Nothing I Can Do About It Now
Copyright© 2016 by Denham Forrest
I’m not daft; our island is a remarkably safe place to live, especially for locals and I was by that time accepted as one. But no one, should have been on my veranda at that time of night. Well, not hiding away in the dark, they shouldn’t!
Leaving the key in the door, I swung around and vaulted - or rather dived - over the veranda’s balustrade all in one movement. I needed to be out in what little moonlight there was, where I could see who was coming at me and how best to defend myself. Rolling over as I hit the ground, I literarily jumped onto my feet and stared back at the gloom of the veranda.
“Who the f•©k’s there?” I demanded, feeling a lot safer once that they couldn’t creep-up on me anymore
The reply I got was a tiny voice that giggled and then said, “It’s me.” from the darkness.
Not that I actually recognised the voice. But it weren’t in no island accent, that was for bloody sure and, from those two words I could tell that it was a female child who sported a London accent. So there was only one candidate for whom it could be, wasn’t there!
“Kaye?” I asked gently, stifling the surprise that tried to creep into my voice. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to find you!” She replied.
Nervousness -- or maybe even fear -- suddenly apparent in her tone.
“Oh my god, on your own, at this time of night! Delia will be having a pink fit!”
“She doesn’t know I’m here; I sneaked out of the hotel after Auntie Dee put us to bed.” The child explained.
“How did you find my house?” I asked, in confusion. As far as I was aware Kaye hadn’t known that I was her father, and anyway she’d only seen me on Cassandra.
“The man at the bar told uncle Bill where you lived yesterday. And you have your ships name on the ring thing over there.”
“Oh my, you’re one clever little cookie on the quiet, aren’t you? Come-on let’s get inside and I’ll have to get a message to the Cartwright’s that you’re safe.
I lead the way into the house and turned some lights on. Not having a telephone, I fired up the radio and called-up what served as our local coastguard. They agreed to pass a message on to the hotel where the Cartwright’s were staying for me. Only then, did I take a good look at my daughter for the first time.
“My, you’re a pretty one. You sure take after your mother!” I said, smiling I hope.
“I have your eyes!” She replied.
“You have?” I had to agree, but I think it came out as a question.
“Yes, mummy’s always telling me that I have.” She replied, still looking and sounding a little frightened, I thought.
“I’ll take mummy’s word for it. Now tell me Kaye, what are you doing here tonight?”
“I came to find you and ask you why you never come home?”
“Hold up a minute, Kaye. First you tell me, how you came to know that I am your father, I only discovered that myself this evening?”
The child smiled at me. “We heard aunt Delia and uncle Bill having an argument when we were having lunch on your island today. They were talking about you and mum but I don’t think they knew that we could hear. And then auntie Dee kept going onto the boat to talk to you, so it had to be you they were talking about. Logic father, haven’t you ever heard of it? And Amanda says that I’ve got your eyes as well.”
Well that explained why young Amanda had sat in the cockpit, staring at me during nearly all the trip back from my island.
“Yeah, but maybe I don’t always use as much logic as I should.” I admitted, “Okay Kaye, you asked me why I don’t go home, well the answer is simple, this is my home here, on this island.”
Yeah all right, I was evading the issue. But I had no idea how to explain to a child why I’d left home. Bugger thinking logically as Kaye had put it, I really weren’t even sure that I could explain -- or justify -- why I left Katie in the first place to anymore.
“Can, I touch your beard?” Kaye suddenly asked.
“Yeah sure you can, but I don’t think it’s going to be around for very longer much longer.”
“Why!” The child asked, as she stepped close to me and ran her hand over my hairy cheek.
“A lady called Jean is arriving on the island in the next couple of days and I’ve got to look human, before she gets here!” I lied, it had been agreed that the beard was coming off so that I’d look more civilised for my daughter; Jimmy and Sis having both had influence in that decision. Actually Kaye turning up at my bungalow had made that action superfluous, but for some reason, I was still intending to have the beard off.
“Auntie Jean!” Kaye exclaimed. “Oh boy dad, are you in trouble? Auntie Jean is going to have your guts for garters!”
“She’s always telling mum that when she gets her hands on you, she’s going to castigate you!”
I laughed inwardly, convinced that castigate had not been the word Kaye had heard Jean use.
“I think you might have got that a little wrong Kaye, but castigate will do!” I replied smiling and thinking that Kate and Jean should have been a little more ... circumspect within the child’s hearing.
“No daddy, I looked it up in a dictionary. Auntie Jean is going to give you the biggest telling-off you’ve ever had in your life. A severe reprimand, it said in the dictionary.”
“Yeah you’re correct, but somehow I don’t think castigate was the word that your auntie Jean used. But it’s near enough though, for a child your age. Now would you like a drink or something?” I suggested, almost in panic.
I suddenly realised that I was severely lacking in the skills required to hold a conversation with a child, especially my own child.
“Yes please; have you any cola?” Kaye asked.
“Yeap, I keep plenty of that in the fridge to mix with my ... to drink!” I replied checking what I had first intended to say and telling myself that I really needed some lessons in how to talk to my own daughter. I got up intending to head for the fridge in the kitchen, but I’d got maybe two or three paces when Kaye brought me to a sudden halt.
“Anyway you’re wrong, daddy, Auntie Jean couldn’t castrate you, mummy wouldn’t let her! Mummy says that when you come back I’m going to have a little brother or sister. And well, that couldn’t happen if Auntie Jean had cut your...”
“Yeah, yeah, I get the picture, Kaye!” I blurted out in panic, to stop her saying anything more on that particular subject. But I did have to ask. “Where did you learn about all that kind of stuff?”
“In books and in school silly. It’s all there written down in books if you know how to find it. I can see you’re like mummy; you don’t like to talk about sex!”
“Hey kiddo, well, you are a bit on the young side to know about that sort of thing, Kaye.”
“Do you really think so?” She asked, with a cheeky smile on her face.
“Yeah well, aren’t you?” I asked, trying to work-out in my own mind exactly how old she was.
“Oh daddy, Mary Collin’s is only a year older than me and she’s started her periods already.” She grinned, then with a more serious tone to her young voice. “Look father, you must understand, we children grow up a lot faster than you did when you were our age.”
“You’re not kidding. Where the hell did that come from?” I thought to myself, as I skootled off to the kitchen to track down a can of cola. I also began to think that I was completely out of my depth with this little girl, and wished to hell that I had some back-up.
Luckily the gods decided to smile on me; I could hear the taxi coming along the road whilst I hunted around for a suitable glass to serve my daughter cola in.
Yeah well, I drank beer straight from the bottle or can, so I had no need of anything very much larger than a shot glass. I made a mental note to correct that situation ASAP. Jimmy obliged on that front the following day.
I was handing Kaye her mug of cola, when Delia burst through the front door.
I kind-a wondered for how many years the damned thing hadn’t been locked; I only ever used the door to the veranda. I made another mental note to find the key and lock the thing.
“Oh my god, I’m sorry, Owen!” Delia blurted out.
“Sorry for what?” I asked, not understanding why she was apologising to me.
“God Owen, we are supposed to be looking after Kaye, she could have gotten lost, or anything could have happened.”
“Delia, this young lady slipped out of the hotel without anyone noticing. Now this is a fairly safe island, but I happen to know that the security at that hotel isn’t to be sneezed at. If those guys didn’t see her go, then you and Bill had no chance. And then she had the savvy to track me down here without anyone managing to spot her. I very much doubt she was in any danger!” I grinned at her.
“Well, it just isn’t good enough, Bill and I are very sorry it happened.” Dee said to me, and then she turned to look at Kaye, sitting there drinking her mug of cola, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
“Just what did you think you were doing, Kaye; you frightened the life out of us!”
“Not as much as I did daddy; he jumped over the fence!” The child grinned back at her.
“Precocious child isn’t she, takes after her mother.” I said to Dee, when she looked back at me; I suppose for an explanation. I didn’t enlighten her on details.
I wouldn’t say without a little argument Kaye -- after she’d suitably chastised by Delia for slipping away -- agreed to go back to the hotel for the night with Delia.
Actually when I helped my daughter into the old Peugeot was to become my most memorable moment of the evening. When your own child throws her arms around your neck and kisses you on the cheek for the first time, is a memorable moment in any father’s life. When a damn near ten-year-old daughter who you hadn’t even known she existed twenty-four hours previous, does it for the first time ... Well, it becomes a defining moment in a father’s life!
Phyllis awoke me at some unearthly hour the following morning, and she wasn’t alone. I could hear Sis’s voice talking to someone in the kitchen, as Phyllis stood over me holding a mug of steaming coffee.
I sort-of scrambled to pull the bed sheet over me and hide my nakedness, but Phyllis wasn’t perturbed in the slightest, just commenting in an off-hand way, that I didn’t have anything that her three husbands hadn’t had.
I think I wondered exactly where in the garden Phyllis had buried the poor buggers. Phyllis who is as broad as she is tall, isn’t the sort of woman you argue with, if you had any sense and valued your health that is; ‘nough said about Phyllis.
I was still in the shower when Sis came strolling into the bathroom looked me up and down and dropped some comment about it being too late now, before urging me to get a move on because Sye was waiting.
Sye is the local barber and I hadn’t been aware that he did home visits. But then again, if Phyllis and Sis told Sye he did home visits, then I doubt the guy dared argue; I know I wouldn’t!
Sye was stropping his cutthroat razor when I finally arrived in the kitchen where apparently it had been decided that he was going to perform the surgery. I queried the cutthroat, but Sye insisted that a safety razor would make a real pigs ear of removing my several years growth of beard. Actually I became somewhat concerned at first until I realised that Sye -- not someone I visited in his professional capacity very often -- was taking the rise out of me by pretending he had Parkinson’s or something, as he approached me wielding that bloody great sword. But I have to admit that I hardly felt the old bugger shave the thing from my face.
I did however feel his ministrations when he attacked my hair. Shit, when Sye gave you a haircut, it was a little like those one’s I remember from when I was a kid. Strop that bloody razor he might have done, but I doubt his bleeding scissors would make a decent job of cutting cheese
I got a real shock when I looked in the mirror as well. I’d lived in the sun for long time and I wasn’t quite prepared for the two-tone face that stared back at me from the mirror. The upper half of my face was sun and wind burnt; the lower had been shielded from the elements by my beard for many years.
“In two days no one will notice the difference!” Sis assured me, as she slapped my morning steak in front of me.
I suppose that’s why she’d been there, to cook my breakfast. Sis had even brought a couple of beers along, one for me and one for Sye.
That day was to prove remarkably tiring for me, if not extremely informative. I don’t want go into to detail because to be honest ... well, I kind-a lost track of most of it.
Look, the Cartwright’s family had been dragged from their hotel -- rather earlier than they had planned -- by Kaye, and I met them on the beach as I was walking down to Cassandra. From that moment on, my daughter grabbed my hand and she hardly let go of it for the rest of the day. Also I have to add that Kaye hardly ever stopped speaking either, unless it was to take a breath.
Remarkably relaxed in my company, considering she’d only discovered who I was a few hours before. Kaye appeared to have decided -- possibly because I’d told her I’d known nothing of her existence up until the day before -- that I required to be brought up to date on her life; which I was, in finite detail!
Illnesses, scratches, scrapes and having her appendix removed were described in full during the day. As were her every school friends -- and enemies -- and I also I got a full run down of school test scores etcetera. Kaye also added a list of her favourite subjects at school and an extensive list of pop idols, music and TV programs that I’d never heard of. And not forgetting Kaye’s personal likes and dislikes on just every subject I could think of, plus some that I couldn’t. What you might describe as a full and thorough briefing.
Oh, and of course almost every sentence was punctuated with the word “mummy.” To my embarrassment -- and shame -- that often included places where I believe most little girls would have mentioned their father! Katie having to teach Kaye how to ride a bicycle etcetera and repairing punctures for her for instance.
I noted that Greg and Jean’s, and Dee and Bill’s names cropped up quite often; but just now and again Kaye would mention other men’s names that meant nothing to me. Mind you, it did register that the strangers were nearly always referred to as Mr Smith or Mr Green, etcetera. Whereas Bill and Greg, Kaye always referred to as uncle. Eventually I was to discover that the only other Uncle Kaye referred to, Uncle John -- nearly always accompanied or mentioned in close proximity to Aunt Stell or Stella -- well, I know now that they were my friends from that notorious Saturday evening. But at the time I’d forgotten John’s girlfriend’s name was Stella. Maybe that’s why it registered in my head.