The house was built on the highest point of the hill it stood on. The ground behind it sloped away down towards the marsh. As the local phone masts were all on the far side of the harbour, I suppose the hill pretty well blocked their signal.

"So, what did you want?" I asked.

"Could you open the yard for me in the morning?"

"I could, but I don't have any keys and I have to be away by one; we're going down to Kent in the afternoon."

"I know; Anne told me. She's given me strict instructions to make sure you're home by one at the latest. Should not be a problem. I'm meeting Martin at nine and could drop the spare keys in with you on the way to his place. If you can go in and open the yard, I should be there by eleven, twelve at the latest. You just need to cover the chandlery and take any phone calls."

I told Steve that it would not be a problem. Steve would drop off the keys, and I would open the yard up. It was keeping winter hours, so did not open till ten and closed at four, in any event.

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