Jake sat on his bed, staring at the wall. The last hour had been manic. He loved his Mum and Dad but they had no idea of what he’d been through in the past ten years.
They’d put on a lovely spread. A big “welcome home” sign in the hallway, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours. Jake knew he should be grateful but it was just too much.
He sat there in total silence with a cold beer in his hand. This would have been great in a few weeks’ time but not now, not today. Today should have been all about quiet, getting used to the world again and NOT some big celebration.
What was the celebration for anyway? Him having served ten fucking years for a crime that he was blackmailed into? Him having to shit into a bucket in front of complete strangers and then empty it out in the morning? Him having to eat shit food yet smile at screws when they asked him if the dinner was “Okay”. Him having to spend his time with some of the vilest people that ever walked this fucking earth?
He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. It wasn’t their fault, was it, really? They were only doing their best. He loved them dearly, let’s face it, he did it for them, afraid what would happen to them if he didn’t.
His mind turned to the list. He went to put his hand into his jeans pocket but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me, you daft bugger.”
Jake recognised the voice but couldn’t put a name to it.
“Okay, come on in.”
A tall, well-groomed man walked in. Short, jet black hair, designer stubble, shirt, tie, immaculate grey suit, Jake thought he looked like he’d just stepped out of a catalogue. He recognised him.
“Oh my fucking good god, Stevie!”
“Hello mate, how you doing?”
For years Jake had hated Stevie for telling the Police that he thought he was on drugs. But Stevie wrote to him when he was in Chelmsford and apologised, Jake accepted it and Stevie had written to him once a month ever since.
Stevie made the first move.
“Come here you silly sod!”
Jake moved close and Stevie hugged him. When they eventually parted both of them had a tear in their eye. Jake laughed.
“Look at the pair of us, like a couple of queer boys, hugging and bloody crying.”
“What you doing hiding up here, everyone wants to say hello.”
Jake sat down and sighed.
“To be honest Stevie, it’s all a bit too much. I just wanted some time alone, just me, Mum and Dad, just some normality for a change. For ten years I’ve been banged up with lots of other people, today I just wanted some peace and quiet. Does that make sense?”
“Sure it does, look leave it to me, I’ll have a word, get everyone to leave, we can do this another time, no rush is there.”
“Cheers Stevie, still can’t believe you married that little bird from accounts and have got a baby.”
“Yeh, Stephanie, she’s great Jake, she knows me, understands me, puts up with me for fucks sake, which is a fucking miracle, cos I’m still a nightmare.”
“No change there then.”
“Look, she’s downstairs with the baby. Wanna see him?”
Jakes face lit up.
“Yeh please Stevie, I’d really like that.”
Stevie left and closed the door. A few seconds later he was back holding a small bundle in his arms.
“Here he is mate, eight weeks old, perfect in every way. We’re sorting out the christening in the next few weeks, you are coming aren’t you?”
The way Stevie said it sounded more like a statement than a question.
“Err yeh sure, be honoured mate.”
“You better; I want you to be his God Father.”
Jake was taken back.
“Don’t be stupid, I’ve just come out of nick.”
“And, what’s your point? Look, just think about it. Okay?””
Stevie moved forward and offered his son for Jake to hold.
Jake took a step backwards.
“Fuck off Stevie. I don’t know how to hold a baby.”
“Well you better learn quick cos I’m expecting you to babysit from time to time so me and Steph can have a night out!”
Jake took hold of the baby and held him in his arms. A big grin came onto his face.
“So what’s his name then Stevie?”
“Well, not sure if you’re gonna be thrilled or not, but we’ve called him Jake!”
“Gotcha! Don’t be daft, can’t call him after a convicted murderer now can we?”
The was a moments silence before Jake started to laugh. Quickly followed by Stevie.The baby woke up and started to cry.
Jake started to panic and handed him back to Stevie.
“See, even he’s frightened of me.”
“Bollocks he just need feeding, wants his Mum. Look, I’ll go downstairs and tell your Dad what’s up, we’ll get rid of everyone then you can have an evening to yourselves, give me twenty minutes and I’ll sort it.”
“Cheers mate, appreciate it.”
“No problem, what you doing tomorrow?”
“Not much, a few things to sort out during the day but should be done by about five, why?”
“Me and you, beers in the old pub at six o’clock, what’d you say?”
“Love to. Can you do me a favour Stevie?”
“Sure, name it.”
“You’re still working at Millers yeh?”
Stevie puffed his chest out with pride.
“Yep, National Sales Manager now Jake. The sons took over when old Mister Miller died a few years ago. I started out as a Sales rep and now I run the whole of the fucking Sales team. Why?”
Jake sat back down on the bed and looked up at Stevie.
“Could you let them know? I’m sorry.”