A Kid Named Joey - A Novel

Chapter 7

A Kid Named Joey

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 7

The next couple of days, Edward spent his time sorting through his papers and getting ready to resume his work on his PhD. He managed to speak to his supervisor on Tuesday afternoon and agreed to go down to see her the following week. Though they had yet to confirm a date, provisionally they had set either Wednesday or Thursday.

The bugbear for Edward over the two days was sorting out car insurance. At the time of his arrest, he had over ten years driving experience with no claims. Now he found that his insurance history was wiped out and he was regarded as a new driver. To make matters worse, he was regarded by the insurance companies as having a conviction, which put the rates sky high.

In the end, though, he had no choice. He just had to pay what the insurance companies where asking if he wanted to be able to drive the car. Fortunately, he managed to get everything sorted out before the car was due to be delivered on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was going to delivered using trade plates as the road tax on the vehicle had expired, so before Edward could drive it, he had to get down to the post office and get the registration sorted out and a new tax disc. That meant another trip into town.

Once he had sorted out the car registration and tax, Edward decided he would call in at Laura's on the way back and see how things were with Joey. He drove up Bankside, past East Bank College, then turned down Sydney Street. As he turned into Sydney Street, he saw a group of teenagers standing in a circle, clearly surrounding something or someone. Probably someone. A gap in the circle allowed him to see a flash of bright yellow: the same yellow as some coats he had purchased on Saturday. He brought the car to a halt, ignoring the double yellow no-parking lines.

Getting out of the car, he walked down the hill towards the group. As he came up to the back of them he could make out Joey and Danny standing together facing an older boy of Indian origin.

"Right, you going to give me those coats or am I going to take them," the boy shouted at Joey.

"You'll have to fucking take them," Joey replied.

"Scum like you don't deserve coats like that," the boy announced, stepping up to Joey and grabbing his shoulders. Edward was just about to intervene when Joey's knee came up, hard, right between the boy's legs. He crumpled into a pile on the floor. A couple of lads started to move forward clearly intending to hit Joey.

"Stop!" Edward shouted. The lads stopped and turned to look at who had shouted, then started to move apart at the sight of a six-foot-four black man, who was looming over them. Edward started to move through the crowd which parted before him. As he reached the centre, he placed himself between his son and the boy on the floor. Edward pulled his mobile from his pocked, flipped it open, then pressed the quick dial combination for one of the numbers he had programmed into his phone. The number rang twice, then was answered.

"Kutrum, it's Edward. Your great-nephew is currently on the pavement top end of Sydney Street. He had some problems with his balls. It seems he decided to take something from my son. My son objected with a fairly well-placed knee. I suggest you send a car for you boy. I also suggest you find him a new school by tomorrow. Make sure it is one in another town, preferably in another county." With that, Edward closed the phone.

He looked down at the boy on the pavement. "I presume you're Ranjeet?" The boy nodded weakly. "In a few minutes your great-uncle will have a car arrive here for you. I suggest you get in it and make yourself scarce. It will be beneficial to your future well-being if neither I or my son or any of his friends see you again. Do you understand?"

"Nobody tells me what to do," Ranjeet spat at him. "Nobody tells Uncle Kutrum what to do."

"I do," stated Edward. Ranjeet raised himself up into a kneeling position. His hand went into his pocket and a moment later came out with a knife. Edward's foot connected with a sickening crunch with Ranjeet's face. The knife fell to the ground.

A black BMW pulled up by the spectators. Two Indian men got out. There was a murmur, from the crowd of spectators. The older of the two men walked past Ranjeet, giving him the merest glance.

"Edward," he said.

"Hari, how's things?"

"Good, Edward. I see you were able to deal with things here." Edward nodded. "Arjun, put that in the boot, I don't want blood on the interior; it's hell to get out." Hari indicated the prostrate form of Ranjeet, who was just starting to pull himself together.

"Uncle Hari," Ranjeet mumbled, "he kicked me." Hari turned to look at the boy.

"You're lucky. He only kicked you once. You clearly weren't worth the effort of more," Hari stated. He turned back to Edward. "My father thanks you for your recommendation about schooling. Arrangements are being made to enrol him in a boarding school in Mumbai. He will be on a plane in the morning. My father hopes that is satisfactory."

"Assure your father that it is," Edward replied.

Arjun helped Ranjeet to his feet, then guided him to the BMW, where he opened the boot for the boy to climb in. Ranjeet objected, so Arjun delivered a blow to the stomach, then picked the boy up and dropped him in the boot. Hari watched with a slight smile, then commented to Edward. "It's so good to have decent help."

"Yes, indeed," Edward replied.

He turned and looked at Joey and Danny. "You two come with me; I'll take you home." They followed him to the car. Once in it, Joey asked Edward, "Was that Hari Bhat?"


"But he's…" Joey started to say.

"An old friend," Edward informed him. "Hari and I go back a long way. We trained together in Muay Thai."

"Ranjeet was going to knife you," Danny said. Edward detected some awe in his voice.

"He was going to try," Edward replied. "The problem with knives is you have to take them out and your opponent knows what's coming. You don't have that problem with feet. They are already there.

"That was a nice knee you delivered, Joey."

"Chris taught us how to do it," Joey said.

"He usually walks home with us to the top of Mitcham Street," Danny added.

"But he had dentists this afternoon so left at lunch," Joey stated.

"So today was the first day since you got those coats that Chris has not been with you going home?"

"Yes," both boys confirmed.

They pulled up outside Laura's, and Edward went in with the boys to tell Laura what had happened.

"I knew wearing those coats to school would cause problems," Laura stated. "They would insist though, and it is cold."

"The problem has been dealt with," Edward said.

"Yes, but that Ranjeet is a bad lot. He'll be after them as soon as he is back in school."

"Laura, he is not going to be back in school. Kutrum is sending him to India to complete is education. I suspect it will be made clear to him that he would be better off not coming back. The last thing Kutrum wants is family members who are out of control. He had enough problems with his nephews."

They talked a bit longer, whilst Joey walked Danny home.

When Joey got back, Edward asked him about moving schools.

"Do I have to leave here if I move schools?" Joey asked.

"No, though it might be easier if you did move from here," Edward replied.

"Well, I'm not leaving Danny," Joey replied with a firmness that made it clear that it was non-negotiable.

"So Danny would have to go to the new school to?" Edward asked.

"Yes!" Joey exclaimed. That told Edward all he wanted to know.

"Would you and Danny like to earn some money on Saturday?" he asked.

"Doing what?" Joey asked.

"The friend I am staying with has a large garden. There are a lot of fallen leaves which need to be raked up and collected. I am sure you and Danny could do it in a couple of hours. How about if I pay you ten quid for doing it?"

"Each?" Joey asked.

"Yes, each," Edward confirmed. He was pleased to see that Joey had a business head on him.

"I'll think about it," Joey said. "Will have to speak with Danny and can't do that till we've had tea. I'll phone you later and let you know."

"Alright, but don't make it too late," Edward said.

With that he said goodbye to Laura and left. He had been back in the granny flat about half an hour when Ben came knocking on the connecting door. As he opened it, Ben stepped in. He handed Edward am envelop and some car keys.

"These are yours. Mark put them through the letterbox. Now tell me, what happened this afternoon?" Ben inisted.

"What do you mean?" Edward asked.

"I went back to the office this afternoon and phoned Kutrum's man. Told him we were looking for six hundred thousand and that you were not interested in David's Wine Bar as you did not want anything that would keep you connected to the town.

"We have been negotiating back and forth all afternoon. They came back with three hundred thousand and I had pushed them up in small steps to four hundred. Was pushing for four-fifty but was ready to settle at four hundred. Then, twenty minutes ago, Hari Bhat phones me. He asked me if I was serious about you not wanting an ongoing connection to the town. I told him yes, I said you had spoken about going out to join your brother. Hari then said they would settle at five hundred thousand but that was the last offer. I accepted. Now I want to know why they have suddenly become so helpful. They are paying by international transfer from a bank in India to your firm in Zurich. I gave them the account details. Now, what happened this afternoon."

Edward told him.

"You kicked a fourteen year old in the face and Kutrum is worried about it?" Ben asked.

"No, Kutrum could not care less about that. What he is worried about is that he is losing control. Twelve years ago no member of the Bhat family would have pulled a stunt like Ranjeet did. It draws too much attention to them. Kutrum has been successful by not drawing attention to himself. That's why the brothers are in his bad books — not for killing Amir. He would not have liked that, it's not his way, but he could live with it. What he finds unacceptable is the fact that they have drawn the attention of the police and others to the family.

"Then there is me. I am the unknown factor. Kutrum does not know how much I know. He also does not know how much influence I have. He must guess that I have some. Word is out in town that I am back. What nobody knows is what I am going to do. There is, though, one thing Kutrum does know, and that is that I am a man of my word. If I give my word not to try and take over the operation the brothers were running, Kutrum knows I will stick to it. If I tell him to get Ranjeet out of town, he knows he has little choice but to do what I say. The last thing he wants to do is upset me as he does not know how many cards I hold and what attention I could cause to be directed at him and his family. The thing is, I have the feeling that Kutrum thinks I have something I haven't. He's more scared of me than he needs to be.

"In many ways, this is the worst possible timing for Kutrum. I suspect he is in the process of handing everythiing over to Hari. The last thing he wants is for his control to slip now. He needs a smooth handover of power."

"What are you planning, Edward?" Ben asked.

"To be honest, I don't know," Edward replied. "At the moment I am playing each day as it comes up. What I do know is that I don't want to go back to what I was doing before. There are too many books I want to read, too many experts I want to hear, to have to spend all my time keeping half a dozen doggy bars and clubs running."

"Right, I think I understand," Ben stated. "Just do me one favour. If you do find yourself having to cross the line into the doggy area, let me know so I can step back."

"I will," Edward assured him.

"Good. I'm doing a macaroni cheese with salad for dinner. I hope you will be joining me?"

"Do I have much choice?"

"You could always cook yourself something," Ben stated.

"As you have so pointedly pointed out, I have no choice, unless I get a takeaway," Edward replied.

Edward followed Ben into the kitchen. Ben put a pan of water on to boil, adding a little salt and a splash of olive oil to it. When the water came to the boil, he added the macaroni and started the timer for twelve minutes. Then he turned on the oven.

"I've got you some help in the garden for Saturday," Edward stated.

"Why do you think I need help?" Ben asked.

"All those leaves on the lawn need raking up, don't they?"

"I've got a leaf blower for that," Ben informed him. "If the weather is fine it will take me about half an hour."

"Don't tell the boys that," Edward said. "I've told them it's a couple of hours work and that they will be paid ten each."

"What boys?" Ben asked, half knowing the answer.

"Danny and Joey," Edward replied. "I needed an excuse to get them out here so I can have a good talk to both of them."

"The thing is, if they are going to rake the leaves off the lawn, they need to use a spring rake, and I've only got one," Ben stated.

"I'll go down to the garden centre and get another," Edward said.

"Better still, get a couple of the plastic leaf racks. They don't scratch the lawn surface," Ben stated.


"What time are they coming?" Ben enquired.

"Don't know yet," Edward answered. "Joey had to talk to Danny about it. He is supposed to ring me when he has an answer; why?"

"I just wondered about doing lunch for them," Ben replied.

"I'll call in Iceland and get a couple of frozen pizzas," Edward stated.

"I'll sort lunch," Ben stated. "If we are having pizzas, we will have some good ones."

The timer pinged. Ben cancelled it, then drained the macaroni  before returning it to the pan. Placing the pan over a low heat, he added a large knob of butter and stirred the macaroni and butter until the butter was totally melted. He then seasoned the mix with Aromat, mustard and pepper, before adding a quantity of cornflour, which he mixed well in. Finally Ben added grated cheese, then just enough milk to cover the mix. Turning up the heat he proceeded to stir the mixture.

"Wouldn't it be easier to use one of those packets?" Edward asked.

"Maybe, but it would not taste as good," Ben replied, keeping an eye on the spatula he was stirring the mix with for signs of thickening. "It is always best to prepare food from scratch when you can. At least you have a fairly good idea what has gone into it."

Edward stood up from the table and walked over to the stove, standing behind Ben and looking over his shoulder.

"So, what are you doing now?" he asked.

"Waiting for the sauce to thicken," Ben replied. "My mother always made the cheese sauce separately then added the macaroni to it, but I prefer this one pot method, less washing up."

As Edward watched, the mixture in the pan seemed to get thicker and start to gloop. The occasional bubble would slowly form and burst on the top of the pan.

"That's ready," Ben asserted, taking the pan off the heat. He quickly poured the contents into a ceramic baking dish, then grated some hard Italian cheese over the top before placing it in the oven. "Give it twenty minutes and we will have dinner." Ben reset the timer, then turned to face Edward. He found himself looking directly into Edward's eyes.

"What?" he asked.

"You really enjoy it, don't you?" Edward said.

"Enjoy what?" Ben asked.

"Cooking and stuff, making a home," Edward stated.

"Yes, I do," Ben replied. "The problem is, I have had nobody to make it for."

Edward looked at Ben. "That's a shame."

They had just finished dinner when Joey phoned. He said Danny had agreed to help with the garden clean-up, but only if it was not raining. Edward laughed. "Tell Danny that if it is raining, I will take you to the cinema."

Joey laughed at the answer. They then agreed that Edward would pick them up at ten thirty on Saturday morning.

"You expect teenagers to be up at ten-thirty on a Saturday?" Ben asked as Edward closed his phone.

"They're not teenagers yet," he responded. "There's at least another year before that problem has to be faced."

Ben laughed. "So, you acknowledge it's going to be problem then?"

"Yes," Edward replied.

"That's good," stated Ben.

"Why is it?"

"Because, Teddy, it shows you intend to take a long term interest in Joey."

"Of course I do; he's my son. By the way, Mike wants to meet him."

"You've been in touch with Mike then?"

"Yes, I emailed him on Friday and let him know the situation," Edward said. "He's going to try and get some extra time off over Christmas so he can fly back and see me and meet his nephew."

"It will be good to see Mike again," Ben stated. "How's he doing out there, anyway?"

"Seems to be doing fairly well," Edward replied. "He's got a good job and is living with a nice girl. They are talking about getting married, but her parents are objecting."

"Because he's black?"

"Yes, they're Chinese and don't want mixed-race grandchildren."

"But the Chingros are supposed to be some of the most beautiful people in the world," Ben commented.

"Doesn't matter, they're still half-cast," stated Edward. "That is all they are concerned about."

"They're idiots!"

"Yes, they are," agreed Edward.

*  *  *  *  *

Thursday morning Edward got a call from his solicitors. His retrial was scheduled for the following Monday at Sheffield Crown Court.

"A bit short notice," Edward stated.

"The CPS want it out of the way before the new suspects arrive before the Crown Court," Mr Lowe, his solicitor, stated. "It's a pure formality. The CPS have given a written undertaking to both us and the court that they will be offering no evidence. So, you go in, plead not guilty, they say they are offering no evidence, the judge dismisses the case and you are acquitted. Then the suspects defence cannot claim that there is an already convicted party to the crime."

"I thought you said it would be six months to a year?" Edward said.

"Yes, but that was based on them not arresting anyone. Now they want it out of the way as fast as possible. They have got a judge to agree to slot you in first thing on Monday, provided it does not take more than half an hour."

"Oh, good," stated Edward, though his voice was somewhat lacking in enthusiasm. It was a good hour and a half drive to Sheffield and he would need to find a parking space and get to the court. Maybe he should go by train?

Once he had finished with the call from his solicitors, he phoned Ben to give him the update.

"I'm coming with you," Ben said.


"Well, you would not let me be at your trial, so I want to be at your acquittal," Ben replied.

That dealt with, Edward got down to the task of looking for somewhere to live. He arranged to look at a number of properties with a couple of agents. Four hours later and back in the granny flat, he was very disappointed. Somehow during his twelve years inside, the definition of spacious had radically changed. Apparently, it now meant something on the small side. Edward hated to think what bijou meant these days.

Giving up on the house hunting for the day, he opened up his laptop with the intention of getting some work done on his PhD. His supervisor had given him a pointer to a whole pile of new data that had been published about the Himalayan glaciers. Edward intended to get online and download it so he could have a good look at it.

Instead, he found himself reading a lengthy email from Mike. It seemed that he had spoken to his boss about taking an extended break at Christmas. His boss was not happy about it and told him no, so Mike had handed in his resignation. He told Edward that he had to give a full calendar month's notice so would be finishing at the end of November and would be flying to the UK on the 2nd of December.

Edward sent him an email back saying he was being stupid, throwing away a good job just to come back to the UK for a visit. He pointed out that as soon as he got his acquittal through on the retrial, he would be able to get a tourist visa and go out to Australia to visit him. Of course, because of the time difference, he did not expect to get a reply until the morning.

Having sent the email to Mike, Edward sat back and started to think about his own position. What was he going to do? There was no way he wanted to get back into his old life. Not because of what he had been doing and the dubious nature of it, but simply because he did not feel he had the time for it. Doing his degree whilst inside had opened up a whole new world to him, and it was a world he wanted to explore.

The problem was, he now had Joey to think about. Finding that he had a son changed everything. Edward could not explain it to himself, but somehow he knew that a whole lot of responsibility had been dropped on his shoulders and that he had to deal with it. To complicate things, Joey was clearly intelligent, and one thing Edward knew only too well was that intelligence was not a good trait at East Bank College.

Just before four, Ben called and informed him that Kutrum's man had sent through a confirmation of the transfer of funds to the Swiss company. It would be in the company's account in three days. With that news, Edward breathed a sigh of relief. Not so much because of the money but the payment of it settled things.

Too many people knew about his involvement with the Bhat brothers' businesses. They also knew that he had been deprived of his share of the businesses when he was arrested. That did not look good for him. It was expected that he would go after what was rightfully his, and get some compensation along the way. Not to do so would be seen as a sign of weakness. That could have made life difficult. Now, though, he had reason not to go down that path. Edward was certain that within couple of days, word would leak out that Kutrum had paid him off. That would be seen as him pulling off a good deal.

There was one problem though: Tariq. Kutrum had made it clear that he would deal with Tariq. This had been made as part of the offer that Kutrum had given to Edward. It was, though, something Edward did not want. If Kutrum was prepared to arrange for Tariq's death, he must have his own reasons for wanting it. The apparent offer to Edward was just a bit of icing that Kutrum was hoping to put on that particular cake. It was a piece of icing that was not to Edward's taste. He would far prefer Tariq alive and well and giving testimony in the trial. Edward strongly suspected that when he did, things might come out that would damage Kutrum and the Bhat family's control over the town.

It was with this in mind that Edward made a phone call to a contact he had set up years before his arrest. As a result of that phone call a message was passed to a senior civil servant in the Home Office, who phoned the governor of the prison where Tariq was held. At lock-up for the six o'clock roll check, Tariq was moved from the general wing of the prison into the Vulnerable Prisoner Unit, where he was placed in a single cell.

When the wings were unlocked for association following roll check, two prisoners on the main wing where Tariq was being held found, to their disappointment, that he was no longer there. They then started to wonder how they were going to let certain parties know that they had been unable to undertake the required duties. It was a task neither of them fancied.

Friday, Edward was able to finally get down to doing some work on his PhD. He managed to get online and download the data that his supervisor had told him about. A quick perusal of the data indicated to Edward that there was an increase in the melt rate of the glaciers. The question was how would this affect the water cycle in the Indian sub-continent? It would take many hours of work on his part to calculate what the impact might be.

Edward smiled to himself. This was exactly what he liked to do. He smiled even more when he realised that he was now in a position to do it. He had the money to allow him to do what he liked, within reason, and he was no longer bound by the prison regulations, which often made life difficult when it came to getting and processing information. With a feeling of contentment, Edward looked at the data and started to think how he needed to re-arrange it to meet his needs.

He was still working on it when Ben arrived and knocked on the connecting door to ask what he fancied for dinner.

"You can't keep feeding me like this," Edward said.

"Why not?" Ben replied. "I like having someone to cook for. It's nice to have you around the place. Anyway, what do you fancy for dinner. I can do vegetarian ragout with a leek cake or a mushroom and pea risotto. Which do you fancy?"

"They're both vegetarian," Edward commented.

"Yes, they are," replied Ben. "I try to have two or three meat-free days a week."

"Are you successful?"

"Most weeks but not always. You threw me off last week," Ben replied.

"How come?" Edward asked.

"Well, I try to be meat-free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays," Ben answered. "However, you were here on Friday, so we had ham in the omelettes."

"Sorry I upset things," Edward replied.

"You did not upset things, I allowed them to get out of kilter," Ben responded. "So, what is it, ragout or risotto?"

"Risotto would be nice; it's over twelve years since I had it," Edward replied.

"Finish up what you are doing here and come through when you are ready. Should take about half an hour."

Edward had started to put his paperwork away and close down his computer when he got a notification that he had a new email. He was surprised to see it was from Mike as it would be early hours of the morning in Sydney. Opening the email he read:

I'm not leaving the job just to come and see you. Had been planning this for over a year now. Been saving like mad to get enough together to start my own software company. The place I am at has been going downhill for the last four years since the new owners took it over.

I've been with them for eight years now and it is time to move on. What is more, a couple of the customers who I work with have been encouraging me to move on. They just have no faith in the management that has taken over and are only staying with them because they value my ability to sort out their problems. If I move, they will probably follow me.

Only thing is, I wish I had been able to save for a few more months, as it is going to be a bit tight on what I have got. I wanted to have enough reserves to keep me going for at least a year while I got set up

Have booked flights, coming via Schipol. Having a meeting in Amsterdam with an Australian programmer I know. He worked with me for a couple of years but then decided to go freelance and see Europe. Going to ask him to come back to Oz and join me in the new venture. Will be arriving in Manchester on the 2nd of December. Mike.

Edward read the message, then closed down his computer and went through to join Ben in the kitchen.

"You do realise, Ben, that we had a meat-free day yesterday with the macaroni cheese," commented Edward as he walked into the kitchen.

"You may have done," Ben replied. "I had steak and chips for lunch, with a client. Anyway, Thursday is my day for doing a pasta dish. Macaroni cheese is a pasta dish."

"Had an email from Mike, he's arriving in Manchester on the 2nd of December," Edward said. "I better find a place before then, so he has somewhere to stay."

"No need to," Ben replied. "He can stay here; there is plenty of room."