"Tariq, I’d better introduce you," I said, walking over to the boy who looked positively starstruck. "You obviously recognised Trevor; the other lad at the table is Arthur. The two of them live in the Stable House flat."
“They live here?” he stammered.
“Yes,” I stated, guiding him to the table. “Now sit down and get some lunch. You can talk to Trevor and Arthur after lunch.”
He managed to get to the table and took a seat at the end on the side opposite Trevor. I noticed a smile on Trevor’s face.
“Was that you playing the piano?” Trevor asked.
Tariq blushed. “Yes, but I can only play with one hand at the moment.”
“Have a similar problem,” Arthur commented, raising his arm to show the cast. “Bit of a pain, ain’t it. What happened to you?”
Over the next half hour, as we took a leisurely lunch, Trevor and Arthur got the whole story out of Tariq — not only about his father attacking him, but also that his father was dead, that his boyfriend was missing and that he was starting a new school on Monday. It turned out it was the same school that Arthur had attended, so for the last ten minutes or so, Arthur had been giving him the lowdown on the teachers.
Lunch over, Arthur asked me if he could talk to me about the business. Trevor told Tariq that he would like to hear him play some more and went with Tariq to the apartment. Arthur grabbed his crutches and followed me through to the study.
“Problems?” I asked.
“Not really,” Arthur replied. “It’s just I do not really feel I know what’s going on. Maddie and Neil kept me informed about things, but we seem to be getting a lot of new business and from sources I would not expect."
“What do you mean you would not expect?”
"Well, there is a printer up in Watford who have just given us their IT-support contract," Arthur replied. "I would have thought they would have wanted somebody local. If we got a call out there, it would take a good couple of hours to get there."
“Maybe they like the type of service your business can provide,” I commented.
"If it was one-off instance, I could understand it, but there are more," he replied. "A garage in Southend and a London-based chain of hotels — they have all signed up in the last month.”
“I presume the Belmont in Dunford is one of the hotels?" I commented.
“It is. How did you know?”
“Miss Jenkins, Arthur,” I stated. “I think you will find that most of the new business that has come in during the last month, especially the last couple of weeks, is owned directly or indirectly by Miss Jenkins.
“So, how are the figures looking?”
"They look good," Arthur stated. "We are going to be clearing thirty grand a month minimum on the service contracts alone. Then Maddie and Neil have got an ISP service set up, and it seems all the new customers are signing up for that."
“I’m not surprised,” I stated. “I suppose this means you will be taking on the old Craven place?”
“I don’t think we have any choice,” Arthur replied. “According to what Neil told me, the server rack at the Stable House is full. If we wanted to expand it more, we would need to install air conditioning. Anyway, there is no room for it unless we expand into the living accommodation.
“The problem is, I am not sure the Craven place will be big enough with the way things are going. We will probably need to build a server room at the back of it. That will cost.”
“Somehow, I do not think you need to worry about the costs,” I stated. “I suspect that Miss Jenkins will have a source of finance for you. How are you getting on with the girls?”
“Fine,” Arthur replied. “Neil brought them down to the boat before they started. They both know what they are doing. They’ve been calling me with updates and questions most days since they took over. I suppose I should hobble over and see them.” With that, he left, and I got back to my writing.
Joseph and Johnny got back shortly after four. Seeing the Mazda, Johnny asked where Trevor was and asked if Arthur was back. I told him they were both back and that Trevor was up in the apartment with Tariq. I thought Arthur was over in the Stable House flat. Johnny said he would go and look for them; Joseph informed us that he was worn out and was going to take a nap.
I looked at Johnny. "We've been sorting the stockroom most of the day. Had a big delivery come in," he informed me. "Was not supposed to arrive till Monday, but for some reason they delivered today." Having imparted that piece of information, he instructed Joseph to get some rest as he would need it later, then left to look for either Trevor or Arthur.
Anne was still out, so I set about making the preparations for dinner. Whilst I was chopping the onions, I saw Marcia drive into the yard. Jasmin jumped out of the car, grabbed a couple of bags from the back seat, then ran up across the yard to the apartment door. Marcia was still getting bags out of the car when suddenly there was a scream from the apartment. Marcia dropped the bags and ran to the apartment door.
I stopped chopping onions, exited the kitchen into the yard and followed her. I got to the apartment door and looked up the stairs to see Marcia standing at the top with a look of amazement on her face.
"Everything OK?" I asked.
She looked down the stairs at me. "I think so. It's just… Trevor Spade is here, in my apartment."
"I know," I replied. "He was listening to Tariq's piano playing." She started to make her way down the stairs. As she exited into the yard, she turned and asked. "What is he doing here?"
"He lives in the flat in the Stable House," I responded. "He and Arthur got back this morning. Tariq met them at lunch."
Marcia went over to her car and picked up the bags she had dropped. "You never said they lived here," she stated.
"I don't think it ever came up, did it?" I responded. "Can't recall you asking if we had a film star living in the vicinity."
"No, I don't think I did," she replied. "I know you said that you had a gay couple living in the flat. I think you said they were Arthur and Trevor. You said that they were away at the moment, that Trevor was working, and Arthur was staying with him."
"That's right," I stated. "Trevor's been filming, and they have been staying on a houseboat near the studios."
"Oh," she replied. "I suppose I should have asked what his job was, then I would have known. Jasmin is going to be thrilled; she's a great fan of his; actually, both of them are. I think Tariq has a bit of a crush on him. Well, I’d better get this car unloaded; I do not expect my daughter to be much help for a bit." With that, she proceeded to carry the bags up to the apartment; I went back into the kitchen and to chopping onions.
I had just finished the onions when Trevor came in.
"Sorry about that," he stated. "She just saw me and screamed."
"I suppose that happens a lot," I observed.
"Fortunately, not that much," he responded. "Though, when it does happen, it is usually with girls about that age.
"Look, Mike, I know you have started dinner, but any chance to put it on hold?"
"Yes, I've only done the onions," I replied. "Can easily bag them up and put them in the fridge. Why?"
"I'm buying dinner tonight at the Crooked Man," he stated. "Need to convince the youngsters I am just the same as they are; burger and chips will help to do that."
He then asked me where Arthur was, so I told him he had gone over to see the girls. Trevor said he’d better go and rescue him. He had just left when Anne arrived back. I informed her that we were going to the Crooked Man for dinner. She told me it was a good thing as I clearly had not started anything. I told her that I had chopped the onions but that Trevor had told me that he was treating us.
"So, what brought the offer of dinner on, then?" Anne asked. I explained about Jasmin discovering him in the apartment and screaming. Anne laughed. She was laughing when Johnny and Joseph came down. Johnny asked what was so funny, so I had to explain it all again.
That evening there were eleven of us at the Crooked Man, Arthur having insisted that the girls join us for the meal. I was a bit surprised that they had been at work, this being a Saturday, but Arthur informed me that they had been doing an upgrade to the systems. It turned out that this was a reason why Trevor and he had come up early. Arthur had wanted to be around when the new servers were brought online.
During the evening, Arthur, Anne and the girls were talking about loads, rates and a pile of other things I did not understand. As a result, I ended up mostly talking to Marcia, while Trevor was talking to Jasmin and Tariq, with Johnny and Joseph listening in and adding bits. He explained to them that he and Arthur lived in the flat over the Stable House and that Arthur ran his business from there.
Jasmin told us about the shock of finding Trevor in the apartment. She had run up the stairs to see her brother as she had a surprise for him. Jasmin knew he was there as she could hear him playing the piano, playing it a lot better than he had in recent days. When she got to his room, she found Trevor sitting next to him on the piano stool holding his left arm up.
"I was just providing some support," Trevor advised. "He has the use of his fingers; he just can't hold his arm up in position."
That piece of information gave me some hope for Tariq. With some good physiotherapy, he would probably get full use of his arm back. I mentioned this, and Marcia agreed, saying that they were looking around for a physiotherapist. Tariq was down for one at the medical centre, but there was quite a waiting list. I recalled the name of a local physiotherapist I had used when I had a repetitive-strain injury a couple of years ago, so recommended her. Marcia said she would look into it.
"Any news on JayDee?" Johnny asked Tariq. Tariq looked stricken. Johnny looked at me.
"Who's JayDee?" Trevor asked.
"Tariq's boyfriend," I replied. "His mother and aunt dragged him off to Trinidad to be 'saved' from homosexuality. At the moment, we do not know where he is."
"We're in Trinidad the week after next," Trevor stated. "Maybe I could look for him." Tariq gave him a hopeful look. I thought I’d better say something.
"I don't think that would be a good idea," I stated. "JayDee's father has got some professionals on the job. Things could be a bit complicated."
"Well, just remember we are there," Trevor replied. "If any help is needed, I am sure we could do something."
That reminded me I needed to keep an eye on the time. James had emailed me earlier to say he would phone before he went on duty. By my calculation, that meant he would call around ten. At the moment, I still had not spoken to Marcia. I took the opportunity to ask her about putting JayDee up as we walked back up the hill to the Priory. Tariq had gone back in the van with Arthur and Trevor.
"I'll gladly put him up," Marcia stated. "As long as you have no objection," I assured her I did not. "He used to live in our house most of the time before all this blew up, so it won't make that much of a difference."
In the end, it turned out to be shortly after ten when James phoned. I filled him in on the conversation with Marcia.
Sunday was relatively quiet. Anne went over to her sister's. Johnny was at the yard again, and Joseph had gone in with him. I had no idea where Trevor and Arthur were. They had said that they had to go out early and had left by the time I got up. Marcia, I knew, was taking Jasmin and Tariq to her parents for Sunday lunch and would be there for most of the day. That being the case, I was reasonably sure I would have an uninterrupted day, at least until Bernard arrived to pick Joseph up, so I got down to some writing. By four, I had managed to knock off a couple of articles and had drafted out some ideas for my presentation at the Paris conference. So, I decided to take a break.
It was good timing. I had just boiled the water to make a pot of tea when Bernard arrived, looking very pleased with himself.
"Tea?" I asked as he entered the kitchen.
"Thanks," he replied. "I presume you are drinking Earl Grey?"
I poured the boiling water into the pot. "Yes, I can do you a mug of Yorkshire if you prefer."
"I prefer," he replied.
I reached up and got a couple of mugs off the shelf, then grabbed a teabag from the box of Yorkshire tea and dropped it in one of the mugs. Switching on the kettle to boil again, I commented he seemed to be in a good mood.
"Yes," he responded. "Heard from our agent in Trinidad."
"They've found JayDee?" I asked. The kettle boiled, and I poured the boiling water into the mug with the teabag in it.
"No, but they have got the charges against him dropped," Bernard replied.
"How?" I enquired. Pouring my tea from the pot, then adding milk to Bernard's mug of Yorkshire.
"Quite simple," he replied. "The court decision over here makes it clear that he was kidnapped. Our agent in Trinidad just pointed out that the injuries he inflicted on the members of the church were self-defence. The authorities realised that if it came to a court case, they would be faced with a legal challenge on their hands. It also probably did not harm our case that our agent over there was a student alongside the Chief Magistrate and they are close friends."
"Just how does this help?" I enquired. I placed Bernard's mug in front of him.
"Well, it means if we can find the boy, we can get him off the island with no problems," Bernard replied. "The one thing we need to do is get the boy off the island."
"You sound worried on that score," I stated, taking my mug and seating myself at the table opposite him.
"Well, Trinidad and Tobago are not the healthiest places for a gay youth to be. Several gay men have been murdered over there. There has been a suggestion of police involvement in some of the murders."
"That does not sound good," I commented.
"It's not," Bernard replied. "However, our interest in the boy hopefully gives him some protection, provided he has not got caught up by one of the child-prostitution gangs."
"Is that a risk?" I enquired.
"Yes," Bernard replied. "There is quite a bit of it going on; there is also a lot of underground porn being made on the island. According to our agent, a number of teenage boys disappear on the island every year."
I was not liking what I was hearing.
Just then, Johnny and Joseph returned, and the conversation took a completely different turn, mainly on how upset Joseph's grandfather had been. "He has definitely stopped paying for your education," Bernard informed his son.
"Don't worry," Johnny stated. "Like I said, I can pay for it from the trust."
"No, you won't," Bernard informed him. "First, you need the agreement of the trustees, and as I am one of them, I would not agree to it. Second, I can more than afford to pay for my son's education. The whole time he's been at school I've been putting the same amount his grandfather was paying into a savings account for him. Wanted him to have some money for uni. All it will mean now is that I will not be topping it up further, though given there is over a hundred and fifty grand in it, I think it should suffice."
Joseph, of course, wanted to know full details of the fund, so for the next twenty minutes, Bernard went over it with him. It was while we were discussing details of how it should be managed that the roar of a Maserati announced my brother's arrival.
"Where's Anne?" he asked as he entered the kitchen and observed the four of us sitting round the table.
"At her sister’s," I informed him. "Did not expect you till Monday."
"Had to get the crew accommodation sorted," he replied. "Booked them into the Belmont in Dunford. They're coming up tomorrow. We are a bit ahead on schedule."
"Where's Uncle Phil?" Johnny asked, hugging his uncle.
"Hopefully at our place by the studio packing his bags. He was due to finish the final studio shot this afternoon and is due to come up tonight."
"So, you will be starting shooting tomorrow?" I asked.
"No," Ben replied. "We can't get the rain kit till Tuesday at the earliest, will take a day to fit that up, so will not be shooting till Wednesday. Hopefully, we should finish in a day."
I was just about to ask what he had planned in the meantime when Marcia drove into the yard. Thinking it was best to avoid the events of yesterday, I took Ben out to introduce him, also to mention that Phil would be around over the next few days. Of course, I referred to Phil as Matthew Lewis.
"Matthew Lewis?" Marcia asked. "I had a crush on him when I was younger. Still do."
"In that case," Ben stated. "you’d better join us for dinner tomorrow. Though you need to keep your hands off him; he is mine."
"I know," Marcia laughed. "I've read all about you two in the mags. You can't stop a girl drooling though." Tariq informed his mother that he was going up to the apartment as he wanted to practice.
Whilst we were talking, Trevor and Arthur returned. Ben and Trevor quickly went into a huddle to discuss the shooting schedule. Bernard informed me he had to get Joseph back to London. I had a quick chat with Bernard to remind him of a couple of things I needed looking into. As we were standing in the yard chatting, the simple melody of Greensleeves emanated from the apartment. There was something different about it, a slow mournfulness in the simple melody that he was playing with one hand.
Ben looked up from where he was talking to Trevor.
"Who's playing?" he asked.
"Tariq," Trevor replied.
"Tariq?" Ben asked.
"That's my son," Marcia answered.
"And we have to find his boyfriend," Trevor interjected.
"What?" Ben responded.
"I think some explanation is due," I said, guiding Ben towards the kitchen door. "Come on; I'll tell you all and make you some tea."
I got Ben into the kitchen. Joseph and Johnny were not there. Bernard informed me that they had gone up to pack Joseph's bag and no doubt say goodbye. He had told them he needed to leave at five-thirty. I told Bernard to fill Ben in about Marcia and Tariq while I made some tea, adding my own comments from time to time.
"What's this about finding him a boyfriend?" Ben asked.
"Not finding him a boyfriend," I replied. "Finding his boyfriend. JayDee, Tariq's boyfriend, is in Trinidad. Trevor wants to look for him while you are on location there."
That led to another long explanation. I told Ben about Tariq's and JayDee's relationship: that JayDee had been shipped off to a conversion camp in Trinidad, that he had escaped and was somewhere on the island. Bernard informed him of the situation concerning James and that they were now searching for the boy.
"And Trevor wants to find him," Ben stated.
"Yes," I confirmed.
"Shit!" Ben exclaimed. "This could cause some problems. I need to speak to Allen."
"If Trevor goes off looking for this boy, it …" he paused. "Well, let's say it would not look good."
"Why?" I asked.
"For God's sake, think about it, Mike," Ben said. "Well-known film star, who has just come out as gay, walking around Trinidad, a place which is not particularly gay-friendly, looking for a fourteen-year-old boy. The press would have a field day."
"If they found out," I pointed out.
"Don't worry, they'd find out."
"He has a point there," Bernard stated. I had to agree, they probably would.
"So, what are you going to do?" I asked.
"That's up to Allen when I tell him the situation," Ben replied. "Though I think the best thing would be to find the boy before Trevor goes looking for him. Can I use your phone?" I nodded and directed him to my study. "You’d better come, too, Bernard; Allen might want your input."
It was nearly an hour later when they came back to the kitchen. I had just finished preparing dinner and put the roast in the oven. As they came through from the study, Bernard shouted up the stairs that he was leaving and that Joseph better get a move on.
Anne arrived back just as Bernard and Joseph were getting in the car.
"Sorry, Luv," she stated. "Things took longer than I expected. I hope you got dinner started. You staying, Ben?"
"Yes, if it's on offer," Ben replied, depositing himself at the kitchen table.
"It's on offer," she answered. "Mike, give Johnny a shout. I need a word with him."
"No need. I’m here," Johnny answered as he came in through the kitchen door. Anne had clearly missed seeing him in the yard saying goodbye to Joseph.
While I got on with cooking dinner, Anne dragged Johnny off to give her a hand putting up some curtains. Ben took a seat at the table and interrogated me about the whole JayDee situation.
He had just about finished the interrogation when dinner was ready. I called Anne and Johnny, then placed the food on the table for them to help themselves.
We had not long finished eating when Trevor and Arthur came back. Ben immediately cornered Trevor, telling him they needed to talk, then took him into my study. "You don't mind me borrowing your study, do you?" he said, as he guided Trevor into it.
"Wouldn't make any difference if he did," Anne commented.
"You've got that right," I acknowledged.
"Trevor's not in trouble, is he?" Johnny asked.
"No," I replied. "Ben just wants to make sure he keeps out of trouble."
Ben and Trevor emerged from my study about half an hour later. Trevor asked where Arthur was. I told him that Arthur had gone to his room as he needed a rest. Trevor went to join him. Anne made a comment about Arthur needing a rest, which drew a laugh from Johnny.
Ben excused himself, saying that he had to get to his hotel. He did, though, state that he would be back in the morning to sort out final details about the shoot.
I had expected Monday to be chaos with the film crew arriving and all the setting up that I thought would have to be done. In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth. I hardly saw anyone. Ben turned up shortly after breakfast to say he would be bringing the lighting crew up after lunch. However, he told me that he would make sure that I was not disturbed.
He did not totally keep his word. Ben and the crew did not disturb me, but Phil came in and scrounged a coffee from me. I asked if he should not be supervising what was going on outside.
"God, no, Mike," he responded. "They know a lot more about what is needed than I do. I'm just directing."
"I thought that meant you told them what to do."
"Oh, no," Phil replied. "I've got no idea how half this stuff works, and my ideas about how the other half works are probably wrong. No, I just tell them what I want in the way of how it should look and what the feel of the scene should be, and they get on and sort it out for me."
We spent a good hour chatting about how the film was going. Then he departed for some meeting, and I returned to my writing.
Monday evening, as promised, Ben took Marcia and family to the Belmont for dinner. Johnny, Anne and I joined them, along with Trevor and Arthur. I was somewhat surprised to find that Tyler Lawrence was there with the crew. I mentioned that I did not think he was in the scene at the school
"I'm not," Tyler replied. "Finished my on-set scenes two weeks last Saturday, been in the States modelling and got back yesterday. We're all flying to Trinidad next Saturday, so it was a choice of lounging around London for a week, doing the same at Manston or helping out with the shoot here. At least, even if I only hang around and watch, I can learn something about the industry."
"You could have flown out yesterday," Phil stated. "Could have had a week in Trinidad with your family."
"You're from Trinidad?" Tariq asked.
"Yes," Tyler replied. "Actually, I'm from Scarborough, Tobago, which is the next-door island, but some of my family live on Trinidad. I lived there for a few years. My mother lives there now."
"So, you know the island?" Tariq asked.
"Yes, I stay there when I visit my mother," he replied. "Why?"
"Can you find my boyfriend for me while you're there?"
That led to an explanation about JayDee. At the end of it, Tyler asked a question. "How long has it been since he escaped?"
"I'm not sure," I answered. "It must be at least a month."
"Well, if he has not been found by the police in that time, he is probably being sheltered," Tyler replied. "Now, that could be a good thing or a bad thing; it depends on who is sheltering him. However, if it is some of the homeless street kids, then I may be able to help."
"How?" Tariq asked.
"I have an in with some of the street kids," Tyler replied. "When I get over there, I can put the word out, asking him to contact me. They won't tell me where he is, but they will pass a message along. It might take some time, though, for it to get to him."
"He will need to know it is safe for him to reply," I pointed out.
"Tell him that the Yellow Penguin sent it," Tariq stated.
"What?" Tyler asked.
"It was his private nickname for me," Tariq responded, giving no explanation.
After dinner, Anne and Johnny went back to the Priory with Marcia and the kids. I stayed behind as I had given Trevor and Arthur a lift down and said I would wait for them. Trevor wanted to talk with Phil about the latest script changes; there was something he was not happy with. Ben went off to double-check arrangements for the morning. That left Arthur, Tyler and me in the lounge. Since I was driving, I ordered a tea; the other two went for beer.
"So, what's this in you've got with the street kids?" I asked Tyler.
"Well, I was one of them," he replied.
"Yes," stated Tyler. "Not that uncommon. My parents split up when I was six. One day when I got home, Dad just wasn't there. Mother said he had gone away for work; a bit later she told us he was not coming back. A couple of years after the split, Mother moved us — that is, my brothers and me — over to Trinidad. She'd found herself a new man. He, though, was not interested in a new family. My older brothers and sisters — I'm the youngest of five by a long way — were left with an aunt. I was taken along by my mother, not that I was welcome.
"I had just finished primary school. Like a lot of kids from the lower, socio-economic classes, I spent most of my free time out on the street. As such, I mixed a lot with the homeless street kids; sometimes, I would stay out overnight when there was no school. Got home one day after a couple of nights away to find that there was a new family in the place where we lived. Told me the man had got a job on another island, and they had moved on.
"Spent the next couple of years living as one of the homeless street kids. Then Uncle Barry found me. He'd come over from England and learnt I was missing and came looking for me. He was my daddy's brother.
"Turned out Dad had come over to England for work but was killed in a car crash a month after he got here. Uncle Barry had been dealing with sorting things out and had got a significant settlement for Mam and us kids. It also turned out that Mam had not moved on with the man. He had beaten her after a row and left her severely injured. She had been in the hospital when I turned up at the shack. He had stripped the place and taken off.
"Uncle Barry brought me over here and put me in school. Though I was taken into care shortly afterward. Uncle Barry got into some trouble and ended up doing five years. A white family fostered me. They were bloody good to me and gave me a lot of support. Eighteen months after I moved in with them, I was in a school play, and some talent scout spotted me and signed me up to an agency. After that, well, you know most of the rest.
"The thing is, even though I have not been a top earner, I've still been making more than most people. There were a couple of charities back on the island that helped the street kids. They helped me a few times — clothes, food, medical care. You know the sort of things. Well, I have supported them when I can and work with them when I am on the island. That gives me an in with the street kids. They trust the guys who work for the charities. Half of them are ex-street kids. So, if I put the word out through them, it will get to where it needs to be."
If Monday was calm, then Tuesday was chaos. It started just after seven when a large lorry, loaded with what looked like piles of scaffolding, pulled onto the drive and started to unload. Unfortunately, they managed to block the exit from the yard, and there were some heated words from Anne when she was delayed getting off to college. I am sure the driver heard some words that he had to go and look up after. It is surprising what one picks up when you are working behind a bar, and Anne had over fifteen years of it.
Fortunately, Ben arrived at that point and sorted things out. It seems that arrangements had been made for the film crew and equipment to use the carpark at The Crooked Man. The crew were not too happy about having to lug the gear the five hundred yards up the hill from the carpark, but as Ben pointed out, there was not enough room for them to park at the Priory. However, it did mean that the lorry moved, and Anne and Marcia could get their cars out of the yard.
Johnny, of course, did not have a problem; he went into college on his moped, mainly because he only had a half day and was planning to help out at the yard in the afternoon.
Trevor took Arthur off somewhere with the comment, "One thing any actor knows is to keep out of the way during setup."
I mentioned the comment to Phil when he arrived about half an hour later.
"Good bloody advice," he responded. "Wish directors could do the same. By the way, Allen is coming down; he wants to speak with Tariq. I had him on the phone with Tyler this morning."
"Well, he's at school; should be home about four, I think," I informed Phil.
"That should work well," Phil replied. "I need to talk to Allen about security for next week, anyway. Filming in Trinidad is getting scary."
"We got the advance crew out there already getting the initial setup done. We want to be in and out as fast as possible. They've only been there since Saturday, and already one of the local gangs is trying to shake them down for protection money."
"And?" I asked.
"Look, Mike, it was bad enough Trevor thinking of looking for that boy," Phil replied. "With Tyler getting involved… well, I just do not want to think about what might happen. I need Allen to sort something out.
"From what Tyler has told me about the scene over there, I don't think the police will be looking for the boy with any real effort. Not now that there is no chance of a prosecution. I also doubt if the agent Bernard is using has much chance of finding the boy. We, though, are paying out serious money for location security and, according to Allen, using some of the best people on the island. That being the case, we might as well see if we can use them for a bit more."
It was just after two when Allen arrived. Phil asked me if it was possible for them to use my study — a nice way of saying that they wanted to talk in private. As it was quite clear that I was not going to get any work done with everything that was going on, I agreed and went to make some tea and start prep for dinner. I had just put the kettle on when Trevor and Tyler came in.
"Do you mind if we hide out here for a bit?" Trevor asked.
"Not at all," I responded. "You can keep me company, I've been turfed out of my office."
"Allen?" Tyler asked. I nodded by way of reply. Tyler laughed. "Saw him arrive; he did not look too happy."
"He's in there with Phil," I replied. "To be honest, neither of them looked that happy."
I made tea, put mugs on the table for Trevor and Tyler, then took a tray through to Phil and Allen. Phil was on the phone, clearly trying to find someone who appeared to be missing. I put the tray down and left.
Trevor and Tyler chatted with me in the kitchen for a bit, then asked if it was alright for them to use the lounge to read over their scripts. I mentioned that I thought they would have already done that and that I thought Tyler had said he was not in the scenes here.
"It's the scripts for next week's shoot," Tyler informed me. "We got the final version delivered this morning, and they have changed the main piece between us. Neither of us is happy with it, and we want to try it before we say no to it."
"So, you have already decided to say no to it?" I asked.
"Let's say we are not happy with it," Trevor informed me. "That's why we want to try reading through it together. We might be missing something. It might just work, though I doubt it. We do need to try it, though."
"Fine," I responded. "You know where the lounge is; go and rehearse. I'll start dinner; do you want to join us?"
"Wish we could," Tyler stated. "There’s a briefing at dinner this evening; everybody has to attend. They've taken over the big dining room at the Belmont for it."
With that, they left, and I started dinner. With the information Tyler had given me about the dinner at the Belmont, I could be reasonably sure that Ben and Phil would not be joining us, so only had to prepare for Johnny, Anne and myself. Was not certain about Arthur, but as I had not seen him all day, I made enough just in case he did need feeding.
Johnny got home a bit before four.
"You're back early," I commented.
"Skipped my last two classes this morning, so got to the yard for eleven," he replied. I looked at him, surprised.
"It's OK, Dad, I have the tutors' permissions. The woodwork class is off on a field trip, which I could not join as it would have meant missing some of my A-level classes, and the French tutor is away this week, and she told me I know more French than the assistant who is taking over the class."
"Fine. Trevor and Tyler are in the lounge doing a script read-through. Your Uncle Phil has commandeered my study for a meeting with Allen."
"Where's Arthur?" he asked.
"I don't know," I replied. "Saw him this morning hobbling over the yard but have not seen his since. Suspect he is over with the girls discussing servers or something."
"I'll go and see," he stated. "Need some advice."
As he turned to leave, I told him to ask Arthur if he was joining us for dinner. He said he would, then opened the kitchen door and stepped out into the yard just as Tariq and Jasmin entered it from the side. The three of them stood chatting for a moment. Then Johnny started off across the yard. I knew that Marcia would not be back till about six-thirty, so I put my head out of the door and asked them if they wanted a drink. Jasmin thanked me but told me they were fine and that she had a pile of homework to get on with before her mother got back and that Tariq needed to practice. With that, she proceeded towards the apartment door. Tariq looked at me for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders and followed her. A few minutes later, I heard the sound of basic scales being played, followed by some simple tunes that I knew but could not give a name to. I opened the kitchen window further, so I could hear Tariq's playing better.
"Who’s playing," Phil asked from the doorway as I started to ribbon the peanut squash.
"Tariq," I responded.
Just then Tariq started to play Greensleeves. The look on Phil's face was one of amazement.
"He's playing that one-handed," he commented.
"Yes," I replied.
"He's bloody good," Phil stated. "Hope he gets the use of his other hand back."
"According to the doctors, there is no reason why he shouldn't," I stated. "Though being depressed is not helping him recover. He does not have the drive to put the effort into the exercise that is required."
"That I can understand," Phil said. I looked at him, surprised. There was something about the way he said it that made me feel it was something he had experienced. Phil noticed my look. "It's a long story, Mike, from before I met Ben. One day, maybe I'll tell it."
"Whenever you're ready."
"Thanks, Mike. Any idea where Trevor and Tyler are?"
"They're in the lounge going through the latest script changes. I don't think they are happy with them."
"Not sure I am surprised," Phil said. "It reads good, but what reads good is not always good when spoken."
"So, why allow the changes?" I asked.
"It's the author's input," Phil informed me. "He thinks we are missing an essential point in the relationship between the two protagonists. The problem is he only sees the words on the page, not the looks that will be shown on the screen. There is no need to have words spoken when you can capture their meaning in a single glance.
"Unfortunately, part of the deal for the book was that the author has the right to review the script. Fortunately, he can only request changes; he can't demand them. The problem is that he could delay the schedule quite a lot if he decided to get pedantic about things."
"What are you going to do about it?" I enquired.
"Shoot both versions," Phil stated. "It will only add a few hours to the shoot; arguing with the author could add days, which I can't afford. Hopefully, when he sees the rushes, he will see that the point he thinks is missing is there, even if it is not said in words.
"I’d better go and see my stars and make sure they understand the situation, then Allen wants to speak to them."
"That sounds ominous," I stated.
"They're going to be given a firm warning not to go looking for JayDee, but Allen will also assure them that we will have people looking, and he wants to tap into Tyler's local knowledge and connections. Especially with our current problems."
With that, he left.
Just after five, Trevor and Tyler came back through the kitchen, informing me that they were on their way to the hotel. They were followed a few minutes later by Allen, who asked how he could contact Tariq as he wanted a word with the boy. I told him I would phone the apartment and ask him to come down.
I used the house phone to call the apartment and tell Tariq that there was someone here who wanted to meet him. Tariq said he would be down straightaway. When he came in, I took him through to the study and introduced him to Allen. I was about to leave, but Allen asked me to stay, saying that Tariq would be more comfortable with someone the boy knew around. With that, he turned to speak with Tariq.
"Look, Tariq," Allen said. "I will not beat about the bush; I'm the head of security for the film unit. I know you have asked Trevor and Tyler to look for your boyfriend. I'm sorry, but they can't do that."
Tariq just hung his head. His shoulders heaved slightly as if he was trying to suppress a sob.
Allen continued. "It would just be too dangerous for them to go off snooping around the island looking for someone who probably does not want to be found. Do you understand that?" Tariq just nodded. "That does not mean we will not do anything. I will have quite a large security operation when we are in Trinidad. I can, and I will, use some of them to try and find JayDee." With that, Tariq looked up and had a hint of a smile on his face.
"You will?" Tariq asked.
"Yes," Allen replied. "My boss has asked me to. Trevor and Tyler asked him for help, and he has agreed. Now, it is not going to be easy, and I will say we probably will not be able to find him. We are only there for two weeks, but we will look. We do need your help."
"How can I help?" Tariq responded. "I'm stuck here."
"I know that," Allen answered. "You do, though, know a lot about JayDee. What I want you to do is tell me everything about him that you can: what he likes to do, what he likes to eat, any and everything. You never know; something you say might just give us the lead that will enable us to find him."
For the next half an hour, Tariq talked about JayDee. Every now and again, Allen would ask a question, but mostly he seemed content to listen to the boy speaking. When Tariq had finished, he looked at Allen and asked. "Can you find JayDee for me?""I'm not sure," Allan replied. "We will, though, do our best."