Three months passed without a visit from Kevin, which was hard on Maureen. In the end, she made Peter ring him up and invite him over for Sunday lunch (with the promise of organic free range chicken) to show him there were no hard feelings. Well, thought Peter, there are hard feelings, and I don’t see the point of pretending otherwise. But he didn’t say so.
‘Well, I rang him,’ he reported back to Maureen.
‘Is he coming?’ asked Maureen.
‘For organic free-range chicken? Of course he’s coming. And he wants to bring someone with him. A girl.’
‘A girl?’ cried Maureen, all flushed with hope and excitement.
‘Yes, a girl. Name of Pixie. Bloody stupid name. I bet it wasn’t the one she was christened with.’
Pixie did look a bit like a pixie, in fact. Small and slim with big hazel eyes, a pointed chin, long fingers and a short, spiky hair-do. And she was nice. And intelligent. And had a good job. So Peter was quite taken aback. What on earth was she doing with a waster like Kevin?
Mind you, Kevin was a different person in her company – all smiling and helpful, saying his pleases and thank yous and not rambling on at length about the crimes of the Global Elite. And the two of them praised Maureen’s lunch to the skies. Kevin nearly spoiled things by saying it was all down to the chicken being free range, but Pixie squeezed his arm and said, ‘And the skills of the cook, Kevin,’ and beamed at Maureen, who beamed back.
They didn’t stay long, but afterwards Maureen couldn’t stop smiling. And saying how happy Kevin looked. And weren’t they a handsome pair? And even what a good mother Pixie would make, which Peter thought was taking things much too far and far too soon.
Sunday lunch with Kevin and Pixie became part of their routine, every other week. Maureen would have liked to see them more often, but Peter refused to shell out for free range organic chicken more than once a fortnight.
Pixie charmed them both. Drawing out Maureen about her baking and her book club and the growing of rhubarb was easy, because she was more than ready to be charmed. Peter wasn’t ready to be charmed at all, but nevertheless he soon found himself showing her his shed and tools and taking her out for a spin in his vintage car, and realised he’d been thoroughly won over. She was also having a good effect on Kevin, who seemed to have turned into a much nicer person.
It was Peter who noticed the bump first, not Maureen – maybe because she was fixated on weddings. When Peter mentioned it, she refused to believe it at first. On top of that, she was a bit disgusted at him for taking an interest in Pixie’s abdominal regions.
‘I wasn’t taking an interest,’ protested Peter. ‘It just stared me in the face. I couldn’t help seeing it.’
‘Well, it didn’t stare me in the face,’ she replied. ‘Maybe because my face was minding its own business.’
The day before the next Sunday lunch date, Kevin and Pixie rang and asked to speak to them both. Peter called Maureen in from the kitchen and turned on the speaker phone. Together, they stood looking down at it as if it was an unexploded bomb.
‘Well, we’ve got some wonderful news,’ said Pixie’s voice, ‘And we wanted you to be the first to know. We’re going to have a baby!’
Peter was confused by the plural at first. Surely Kevin had done his bit already and was no longer involved in the process?
‘Oh how wonderful!’ Maureen cried, and that confused him even more, because it’s not what she’d said before.
‘When’s it due?’ she added.
That’s a good way of putting it, Peter thought. Better than, ‘So what was the date of conception?’ for example, which is what he wanted to know.
And then she and Maureen started going on about midwives and books and ante natal classes and birthing pools and homeopathy.
‘So where are the three of you going to live?’ said Peter, barging into the love-fest.
‘Oh that’s alright. Kevin’s going to move in with me,’ said Pixie.
‘And where’s that, then?’ said Peter, rather rudely.
‘Peter!’ said Maureen – protesting at the tone rather than the content.
‘It’s a fair question, Maureen. The baby’s got to have a home,’ said Peter.
‘It’s alright Mrs Butterworth,’ said Pixie, ‘I don’t mind. I’ve got a house in Northwood, Mr Butterworth. Three bedrooms. Plenty of room for us and the baby.’
Now Northwood was a nice area, but she could be talking about a squat.
‘Your own house?’ Peter pressed her.
‘That’s right. Would you like to take a look?’
‘Yes I would. If you don’t mind.’
They went over the following morning, once the chicken was in the oven. They couldn’t take long about it, because Maureen wanted to baste the potatoes, but it wasn’t far away. And Peter was impressed. It turned out to be a lovely little house, with immaculate paintwork inside and out, and a new kitchen and bathroom. There was also a thriving vegetable garden out the back.
Later, when they were all sitting down to lunch, Pixie asked, ‘So what did you think of the house, Mr Butterworth? I’ve been dying to ask you.’
‘It’s a very nice little house,’ Peter replied, ‘And in excellent condition. Was it like that when you bought it?’
‘No, it needed a lot of work,’ she said, smiling. ‘New paintwork, new kitchen, new bathroom. And the garden was a wreck.’
‘Must have cost you a pretty penny to get it all done up.’
‘Nope,’ she grinned. ‘Didn’t cost me a bean.’
Then she laughed, and reached for Kevin’s hand across the table.
‘Kevin did it. Bought all the materials and did all the work. Didn’t you, love?’
‘What’s the matter, Peter?’ asked Maureen. ‘You’ve been in a funny mood ever since Sunday. I’d have thought you’d be pleased – especially about the house.’
‘To be honest, pet, I don’t know what to think. I’m trying to work it out. Kevin apparently has no money, and yet he must have spent a fortune on materials to do up that house. Where did it come from? He couldn’t have saved it out of Benefit – he wouldn’t get enough for that. So does this mean he’s been working for cash and concealing it from the taxman and the Benefit? If so, I’m not happy about it. Not happy at all.’
‘Actually, Peter, I suspect Aunt Susan’s been giving him money on a regular basis.’
‘Yes. You know she’s loaded. And has no one to leave it to. I reckon she’s been offloading it little by little to avoid inheritance tax. Which is perfectly legal, isn’t it?’
‘Oh, well, that’s a different story, then… Mind you, even if he got the money legitimately, he’s still been exploiting the system like a pro.’
‘How do you mean?’ asked Maureen.
‘Well, he’s effectively been working as a builder on that house and buying his way into the equity, without having to pay tax on his income. And on top of that, claiming Benefit while working.’
‘Not working, Peter. Not strictly speaking. Because he wasn’t being paid, remember. Volunteering, you might say.’
‘But volunteering with an end in view. So he could get shares in the house.’
‘But he would have got shares in the house anyway, Peter, wouldn’t he? Just by marrying Pixie. Or even living with her. He didn’t have to do anything.’
‘I don’t know, it all feels a bit shonky to me.’
‘Well, I’m proud of him. I think he’s just been very clever about things.’
‘Oh, he’s been clever all right… And all this time he’s been pretending to be a lazy bum!
‘He didn’t pretend to be a lazy bum, Peter. You assumed he was a lazy bum.’
‘Well, he gave us all that gumf about disagreeing with work on principle, didn’t he?’
‘No it isn’t.’
‘Yes, it is.’
The next time they came, Maureen asked when they were going to get married, and they said they weren’t. Peter watched his poor wife deflating like a flat tyre.
‘We don’t believe in it,’ said Kevin. ‘What’s the point of making vows to one another? If we stopped wanting to be together, the vows aren’t going to hold us.’
‘But a child needs both of its parents. It needs a stable home,’ pleaded Maureen.
‘Absolutely. And we intend to stay together till the child is independent, for just that reason. But if a relationship goes wrong, it goes wrong. Vows aren’t going to prevent that.’
‘We really don’t expect that to happen, Mrs Butterworth,’ said Pixie.
‘And what if one of you dies?’ asked Peter. ‘What about inheritance and paternity and all that?’
‘We don’t need to be married to sort that out. We’ve already been to see a lawyer,’ replied Pixie.
‘Honestly, Mum, there’s no need to worry,’ added Kevin. ‘The baby will be as secure as any child. And I really can’t see us splitting up. We’ve known each other for a long time now.’
‘How long?’ Peter asked, more sharply than he’d intended.
Kevin looked at Pixie. ‘Five years,’ she said.
‘Five years!’ said Maureen and Peter in unison.
‘My God, you kept that dark, Kevin,’ Peter added.
There was silence, while Kevin and Pixie exchanged glances.
‘You can’t have thought we’d disapprove of Pixie. Surely not,’ said Maureen.
As the silence continued, Peter sat back with a sigh.
‘He was ashamed of us, Maureen. That’s what it was. He wasn’t hiding Pixie from us. He was hiding us from Pixie. I’m right, aren’t I?… Kevin?’
Maureen gasped. And Kevin stirred himself to speak at last.
‘I just wanted to be sure, Dad. Before she became part of the family. No point in upsetting you and Mum if it didn’t work out.’
Now this was the most tactful little speech Peter had ever heard Kevin make. So although he didn’t believe a word of it, he decided to let it be.
‘So when are we going to meet your parents, Pixie?’ asked Maureen.
‘I’m an orphan, Mrs Butterworth…’
‘Oh dear, I am sorry,’ said poor Maureen, mortified.
‘…but I do have a sister in America, so hopefully you’ll meet her next time she comes over.’
To spare Maureen’s blushes, Peter turned the spotlight back on his son.
‘There’s one thing that concerns me, Kevin. You once told me that as far as you were concerned the world was going to hell in a hand basket, and you were glad you didn’t have any dependents. Now you’ve got one on the way. How are you going to cope with that?’
More glances were exchanged.
‘My perspective has changed, Dad. And I have Pixie to thank for that. It took a while, but I’ve finally seen the light.’
And he went on to explain, while Pixie watched him fondly, that Pixie didn’t believe the world was going to hell in a hand basket. Pixie believed the world was on the threshold of a Golden Age. She also believed in fairies and angels and life after death. And Kevin had obviously bought into it all.
It frankly gave Peter the heebie-jeebies. As if the fairies had taken his son away and left a changeling.
Then Kevin added, ‘I owe you an apology, Dad,’ and that shook Peter as much as anything.
‘Oh, aye?’ he replied non-committally.
‘I was angry with you and Mum for bringing me into this world. And now I realise that I actually chose to be here at this time. And I chose you and Mum for my parents, too.’
‘Is that right?’
‘As Star has chosen me and Pixie to be her parents.’
‘Star?’ said Peter.
‘Her parents?’ said Maureen.
‘Yes, it’s a little girl. The scan this week confirmed it. But we knew it already, from the reading we had done.’
‘Reading?’ said Peter.
‘Yes,’ said Pixie, ‘As soon as I knew I was pregnant we consulted a clairvoyant. So we knew it was a girl. And we also knew she was going to be a very special little girl.’
Peter groaned inside. What parent didn’t think their child was going to be special?
‘But of course, there are lots of special children being born at the moment,’ Pixie continued, ‘simply because of the times we’re living in. The frequency of our mass consciousness is rising all the time. So it’s possible for children to incarnate without having to lower their vibration as much as we did. Which means they can be born and grow without losing their direct connection to the spiritual realm, and have access to wisdom and understanding that are beyond us. They can also be born with advanced psychic gifts.’
‘Things like telepathy, clairvoyance, teleportation, healing and so on,’ explained Kevin.
‘And Star is incarnating to help with the transformation of the world,’ said Pixie, glowing with enthusiasm. ‘Aren’t we lucky? I expect we’ll all become better people just for having her around.’
They had to go shortly after that, which was a relief for Peter, because he’d just about had enough.
That night he prayed a prayer, for the first time in decades:
‘Dear God, please give me back my real son – ungrateful, condescending, arrogant, lazy sod though he be.’
Part 3 soon.
© Sue J Davis 2015
Please see Copyright Notice on the ‘About’ page.