A Kid Named Joey - A Novel

Chapter 17

A Kid Named Joey

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 17 

In fact, it took Edward far more than a couple of hours to do what he needed to do, and it was well after two in the morning when he climbed into bed next to Ben. Half asleep, Ben rolled towards him and put his arms around Edward, who fell asleep within the embrace.

Five hours later, Edward sensed Ben getting out of bed. He opened his eyes and looked across at the clock on the bedside table. It read seven-twenty-six. 

"There's no need for you to get up yet," Ben stated as he moved to the bathroom.

"I need to hear the news," Edward replied, still half asleep.

"There's a radio in the clock if you really need to hear it," Ben called from the bathroom.

Edward leaned over and fumbled with the bedside clock for a couple of minutes, then found how to switch on the radio.

'…band of rain is moving in an easterly direction across the country. Most areas can expect to see some rain during the day, though it is likely to be heaviest in the West.

'Now, here are the news headlines. In a series of co-ordinated raids north and south of the border, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Irish Garda made a number of arrests and also located several arms caches…'

Edward reached over and hit the off button, silencing the radio. As he lay back in the bed, he realised Ben was standing in the bathroom door.

"Your doing?" Ben asked.

"In part," Edward replied.

"So, is it finished?"

"Nearly. Now I need to flush out the third party," Edward replied.

"How long is that going to take?" Ben asked.

"I think I should have an answer by tomorrow," Edward replied. With that, he turned on his side, determined to get some more sleep.

When he woke up again, the bedside clock said quarter to nine. Ben was long gone. He got up, showered and dressed in warm casuals, then went down to the kitchen to sort himself some breakfast.

Peter came through from the granny flat with the morning papers.

"Thought you might like to see these," he commented, placing them on the kitchen table. Edward glanced at the headlines.

"What made you think that?" Edward asked.

" Mr Compton suggested it," replied Peter.

"You know Phil?"

"Richard," corrected Peter. Edward smiled.

"How long?"

"How long what?" asked Peter.

"Did you serve?" clarified Edward.

"Ten years, got out five years ago," Peter replied. "Wife didn’t like the hours or the time away. Said it was her or the job, so I packed up the job. This is, she left me anyway." 

"Bummer!" exclaimed Edward. "Why check me with Compton?"

"Well, I knew you were professional from last Sunday, and then I realised you were carrying. If you were legal, you had to be under Richard Compton. I thought I better check to make sure."

"Do the others know?" Edward asked, an element of concern in his voice.

"Christ no! I don't think they even suspect you're carrying," Peter replied.

"Good," Edward stated. "Wish you had not found out."

"Oh, too many pieces fell into place," Peter said. "While I was serving, there were rumours about someone going to prison to cover a deep asset. Wasn't my department. I was looking at homegrown right-wing nutters and didn't touch the Irish crowd, but we heard.

"Then Mike sent us on this job, and I suddenly found a lot of things falling into place. The fact that you were professional but had been inside for twelve years got me thinking. Then I noticed you were carrying on Sunday, and that you did not go for it when we were attacked."

"No clear target to take down," stated Edward. "Does Mike know?"

"My service, yes, it was on my application," Peter said. "About you, no, Mr Compton made it very clear that I was still subject to the Act."

Edward laughed.

"By the way, he asked me to give you a message, Mr Chapman," stated Peter.

"What might that be?"

"Goldilocks is home," Peter stated.

Edward leaned back in the kitchen chair and gave out a long sigh.

"I guess that means your man is out and clear," said Peter.

"I can't say," replied Edward with a smile.

"What now?" Peter asked.

"That depends on who turns up, and when," replied Edward, putting a couple of rounds of bread in the toaster, then filling the kettle to make tea. Peter excused himself and went back to the granny flat.

Once he had finished his breakfast and washed up, Edward made his way to the office and once more opened the secure Linux laptop. He spent nearly an hour sending various instructions to different accounts. Shortly after Edward had finished and was packing away, the doorbell rang. Peter called out that he was answering it. Next thing, Peter was showing Hari Bhat into the office.

"Morning, Hari, though I suspect not a good one for you," Edward said, standing as Hari entered and indicating he should take a chair.

"On that you're right," Hari replied. "Dad sends his thanks and asked me to give you these." He passed over a small stack of index cards. Edward looked at them, then pulled a list out of the desk drawer. Slowly he placed a tick against some of the numbers on the sheet. He then handed the cards back to Hari.

"I missed one that was not your father's but it's probably too late to do anything about it now. Did your father get away ok?"

"Yes, he's been ready for just such an event for years. Left about half an hour before the raid. By the time the police got there, he was on the M62."

"I'm surprised you got out so quickly," Edward said. "Thought they would keep you in for at least the full forty-eight hours."

"Managed not to be there," Hari told him. "I was down in Sheffield on business. Dad phoned me at the hotel after your call. He dropped the cards off at a safe address for me to pick up. No doubt they will be waiting for me when I get home."

"No doubt they will be," stated Edward. "You have a good solicitor?"

"One of the best— not a local. He is on his way up," Hari replied. 

"Good, if you need any help, Hari, let me know," said Edward.

"I will, and thanks." With that, Hari stood up to leave. Edward escorted him to the door. Just as Hari was leaving, Edward said, "By the way, I should be careful what you say to your aunt."

Hari turned and looked at him, then nodded.

It had gone one before the next visitor turned up. This time it was DS Conner: he was without DS Jones.  

"No sidekick today?" asked Edward.

"This is social, not business," replied Mark. "Got off duty half an hour ago."

"You don't look too pleased," Edward commented.

"Bit of a fuck up if you want to know," Mark informed him. "We’ve picked up everybody except Kutrum. Didn't get Hari until this morning. Seems he was in Sheffield. I doubt we will be able to hold him anyway. From what we've got, it seems he's kept himself pretty clean. I suspect Kutrum somehow got a tip-off."

"What makes you think that?" asked Edward.

"His safe was open, and all the cash was gone," replied Mark. "His car was spotted on CCTV going in the direction of the M62 about half an hour before the raid. Unfortunately, the tape was not checked until gone ten this morning. By then we had been informed the car had been found abandoned at North Ferriby. Seems he had a fast motor yacht moored at a marina near there. With at least a ten-hour start on us, he could be across the North Sea by now.

"Any idea, Edward, who the third party is?"

"I've an idea. There are three possible, one has already excluded himself, so there are two remaining. I suspect they are probably working hand in glove. I am just not sure who is in charge."

"Be careful. With the raids this morning the game has changed, you know," Mark said.

"I know it has," responded Edward.

Edward's phone started to ring. He glanced at the caller ID and saw it was Joey.

"Sorry, Mark, it's Joey, I must take it," Edward said, opening up the phone to take the call.

"Dad, they've taken Danny," Joey screamed down the phone when Edward answered.

"Who's taken Danny?" Edward asked. Mark leaned forward in his chair.

"I don't know," Joey said. "Some woman came into class and took him out half an hour ago," Joey stated. "I was stuck in class till break. When I got out, I looked for him but couldn't find him. I checked at the office and was told that he had gone."

"Joey, Danny's father is here. I'll pass you over to him. Tell him what you've told me while I arrange some things." Edward then handed the phone to Mark, got up and walked out towards the kitchen, calling for Peter.

Once he had told Peter that they needed to go out urgently, Edward used the house phone to phone Laura. After a brief chat with her, he returned to the office. Mark was just telling Joey to wait for them outside the school.

Twenty minutes later two cars pulled up on the double yellow lines outside the school gates. Joey, who had been standing there, getting cold, immediately ran to his father's car and climbed in before Edward could get out. Mark got out of his car and came back to Edward's. Edward rolled down the window.

"I'm going in to find out what is going on," Mark informed them. "The office must have a record of who took Danny out of school. I'll meet you at Joey's gran's."

Edward nodded and then told John, who was driving, to take them to Laura's. It took the better part of fifteen minutes, going through the one-way system, for them to get there. To Edward, it seemed that every traffic light on the way turned to red as they approached it. During the trip, Edward gained more information from Joey, not that it helped much.

Arriving at Laura's, Joey and Edward went into the house, Joey letting them in with his key. There was no sign of Laura. Edward was just about to go out and look for her when she bustled in through the back door.

"Bloody glad to see you," Laura announced.

"Where you've been?" asked Joey.

"I went up to Darlyn's," Laura answered. "She's not there. A neighbour told me that they took her away in an ambulance this morning. Seems the home help went in and found her unconscious."

"But why did they take Danny?" Joey asked. "When she's gone into the hospital before, he's stayed here."

"That's right, lad, and it's what should happen now," Laura replied. "Something is up."

"I suggest you get those guardianship papers out," Edward remarked. "I've a feeling that you might need them."

"You're right there, I think," Laura replied before going into the front room. She returned a few minutes later with a large, thick envelope. Laura removed the contents of the envelope and handed the papers to Edward.

"You better check them over, just in case there are any problems," she stated.

Edward read the papers as fast as he could. "I can't see a problem; they are clear and specific, and the witnesses are above reproach. Keep them handy - I think we may need them."

Laura was returning the documents to the envelope when the doorbell rang. Joey went to answer it and returned shortly with DS Conner in tow.

"Any news?" asked Edward.

"Yes, it was Children's Social Services who took Danny out of school," Mark replied. "Seems Darlyn died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They've taken Danny into care."

"They've got no bloody right to," Laura stated. "Danny was to come 'ere if anything happened to his mother. It's all 'ere in black and white." She pointed to the envelope.

Edward had opened his phone to call someone. When he finished he closed the phone.

"Where would they have taken him?" Edward asked.

"Halstead House," Mark answered. "That's where Children's Social Services is based.

Edward sent a text, then told the other's that they'd all better get to Halstead House, Edward's car having to follow Mark's. It was a journey that took nearly half an hour. Once there Edward told Joey to stay in the car.

"But…" Joey started to object.

"No objections, young man," Laura stated. "If we take you in there we might not get you back out."

Joey nodded, accepting his fate.

As they got out of the car, a young man approached Edward.

"Mr Chapman, I'm Martin Lewis from Carlisle, Rutteridge and Carlisle," he said.

"Ah, yes," replied Edward. "Laura, this is Mr Lewis, he's the solicitor I have engaged to act for you and Danny. Would you please show him the papers that you have?"

Laura handed Martin the envelope. He pulled out the contents and read over them. He then replaced the contents in the envelope and gave them back to Laura.

"Well, that all looks in order. Shall we go in?"

The four adults entered Halstead House. Laura walked up to the reception window and pressed the bell. After a few moments, it was slid open.

"Can I help you?" the young man on the other side asked.

"I want to know where Danny Meadows is and why I have not been informed about him?" Laura demanded.

"I'm sorry, but we do not discuss cases with third parties, only with the parents or legally appointed guardians," the young man stated.

"This lady is the legally appointed guardian of the boy in question," Martin Lewis stated.

"And who may you be?" the young man asked.

Martin pulled a business card from his breast pocket. "Martin Lewis, solicitor with Carlisle, Rutteridge and Carlisle. I am Danny Meadows' solicitor. Now you have five minutes to get somebody out here who will speak with us about Danny or we will be seeking an emergency hearing with the family court."

The young man looked at Edward and Mark, Mark flashed his warrant card, the young man blanched slightly, then looked at Edward.

"I'm just logistics," Edward stated. "One of my logistical problems is working out how to get these people to the family court before it closes." With that, he smiled. The young man behind the window felt decidedly uncomfortable and decided that this was well above his pay grade. He told them he would get someone to see them, then slid the window closed.

Shortly after, a middle-aged Indian woman came out into the hallway and invited them into a conference room.

"I'm Ranie Kurr, Danny's caseworker. I would appreciate it if you would introduce yourselves and say what your interest is in the case," Ms Kurr stated as they took seats around the table.

Martin started, stating he was retained as Danny's solicitor, and he then introduced Laura, Mark and Edward. He stated that Laura was Danny's appointed guardian in the case of incapacity or death of Danny's mother.

"What is your interest in the case?" Ms Kurr asked Mark.

"I'm Danny's biological father," Mark replied. Ms Kurr looked surprised.

When it came to Edward, he had to admit he had no direct interest in the case; as a result, he was asked to leave. He did, going out to the car to keep Joey company. There then followed a discussion about why Danny had been brought into care.

"What I fail to understand, Ms Kurr," stated Martin, "is why my client was brought into care when there were arrangements already made for his care and protection?"

"We were not aware of them," Ms Kurr stated.

"I find that difficult to believe," Martin stated. He asked Laura for the envelope and drew out the papers. Quickly he scanned through them till he found the one he wanted.

"This is a letter from the director of Children's Social Services dated June five years ago," Martin informed Ms Kurr. "In it, the department asks Mrs Dean if she is agreeable to taking on the role of Danny's guardian in the event of his mother not being able to care for him. In this letter dated ten days later, the director is thanking Mrs Dean for agreeing to take on responsibility for Danny and suggesting that it might be advisable to have formal legal documentation drawn up to ensure the arrangement.

"Five weeks later the director wrote to thank Mrs Dean for supplying copies of the documentation that gave her temporary guardianship rights when Danny was with her for limited periods and appointed her Danny's guardian in the event that his mother became permanently unable to care for Danny, or in the event of her death.

"It seems to me that the Department of Children's Social Services were involved in the setting up of this arrangement from the start, and that you have deliberately ignored the arrangements your own department put in place five years ago."

Ms Kurr looked somewhat puzzled. "I don't know what happened," she stated. "There is nothing about this in Danny's file. Some notes must have been mislaid in the re-organisation a couple of years ago. Danny's file only goes back two years. There is nothing in it before then."

"That is clearly negligent, to lose essential information," Martin stated. For the next twenty minutes, there was a lot of discussion between mostly Martin and Ms Kurr. Ms Kurr was insisting that they now had to go through the due process, and an application would have to be made to the family court. Martin pointed out that the agency had failed to implement the due process legally in place as they had ignored the guardianship papers that had been drawn up. In the end, something of a compromise was reached. Danny was released to Laura's custody, but there would be an emergency hearing in the morning in the family court. As it would be uncontested only the solicitors needed to be there.

Some ten minutes after that Laura, Mark, Danny and Martin left Halstead House. Laura told Edward that Mark was taking them home. Joey was not too pleased but got out of the car and went and joined Danny in Mark's car.

Edward was surprised to find Ben home when he got back to the house.

"You're home early," he commented.

"Central heating has broken down in the office, so I had to send the staff home. Not much point in me being in by myself. Where have you been?"

Edward explained about Danny and social services.

"Is he going to be alright?" Ben asked.

"Yes," Edward replied. "The documents that Laura has got clearly make her Danny's guardian. Anyway, now Darlyn is not around there is nothing to stop Mark from getting a paternity test done to prove he is the father."

"Ok. Now there is another question I would like the answer to," Ben said.

"What's that?" Edward asked.

"How come you have suddenly acquired one hundred per cent of the shares in KB Properties Ltd? The share certificates were delivered to my office just after lunch," Ben informed him.

"I bought them from Kutrum last night," Edward stated. "He assured me the properties are worth over a million and a quarter, and the company has under three hundred thousand in debt."

"You're probably right; I haven't seen the books yet. How much did you pay, and why did you buy it?" Ben asked.

"Five hundred thousand," Edward replied. "Kutrum needed funds urgently, I had them available in Switzerland, so we did a deal."

"Word on the street is that Kutrum's operation has been busted," Ben stated.

"It has been, but Kutrum got away before it went down," Edward informed him.

Ben looked at Edward for a moment. "You warned him, didn't you? Why?"

"Because, while Kutrum is alive and free, nobody can pick up the pieces," Edward answered. "I was not about to give the third party what they wanted. There were other considerations, as well."

"So, you did a deal with Kutrum," stated Ben.

"Yes, and a fairly good one, though I think Hari will be a bit upset when he finds out. It was quite a large chunk of Kutrum's legitimate activities."

"But he was into child prostitution," stated Ben.

"No, he wasn't," Edward informed him. "That was O'Neill. Kutrum shut that down as soon as he got control of things."

"How do you know?" Ben enquired. 

"Sid told me. Anyway the photos all showed the room before the restoration that was done, after the bomb that killed O'Neill. I went through every image on those disks and not one of them was from after Kutrum took over.

"Anyway I asked him, and he told me he had shut it down."

"And you believed him?"

"Of course, Ben. He had no reason to lie, and it made good business sense to get out of that business. Being involved in child prostitution or child porn was just too much of a risk for someone like Kutrum."

"What happens now?" Ben asked.

"We wait," replied Edward. "The third party has to come out of the woodwork. In the meantime, how about we go out for dinner. I need to celebrate getting a million-pound property company at something like half-price."

It was gone eleven before the two men, slightly intoxicated, got back to the house. Once inside, they made their way up to the master bedroom. Edward pulled Ben into the room, closing the door, then wrapped his arms around Ben, pulling him into a kiss.

"I've been dying to do that all night," Edward stated when they finally parted.

"I'm dying to do a lot more," Ben replied, pulling Edward towards the bed.

Thursday morning Edward slightly regretted the second bottle of wine they had imbibed with their meal. Though he did have to admit to himself, it had been a bloody good wine and a bloody good night afterwards. It did, however, take him somewhat longer to get functioning that morning than it usually would. He was still not quite fully functioning when, just after nine, his phone vibrated. He glanced at the display of caller ID, saw it was Joey and flipped open his phone to answer it.

"Dad, can you collect me from school? I've been suspended," Joey said.

"Shouldn't Laura collect you?" Edward asked.

"She's gone out for the day, Jack had a local run to Birmingham, so Laura was going with him. She wanted to do some shopping for Christmas and the court will only take ten minutes. She put your name on the contact list at school last week so you can collect me."

"Ok, I'll be there in half an hour," Edward said.

As soon as he finished the call, he called John to let him know that he needed to drive to the school. That resulted in Peter being called in to serve as the second bodyguard on the trip. In the end, it took a bit more than half an hour for Edward to get to the school. Then there were problems. The school insisted that he produce photo ID to show who he was before he could take Joey out. It was only twenty-three days since his release from prison and, although he had applied, he had not received his passport or new driving licence. His old driving licence had been returned with his application for the new one.

It took the better part of another half-hour before things were sorted. That was only because the current headmaster had known Edward from when he had been a pupil at the school, and the headmaster had been a teacher there. He vouched that Edward was, in fact, Edward Chapman.

In the car on the way back to the house, Edward asked Joey why he had been suspended.

"I used my mobile in school yesterday to call you," Joey stated. "Then I left the school without authorisation and missed the last sessions. It is an automatic suspension for two days, and there will be a disciplinary hearing for me on Monday." 

Edward ruffled his son's hair. "Don't worry about it. You did the right thing. I'm still taking you and Danny out for dinner tonight for your birthday." 

Back at the house, Joey wanted to do some more target practice, so Edward unlocked the gun safe and told Joey to get the Crossman. As Joey was doing that Edward's phone rang. He saw it was DS Conner and answered it. While Edward was on the phone, Joey took the Crossman from the leather case, not the one from the black box. After a short conversation, Edward confirmed that he would be at home late morning. That finished, Edward took Joey down to the end of the garden to help him set up the target holder in the space between the shed and the rear wall. He also measured out ten metres for Joey so he could try shooting from the Olympic distance.

Edward stayed with Joey for a bit, watching him shoot. He was impressed by how accurate Joey was and how close his grouping was. He got all his shots in a two-centimetre group, close to the bull, with every set of ten shots.

"We're going to need some more targets," Joey said, looking at the diminishing pile beside him.

"Use them, and  when you have finished come up to the house. We can go and get some more," Edward instructed. With that, he returned to the study to read. The doorbell rang just after eleven; Edward presumed it was DS Conner. John called that he was going to answer it. Edward heard the door open and then what sounded like a scuffle. He was about to get up from the desk when Nadia walked in. She was holding a small Beretta pistol.

"Stay seated," she instructed, pointing the pistol at Edward.