It’s my fault, like everything, like always, it is my fault, it is my fault, it was my fault from the very beginning, stupid, stupid, stupid woman! She had to wait outside the wretched, stupid club, the shitting pointless club that had meant so much to Lee. She had to wait there with Lucy, poor Lucy, tears streaming endlessly down her wretched face. She had to wait there like that, no idea what was going on, only that there were police cars and ambulances everywhere and the police would not let them get any closer. The police would not tell them anything. Where the hell were Michael and his brother? They would know something!
She stared in fury at the white and blue building before them. It was low slung, probably a listed building like everything else in Redchurch. Apparently it had been a tavern, right back in the nineteenth century, like the George in the high street, frequented by smugglers. Lee had told her that, she remembered, and she also remembered that she didn’t give a shit. He had been obsessed with this place, she thought, glaring at it now, as the neon lights from the police cars reflected upon the white washed walls, stretches of red and blue rolling across the textured surfaces. She stood on the pavement, arms folded across her coat, the wind flicking her hair wildly across her face. It had started to rain too. Where is he? Where is my son? Where is my little boy? This is all my fault, yet again, let him down, useless stupid woman!
There was no limit to the rage Kay felt with herself, as she stared up at the club she had met her husband in. She remembered that night as if it were yesterday, and the memory made her seethe with overwhelming regret. She had gone out alone, dressed to kill. Things had ended with Frank Bradley and she had been looking for attention. Looking for someone to make her feel better. She had known it wouldn’t take long, and she was right. There had been several men eyeing her up from the moment she walked into Nancy’s all alone. She had never expected the manager, the co-owner he soon told her, to try it on though. But he had made a beeline for her as soon as he set eyes on her. His intense stare had found her through the many heads and shoulders bustling and pushing at the bar. He had found her and held her with that stare, and she had never felt anything like it. Her body had trembled from head to toe, and they had not even exchanged words.
Months later, when he had moved in, when it was obvious that Danny loathed and resented him, when she was surrounded by conflict and being torn in two, Kay had convinced herself that Lee was a good, solid man. A grafter, a hard worker, someone who had worked his way up from the bottom. A man with old fashioned values and ideas. A man who wanted to protect her and worship her. That was what she had told herself, every time she heard him reprimand Danny for some misdemeanor she personally would have let go. That he was doing it for her, that he was trying to make life easier for her. She would let it go. Sometimes she would almost say something, open her mouth to try to smooth things over, and then she would stop, close her mouth and say nothing. How many times had she done that in that house? Let him be the boss? She had stood back and handed him that control, slowly but surely. He wanted Danny to have more jobs around the house. Fine. Why not? Why should it always be her picking up after him? If he wanted pocket money, then why shouldn’t he do something to deserve it? Then came the room inspections. She should have heard the alarm bells then. A teenagers room was a teenagers room. You just closed the door on it and let them get on with it. But oh no. Lee was a stickler for cleanliness and tidiness. Oh again, she had seen this as a good thing, hadn’t she? So many men were so filthy and messy, weren’t they? Not Lee. Not her husband. He was a man who noticed if the skirting boards were dusty.
I should have stood up for him then, she thought miserably, maybe it would not have gone so far if I had stood up for him then, if I’d said no, leave him alone, it’s his room, let him have it how he wants, it doesn’t matter. But she’d stepped aside, she’d busied herself with planning the wedding, she had lapped up his devotion and his attention, she had turned her head away every time her son fixed her with his deep blue eyes, as Lee entered his room to check it. Socks on the floor. Not good. Clothes on the back of the chair. They should be in the wardrobe or in the linen bin. Over flowing rubbish bin. Not good. Why couldn’t he take it down and empty it before it got like that, stinking the room up?
I’d turn my head, I’d look away, I’d pretend everything was fine, I’d go back to thinking what a solid guy he was, how wonderful it was the way he looked after me and paid the bills, and told me not to worry, and I’d think how bloody lucky I was, that I’d struck gold with him, and I’d make myself forget that the very first emotion I had when I first set eyes on him was fear. Fear.
“They’re coming out,” Lucy whimpered beside her, and Kay looked up. It was hard to see, there were too many cars and people in the way.
“Who is it? Who?”
“There’s Anthony! Anthony!”
He looked dazed. Lost. His eyes huge with shock. His mouth hanging open. He was wandering about like he did not know what to do or where to go. He staggered towards them, shaking his head at Lucy. Kay covered her mouth with her hands, dreading what he would say.
“Got to go in the ambulance,” he murmured, and pointed back to the club, “got to go now, with Mike.”
“What’s happened?” Lucy was begging, sobbing. “Where’s Danny?”
Waiting was agony, but they all kept saying that no news was good news, as if people would eagerly rush at you with bad news, but be slower to deliver good? Lucy dared not let herself think or believe anything. She had the baby. She had the baby with her the whole time, and that was enough. Don’t worry, she told the baby, rubbing her hands firmly against the bump, if he’s okay, he’s okay, so we’ll all be okay together, if he’s not okay then he dies a hero, and me and you will still be okay, I promise you.
She was calm, while Kay was a mess. “If he dies, if he dies…” she kept murmuring this over and over again, and Lucy knew she was saying it to herself, so she did not answer her. Anthony was with them, but not with them. He was white faced and pacing, up and down the corridor, hands in pockets, eyes boring down into the floor. When he was called away by one of the doctors, Kay leapt to her feet beside Lucy, hands clutched desperately together under her chin. Anthony disappeared with the doctor, and she sunk shakily back down. “Oh please God, please God let him be okay…”
There was nothing Lucy could say, so she said nothing. She kept her hands wrapped around the bump and waited. When Anthony returned, they both looked up, startled out of their own thoughts. Kay jumped to her feet again and stared at him, trembling. “It’s okay,” he said right away, and he meant it, Lucy could see that, he meant it. It was okay. See? She told the baby then, patting it, see I told you, didn’t I?
“What did they say?” Kay asked him. He stopped in front of them, hands still in pockets and shoulders slouched in exhaustion as he exhaled noisily.
“Mike’s come around,” he said. “I can see him in a minute. Fractured skull, but he’s gonna’ be okay.”
“Did they say about Danny?” Kay’s voice was shrill with fear and climbing higher. “Danny?”
“All he said was they’re working on him and he’s stable, and not to worry.”
“Jesus Christ…” breathed Kay, sinking back down and covering her face with both hands.
“He’ll be okay,” Lucy spoke up then, looking at them both, and she meant it because she felt it. “He’ll be okay.”
“Those bastards…” Kay hissed again, with her face still hidden by her hands, her fingers almost clawing at herself. She shook her head from side to side as Lucy and Anthony looked on. “They won’t get away with it…they won’t…not this time.”
“They haven’t got away with anything,” Anthony said. “They’re completely fucked. Caught in the act for one thing, the old git had the knife in his hand when they stormed in, plus those tapes from Haskell have sealed the deal. They will all be locked up for a very long time to come.”
“Attempted murder, at least,” Lucy said, wonderingly. Anthony nodded.
“Yep. Without a doubt. All the harassment and gbh and criminal damage. Plus drug dealing. He was top of the fucking chain. She got it all on tape.”
“She wasn’t really trying to screw Danny over,” said Lucy. “Was she? She took a risk, but she was really on his side.”
“I think so,” Anthony sighed. “Whatever. We’re lucky she taped what she did. The cops wouldn’t have moved that quick otherwise. It might have been too late.”
“I’ll kill him,” Kay muttered darkly. “If anything happens to Danny, I’ll kill him myself…with my bare hands!”
“Kay, have you phoned John yet?” Anthony asked her, and Lucy sensed he was trying to shake her out of it, trying to get her to focus. She finally dropped her hands heavily into her lap and gazed up at him through blood shot eyes. “I think he would want to know,” Anthony added gently.
“He’s on his way,” Kay told them, her tone dazed. “He was in Southampton, so he’ll be here soon….Don’t know what he was doing there.”
Lucy remembered then, what Danny had told her months ago, and she felt a little flutter of excitement and fear shivering to life in her belly. She bit her lip, wondering if she ought to tell Kay, to prepare her? She cleared her throat and decided to approach it carefully. “He told Danny he was looking for family,” she said, and Kay’s frowning eyes jerked to meet hers. “When they met,” Lucy explained. “He said he’d been looking for people, you know, family members.”
“He better not mean…?”
“Danny’s father?” Lucy shrugged, presenting it as a question. “I don’t know Kay, I’m not sure.”
“Couldn’t be,” Kay said quickly, shaking her head and waving a hand, before gazing intently down at the shiny white floor beneath her feet. “I tried to find him myself, when Danny went to prison. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack.”
“Things are easier now,” Anthony spoke up. “With the internet and everything.”
Kay looked startled by the very idea. “But what on earth would they have to say to each other after all these years?”
Anthony and Lucy swapped glances. Lucy opened her mouth to speak, but she was saved from the ordeal by a young female doctor who suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere. She was small and dark and wore glasses on her serious young face. Kay was on her feet again, hands clasped together. Lucy just held her breath.
“You can see him now,” the doctor addressed Kay first, but then smiled at Lucy and Anthony. “Not for long though, he’s going to need his rest.”
“He’s okay? He’s okay?” Kay was suddenly weeping again, and Lucy found herself standing up and putting an arm around her shoulders.
“The wound was fairly superficial,” the doctor explained gently. “There was no major damage to any organs like we feared, but he did lose a lot of blood, so he’s had a transfusion.”
“What about everything else?” Anthony asked in hushed tones, hands still clenched in pockets.
“Several broken ribs, I’m afraid,” the doctor went on. “A hell of a lot of bruising and swelling as well. He’s going to be pretty uncomfortable for quite some time.”
“But that’s it?” Lucy asked, unable to believe it. “Broken ribs and bruising? After all of that?”
“Well and the knife wound, obviously, but like I said, it was fairly superficial ,and it went in here like this,” the young doctor showed them how the knife had hit Danny in his right side, skimming his ribs and sticking into the soft flesh. “It was only two inches deep, although the police say the knife was six inches long? It appears he was either very lucky that the man who attacked him seemed to slip at the last minute, or perhaps the man only intended a superficial wound, I don’t know.” The young doctor shrugged and rolled her eyes as if the answers were a mystery to her. “Anyway, he’s awake now, and pretty keen for some visitors, so if you would like to come this way? You can see them both at the same time.”