"Hi Martha, how are you doing?... Sorry, I know most of that must be from me... I wish I didn’t have to ask this, but do you have a bit of time this afternoon for me to stop by and talk about something that’s just come up?... Ok see you in half hour."
Sarah quickly got ready and left for Martha’s office. It didn’t take long for her to drive there and she quickly found a parking space not far from the Social Services building.
"Hi Martha, I know you like the occasional treat, so I picked up this éclair on the way."
"Now I definitely know I’m being buttered up, what’s wrong?"
"Can we go someplace to talk?"
"There’s a room around the corner that we use to interview people, is that alright or do you want to go somewhere else?"
"No, that room sounds ok."
"Follow me then."
Martha got her keys and unlocked the room before holding the door open for Sarah to go in.
"I’m guessing your need for privacy means something’s wrong, so let me start by getting us a cuppa and then you can tell me all about it while I eat this eclair."
Two minutes later Martha returned with two mugs of tea, she put one down in front of Sarah before sitting down.
"I wish I didn’t have to do this to you but I need your professional help again."
"The boys called me during lunch with a pretty big problem that only you can help us solve. Remember when we went to visit Jerry in the hospital I let him talk to his friend Callum on the phone?"
"I don’t know all the details but Justin said Callum’s father beat him unconscious on Saturday for apparently spending time with Alex. My first thought was that the solution would be to remove Callum’s father from the house, but he indicated that his mother would be against that. That tells me that if we were successful in getting the police involved she’d back her husband which I’m guessing would stop the police dead in their tracks."
"I know the type; I’ve seen cases like that before and we usually end up taking the child away from the parents. The tricky part is getting something that you can use to justify removing the child from them."
"Callum said there’s something you can use but he wasn’t specific on what that was, he also said he’d rather not have to use it."
"The only thing to do is to talk to him and find out what we can do."
"That’s what I thought we’d have to do."
"I know that tone; you want to take him in don’t you?"
"I found out about this five minutes before I called you, so I’ve had a little over half an hour to think about it."
"Yeah, I knew it."
"I wasn’t able to help Terry when he needed me, so I do have a thing about helping kids in trouble."
"I think you’ve done more than your fair share there."
"Not really, my parents left me the opportunity but there are many others in my position who wouldn’t have thought twice about it."
"True but you shouldn’t try and house every stray you find, not every kid is as well behaved as the ones you’ve come across the last two weeks or so."
"I’ve spent a bit of time helping out at schools so I know that some can be right little shits."
"That’s putting things politely."
"Back to Callum, I thought that if there is a chance you could fast track Rick and Alan’s application, we could move Declan in with them and Callum could share a room with Jerry."
"If we want to get Rick and Alan approved, to protect everyone from any comeback down the road, we need to process their application by the book."
"I understand that. Ok, so thinking on my feet, obviously your boss is going to be involved in signing off on Jerry and Declan’s move to my house right?"
"Yes, she’s involved with any placement."
"So she will be aware that after the weekend we now have three boys living with our family?"
"Yes, in the original application you and Simon made, was a list of current occupants and a brief description of the house."
"I remember that bit. You were confident you could sell Declan and Jerry sharing a room to your boss right?"
"That’s not a problem, as far as the rules go, we don’t approve of a boy and girl over the age of ten sharing a room, other than that it’s ok."
"So I would be right in thinking there wouldn’t be a problem with say Alex and Justin sharing a room or Alex and Callum sharing a room?"
"I don’t think we need to specify on the forms who shares a bedroom, but as you only have three bedrooms it would be understood that the boys are sharing. Technically there isn’t anything to say that Declan, Jerry and Callum couldn’t share."
"And you could sell that?"
"Sure I could. The big sell would be done by you on the boys. Are they going to be ok adding Callum to the house?"
"I have a feeling that would be easier than selling water to the thirsty. What time are you going to finish this afternoon?"
"With all the paperwork I have on my desk at the moment, I’d be here until five at least why?"
"When the boys were talking to me at lunch, I told Callum to come to our house rather than go to his own after school."
"So what did you have in mind for me?"
"The boys were going to walk home but they think there’s a chance Callum’s dad will be at the school gates waiting for him, so I told the boys to leave school the back way and I’d meet them at Worcester Street and pick them up."
"Well the thing is, with the five boys together there’s not enough room in my car to take them all in one trip."
"Now I see where you’re going, you want me to help you take the boys to your house and then start working with Callum?"
"I would never presume that, but I thought it would help. I can probably get Rick or Alan to help out but I thought you’re going to need to talk to Callum sooner rather than later and it would kill two birds with the one stone."
Martha got up and left the room.
"Ok, I’ve explained to Mabel that I need to leave early. I didn’t give her any details. Hell, I couldn’t if I wanted to, I just told her that there’s an allegation been made of abuse and I need to talk to the child after school before going to talk to his parents."
"Do you want to stay for dinner tonight?"
"You know I never say no to a free meal. Would you be able to whip something up just after we get in so that Callum and I can eat before I take him to his parents to sort this all out with them."
"Do you need to take him with you?"
"There’re two choices. The first one is that I talk to Callum, go around to his parents and then have to go back another day to get his things or the other option is to take Callum with me tonight and do it all in one visit."
"I can see your point, what about taking Justin or Declan with you to help carry things so you don’t have to?"
"Not a good idea, I don’t want Callum’s parents to try and confuse issues with someone else in the room, and as I don’t know how long it will take to convince his parents, I can’t ask one of the boys to sit in the car until we need him."
"Fair enough, so if I’m going to have dinner ready for you, I’d best head home and make a start on it. I’ll meet you in Worcester Street for three thirty?"
Martha and Sarah got up and walked out of the room.
"Do you have any preference for dinner?"
"You may regret that comment."
"I doubt it, I know what you’re like, so I’ll see you later."
As the bell went to signal the end of the day, Alex put his papers and pen in his bag and left the class. Normally he would be one of the first to leave the school, as his last lesson on a Tuesday was next to the front door of the school, but today he needed to go to the back exit, which meant he had to walk the whole length of the school to get there. He hadn’t used this exit before as his parent’s house was in the other direction so this would be another first for him since he’d met Sarah.
As he got out through the door he wondered where the others would be waiting for him. After a few seconds of looking, he found them sat by the tennis courts.
"You all ready?"
"What took you so long? I thought you’d got lost or something," asked Justin.
"No, I had Physics with Taylor so I was right at the other end of school."
"Oh well, come on then let’s go and see who mom’s got to help us get home."
Callum and Declan helped Jerry and they followed Justin and Alex. To get to Worcester Street the boys would have to use a footbridge to get them over a busy road and rail tracks.
"So how was your first day at Connor High Dec?" asked Justin.
"To me one school is just like another; the only difference here is that I have friends who can watch my back from the beginning."
"You don’t expect to get in a fight do you?" asked Alex.
"No, that’s not what I meant. In my last school, if someone had just started like I had today, some kids would take it upon themselves to see how much they could mess them up before they wised up to them, like sending them to one end of the school for one lesson when it’s in the other end."
"I see, I don’t know if anyone would have done that here," replied Alex.
"Oh they would, they messed with Cory Edwards for days before I got pissed with them and told him to ignore them," said Jerry.
"You can tell I walk around with my eyes shut," said Alex.
"You don’t see those kinds of things because you keep to yourself and don’t mix with anyone," added Jerry.
"I know," answered Alex sounding a little down.
"Hey, it’s not a bad thing that you keep to yourself. Most of the kids here are all tossers and not worth talking to."
"Jerry’s right Alex, most of the kids here aren’t worth getting to know," said Callum.
"There are one or two worth knowing," said Justin looking in Alex’s eyes.
"It’s like that in any school," said Declan.
"So what did you get to do today?" asked Alex.
"Jerry forgot to mention this afternoon was double P.E. so I didn’t have any shorts or things to change into. I spent the afternoon on the side with Jerry and talking to Mr Norris about joining the rugby team. I explained to him about how I’d be repeating year nine in September but he doesn’t think that’ll be a problem. He wants me to go to training and then he’ll see if I’m any good."
"That sounds promising, by all accounts Mr Norris is a good coach," said Justin.
"He also asked me about how Jerry would get home if I stayed behind some days for training."
"And I told them that if I couldn’t get someone to walk home with I didn’t mind staying behind to watch training."
"So what days do the team train Jerry?" Justin enquired.
"Before Easter we were spending about an hour and half training Tuesdays and Thursdays with the game normally on Saturday mornings."
"Ok, did Mr Norris indicate that it would be any different this side of Easter?"
"No, he didn’t say anything about it being different," replied Declan.
"Fine, do you want to start going to training this week or leave it until next week?" asked Justin.
"I’m guessing all I’ll need are my boots, shorts and a t-shirt right?"
"Yep, and a towel for a shower," added Jerry.
"Well I’ve got all that so I guess Thursday is as good a day to start as any."
"I’m sure that won’t be a problem, but do me a favour and check with Mr Norris tomorrow that he’s ok for you to start so soon."
"I’m guessing you don’t play on the team Cal?" asked Justin.
"No, it’s one thing Jerry and I don’t share. I’m not that into sport."
"I hate having to do P.E. as well Cal, you’re not on your own there," replied Alex.
"I don’t hate P.E. as such, it’s just I prefer the solo stuff like gymnastics but we don’t get much chance at things like that, it’s mostly the team stuff."
"What about cross country stuff Cal, does that interest you?" Justin enquired.
"It’s one of the many things my dad doesn’t approve of. He only lets me draw and paint because I get A’s for every other subject. Well except P.E., my report for that usually has the ‘can do better’ tag on it."
"Mine’s the same, if it wasn’t for P.E. I’d have a perfect report," suggested Alex.
"That’s the complete opposite to mine, I usually had a great report from games and all the others thought I could do better but I’m hoping I can change that now," said Declan.
"We’re all here to help if you need us," insisted Justin.
"I probably will."
"Don’t put yourself down," responded Jerry quickly.
"You mentioned drawing Cal, are you any good or is it just something you do for pleasure?" asked Justin.
"He’s really good, get him to show you his sketch pads some time, they’re awesome," replied Jerry.
"I’m not that good Jer."
"Really? According to whom?" Jerry fired back.
"I’m not that good. I couldn’t make a career out of drawing."
"Ah, there’s the answer I was looking for, it’s your dad that says you’re not good enough. Well whatever you think, I think your drawings are brilliant."
The boys walked on for a bit quietly, thinking about different things as they were coming down the other side of the footbridge. Alex was surprised by the number of kids that walked this way to get home.
"Have you been this way before Justin?" asked Alex.
"One of the boys I used to play football with lives a few streets away and I’d go to his house now and then."
"Used to, suggests you’re not in touch anymore?" Alex enquired.
"We were never that close while he was in school but after our GCSEs he left school and I stayed on. I kept in touch a bit over the summer but when he didn’t come back to school we just drifted apart."
"I’ve not been down this end of town before, how far is Worcester Street from here?" asked Declan.
"It’s actually round this corner," replied Justin.
Just as they went round the corner they saw Sarah and Martha.
"Hey mom, hi Martha."
"Hi boys," replied Martha.
"Hello Callum, I’m Sarah and this is Martha."
"Nice to meet you, I’m sorry to be a nuisance but I think you’ve both probably wasted your time, I don’t think there’s any chance of getting my dad to sign a form like Jerry’s mom did," replied Callum.
"Well for a start young man, and I know this will sound patronizing, but let me worry about getting your dad to sign. Looking at your face he did a good job on the weekend."
"Who is going in which car?" Sarah asked.
"Alex and I’ll go with Martha and the others can ride with you," suggested Justin.
"Sound ok with you guys?" asked Martha.
"Fine with me," said Jerry.
"Me too," added Callum and Declan.
They all got in the cars and drove off. A few minutes later they were all walking through Sarah’s front door. Sarah led Martha and Callum to the kitchen where they could talk while she could carry on making dinner while the other boys went upstairs to change.
"I hope you’re not a fussy eater Callum, I had to make a start on food before I left, Martha wants to spend some time with you and me, we’ll explain a few things for you and then Martha is going to take you back to your parents’ house to get them to sign the forms and get your things."
"I’d be surprised if there isn’t all sorts of hell to pay when I get there and I’d be flabbergasted if they even let Martha in the house."
"I’m not going to let them fob me off. I can see for myself that there are questions that need answering and I expect your parents to answer them. If they refuse to talk to me, I can make a really big fuss and get the police involved."
"I don’t know if that will do more harm than good but Jerry trusts you and I trust him so if that’s what you think is for the best I’m ok with trying."
"Ok Callum, first off, what do you want to drink? We’ve got most things you could think of."
"Do you have some orange or apple juice please?"
"Sure, we have both, which do you prefer?"
Sarah poured him a glass before pouring tea for Martha and herself.
"I need you to explain everything about yourself and your life with your parents and that includes what your father did on the weekend," said Martha.
"I don’t know where to begin."
"Why don’t you start with what life was like growing up in your house?" suggested Martha.
Callum decided that as Sarah had no problem with Alex and Justin being gay, it wouldn’t be a problem for her to know about him.
"I guess I should start by telling you that I’m gay but my parents don’t know. There is someone on my mother’s side of the family who is also. Dad was going on about him one day and I asked him what he had done that was so wrong. He called him an abomination in the eyes of God and told me that I was never to talk to him again. One of the names he used was queer and later that day I looked it up in a dictionary. That was when I realised why I felt different to everyone else. I told Jerry about it a short while later. He didn’t know what to make of it but he supported me. So unlike Alex I never got to the point where I wanted to hurt myself because I had Jerry to talk to and I knew I wasn’t the only one in the world. I don’t know whether it was by design, but I was with Jerry when his dad told him that he was to stay away from Alex and my dad knew about this conversation."
"On Saturday Jerry’s mom came around and told us about the accident. My first thought was to let Alex know his brother was in hospital. I couldn’t let dad know what I wanted to do so I had to wait a bit before asking if I could spend some time in the park. Jerry had told me about spending time with Alex and Justin during the street party so I knew roughly where Alex was but I didn’t know the house. I walked over to the street and spent some time walking up and down it hoping that Alex was keeping an eye out for Jerry. After spending some time with Mr Edwards playing chess, Justin and Alex turned up and I went with them to Rick and Alan’s house where I explained about what had happened to Jerry. When I got home my dad told me he wanted to talk to me but we had a church meeting to get to first. During the meeting they chose my father as the person to take over from Vicar Stephens who died in the car with Jerry’s dad. After I’d changed and done the dishes I sat down with my dad and that’s when he asked me where I’d spent the afternoon. I tried to lie about it and said I was at the park and that’s when he hit me around the head. In all I think it was five or six blows my dad gave me around the head with the last one sending me into a cupboard which knocked me out."
"What did your father do then because I don’t think you’ve been to the hospital have you?" asked Martha.
"How did you know that?"
"Because if he had taken you to the hospital I would have heard about it as I was in the hospital dealing with Declan around the time this happened."
"As I was coming around my dad told me to get up before he gave me another clout. When I got up he told me that I was only allowed out of the house for school or church and I was to have no contact with Jerry or his brother."
"Did anything else happen on the weekend that we need to know about?" asked Martha.
"So that takes us up to today, did your dad say anything before school?"
"He reminded me about his warning on Saturday but that was it."
"Were you expecting to see Jerry in school today or were you hoping he wouldn’t be in?" asked Sarah.
"I was hoping to talk to him in one way because he’s my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without him but I also know what my dad is like for knowing things he’s not supposed to."
"Give me a minute," said Sarah as she left Callum and Martha in the kitchen.
A few minutes later she returned with Justin.
"Callum, I want you to go upstairs with Justin and let Martha and I talk a few things through?"
"Come on Cal perhaps you’ll be more of a challenge for Declan than Alex has been."
"I’ve got a game going on one of the consoles."
"I doubt I’ll be any better than Alex, I don’t get to play on the game consoles. My dad thinks it’s a waste of time and money."
"Well we all have to start someplace right?"
Justin led Callum up to his room leaving Martha and Sarah to talk.
"Ok, any ideas on how to swing this?" opened Sarah.
"I think I may do. If Callum’s dad has just taken over this church, then I would doubt that he’d want a load of publicity about him beating his son up. Callum’s face probably looked bad on Saturday but for now if he wants to play hardball, the photos I’ll take before we leave are going to look worse."
"So you’re going to blackmail him into signing his son over?"
"We have a couple of options, that being one of them. I could instigate a removal right now just based on the allegations while an investigation takes place into their accuracy. I think if I got Callum to admit to his parents about his sexuality, his father will gladly sign the paperwork for me, but I get the impression that that was the card Callum didn’t want to play but it is one I can think about."
"How easily do you think it will be?"
I think I’ll have a battle on my hands but I think it’s one I can win."
"Ok, so do we go and ask the boys now if they want Callum to move in or leave it until you take him to his parents’ house?"
"I think it’s best to leave it until we go, that way it’s not putting any pressure on the boys and I have a place I can put him in if I need to but I think he’d be better here. What about Simon, doesn’t he get a say?"
"I spoke to him after I left you this afternoon and he’s happy for Callum to stay."
"You were really lucky when you found Simon."
"Don’t I know it."
Just then Declan came into the kitchen.
"Can I have a chat?"
"Sure, what’s on your mind?" asked Sarah.
"Well, while you were talking to Cal just now, we were talking upstairs. We all agree that Cal needs to be safe from his dad. I think Alex and Jerry were reluctant to say what they really want because your family has done so much for them already, but Justin and I both thought it would be good if Cal was able to live here. Hearing what we thought, Alex and Jerry agreed it would be great. Alex and Justin have told me that they are a couple and they went on to tell me that you already know they are sharing a bed together. Jerry thinks it’s silly for Alex to have a bed that he didn’t use while Cal needed one."
"I don’t know how much of Alex’s story you’re aware of Declan, but I’ve already explained to Alex and Justin why I think it’s important for Alex to have somewhere of his own he can go if he needs space."
"Yeah he told me. I know at the moment this is a big if, but if Alan and Rick get the nod, I’ll be moving in with them won’t I? That means if Jerry and Cal are ok with it, Cal could share with Jerry."
"Assuming Cal is ok sharing with Jerry and you move in with Rick and Alan, where do we place Cal in the meantime?" queried Martha.
"After we’d agreed it would be good for Cal to stay here, Justin came out with a couple of possibilities. The first option was for him to let Cal use his room and he would sleep at Rick and Alan’s. Jerry said that wouldn’t work because it would force Alex to choose between staying here with him and going with Justin and he didn’t want that. The second option was for Cal or me to use a sleeping bag on the floor in Jerry’s room. And then there was his last idea that he thought would work but it is a bit strange; none of us are on the large side so there should be plenty of room in the double bed for Jerry, Cal and me to share."
"Let’s work through those options a minute. I agree with Jerry that making Alex chose whether to spend time at Rick’s with Justin or here with his brother isn’t being fair on Alex especially when he’s supposed to be concentrating on revising for his exams. As for the other two options I’ve already told you we can change the bed in that room if you boys wanted to. There is enough room there to put a single bed and bunk beds so the three of you could have your own bed rather than all squeezing into one or one of you sleeping on the floor."
"Alex mentioned the possibility of changing the bed and Jerry and I both said that it would be wasting money if in a couple of weeks I would be moving out."
"I’m sure I could get a camp bed or something for one of you to use if that’s what you want?"
"I think Jerry wants us to try the three in a bed and see how that works."
"But what about what you want? What you want is just as important as what Jerry wants."
"If I’m being honest, I enjoyed cwtching up with Jerry last night. Before you start to worry, you’re not going to have another couple because I’m not into Jerry like that. I enjoyed the feeling of having someone close but there were no thoughts of going any further. I think I would have got just as much out of it if we had been fully clothed. If Cal wasn’t in the picture Jerry and I would continue to share the bed until I moved in with Rick and Alan. That is still possible but what about Cal? Do I ask him to sleep on his own when he clearly needs comforting more than I do? Jerry is confident Cal will be ok sharing a bed so the question to answer is will we be able to sleep three in the bed? The only way to answer that is to try it out and then talk tomorrow. If it doesn’t work, perhaps Cal and I could take turns sleeping in a sleeping bag that way no one is on their own all the time."
"We can see you’ve thought this out. I have a feeling Alex will sleep in Justin’s bed tonight so if you find in the middle of the night it’s not working then jump in Alex’s bed and let me know in the morning if we need to look for an alternative. Will you promise me that?" asked Sarah.
"Yes I can, but I think we’ll be fine. It’s a big bed and even with Jerry’s casts, the three of us should have room."
"Ok, can you tell Callum that Martha and I need to talk to him please?"
"Sure, can I get something to drink please?"
"Yes you can but there’s something I want you to think about. Whether you move in with Rick and Alan or stay here, you’re as much a part of the family as Justin. Why am I saying that? Simple, I don’t expect Justin to ask if he can have something to drink therefore I don’t expect you to ask either, understood?"
"Loud and clear."
"While you’re in the fridge, there should be a few cans in there, take a couple upstairs with you for the others and let them know that dinner won’t be long."
Just then there was a knock at the front door.
Walking down the hall to the door, Sarah guessed this was the boy Alex had mentioned on the phone at lunch. She was surprised when she opened the door. Standing on the doorstep was a policeman.
Declan walked up the stairs with some cans so was able to see who was at the door. He didn’t like the idea of eavesdropping on Sarah but he thought he should to find out what the cop was there for. He waited at the top of the stairs.
"Hello, sorry to bother you but are you Mrs Western?"
"I am yes, is there something wrong officer?"
"I’m not sure exactly, would it be ok for me to come inside?"
Sarah stood to the side to let the policeman in. As Sarah closed the door behind him, the officer took his hat off.
"My sergeant asked me to call to find out if you have a boy here called Callum Jones?"
"I still don’t understand what this is about."
"I have told you all I know Mrs Western."
"Yes Callum is here."
"Can you give me a moment to talk to my sergeant please?"
"You can talk in the living room, no one is in there."
"When you’re finished I’ll be in the kitchen."
While the officer went in to the living room, Sarah went out to the kitchen to tell Martha of the visitor.
"I have a feeling Callum’s father has filed a missing person’s report and someone at the school saw him walking out of the school with Justin and the others," replied Martha.
"So what do we do now?"
"We have a couple of options. The first is that I use my authority to overrule him if he wants to take Callum home to his parents. The second option is to go with the flow, let him take Callum and I’ll follow them in my car and then have the conversation with his parents earlier than I’d planned."
"How do we decide which one to go for?"
"Well, what are you doing for dinner and is it easy enough to reheat?"
"On the drive over from seeing you this afternoon I had to think about what was in the cupboards that would feed eight people. I thought lasagne and jacket potatoes with salad would work. I made the lasagne in two dishes so it’s possible to cook one for the boys and the other one later when you know you’ll be coming back with Callum."
"I think that’s best, then we’re not forcing the officer to make a decision."
"Can you go up and let Callum know what’s going on, I’m sure Declan heard what was said about the officer being here for Callum and he’ll have told the others," asked Sarah.
Martha got up and walked down the hall to go upstairs but as she got to the bottom of the stairs she saw Callum at the top in tears with Jerry behind him looking concerned.
"Stay there, I’m coming up," Martha said as she began to climb the stairs.
When Martha reached the top, she put her arm around Callum and said "Come on, let’s go into one of the bedrooms a minute. Can you let me talk to Callum alone please Jerry?"
Jerry went back to Justin’s room while Martha led Callum into the bedroom.
Martha suspected that they were in Jerry and Declan’s room by the look of the pile of clothes on the chair.
"First I want you to sit down and try and hold the tears for a minute. I know you’re scared because there is a policeman downstairs asking about you. But if you give me a moment I’ll explain what’s going to happen, ok?"
"I believe, but can’t be sure yet, that your father has called the police to report you as missing and someone in the school saw you leaving with Justin and the others. I think the best thing we can do is go along with whatever the policeman suggests when we go downstairs. I also think he’ll have been told to take you to your parents. I will follow you and when we get to your parents’ house and the policeman has left, we’ll begin to have the conversation with your father and mother about what’s best for you. Before I talk to your parents I want to know if you are prepared to tell them about your sexuality? I don’t think I will need you to tell them to get them to sign the papers but I think for your own good it would be better."
"I don’t know if I can. I know the minute I do dad is going to hate me."
"Do you think he loves you at the moment?"
"I guess you’re going to tell me now that his beating me on the weekend shows he doesn’t, right?"
"I don’t know your parents so I can’t answer that, only you can."
"Then the answer would be I don’t know. In just a short time, I’ve seen how Justin is loved by Sarah and Rick and Alan and that kind of relationship isn’t ever going to happen between dad and me."
"What about your mother?"
"I don’t think so, she does everything my father says so I think if dad decides to end our relationship mom will go along with him."
"How do you think you’ll feel if that’s what they do?"
"I don’t know, I suppose I’m going to feel a lot of hurt."
"Do you think having Jerry and Alex with you will help?"
"Jerry’s my best friend and I think having him around would help and Alex sort of knows what I’m going through but they live here with Sarah, I can’t ask them to move just to help me deal with things."
"Who said anything about them moving? Sarah and the boys have been talking and they want you to move in here with them. Is that something you’d like?"
"There’s no room here for me though, Declan has to share a room with Jerry and then you’ve got Justin’s room, Alex’s room and Sarah and Simon’s room. Where would I fit in?"
"Do you know about Declan moving in with Rick and Alan?"
"He mentioned something about it."
"He’s only here with Sarah and Simon while we get the paperwork sorted, so in a few weeks’ time he’s going to be moving out and you’d share a room with Jerry. Until then Declan and Jerry are happy sharing the room with you if you’re ok with it."
"But what about sleeping? I can see there’s only the one bed in here."
"Jerry and Declan slept in this bed last night and they think it won’t make any difference you joining them."
"I know Jerry knows I’m gay but Declan doesn’t, is he going to be ok sharing a bed with a gay boy?"
"That’s something you’re going to have to talk to him about. What Sarah has said is that if you want to try to sleep three in a bed tonight and it doesn’t work, there are alternatives that you can explore tomorrow. So is that what you’d like to do?"
"You seem sure that me sleeping here tonight is just a question of whether I want to or not."
"It’s that simple."
"But what if you can’t get my parents to sign the forms?"
"Ok, here is what will happen when I see your parents. I will give them the choice of signing the forms that relinquish their parental rights to you. If they choose to fight me over it, I’ll just tell them that I’m removing you from their custody while an investigation into the allegations of child abuse is conducted and they won’t be allowed any contact with you until the investigation is concluded."
"But how can you do that?"
"I work for Social Services and if I believe a child is in danger I have the power to remove them from that situation. If your parents sign the forms you’ll be sleeping here tonight, if your parents don’t sign the forms you’ll be sleeping here tonight. The question is, whether you want to share the bed with Jerry and Declan?"
"If Jerry and Declan are willing to do it for one night I guess I can as well."
"Good, now let’s go down and see what the policeman has to say."
As they entered the kitchen, Callum froze. Fear started to course through him. Despite feeling Martha behind him; and knowing that she would be there when he got to his parents’ he couldn’t help fearing what his father would do when he got home.
Just looking at Callum told the officer that what Sarah had told him was true. Apart from the bruises on his face, he could see fear in his eyes.
"Hello Callum, I’m Officer Davies. Don’t be so worried, I’m not going to leave you alone with your father. I will wait with you until Miss Harris, Martha as you know her, arrives. I can see myself that what your father told my sergeant isn’t true."
"What did my dad say?"
"As I told Sarah when I arrived, I didn’t know why I was to see if you were here. When I spoke to my sergeant after I knew you were, I was told to take you home because you were not safe here. After talking with Sarah and the bruises on your face I can see your father has been lying. So I’ll be having a chat with him about wasting police time and making false statements to us. Sarah said you would be ok going with me to your parents’, is that true?"
"Ok then, do you need to get anything or can we go?"
"I’m ready to go sir."
"Right you are then, thank you Sarah for letting me know what was really going on."
Officer Davies and Callum left the kitchen and Sarah and Martha followed them down the hall and through the front door. Sarah and Martha watched as Callum got into the back of the police car and was driven off.
"Callum said he’s ok with sharing a bed with Jerry and Declan but he questioned whether Declan would be ok sharing with him."
"Why would that be a problem?"
"He doesn’t think Declan would be ok when he finds out Callum’s gay."
"I don’t think we need to worry about that."
"From the time I’ve spent with Declan over the years, I don’t either, but that’s something Callum and Declan are going to have to work out themselves."
"Give me a ring when you know what time you’ll be leaving Callum’s parents’ and I’ll put the dinner on."
"I just realised, I don’t know where Callum’s parents’ house is."
"That’s ok, Jerry knows."
After getting the address from Jerry, Martha left and Sarah went to the kitchen to put the one lasagne and potatoes in the oven.
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