Chapter 2

Jack sat in his car outside the school gates and waited for Alex. The rain had poured itself out during the night and most of the morning, now the sun was glowing brightly. Jack rolled down the window to let in a bit of air and a flat, heavy jawed face appeared next to him, almost making him jump out of his skin.

“Mr O'Connor.” The broad faced woman said.

“Yes.” Jack answered uncertainly.

“Denise Williams.” A heavy hand appeared through the window for Jack to shake. “I'm so pleased you're joining us for dinner tonight.”

“Oh yes.” Jack smiled. “So you're a friend of Ms Stark's?”

“We're all friends together here, Mr O'Connor.” Denise smiled. “And here's Master O'Connor.” Alex was hovering about behind Mrs Williams.

“Hello.” He said politely, opening the back door of the car.

“I'll see you at dinner.” Jack smiled and started the car.

“Me and uncle Greg are going to make a model. He's going to buy me one especially from the shop on Topp's Lane. I'll remember to say thanks when I see him. How come you're going to dinner with Stacy Williams' mum? Her dad's a policeman.”

“Is he? Oh well it's not just Mrs Williams, there are a few people going. The person who invited me is called Ms Stark. You know her? I didn't recognise her at all.” Jack said, over his shoulder.

“I don't remember anyone called Stark in school. I think Gary's mum's going too, that's why he's with his nan after school. Gary doesn't have a dad.” Alex said.

“So it's quite nice to have these evenings out for grown-ups, don't you think? I mean, you see Gary every day in school, us oldsters are just cooped up at home all day.” Jack smiled and parked the car.

“Are you old? You don't look old like Mrs Williams.” Alex complimented, getting out of the car.

“Um Alex? That's quite rude, you know, saying someone looks old. Especially a lady.” Jack tried not to smirk.

“Oh sorry. I didn't know.” Alex held Jack's hand while they crossed the road. “So are you old like her?”

“Well I've no idea how old she is and like I said, it would be rude to ask. I'm thirty remember? You made me a card with a three and a zero. Thirty.”

“Maybe Mrs Williams has another zero on the end. Gary! Dad, there's Gary! Can I go and play football?” Alex jumped up and down.

“Yep! Go for it. Keep out of the way of the swings.” Jack let go of his son's hand and Alex sped off in the direction of his friend, Gary, who was in the company of his grandmother. Jack tried not to groan out loud when he saw the said grandmother headed for the bench he was sitting on.

“Mr O'Connor?”

“Yes. Hello.” Jack stood up. “Gary's nana?”

“Ruth Baxter.” The senior citizen sat herself down on the bench. “I believe you're off to the Sail Makers tonight?”

“Well yes, yes I am.” Jack said in surprise. Had it been on the news or something? “Mrs Baxter, is it a big event? I mean, is it a special occasion of some sort? I think I may have misunderstood. I presumed it was just a friendly, informal dinner type of thing.”

“Oh it'll be friendly, don't worry.” Ruth smiled.

“Alex tells me Gary's mum's going too, and Mr and Mrs Williams, that's why I asked if it was special occasion. I wouldn't want to be out of place.” Jack explained.

“Oh pish.” Ruth laughed. “Yes, Jilly's going too. Quite a few in the area are.”

“And you're babysitting young Gary. He's a fine little lad, Mrs Baxter.” Jack smiled.

“Thank you. Yes he is, and spoiled rotten. My husband isn't one for socialising, we love having Gary with us. Arthur had a mild heart attack a few years ago. He takes it easy these days.” Ruth took a bag of crumbs from her bag and began to feed the birds. “I hope I'm not being too pushy here, but if you're ever stuck for a sitter, I'd be glad to help out. Gary told us you were a widower. I'm sorry.”

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