For the next few days we were back to our old routine of spending every spare minute at the hospital. My mother was at my father’s bedside almost every waking moment, going to Becca’s flat each night around eleven o’clock and returning each morning around nine. Rick, Becca and I managed to persuade her to let us handle the night shifts; she seemed to feel better about leaving my father for the night if one of us stayed at the hospital, and so we took it in turns to stay with him. Once Emma joined me in my all-night vigil; I fell asleep, and when I woke up at around four in the morning I discovered she and my father talking quietly together. When I asked her later what they had been talking about, she replied, “A lot of things – you and Mom, me, Meadowvale, nursing – we even talked about Christianity for a while”.
Almost every night, Wendy and Lisa came back with us to the hospital after supper; somehow, without it ever really being talked about, Wendy had taken it upon herself to provide a light supper for us at her house on Grays Road, which was quite close to the JR. The only one who raised any objection to this was Rick; we were cleaning up the dishes one night before going back, and he protested that she mustn’t put herself to all this expense and trouble. “Don’t be silly, Rick”, she replied quietly; “I’m the obvious person to look after it”.
“How’s that?” he asked.
“Well, I’m not really part of the family, am I? You people are all tied up with what’s going on at the hospital; you don’t want to be bothered with worrying about supper every night, and I’m happy to take care of it”.
“Not part of the family?” he replied, smiling across at me as I bent over to load the dishwasher. “Is that what Tom’s told you? I wouldn’t let him get away with that if I were you! Tom, have you really told Wendy that she’s not part of the family?”
I straightened up, leaning my hand against the kitchen counter. “Not that I can remember”, I replied, grinning mischievously at Wendy. “Emma”, I called, “did you tell Wendy that she wasn’t part of the family?”
Emma put her head around the door of the kitchen. “Not part of the family?” she replied with a frown; “If she’s not part of the family, why’s she doing all this cooking for us? And anyway, she’s Lisa’s Mom, and Lisa’s my sister, so that makes her part of my family, for sure!”
I saw a smile playing around Wendy’s lips as she looked at Rick and me. “Thank you”, she said softly.
“No”, Rick replied, “thank you”.
“So you and Mum are definitely a couple now, are you?” Lisa asked.
She and I had slipped out of the hospital for a breath of fresh air; a strong wind was driving the scudding clouds across the darkening sky overhead. She was wearing a leather jacket against the cold, and her hair was whipping around her face as we sat on a bench by the parking lot together.
I leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you about that”, I said; “I haven’t forgotten what I said to you at the lake at Mum and Dad’s: that you’d be one of the first to know if I came to love someone again. But after that, things got a little complicated between you and me”.
“I know”, she replied, “and I still don’t understand about you needing to meet Mickey. I still think you’re making a big mistake”.
“I know that, Lisa”. I sat back, stretched my arms across the back of the bench, and looked at her. “Are we going to be able to get past that?”
She looked away, and for a long time she said nothing. I waited, and eventually she spoke in the barely audible voice that she used when she was thinking out loud. “I know you’re a good and decent man, Tom”, she said. “God knows, you’re the closest thing to a decent father that I’ve ever had. I’m just scared”.
“But it doesn’t change anything for you?”
“Well, at the moment, nothing’s happening anyway. All my time is being taken up with Dad; I’m not answering Mickey’s phone calls, and to tell you the truth, for the past few days he hasn’t left me any messages. I’ll worry about him after…” I stopped suddenly; I had been going to say, “After Dad gets out of hospital”, but I had suddenly realized that I was no longer expecting him to get out.
“After…?” she prompted me gently.
I looked away; “You know what I mean”, I said softly.
She didn’t respond, but after a moment I felt her hand on mine. I glanced across and saw her looking at me; “I’m sorry”, she whispered.
I shook my head; “No need”, I replied.
We were quiet again for a few minutes while I struggled with my feelings. When I could trust myself to speak, I said, “So, back to your mum and me; yes, we’ve discovered that we love each other”.
“So does that mean…?”
“We don’t know what it means at the moment; we’re both sort of preoccupied with all the other crazy stuff that’s going on in our lives right now. I think we both want our future to be together, but there’s a lot we have to talk about yet”.
“I understand”. She looked away again, and in that same quiet voice she said, “Emma and I talked about it last night”.
“About your mum and me?”
“Yes; she seemed to be happy enough about it. Actually, I was a bit surprised that she had such a positive attitude; I thought she might resent it”.
“We’ve talked about that, Emma and me. She’ll always miss her mom; I know that. I miss her myself”.
“Still? Even though you and Mum…?”
“Yes”. I reached across and put my hand on her arm. “How about you?” I asked; “Are you okay with this?”
She turned her face toward me again. “I think so, Tom”, she whispered. “I’m still really confused by this whole thing with Mickey, but…”; her voice trailed off, and she looked down at her hands.
She shook her head. “I suppose I’ve watched the way you are with Mum, and the way you’ve been with Colin and me, and the sort of relationship you and Emma have, and…” she hesitated, biting her lip and looking away again.
“And, I suppose I feel really torn. On the one hand, I’d like to think there’s room for me in there somewhere. But on the other hand, you and Emma live your lives on the basis of such a big risk, and I don’t know if I’ve got the guts to do that”.
“A big risk?”
“Yes: trust. This whole thing with Mickey is a case in point; you seem prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t bring myself to do that. I don’t even want to do that”.
“I understand; I don’t really trust him either”.
“And yet you’re prepared to give him a chance?”
“Whether or not he responds to that chance, I think I should be willing to talk with him. It’s about my attitude, not his”.
“Emma and I talked about that, too”.
“You must have had a long conversation”.
“We did. I like Emma; she’s a good listener”.
“When were you talking with her?”
“When you and Mum were in with your dad last night. We went for a walk for about an hour. I told her all about life with Mickey, and all about how hard it is for me to believe in God. She was really good about it. She didn’t try to fix me or change me or anything”. She paused, and in the dim light I saw that she was frowning again. “The truth is, Tom”, she continued, “you and Emma might just be the most decent people I’ve ever run into. I really want to trust you; I’m just not finding it easy”.
I reached across and put my hand on hers; she hesitated for a second, and then tightened her grip around my fingers. We sat there for a few minutes without saying anything, while the cars came and went in the busy parking lot. Eventually she said, “I’m getting cold; can we go back inside?”
“Just one more thing, Lisa”.
“What is it?” she asked, turning in her seat to face me again.
I tightened my grip on her hand. “I promise I’ll never, ever do anything that puts either you or Colin in danger. I won’t take it upon myself to come to any sort of understanding with Mickey; I’ll just listen and keep the door open. If he asks me to consider any course of action, my first response will be to talk to you and Colin and your mum, and if any of you feel at all unsure about it, the answer will be ‘no’. I promise you that, Lisa”.
In the darkness I saw her look away suddenly; after a moment she ran the back of her free hand across her eyes, looked up at me again, smiled through her tears, and said, “Thanks”.
I shook my head, but she squeezed my hand and said, “No, I mean it – thanks. And thanks for putting up with me, too”.
“Putting up with you? That’s not been too hard”.
“Oh, you are such a liar!” she exclaimed. “One minute I’m friendly, and the next minute I’m swearing and yelling at you, and then the next minute I’m crying my eyes out!”.
I smiled at her. “That’s not what I see, Lisa”.
“No. I see a beautiful young woman, very smart, a hard worker, a person who’s been through some very difficult times over the past few years and somehow still manages to stand tall. And I know I had absolutely nothing to do with bringing you up, but I have to say that you make me very proud anyway”.
She looked at me, her eyes still wet with tears. “Thank you”, she whispered.
“You’re welcome”. I got to my feet slowly; “Are you ready to go back inside?”
“I think so”.
Emma and I got home at around eleven o’clock that night; we hung up our coats in the porch, and as we moved into the living room she said, “I’ll make the hot chocolate”.
“Okay”. I glanced at the answer phone; the message light was blinking steadily. “I’ll check for messages”, I said.
As Emma went out to the kitchen I moved over to the telephone table and punched the button on the answer phone. The machine beeped, and I heard the voice of Mickey Kingsley. “Tom”, he said; “Mickey here. I’m out of hospital now, and I’m going to be in Oxford over the weekend. I’ve got a contract to take the photos for a story someone’s doing on one of the colleges. Ring me at home, please; I’d like to meet with you while I’m there”.
Emma walked slowly back into the living room. “He’s coming to Oxford?” she said.
“Are you going to call him back?”
“I’ll call him in the morning before I go to work; it’s a bit late now”.
“What are you going to say?”
“I really don’t know”.
Emma had an early shift the next morning, and she left the house just after seven o’clock. I went out for a walk, and when I returned I put some toast in the toaster, poured myself a cup of tea and sat down to call Mickey. I keyed in the number of his London flat; I heard the phone ring three times before it was picked up, and to my surprise a woman’s voice said, “Hello?”
“I’m sorry”, I said. “Perhaps I’ve got the wrong number; I was looking for Mickey Kingsley”.
“Mickey’s gone to work already; can I take a message?”
“I’m sorry – who am I speaking to?”
“This is Marina”.
I hesitated, and then said, “And you would be…?”
“Who wants to know?”
“This is Tom Masefield calling from Oxford. Mickey left me a message last night; I got in late, and I’m returning his call at the earliest opportunity”.
“Ah, yes, sorry – we’ve talked about you. I’m Mickey’s girlfriend”.
I was astonished; “Mickey’s girlfriend?”
“What’s the matter?” she asked icily; “Isn’t he allowed to have one?”
“Of course – I’m sorry, he just never mentioned to me…”
“Have you got his mobile number?” she snapped.
“Ring him on his mobile then”.
She slammed the receiver down, and for a moment I sat there motionless with the phone in my hand. Then I shook my head, pressed the ‘end’ button, and put it down on the table. Getting to my feet, I went out to the kitchen, took my toast from the toaster and spread peanut butter on it. Taking it back into the living room, I sat down at the table again, picked up the phone, and punched in Wendy’s number.
“You’re up early this morning”, she observed.
“I’m always up early; I’m just not in the habit of making early phone calls”.
“Did you know that Mickey has a girlfriend?”
“No, I didn’t know that. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; he’s a handsome devil, and he’s never been able to go without sex for any length of time. How did you find out?”
“There was a message for me to ring him when we got home last night. I rang his house this morning, a couple of minutes ago, and a woman answered. When I asked who she was, she said she was Mickey’s girlfriend – Marina, I think she said”.
“She stayed the night; typical. What did Mickey want?”
“He wasn’t there – he’d already left for work, but I knew what he wanted; he’d already told me in the message he left last night. He’s coming to Oxford this weekend, and he wants to meet with me”.
“He’s coming to Oxford?” I heard the sudden chill in her voice.
“I’m not sure; I haven’t spoken to him yet”.
She was silent for a moment, and then she said, “Could you do something for me, Tom?”
“Could you find out exactly when he’s going to be here?”
“Are you going to get out of town?”
“Yes; I’ll ring Rees and arrange to take Lisa and Colin down to Chelmsford. I’ll also ask Rees to ring Mickey and lay down the law”.
“Wendy, are you all right?”
“He’s never done this before, Tom”, she replied in a voice suddenly devoid of emotion; “He’s never come to Oxford since he got out of jail”.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Just find out when he’s going to be here”.
“I will. I love you”.
“I love you too”.
I met Mickey for morning coffee on Saturday at the Randolph Hotel. I had stipulated that it be fairly early, as I had schoolwork to do and I also wanted to spend as much time as possible at the hospital with my father. Mickey had readily agreed; he had work to do and only a weekend to do it in, he said, so why didn’t we have breakfast together? I had been on the brink of agreeing when I suddenly found myself feeling very strange about the thought of Mickey, the man who had once broken the jaw of the woman I had come to love, treating me to breakfast at the Randolph. I had used Emma’s early shift that day as an excuse; I wanted to have breakfast with my daughter before she went to work, I explained, and I proposed coffee at 9.30 instead.
If Mickey had wanted to intimidate me by his success in his chosen profession, he could not have chosen a better location to do it. The drawing room at the Randolph had chandeliers hanging from a high ceiling, polished wood paneling on the walls, a large fireplace, and elegant tables covered with white tablecloths. It was already filling up, even at this early hour; the maitre de directed me toward the far corner of the room, and as I approached the table I saw Mickey sitting there alone, a cup of coffee at his elbow, reading the newspaper.
I stopped for a moment, looking at the man who had loomed so large in my past, and far larger in the lives of Wendy and her children. He was still wearing his curly hair long, but it had gone almost completely grey, and he was wearing a pair of reading glasses as he studied the newspaper. There were lines around his eyes, but with his long patrician nose, high cheekbones, and cleft chin, he was wearing his years well. Wendy was right, I thought; he was still a handsome devil, and the clothes he was wearing – casual, yet obviously expensive – were carefully chosen to underline the youthfulness of his appearance.
He glanced up from his newspaper, saw me standing there, and got to his feet. “Welcome, Tom”, he said, holding out his hand with a smile.
I took his outstretched hand; “How are you feeling, Mickey?” I asked.
“Better, thanks. You’re looking well; the years have been good to you. Have a seat”.
“That would be great”.
He signaled for a waiter, ordered a second cup of coffee, and then turned to face me again. “So – still teaching, then?”
“Yes, I seem to have settled into it”.
“Bit of a difference between Canada and here, I should think?”
“Canada’s a little more laid back. Discipline’s a bit better here, but I don’t care for wearing a tie all day long”.
“Really? I’d have thought you’d fit right in there – isn’t your father a lawyer or something?”
“Yes, but I didn’t pick up a lot of my habits from him”.
The waiter arrived with my coffee; he set it down on the table, and I thanked him as he turned to go. Mickey waited until I had taken a sip, and then looked at me and said, “So, you and Wendy are a couple, now, are you?”
I cradled my coffee cup in my hand, eyed him for a moment, and said, “Tell me about Marina”.
“What do you want to know?”
“Well, maybe I’ve been misreading you, but over the past few months you’ve called me a couple of times, and whenever you’ve talked about Wendy, and made insinuations about a developing relationship between us, you’ve sounded rather jealous and possessive. If I’d been going on your tone in our phone conversations, the last thing in the world I’d have expected would have been that you had a girlfriend”.
He avoided my gaze. “Wendy’s obviously moving on”, he replied; “Why shouldn’t I?”
“No reason in the world – except that when you talked to me, you didn’t sound like a man who was moving on”.
“And what about you – are you two moving in together?”
“Is her newfound religion making it difficult for you?”
For a moment I didn’t answer; I sipped at my coffee, looking at him steadily. Putting the cup down on the table, I said, “What do you know about what happened in my life after I went to Canada?”
“Nothing. I know that you came back with a daughter; I’m assuming she has a mother somewhere in Canada”.
“She had a mother in Canada, yes. My wife Kelly died of cancer nearly three years ago”.
He stared at me for a moment, and then said, “Well, I put my foot in my mouth with that one, didn’t I? I’m very sorry; I didn’t know”.
“No, and there are a few other things you don’t know, either. Kelly and I met in my first couple of years in Saskatchewan. Her last name was Reimer, and she came from a Mennonite family. She’d moved away from her family faith as a young teenager, but was on her way back into it when we met. I got curious about that, too, and I ended up making that faith journey with her. We lived our married life as practicing Christians, and Emma and I have carried that on. So when you asked if Wendy’s newfound religion was getting in the way of something – well, you couldn’t have been more wrong about that, either”.
He smiled ruefully; “Shall we start again?” he asked.
“I think that would be a good idea”.
“Tell me what you’ve been up to since the last time we met, Tom?”
So I told him about my move to Meadowvale and how the community had adopted me; I told him about Will Reimer and his family, and my growing relationship with them, leading eventually to my marriage to Kelly. I told him about Emma’s birth and Kelly’s first bout with cancer, about our trips to England and our involvement in Third World missions. I told him about her death and how Emma and I had dealt with it, about my father’s cancer and our decision to come to England, and about my surprise at finding Colin in my class, and meeting Wendy again.
“Quite a story”, he said when I was finished.
“I don’t know – it seems pretty ordinary to me. What about you – what have you been up to?”
“No need to play ignorant with me, Tom”, he replied; “I’m sure Wendy’s given you the gory details”.
“To a certain extent, yes”.
“I lost my marriage, and I went to jail, but I’ve managed to crawl out of that hole and I’m actually doing quite well for myself at the moment”.
“I hear your career’s going well”.
“I’ve been lucky; I got some good contracts early on, and my name got around. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for going to hot spots and taking photographs; I tend to be one of the first ones newsmagazines call on when they want pictures taken in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. You know – all the places you need to wear a flak jacket”.
“You were in Afghanistan too?”
“I was. Actually, I was there several times before the invasion. One of the American magazines did a feature on the Taliban, and I did the photography for them. I’ve been in the Sudan a few times, too, and I was in Rwanda while the genocide was going on”.
“It sounds like an exciting life”.
“Well, this is the first time I’ve actually been injured in the pursuit of photographs, and I have to tell you, it’s caused me to think again about my exciting life. I don’t know if I want to go back into that sort of situation”.
“I guess not”.
“Still, I’ve done well financially; I can afford to take it easy for a while”.
“Except that you’re not taking it easy this weekend – you’re working, and rather soon after your release from hospital, too”.
“Yes, well, I wouldn’t have taken the job if it hadn’t been in Oxford”.
“It gave me an excuse to come up and see you”.
“So this whole work trip was just a pretext?”
“To a certain extent, yes”.
I put my coffee cup down on the table slowly. “I don’t like the feeling of being manipulated, Mickey”, I said.
“I’m sorry you see it that way – I wasn’t trying to manipulate you”.
“When someone hides part of the truth from me in order to get me to do what they want, I call that manipulation”.
“Call it what you like”, he replied, his tone suddenly cold.
We looked at each other in silence for a moment, and then I saw him glance behind me. “Ah – Marina’s here”, he said.
“Yes – she came up for the weekend with me”. He stood up slowly, a smile spreading on his face, and I turned in my chair to see a woman coming toward the table. I guessed her to be in her late thirties; her brown hair hung loose behind her back, and she was wearing designer jeans and a white jacket, her face discreetly made up. I got to my feet as Mickey took her hand; “Tom Masefield, may I introduce Marina Spencer?” he said. “Marina, this is Tom”.
She took my hand with a dazzling smile; “I’m delighted to meet you”, she said in a perfect BBC accent.
“Likewise”, I replied; “Sorry we got off to a bad start on the phone the other day”.
“I’m sorry, too”.
We sat down again, and Mickey signaled for a waiter. “Coffee?” he asked Marina.
“How’s yours, Tom?”
“I’d enjoy another cup, if you’re ordering, thanks”.
He ordered fresh coffee for us all, and then turned to Marina and said, “Tom was just filling me in on everything that’s been happening since he went to Canada all those years ago – it’s a fascinating story. He’s been teaching in a small town for over twenty years”.
“I take it you enjoyed it?” she asked me.
“I did, actually. The place became home”.
“Have you got a family?” she asked.
“One daughter. I’m a widower, actually”.
“Oh – I’m sorry”.
“What about you?” I asked.
“I’m a fashion designer of sorts”, she replied; “I own a little company in London. Never married, no children, but I’ve got lots of uncles and aunts and cousins and nieces and nephews and all that”.
“Are you from London?”
“Yes, I was born and raised there, but my family’s from the Midlands – Northamptonshire, actually. I’ve still got lots of relatives there”.
“And how long have you two…?”
“…been together?” Mickey completed my sentence. “We’ve known each other for a few years, actually. I did some work for some of Marina’s relatives – her family’s quite aristocratic, and they wanted some photographs taken on an estate of theirs in the Midlands. I was between jobs at the time, and they contacted me about it. I went up for the weekend, and that’s where I met Marina”.
“We kept in touch”, she continued, “and I moved in with Mickey about nine months ago”.
A waiter appeared silently at our table, a tray of coffee cups in his hand. We waited while he set the cups on the table; I thanked him, and he nodded and slipped away without a word.
“So how are you getting on with Lisa?” Mickey asked me.
“Fine; I’m enjoying her, actually”.
“She’s done well for herself at Oxford, I hear?”
“She’s very bright, yes”. I took a sip of my coffee, glanced at my watch, and said, “I can’t stay for too long, Mickey – was there something you specifically wanted to talk about with regard to Colin?”
He nodded; “He’s my son”, he said, “and I’m very sorry that I’m not allowed to see him”.
“He emails you, does he?”
“Occasionally. Usually I have to prod him a bit to get a reply”. He hesitated, gave a little frown, and then said, “Tom, I know you think very highly of Wendy, so I don’t want to cast aspersions or anything, but the fact is that she’s done a good job of turning Colin against me”.
I looked him in the eye; “I think you did a pretty good job of that yourself”, I replied softly.
“I’m not surprised that she’s said the same sorts of things to you”.
I sipped at my coffee slowly, trying to gather my thoughts. Shifting a little in my chair, I said, “Here’s what I know. A couple of years after Lisa was born, you started hitting Wendy, and you did it continually for the next twelve years, sometimes when you were alone with her and sometimes in front of the children. Also, when you were traveling overseas you often cheated on her with other women. Wendy of course took the blame for a lot of this, as abused women tend to do, but she drew the line after twelve years of abuse when you attacked her daughter as well. Colin’s afraid of you, not because of anything that Wendy’s told him, but because of what he remembers about life at home with you, and Lisa hates you – in fact, when she found out that I was even having a conversation with you, it came very close to wrecking my relationship with her”.
He shook his head; “I can see they’ve poisoned your mind, Tom”.
“I should think so!” Marina added hotly; “I’ve been living with him for nine months, and I’ve never seen any of this so-called abusive behaviour!”
I put my coffee cup down on the table. “Look”, I said, “I don’t want to get into an argument with either of you. The facts about the injuries Wendy and Lisa sustained the last time you assaulted them are a matter of medical record, Mickey, and you know that. Still, you tell me that you’re trying to get your life together and that you want to have some contact with your son in the future, and I think that’s good. But it’s not going to happen if you continue to deny responsibility for what’s happened between the two of you”.
“So you deny that she’s influenced Colin in any way, do you?” Marina asked.
“Have you met Wendy?”
“Of course not; Mickey’s not allowed to have any contact with her”.
“Then I think you should reserve judgement”.
“How do you mean?”
“I mean that I think you should reserve judgement. You’re basically saying to me that I’ve only got Wendy’s word to back up the abuse stories. Well, in fact, that’s not true – I’ve heard them from Colin and Lisa too, and Wendy’s brother Rees was the one who found Wendy and Lisa after Mickey’s last assault on them”. She opened her mouth to protest, but I held up my hand and said, “Hear me out. You’ve implied that I’ve only got Wendy’s word to go on; I respond to that by reminding you that you’ve only got Mickey’s word to go on to back up his version of the story. And if you tell me that you love Mickey and you know he’d never lie to you, I’d respond that I love Wendy and I know she wouldn’t lie to me, either”.
“But she did lie to you once, Tom”, Mickey said; “She lied about Lisa”.
“That’s different”, I replied defensively; “She did that because she was afraid of me getting angry if I found out the truth”.
“Still, you can’t say she’s never lied to you”.
“True, but I think that’s in a different category”.
“Of course you do”, Marina replied; “It’s no surprise that you would take her side”.
“Well, let me ask you this”, I said to Mickey; “Do you deny the court record from your trial? Do you deny the truth of the medical records from that assault on Wendy and Lisa?”
“You know I can’t deny them”, he replied, avoiding my gaze; “All I’m saying is that they were more of an isolated incident than Wendy made out. As I told you once before, she had a very good lawyer, and the courts are always biased against the husband in cases like this”.
“So we’re basically at an impasse”, I said. “You maintain that Wendy’s lying about the extent of the abuse; she maintains that she’s not. Meanwhile, you want me to work for a reconciliation between you and Colin”.
He laughed grimly; “I’m not simple enough to believe that you would do that”, he replied. “All I’m asking is that you not get in the way”.
“How could I possibly get in the way? I’m not his Dad and I have absolutely no authority or influence in his life”.
“Really? Are you sure?”
“What do you mean?”
“I think you may actually have a growing influence in his life. In the few emails I’ve had from him in the last few months, he’s spoken very highly of you”.
“Still, if I tried to put any pressure on him to do something he didn’t want to do, he’d baulk – and he’d have every right to do it”.
“So you won’t try to influence him against me?”
“I think reconciliation between you and Colin would be a good thing, Mickey. I just don’t think it can happen unless you’re willing to admit the truth about the past – to yourself, and to him. I understand why you don’t want to do that. I know how hard it would be to you to have to admit the damage you’ve done in Wendy’s life and the lives of her children”.
I saw a momentary flash of anger in his eyes, but it was gone almost instantly, replaced by his familiar polished smile. “Well, as I said, I’m not surprised that you believe everything Wendy’s told you – and I can’t blame you for it. Just keep an open mind, please, and remember – it’s not wrong for a man to want to see his son occasionally”.
“I’m sure it’s not”, I replied, draining my coffee cup. “Look, I have to go”, I said, getting to my feet; “My Dad’s very weak, and I need to go to the hospital to spend some time with him”.
“Of course”, he replied, standing up and holding out his hand. “Thank you for coming out, Tom; I hope things go better for your father”.
“Thanks”. I shook his hand, then turned to Marina and said, “It was a pleasure meeting you”.
“And you”, she replied, but the expression on her face was cold.
“Keep in touch, Tom”, Mickey said.
“I won’t promise anything”, I replied; “My life is rather hectic at the moment. Well, I’ll be on my way, then”. I smiled at them both again, then turned and made my way out.