Tony walked home satisfied with life. He and his mother lived in a house with a back and front garden instead of a one-roomed flat, she now had a part time job instead of two that had been full-time and she was there when he got home. He went to St Charity’s, Parable Lane instead of Basham Street – and that was like heaven after hell.
In his old school, Basham Street, they all needed locking up, starting with the staff, if they caught you behind the lavatories at Basham Street you could give up living.
Now, in St Charity’s Year 6, the rest of the kids seemed to have their Senior schools settled and were thinking about their places at University! They all said please and thank you and Wayne Down’s gang were so tame it would not know where to start at Basham Street. He liked Wayne.
The trouble, he thought as he walked down the tree lined lane, was Bob the ‘friend’ of his mother who had moved in with them. He did not like Bob, yet Bob was the start of all this. The house and the housekeeping, his place at school, his mother’s new clothes, and his pocket money were all Bob’s gift.
Michaela, as she had insisted Tony call her, had not been able to decide whether Bert or Bart had been Tony’s father. Then she had left home to live with Bryan whom he could hardly remember, then Billy had moved in whom he would never forget. Bob had kicked Billy out and had given them all this.
He tried to be grateful but however hard he tried he still could not like Bob.
Bob got home early before Tony had finished his homework. Bob was lit up like a neon sign. He put a rope of pearls round Michaela’s neck and gave her a big kiss and went on about building a chain of DIY stores, each bigger than the last; The Barnes’ Empire. And that house they had looked at near Kensington-on-the-Mersey; they could have it and he’d buy Michaela a vintage Aston Martin. He swelled up, huge, like a baboon.
“You’re the right woman for me, Michaela.” He exclaimed as he swept them into the old Mercedes. They were going to have dinner at the top hotel in the neighbourhood. Tony looked at his mother, wondering. She was trying to smile but the ends would not stay up. His eyes were opened; despite her weakness for B’s there was something special about his mum. Tony had not really thought about it before; she was nice – not because she was the only mother he had, but in herself. Bob Barnes only cared for number one, he did not really care for her, he only cared for himself.
That evening Bob drank too much. When they left the hotel he would not let Michaela drive, nor would he have let them walk if she had not insisted. Michaela and Tony took the shortest road home; and in the distance Tony heard police and ambulance sirens.
Bob Barnes had wrapped the Mercedes round a telegraph pole, the car had turned over three times and crushed him to death. The lady police officer said gently, ‘He wouldn’t know what had hit him”.
Bob’s solicitor said, also gently, “There’s no will, Mrs?”
“Miss” his mother said. “Michaela Morgan.”
“There’s no will, Miss Morgan, it all goes to his half brother, and I have already spoken to him. You are welcome to stay in the house as long as you need to… No, Mr. John Francis Barnes won’t be at the crematorium, there will only be ourselves.”
Tony walked home holding his mother’s hand. She was very quiet, not grieving exactly, just a little shaken and very thoughtful.
“He had all that,” she said slowly. “He was going to build a bigger better Barnes’ business and overnight it is all gone. It makes you think.”