A Kid Named Joey - A Novel

Chapter 14

A Kid Named Joey

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 14

Edward looked at Danny for a moment. It had never occurred to him that he would need something for the boys to do if the weather was inclement. It took a bit of time to think of something to keep them occupied. 

"How about you help me sort my books and papers out?" he asked.

"Ok, we can do that," Danny responded.

"First though some lunch," Ben insisted.

"Are we having pizza?" Joey asked.

"No," replied Ben. "I've done some pasta bolognaise."

"What's that?" enquired Joey.

"Spag Bol," Danny replied. "That's the posh name for it."

"That's common name for it the correct name spaghetti bolognaise," Ben stated.

"How you know that?" Joey asked Danny.

"Read it in one of the cookbooks in the library."

Ben brought that conversation to a stop by placing four dishes of pasta bolognaise on the table and telling the boys to wash their hands before they ate. They both dashed over to the kitchen sink to wash their hands. Ben threw them a towel when they were done.

After dinner Danny excused himself saying he needed the toilet. Once he had left the room, Joey dropped a bombshell on Edward. "Is DS Conner Danny's dad?" Joey asked.

"Why do you say that?" Edward retorted.

"Because, he spent a lot of time with Danny today and treated him the same way he does Chris," Joey replied. "Also, when they are together like they were today, Danny and Chris look like brothers."

"You can't say anything, understood?" Edward said. Joey nodded. "Mark thinks he is probably Danny's father, but Danny's mother has always denied it. She won't even let Mark do a paternity test to find out."

"Shit, that's awful!" Joey exclaimed. "Danny deserves a dad, and DS Conner would be a good one; you can see that by the way Chris looks up to him."

Edward had to agree.

Before they could talk anymore, Danny returned. Edward took the two boys through to the office and explained what had to be done. He got Joey sorting his books and putting them on the bookshelves. He set Danny to sorting the pile of printouts that had got messed up.

Danny had been sorting for about half an hour when he looked up and asked, "Mr Chapman, why have you got a list of server backdoors?"

"What?" Edward asked.

"This list," Danny replied, holding up the sheet of paper that had puzzled Edward. "It looks like a list of server backdoors."

"What is a server backdoor?" Edward asked.

"It is a way to get into a server remotely without being authorised to use it," Danny told him.

"And what makes you think this is such a list?" Edward asked.

"Well, you have the IP address," Danny said, pointing to the set of four numbers separated by full stops. "Then you have this, which is a port number. They are all high and well out of the range of port numbers used by most programs. This column looks to be a list of usernames, and the final one is the password for the program running on that port."

"It's an old list," Edward stated. "I doubt if any of those servers are running now. They have probably been upgraded no end of times. So, the list is pretty useless."

"I wouldn't be so sure," Danny told Edward. "Usually, when people upgrade a server, they just migrate the existing software to the new server. It is likely that these are still working. We can soon find out."

"How?" Edward asked.

"Can I use your computer?" Danny asked.

Danny came round the desk to stand next to Edward. He asked Edward to start up the computer. Edward did so, using the secure Linux laptop. Then he handed control over to Danny who took hold of the mouse and moved the pointer to the magnifying glass shape at the top of the screen. He clicked on it, and a search window opened. Danny entered 'terminal' and pressed return. A list of programs appeared in the window, Danny clicked on the top one in the list, and a window opened that was black with a short sequence of characters and had a blinking cursor in the top left-hand corner.

Danny entered a command from the keyboard, 'ping' followed by the first string of numbers on the list. He pressed return. For a moment nothing happened, then a line of text appeared giving details of the request sent. This was followed by a set of timeouts until a positive response was received.

"Well, that one is working," Danny stated.

He continued the process for all the other internet protocol addresses on the list; they all worked.

Edward looked at the list of servers. "So, what do I do now?" he wondered to himself, but loud enough that Danny overheard him.

"Well, I wouldn't try any of those ports," Danny stated. "You really need to know how to hide your traces if you are going to go into a server through a back door."

"Thanks, Danny," Edward said, closing the laptop down. "That is good advice. Now, I want to ask you to keep this secret, don't tell anyone about it."

"Can’t I tell my father?" Danny asked.

"Your father?" Edward responded.

"Yes, DS Conner, I know he's my father."


"Well, last year, when we moved to the upper school, Ranjeet caught me alone in the corridor and started to bully me. Chris came up behind him, shouting 'leave my brother alone'," Danny informed him. "After that, I talked with Chris, and he told me that he was my half-brother, that DS Conner was my father but that I couldn't say anything as it would upset my mother.

"I really wish I could call him Dad; it would be nice to have a father."

Mark nodded, put his arm around Danny and gave him a hug.

"Sorry, Danny, but I have to ask you to keep this from your father. Some people could get hurt if anyone found out I had this."

Danny nodded. It was a nod that said he was used to keeping secrets.

Half an hour later there was a large pile of paper on the floor in the centre of the office. This was stuff Edward had decided could be thrown out. Given that the rain has stopped, he suggested to Joey and Danny that they might like to burn it in the garden incinerator, which Edward had spotted at the far side of the shed. The boys agreed enthusiastically.

Edward checked with Ben about where was the best place to put the incinerator while burning the paper, then he helped the boys move it to the required location. He stood and watched them as they got a small quantity of paper burning in the base of the incinerator. Once that was alight, they started to add more paper until the flames were about level with the top. Edward told them not to let the fire get any higher and to hold off adding paper until it had died down a bit. Once he was satisfied that they understood what they were supposed to do, he left the boys to it and returned to the house.

Entering the kitchen, Edward found Ben putting a pie into the oven.

"I think I need to speak with your computer friends," Edward said.

"Lefty and Dicky. Their number is in the address book, it's under Mortimer and Samson Forensics," Ben replied. Edward thanked him and went into the hall, where he found the address book by the side of the phone on the hall table. Once he had the number, he went through to the office to use his mobile. However, his first call was to a different number. After a short conversation, he ended that call, then phoned Mortimer and Samson Forensics. The discussion that followed was somewhat longer. In fact, it took the better part of half an hour. Once it was finished, he contacted Carol and informed her that they would need transport the next day. Edward returned to the kitchen where Ben was frying some chips.

"Did you get them?" he asked.

"Yes, we're having Sunday lunch out tomorrow," Edward informed him.

"Anywhere nice?"

"The Old Bull on the Middlewich and Carterdean canal," Edward replied. "Lefty and Dicky will be joining us."

"Now why does that not surprise me?" Ben commented. He pulled the chip basket out of the deep fat fryer and tipped the chips into a colander lined with kitchen towel. He then threw some seasoning on them and put another batch of chips into the basket to blanch fry.

"You know, Teddy, if Joey is going to live here, we will need to get a bigger deep fat fryer," Ben commented.

"Do you want him to live here?" Edward asked.

There was a pause, Ben turned to face Edward. "I want both of you here."

"When this mess is all sorted out we'll discuss it," Edward answered.

"You better go and tell those two that dinner will be in fifteen minutes.  I am sure they will probably need a good wash." 

Edward obeyed the instruction and went down the garden to where the boys were burning the papers. The timing was just right. They were putting the last load of documents into the incinerator as he approached.

"If you're finished here, you better get up to the house and clean up," Edward told them. "Ben said dinner would be ready in fifteen minutes."

"Give us five," Joey said. "Once the papers have burnt down a bit we can put the lid on the incinerator; the fire will be safe then, no risk of burning papers being blown around the place."

"Ok, but don't be more than five. You both need a good clean up," Edward said, looking at the soot both boys had managed to get on their faces.

Actually, it took a bit less than five minutes for the boys to finish with the incinerator and get back to the house.

"What're we having?" Joey asked as they entered the kitchen, smelling the rich aroma emanating from the oven.

"Steak and ale pie, mushy peas and chips," Ben answered. "Once you two are cleaned up. You know where the bathroom is."

In just over five minutes two reasonably clean boys were sitting at the table. Ben informed them that dinner would be five minutes as he still had to give the chips their final fry.

"Why? How many times do you fry them?" Joey asked.

"Three times," Ben replied. "The first time is just to blanch them, then you fry them to cook them through, but that does not crisp them.  The final time is in very hot oil; that turns them golden and crisps them up." Once he finished his explanation, he tipped a basket full of chips into a lined colander and then put another load into the basket which he returned to the oil. 

"What do you boys want to drink?" Ben asked.

"Got any cider?" Joey replied. Ben looked at him a bit askance. "It's ok, we drink it at home."

"You may drink it at home," Edward stated, "but you are not drinking it here, at least not with an informal meal. If we were having a formal meal, I might let you have wine or cider."

Joey nodded, looked at Danny and said, "It was worth a try."

Ben got a bottle of cola out of the fridge for them and placed it on the table. He got a bottle of beer each for himself and Edward. 

While the chips were undergoing their final fry, Ben removed the pie from the oven and placed it on the table, followed by a dish of mushy peas. He then removed the chip basket from the deep fat fryer, turned the fryer off and tipped the chips into the colander with the others. After tossing them with some seasoning, he tipped them out onto a shallow dish which he also placed on the table.

"Well, help yourself," Ben stated.

"Dad, could you cut the pie?" Joey asked.

Edward did as requested, cutting the pie into four portions. He then served one piece to each of the boys. Ben served himself, leaving the last piece for Edward. The boys helped themselves to chips and mushy peas.

"This is great," Joey commented as he took another mouthful of the pie. "It's far better than the pies from the supermarket."

"I should hope so," Ben rejoindered. "I spent over two hours making it."

Edward smiled at the interchange, then took another draught of beer, just in time for Joey's next question to Ben. "Are you and Dad boyfriends?"

Edward spluttered beer across the table.

"What makes you ask that?" Ben inquired.

"It's the way you look at Dad sometimes. Danny looks at me like that, and I know he has a crush on me."

"So, are you and Danny boyfriends?" Ben asked.

"No, I like girls too much," Joey replied. "But Dad looks at you the same way at times, so I think he probably feels the same way for you as you do for him. You don't find me looking at Danny like that."

"I'm sorry, Danny…" Edward started to say.

"Oh, it's ok; I've known it was one way for ages," Danny replied.

"And he is still my best mate," added Joey.

"What I was going to say is that I am sorry that you embarrassed Danny like that, Joey," Edward stated.

"I don't think I embarrassed Danny. We've talked this out between us in the past, Dad. I think I embarrassed you more, though I don't know why. You and Uncle Ben seem to belong together," Joey stated.

"Out of the mouths of babes and innocents," quoted Ben.

"My son is not a babe, and I am fairly certain he is not innocent," stated Edward.

"That's not fair, Dad. I am innocent," responded Joey.

"No, you just haven't been caught yet," replied Edward.

"He's got you there, Joey," chuckled Danny.

"Anyway, you better finish your meal before it gets cold," Edward instructed. Hoping to change the conversation.

"But you haven't answered my question, are you boyfriends?" Joey asked.

"We are working on it," Edward replied.

"Well, don't take too long. If I am coming to live with you, I need to know what the setup is," Joey stated. He then helped himself to some more chips and continued with his meal.

After the meal, Joey and Danny helped Ben to clear everything and stack the dishwasher without even being asked. Ben then drove the boys home. When he got back, he found Edward in the study going over some of the printouts from the CDs.

"Are you going to hand those over to the police?" Ben asked.

"I can't at the moment," Edward replied. "I will soon, at least some of them, hopefully quite soon, but if the police got them at the moment, it would complicate certain things."

"In Ireland?" Ben asked.

"I can't say," Edward replied.

"You don’t have to," Ben answered.

Sunday morning broke bright and clear. The morning sun streamed through a gap in the curtains where they had not been fully drawn, hitting Edward in the face. He rolled instinctively in bed to remove his head from the light, only to find himself blocked by Ben's body which was spooned against his back. Begrudgingly, Edward woke up. He glanced at the clock on the bedside table and saw that it was well past eight-thirty, and in fact was getting on for nine. A decent time to get up, even on a Sunday morning.

Edward eased himself out of bed, trying not to disturb Ben. They had been awake late last night, actually until the early hours of the morning, talking about things. Mostly about their relationship but also about Joey. What it would mean if they had Joey living with them. Nothing had been decided, nothing had been agreed, but somehow, at least to Edward, it now seemed inevitable that he and Ben would be together, and that Joey would be living with them. However, Edward knew he had to sort out the present situation first.

Showered and dressed, Edward made his way down to the kitchen. As he entered, Peter  and Carol came through from the granny flat. Peter was carrying some rolled-up newspapers.

"Ah, you're up," Carol said. "I was hoping you would be."

"I've got the Sunday papers for you as you asked," Peter added.

Edward thanked Peter for doing that.

"No thanks required," Peter returned. "It's a damned sight easier for us to pick up the Sunday papers than for us to have to cover you going down to collect them."

"Now, about this trip out for lunch. I don't suppose I could get you to alter your plans?" Carol asked.

"Sorry, not possible," replied Edward. "I have to speak face to face with the people I am meeting, and this is the only time and place they can manage."

"Bloody inconvenient," Carol said. "Ann went out there last night and did a location survey. It is going to be very hard to keep you safe there; you will be very exposed."

"I'll just have to live with that," Edward replied.

"Right then," Carol replied. "This is the plan. Ann is going out there this morning and will be at the Old Bull when it opens - that is at eleven. She is going to grab a table at the back of the room. It is not visible from the outside. I'll be joining Ann about half an hour later. If anyone challenges why we are holding a table, we'll tell them we are waiting for friends, who have been delayed.

"Peter and John will be in the car. They'll drive you and Ben to the place. Once there, you are to walk directly in and to the back of the room. We'll hand the table over to you. Edward, on no account are you to go to the bar. If anyone has to go to the bar, it has to be Ben. Not you. Understood?"

Edward indicated that he understood.

"John will stay with the car, Peter will come with you but take a place up as near to the door as he can. Ann will join him. I'll find a place at the other end of the bar. From what we have gathered, the place is likely to be quite busy on a Sunday at lunchtime."

Edward agreed with Carol that he expected the pub to be full.

"When it is time to leave, John will bring the car to the door. Both Ben and you need to go directly to the car and get in the rear passenger seats. Peter will tell you when to go. He will be behind you and will get in the front passenger seat. Ann and I will be in our car following you."

Carol spent another good ten minutes giving more detailed instructions before she left.

"She's worried," Edward stated to Peter.

"Look, Edward, Carol hasn't said anything, but I think you should know. We've picked up a rumour that a couple of hitmen have been brought into town from outside."

Edward nodded. "I'm not surprised. Whoever it is behind this wouldn’t want to use locals as Kutrum would find out."

"You're certain it's not Kutrum then?" Peter asked.

"Oh, yes! It's just not his style. Fancy a mug of tea?"

Peter accepted the offer, and Edward put the kettle on. While it was boiling, he unrolled the newspapers and selected one to read. The headline read 'IRA Top Boss arrested for Child Sex'. The article that followed stated that Paddy Roberts, a leading figure in the IRA, had been arrested in Dublin late Saturday afternoon after the Garda had been given evidence of his involvement in a child sex ring. He was due to appear in court on Monday.

"Good!" exclaimed Edward.

Peter looked over at him, then down at the paper, he was reading.

"You know something, don't you?" Peter asked.

"I know he's not IRA," Edward said. "He's a Provo and a high ranking one at that. The authorities have been after Paddy Roberts for years but never been able to get him."

Peter looked at Edward, then nodded. "That explains a lot."


"You've taken this whole thing too calmly, too professionally. I couldn't work out why. Now I can. You've taken it professionally because you are a professional. You just knew a bit too much without reading that article."

Edward leaned back and sighed. "You can't say anything."

"I won't," Peter replied. "But when this is over, I want to know the whole story."

Edward nodded. "Maybe over a quiet lunch at a country pub, but not the Old Bull."


Peter laughed but agreed.

It was shortly after twelve when Peter informed Edward and Ben that they were ready to go to the Old Bull. Half an hour later they pulled in front of the door to the canal side pub. Actually, they pulled up to what had once been the back door to the establishment. The change from canal traffic to road traffic had meant it had now become the main entrance with the exit onto the canal towpath, which was currently being used as just an additional entrance.

Peter got out of the front passenger seat to open the door for Edward and Ben to get out. Edward noticed that Carol was just inside the pub entrance, scanning the outside. He quickly made his way from the car to the pub, Ben following. As they entered the pub, Carol pointed to a table at the back where Ann was sitting. Edward and Ben made their way over to it. As they approached, Ann stood up and relinquished the table to them.

"All yours," she stated. "Enjoy your lunch."

Lefty and Dicky arrived a few minutes later. Ben called them over to the table. Once they were seated, Ben took everybody's order, then went to the bar to place it. He returned with a tray load of drinks.

"Can I ask what is so urgent that you need to interrupt another of our weekends?" Lefty asked.

Edward explained about the list of servers and Danny's idea that the port numbers, user ids and passwords indicated a set of backdoors.

"That's quite likely," Dicky said.

"Danny also said that if they were backdoors, I should get an expert to open them so that the connection could not be traced," Edward informed them.

"Good advice. Just how old is this Danny?" Lefty asked.

"He's twelve," Edward said. "At least he will be in just over a month."

"That explains it," Lefty replied. "These days twelve-year-olds either know nothing about computers or they are experts; there is no in-between."

"I guess Danny must be in the expert class, though he does not have a computer," Edward stated.

"Not all that surprising," Lefty stated. "It is often those who do not have easy access to a who spend the most time reading up on them. They learn all the stuff that the others miss.

"So, what do you want us to do?"

Edward leaned forward. "I need you to come out to our place with any equipment you may need and work with me so I can find out what is on all those servers without anybody being able to know I'm doing it or tracing where I am coming from," Edward replied.

"It would be a lot easier if you came to our place," Dicky stated. "Also, we have a lot on. There is no way we could even start on this for a month or so."

There was an interruption in the conversation as the waiter brought the four meals that had been ordered to the table.  Fortunately, they had all gone for the same, the roast beef dinner, so there was no need to sort out which meal was for whom.

Once the waiter had left Edward looked at Dicky. "Mr Compton said to tell you this has priority."

"Oh shit!" exclaimed Lefty. "There goes our plans for the next few days."

"Who's Mr Compton?" asked Ben.

"A mutual friend," Dicky explained. "One who it is best not to upset. If Mr Compton says it's a priority, it's a priority. We'll be at your place about ten tomorrow. It will take us a couple of hours to sort the kit we will need before we come over."

"You do know our fee is a grand a day, per person, and we would like a deposit," Lefty stated.

"Yes, Mr Compton said you would. He told me to assure you that six grand will be placed in your account in the morning," Edward stated.

"Mr Compton's paying?" Dicky asked.

"His firm is," Edward replied.

Lefty nodded in acknowledgement of the information, then tucked into his dinner.

Half an hour later, the meals finished, the four men said their goodbyes. Once Lefty and Dicky had left, Edward indicated to Peter that they were ready to go. Peter got on his phone and called John. Edward and Ben started to cross the room towards the front door. Peter got there in front of them. They arrived just as John pulled up outside. Peter exited the pub and did a quick scan of the surroundings, then opened the rear passenger door for the two men to get in. Edward got in first, scrambling across the back seat so that he was behind the driver, Ben followed him in. Peter closed the door, then got into the front passenger seat. As soon as he was in the car and belted up, John started to move off.

They had been driving for about ten minutes when John mentioned that they had a tail.

"Kutrum's boys no doubt," Edward stated.

"No, they're in the cream Merc, two cars back. This is a motorcycle with a pillion passenger. It's three cars back, and it shouldn't be."

"Why shouldn't it be?" asked Ben.

"Because he's had at least three good chances to overtake all of us and hasn't taken them. No normal motorcyclist is going to do that."

Peter turned round in the front seat to look out of the rear window. The car turned left up a filter road and onto the dual carriageway of the main road into town. Two cars and the motorcycle followed. As John pulled the car onto the straight of the dual carriageway, he increased speed. The motorcycle pulled out into the fast lane and started to overtake the intervening vehicles. Peter observed it.

As the motorcycle pulled level with the rear of the car, there was a movement by the pillion passenger.

"Gun!" shouted Peter. Edward dived over and pushed Ben down towards the well of the car. The move was obstructed by the seat belts they were both wearing.