DON HEWSON GAINS CONFIDENCE (The second book in the “Don Hewson” series.)
CHAPTER 1: Don Hewson
Jabril Daar, Amal Daar, Kali Daar, Peter Wilkins, and our son Max walk home together from Tryton Junior School every day.
Kali noticed a man who seemed to be following them at a distance.
Once the other children agreed that the man was following them Max suggested that they should run to Grace Adams’ mother Carol who lives nearby.
The children ran to Grace’s house and Carol let them in. The children explained the problem. Peter looked out of Carol’s window and he said that the man was still out there.
Carol telephoned the police. Then Carol telephoned me.
At that particular moment I had no other adult in the house. I asked Carol to keep the children there until I arrived. I telephoned Annie on her mobile phone and she agreed to come back to the house.
Carol telephoned a while later to say that the police have arrived and that they have arrested the man. A police car has taken the man away.
PC Rosie Oakes is in Carol’s house now trying to find out what the children can tell her. Annie was not back yet so I had to wait. I said that I am happy for the children to talk to PC Oakes. I was waiting for Annie to arrive and then I would be along.
After a few more telephone calls back and forth it was agreed that PC Oakes would bring the children to me in her police car.
I greeted them all warmly of course and the children told me exactly what had happened. I praised Kali highly for spotting that they were being followed.
I praised all the children for having the wit to go to Grace’s house. And of course I was very pleased that the police had been so prompt.
The children were pleased to have had a ride in a police car.
Annie arrived while this was going on and the children told Annie what had happened.
PC Oakes left.
I telephoned Carol of course and I thanked her profusely.
About an hour later I had a telephone call from PC Oakes. Would I mind coming down to Meldon police station please? There had been an interesting development upon which they would like my comments.
I drove to Meldon police station leaving Dennis Wilkins in charge of cooking dinner. Helen Wilkins was home by now.
There is indeed a development.
The man arrested is of previous good character. His explanation for following the children is surprising. He says that he believes he is Max’s biological father!
The man’s intention was to locate where Max lived, and then to visit whatever house it was when Max was not there to introduce himself.
He would like to apologise for alarming the children. That had not been his intention.
PC Oakes said that the man does bear a striking physical resemblance to Max. His name is Stephen Wilbey.
Stephen’s story is that he lives in Willerton with his wife. About eight years ago Stephen and his wife had had a major falling out. Stephen was living away from Willerton and he had gone out for a drink in Meldon. Stephen had met Kate Meglin (he had the name right) in a pub. Stephen was lonely and he and Kate had got together.
After about a week together Stephen’s father in law had found Stephen. He had persuaded Stephen that for the sake of the children Stephen should go back to his wife. Stephen told Kate that he had to go back to his wife for the sake of the children, and he did.
Now some eight years later Stephen and his wife had split up again.
Stephen decided to look up Kate. Going back to where Kate had lived in Meldon Stephen learned Kate had had a baby and that she had moved to Tryton. The timings suggested that Kate had become pregnant by Stephen.
Following Kate to Tryton Stephen had not been able to find Kate. Kate was of course long dead, but Stephen did not know that.
Stephen reasoned that Kate’s child would very likely go to the local Tryton Junior School. Looking at the children in the playground he saw Max, who looks just as Stephen had looked at that age. Stephen could show photos of himself as a child of that age where he looks uncannily like Max.
The police are inclined to believe the man.
If Stephen Wilbey is not a sexual predator then there is nothing they should charge him with.
I was utterly shocked. I thought Max had been conceived at a pop festival. It had never occurred to me that Max’s biological father was a local man.
I could see Kate discovering that she was pregnant. Stephen had already ditched Kate.
Kate would have decided to have the baby. Kate had decided not to damage Stephen’s marriage by naming Stephen to social security as the father. Hence the story about the pop festival.
If Max was born in mid-August then he would have been conceived in mid-November. Do they have pop festivals in November? I don’t think so.
Stephen’s story sounds very possible. And Stephen has Kate Meglin’s name right.
This man is a problem.
I really do not want him to mess up Max’s life. I do not want him to mess up Emma’s and my relationship with Max.
I asked if I could see the man.
“Yes, Mr Hewson, but go easy on him. One of the reasons for the current difficulties with his wife is that they have a four year old son who is dying of leukemia. That would put a strain on any relationship.
“We have told him that Kate is dead. We have told him that you have adopted Max.
“He is a man of good character who has been arrested as a potential child molester. That is a lot to happen to any person in one day.”
Stephen does look astonishingly like Max. I could see that if there were an identity parade of one hundred men I would unhesitatingly have picked out Stephen as Max’s father.
“I have heard your story.
“You have made a mess of your own life.
“You have made a mess of your wife’s life.
“You have made a mess of your children’s lives.
“You got Kate pregnant and then you ditched her.
“Now you would like the opportunity to affect Max’s life?”
This was me going easy. I was pretty upset.
Stephen said that I was being unfair. Had Stephen known Kate was pregnant by him he might not have gone back to his wife. Now Stephen knows about Max he wants to do the right thing by Max.
“Oh, you want to pay seven years back maintenance for Max?”
Stephen had not meant this.
“I and my wife have adopted Max.
“We do not want you interfering in Max’s life or in our lives.
“You sound like a walking disaster area anyway. We do not want you to cause distress and pain for Max.”
Stephen was silent.
“I will do anything I need to do to protect Max. I understand you do not mean to do Max harm, but the fact is you already have.
“I want you to promise to just stay away from Tryton and to just stay away from Max.”
I was so upset that I was splitting infinitives.
“In return I will do something for you.”
“What is that?”
“You can put a letter together for Max to open on his eighteenth birthday. You can put in some photos of you as a child. And family information about your parents and grandparents and so forth. And your other family.
“And addresses of all the family members as they are today. When Max is eighteen I will give him the envelope and Max can decide if he wishes to find you. Knowing Max I am sure Max will wish to meet you, but I cannot promise for him.
“If you send – not take – the envelope to the Head Teacher at Tryton Junior and Infant School she will give it to me and I will keep it for Max.
“Just say on the envelope it is about Max Meglin.
“But I have to know you are not going to turn up at odd intervals causing distress and upset.
“I have killed people.”
Stephen looked alarmed.
“I will do anything to protect Max.”
“I do not think Max would thank me for killing his biological father.
“So I cannot do that.”
Stephen looked relieved.
“If you will make the promise to stay away, Max and I will continue to live locally. You have a strong chance of meeting when he turns eighteen a son who will probably wish to know you. If you cannot make that promise then I and my family will move away from Meldon and you will never ever see Max.
“It is your call.”
Stephen was silent for a few minutes. I could tell Stephen did not like me. Could he trust me?
“I see where you are coming from. I agree it is not a good idea to upset Max.
“Can I trust you to give the envelope to Max?”
We shook hands. Hopefully it will be years before I see him again.
I told PC Oakes what Stephen and I had agreed. She was content.
When I got back to the house I told the children I had spoken with the man.
I said that I had promised not to kill him and he had promised not to come to Tryton again. The children were happy with that.
Dennis had put a sparkler on Kali’s ice cream at dinner and everybody had given Kali a round of applause.
At half term Dennis did his work experience with Chris.
At the garage Chris gave Dennis lots of jobs to do. Much of it was car valeting, vacuuming and cleaning and washing cars. Dennis also learned how to steam clean an engine.
Rotating tyres is an important job that almost no car owner does. Chris had Dennis rotating tyres on every car that Chris prepared for the MOT, a test on older cars to make sure they are still roadworthy.
Dennis learned to fit batteries, change filters, change car fuses, repair exhausts, and all the common vehicle jobs. Dennis learned how to replace gaskets. And of course Dennis picked up from Chris how to listen to a car when it came into the yard.
“Use your eyes and your ears and your common sense”.
The placement here led on to Dennis getting into stock car racing with Chris’s cousin. Dennis enjoys everything about stock car racing.
I am so pleased for Emma that she has been apponted a Deputy Head while still under thirty. It is really only a short drive to work, not much longer than her current walk to work.