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This chapter brings the entire ‘Rag Doll’ story to full closure; the true significance of Barbara’s charm bracelet is finally revealed, and Bobby and Ricky are finally reunited with their family.
This final part of the story is about reunion, revelation, confession, forgiveness, acceptance, and absolution, and the reunification of the Davis-Morrison family. There’s no discernible sexual content, but there are endings and explanations that hark back to the very start of the story, when first Nicky, and then Bobby and Rick set out to discover who and what they were, and where their story began.
This chapter might make for slightly uncomfortable reading, but I promise you that there is a gentle and, hopefully, satisfying conclusion, I think I owe Nicky, Bobby and Ricky, and especially Barbara, that much.
My thanks to BlackrandI1958 for her advice and tutelage, her storytelling instincts and sense of narrative integrity were an inspiration, long may she reign! If you have any comments or observations to make, please feel free, and if you email me feedback and you would like a reply, please make sure you include an email address where I can reach you.
Jamie and Nia:
Jamie and I and our horde of savages eventually arrived home from the park, poor Jamie dog-tired from running around after the twins Jamie and Laura and trying to keep tabs on Julie-Anh while I lounged in lady-like disdain and let Jamie take the strain, but it was still a good afternoon. The kids got to play football with their daddy, and Julie-Anh almost managed to throw a ball for her daddy to catch, laughing uproariously at him all the time.
The kids all got their special ‘park-treat’ of an ice-cream cone and a hotdog, and yes, I got to eat the half they couldn’t manage, and some of the older hobbyists at the boating lake even let the twins have a go at controlling their radio-controlled boats, so a successful family day out on many levels.
Mummy and daddy were away on a long-weekend seaside break to Minehead in Somerset, so I got the duty of collecting mail, junk mail etc, so that’s what I did next. In just two days an impressive amount of junk mail had accumulated: free-papers, flyers, advertising for gardeners, window-cleaners, mobile mechanics, electioneering, the usual. Mummy never had a ‘No Circulars’ sign on the door, she liked to look through junk mail, it was one of her guilty pleasures, and she liked reading through the local free papers, it was how she kept current with the neighborhood.
I did what I always did, I just quickly picked up armfuls of the stuff and shoved it in the recycling bins, I didn’t sort through it, I dared not, God knows what those three mini-terrorists were up to at home. When I popped back home, Jamie had the phone and a big grin on his face.
“It’s Allie for you, I think you need to hear this.”
I love talking to Allie; she’s as gorgeous as Lena, a perfect image of what Lena must have looked like at that age, and as dear to us as one of our own, but I knew she was supposed to be knee-deep in Year Four Finals prep; the entire family had just sent her a ‘good-luck’ card and some pretty pricey book tokens for her final year studies, so I was intrigued as to what she needed to talk about. I soon found out.
“Nia, I think I have a hit for you,” she began, “I went cruising the internet and found something. It’s only a snippet, in a local paper’s website about an inquest for a Barbara Jane Davies, not Davis, but the dates match, the middle names match, only thing is, she passed away up in Carlisle, not Coventry. I also have a cemetery headstone reference. I think it’s our Barbara, Nia, the name might be a typo, but everything else matches. I think someone needs to go and take a look; there are too many matches to be a coincidence. I think we might have found her.”
Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I found myself grinning at the smile I could hear in her voice. I also didn’t miss the way she’d claimed Barbara as ‘ours’, and her use of ‘we’ as part of the search, not ‘I’, telling me she considered herself part of this family and cementing her even deeper into our unique family-clan.
“OK Allie, send me the link, I’ll run it past Jamie, and if he likes it too we’ll run up there and take a look. Thank you baby, Darryl and Lena must be so proud of you, I know I am!”
I could hear her preening all the way down the phone, so note to self, something extra-special for her stocking come Christmas.
I opened the link she sent me and took a look, OK, so not much more than what she’d already told me, but Jamie had that raised-eyebrow, ‘I need to check this out’ look he gets when he thinks he’s on to something, so he was on-board. It looked like we were heading up to this ‘Stanwix Cemetery’ in Carlisle as soon as we could arrange it, because if he thought he was going exploring in the howling wastelands of the North bursa escort by himself he had another think coming!
Keeping a lid on it all weekend was a chore in itself; daddy and mummy were supposed to be having a break, I really didn’t want to blurt this out and affect their holiday. It was their first weekend away in ages, I didn’t want them thinking about this stuff instead of enjoying the beach and the nightlife, but I know mummy picked up that I was bursting to tell her something, but I bit my tongue and kept my trap shut. Nothing was going to happen until they got home so there was no point discussing it just then.
After Mummy and Daddy came home from their long-weekend seaside break, and the usual homecoming rampaging chaos of kids running wild because Nana and Grampa were back, mummy took me aside to do a little digging.
“Tell me, my Nguye’t, what is happening, what has happen? Daddy feel something, so do I, what happen while we gone?”
I told her about my chat with Allie, and showed her the link she sent. Mummy studied the information, sparse as it was, then called Daddy.
“James, please to look, Nguye’t and Jamie have something, not know what it mean, please to say what do next.”
Daddy looked long and silently at the information Allie had sent me, and then looked up at me.
“What do you think, Nugget, is it worth trudging up there just for this?”
I hugged him.
“Jamie thinks so, daddy, we need to know, and the best way is to suck it and see. If you and mummy babysit we can be up and back over the weekend, what do you think? If it’s not her, no harm done, and we can forget it, but if it is… ”
Five days later Jamie and I were at Stanwix Cemetery, standing at the graveside of Barbara Davies. The stone itself was simple, modest, no dates, no real information, just a simple inscription that gave nothing away: ‘Barbara Davies, beloved mother, taken too soon. I love you, Mum’
The grave was well-tended and very neat, the grass clipped and even, and a fresh posy of summer flowers in the flower-holder set into the spotless white stone kerb surrounding the grave; obviously someone came here regularly and maintained the gravesite, but there was no clue who they were, or if we had any connection with them. We were pondering what to do next when the groundskeeper drove by, so Jamie flagged him down to ask if he had any records about the family who owned the gravesite.
He was reluctant to give out personal information like that, but he looked very strangely at Jamie, almost like he knew him, and what he did share stuck in my mind.
“There’s a couple of young families come by here every Sunday, looks like two brothers, I can’t hardly tell ’em apart, sometimes there’s three of ’em, pretty wives, and five, six kids, they all set to and clean that grave, clip it, brush it, wash down the stone and the kerbs, fresh flowers, all that stuff; you can see they do a good job. They come here every Sunday without fail, usually get here ‘fore lunch, you pop in here tomorrow about 11 o’clock you’ll see ’em, ask ’em yourselves. That’s all I can tell you, sorry.”
Well, we went back on Sunday, we waited, and waited, and waited, and no-one showed. By three in the afternoon Jamie had decided they weren’t going to show up, so, feeling deflated and curiously depressed, we headed back to the Lake District Airport. Another dead end to tick off the growing list of dead-ends we’d put together.
And so it might have ended there, if Mummy hadn’t decided to sort through the recycling…
The first thing I knew about it was when Mummy showed up clutching a plain envelope hand-addressed to ‘James Morrison’. Mummy showed me the note inside. I read it through, and then read it again.
“Does Daddy know about this? And where’s it from, Ma, who gave you this?” I asked her, not sure I liked where this was going.
Mummy sat down and took her time answering. I could see she was thinking about the implications of the note, what it meant to daddy. When she finally spoke, it was slowly, like she was still working it out; I know Mummy’s ‘puzzled’ voice, and she wasn’t puzzled, more like she was still unravelling it.
“When we leave Thursday this not arrive, must be Friday or Saturday, it Wednesday now, so this been there four day now. Nothing more, no other note, nothing. When you put recycling away?”
I’d cleared up Friday, this note must have been mixed up in all the usual Friday avalanche of junk mail, free papers, and miscellaneous pizza flyers, I hadn’t checked if there was anything mixed in there because I’d already picked up the real mail early that morning. I had no reason to suspect it was there; I’d just swept it all together and dumped it in the recycling bin.
Mummy was watching me closely, waiting to see what I wanted to do; that’s what I love about Mummy; she actually listens to me and takes my feelings and suspicions seriously, she doesn’t bursa escort bayan just override me because she’s my mother so she knows everything better than I do.
“What you want to do, my Nguye’t?”
“Tell Daddy,” I decided. “This concerns him; if it’s some kind of scam he’ll know what to do, it’s his job…”
Mummy nodded in agreement.
“Tell Jamie too, we all talk, may be nothing, but maybe not, see what Daddy say, what Little Boy think.”
Daddy was in two minds about what this was; his instincts were telling him to follow it up, his background was telling him to be careful, that there was no way he could call that number; supposing it was some kind of scam? Even though I’d checked the area code of the telephone number in that note, and it had come up ‘Carlisle’, which jibed with the trail Jamie and I had followed, we could all see the conflict in him, with him needing to believe it was true.
Dashing off after a clue dropped through the letterbox seemed neither smart nor right. Daddy was the Security Compliance Manager of a major bank, potentially getting enmeshed in a scam that threw his judgement or his personal integrity into question would be the death of his career; even worse, supposing it was part of some kind of obscure scheme to somehow compromise the bank? He was right to be conflicted.
His response was non-committal. “I don’t know. Let’s all sleep on it, there’s no rush. If it’s some kind of come-on or scam we’re not rushing into it, and if it’s true… if it’s true, we’ve waited this long, a few more days won’t make any difference. We’ll talk about it tomorrow after I get home; I really need to think this through.”
The following day seemed to drag by forever; I paced around getting tetchier by the minute, and Jamie was working so of course it was all his fault, leaving me alone to deal with this waiting and wondering. Even the kids couldn’t distract me for long.
By the time daddy arrived home from his office I was ready to explode, but I let the ritual happen. Daddy went to have a shower, then comfortable clothes, a quick snack and a coffee with the evening news on the TV. And that’s when the bomb dropped.
Daddy was watching an item about a trial in Southampton, some kind of sex-scandal at the university there when he sat bolt upright and spat his sandwich out. I jerked in shock at daddy’s reaction; his eyes were popping out of his head as he pointed to the girl on screen being interviewed by the BBC reporter. I thought she looked vaguely familiar, but then she said her name: Cherie Young, and then I got it. There she was, the girl we were looking for right there on screen, talking about a trial she’d given evidence at.
No wonder daddy looked so shocked. After all our searching and second guessing she’d dropped right into our laps out of the blue.
Daddy had the presence of mind to hit the ‘pause’ button on the TV remote and yes, it really was her. There was no mistaking that glossy blue-black hair, the pale, clear skin, those eyes, the same eyes I saw every time I looked in a mirror, even the same dimple in her smile as the picture of Rosa.
It was her, she was Rosa’s daughter, and now, at last, we knew where she was.
When I went to meet Jamie at the door, the last thing I saw was Daddy with his arm around Mummy rewinding and rewinding again the screen images of Cherie and watching her over and over as she spoke and smiled, his eyes bright as he smiled along with her.
Jamie knew immediately what to do; his friend Steve knew how to find people, well he was going to find Cherie for us, now that we knew where she was. Mummy told Daddy to write to her first, let her know who we are, what she means to us, pictures, papers, that kind of thing. Maybe Daddy could put it all together as a package and when Jamie’s friend located her, have one of his people deliver it all to her and we’d take it from there.
At the same time, Jamie decided that Carlisle was worth another try, given that we were almost being led there by the nose; we should try again to intercept the people looking after Barbara Davies’ grave and clear-up once and for all if they were who we were looking for. It was only through a schedule conflict we couldn’t go that weekend, Jamie was on a commission in South Africa and he was flying out Friday for two weeks, maybe even longer if it panned out. Finding the people we were interested in had to take a back seat.
Hopefully we’d locate Cherie and Barbara’s family, if any and get them all together in the same place at the same time. At least we finally had something solid to go on with: the girl on TV, one more piece of the puzzle to put in place.
While Jamie was gone, Mummy and Daddy, helped by yours truly, assembled a dossier of papers and photographs that we hoped would convince Cherie, once we found her, that we were legitimate. I spent as much time as I could, when I wasn’t caring for the kids or actually escort bursa working for a living keeping our business afloat, copying and reprinting things to convince Cherie we were for real. Things like Rosa’s marriage certificate, her birth certificate, evocative photos of Daddy, Rosa, and Barbara together as children, my grandparents, pictures of Rosa as a toddler, a little girl, a teenager, all stuff sure to convince her that we were indeed her family.
At the same time, Daddy wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote again letter after letter to Cherie, trying to strike the right note without seeming like crazy stalkers, telling her who we were, what happened to the family, and where we were.
Three weeks passed while Steven Norton did his detective thing, three long weeks. Jamie had been home several days and I’d had to tell him so far nothing had changed since he’d been gone. Just as I was starting to think it had all gone cold again, Steven called, spoke with Daddy and Jamie, and it all went into high gear from there.
“We have Cherie’s home address ‘” said daddy, “she lives in Southampton. Steven’s sending one of his people over to collect the package, and he’ll deliver it to her as soon as he can; fingers crossed, we’ll hear from her in a few days.”
To cut a long story short, Cherie called a few days later, Daddy was at the office and I took the call, mummy spoke with her, she arranged for daddy to call her when he got back, you know how that went. When she came to see us, I really thought daddy was going to collapse; he called her ‘Rosa’, and even I was astonished at how closely she resembled her mother; the girl in the photo was alive again, something Daddy was almost struck dumb by.
Cherie and daddy connected on all sorts of levels, and when she revealed who her boyfriend was, that Danny was her half-sister’s son, I think she was expecting more than the muted response she got. I got the impression she was geared-up to defend her choices, but a run-down of our unique family makeup cleared that up, and of course we weren’t shocked, not with Julie and Mark and Darryl and Lena in the exact same boat as us, and now her and Danny.
The last thing Daddy promised Cherie before she left for her home was that the family would somehow find the part of us that was still missing; somehow we’d put our fractured family back together.
The following week was a free weekend for Jamie, the last one until after Hallowe’en, so if we were going to trudge all the way up to the Borders it had to be then, before the worsening weather and the usual North Atlantic gales at the onset of autumn put paid to any expeditions that far North. Once again Jamie and I flew up to Cumbria to intercept this mysterious family who may or may not have been who we were looking for.
Sunday morning, and Jamie and I waited by Barbara Davies’ graveside in Stanwix Cemetery. The groundskeeper obviously remembered us and once again gave Jamie that strange, knowing stare, but simply nodded at us and went about his business.
Shortly before 11 o’clock two cars pulled up, an old but spotless grey Shogun and a Graphite Land Rover Freelander, and two young men, probably a couple of years younger than Jamie, and two absolutely gorgeous, slender, exotic-looking girls with olive complexions and cascades of bright red-bronze hair also got out of the cars, followed by a handful of children.
The two men approached the grave then stopped and stared at Jamie, then at each other, and their wives caught up with them and stared at Jamie, then their husbands then back to Jamie, obviously comparing them because damn, they looked like him…
I was captivated; they were really good-looking guys, tall as Jamie, and grey-eyed, with dark, almost black hair. They looked like blurred, dark versions of daddy, especially their profiles, and a lot like Jamie too, and I don’t mean looks, but things like the same puzzled sideways squint, the same disarming grin, the same quizzical eyebrow; I found myself looking back and forth between the three of them.
I was stunned, absolutely lost for words, but I knew for sure these were my family. They were so much like daddy, so much like my grandfather, so much like Barbara.
Jamie was the first to speak.
“Robert? Richard? My name is Jamie, Jamie Morrison; we came here because got your note… you left a note for my father…”
They looked at each other then back at Jamie, and the taller one nodded slowly.
“I’m Robert… Bobby… Bobby Davis- ” He waved his hand at Barbara’s gravesite “-this is my mother’s grave, Barbara, Barbara Morrison Davis, how did you…”
Jamie was lost for words, gazing in wonder at these two strangers who looked like him until I nudged him, breaking him out of his trance. He smiled his winning “Jamie” smile, and both men smiled back and damn, they had the same boyish smile; this was getting weirder and weirder every passing moment. The two girls saw it too, their beautiful eyes widened at the sight. The taller girl stared at Jamie, then, for some reason, at me, looking directly into my eyes, before turning her gaze back on Jamie, slipping her hand into Robert’s and holding him tightly.
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