Tony and Angela stood rooted to the spot as Jamie ran over to David and threw his arms around his neck. They talked animatedly as young boys together will. Finally Jamie turned to his mother and said. This is David my best friend from school. I didn't know he'd been hurt mum."
"That is a surprise Jamie. I knew about your friend David from school but I didn't know it was this David."
"We've been friends since my first day at school. It was David's as well. We were born on the same day. He's been ever so sad lately. Since his mum died he's cried a lot. I wanted to bring him home but he said he couldn't 'cause his dad wanted him home or else."
"You two have a chat, David. Nurse Angela and I will go to the canteen and have a coffee and bring you two back an ice cream. I am so pleased you have a good friend in Jamie."
"Ok, Tony, please, can you get me chocolate and Jamie likes Strawberry."
David and Jamie had a lot to talk about as although school had just broken up for the summer, David had a lot to talk about.
It all came out in a rush from David. "My dad is dead Jamie and I'm frightened what will happen to me. I might have to go to an orphanage or a children's home or worse."
"Oh, David, can't you come and live with me and granddad and granny. Let me talk to mum."
"That would be fab, Jamie, can I?"
Jamie looked all serious, "I'll ask her when they come back, David. Do you like Tony?"
"Yes, I do, He makes me laugh," and giggled. He said a fart was a burp from the other end."
That remark sent Jamie off into boyish giggles. Fart is a word certain to get young boys laughing.
"I like Tony as well, David. I think he wants to be mums boyfriend. They held hands with each other."
"Would you like that Jamie?"
"Oh yes, David. I want a dad so bad. I never knew my dad. He died in the army so mum said. I think that Tony used to be in the army as well."
"There's a boy at school and he says he is fostered."
"What's foster mean Jamie?"
Well, according to him. His mum and dad were killed in a car accident when he was 7 and he has been with this other family for 2 years. He loves it there. So I guess foster means you go and live with another family. So I was thinking perhaps we can foster you and you can come and live with us."
"If I could live with you what would happen to Tony? I just know he is the one that is supposed to help me, the wind told me."
Jamie looked puzzled. "The wind, you mean like a fart?"
"No silly." David thought hard to try and explain what he meant and as he thought it came. It circled the two boys increasing in strength. Jamie was frightened and clung on to David. As he did he heard the words 'brothers' repeated. The wind only lasted about 20 seconds in total but to the boys it seemed longer, more like 10 minutes. Suddenly it was gone and the boys were left looking at each other. David recovered first and said.
"That was the wind, Jamie."
"Wwwwhere did it come from? I've never known of something like that and I heard the wind say, "brothers", what did that mean?"
"I don't know, Jamie. The wind has spoken to me a few times now, and it happens to Tony. Now it has spoken to you. The wind stopped me from jumping onto the road below."
Jamie shook his head, "That's really weird, David," and smiling said, "but you've always been weird."
Then like children at a pantomime David started. "Have not," "Have." "Have not." Soon to collapse into laughter as friends do.
Meanwhile in the canteen Tony and Angela were earnestly talking. Angela was quite animated as she spoke.
"I can't believe what is happening, Tony. First you hear a voice and you came upon David, then we went on a brief get together and met with Jamie, then low and behold Jamie knows David. How weird is that?"
"It doesn't get any weirder and I have a feeling there is more to come yet, I am not sure why I get that feeling but it is for certain something is happening."
"I can tell you one thing, Tony. Jamie is always getting onto me saying he wished he had a brother. Perhaps we can find a way for David to visit frequently, especially during the summer holidays. It will have to wait until David leaves hospital of course but that should be in less than 2 weeks."
"I hope you don't mind me saying, Angela, but you just said 'we'," and with a wink said, "That word sounds very nice, can we work on that milady?"
Angela was taken aback by Tony's statement and this time she most definitely blushed. "I've had a few relationships over recent years, Tony, but none lasted long because there was Jamie and my night work. However, I would be happy to give it a try, but Jamie has to come first."
Tony clapped his hands together and smiled. Inside he was very nervous yet outwardly he seemed calm. "I would like nothing more, Angela. Can we at least give it a go? I get so lonely in my house all alone. I am so used to having the guys around all the time. It's quite a culture shock being away from the Regiment."
"Oh me too, Tony, If it wasn't for Jamie and my parents I think that sometimes I would go mad with loneliness. Incidentally, do you have parents?"
Not since I was 12. My parents were killed in a terrible train crash and I went to live with my maternal grandparents until I joined the army just after the war. My grandmother died 2 years ago from bowel cancer. I still have my father's war medals though."
"How sad, Tony, to lose your parents so young."
"I think that's why I feel so connected to David, his life is very similar."
"We must talk more, Tony, but for now we'd better get back to those two monkeys before a disaster happens."
They both stood up and held hands as if they had known each other for years. Slowly they made their way back to the ward and as they walked in the boys saw them, looked at each other and said to each other. "Tony and mum/your mum are holding hands." Jamie then said. "They've done that before at my grandparents." They giggled together. Looked at each other again and then both said "Euwwww!"
Tony and Angela Eeuwwwed the boys back and then they got together in a group hug being careful of David's wounds. All concerned were exceptionally happy.
Angela broke away and said. "Jamie, we're going down to the beach for the afternoon."
"Can David come please?"
"We can ask sister and see but I expect he is not well enough yet."
"Oh please mum, go and ask her."
"Wait here then while I go and see her."
Angela went off to see the ward sister while the boys and Tony chatted together.
"Tony, we had the wind visit us when you and Jamie's mum were away." David said "It spoke to both of us and said just 'brothers'. We wondered what it meant."
"I suspect," Tony said, "That somewhere in the future, whatever will be, will be. The wind seems to be a bit of a prophet, or it has been so far. Let's keep it to ourselves for now boys."
Just then Angela returned with the ward day sister and a wheelchair.
"We can take David with us, but the doctor says he has to stay in a wheelchair and wrap up warm, although on a day like today he will likely cook, and we have to take care of his ribs."
Tony ruffled David's hair and said. "You feel up to that, David? A few hours by the sea, ice cream, some candy floss, fish and chips for tea?"
"Yes please, I'll be careful, I promise."
"Can I push the wheelchair if I'm careful mum?" Jamie asked.
"Just inside the hospital, love, it'll be too heavy for you outside with all the holiday crowds about."
They dressed David up until he looked like a Michelin Man and Sister gave Angela a couple of pain killers for him just in case he got any pain. Before long they were ready to leave.
Oh, please be back by 6 pm, Angela," the sister asked. "We need to check David out before he settles for the night. I'll pass details on to night sister. You're off tonight aren't you?"
"Yes I am, probably see you tomorrow."
"I hope so, have fun all of you, bye now."
With that and Jamie pushing David they made their way to the lift and down to the main exit. Once outside it was all downhill to the seafront. Tony asked where they might go and the boys said in unison, "The Palace pier slot machines"
Tony and Angela laughed and Tony said, "Degenerates."
"What's a degenerate, Tony?" asked David.
Jamie replied, "My mum says it means old people."
"That's not quite right," said Tony. "A degenerate is someone who has lost their moral judgement. For example young boys who want to play slot machines instead of saving their money for something sensible, like buying an ice cream for me after pushing this chair." Tony laughed and the boys knew he was kidding them.
"We haven't got any money anyway." Jamie said.
"What! No money. How are we going to have fun and eat without any money, Tony?" Angela asked, with a serious look on her face.
"I don't know, Angela. Perhaps we could sell one of them. We might get two bob for one of them but which one?"
Jamie and David looked at each other as if to say, "They're daft."
Then Tony and Angela fell into fits of laughter and the boys seeing this joined in with them.
They all arrived at the Palace pier without further incident and walked up past the seating that was filled with old people enjoying the sun.
"Degenerates?" Whispered Jamie to David and that started another giggling fit.
At the amusement arcade, Tony went and got the boys some pennies to play the slot machines with. David couldn't reach the 'in' slot from the chair so Tony helped him stand up, checked he wasn't hurting and David was then able to put his money in and pull the handle. His first run brought up three melons. That was 12 pennies or a shilling pre decimal in the UK. David whooped with joy and grabbed for the money from the payout tray.
"Look Tony a shilling! First go too."
He put another penny in and got 2 cherries, another win, this time four pence.
He squealed with delight but did it a little too robustly and pulled at his ribs. "Ah! Ouch."
"Take it easy now, David, otherwise you'll hurt yourself. Sit back down for a while and let's go and see how Jamie and Angela are getting on."
Jamie was also on a winning streak and had won two shillings and decided to stop there and gave his winnings to his mum. "Save that for me, mum," he said. I can get another bit of Meccano with that and add it to what I got for my birthday."
She took the copper coins from him and put them in her purse, putting them in a separate section so they didn't get mixed up with her money, just as Tony and David arrived.
"I won 2 bob David how did you do?"
"I won 1 shilling and 4d but I hurt myself a little jumping about. What you going to do with yours?"
"I'm going to get some more Meccano. Mum bought me some for my birthday and I can add to it, then I can make bigger things."
"Cor, you got Meccano, Jamie? I'd love some of that."
Tony heard this and decided what to get David for his birthday. He looked at Angela and she had already guessed his decision.
"Come on, boys, you too, big boy, time to find a cafe so we oldies can rest our legs and you young'uns can get an ice cream."
Two young voices as one said, "Yeah."
In a short space of time all four of them arrived at a cafe. All took a seat apart from Tony who took the orders from the others. Jamie and David ordered a chocolate ice cream cornet while Angela and Tony settled on a pot of tea for two. Tony returned a little later to find the others chatting away happily together while seagulls trotted around the table screaming at each other.
"Two choc cones boys and the tea will come with the waitress in a minute. I ordered some cakes as well seeing as we have two hefalumps with us Angela."
"What is a hefalump, Tony?" David asked."
Angela laughed and answered, "It's a great big grey animal with a trunk found in Africa and India."
"That's an elephant," David came back.
"That's what I said," replied Tony. "Hefalump."
The boys got the joke then and started calling each other hefalumps amid laughter from them all.
Tony had never been so happy and the look on all the other faces seemed to say the same. The tea and cakes arrived. Just one each as fish and chips was to follow later. Angela put milk into the cups and then poured the tea.
Tony asked the boys if they were enjoying themselves to which they both answered yes.
Tony then looked at Angela and said, "What about you milady?"
Angela smiled and replied. "Best afternoon out I have had in a very long time, Tony, and it is good to see Jamie having fun and relaxed with a friend his own age, and I am enjoying your company."
Taking Angela's hand in his Tony said, "Thank you, ma'am, and I'm enjoying your company, plus the boys are really good for each other. We could go to the playground next but that seems unfair to David"
"How about we just stroll along to the West pier? Just the fresh air will do us all good. Then we could walk back to "The Regent Fish Bar" for fish and chips before we have to take David back to the hospital. We can walk behind the boys and have a chat."
Tony chuckled and said, "If they let us be on our own for more than 2 minutes."
As if to prove a point Jamie asked his mum what the time was.
"It's 5 o'clock, Jamie," his mum replied.
"We're hungry mum, can we go for fish and chips now?"
She looked at Tony and he just shrugged, smiled and said. "Come on then let's go and feed the hefalumps again. We can go up the ramp over there; it comes out just across from The Regent."
They went up the ramp and across the road. The Regent was busy as ever but they managed to get a table for four by the window. The menu was on the table and Tony picked it up and passed it first to the boys. They looked it over and both decided on cod and chips. Angela wanted Huss and Tony decided to have the same, with of course a pea fritter.
The waitress returned and took the order. When the boys heard Tony ask for a pea fritter they asked what it was.
"It is a ball of peas fried in batter. They taste yummy."
"Can we have one please, Tony?"
"Have one between you boys and see if you like them. If you do, then next time you can have one each, OK?"
"OK, Tony, thank you."
Tony added the boys fritter to the order and the waitress said she would get 2 smaller ones done so they could have one each. Tony thanked her and she left them to place the order with the fryer.
It was David who broke the silence that followed when he asked, "What will happen to me when I'm better, Tony?"
"I'm working on that at the moment, David. However. I have to be honest to you and say that I don't know. It may be you will have to go to a children's home for a while, while the children's department decides what to do."
David looked dejected at the news, but Tony did his best to try and put him at his ease.
Jamie promptly asked why David couldn't come to live with them at grandmas.
Again it was a difficult question to answer, but Angela this time tried her best.
"Before David could come and live with us, Jamie, we would have to fill out forms and lots of other stuff before we could even be considered to look after David. Like Tony though, we are going to do our best for David."
"Being in a children's home can't be any worse than it was," David said. "It might be fun if there are other boys of my age."
Just then the food arrived and the waitress set the plates in front of everyone.
"Enjoy," she said.
The boys poked at their pea fritters and tentatively tried them. One forkful was all that was needed for them to be a hit. Jamie mumbled, "They're nice aren't they David?"
David, also mumbled, "Mmm, lovely."
Tony smiled and looked at Angela winking at the same time, then said, "Beats trying to feed them sprouts, eh?"
Angela looked at him and with a grin said, "You would make a great dad Tony. Those boys are eating out of your hand. Looks like I will be feeding Jamie pea fritters from now on."
With the meal over, they all got up and left the cafe and headed back to the hospital stopping off for some Brighton rock on the way. The push up hill was hard work. Fortunately Tony was a fit man and made fairly light work of the job.
By the time they were back at the ward the day sister had gone home and the relief night sister was there to welcome them back.
"Hello, Angela, enjoying your day off?"
"Yes, thanks, Joan, it has been a good day, sadly it has come to an end. I think the boys enjoyed themselves."
Joan smiled and said, "Does that include the big boy, he's a bit dishy, yours?"
Angela also smiled and said, "Not yet, but he is a maybe and you are right he is dishy."
"It's time you sorted your life out, madam, or you will end up an old maid before you know it. Now, before you go. A man from the children's department called today. Arrogant old sod he was, moaned all the time about young David not being here and there are forms to be filled in blah, blah, blah. I told him David wouldn't be ready to leave for at least a week. Cut no ice though, he will be coming back tomorrow morning he said."
"In that case we hadn't better take him out tomorrow although I suspect that will not go down too well with Jamie. They are friends from school it turns out." Angela fished into her purse and pulled out the application form Tony had filled out to be a children's helper and visitor, handed it to Joan and asked her to place it on the supervisors desk so he would get it in the morning.
"He's still here, Angela, why not hand it in to him yourself."
"Thanks, Joan, I'll do that." She walked along the corridor to the supervisors office and knocked on the door.
"Come!" A voice said.
Angela opened the door and went in.
The man greeted her. "Hello, Angela, nice to see you, you are not on tonight?"
"No, it's my night off tonight, sir. I just brought this application form for your perusal. The man wants to be a child helper/visitor and I know we are desperate for some people."
"We truly are, Angela. Do you know him?"
Angela tried to tell him quickly about Tony and how they had met. It took longer than she thought and almost 20 minutes had gone by before she had finished.
"He sounds an interesting man and with his background I doubt he would stand a lot of nonsense."
"He has young David and my son Jamie eating out of his hand at the moment," Angela said smiling. "He's in the ward now with the boys, helping David get ready for bed and supper. I suspect Jamie will be hindering."
"Any chance he can pop in to see me, Angela? I would like to have a chat with him."
"I expect so, sir, I'll go and see him and send him along."
Angela left the office leaving Mr Kent looking over the form and went into the ward. Saw Tony just tucking David into bed. They all saw her and Tony said, "I thought you had got lost fair maiden, been gassing to the girls?"
"As a matter of fact kind sir, I have just given your application form to my boss, Mr. Kent, and he wants to see you if you can make it."
"Really, what does he want with me then?"
"I have no idea but he seemed to like where you have been and your past. Why not go and see, I will stay with the boys."
"OK, love, where is he?"
Angela heard love and frowned. That was a new word between them. The boys noticed as well, looked at each other and pursed their lips.
Angela told Tony how to get to the office and Tony set off. He was a little bemused as to why the supervisor would want to talk to him, but it certainly couldn't hurt.
He got to the office, knocked on the door and entered. He held out his hand to Mr. Kent and took the hand offered in return.
Mr. Kent offered Tony a chair and set about talking to him and leaving him gasping in surprise.
"Mr. Andrews, may I call you Tony?"
"Please do Mr. Kent."
"Then please call me Bill."
"Thank you, Bill." Tony replied.
"Right, Tony, I will get straight to the point. You may not remember me but I certainly remember you. Do you remember an operation you were on in Indonesia a few years back?"
"Yes of course, quite nasty."
"Do you remember a small medical unit there that you brought a small Indonesian boy into who was bleeding very badly and who sadly died?"
Tears appeared in Tony's eyes and he said, "Yes, I surely do. It almost broke my heart."
"The surgeon who tried to save that boy was me. I have never forgotten the look on your face and never will. That's why I want to talk to you. Something happened earlier this week that I can't explain. I have a post to fill here in the children's hospital. I was interviewing candidates for the post and was in between applicants and something happened that made me think immediately of you.
Tony asked. "Would that have been the wind?"
Bill Kent went gasped. "How did you know?"
Tony shook his head and replied, "The wind has been very, very, busy lately with myself, the boy in the ward David, and his friend Jamie, and now with you. I can't explain why, It just seems that there is something afoot that is out of my hands"
"Good grief, that is as you say most odd. What happened to me was that a wind swirled round my head, I saw a flashback of you bringing me that boy in your arms in Indonesia, hoping that you were wrong and he wasn't dead, and a voice said 'wait'. If I say I was shocked and frightened that would be a mild description. I cancelled the other two interviews, got a strong coffee and just sat here for ages. Then just now Angela described you and I knew I had to see if it was you. Sure enough it is and I now have an easy choice to make. I have an offer to make you, Tony. The hospital has created a post with a high profile. A much needed post I might add. It is a job needing a person of strong character, compassion and an understanding of life. The post itself is the Almoner to the children here. To look after their wellbeing in a way the surgeons and nurses cannot. To see to their happiness and make their stay here as pleasurable as it can possibly be, to talk to parents and help with their problems as well. I believe you to be that person, Tony. Would you be interested? You will of course have to attend day courses to bring you up to speed with the dreaded hospital procedures. What do you say?"
Tony breathed out hard, stared at the desk and then at Bill. "I love the sound of it, Bill. Can you let me sleep on it?"
"Of course, Tony, take as much time as you need, now, a coffee?"
"No thanks, Bill, I had better get back to the ward and wish David goodnight and then I have to take Angela and Jamie home."
"Of course, Tony, Angela is a wonderful woman and that boy of hers is a great lad. Take care of her."
Tony was about to say something along the lines of, 'we are not together,' but decided against it, stood and shook Bill's hand and again promised to let him know about the job as soon as possible. Tony was elated. A job offer to enable him to do what he wanted to in any case, he couldn't wait to tell the others, especially Angela.
Back in the ward David's supper had just arrives and Jamie was doing his best to help him eat it.
"Jamie, that is David's supper not yours."
I don't mind, Angela," David said. "Jamie has shared his food with me at school enough times when I didn't have anything to eat."
Angela choked up and felt like crying, but just then Tony returned beaming like a Cheshire cat.
"I have news," he said. "I have just been offered a job here in the hospital."
"Really, he never did?" Angela said.
"Yes! Now listen. Bill wants me to be the children's almoner, I haven't said yes yet. I said I would let him know. I wanted to talk it over with you, Angela."
"Why me, Tony, I don't really have a say in your decision."
Taking Angela aside he said in a whisper. "Yes you do, because if we are going to see each other it affects us in more ways than one. Can we drop Jamie off at your mother's and you come to my home with me so we can talk more earnestly together, Just the two of us. You will be back on nights tomorrow?"
Angela felt both flattered and nervous at the same time, but it didn't take long for her to agree.
They returned to the boys. By now the clock had crept round to half past eight. The boys had demolished the supper and David was lying down in his bed looking very tired.
Tony held David's good hand and gave him a kiss on the forehead and told him he would see him in the morning.
"Will Jamie and Angela come too?" he asked.
"We'll see, David, now get some sleep and a good rest, that will help you get well."
In a sleepy voice he asked, "What is an almoner?"
Tony was about to answer when Jamie piped up. "It's what they put in marzipan silly."
Tony and Angela looked at each other and went into hysterics.
End of part 6