The final chapter of my work-in-progress novel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Visit https://lunasonline.wordpress.com/wip-novel/ to read from the start.
Pierre and Lucy stood hand in hand by the large wrought iron gates of Princes Park. Already the sound of amplified music was pounding away inside. People from the local area and beyond were converging on the Caribbean carnival. Both of them were dressed to the nines as seemed suitable for the occasion. Pierre was in his signature black, while Lucy was wearing the beautiful flamenco dress which Cynthia had now given to her as a present. At her neck was the ruby necklace, sparkling richly in the sunlight.
The necklace had arrived in a neatly-wrapped brown paper package at the beginning of the week. There was a short note from Verushka with it:
“My dear Lucy, thank you for helping me. I return the ruby to you with my love and best wishes. By the time you receive this, I will have thrown myself on the mercy of the British Embassy in London. I’m hoping it will be possible for me to defect.
That was all. Lucy fervently hoped the Verushka would get her wish. Pierre was pleased at the return of the ruby. “Although she could’ve put the amethysts in too,” he’d said ruefully. Lucy had shot him a warning glance. “I thought you were leaving all that behind?” Pierre had nodded and that had been the end of the conversation.
They were due to meet up with Gina before heading over to where Godrell and the rest of the Kingston Jazz Cats were setting up in the central marquee. The guys had only arrived in Liverpool the previous day and no one apart from Devon had seen them or spoken to them yet. Mollie and Marie were also on their way, but neither they, nor Pierre was sure whether Pauline would be coming. She’d told Pierre she really wasn’t sure.
Pierre was slowly starting to get to know Pauline. He’d met her twice already in the space of the past week. It was obvious to both of them at their first meeting, that they’d never have a conventional mother and son relationship, but after a few tears, mostly Pauline’s, Pierre had understood he needed to forgive her for abandoning him as a baby. Later, as he lay on the couch in his flat, going over what she had told him, he realised how young and vulnerable she’d been then. And she was such a nice, honest, straightforward woman; what a contrast to Aurora. It was the right time for a fresh start.
Pauline had invited him around to her house again the following afternoon. Pierre made up his mind to give her a nice present to show her that he’d forgiven her. The very fact that he accepted that he had, had taken a great weight off him, he realised. And so that morning he’d paid a visit to Ruth at the art shop to enquire about the painting he’d commissioned.
Ruth and Jules were both in the shop when he arrived. As he’d pushed open the door, he wondered with some trepidation whether they’d remember his nocturnal visit to the basement, or whether the effect of Patterson’s mysterious aura had actually worked. It certainly hadn’t stopped Connor fling the jade camel in the river.
But he need not have worried. As he started to apologise to Ruth over having failed to keep his appointment to meet her the previous week, she seemed confused. She furrowed he brow, slowly remembering ‘The Poet’ and her father’s friend, Phil bring the painting back to her. She still seemed rather vague, but as soon as Pierre started counting out her fee in crisp twenty pound notes, Ruth beamed back at him, asking Jules to go and fetch the painting from the back room.
He returned, smiling a couple of minutes later, carrying not only the painting, but a key. “Look what I found,” he said, laying it on the counter. “It was on the floor by the table.” Ruth picked up the key and looked at it. “The cellar key, I thought it had disappeared; how strange for it to turn up like that.” The two looked at each other in confusion as if half remembering something.
“Sorry, Mr Bezukov, I seem to be a little hazy today,” she said, handing him the painting. “Thanks for your custom.” As he left the shop, Pierre was keenly aware of the two of them staring after him. He would not be returning.
Pauline was delighted with the gift, insisting that he took down ‘that awful hunting scene’ and hanging the new painting in its place over the fire place.
“It looks like a Turner. It’s beautiful.” Pauline stood back to admire it.
“It’s a copy,” Pierre said hastily, “a legitimate copy, of course.” He’d never thought he’d here himself say that.
“Lucy love!” Mollie came tottering over from a black cab which had just drawn up by the gates. She looked at both of them approvingly. “You scrub up well. That’s the dress you were wearing in that posh casino, isn’t it?”
Lucy nodded. “That’s a lovely dress you’ve got on Mrs. J.”
Mollie was wearing a glorious confection of a dress in a silky fabric, decorated with big bright tropical flowers, with a flower bedecked wide-brimmed hat. Marie, who was at her side, was also decked out in summer finery, although of a slightly subtler appearance.
At that moment, Gina and Gary appeared from inside the park. Mollie looked disapprovingly at Gina. “You could’ve put a frock on.”
Gina rolled her eyes. “I’d probably never wear it again, Ma. Anyway, it’s bad enough having to wear a skirt to work every day. You wouldn’t think…”
“But you look very nice Gary,” Mollie interrupted. Gary grinned.
“I thought Bob was coming,” said Lucy.
“He is. He’s bringing Cynth and Connor in the van. You know Cynth won’t walk this far.” Gina replied. “She wasn’t quite ready when we left.”
Mollie looked at her watch. “Well we can’t wait any longer,” she said, linking her arm through Marie’s.”
Marie looked around. “Shouldn’t we give Pauline a few more minutes?”
“We can hang on for her, can’t we Lucy? said Pierre, “although I’m not sure she’s coming.”
“Oh, she can catch us up if she does.” Mollie started walking, dragging Marie along with her. “Come on Gina,” she called over her shoulder.
Gina looked at Pierre. “I think we’d better go; even if we don’t know Godrell from Adam, no man should be left to Ma’s mercies without back up.”
“Must be a bit daunting having to meet two new parents within a week, eh mate.” Gary slapped Pierre on the back. “As well as finding a random half-sister,” he continued throwing his arm around Gina’s shoulder and kissing her cheek.
Pierre grinned and took Lucy’s hand. “Okay, let’s meet him.”
They crossed the park to where various stalls had been set out. People were milling about and children were playing tag among the tents and trees. They followed the sound of the music to the main marquee. Inside the band members were busy with their preparations. Marie spotted Devon taping down a bunch of cables with a big roll of gaffer tape. He grinned broadly when he saw the little group.
“Guys, guys,” he shouted out approaching the temporary stage. “Hey Godrell, man, it’s your family!”
Godrell’s saxophone let out a strange squawk as he turned around. He glanced over his shoulder at Dixon, before setting his instrument down and coming to the edge of the stage. Mollie stepped forward and Gina watched as their eyes met. Her mother stood frozen; lost for words. Godrell halted for a split second, then skipped nimbly down to meet her. Molly extended her hand; her mouth opened as she prepared to speak, but nothing came out.
Godrell took hold of both her hands. “Mollie, it is you, isn’t it? Hey man, how have you been all o’ these years?” He leant forward and kissed her on both cheeks. Then he stood back, still holding her hands. “You are lookin’ gorgeous, if you don’t mind me sayin’.”
A moment later, Dixon jumped down from the stage and strode towards Marie. His head sunk into his shoulders, as he stopped in front of her. “Marie?” She nodded. He put his hand on his chest. “It’s Dixon. Do you remember me?”
“Yes, Dixon, of course I remember you.” Marie said quietly as she smiled up at him.
Mollie looked round for Gina, beckoning her with a tilt of her head. Gina grabbed Pierre’s arm. “Come on, we’ll do this together.”
Godrell’s eyes lit up on meeting his two grown up children for the first time. He’d heard about Gina from Devon, but Pierre…a son. He hugged them both to him, then grinned at Mollie and winked. “I’ll see you after the show.”
The marquee was filling up. Devon signalled to Godrell and he and Dixon returned to the stage. Devon had reserved a couple of tables for his special guests. As they took their seats, Gina looked over to the entrance where a small commotion had erupted. Bob was simultaneously apologising to a woman and reigning Fingers in. Connor appeared and said something in the woman’s ear which seemed to calm the situation. Finally Cynthia appeared in a dazzling blue silk dress, carrying strappy sandals in her hand. Gina waved and beckoned them over.
The band struck up. After a few bars Pierre stood up and took Lucy’ hand. “Let’s dance.”
A few weeks later Gina and Gary were sitting compatibly at opposite ends of the couch. ‘The Price is Right’ had just finished, and Gary was looking forward to Match of the Day where Liverpool were about to defend their place at the top of the league at the start of the football season
“D’you wish you’d gone out there too, G?”
Gina looked up from the law book she was studying. “No, why d’you ask?”
“I dunno, Jamaica sounds kind of exciting; you know, exotic.”
Gina placed the heavy text book on the floor and rubbed her eyes. “Our life is here though, don’t you think? It’s a bit different for Pierre and Lucy, isn’t it? More the adventurous type, both of them?”
Gary nodded. “Definitely.”
Anyway, we’ve Godrell’s invitation to go for a holiday anytime, like Ma and Marie. Nice of him to pay, too.”
“Well, he is your father.”
“True, but I don’t suppose I’ll ever think of him like that. Ronnie will always be my father.”
Gary moved a cushion behind his head. “Quiet here, with Lucy gone, and Cynth and Connor up at that book thing.”
“Did you ever find out what happened to the guys upstairs?” Gina nodded towards the ceiling.
“No idea.” Gary stretched out his legs so they were resting either side of Gina’s. “I like having the flat to ourselves though.” He rubbed his left leg up and down Gina’s thigh.
Just then they heard the distinctive sound of Bob’s van drawing up outside. Gina rolled her eyes. “No pre-match nookie for you then,” she said, laughing and pushing Gary’s legs off hers. “I’ll go and let him in. Mine’s a cider if you’re going to the fridge.”
Fingers squealed with delight as soon as Gina opened the front door. He jumped from Bob’s shoulder into her open arms, chirruping happily. Bob followed them up the stairs.
A few minutes later, there was a knock on the lounge door. It was Tony Wong, “I made a new batch of fortune cookies,” he held up a laden bowl. “Would you like some?”
Down by Otterspool Promenade the tide was out and the river Mersey was giving up its latest treasures. Joey was ready. As the evening sun cast its light over the sludgy mudflats he spied something. He hurried over and picked it up. He rubbed the dirt off with his fingers. It was a little statue of a camel, jade if he wasn’t mistaken, and surely his best find this year. Maybe his luck was about to change.
©2018 Chris Hall
Well done, if you have read all the way through to the end! It is still a draft, but I hope you got some enjoyment out of it. And now to the revisions and edits.