On his return Tony found David approaching distress.
"Please, please, please Tony, I'm busting."
Tony quickly lifted David off the bed and carried him to the toilet sat him down on it. David pulled the operation gown open at the back and let rip from both parts. He giggled at the loud fart while desperately having a pee. Tony couldn't help but laugh at the childish humour and realising that the Coke very likely caused the offending wind.
"No more windy coke for you young man, if it gives you a burp like that," Tony said with a grin."
David laughed at that and a boy being a boy said, "That was a fart not a burp, a burp comes out of the mouth."
"I was being polite David, see, a fart is a burp from the other end."
David saw the funny side of that and giggled loudly. "I've finished now Tony, I feel ever so sleepy."
"Ok David, let's get you back to bed. Hold on tight to my neck but try not to hit me with your plaster cast."
Tony picked David up like a feather and carried him back to bed. Ben and Tom were waiting to see David and when he was settled back into bed Tom said, "We are sorry about your dad David. Do you want to talk about it?"
"No thank you, Tom, I've spoken with Tony and I'm sad but that's all."
"You are very grown up David. Well, we had better be off. You stay happy, David."
"Oh I will thanks, I have Tony now."
There was an old fashioned look between Tom, Ben and Tony. Tony just shrugged and smiled at the two police officers and said, "What can I say, the boss has spoken."
Tom and Ben then bade Tony and David goodnight.
David and Tony as one said, "Goodnight and thanks for what you have done."
"It has been our pleasure," and then turned and left Tony and David alone.
Tony fluffed up David's pillow and gently tucked him in and before Tony knew it David was fast asleep. He went back to the toilet and flushed it now that his arms were free of his load. Thoughts were running through his mind ten to the dozen. He felt lost. He knew he wanted to look after young David but he could not see how. A 45 year old ex-soldier without a job, very few prospects either. All he really had was a home he owned outright, a lot of love to give and a boy who needed that love. For some reason he thought of Mr. Micawber in the Dickens novel David Copperfield. 'Something will turn up.' That made him smile.
He went back to David's bed and looked down on the sleeping boy breathing easily in his sleep. There is something strange about that lad, he thought. It seemed he had known everything in advance of it happening, yet there was something else, something deeper. Ah well, tomorrow is another day. He bent over and gave David a kiss on his forehead. As his lips touched, the swirling wind returned briefly and Tony felt a tingling of happiness go from his head to his feet. He heard David sigh in his sleep and as Tony rose a big smile was on David's face. Tony shook his head totally confused.
Leaving David he went to find Angela and found her chatting to the other nurse on duty. Angela saw him and asked him if he was alright as he looked troubled. He smiled and said, "Confused Angela, yes, strange things are happening to me and that young man in there seems to be the centre of it all."
"Want to talk about it, Tony?" she asked.
"Oh, no not now, in the morning over coffee and breakfast. I need time to think first."
Alright then, Tony, but I am here if you need me."
"Thanks Angela, I'll get off home now. See you at eight tomorrow morning. Goodnight."
"Goodnight Tony, take care now."
Tony got home by 9pm and got changed, time for another run. This time he headed to above marine parade where he had bumped into David. The little blood there had been had cleared away now. He paced from where he had seen David toward the railings above the parade below. He shook his head. 4 paces, almost 4 yards. He leaned on the railings and looked down to the road below. Surely the boy had not really been intending to drop off the railings? Or had he!
In answer to his question the wind hit him so hard that he was forced backwards. The voice in his head again. 'Look after the boy.' Slightly different words this time. Tony was momentarily shocked but as the wind dropped, the peace engulfed him again. Inwardly he felt satisfied that he knew the answer now, he continued his run along the road in the direction of Roedean School for girls, internationally famous for schooling young ladies for their future. When he got there he turned and headed back toward home. By now he was feeling hungry and stopped at one of the well known fish and chip shops, went in, sat down and ordered cod and chips with a pea fritter from the waitress. He smiled to himself as he remembered his childhood and his first ever pea fritter. A ball of moist peas surrounded by batter and deep fried. Then it looked huge to him but he ate it all. When his meal arrived he looked at the fritter and thought. 'They seem to have got smaller.' He ate heartily and afterwards collected and paid the bill.
He decided to walk the short distance home rather than run on a full stomach. Back home he took a shower and sat down at his desk and took out his telephone directory and looked up Children's Services. They had a number in Brighton which he wrote down for later use. By now he was very tired and retired to bed so he set the alarm for 0600. His head hardly touched the pillow and he was asleep.
He awoke to a lovely bright summer morning, showered and brewed a pot of tea. Then without using his car he made his way to the hospital. He arrived about 7:30 am Just as the breakfasts were being delivered to the wards. It smelled delicious to Tony who suddenly felt the need for food. 'Roll on 8 o'clock,' he thought. He spied Angela briefing the day staff before she finished her shift. She saw him and waved and put up five fingers to denote how long she would be.
Tony used the time to nip in and quickly see David. He was sitting up eating breakfast with real relish. He waved his knife in the air in greeting to Tony who waved back. Tony called out that he would see David later and gave him one of those blow kisses. He then picked up Angela who had finished her meeting and waiting for him.
"Fancy a full English breakfast, Angela?" Tony asked.
"Mmm, sounds a nice idea, Tony. Where shall we go?"
"There is a nice greasy spoon cafe near where I live and it's not far to walk or we can get a taxi if you prefer."
"A walk sounds nice as it's all downhill."
"OK milady, would yer care to take my harm as I hescorts yer darn the road?" Tony asked in a cockney speak way.
Angela laughed and replied. "Well kind sir, I couldn't possibly refuse such an offer from such a nice young geezer as you," and slipped her arm into Tony's.
Tony got right to the point and asked Angela what would happen to David now he was orphaned.
Angela told him that most likely he would be put into the care of the local authority and either placed in an orphanage or they would try to find a foster home for him. That would take a while because he would need about two weeks for his injuries to heal properly.
"So what if I wanted to foster him, Angela, what would I have to do?"
"Are you married or single, Tony?" she asked.
"I'm single with my own home and have a fair amount of money in the bank and a good army pension."
"The main thing against you Tony will be that you are a single man. Brighton is a fairly progressive thinking town but placing a boy with a single man might create issues. Why do you ask? Do you want to foster him then?"
"Angela, something is being created, I am not sure what yet but whatever it is I think it is meant to be. One thing I am certain of, in some way I am going to be a large part of his future and he mine. Something has told me I have to look after David and see he grows up with a good life."
Angela smiled as she looked at Tony. "I bet you will make a great dad to any boy. Let me have a sniff around and see what I can find out for you."
Just then they arrived outside the cafe. Tony thanked Angela for her hoped for help and they went inside.
They took seats by the window, Tony got up and went to the counter to order 2 full English breakfasts with coffee and went back to the table and sat down.
"You said you wanted to chat about something as well, Angela."
"Well, yes I do. My son Jamie is about the same age as David. I love him dearly but I don't see enough of him with my work schedule at night. Weekends I'm so tired that I don't see much of him. I'm worried that we will grow apart and my parents will become his parents in my place. My husband was killed in Cyprus when a bomb he was defusing blew up. That was in 1956 just before Jamie was born. I have the widow's pension from the Army but it is not a lot and with the mortgage it is a bit of a struggle. Tom told me you were ex-army so I thought I would seek your advice."
Suddenly Tony sat bolt upright, looked hard at Angela and said, "Was your husband James Willis Royal Engineers?"
"Yes, that was him, why, did you know him?"
"Yes, I did, I was his instructor in basic training. He went on to be a bomb disposal expert I heard but I never actually saw him again. I heard he had been killed unarming a landmine which had been booby trapped so that it would blow up if even touched. It was a new terrorist technique. Jimmy saved a lot of future bomb disposal guys lives that day. He was awarded the *VC for that as I remember"
"I have it at home Tony. Jamie doesn't know about it yet. I kept it from him as he is a bit young to understand. I'll tell him one day but not just yet."
"You're right, better around 13 years old, as you say, he'll understand better then. How old is he now?"
"He's nine and will be 10 on the 1st of August."
Tony felt that feeling again. It was too much of a coincidence surely.
"Angela, I will give you three guesses when David's birthday is."
The way things are going I will guess the 1st of August Tony."
"Exactly Angela, Ben told me last night when we were just talking generally about David and his home. Am I going barmy?"
"I don't think so, Tony, but there seem to be an awful lot of coincidences. Far too many, it almost seems as something higher is working some magic."
Tony frowned. "Then there is the wind."
"Wind, what wind Tony, the air is so still it feels like a storm is due."
"There has been a wind that gusts and tells me to look after David. I can't explain it. I was up by Devils Dyke when the first gust almost flattened me. Then there was a swirl of wind in the chapel at the hospital and last night, yet another gust right at the spot where I bumped into David. The thing is that after each gust I feel absolutely calm." Tony frowned again and said. "Then of course there was the dream where I saw David being blown off the sea front railings into the line of my car."
"If all that is true, Tony, I'm not surprised that you are somewhat bemused."
"Oh, believe me, it's true alright. Another coffee?"
"Yes please, Tony, black this time though, I think after all that I need all caffeine."
When Tony went to get the coffees, Angela tried to make sense of what she had just been told. They all seem to be tied in together, David, Tony, Jamie and her husband. Her thoughts were interrupted by the return of Tony with the coffee. However she had made some quick decisions. She would help Tony as much as she could with trying to foster David. Additionally, she was going to get to know this man better, there was something about him that gave her goose bumps.
As Tony sat down again Angela pulled out the application for him to sign that she had mentioned the previous night about volunteering with helping and visiting children and gave it to Tony. He looked at it and got a pen from his pocket, filled it all in and signed it. Angela took it back and put it back in her handbag. "I will give it to the supervisor tomorrow Tony, you should hear back quite quickly. I bet I know the first child on your list."
"Definitely, but I suspect there are a lot of other children out there that could use a smile each day. As a matter of interest, are there many that don't get visitors?"
"Yes, Tony, there are many of them for one reason or another."
"In that case if I can help in any way I will."
"I was wondering Tony if you would like to come over to my mother's with me. I would like you to meet with Jamie. I'm off today and perhaps we could go out somewhere."
Tony thought a moment and then said
"That'll be OK, Angela, provided we get to go and see David, I did sort of promise to call in and see him."
"Fine, that's a good idea. I'm sure David would like to see someone of his own age as well."
"Mum lives over on the estate at Moulscombe where David is from. A bit far to walk, shall we get a taxi?
"No need, Angela, my house is just round the corner and we can use my car. Ready to go?"
"I sure am, I have hardly seen Jamie this week and it is only a week to his birthday. That's a point it will be David's also."
She gave Tony a sly smile and they said as one, "A double one."
They walked around the corner and stopped outside Tony's house.
Tony opened the door, took Angela's hand and said, "Come in Angela, I promise not to bite, I just need to get some things."
Angela blushed and said. "It's been a long time since I was in another man's house. I feel like a shy school girl."
Tony smiled and helped to put her at ease and said, "You are the first schoolgirl to ever enter my home, in fact the first visitor ever, so welcome to my simple abode madam." Tony squeezed her hand gently and indicated a chair for her to sit while he got together the items he wanted. It didn't take too long until Tony returned with a briefcase and held out his hand to Angela.
Angela stood up and the two of them left the house and got into the car. Tony asked Angela to navigate to her parent's house on the Moulscombe estate. With good directions they were soon parked outside their house. As soon as Angela got out of the car and while Tony was locking it a young voice shrieked out, "Mum!" A young lad came leaping down the path grabbed hold of Angela while she picked him up and gave him a big kiss.
"Hi there sweetie, how are you darling?"
"I'm good mum. Gran's got the kettle on already. She said. 'Here comes my favourite tea pot.' She's silly."
"Down you get then, Jamie," just as Tony came up beside them. Angela said, "Jamie, this is Tony, a friend of mine."
As young boys will Jamie said, "Are you mums boyfriend?"
Tony and Angela had to smile and Tony said, "Would you like me to be then?"
Again Jamie, as was his want, said, "Oh yes, mum gets so lonely on her own and you look nice to me."
Tony blushed, smiled down at the boy and swooping him up in his arms he said, "In answer to your question big fella," then whispered something in Jamie's ear.
Jamie looked at his mum, laughed and said, "OK, a secret."
Angela looking puzzled asked, "What secret is that?"
"I couldn't possibly tell you or I would have to kill you," Tony said laughing."
"Men, just you two wait," Angela said with humour. "Come on let's get in and see the oldies."
All three went inside to be greeted by Angela's mum and dad. Both looked a bit frail as Angela kissed one then the other. Then introduced Tony to them and explained who he was. Meanwhile Jamie was holding on to him and looking up at his face. Tony smiled down and got a wonderful smile back for his trouble.
Tea was served with biscuits all round. Angela's father, obviously without teeth was battering a digestive to death with his gums. Jamie nudged Tony and said in a whisper. "Granddad hasn't got any teeth. He lost them on the beach last year. He took them out to eat an ice cream and forgot them when we left."
"Poor granddad, how does he eat?"
"Gran uses a blender thing and makes his food like baby food so he doesn't have to chew."
Tony was quizzed about what he did for a living, where he lived and the other usual questions that mums ask. Tony answered them politely, trying to keep as much detail as possible. Before they realised, an hour had passed and the clock on the mantle shelf showed 10:30.
Time was marching on, so Angela told her parents that Tony, Jamie and she were going out for the rest of the day. They weren't sure where, but the first stop would be the hospital to visit a young boy who had been brought in 2 nights ago. They made their farewells and with Jamie holding Tony and his mother's hand they left the parental home and went to the car. Before Tony unlocked it, he looked around the street. 'This is the estate that David came from,' he thought, and scrunched up his nose.
"All aboard the skylark peoples," he said. "You, master Wills, can sit in the back."
"Oh, are you going to hold hands with mum again then?" Jamie said and smirked.
Tony laughed and said in a childish way that a 9 year old might say. "Might, Might not, so there."
Jamie got in poking his tongue out with a twinkle in his eyes while Tony said, "You'll stay like that if you're not careful." Angela laughed at the exchange as they all got into the car with Tony getting into the driving seat, starting the car and set off to the hospital.
On the way Tony said he wanted to stop at the Children's services department for a quick chat with one of the social workers. He asked Angela and Jamie to wait for him in the car for a little while.
"How long will you be, Tony? If you might be a while, I can take Jamie and get him something for his birthday."
"What a good idea. There's a toy shop just around the corner that I am sure will suit a young man such as Jamie."
Jamie jumped up and down in his seat eager to go, so that was what happened. Angela and Jamie went off to the shop while Tony, rather scared headed into the offices of the Child care unit of the council.
At reception he asked if a social worker was free and when asked what about, Tony said it was about becoming a foster parent. He was asked to take a seat and within 2 minutes a young woman came along the corridor and introduced herself as Miss Jenny Archer, a child placement officer. Tony introduced himself and was invited to follow Miss Archer to her office. Tony followed her and at one of the office doors Miss Archer stopped, opened the door and gestured that Tony enter. She offered him a seat across from a beautiful desk that looked antique. "I need to take some particulars, Mr. Andrews. I'm afraid the form is quite lengthy. As you will understand we have to be very careful who we place children with."
"Naturally, Miss Archer, I would expect no less."
"That's a good start, we get so many people think they can just take a child without any checks at all. Would you please fill out this form for me and then I can look through it and give you some idea of my thoughts."
Miss Archer gave Tony the form. I looked to be about eight pages of double sided print. Yet despite its size Tony managed to fill it in quite quickly and then handed it back to Miss Archer. She looked firstly at the front page and without looking up said, "I see you are single Mr Andrews. We do sometimes allow single people to foster youngsters but rarely men. Would you care to explain why you would make a good foster parent?"
Tony then told her the whole story as it had happened. It took a while but finally he finished. Miss Archer had been taking notes all the time and slowly placed her pen down on the desk.
"Whew, quite a story Mr Andrews, I will contact the police and other services to check on what you have said. That will take about a week to complete. Whatever the decision, I will let you know as soon as I can. Of course, we have to talk with David. We did know of the boy as we had a recent report of possible cruelty against him. We were about to look into that this week. I might add that I do believe that some time things are predestined so I don't think you are potty. Your army background may well help as well so if you have someone of rank that I can contact as a referee".
Yes, there is Colonel English my old C.O. I will write down his name and phone number for you. I can also let you have my discharge record book, I have it with me."
Tony opened his briefcase and took out the thin red bound book and passed it over. Miss Archer took it and thanked him.
"That is all I can do for the moment, Mr Andrews. Please believe me, when I say that if we can approve you we will, but be prepared for disappointment."
Tony held out his hand and thanked her for her time and hoped to see her soon and that now he was meeting David's nurse and her son to go and visit David.
Tony left the office sweating and shaking. The interview had been worse than two weeks in the Malayan jungle. Angela and Jamie were waiting for him by the car. Jamie insisted on showing him the Meccano set his mother had just bought him.
"How did it go?" Angela asked, with a worried look on her face.
"To be honest, I have no Idea. I have to wait about a week while they make enquiries about David and me. Altogether, it seemed fairly positive, but I am not sure."
"Well I do know one or two of the hierarchy in that department so I will sniff around to see if I can find out what is happening."
"Ok Angela, nothing we can do right now, let's go and visit David."
At the hospital they went to see the ward day sister to get permission to visit. Angela Knew the sister of course as they had worked together at times. The sister was overjoyed that they would visit. It seemed David had been driving the nurses mad with questions all morning.
They went to the ward where David was and saw him sitting in a chair by his bed. He looked up to see who was there when Jamie whooped out, "David!"
David looked and said, "Jamie!"