Considering we were pulled in for trespassing and possible attempted murder, the Police were extraordinarily kind. My Dad stood watching us being driven away with clenched fists as we were whistled out of suburbia and to the cold stone and steel of the real world. Apparently it was my Dad’s intervention that stopped Bernstein from having us charged. According to Dad he just went on and on about his bloody cat for half an hour before Dad told him the plan. It was a good plan, to a point, it provided us with a little protection, it ousted Lewis and his dire schemes, and nobody had to die for it.
Obviously we were separated, Alex, Casey and I, but my father had run through the story with me, as had Rob and Mark dealt with their own children. We were just Kids causing a bit of trouble, no guns involved. We had gone to Gretton in the dark to sit drinking in the park. Bernstein had come across us to give us a piece of his mind about the youth of today etc etc, and we thought it would be funny to follow him home, At the end of the day the incident was just to be described as a juvenile misdemeanor. The Police accepted it, nary a mention of the DOF, or the radio interview at the weekend. The press would merely say that three kids were arrested in Gretton, and a picture of us. The idea was that Lewis would see us in the newspaper, and thanks to another part of Dad’s plan, he would receive a phone call from Andy at the radio telling him the debate had been cancelled, but he is still welcome to use the time simply to be interviewed. Lewis’ narcissism would allow him to believe the master plan had worked, and he would even be compelled to offer Bernstein’s family his condolences on air as if the whole thing had grieved him so. Until the coming Saturday we would be protected, Lewis wouldn’t suspect a thing when we didn’t turn up to DOF on Friday as usual, and when he got to the radio station on Saturday and saw that Bernstein wasn’t there, his heart would leap with a temporary victory. All he would see is my Dad and his band packing down their music instruments. My Dad had ensured that he was to be at the station at the same time as Lewis by getting a live slot immediately before Lewis was supposed to have his interview.
For the rest of the week I kept my head down at school, and in my Dad’s good books. For the first day after being released, Toni, Henry and Joey hardly dared approach me. Nikki visited me and sat just holding me for an hour or two when I got back. She rocked me and made whispering noises, which reminded me of the many occasions as a child Nikki would do this when I was upset. Grace sat with me all afternoon, not saying anything, merely choosing to do her English homework in my room. I wasn’t sure if I was on suicide or escape watch. I wasn’t ready to do either.
I sat on my bed in the changing light of evening looking at my football poster, watching all the prone two dimensional players grin and stare out of the white framed picture. In this time I meditatively sat taking in all the small details that I had probably previously missed. A smudge on one players shorts, a man wearing a ridiculous hat in the stadium, a bird coming out of cumulus cloud in the corner of the picture. You would think that I had a lot on my mind to fill the waking void of thought. But I was numb and empty. I went to sleep that first night home after barely speaking a word. It was my father that woke me early for school the next day. Ordinarily I would have got the bus to school, but today my Dad wanted to give me a lift. A bit of breakfast, a swift wash, a hot cup of tea, and into the car. As the grey and green world slipped by us I suddenly felt the need to break down and cry.
“Dad I’m so so sorry.” The sobs racked my body. I shuddered and fitted in the car as the stream of tears slipped and slid down my cheeks. My Dad stopped the car as soon as he could and put his hand on my shoulder, massaging gently.
“Dad I am so sorry. I am so sorry that I am always angry.” I spoke the moment that I had my breathing back from the sobs.
“It’s OK to be angry Cameron, it’s natural to be angry. I was an angry teenager too you know.” I looked at my Dad as he spoke.
“The DOF allowed me to be angry Dad, even encouraged it. It gave me a focus for my angry energy. As long as I was there, it was OK to have a temper.”
` “I know mate, Lewis is good with things like that. You give a teenage boy an excuse to angry and he will show you loyalty. Lewis prays on angry young men. Tommy was an angry young man too once.” I had never heard my father refer to me as a young man. Until this moment I had been a boy, nary a mention of being a man. Tears fell thicker and faster and flooded my mouth at this.
“I want to stop being angry Dad, but I don’t know what it is that makes me angry anymore. I just wake up so demonically enraged. For three years Tommy acted as my would be father, and the rest of my life I have had you without my mother. I fear I am turning into the wrong Dad. I feel like I am turning into him.”
“You’re nothing like Tommy. Cameron you are my boy, you always will be my boy. This phase of anger will pass.” He squeezed my shoulder again. For a moment I listened to the day outside the car. Little birds chirping that I hadn’t noticed before, the steady breathing of the trees. Little sounds I had never noticed before.
“Dad if you hadn’t come to our aid I would have killed a man.” Silence momentarily as if Dad was taking it all in. He clucked his tongue in annoyance.
“You honestly believe that? Whatever you are Cameron, a killer isn’t one of them. You had no intention of pulling that trigger; I knew that from the moment I received your text message. Despite any honeyed words that prick Lewis poured into your head, whatever deep justification he gave you made no difference. You still knew right from wrong, you were never going to do anything with that gun.” He shifted his weight to stare at me, his green eyes were ablaze with an unknown emotion. He wiped his lips with his black suit sleeve before he continued.
“You had a hard few years before coming to me Cameron. You were in a loveless household based solely around emotional torture. Some of the most important moments of your life were lost within rage, and abuse. No you weren’t abuse, and for that I am fucking thankful, but your mother couldn’t be the good woman she was whilst Tommy was there. All you saw was anger. I loved your mother deeply, I loved her intensely. I loved her almost as much as I love you.” I could feel myself welling up again, a thick and sticky emotion pushing out my eyes and writhing in my throat. I looked up surprised to see my dad’s emerald Green eyes watering ever so slightly.
“Your mother was a woman borne of love and good humour. Every day that we were together I laughed at least once. She used to go into your room every night before coming to bed to give you a kiss on the cheek whilst you were sleeping. Often we talked of what you were going to be and who you would be most like. We discussed our hopes for you, our fears for you, and not a day went by when she didn’t tell you that she loved you. Not one.” I was stunned in silence; rarely had my father ever spoken of my mother in such depth. Ordinarily when talking of my mother, the conversations were brief, terse and unelaborated. I listened to his voice and wondered when the last time I ever heard him talk of even Toni like this. A car swished past with an angry hiss before my Dad spoke again.
“I always wanted you to be a musician. Even at two years old I noticed you had a little bit of a temper, and music always calmed you down. Your mother wanted you to be something like a doctor. She always said how smart you were, how intelligent. When you started talking with full sentences before your first birthday, she noticed that you were smarter than a lot of other kids at the same age. Most of all your mother wanted you to be happy. We talked of days that we would become grandparents, and days that we would walk you down the aisle. Everything she wanted for you was wholesome and pure. Cameron I know even now that if she was here and this still had happened, then she would be right by your side. She would probably tell you that you had fucked up, but she wouldn’t love you any less.” My dad wiped his eyes with the back of a freckled hand and turned his head to look out the windshield.
“You will do the right thing, and you will turn that anger against everything that stands against you. I can see you are a warrior, you are a mathematician, and a loving human being all in one awkward ginger shell. Tommy lived and breathed that political organisation that tried to turn you into a killer, you risked the wrath of some very dangerous men to put that gun down. You were never going to be a killer Cameron, not for Lewis. Your mum would be proud of you today.”
“I think she would be proud of you too Dad.” I meant it, I really did. How could she not be, the man came through against the justice system and the local government. He stepped in front of a gun all to deliver me to safety from myself. I wrapped my arms around him and we hugged. It was so liberating to hug my father. It rarely happened, but I squeezed him until I am sure his ribs were going to break in to shards beneath his chest.
“Dad I want to come to that radio station on Saturday. I want to see the look on Lewis’ face when the penny drops and he realised he has been crossed.”
“If you wish it, so be it,” Simon replied simply.