Please remember this story is being written and posted 'live' every day. I am writing today's episode and posting it here without benefit of a read-through, let alone an edit. I don't usually work this way and this experiment is exciting and different for me, not my normal work-ethic at all. To that end, please forgive me any typos, grammar errors and anything that you may think should have been picked up in an edit - it WILL be picked up in the edit.
I've already spoken with a publisher about getting this story published - possibly after Christmas, we'll see how it goes.
“Do we have a plan yet?” Robin asked.
“Almost there,” Justin said. “I have a few more favours to call in and then we can start making the first moves.”
“Are you going to let us know what those ‘first moves’ are likely to be?” Robin asked.
Ash looked from one to the other as they spoke, it was like a tennis match. They both seemed to be taking it seriously and she thought she should too. She listened and tried to make head or tail of what was going on.
“Well, Ash is staying here for as long as she wants to. There’s too much shit going on at home for her to deal with as well as this,” Justin said.
Robin looked at Ash and gave her a little, reassuring smile. “It’s going to be boring for you, stuck in the house all day,” he said.
“Why am I stuck in the house?” she asked.
“Well, you don’t want your mum or dad finding out where you are. They’re bound to miss you.”
“You reckon?” she snorted derision at Robin’s concern. “They won’t miss me, and even if they do, the chances of them reporting me gone are slim to none.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Robin said.
“Anyway, I’ve already been out and people that know me have taken no notice. You might be getting used to my bald head, but no one else seems to know it’s me,” she said. “Plus, I keep my head down and walk like I’m going somewhere on an errand or something. As long as I’m not hanging about… what do you call it, Justin?”
“Loitering with intent?” Justin said.
“Yeah, that. As long as I don’t look like I’m up to something, I’m invisible. A scruffy-looking kid with worn-out shoes, probably needs a good meal and a warm bed… who would notice me?”
“Fucking hell Ash, you’re a bloody cynical kid. How old are you and what the hell have you gone through to get so jaded with life?”
“You want a list?” she said and grinned.
“Too fucking clever for your own good, you are.”
“Yeah well, I’ve got a few favours of my own that will need paying back, so I’m learning as I go.”
“I told you, you don’t owe me anything.”
“I know you told me that, but do you always do as you’re told?” Ash said with a grin wide enough to make Justin believe she was going to be all right.
No matter what the world chucked at her. She’d either dodge it or deal with it, but even if it knocked her down, she’d not allow it to keep her down unless she was dead.
Unfortunately, Justin also knew the latter was a very real possibility, especially under the circumstances and dealing with the people she was about to encounter.
Mike would seem like a friendly uncle at the side of some of the people Justin knew.
The phone rang and Justin reached for it, clicking the green button to answer it. He put his finger to his lips to indicate Robin and Ash should be quiet.
The one-sided conversation was not as confusing as you’d have thought it would be. Justin was adept at these kinds of conversations and he made sure he spoke clearly so the kids could follow the call.
“Yes, I’m the one that called, Mr Fitz-Stanley. I have information on your son, his whereabouts and the guy that’s keeping him junked up.”
“Yes, I believe he’s safe for the moment. One of my colleagues has moved him to a safe house.”
“No, not a ‘safehouse’, just a house that’s relatively safe.”
“No, I’ll get him here, to my house.”
“No, I’m not prepared to give you that information just yet.”
“Yes, I’m quite aware that you can easily get hold of all my details just from my phone number and I also realise that you probably have already got that information.”
“Yes, there are other people in this room with me, which is exactly why I’m making all your questions and my responses to those questions crystal clear.”
“I’ll keep you informed.”
Justin clicked the red button to end the call.
“Well that went better than expected,” he said. “I didn’t get called any nasty names or threatened with my legs being broken, so it’s all good.”
Ash nodded but she could see his hands shaking as he put the phone handset on the table.
“Mr Fitz-Stanley is gonna owe you one HUGE favour…” Ash said.
“Yeah and he knows it, too. I don’t think he likes it, but he knows. That guy may be a big deal in the political and celebrity world, he may have a lot of influence and even more money, but no one has been able to locate his son until now.”
“But he’s taking you serious?” Robin said.
“Yeah… because I haven’t asked for money.”
“I’m starting to realise how valuable favours are,” Ash said.
“You’re not wrong, kid,” Justin said. “The right favour, owed by the right person can open doors for you that not even a lottery win could.”
“What now then?” Robin said.
“Well, now we have to make our moves,” Justin said. “Ash, nip out as soon as it gets dark, find out if Nigel has moved out. If he has, find him. If he hasn’t, and he’s awake, get some supplies to him. Whatever he wants. You know where certain dealers keep their stash, but don’t take it all, don’t let Nigel have enough to get wasted again, it’s too dangerous. Just get enough to keep the withdrawals at bay.”
Ash nodded and went toward the door.
“Where are you going? I said go after dark.”
“I know, but don’t you think they’ll be keeping an eye on the house coming up to dark? If I’m already out, there’s no way they can follow me.”
She left with a smile as Justin called after her, “Clever little bleeder!”