Tag Archives: kidnapping

My Father’s Name – Conclusion

Dylan is living with us. Of course, Frances’s family wanted him to go to them. In the end we thought it would be better for him to stay at the same school and in the area his has known all his little life. I was the one who told him about his mum. The police and the medical people all offered but I knew it should be my job. I held him close as he cried and asked me why and then asked what was going to happen to him. I promised him that we’d take care of him, me and Suzie.

I wasn’t sure what to do for the best, whether to just bring him to share our house, but it was really a bit small. Of course, he had to have his own things. We couldn’t easily move to Frances’s it would break my heart to cook in her kitchen and work in her office, it was just too hard. In the end, I had my mum’s house redecorated and we moved in there. People thought I was mad as that was where it had happened and yet, it’s been fine. We brought all Dylan’s bedroom furniture and his toys, we moved stuff around between my home and Mum’s and – yes – it’s been okay. My house is on the market. I’m staying here. All the happy memories will obliterate that one dreadful day. I am determined. I feel as though I should do it for mum as much as anything. She wouldn’t have wanted that man in her place and so we will destroy any trace of him being there. We will drive him away with love and laughing.

I am fostering Dylan officially. You do get some money for that, but it was nothing to do with cash. In fact, it’s going into his savings for if he goes to university or whatever he does after school. I just wanted it organised so I was his official guardian for school trip permissions and what have you. The whole family were in agreement. Of course, anything very major will be a joint decision between us all. He’s not mine, though I love him as if he is.

It’s been difficult at times, of course, it has. Fortunately, Suzie wasn’t too badly affected because all she remembered was John collecting her from school. Apparently, he told her that I was meeting them at Mum’s house. He gave her some juice and she doesn’t remember anything after that until she woke up at the hospital.

He’s back in jail. Well, he broke the terms of his licence so it was a foregone conclusion anyway; never mind the new charges that he is going to be tried for. At first, I didn’t want them to take him to court for the kidnapping as he was locked up anyway. I know people thought I was wrong but to be honest I didn’t want Suzie questioning and I felt, still feel, really guilty. But I have been convinced that he should pay and there is what happened to Frances.

It was my fault.

She had been right all along. I can blame grief, the counsellor I’ve seen has told me that losing my mum had made me vulnerable and I suppose he’s right. But I’m a mum, I should have been more careful. I shouldn’t have let this man who was effectively a stranger get so close to us. I was totally taken in.

Yes, he is my biological father, there is no getting away from that. I hate the idea and have to just accept that it’s a fact. But, he had never been anything to me. He had only ever been a bad memory for mum, and I should have refused to have anything to do with him. But I didn’t and I have to carry the guilt about what that led to, forever.

I watch Dylan and Suzie playing in the garden and I can hardly bear it. But, I have to. I have to be strong for both of them and for myself. We all have to be strong because Frances will be coming home from the hospital tomorrow. She is still very weak and they reckon it will be a long time before she is back to normal and it’s already been many, many weeks. There were several operations to repair the damage that the knife had done and for a while, they didn’t think that she would live. She was unconscious for what felt like forever. I didn’t understand all of the medical stuff but it was loss of blood and internal wounds that they had to repair; sometimes more than once because the damage was so bad. Parts of her were torn inside from where she did that macabre dance with him with the knife between them already thrust into her body. His solicitor says it was accidental and if the police hadn’t burst open the door it wouldn’t have happened. I just think that if he hadn’t taken my daughter; if he hadn’t broken into my mum’s house, and if he hadn’t been holding the knife it wouldn’t have happened. But he did and he was and my friend almost didn’t make it.

But she did. My dearest friend fought her way back from the brink and now I am going to take care of her. I’ve reduced my work hours and I’ve converted the downstairs office into a lovely bedroom. It’s filled with flowers now, and books for her and all the special things from home that she said she wanted to have around her. She’ll be here this time tomorrow and though I can never make up for what happened to her I can start to repay her for her love and her bravery and we can try and rebuild our lives and forget him; forget my father’s name.

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My Father’s Name – Chapter 20

I didn’t want to leave without Suzie because it felt like abandoning her but there was no point in staying at the school. Eventually, though, I saw that the sensible thing was to go home. They asked me to find something she played with a lot and I didn’t understand, not until the dog handler came into the kitchen and took away the little plush unicorn. He brought it back after a short while but I couldn’t touch it. It was part of something I couldn’t bear to let into my mind.

Of course, someone made tea and it stayed on the table in front of me until it was cold and they took it away. Frances poured me a small brandy and the fire felt good in my throat but it did nothing to dull the edges of emotion. She sat beside me holding my hand; she was quiet and stoic, and calm.

For what seemed an age nothing much happened. They asked if I wanted a doctor. They asked if I wanted to call someone. There was no-one. The only person I could have needed sat beside me, her beautiful eyes wet with unshed tears.

The Detective, Lily, came back. I have no idea how much time had past but it was dark. It was dark and my daughter was out there somewhere with a man who had murdered my grandparents. She told us they had been to his flat and, of course, didn’t find him. She said that they were still looking at the CCTV but they already knew that he had been watching the school and my home every day for the last couple of weeks. They had watched him follow us back and forth and they knew that he’d been there that morning. They had seen him leading Suzie away but he had taken her down a side street away from the main road and then they lost them. They were still looking she said but for now, that was all and so she went away.

That just left me, Frances, and a young policewoman, June Price, who they said was a Family Liaison Officer. She offered tea and asked repeatedly if there was anything I needed. I didn’t bother to say that the only thing I needed was Suzie at home snuggled under her duvet. She was doing her best and until anything happened she was, like us, just waiting. Whenever  June’s phone rang I sensed Frances tense beside me but she would shake her head and then leave the room and we would hear the low mutter of her voice in the hall. I wished she would go away but it seemed churlish and unkind to say that.

Eventually, it was all too much. It was after nine o clock. I knew there was going to be an article on the television. They had taken away Suzie’s school photograph for the feature but I couldn’t bear to watch it. “I should, shouldn’t I?” I asked Fran and she shook her head.

“You just do what your heart tells you. Nobody can say what is the right thing. In this, there is no right way.”

They had talked about me appearing and making an appeal but not yet they said. I supposed they had a routine for this stuff and a timetable. I know they had done this sort of thing before. I had not and I was rendered helpless with ignorance about what was best.

I paced the house; driven mad by the inactivity. I went into Suzie’s room and sobbed; touching her nightdress, her little slippers and her pillow until Frances came and ushered me back downstairs.

“I can’t sit here any longer, Frances. I have to go and do something. I have to go and try to find her.” I knew that I sounded on the edge of hysteria but I had taken all I could of the waiting and surely anything was better than nothing.

“But, when they find her you need to be here,” she said.

“They have my number. That police officer can wait here. I have to go and look. I can’t do nothing.”

By the time I had finished speaking Frances was on her feet and fetching our coats. I heard her shout through to the kitchen where Constable Price was washing cups. When she heard our plan she shot into the room; shaking her head and insisting that we stay in the house.

She couldn’t force us and she couldn’t come with us and really, at that point, I didn’t care that I was putting her in a difficult position and so we left. It was cold and there was damp in the air but movement and action sent blood coursing through my veins and for a moment I was disgusted with myself that I had allowed them to make me sit and wait when what I needed was to get out and look for my girl.

“Where?” Frances asked.

“I suppose we should start at the flats.”

“The police have looked there already and they have left someone waiting in case he turns up.”

“It came to me in a flash and it was so obvious. There was one place where he could take Suzie and she wouldn’t cause a fuss. One place that she wouldn’t question at all.

I grabbed hold of Frances’s arm. “My mum’s.” We set off running.



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My Father’s Name – Chapter 19

I was in the head’s office. Someone had put a jacket around my shoulder but I was still shaking. The teaching assistant sat on another chair looking pale and upset. I didn’t have any room to feel sympathy for her. I didn’t have any room for anything except fear and panic. My arms were aching for the feel of my little girl held close to my body.

My first instinct had been to run out of the school. I had turned and started towards the door and then the girl had shouted, “Wait, wait. Where are you going?”

I didn’t have an answer for her. I couldn’t go home, not without my daughter. I couldn’t run to where John White lived it was too far and I couldn’t just run into the streets and run and run screaming her name. That is what I wanted to do. That is what I still wanted to do but they had brought me here and made me wait and someone had held my hand and someone else told me it was all going to be alright.  It was just a misunderstanding. They were sure that my friend would come back when he found I wasn’t at home.

They told me to ring him. I rang him. Of course, there was no answer. I rang him again and again. There was no answer. I could tell that they didn’t really understand. The teaching assistant was upset because she had broken the rules. I suppose she was worried about her job. The others though did not have any idea why I was so panicked. The headmistress insisted on calling John ‘my mother’s friend’. I couldn’t blame her because it was what everyone thought. I couldn’t explain it because my thoughts wouldn’t settle long enough for me to have the conversation. I pulled the card from my jean’s pocket and rang the detective, Lily. I got her answering service. All I could manage was, “Ring me, please. It’s urgent.”

And then she was there. Her arms were around me and she was stroking my hair away from my face and rocking me back and forth as if I was her baby.

“Hush now, girl,” Frances said. “Hush now. It’s all going to be fine. Everything is fine.”

I shook my head and sobbed out a sort of story to her and because she knew something of what I was talking about she saw and understood.

“Okay. Have the police been called?” She asked, her voice urgent but calm.

I nodded. “I’ve got this number. It’s complicated; it’s the detective. But she’s not answering.”

“Well, we’ll just call them again.” And she did. She called the local station and they reacted immediately. The headmistress had tried to interfere and stop Frances from ‘causing a fuss’. She didn’t want police cars in the playground and officers in the street.  “It’s not as if the child is missing,” she said. “You know who she is with.”

“Mrs Belfast,” Frances said, “Just keep out of this. Excuse me, but in this case, you really don’t know what’s happening.”

If it hadn’t been such a terrible situation I think the round-eyed, shock on the face of the prissy woman might have been funny. As it was she just gasped and tutted and shepherded people away, all the time barking instructions about keeping things calm, just carrying on, and not causing alarm. I was only vaguely aware of it all swirling around me. I clung to Frances. She was my anchor and the only steady thing in a world of shifting dread and fear.

The school was quiet now. Most of the children had gone home. There was an after-school club in the dining hall but all we could hear was a subdued hum and the occasional burst of laughter. The police arrived and I was able to give them a rundown of the situation. It was difficult to fit it all in and they kept making me stop and go back and repeat things. I didn’t blame them; it was all so very complicated. Finally, after what seemed hours Detectives Palmer and Griffiths were in the room. They ushered everyone else out but I wouldn’t let them send Frances away.

“Right. What we’ve done,” Lily started. “We’ve requested CCTV for all the roads around the school. We’ve initiated a Child Alert. Do you know what that is?”

I shook my head.

“It’s like the Amber Alert system in America. Your little girl’s name is everywhere and people all over the place will be watching out for her. We’ve been able to do this because of the history. But, that’s not all we’ve done. There are dozens of police officers are looking for her and we’ll find her. We will.”

I was overwhelmed. Everything was unreal. I could not believe that this had happened. This happened to other people. I wanted my mum and I wanted my child.

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My Father’s Name – Chapter 18

I felt so very alone. The two detectives had gone. Before they left they said that they’d arrange for me to meet with a Victim Support Officer. However, they didn’t know how long that might take and it probably wouldn’t be for a day or so.

I had their numbers and was under strict instructions to call them if John phoned me or turned up at the door – I promised I would. Pathetically I heard myself pleading with them to hurry and find him.

I couldn’t settle to do anything. There was no way that I was going to work. It was way too late for me to accomplish anything anyway and I knew that what had happened would fill my mind. Yes, I wanted to call Frances but how could I. Pride got in the way. She had been right all along but there was so much more than John just being ‘a bit off’.

The detectives had been with me for a couple of hours. I made a sandwich and took a pizza out of the freezer ready for dinner. Life had to go on, didn’t it?

I dragged out the albums of photographs. Me and mum; pictures of all our times together, at the beach, parties, Christmases and in all of them she had been carrying that huge secret.


But why? Okay, when I was little it would have been too much to tell me and all too horrific for a young brain to deal with. But why not later when I was old enough to understand good and evil? Was it because it was just too hard for her to talk about? I had thought we were close. I had believed that we told each other everything and now it was clear that had been an illusion. Maybe, she had worried I would let something slip. The detectives had said that when she was relocated it was like witness protection. She was advised to tell no-one about her past. She was given the option but chose not to change her name. That decision was possibly her biggest mistake. She was told to never talk to reporters if they did manage to find her. She knew, always, there would come a time when he would walk out of jail. She had lived with that hanging over her all of my life and never spoke of it.

I cried for her bravery and for her loneliness and I wanted to tell her it was alright. He wouldn’t hurt me and she had done everything she could to protect me and I loved her for her lies.

Eventually, it was time to go and collect Suzie. I set off early hoping I could be first and whisk her away before I had to speak to anyone.

We have a system at the school where you go into the small entrance and then you have to ring a bell. The teacher or teaching assistant on duty will open the door. After that you have to give them a password and once they have that they let your child out. It seems crazy, overdone but it works and the children are safe. I remember back when I was little, hairing across the playground with my friends and searching for my mum in the crowd of other parents. Sometimes I had to wait for her. I’d be climbing on the railings and laying on the grass in the summer. It’s not like that now.

I wasn’t first but I didn’t really know the couple of other parents and so I didn’t need to talk to them. A bloke had already rung the buzzer and we waited for the teaching assistant. She gave us a wave as she came along the corridor.

One little girl came out. She went off with her daddy.

The assistant looked at me and frowned. I just nodded at her and whispered the password. ‘Unicorns’. Suzie had chosen it.

The girl shook her head and frowned at me. There was a strange sort of silence. I know I smiled. “Suzie,” I said. Though I knew the girl and she knew us. She glanced back into the school and I felt my stomach clench. “Suzie,” I said again.

The girl came closer and spoke quietly. “Your friend collected Suzie a few minutes ago.” Well, I was livid. Frances and I often picked up each other’s children. It was a very regular thing in the days when we were talking. But now, how dare she. I knew Dylan and Suzie were puzzled about what was going on. I knew they were both pestering about why they weren’t playing together as much. But really, to pick up my little girl without my permission was shocking and unforgivable.

Then I saw him, Dylan, waving at me from his classroom doorway.

I could barely get the words out. “Who collected her? Who collected Suzie?”

“Your friend Mr Wright. Suzie said he was her granny’s friend but I know I’ve seen him with you before and he knew the password. She was happy to go with him and he said that you’d been delayed at work.”

“But, you’re not supposed to do that, not without prior notice. You’re not supposed to do that!” I was crying and now the teaching assistant was crying because we both knew. We knew right then that this was terribly wrong.

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