December 28th 2004. It was still just 48 hours since Ray Samuels had been found wandering along a deserted road in the early hours of the morning in Buxton Derbyshire. Things had moved fast. He was back in his home town and had been re-united with his family and today everything was in place for the press conference.
Tom Lucas and DCI Spencer had left the Travel Lodge along with Ray, Laura, Stacey and Eddie Samuels. They arrived at Romford Police Station at 07.20.
They met with Commander Swan in a large room that had been cleared overnight ready for the conference. Swan took control.
“Welcome everyone, today is very important for all of us, I want to make sure that everything goes according to plan and the whole thing doesn’t turn in to some kind of farce. So I need everyone to be clear what we are here to do today. DCI Spencer will hold the press conference, he will be the one that tells the press about Ray’s disappearance in 1982, he will then tell how Ray was found in Derbyshire. He will go through the tests that we carried out to establish that it is indeed Ray Samuels. There will be pictures of Ray being shown on a large screen behind him; these will be the same pictures that we released back in 1982 when Ray went missing. No one is to speak while DCI Spencer is going through this. He will then take questions, the first round of questions are to be answered only by DCI Spencer. After this he will ask Ray to say a few words and answer some questions. There may be a few questions aimed at Laura and Stacey, answer them if you can, if you do not want to answer them just ask DCI Spencer to answer them. We do not want it to last more than twenty to thirty minutes. Is everyone clear on what is going to happen?”
Everyone nodded. Swan continued.
“Good. Ray, when this finishes, the press will want you to give them your story. They’ll all want it, there’ll be a frenzy, each paper trying to get you to do an exclusive. Take your time before you decide. My advice would be to go away for a few days and let everything sink in before you make any decisions. Laura and Stacey, you’ll also be asked the same from the press. They may even decide to camp outside your house, they’ll follow you when you go out, for the next few weeks you will be unable to lead a normal life. You should be prepared for that.”
Eddie Samuels spoke up.
“Everything has been decided, Ray’s coming home with me. He’ll stay with me for as long as he wants, he’ll be safe with me. Stacey, why don’t you stay with your Mum for a while?”
Laura and Stacey agreed.
“Good, that’s all set then. We have about an hour now before it starts. Grab some coffee and something to eat from the table in the corner. I’ll see you back here in an hour.”
Swan left the room and beckoned Spencer to go with him.
Ray held Laura’s hand and smiled.
“It’s all going to be fine Laura, you’ll see. It’s best if Stacey stays with you for a while, the press will drive her mad, she’ll be much better off with you. Have you spoken with Jim yet?”
“Yes, I spoke with him last night, he’s been great, he understands, you’ll like him Ray, he’s a nice man.”
“If you like him, so do I.”
They smiled at each other and Ray lent forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek. It wasn’t passionate, more the kind of kiss that a boy gives his Mum.
“I do love you Ray, you know that don’t you, it’s just…”
He put his fingers against her lips to stop her saying any more.
“I know Laura, I know.”
Stacey saw the two of them and smiled, it was great to have her Dad back, even if he was the same age as her. How bizarre was that? But she had a problem, he was gorgeous, the most gorgeous man she had ever seen, how could she come to terms with this. She was completely smitten by her old man.
The room was full of people by 08.30, there were at least twenty newspapers covering the story and at least four of them were from abroad. There were also three film crews there as well, BBC, ITV and SKY were all covered. Swan had done his job well, every paper and every main television company were there. They didn’t know what to expect but they knew it was something big.
They all took their seats and at exactly 09.00 it began.
DCI Spencer started.
“Thank you all for coming today, we wanted to let you know of recent events regarding a missing person from back in 1982. Ray Samuels went missing while going out for a long run, today I can confirm that he has been found safe and sound.”
Ray Samuels walked in to the room and sat next to DCI Spencer. There was a stunned silence as he entered the room interrupted only by a large number of camera clicks going off.
He was closely followed by Laura and Stacey. They took their seats either side of Ray.
An excited journalist sitting at the front suddenly jumped up and spoke.
“But he looks the same as he did when he went missing. Why hasn’t he aged?”
“That’s still a mystery to us. Mr Samuels has no recollection of the events but we’re hoping that in time his memory will return and he’ll be able to give us more information.”
Another journalist stood up.
“So Mr Samuels went missing in 1982 and was found twenty two years later, yet hasn’t aged at all?”
Again Spencer answered.
“That seems to be the case, yes,”
Then the room went ballistic. There were cameras clicking, people shouting out questions from every corner of the room. Spencer put his hands up and shouted.
“Please, please, one at a time!”
A young woman spoke.
“Mr Samuels, how do you explain your appearance?”
Spencer nodded to Ray that it was okay to speak.
“I’m afraid I can’t, one minute I was running in Romford, the next thing I remember was being picked up by a Doctor in Derbyshire.”
“DCI Spencer, how certain are you that this is indeed the same Mr Ray Samuels?”
“Trust me, we have done all the necessary tests, we are one hundred per-cent sure.”
Questions started to come fast and furious. Spencer handled them well and kept control. Laura and Stacey were asked how they felt about Rays return. They kept their answers short and to the point. After about twenty minutes Spencer spoke up.
“Okay everyone, that’s it for now. A full press release has been prepared and a copy is available on the main desk, thank you”
“Signor please, please signor just one more question, I am from CANAL television in Spain, one more question please.”
It was a small Spanish lady from a far corner of the room.
“Okay, but this is the last one.”
Spencer sat down again.
“I apologise for my English, it is not very good. Ray, how does it feel to be back with your wife after being away for such a long time.?”
She was right, her English was poor, she spoke very slowly and quietly.
Then something happened that no one was expecting, not even Ray himself. He answered her question. But in perfect fluent Spanish.
Eddie Samuels stood at the back of the room. He had his head down low and eyes closed. He was clutching his Bible and speaking the same words over and over again. It was a passage from the Bible.
“He that is baptized shall be saved, in God’s name he will speak, speak with new tongues.”