Tuesday morning saw Tony up and about first. He looked around the kitchen with a bit of nostalgia a little saddened that they would all be leaving the little terraced house on Saturday. Still, it was for the best in the long run, it was important that the boys grew up with freedom and space to find their niche in life. Although he had been a regular soldier it wasn't what he wanted for the boys. However, if that should be the path either one chose he would not stand in their way. Deep down though he had a feeling that they would find different careers where hopefully they would shine. Angela, having lost her husband to the military and finding the MOD* somewhat lacking in its aftercare, had no desire for her sons, as she now considered them both, to go anywhere near a military career either. One thing certain was that his new goal in life was to do his best to change the lives of badly treated children that came through the hospitals doors.
His mind came back to now and the kitchen, tea to be made. He put the kettle on the stove and set out the cups, milked them and placed tea in the pot ready for the hot water. He went to the front door and picked up the morning paper. Looking at the headlines they glared out at him. "Three British men die in car in Madrid Spain.
The story went on to say that three men who had recently been linked to child abuse in Brighton who could not be named had been found in the early hours of the morning in the garage of a house they had just bought in Madrid. A hosepipe led from the exhaust pipe into the car and they were asphyxiated by the fumes. Spanish police are treating it as suicide after a suicide note had been found in the car with the men. It is believed that the men were so overcome with the guilt of their actions that they had killed themselves.
Tony nodded his head and thought, 'Zulus strike again.' He had thought they would not let those men start up all over again. The article went on to say that 8 boys between the ages of eight and eleven had been found inside the house locked in a room. The suicide note also said the men had left the house to the local children's charity for homeless street children. Tony then turned to the back page to find nothing of real interest so he put the paper down. The letterbox rattled from the postman's delivery. He went and collected it off the floor and looked them over. One letter for the boys, one letter for Angela, and two for him, one a large envelope from his solicitor. He opened that first. It contained all the final documentation for the sale of the house on the hill and now it was his officially. He put that aside for later to show the family and opened the second envelope. It was from his old boss in the squadron. It was a very short note, somewhat guarded and all it said was, 'Job done,' Z. Tony tore it up and put it deep in the bin in the kitchen.
Tony made the tea and then called upstairs to the boys to get up. Minutes later after Angela had received her tea, the sound of feet on the stairs announced the arrival of dogs and boys in that order. The dogs went straight to the rear door to be let out. Tony let them out before the boys arrived still in their pyjamas. "Morning dad." Both boys said.
"A very good morning, boys, how are you today, has mum got much more to move?"
"I don't think so, dad," David replied, "Jamie and I moved lots with mum yesterday."
Angela's voice came from the stairs, "Not too much love, just a few odds and ends which won't take too long. I thought we might go over to mum and dad's and take them up to the new house and we could have a casual meal up there."
"Now that is a good idea love, what about that boys?"
David and Jamie replied in the positive, finished their tea and went back upstairs to change.
Angela and Tony got a quick cuddle in together and Tony told her about Madrid. She looked oddly at him and then said, "I know it is a good thing they have gone, but isn't it a bit like vigilantes?"
"In truth love there have been times when I was with the SAS I have thought, 'what are we doing,' especially when working for a certain intelligence service. However we had to believe that what we did was for the good of the country, it is the same with Zulu force."
Angela replied that what really mattered to her that those particular men wouldn't harm any more children, to which Tony agreed.
Dogs rushed in the door looking for food, but were out of luck until the boys returned, mostly because Tony was adamant that the lads should look after them, including the trip into the garden for the picking up of generous rear end deposits.
When the boys returned he held up 2 carrier bags and said to the boys, "Happy hunting."
The boys groaned but went out to do their duty laughing as they went.
Tony and Angela went up to get ready and dressed. Tony ready for work and Angela ready for another morning of moving. Breakfast was small again with just porridge, yogourt, and fruit. Tony then headed off for work and the family kissed him goodbye.
He got to work in good time, parked the car and went to his new office on the ground floor. He was greeted by Bill Kent his boss with a problem. A boy and a girl had come in the night before with burns and bruises that their parents had said had come from a tea pot tipping over. The doctors had said that it was very doubtful and had called in children's services' June Archer who would be along in half an hour. Tony said he would wait for her arrival but would go and have a chat with the doctor on the case to get his take on things.
Bill left Tony to it and minutes later Tony was talking to the doctor about the problem. The doctor had a long history of working with children and he knew a lie when he heard it.
He told Tony that the burns were certainly scalds but the bruises were all wrong. They were as he described them, progressive, they were done over a length of time and they were in places that could only be caused by abuse. The children were scared of their own shadows and would not talk to anyone. Tony thanked the doctor and went back to his office to wait for June to arrive.
She turned up a bit later than she had hoped and apologised. Tony set her at ease and filled her in on the doctor's interpretation of the children's injuries.
June thought the parent's version stunk but would not do anything until they had spoken to the children. They went straight up to the ward and the sister took them to see the children. They gasped as they saw them wrapped up in plastic to stop the air getting to the extensive burns. Tony and June sat between them and tried to talk to them, but all they got was their names, Julie and Adam Smith, neither was forthcoming. Without the children talking there wasn't a thing either of the adults could do to help them. They certainly seemed very frightened. The boy was by all accounts 12 and the girl only 8. He saw their eye contact between them and his experience told him they were terrified. Before he left them Tony bought both of them a coke.
June and Tony went back to his office rather dispirited because without the children actually saying something there was little they could do. Suddenly Tony had an idea. "June, I will get my two boys to come in and talk to them, perhaps they can get them to open up."
"What a good idea, Tony. I don't want those children going home to more abuse again."
Tony lifted the phone and dialled home, after four rings it answered. It was David. "Hello, the Andrews house."
"Hi David, how would you and Jamie like to try and help out two children in trouble at the hospital?"
"What now dad, we are supposed to be helping mum."
"Yes love, now if you can just ask mum, she won't mind I am sure."
He heard David call Angela and then explain. Angela came on the phone and was happy for the boys to help out and she would drop them over after they had loaded the car up.
It seemed hours that Tony waited but it was only 30 minutes when the boys came bundling into his office.
"Hi dad," Jamie called out. "What have we to do?"
Tony went on to explain what was thought that happened and it was hoped that David and Jamie could get the children to open up.
The boys wanted to take on the challenge and so Tony took them up to the ward and pointed the children out and walked away silently praying that the boys could get the answers needed.
As they arrive at the children's beds it whizzed past them and around the two children. Before half an hour was up the children had become total friends and the boys had the answers that Tony needed. The boys bid there new friend goodbye and returned to Tony.
They explained at length what had happened to the brother and sister.
David did most of the speaking.
"Dad, it was horrible. I felt it before we got them to tell us and the wind came to help. You were right they are terrified of their parents. Their dad has been hitting them for a long time, over a year. Well, last night their father hit them again and they tried to run to their mother but instead of helping them she threw a saucepan of hot water over them. The next thing they knew was they were here in hospital. Their parents said if they said anything to adults they would kill them."
Jamie added, "We were all crying by the time they finished."
"Oh boys, thank you for all your help, I am sorry you have been upset, that was the last thing I wanted for you."
"We don't mind dad, what will happen to them now?"
"All being well, boys, we will be able to find them a better home with a family or foster parents."
"What about with us dad?" they boys asked.
"I wish we could, boys, but we can't foster all the children who have been abused, as much as I would like to, but an idea has just come to me, and turning to June, made a suggestion. "Angela's parents used to look after Jamie for Angela when she was at work, how about we ask them if they might temporarily look after Julie and Adam." June thought that a great idea because she could quickly approve them as temporary carers. "Boys, I will talk to you about it later. Now, let's get mum to pick you up again."
Tony called Angela who had returned home waiting for the call. When she answered Tony asked her. "Angela, those two children have to be given a temporary home, do you think mum and dad might do that for them?"
"Oh, Tony, I am not sure because they are getting older now. I can ask them and see. I will call in on the way."
"OK, Tony, I'll see you all soon bye for now."
Tony sent the boys off for cokes for themselves and Julie and Adam while he and June discussed what she was going to do.
June had already decided that both parents would be arrested and charged with severe child abuse and could she use his phone. She called the local police station and spoke to the newly formed child protection unit. The inspector needed the address and June consulted her notes. She gave the inspector an address on the Whitehall estate. The inspector told her they would be at the address as soon as possible. June thanked them and put the phone down. The boys came back into the office with their cokes and told Tony that Adam said thanks and that he wanted to talk to you, not the lady, just you.
June shrugged her shoulders and said. "The hospital is your domain; get what you can to help."
Tony turned to the boys and smiled. "Will you look after June while I am gone, boys?"
"Of course we will, dad."
David was asked by June how his new life was going and he quickly told her that he had a loving mum, dad and brother now and Jamie chimed in with he had a new dad and brother. They continued to talk while Tony was on his way up to the wards.
He found Adam and Julie talking to each other and as soon as they saw him they stopped. Tony got a chair and sat down between the beds, looked at both the children, what a pitiful sight, both of them wrapped in cling film, well what looked like cling film to him.
Adam spoke up, "Your sons said you were a nice man and would help us. Is that true?"
"Yes, Adam, it is, that is my job here, to help children if they need it and both of you do need help. Your parents are in serious trouble for hurting you and I expect they will end up in prison."
"What will happen to us mister, we don't want to go back there ever again."
Well, for a while you will have to remain in hospital here while the doctors heal your burned skin and then, June, that's the lady that was with me last time, will try and find you a nice home with adults who care and give you love and a good home." He didn't mention George and his wife in case they weren't interested.
Adam looked warily and asked, "Do we have to go to just anyone, or can we choose? We have to stay together, I look after my sister."
"I will be honest, Adam, I am not sure that you can choose who will look after you, but I am sure you will be together, OK? Oh. And please call me Tony."
Adam was tickled with that because no adult had ever allowed him to use a Christian name and tried it out. "Tony? OK then."
"That a boy, Adam. Now can you tell me how long your parents have been hurting you?"
Adam looked at his sister and she nodded her head.
Tony started the tale.
"I was ten when it started, my dad started going to the pub more and he would come home and hit mum, I tried to stop him and mum hit me and told me to mind my own business, then dad hit me and took off his old army belt and started hitting me with that. Mum didn't try to stop him and Julie started to scream so mum hit her as well and told her to shut up. From then on it happened a lot. I used to hide at school so nobody saw the bruises."
"How often did it happen, Adam, once a week, twice a week or more?"
"I forget but it was a lot, Tony."
"OK, Adam, that will do for now. I will be back soon, alright?"
"Ok mister, err Tony, and thanks."
Tony left the children as they returned to talking together and made his way back to his office.
The boys and June were getting on famously together. She was showing them how to make paper aeroplanes.
Tony laughed and said. "Do they fly then, boys?"
"Yes, dad, and they loop the loop, watch," and threw one into the air and it looped the loop as he had said it would.
"That's great boys. How about I get you a proper model plane to build between you?"
"Yes, please, dad, one that will fly?"
"Of course, David, provided you build it correctly."
"We will," Jamie said.
Just then Tony's phone rang making them all jump. He picked it up and it was the police for June.
"Hello, June Archer speaking." June listened to the officer the other end of the line and frowned, and then said. "OK, thanks." Then put the phone down.
"Problems Tony," She said. "It appears the parents have done a bunk. All the adult clothing is missing and a note on the kitchen table saying they never wanted the bloody kids and do what you like with them."
The boys heard and Tony shooed them off outside the office as he didn't really want them involved in something that would upset them more than they already were.
"OK, June, do you think you could leave me a minute? I have a private call I have to make."
"Of course, Tony, give me a call when you are done."
When she had gone Tony lifted the receiver and dialled his solicitor. He told the solicitor what he wanted and why, received a positive reply and placed the receiver back in its base.
He called June back in and asked her if she would like to go for a coffee. She answered yes and they collected the boys and went up to the canteen. Tony got coffee and biscuits for himself and June and ice creams for the boys. The boys asked if they could take ice creams for Adam and Julie. Tony gave them extra money and they went to get them and take them to the children on the ward.
As they sat having tea, two women came in and introduced themselves as children's protection officers of the local police. Tony offered coffee which they accepted and then they surprised Tony and June. The blonde one spoke and said, "This morning was the first time since we have been formed that children's services have ever asked for our help. The fat one and his deputy never asked for our assistance. I can see why now, we might have cottoned on to their abusive behaviour. Good riddance I say."
June looked worried and said, "I referred lots of abuse cases to both of them. Are you telling me you never heard about them?"
"Nope, not a dickybird since I have been in Brighton, nearly five years now."
"Well, I can assure you I have referred lots of children. That is disgraceful. No wonder I never heard any more about them. I could scream."
Tony said, "Just you get that post, June, and make a difference. Oh, I meant to tell you, Angela has applied to be deputy."
"Tony, that would be great, I am certain we could make a big difference."
The blonde officer introduced herself as inspector Gold and the other was PC Dermott. She handed June the letter the parents had left and bade her goodbye. They were just off to patrol the beach area looking for runaways and suspicious men.
The boys came back with a message from the ward sister for Tony. It was to tell him that that Adam and Julie did not have a change of anything from pyjamas and clothes. He locked that away for future reference and thanked the boys for the message. They finished their coffees and returned to the office where Tony immediately picked up the phone and called the police and left a message for the children's protection unit to get some clothes for the children from the house. He had just put the phone down when Angela appeared with George and Gladys.
The boys ran to their grandparents first and then to Angela and before Tony could open his mouth the boys were asking the grandparents whether they would take Adam and Julie to live with them. The adults laughed with smiles and Angela said to the boys, let them get here first boys.
June then asked Angela and her parents how they were and all told her they were good and went on to tell her about the scare with grandma and June said perhaps there was a reason for your recovery Gladys.
"That may well be true, June, so where are the scallywags then?" Gladys asked.
"We'll take you, grandma, they know us and we can tell them who you are."
Tony couldn't keep a straight face. "Go on then boys, we'll take the day off while you two run the place."
The boys grabbed a grandparent each and remembering their age walked slowly with them hand in hand to the lift.
June looked at Angela and Tony and said, "Who would think that David was such a scared boy just three weeks ago?"
Angela answered. "With Tony and Jamie in the mix I must say the improvement is nothing short of wonderful."
"You too, love, not just us, it is a family thing."
They got out of the lift and walked to the ward with Adam and Julie in it. David, bold as brass, called into see the ward sister and told her that they had all come to see Adam and Julie. She told him that was nice of them but not too tire them out as they were still very ill. David promised he wouldn't and went back to the others.
"Sister says we mustn't tire them, grandma."
"That's fine, darling, we won't stay long."
When they got to the beds David introduced his grandparents while Jamie helped them to sit up a bit.
Jamie then introduced his grandparents as Grandpa and grandma and told the children that they used to look after him when his mum was working nights and that they were both lovely and David agreed.
Adam took the lead being the older one and asked, "Are we going to live with you Granddad? Something told me we were."
Granddad smiled and looked hard into the boy's eyes and saw so much hurt there, then at Julie, the look was the same.
Grandma peeped up, "That depends if you want to live with two old fogies like us, Adam. We are getting old but the stay with us wouldn't be forever, just until you get settled and well again."
"We aint ever been settled, grandma." Julie piped up for the first time. "Our parents hurt us that's all."
"Can we think about it please," Adam said. "I have to talk it over with Julie."
"Aint nothing to talk over, Adam. I like them, just say yes."
"Are you sure, sis? Are you dead sure?"
"Course I am silly. I know nice better than you."
"Looks as if the answer is yes, grandpa and grandma. Is that alright?"
Grandma answered for them both and said, "Oh yes darlings, it's more than alright."
"Will you come and visit please?" asked Julie.
Grandma trying not to touch a tender scalded area, touched Julie and said. "Of course we will, darlings, but you have to get better before you can come home."
The tears flowed down Julie's cheeks and Adam being all grown up stifled his. The family four weren't far off tears either. They blew the children a kiss and promised to be back soon.
Julie and Adam waved goodbye back as they left the ward.
They made their way back to the office and June, Tony and Angela could see from the faces that the meet was a success.
Angela spoke first and said, "I see from all your faces that you took to them. Did they take to both of you, mum?"
"Dad and I think so. We have agreed to come and visit them more, but it will be some time before they can leave here."
Time had flown by and everyone, especially the boys felt hunger pains and so with Tony's suggestion they all went to the canteen for a snack. Sausages with beans for the boys while the adults all had jacket potatoes with various fillings. Afterwards Julie made her departure because of office work to sort out but before she made a point of thanking George and Gladys for their kindness, and also Tony and Angela along with the boys for their help.
Just after she left Angela, her parents and the boys made a move to get up to the house on the hill for a walk and afternoon tea.
Tony needed to go and see the sister of the ward that Adam and Julie were in so that he could fill her in on the morning's events. He felt quite pleased with the progress of the morning and when he talked to the sister she said the children were in much better form thanks in no small part by the roles of David and Jamie. He told her that the children's clothes should be at the hospital quite soon, just as soon as the police managed to get them, and was their anything else that might be needed for them. The sister couldn't think of anything there and then but would contact him if anything came to mind.
From there he went to another ward where a 2 month old baby boy had been brought in having been found in a box under the Palace pier. All attempts so far had failed to find the mother and he needed to get an update. The baby ward sister told him there was no more news but the baby was doing fine. After a short exchange she took him to see the boy. He was awake giggling to himself about something only he knew. Tony had heard of such cases in the past but had never been up and close to an actual child.
"Do you need any extras for him, sister?" Tony asked her.
"Not yet, Tony," she said, using the agreed name with him.
"Let me know if you do, sister, we have funds available for such emergencies."
Sister thanked him and he went back down to Bill's office to find if anything new had occurred he should look at before going off to see a man about a car.
Bill was just getting ready to go himself and greeted Tony.
"Hello, Tony, I was just off, all alright, are those two scalded children alright?"
"Ah, now there is a partial success." He then gave Bill a rundown on the morning's events.
"That is good news. Their doctor told me any scars would be temporary without need for surgery."
"That is certainly a result on the right side, Bill. Well, I am off to see a man about a car. With my new instant family my car is not big enough for the whole tribe and maybe friends. See you tomorrow, Bill, goodnight."
"Goodnight, Tony, you did well today."
"Thanks, Bill, I appreciate that."
Tony went out to his car and set off to the dealer who sold him his present car. He pulled up on the forecourt and the owner recognised Tony and came across to meet him. He held out his hand to Tony and said. "Hello again Mr. Andrews, is something wrong with the car?"
Tony took the offered hand and shook it and replied. "No nothing's wrong. I just need to get something bigger as I have a family now and this one has been outgrown. I need something a lot bigger because with the grandparents and children there are 6 people altogether plus 2 dogs."
The dealer smiled and agreed with Tony and said, "Sounds like you need a bus not a car."
Tony had to laugh at that and agreed with the dealer.
The dealer scratched his head and thought hard and finally made a suggestion.
"We have left in stock a brand new Mercedes- Benz O319 camper van. It can seat 7 and still have room for the dogs. It takes three passengers in the front and four in the rear. It also converts for camping, comes with an added external extension for camping that takes four people comfortably. Mind you it is a functional vehicle and won't win any beauty prizes."
"Can I have a look at it please?"
"Of course and you can take a test drive and see what you think of it."
Tony followed the dealer to where the vehicle stood. Tony looked all round the large vehicle and decided there and then that it was what he needed. He took the offered test drive for five miles. It handled like a dream and when they returned to the dealership he had a look in the back and all the extras involved with it. It wasn't cheap, but then quality never is.
"Sold," he said to the dealer, now how much for a trade in. The deal was a good one and Tony was told he could pick the van up in a week. It would be axed, insured and ready to drive away.
Tony thanked him and headed off with two more stop to do. He bought one item and headed to the next shop and picked up the other. Then off to new house to meet up with the family.
As he pulled up in front of the house four small bodies rushed towards him, two boys and two dogs, all equally trying to be first to get there. Beauty won by a fair distance with Bella coming second. A quick fuss and they were happy. The boys came equal third with big hugs all round.
"Hi boys, are you having fun?"
Both boys tried to talk at once until Tony asked them to talk one at a time.
David got it out first in the end. "We found a Landrover in a barn dad. It had the keys in as well. Jamie took them out, didn't you Jamie?"
Jamie then piped up. "Yes dad, it's ever so dirty though but the canvas at the back seems ok."
"I'll say hello to grandpa, grandma and mum and we'll go and have a look at it then. I wonder where it is from."
Tony walked across to the others and gave Angela a hug and a kiss, a handshake for dad and a kiss for mum.
"The boys want to show me their find so I had better look before I settle."
"Don't be long, love, as the food is almost ready."
"OK, love, we won't be long."
Tony and the boys walked but almost ran to the barn and opened the door. Sure enough their standing at the back wall was an old, what looked like, and ex military land rover.
Tony knew the model backwards. It was an old FFR long wheel one that the army used for a signals vehicle. The registration plate on the front started with Q, the letter used for re-registered military vehicles that have been changed in some way. Tony lifted the rear flap and looked into the back. He smiled and whispered, "Come here boys."
The boys tip toed near and looked in. There in the back nestled together were four fox cubs. The boys were amazed to see them, so soft and cuddly looking.
Tony closed the back and said to the boys. "Let's leave them in peace boys. Their mum and dad will be back soon to feed them I expect. We won't disturb them. We can come back in a few weeks time and look at the Landrover then."
The boys didn't really want to as the thought of holding the cubs was difficult for them to pass up. Nevertheless they did promise to leave them alone until they grew up.
When they got back to the rest of the family Tony let the boys loose with their excitement telling the others about the fox cubs, which they did with relish.
After the meal Tony considered telling them all about the new vehicle, but decided to keep it for a surprise till the next week.
He went to the car and brought back two packages. One he gave to the boys. The other he kept back.
The boys opened the package and took out the box. WOW escaped from them as they saw it was a model glider kit to make. The boys hugged him and thanked him and then put it away until later.
He then handed the other package to David and told him it was the last of his birthday presents. It was late because it had to be made.
David opened the parcel and then burst into tears. "Oh thank you dad, I love you, it's lovely." Jamie looked at the present and saw it was a picture, not a photograph but a framed picture of David's mother that he had painted. David looked at it with tears flowing.
"Oh dad, thank you, it's the best ever present."
He showed it to the others who were amazed at the quality of his painting.
Both grandparents loved it and it brought tears to their eyes, while Angela was lost in her own thoughts. She had seen the picture before, but now that it was properly framed she could see the absolute beauty of David's mother.
Tony took out a tissue and dried David's eyes and said to him, "I did it, David, because as much as Angela loves you, neither of us wants you to forget the love of your real mother."
David carefully wrapped it again and gave it back to Tony for safe keeping until the move at the weekend.
* Ministry of Defence
End of part 12
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