“Chad, you are going to kill him!”, A woman screamed.
The bulky blonde haired man held the other by the throat. Tears ran down the woman’s face as she pulled at the blonde’s shoulders, trying to wrench him off his opponent.
He pulled his fist back, ready to inflict the fatal blow. The other man, dark haired and slightly smaller, was pinned to the floor but managed to find enough wiggle room to move just as the fist swung and it hit floor rather than his face. It helped that his opponent was a little inebriated.
“DAD!” The wail of a small boy could be heard across the room. Standing on the staircase the boy, with tousled hair and crumpled pyjamas, had been watching the scene unfold across the open plan room. Running across the lounge he jumped in the space between the two men.
“Stop please Chad. Please don’t hurt my Dad.”
The sight of a tear-stained face stopped the blonde in his tracks. Falling backwards to the floor he sat with his head in his hands and began to cry.
“Oh Junior, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s OK, Uncle Chad.” The boy hugged his ‘Uncle’ and then walked over to his dad, who was now sitting on the sofa holding his head. “Are you alright, dad?”
Dave lifted his head and looked at his son. His one eye was almost swollen shut and his ribs were killing him where Chad had inflicted more blows. Though well-built he had been no match for the man, an ex-American footballer player now run to seed.
“Can you grab me some ice from the fridge please son.”
Alicia stood weeping by the kitchen door. Dave’s estranged wife was still shocked by the whole experience. A quiet evening with friends had turned in to something a lot more traumatic. She still wasn’t sure how Chad and Dave had gone from exchanging toasts over beer to nearly killing each other.
The two men looked at each other across the lounge, like two caged tigers ready to pounce.
“Dave,” Chad looked over at his English friend, “Be real. He’s doesn’t even look like you. Face facts man, Dave Junior is my son.”
Six months earlier
Standing on the Mall in Washington DC, Dave wondered if this felt like coming home. To his left was the Washington Monument, a huge needle like structure that over looked the large reflecting pool, a lake made famous by Forrest Gump trying to cross it to get to his true love. To his right the grassed area stretched up to the Capitol Building, a familiar sight to anyone watching American political films or TV. It was the hub of US politics, and the equivalent to the Houses of Parliament in the UK and had once been his office.
Looking at the clear blue sky he pondered if he was doing the right thing. He’d left the UK in a rush after the closure of the naval job. It was another success for KOD, and they’d gained plaudits in the press for the handling of the whole event. He was looking forward to taking Jnr there when it opened for the public as an amusement park. He’d love him to meet Captain Norris, the slightly spikey officer who’d been his adversary. Seagull poo aside he was pleased he’d managed to save a historic battleship and some memories of Royal Navy history for future generations.
“Daddy!”. A small voice could be heard shouting across the park.
Dave scanned the area and spotted a body moving a speed towards him. The next thing he knew he was almost bowled over by a small boy who wrapped himself around Dave’s legs.
“Hey Dad. I’m so glad you are here.”
Dave picked up the bundle of energy, struggling slightly as his son had grown since he’d last seen him. Nearly eight the boy was well built with his head above Dave’s waist.
“Junior. You’ve got big!”
“I know. Mom says I’m one of the tallest in my class.”
He put the boy down and ruffled his hair, a thatch of blonde curls. He still wondered at genetics. Both he and Alicia had brown hair but his son had the hair of Adonis.
His wife finally appeared by his side.
“Hello Dave.” She leant in for a peck on the cheek.
Things in their relationship had been rocky for a while, with Dave staying in the UK when Alicia had decided she preferred to come back to her home country, the US. For the last year they had been talking and he’d popped back for short trips but with his job it had been hard to get the time off. This time he had a few weeks so they knew this trip was make or break for the two of them, or at least for his son.
“Come on Dad, I want to go and play with the spacecraft.” Jnr pulled his father’s arm, dragging him towards the Air and Space Museum. Home to American’s flight history it was Jnr’s favourite place of all the museums in the centre of Washington. He loved to pretend to be an astronaut.
Letting his son run on Dave and Alicia fell into step.
“So is this trip Business or Pleasure?”
“A bit of both.” Alicia rolled her eyes at his response. “Hey it needs to both, I can’t afford to keep flying over here to you know.”
“Perhaps you should have thought of that before you gave up your US government job.” She bit back.
Dave was about to respond with another barbed comment. This was how most of their conversations went these days. Jousting with remarks about which country they should live in and what was best for their son. He’d had enough of it all, the other reason he was here.
“Look. I’m here to try and clear the air. Taking the opportunity to look for work for KOD over here gives me a chance to spend a few weeks rather than a few days so we can have proper conversation about what’s best for Junior.” Dave stared hard at his wife. She pouted but kept her mouth shut. He noticed that she didn’t say, and for them. He thought she realised, the same way he did, that their relationship was over.
Waiting by the side of the road Dave Jnr was bouncing up and down with excitement.
“Come on you two slow pokes. We’ll miss our slot in the planetarium.” Running behind his parents his pushed them along towards the doors of the Museum. Differences aside Dave and Alicia couldn’t help but let his enthusiasm rub off on them.
“I’ll race you there.” Dave opened the doors and set off across the entrance hall, Jnr in his wake, Alicia laughing at their exuberance.
“No, no, no. How many times do I have to tell you, no.” Kate stomped back to her office, slamming the door behind her.
Silence fell across the rest of the office as they followed her tall, thin shape teetering back in her stilettos.
It had been a few weeks since the end of the Fillern Holm job, and the departure of Dave to America. Since then she had been more insufferable than usual. Any mention of him brought out a sharp retort, in fact anything seemed to get her goat. Even Tracey, someone not known for her sympathy for Kate at the best of times, was feeling sorry for her. Kate had got noticeably thinner and her heels seemed to be getting higher each day that Dave was gone.
Of course Kate wouldn’t admit that she was worried about what was going to happen in America. Dave Thomas, the one that got away at University, had breezed back into Kate’s life two years ago in a big job to close down a vegetable research agency. KOD had done to the job but Dave had lost his in the process. So, without Kate being consulted her not so sleeping partner had brought him in to work at KOD, HER COMPANY. She’d not been too happy at the time but had warmed to Dave over his Florence nightingale abilities when she broke her leg. Though she hadn’t told him, again how she felt, and instead had thrown herself at someone else, someone who’d turned out to be gay.
So, the contract had come to an end, and Dave had offered to look for some new work for the company. He had a few contacts stateside, and they’d made more when the Yanks and tried to ‘shipnap’ the battleship that came with the naval island they had been working at. Kate knew the expression ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’ but it didn’t make her feel any more comfortable that he would be spending time with his estranged wife. But Kate being Kate couldn’t tell him this, so instead was just taking her frustrations out at the gym or on the staff.
Kate’s office door opened again. Everyone in the office took a deep breath.
“Kelvin, get in here now. This bl**dy computer isn’t working, AGAIN.”
Commiserating looks were aimed at the office IT geek Kelvin as he rose reluctantly from his chair and made the way slowly across the office. One member of staff actually made the sign of the cross as a small prayer for him as the door closed behind him.
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