Jack Clarkson had a look of shock and embarrassment on his face as he tried to apologise for his wife's outburst.
"It's all right, Mr Clarkson," Councillor Webster said. "You don't have to apologise for your wife's foul mouth. Instead you should be questioning yourself as to how you allowed this pathetic excuse of a parent and yourself to neglect Timothy, exclude him from any form of love or understanding, and subject him to the abuse that he's had to withstand all his life. Now instead of standing there with your mouth wide open I suggest that you go upstairs and try and console Timothy." Jack Clarkson gave his wife a withering look and as Mr Webster had suggested he made his way to Timothy's room.
"I'll be leaving now," Frank Webster said turning his attention to Mary Clarkson. "I'll be contacting the local Children's Welfare Authority and also Timothy's teachers. I will ask them to keep an eye on him and if they notice any adverse behaviour in him to report it directly to my office. I can understand a woman who ill treats her own children doing what you did to Timothy. It would be in that person's nature to behave in that manner, but it makes it worse still, Mrs Clarkson, that you can shower love and affection on your own children and at the same time subject Timothy to such abuse from the time he was brought into your care. There is no excuse for you. You knew what you were doing and what is even harder to believe is that you must have enjoyed treating him in the way that you have." Frank Webster made to leave, but halted by the doorway. Turning and once again addressing the woman he said "The irony of it is, Mrs Clarkson, that when I asked Timothy why his room was so sparsely furnished he was making excuses for the both of you, that there wasn't enough money to do his room, but you would when you could afford it. What's more, he wouldn't say a bad word against you or your husband, and that after all the abuse he's had from the two of you." Turning his back on the woman Frank Webster made his way out of the house.
Upstairs Jack Clarkson tapped softly on Timothy's bedroom door and walked in to see him lying on his bed. As soon as he saw the man enter his room Timothy sat up and waited. Moving over to the bed Jack Clarkson stood by the boy and asked
"Is it okay if I sit down beside you?" The boy moved slightly sideways and said
"Okay." He took a place next to the boy and stared at him noting the puffy eyes and the tear stained cheeks.
"Ti... " and his voice caught in his throat. He cleared it, then continued "Timothy, can you find it in your heart to forgive me and my wife for the way we have treated you?"
"I don't hold anything against either of you, but now I don't know what to call you since I heard you're not my mum and dad." Jack Clarkson bowed his head and collected his thoughts, then looking at the boy seated next to him he picked the boy up and placed him on his lap saying
"I think it's time that you should know the truth. After you've heard what I have to tell you and you know your origins, then you can decide how you want to address my wife and me. Firstly Timothy Clarkson is your proper name. Your mother chose your Christian name before you were born. She was not married at the time of your birth. Your father disappeared shortly after your mother told him that she was pregnant. So her surname was automatically passed onto you. Your mother happened to be my sister. You were born prematurely and a caesarean operation had to be performed. There were complications with the anaesthetic and your mother died shortly after giving birth to you." Jack Clarkson paused to collect his thoughts then continued. "Your grandmother, my mother, couldn't look after you as she was wheelchair bound after an accident in the house. My other sister, your Auntie Lucy, was only sixteen at the time and still at school. So it fell upon me and my wife to take care of you. I brought you home and my wife was not too pleased as she had thought that she would have more time for herself now that Robert, who you thought was your brother, had just started kindergarten. So now that she had to look after someone else's child she resented it. I thought that she would get over it, but she never did and to my shame I never took her to task over her treatment towards you. Not wanting to upset the household I also let her dictate my treatment of you. I'm sure my sister, your mother, would consider disowning me because of my behaviour towards you and I would not be able to face her if she were to return. So by blood you are rightly my nephew, not my son, but Timothy, I would be proud if you would still consider calling me your father."
The boy twisted in the man's lap.
"Dad," and when Jack Clarkson heard that word his heart leapt and he had to use all his will power to refrain from bursting into tears.
"Yes, son," he managed to get out.
"What did my mum look like?" He smiled and cupping the boy's face in his hands and kissing him on the forehead said
"You know your Aunt Lucy?"
"Well, she's the spitting image of your mother. They were very close to one another. I think that is why you two get on so well and also because she gave you the love that you never got in this house except from Linda."
"So what's going to happen now, Dad?"
"Nothing and everything. First, there won't be anymore of the harsh treatment that you've had to put up with for as long as you can remember. I'll be talking to my wife about that. Umm... how do you intend addressing her in future?"
"I don't know. She doesn't really like me, so there isn't any point in calling her Mum or Auntie. So I think I'll just stick with Mrs Clarkson. Would that be all right?"
"If that's how you feel, then that's how it will be. She's a hard woman and doesn't like having to admit her mistakes, but let's just see how things work out. Also, like Linda, you will have access to all the facilities in the house to use when you wish to. The other very important task to complete is to refurbish your room and make it a more fitting place for a boy to live in. We can do that while you're up at your Aunt Lucy's during half term. But before you go, you had better tell me what colours you want in here. The furniture I'll sort out."
Timothy jumped up wrapping his arms around his dad's neck saying "You choose. I haven't got any ideas and that way it will also be a surprise for me when I get back."
"Okay. Now let's go downstairs to have something to eat. Linda must be hungry as well and if my wife doesn't join us, then don't worry about it. That's her problem." They went downstairs to the dining room collecting Linda on the way. When they were seated at the dining table Jack Clarkson made his way to the kitchen to warm and serve the food for his children when he was told unceremoniously by his wife as she stormed into the kitchen
"Go and sit down. I'm still capable of serving the food in this house."
That night Timothy lay in his bed wondering if the changes to his way of life would be permanent. From what had taken place since the man he called his father had promised him that there would be a more loving and relaxed attitude towards him, he'd never felt more at ease in the house as he did now. Earlier in the evening he had been allowed to sit and watch whichever TV programme he wished and was also at liberty to change the channels. He hadn't tried to use the hi-fi system as he wasn't too sure how to use it and in any case didn't know much about the type of music on each individual CD. Now as his eyelids drooped, his last thoughts were as he slipped into unconsciousness 'Hope Kai gets to be my best friend'.
The following morning Timothy, after he'd had his breakfast, went to his room to pack his case ready for his trip to Manchester. He was really looking forward to spending a week with his aunt who in the past when he visited her gave his life a whole new meaning. There he got to laugh and relax and be himself and not having to hear the inevitable "Timothy, get up to your room" which now he hoped wouldn't be happening in this house so often.
Kai Webster was a bit dubious about calling on Timothy after his father had told him what had transpired at the house the previous day. But he'd promised Timothy that he'd go out with him to the mall and he wasn't going to back out now. If they turned him away, then Timothy will at least know that he hadn't copped out on their agreement. Nervously his hand reached out and pressed the bell button.
The door opened and Mrs Clarkson stood in the doorway.
"Kai isn't it?" she said smiling.
"Yes, is Timothy available? We're supposed to go to the shopping mall today?"
"Well, you'd better go up and ask him. He's packing his bag ready for his trip to Manchester tomorrow," and she stood to one side to allow Kai to enter the house and make his way to Timothy's room. Outside the room he tapped softly on the door and within seconds it was opened by a wide eyed Timothy standing in the doorway.
"Blimey, I didn't think you'd turn up today after what your dad heard yesterday."
"Yeah well, I promised we'd go out today. So here I am. You ready to go?"
"Sure. Just let me grab my bus pass and jacket and we'll go."
As they reached the downstairs Timothy went into the sitting room to inform them that he was going out. He was about to leave when his dad said
"Have you any money with you, Timothy?"
"Umm no, Dad, but I don't really need any. I'm just going for the outing."
"Here take this," and his father withdrew forty pounds from his wallet and handed it to the boy saying "Now go out and enjoy yourself."
"Thanks, Dad," he exclaimed, then he turned to look at the woman that he'd called Mum all his life. He knew in his heart that he was unable to carry out what he told his father the day before. Instead he walked over to where she sat bent over and kissed her on the cheek saying "See you later, Mum," and went to join Kai at the front door.
"Bye, Timothy," she responded "and don't be out too late." That one simple gesture by her adopted son made Mary Clarkson realise that in him she had one in a million. Jack Clarkson looked across at his wife and was surprised to see the beginnings of a smile on her face and eyes that looked decidedly watery.
The two boys made there way along the street with Kai asking
"What do you intend buying with the money you were given?"
"I don't really need anything, but I know Linda wants a skipping rope and I can buy Mum some perfume and Dad some aftershave."
"Bloody hell, Timothy," Kai blurted out. "The money was meant for you to spend on yourself, not buy everybody else presents."
"Yeah, I know, but I'd like to buy them prezzies. I've never been able to do that before and if there's any money left over I can buy you something as well."
"Very nice of you, Timothy," Kai said, "but I've got what I wanted - those trainers." They continued their walk chatting away till suddenly Kai exclaimed "Oh shit!"
"What's up?" the smaller boy asked looking across at his companion.
"Over there," Kai indicated with a flick of his head. Timothy looked in the direction that Kai had indicated and saw three boys whom he recognized as Hunter, Blake and Fletcher. His fear returned the moment he saw the boys, but as he'd done throughout the time he'd been in school he controlled his emotions and bottled the fear. He watched as the boys approached. Peter Blake seemed to be elated at seeing the boys making for the bus stop. His mouth was split with an evil grin and he was relishing the prospect of meeting up with the two boys who were on the top of his hate list.
The moment they were within speaking distance Blake couldn't contain his eagerness to hurl insults at the two boys now that he had the backing of Hunter and Fletcher.
"What a pair of wankers. Did Timothy do it nicely for you, Kai?" he said with an affected foppish accent.
"At least we can wank, arsehole," Kai replied. "All you use yours for is to piss through. No wonder the girls in school think there's something wrong with you."
"Shut your mouth, Webster, or I'll shut it for you." Blake yelled as the insult hurled by Kai hit its mark. Kai opened his eyes in mock fear.
"Oooh! Talking big now that he's got back up, you see, Timothy," he said turning to the smaller boy. "If it were just him on his own he'd be shitting bricks." Turning to Blake, Kai said "How about it just you and me? What's more, I'll let you take the first swing. You want to try?" Peter Blake was losing his cool. He knew he couldn't take on the boy who had insulted him on his own. Not wanting to lose face in front of his two companions he slid his hand around his back into the waistband of his trousers at the same time stepping closer towards Kai. Timothy who'd been watching Blake saw the hand come around and the flash of steel as he swung his hand to strike at Kai. He jumped between them to stop Blake and try to grab his hand at the same time. He could hear Brian Hunter shouting
"Don't do it Blake." He missed Blake's hand and then he was falling. A look of astonishment appeared on his face as he let out a momentary gasp as he felt the knife pierce his body. He staggered backwards, then his legs seemed to give way and he slowly slumped to the floor.
Kai seeing Timothy take the knife that was meant for him was enraged. As Blake withdrew the knife and before he could use it again he lashed out with his fist with every ounce of his strength flush on Blake's nose and mouth snapping his head back and sending him crashing to the pavement the knife flying out of his hand.
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