Monday was hectic. We started to move into the apartment. The first thing we had to arrange was to get furniture in place. Fortunately, we had decided not to move the furniture from the Priory into the apartments but to furnish them from scratch; we intended to let them over holidays. As a result, Anne had ordered furniture for them from a store in Maldon. They had been holding it in the warehouse ready for delivery. The first thing she had done when Matt had given the OK for us to move into the apartment was to phone the store and ask them to deliver. They did, at eight in the morning. All the furniture was in place by about nine-thirty and all the empty boxes and wrapping carried away.
With the furniture in place, we started to move our stuff across to the apartments. At the same time, the workmen moved into the guest wing and started to rip it apart. Somehow, whenever one of us was carrying a load across to the apartment, there seemed to be a workman carrying a load out to the skip, crossing our paths. Fortunately, there were no collisions.
By the end of the day, we were essentially moved into the apartment. The amount of space there was roughly twice what I had in the bungalow, but after these weeks in the Priory, it felt small and cramped. Both Anne and I looked at the kitchen and decided that, except for breakfast, for the next couple of weeks we would be eating out till the Priory kitchen was finished. Matt had assured us that would be done first.
Tuesday was mostly taken up with sorting ourselves out in the apartment, though Johnny did go to the yard and Joseph visited Matt's office, where he arranged to do three mornings a week. Sarah Coleman phoned just after Joseph got back to ask if it was possible to start the scanning of the site on Thursday. I told her I would be away that day, but that Joseph would be around in the afternoon.
Matt called round late Tuesday afternoon to check on how things were going. He also had news for me.
"They lost the planning appeal on the old Craven place, there is a grade two listing on it. Spoke to the agent, he says the price they are asking is unrealistic, and they know it. It is what they paid thinking there would be no problem with planning consent. As it is, the value is about half that," Matt informed me.
"So, one fifty to two hundred?" I asked.
"I think they might be lucky to get one fifty if what I hear is correct," Matt commented.
"What have you heard?"
"Possible grade one listing," Matt responded.
"What? It's a Second World War prefab," I pointed out.
"And how many of those are left?" he asked. "Alright, there are some of the prefab bungalows around the country; a few of them have been listed. World War Two commercial prefabs? To be honest, this is the only one I know of."
"I wonder how much that might affect things?" I asked.
"For what you are looking at, not much," Matt responded. "If you want to expand, you can always put another structure up on the land at the back. The present owners problem was that they needed to demolish the prefab to get an access road put in." I nodded, understanding what Matt was getting at. There was quite a lot of land at the back.
Once Matt had left, I checked with Arthur to see if he was free, then phoned the agents to make an appointment to view the property in the morning.
Johnny got back from the yard somewhat later than usual. I gave him a questioning look as he came up into the apartment.
"Sorry, Dad, finished late, then got a flat; had to push the bike back."
"You could have called," I commented.
"No bloody signal on the high path. By the time I got signal, I was in Dunford; not worth you coming out." I had to agree that he had a point.
"What time’s dinner?" he asked.
"When we're ready, we're eating at the Crooked Man again; will be until the kitchen is ready."
"Oh. Any chance you could give me a hand with the bike before we go down?" he asked. "Don't want to get changed, then have to change back to work on the bike." I agreed to help and went and changed into some work clothes, then joined Johnny down in the garage below the apartment. He did not look happy.
I looked at the inverted bike and the front wheel which he was examining. "Bad?"
"Yes. Look, Dad." I did. Something, probably a piece of glass or a tin can top, had sliced into the side of the tire.
"Well, that's not a simple puncture repair," I stated.
"No, I'm going to need a new bloody tire," he replied. "This is really going to mess things up."
"Steve's asked me to go into the yard full-time for the next three days. Martin's got to go into Australia House. Something about getting his qualifications verified before he goes out. It is a lot easier from here before you go out than once you get out there. He and his missus are going up to London for the next three days, so Steve's short-handed, and he's got a pile of work on."
"What's fulltime?" I enquired.
"Have to be there at seven and will finish when the last customer goes," Johnny replied. "I'm to cover the chandlery."
"OK. Look, go and ask Arthur if you can use his bike tomorrow. He won't need it, at least not in the morning. Then take the wheel out of yours and put it in the back of the Santa Fe. After I have finished with Arthur in the morning, I'll drop him off, then go into Maldon. Riverside Cycles should be able to put a new tire on for you."
"Thanks, Dad." He shot off in the direction of the stable house, no doubt to ask Arthur for the use of his bike. As I went back upstairs to the apartment, it occurred to me that it might be an idea to get a couple of spare bikes. It would make a lot more sense, at least in the summer, to cycle down into Dunford if I was just going in to post something or visit the bank or avoid summer weekend congestion. It would at least give me some exercise, and it would mean that we would have a spare if something like this happened again.
The Crooked Man was relatively empty when we got down there. Well, it was Tuesday and still fairly early for any of the sailing crowd to come in. They would be out on the water till sunset.
"Hear you met my sister last week," Mary said as I walked up to the bar to place our order.
"Yes, Maggie," she responded.
"Maggie as in Marge's Café?"
"That's the one. Said you were in there last week."
"I was," I confirmed. "Took Johnny over to look at Southmead College. How did she know it was me? Never gave her my name."
"She came over on Sunday," Mary replied. "Says she recognised your photo on the back of the maths book her youngest has had to get for uni."
"Sorry about that, the publishers insisted."
"Don't be. You're a good-looking man, and your Anne has got a good catch by what I hear."
"Where did you hear that?" I asked.
"My cousin Jack," she informed me.
"As in the Crown and Anchor?" I enquired.
"That's the one."
"He's your cousin?"
"You seem to have quite a network," I commented.
"That I do. One way or another about half the eating and drinking establishments in this part of the county are related to me. Which reminds me, you still need to pop down so we can have that chat some lunchtime." I nodded, then placed our order.
Wednesday morning, I was awoken by the sound of Johnny in the kitchen — a problem with a small apartment. I got up, showered and dressed, then joined him in the kitchen.
"I put the wheel in the Santa Fe," he informed me. He took ten pounds out of his wallet and went to hand it to me. "Do you think that will cover it?"
"It won't need to. I'll cover it."
"Thanks, Dad, it would have left me tight."
"I guessed it might. What time is it?"
"Just gone half-six," Johnny replied. "I’d better get a move on." With that, he finished making his sandwiches, poured some soup into a flask, rinsed the pan and put it in the dishwasher, then left. I made myself a mug of tea then went through to the sitting-cum-dining room and opened up my laptop on the table. There was no room in the kitchen to have a table.
Once I had dealt with the emails — there were not many — I started revising what I had written in my project folder on tide mills—sorting out some notes I could print out later to take with me in the morning. I refrained from printing them out as I did not want to disturb Anne. She had slept through Johnny banging about in the kitchen, so she would probably sleep through my printer running — probably.
Did not have to test that hypothesis. Just as I had finished putting the notes together, Anne came through from the bedroom. She looked at me working at the table.
"You know, we could make the second bedroom into a study for you," she stated.
"But that's Joseph's room," I replied.
"And he is not using it; we both know he is sleeping in Johnny's room," she responded.
"I know, but—"
"No buts, Mike," Anne informed me. "Johnny and Joseph are sleeping together; they have been since Sunday. Whether we like it or not, they are together, and, to be honest, I think it is probably the best thing for both of them."
"What do you mean, the best thing for both of them?”
"Well, Joseph needs somebody to care for him, and Johnny does care for him. Johnny needs a relationship which is not just about sex, and I strongly suspect that there has been very little sex, if any, between those two."
"There's been no sex," a voice said from the doorway. I turned, and Joseph was standing there. "Sorry, I heard what you were saying and had to comment."
"That's alright, Joseph," I stated. "As you heard, we were discussing you and my son. I gather you are in a relationship?"
"I'm not sure," Joseph replied. "Don't know what a relationship is supposed to be like. All I know is I feel comfortable when I am with Johnny."
"I think," Anne stated, "that there is a need for us all to get around the table and discuss things, but now is not the time or place." At this, Joseph looked a bit worried. Anne smiled at him. "It's alright, Joseph, you've done nothing wrong; neither has Johnny. We just need to make sure we all know where we are coming from and where things are likely to be going.
"Now I suppose you could do with some breakfast?"
Anne went off in the direction of the kitchen, Joseph followed, looking hungry, leaving me with a dreading sensation of what I was going to have to face tonight. Talking to one's son about sex is not something most fathers look forward to, from what I hear. Talking to your son and his boyfriend about the subject is… well, it just is.
I was just starting to worry about the prospects when Arthur phoned. He wanted to know what time the view was. I told him I had arranged to pick up the keys any time after nine. Arthur asked if we could do it early as he had to go to a customer in Dunford who was having problems, and he wanted to get there as soon as possible. I told him to come over to the apartment as soon as he was ready. He arrived about ten minutes later with Trevor, who, I was pleased to see, had his regulation hoodie and sunglasses on, though I was starting to suspect the disguise was not much use locally. Word had apparently got around that Trevor Spade was in the locality and wore a hoodie and sunglasses. Mary had told me that an unsuspecting lad from a Norwegian yacht that had arrived for the regatta at the weekend had been mobbed when he got off the yacht wearing sunglasses and a hoodie.
Whether or not Trevor’s staying in the Santa Fe when we got into Dunford was anything to do with it, I can't say, but we were not mobbed. Not when I went into the agents to get the keys, nor when we got to the building and Trevor got out. Though that may have been because there was nobody about.
When we got the door unlocked and stepped inside, it became quite clear that the place was a lot bigger than it looked from the outside. The building was about five and a half to six metres wide but stretched back quite a distance. From the front to the first partition wall must have been a good ten metres, if not more. However, looking through the door in the partition wall, which was open, we could see right to the back of the building, which must have been another twenty metres at least.
Arthur and Trevor started to look around. I walked down the length of the building and unlocked the back door, stepping out into an overgrown wilderness that still showed the structure of a formal garden, the last thing I expected to find.
"Come and look at this!" Trevor shouted. I turned back into the building and walked up to where he was standing and looking through one of the side doors. I peered over his shoulder into what appeared to be the remains of a kitchen. Further investigation indicated that the whole of the right-hand side of the rear of the building consisted of living quarters. There was the kitchen, another room off it which appeared to be a dining room, given the hatchway through to the kitchen. Further on, there was what I assumed had been a sitting room, given the fireplace in the corner. Beyond that was another room which led to a bathroom.
"I suppose the Cravens must have lived here," Arthur commented.
"Would make sense," I observed. "They would have to be up early for the papers arriving."
"It could be made into a nice place with a bit of work," Trevor commented.
"And quite a lot of money," stated Arthur.
"Would it do for your business?" I asked.
"Provided I could keep the current servers at the Priory, no problem," Arthur replied. He went over and peered out of one of the windows on the storage-room side of the building. "I can see the stable-house clock tower from here, so we have a direct line of sight for connection. Could even put in an optical link."
"The question, then, is: should we buy it for the business?" I stated.
"How much is it?" Arthur asked.
"They are asking four hundred thousand," I told him.
"Fuck, that's stupid."
"It is," I responded. "Matt reckons it should go for one-fifty or so."
"The business can't afford that," Arthur said.
"It can't at the moment, but if you keep expanding the way you are, I have no doubt you could fund it in a couple of years. In the meantime, I thought I could buy it on a commercial mortgage and rent it to the business with an option to buy."
"Why don't I buy it?" Trevor asked.
"What?" I queried.
"Why don't I buy it? I've got the funds, and this would class as an investment, so there would be no problem with the trust. In fact, I already own a couple of commercial properties via the trust. I could buy it outright and then lease it to Arthur, say giving him a two-year, rent-free period to get the place sorted out. There is a lot of work to do."
"It would make sense if you can do it," I stated. "What do you think, Arthur; would the business do well here?"
"Well, it's not a prime location, and there is little passing trade," Arthur observed. "Then again, I don't need passing trade. I rely on people finding me on the net and then coming in. It will work for that, and it will allow me to move into hardware."
"Good, then I’ll buy it," Trevor stated.
"Can I think about it for a couple of days?" Arthur asked.
"You can think about it today," Trevor stated. "I do, though, need an answer before I leave in the morning."
"You are leaving in the morning?" I asked.
"Yes, they are going to start shooting my scenes on Friday, so I need to be up at the studio at seven Friday morning," he informed me. "Going up to London in the morning to see how Dad is, then on to the studio. I have still got my room at the hotel."
"You've still got a room in the hotel?" Arthur asked.
"Oh, yes. It's booked solid for the whole of the studio shoot. It's there for me whether I am using it or not. It's the same with all the cast."
I started to see why making films was so expensive. "What time are you going in?" I asked.
"Well, I need to be at the studio before three to get some input into the next day's shooting schedule, so I'm going into Town early. Leaving about eight should get me to Mother's about ten," Trevor informed me. I noticed he said his mother's, not home or even parents'. He seemed to have accepted the divorce.
"So, I have to make my mind up before eight in the morning?" Arthur stated.
"Yes," stated Trevor.
"Right," Arthur replied. "I will need to think about it. Might want to talk it over with you, Mike, if you're free this evening."
"Should be," I responded. "Got nothing planned. If we have finished here, where do you want to be taken?"
"Oh, I can walk from here. Dunford Ceramics are on the industrial-unit site, just down the main road. I'll see you later," Arthur said to Trevor. "Should be back by twelve." Trevor just nodded. Arthur grabbed his work bag from the back of the car and set off walking down the main road.
I turned to Trevor. "Better get you back to the house, then."
"What are you doing now?" he asked.
"Taking Johnny's bike wheel into Maldon to get the tire replaced," I stated.
"Mind if I come along? Nothing to do back at the Priory, and I've learnt my lines for the next scene."
"OK. We’d better get off."
The drive to Maldon did not take long. We chatted briefly about the film and his part in it. Then I mentioned about him buying the property.
"It'll be easier for Arthur if I do it; he is concerned about the amount of support you, Anne and Johnny have given him. He's worried he may not be able to pay you back. To be honest, if you were putting the money up, he would have turned the property down outright," Trevor informed me.
"But if it is you, he will consider it?" I asked.
"Yes, that's why I offered," Trevor said. "We both know that the business needs walk-in premises if it is going to move on. At least with me offering to buy it, Arthur will consider it, if only to avoid upsetting me."
"So, you're more than flatmates," I observed.
"Yes," Trevor replied. Just then, we arrived at the Riverside Cycle Centre. They were closed. I had not bothered to check their opening times before setting out. The business was closed Wednesday and Sunday. Only alternative now was Halford's in Chelmsford. I mentioned this to Trevor, who said it was OK; he was in no rush to get anywhere, so we started off. As I drove out of Maldon, I asked Trevor if he was OK to finance the purchase.
"Oh, God, yes," he stated. "Look, Mike, I've probably got more money than I'll ever need. Myself and my parents may not have got on very well, but at least they looked after the money side of things well.
"There were only two books published when they started making the first of the Elf Lords films, so they only contracted the cast for two films. By the time we finished the second film, there were two more books and another on the way. Everybody knew the series was a success, so they had to sign us up for the following films. Dad got me an excellent agent — she acted for Melissa and Jamie as well — got us all on fee, plus a share of the box-office. In my case, half a percent."
I remembered the third film in the series had taken in over four-hundred million the first weekend in the US and Canada. So, he made at least two million on the film in one weekend and no doubt a lot more after.
"Dad had it invested offshore," Trevor stated. "Not sure how he managed it, but the production company is based in Bermuda, and so is the trust they set up for me."
"But if your money is in trust, can you get at it?"
"That's the funny thing; I can't. Not till I am twenty-five. However, the trust set up a property company with the shares in my name. It's been investing in commercial property for the last few years. That is where most of my spending money comes from," he told me. "For some reason, I got control of the shares on my eighteenth birthday, so now I control the company."
"So, you will use the company to buy the place?"
"Probably best. I don't show up on the company’s directors' list, and if they do a shareholder search, they will find the trust owns it, and that is to the benefit of Eric Southern."
"Eric?" I asked. Remembering that his surname was really Southern.
"Yes, Eric Martin Trevor Southern," Trevor stated, then laughed.
"Things are working for you and Arthur then?" I asked.
"Yes, they are, surprisingly," Trevor replied.
"Well, we have very little in common. We come from completely different worlds. To be honest, I don't think Arthur has seen any of my films; actually, I am not sure if he has ever seen a film," he commented. "That is probably what makes it work."
"Look, I've had a couple of relationships before, and they have both gone wrong," Trevor stated. "Maybe it was what those guys were doing to me that messed things up, maybe not. Maybe it was that in both cases, the lads I fell for ended up being totally star-struck. I want to be loved, not worshipped. I'm Trevor, not the Rouge Elf Prince," he laughed. "Arthur sees Trevor; he's fallen for Trevor, not something from the silver screen."
I could understand that. I just hoped it worked out for them.
We got to Halfords, and I took Johnny's wheel in. Trevor decided to remain in the car. Probably a good idea. Even with hoodie and sunglasses, there was a chance he would be recognised.
Once I had got the tyre sorted out for Johnny, we started back to Dunford. In that hour I probably learnt more about Trevor than I probably wanted to know, but I felt that it was perhaps doing Trevor some good to be able to just talk about things and not have anyone judging.
Just before we arrived back, I asked, "Have you spoken to that psychologist that Ben recommended?"
"Yes, I have," he responded. "That's the other reason I am going into Town early. I've got an appointment to see her… That's Arthur! Stop!"
His shout caused me to slam on the brakes. Even before I had stopped, Trevor had jumped out of the car and was running back down the road. I turned in my seat and looked back. There was something at the side of the road in the ditch which I could not see but which Trevor was bending over. I backed the car down the road. Getting out and going around the car, I could see a battered Arthur in the ditch and a lot of blood. I called 999. Then I called Bernard.
I knelt beside Arthur and put my arms around Trevor, pulling him back slightly and telling him not to move Arthur, I was worried about the position of the boy's neck. One good thing was, he was breathing and quite strongly by the look of things.
As soon as I had Trevor to understand he must not move Arthur I called the house. We were about two-hundred metres away. Anne answered. I told her what the situation was. Four minutes later she arrived at the scene with a couple of the builders, who promptly took to closing off the road.
"I've called Dr. Jarrod," Anne informed me.
"Dr. Jarrod?" I asked.
"He's a family friend. Saw him and his wife in Dunford earlier; they were still there. He should be here shortly." As she said that a large Jag came up the road, then pulled over. A man and a woman got out. The man got a bag out of the back of the car and came over.
"Hi, Anne, any idea what happened?" he asked as he knelt down by Arthur, pulling a stethoscope from the bag. I guessed this was Dr. Jarrod.
"No," I responded. "We were just driving back from Chelmsford and Trevor spotted him in the ditch."
"Do you know him?" the doctor asked.
"Yes," I replied. "He lives in the Stable House flat on my property; Trevor is his flatmate."
"Well, by the look of things he's been hit by a car and one going at some speed. His vitals are good, though, so there is quite a lot of hope. You've called an ambulance?"
"Yes, about ten minutes ago."
"They've got to come from Maldon, even if they blue-light it, they are going to be another ten minutes at best." Just then I heard the sound of an emergency vehicle approaching and turned to look over my shoulder at the bend in the road.
"It's the police," the doctor said. "They usually get here first." He was right.
From there, things went downhill. I got a distinct impression that the police believed that I had hit Arthur. Their whole attitude was very nasty and very hostile. I told them that we were driving back from Chelmsford when Trevor had seen Arthur at the side of the road. I had stopped, and Trevor had jumped out of the car and run back down the road. I had then backed up down the road.
"Who's Trevor," the police constable asked. I pointed to Trevor, who was still kneeling by Arthur, assisting the doctor.
"You with the hoodie, take it off and those glasses," the constable shouted at him. Trevor looked up at me; I nodded. He pushed back his hood and removed his sunglasses.
"Bloody hell!" the policeman exclaimed. Just then, the ambulance arrived, followed by another car I did not know, from which a young woman in her mid-twenties emerged; she looked vaguely familiar.
"Mr. Clayton?" she asked, looking around.
"Yes," I stated. She started to walk towards me. The policeman stepped in front of her.
"Now, who the hell are you?" he asked.
"June Ravensbrook, Barrister at Law," she replied. Now I remembered her; she handled the plea-and-directions for Ian. "I am acting for the solicitors for Mr. Lee, Mr. Spade and Mr. Clayton."
"Who the hell is Mr. Lee?" the officer asked.
"My understanding is he is the man being attended to by the ambulance staff. Now if I could talk with my clients, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Spade, please." The police officer looked annoyed, but there was not much he could do about it, so he stepped away and went to talk to the paramedics.
"You're here quick,” I commented.
"I was at Jenkin's Farm getting a witness statement from Alison McCarthy, so Bernard knew I was close by; he rang me," she responded.
"Don't solicitors usually do that?"
"Normally they would, but I was helping Henry when he realised we needed this statement, and I had an appearance at Chelmsford this morning, so he suggested I do it, and Bernard agreed.
"So, what happened here?"
I told her. Just as I finished, the police officer came over and asked if he could examine my car. I gave my consent. He spent the next five minutes looking carefully at the vehicle.
"Found anything?" Ms. Ravensbrook asked.
"Well, no," he replied.
"Probably because there isn't anything to find." The policeman went off back to his car, not looking happy.
"Bernard will have a local solicitor with you shortly; he's just got me here to hold the fort, sort of. He is on his way down himself; should be here about two," Ms. Ravensbrook informed me.
The paramedics started to move Arthur into the ambulance. There was a low moan as they lifted the stretcher. Trevor wanted to go in the ambulance, but he was not allowed to.
As the ambulance pulled away, my phone rang. It was Bernard. He wanted to know if Ms. Ravensbrook had arrived; I advised him that she had.
"Good," Bernard informed me. "Any news on Arthur."
"No, they've just taken him in the ambulance; there are a couple of police officers here; they want to question us."
"Pass me to Ms. Ravensbrook." I handed the phone to Ms. Ravensbrook. She spoke to Bernard for a few minutes then gave the phone back to me before she went to talk to the police officers.
"What was that about?" I asked Bernard.
"Just running some interference. There is a Commander Richards from the Met on the way out there. Don't answer any police questions until the Commander is there."
"How's the Met got involved?" I enquired.
"Attempt on the life of a witness in a major organised-crime investigation," Bernard responded. "Officially Richards is head of the organised crime unit at the Met."
"I can't say. I should be with you in an hour and a half; tell you more then. By the way, there is a Martin Clay on his way to you. He'll take over from Ms. Ravensbrook; she is far too qualified to hold your hand."
"I'm sure she is, but I don't mind."
"I'll tell Anne."
We got to the hospital about an hour later. The police had insisted on getting all our contact details, but that was all. Something Ms. Ravensbrook had said to them had clearly unsettled them. Anyway, they had just finished getting all the details when Martin Clay arrived. He was from a firm of solicitors in Southminster.
Martin accompanied us to the hospital, saying he had been instructed to stick with us until Mr. LeBrun arrived, then to hang around as long as he was useful to Mr. LeBrun. There was an air of awe in his voice when he mentioned Bernard's name.
The moment we got to the hospital, we were confronted with problems. Mr. and Mrs Lee, were there and they insisted that we — that is, anyone but themselves — were not allowed to see Arthur and not allowed to have any information about Arthur. Martin went to speak to the medical staff. I phoned Bernard on his mobile. Fortunately, I got a good connection and was able to tell him about the problem. As I was speaking to Bernard, Martin came back over and started to say something about the Lee's refusing permission for a blood transfusion. I mentioned this to Bernard.
"Shit. Put Martin on," he instructed. I did. Ten minutes later, Martin handed me my phone back and went off to speak to the medical staff again.
"Right, Mike. It's going to take me a bit longer to get to you. Just hang on there and do anything Martin tells you to do," he instructed. "Is there a copy of Arthur's lease in your filing cabinet?"
"Yes," I replied. I was wondering what the lease had to do with things.
"Is Anne home?" he asked. She was, there had been no point in all of us coming to the hospital. I confirmed this fact to Bernard.
"Right," he said. "I'll see you as soon as I can, though I expect Commander Richards will be there before me. Must go. I have some urgent phone calls to make." With that, he hung up. I walked over to where Martin and a hospital manager were talking.
"I can assure you that an Advance Health Directive has been made. A certified copy of it is being couriered from London as we speak," Martin stated.
"Why is it coming from London?" the manager asked.
"Mr. Lee's solicitors are one of the leading London firms. I have spoken to their managing partner; he has assured me that he has both an AHD and a Power of Attorney signed by Mr. Lee. Certified copies of both are on their way. The named authority in both cases is Mr. Southern, who is currently present in the hospital. Mr. Lee also names him as Mr. Lee's next of kin."
"And who," the manager asked, "is Mr. Southern?" Martin pointed to Trevor.
"But that's Trevor Spade," the manager asserted.
"Yes, that is his stage name," Martin confirmed. "His legal name is Eric Southern. He is Mr. Lee’s partner." The look on the manager's face was one of sheer horror. I was not sure if it were the idea that Arthur and Trevor were lovers or if it were the idea of the press interest created from having Trevor Spade hanging around.
"I would also point out," Martin continued, "that Mr. Lee is over eighteen, so not under parental authority, and his parents have no responsibility for him. As such, your doctors can proceed to give such treatment as they think fit without consent; this is an emergency situation."
"You must understand—" the manager started.
"What is there to understand?" a voice behind us asked.
We turned. A woman stood there in the uniform of a Commander of the Metropolitan police. The manager started to explain about the Lees insisting that their son should not have a blood transfusion.
"You will ignore that. Mr. Lee is not a member of their church. In fact, I believe they have sanctioned him," the Commander stated.
"And you are?" the manager asked.
"Commander Richards, Metropolitan police," she stated. "Also, access to Mr. Lee must be strictly limited to me, his solicitor or his solicitor's representative, Mr. Spade and Mr. Clayton. Is that understood." The manager acknowledged the instruction and left.
"Aren't you a bit senior to be dealing with a traffic incident?" I asked.
"If this is a traffic incident," she stated. "I need to speak with you and Mr. Spade as soon as I can, but first I need to organise one or two things regarding informing the local police that I am here."
"You mean they did not call you?" I stated.
"I doubt if anybody other than the duty sergeant even knows that Mr. Lee has been injured. Doubt if even he has considered the possibility that it is attempted murder." With that, she turned and walked out of A&E, pulling a phone out of her pocket as she did.
Attempted murder. The words slowly but quite ruthlessly bored their way into my thinking. When I thought about it, it was so obvious; the thing was, I had just not wanted to think about it. Somehow, from the start, I had known this was not an accident but had not been able to accept it, even to myself. How it was going to affect Trevor, I did not know.
Then I remembered that Trevor was supposed to start shooting on Friday. Did not think he would be up to that. Looking at him, he looked like a ghost. I went out of A&E and called Ben. I got voice mail. So, tried Phil. He answered on the third ring; there must have been a break in filming. I explained the situation.
"Tell Trevor we won't need him till Monday," Phil insisted. "There are a few scenes that need to be reshot; I can do them instead. Trevor's scene is in the hallway, which is the smallest set; we can leave that up for a bit. I'm sending Ben down as soon as he gets back."
"Where is he?" I asked.
"He's due to land — just a sec — in an hour, so he is probably somewhere over the west coast of Ireland," Phil informed me. I guessed he had probably been over to New York.
I went back in and found Trevor. He was crying. Martin came over and assured us that, for the time being, there was nothing we could do, that he was there looking after Arthur's interests and Mr. LeBrun would be there shortly. That being the case, I dragged, and I do mean dragged, Trevor down to the cafeteria and forced some coffee and food into him. I also phoned Anne to see how things were at the Priory.
She told me that Joseph had got home and was upset with the news. He had wanted to come to the hospital, but Anne had assured him that he would be in the way. She had phoned the yard and spoken with Steve, asking him to tell Johnny what had happened. Johnny had gone out with one of the other yard hands to help with a boat recovery; no doubt, somebody had got caught on the mudflats.
She also told me that Bernard had been there and had got something from my filing cabinet, saying it was urgent and that I needed it at the hospital. I wondered what Bernard was up to?
We went back to the A&E waiting area. The Lees had left; there was no sign of them around. Martin came over and told us Bernard would be there within the half hour. I asked if there was any news about Arthur. He said there was not, that they had got Arthur stabilised, then taken him up to the operating theatre, but we should not to expect any news for at least a couple of hours. So, we sat and waited.
Bernard arrived about twenty minutes later. He immediately asked Martin to get the responsible manager. Martin went off. Bernard sat next to us and removed a document folder from his briefcase.
"You should really have copies of these," he stated, handing me two documents. I glanced at them. One was an advanced health directive, the other a power of attorney — both dated for the previous Wednesday. In both, Trevor was named as the responsible party, with me appointed as a backup. They appeared to be photocopies. Turning them over, I saw they were certified copies, certified by Bernard. Then, it struck me there was no way Arthur was in London last Wednesday, so how and when were these signed? I turned the documents over and had a look at the signature. It looked like Arthur's signature, though I had only seen it once — on the lease, the lease that Bernard had got from my filing cabinet. I looked at the witnesses on both documents: Nathaniel Thompson and Magdalen Granger.
Just then, the manager came over to us. Bernard stood and introduced himself as Arthur Lee's solicitor; he then produced copies of the documents and handed them to the manager.
"As you can see," Bernard stated, "Arthur Lee clearly names Eric Southern aka Trevor Spade as his next of kin and has also appointed him as his Power of Attorney and Medical Directive Attorney."
"It's a copy," the A&E manager stated.
"A certified copy," Bernard replied. "Would be accepted in any court of law. If you doubt that, I can easily have copies presented to a judge in chambers by," he glanced down and looked at his watch, "shall we say five. That should be time enough for you to get legal representation to the courts."
"But that—" he stammered.
"Will cost," stated Bernard. "I can assure you that there are funds available for us to take this matter all the way." The manager gulped and then said he would put the papers into Arthur's file. He also assured Bernard, with some prompting, that a doctor would be along immediately to brief Trevor and me on Arthur's condition.
A few minutes later, a young doctor, whose name tag declared her to be a registrar, came over to speak to us. She was very pleasant and as helpful as she could be, but, in all honesty, there was not much she could tell us. Arthur was still in the operating area. Three of his right ribs had been broken, and two of them had punctured the lung.
"That's bad?" Trevor stated.
"Yes, but we are dealing with it," the doctor stated. "Fortunately, there are no other major injuries to organs as far as we can tell. There are fractures to his limbs but none to the pelvic structure."
"How about his neck?" I asked, remembering the position of his head when we found it.
"Yes, we were concerned about that from the information provided by the ambulance paramedics. However, the scans show no fracturing of the vertebra in the neck. There is some indication of dislocation, and he may well have a very stiff neck for a while when he wakes up."
"He's going to wake up, then?" Trevor enquired.
"Oh, yes," she confirmed. "He is in operating recovery now; he will be moved to a normal ward within the hour, and you will be able to see him."
A voice came from the direction of the entrance. "Why are you talking to them? We told you our son is to have nothing to do with them.” I turned to see Mr. Lee, his wife and another man entering A&E.
Mr. Lee charged past reception and came up, raging at the doctor. "I demand to see our son."
"In that case," the doctor informed him, "you will need to get permission from Mr. Spade."
"What do you mean, I'm his father, his next of kin," he shouted. The A&E manager and one of the security men started to approach.
"You may be his father, but you are not his next of kin," the doctor informed him. "Your son named Mr. Spade as next of kin and appointed him as his medical attorney; as such, all matters relating to his treatment are at Mr. Spade's discretion. Which is probably a good job, as what you were demanding would probably have resulted in his death."
"He would be better off dead than in an unholy relationship with that man," Mr. Lee stated, pointing a finger at Trevor.
At that point, security got there and started to herd Mr. Lee and his party out of the building. As they were being escorted to the exit, Commander Richardson came in. The other man with them, whom I recognized as Brother Peter, immediately started to barrack her about the denial of Mr. Lee's right as a parent.
"A parent who throws a child out onto the street because he is gay?" the Commander responded. "Such a parent has no rights."
Just then, Ben walked into the waiting area. Brother Peter took hold of Mr. Lee and pulled him out through the doors.
Ben walked over and joined us.
"You got here quick," I stated.
"We were flying into Stanstead," he informed me. "Took forty minutes to get here; got a lift on the back of a bike. Any news."
Just then Commander Richardson came up to talk with Bernard. I informed Ben of what we knew. Bernard was doing the same for the Commander, though with some legal details filled in.
As soon as he had been updated on Arthur's condition, Ben assured Trevor that there was no need to return to filming until Monday. Then he turned to the Commander and asked her what Peter Braylow was doing here.
"Yes, you were speaking to him, or at least to his party, when I came in," Ben stated.
"Can you describe him?" the Commander asked.
"Tall man, grey hair, bushy beard."
"That's Brother Peter," I stated.
"That might be how he is known here, but his name is Peter Braylow," Ben informed us. "He is the head of a small charity that runs short-term accommodation for teenage boys who have been rejected by their families."
"Interesting," Bernard commented.
"Very," stated the Commander. "Can you tell us more about this charity?"
"Not much really; he tends to avoid formal organisations like the ones I work with. So far as I know, he works mostly with referrals from community groups and neighbourhood-watch schemes. You know, they find a young man wandering around or sleeping rough and put them in touch with him."
"Interesting," Bernard stated. "You see, Brother Peter is known here as Peter Henderson. I think I need to let somebody know about this." With that, he took out his phone and started to text. I had a good idea of who the somebody was.
That out of the way, we all sat around making small talk until we got some news. Bernard and the Commander seated themselves some distance off, clearly wanting to chat in private. After a few minutes the Commander got up and left. Bernard came over and joined us. About half an hour later; Miss Jenkins arrived and joined us. Ben was just filling us in about Peter Braylow. Miss Jenkins asked Ben what he knew about Peter Braylow. He spent about ten minutes giving her all the information he had, then she left. Not long after the Commander rejoined us.
"Something tells me that Mr. Braylow is going to be somewhat upset with the outcome of events," Ben stated.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"The look in Edith's eyes. Last time I saw that, she floored the men's Tae Kwon Do champion in about thirty seconds. He had both a height, weight and reach advantage. Unfortunately, she was rather upset with him."
Ben had just finished saying that when a nurse came across and said that Arthur had been moved to a ward and two of us could go up to see him. Though she warned us that he was likely to very sleepy.
Trevor and I went up to the ward. When we got there, we were directed to a single-bed side ward. Arthur was awake but clearly somewhat groggy. He could not fully remember what had happened. He did remember hearing a car coming fast up the hill; after that, though, he could not remember anything.
He started to worry about the business. I told him that it would just have to sort itself out.
After that, he seemed to doze off. Trevor sat by the bed, holding his hand. I realised there was not much I could do there and told Trevor I would go back home. When he was ready, he was to call me, and one of us would come and fetch him. He just nodded; I got up to leave.
"Black Beemer," Arthur said, just as I was stepping away from his bedside.
I turned and looked at him; he was fully awake, eyes wide open. "What?"
"Black Beemer, big car, 6 Series, I think. Came up the hill going hell for leather, came up onto the verge; I jumped but was too late." It seemed that was too much for him as his head sank back and his eyes closed.
I felt this was important, so I went down to the waiting area immediately to tell Bernard and the Commander. As I got there I saw Miss Jenkins coming back in from outside.