Having just passed Chapter 38 on my upcoming novel I thought I’d preview a little more of the book. In the following excerpt we meet Frank McCallum, My main character Rob’s foster-father and all round great-guy. That’s wi I called him after the real Frank.
Here’s a preview from Chapter 4:
The following is copyrighted to Mark Wilson 2012
Two hours was plenty of time to complete the tasks he’d done this morning. They might take Mr McCallum all day, but he was a fit and healthy sixty five years old to Rob’s even more sprightly fourteen years. Besides, Rob had sprouted and filled out in the few years he’d worked the farm, standing well over six feet of broad and lean muscle. It was just another characteristic that set him apart and isolated him from his peers at the local school.
Physical tasks around the farm were so easy for him that it was laughable and helped him feel good about himself as he saw it as a small way to repay the love that the McCallums had shown him.
Rob had come to live with the McCallums, Frank and Mary, just over three years ago after being circulated through a couple of care homes and one foster family. The small, self-sustaining farm was near the city of Durham and felt like another world when compared to his memories of Bellshill. This was a good thing so far as Rob was concerned. He’d much rather never to set foot in his hometown again if he had any say in the matter. Frank and Mary had officially retired in their mid-fifties but as an ex-marine and a former teacher, Frank and his wife found it difficult to accept the slow pace of retiral and had bought the farm to keep them busy. They’d also been fostering kids on shirt-term placements for a few years before taking in Rob on a more or less indefinite basis. Mr and Mrs McCallum were wonderful and Rob was very grateful to have been found by such a patient, open and loving couple.
Cara had also been fortunate to be placed with a fairly wealthy family in Edinburgh. The Graham’s were lovely people and Cara loved living with them. The only problem was that the twins almost never had the opportunity to see each other. Weekly phone calls (always on a Thursday at seven o’clock), was the best that they could manage at present. The few hundred miles of A1 that separated them may as well have been a million miles, but Rob knew that time would pass and bring independence, a driving license a job and money. Cara and he would be together again soon enough and in the meantime they had both landed on their feet with the families they’d been accepted into.
Rob sighed as he watched the sun come up and thought again about whether or not he should talk to Mr McCallum about his fantasies. If anyone could help him it’d be Frank but it was too big a worry. What if the McCallums decided he was a loony and asked him to leave? No….he’d figure it out alone. Rob heard the cockerel crow which meant the Mr McCallum would be awake shortly. “Beat you again Lester” He laughed to himself and started the short work back to the farmhouse.
“So, you’ve been doing my work again have you, lad?” Mr McCallum asked in his thick Geordie accent, trying to sound angry.
Rob loved the local accent as it sounded like a more musical version of his own to his ears. “Aye, sorry Mr McCallum, you’ll just have to find something else to do with the day.”
Frank lowered his little rectangular reading glassed and shot Rob a disapproving look. “I’m perfectly capable you know, son. Ah’ don’t need you doing everything for me.”
“Ok Mister McCallum” Rob told him. “I’ll make sure you’ve plenty left to do tomorrow morning.”
“Aye, right, son” Frank didn’t believe a word…Don’t you sleep?…..And call me Frank for Christ sake.”
Rob smiled at the older man’s fake outrage, stuffed the last of his third bacon roll into his mouth, picked up his bag and headed for the door.
Mary who’d been sitting laughing began clearing plates, but Rob about-turned and took them from her along with all the others on the table. Smiling at Rob she told him, “Thanks, son. Have a good day at school.”
“Aye, try to actually talk to some kids today, eh?” Frank added with a grin.
Rob slung his backpack over one shoulder and headed out the door, “Aye, ok I’ll do that. Love you both, bye.”
“Love you too, son.” Both McCallums chimed.
Mary headed to the sink to begin cleaning the dishes, squeezing Frank’s shoulder as she passed. “Great laddie that one. When do you think he’ll tell wae’ what’s bothering him?”
Franks grunted in agreement as he finished the last of his coffee. “He’ll tell us when he needs to Mary. He knows we’re here for him.”
Mary watched Rob’s back disappear down the driveway from the window. “Hmmm. Suppose so. He’s deep thinker that boy.”
Frank pulling his boots on replied “He’s grand Mary, don’t worry about him.”
School was the usual exercise in patience for Rob it had always been. Even at his old school in Bellshill, surrounded by people he’d known his whole life and with his best friend at his side, Rob was the eternal outsider in his heart. Here in this Durham Secondary school full of kids he couldn’t begin to relate to, he’d retreated into himself more than ever. He’d become mister grey in the school’s corridors, unnoticed by most despite his huge stature. He was quite happy to drift through the days taking what he could from the day’s lessons and keeping to himself on the fringes of the various peer groups.
When he’d first arrived at the school, the kids had been friendly enough, inviting him along to sit with them or join them at rugby or football, but you can only turn down invitations so many times before they’d stop asking. His status as a foster kid, his size and his accent were all enough to set him apart, to make him different in an age group where being different, standing out, was the last thing you wanted; add those to his tendency to isolate himself and it didn’t add up to many friends. This suited Rob fine, he was content to be mister grey, mister unnoticed by the other kids. These days they left the big, weird kid foster-kid alone to sit on the stairs and read his books.
On this particular day Rob was quite happy to be at school instead of on the farm as the McCallum’s grown-up son, Frank Jnr was visiting. Over the years Rob had learned to stay out of Young Frank’s way and always made a point of being busy when he knew the man would visit.
Young Frank was in his late thirties and a government worker of some sort. Rob wasn’t really sure what he did for a living but guessed it was nothing good, probably a tax or debt collector. Whilst his parents were the warmest and most generous people Rob had known in his short life, young Frank was surly, rude, bad tempered and mean to his parents and to Rob.
He made a habit of making snide remarks to Rob whenever they were alone and flat-out ignoring the boy when the elder McCallums were present. It was an odd feeling seeing the obvious malice and anger on a younger version of Mr McCallum’s face which itself was always so peaceful and kind. Young Frank always dressed in the same brown tweed three-piece suit and chewed vicious-smelling eucalyptus sweets continuously. The sickly-sweet smell lingered in the farmhouse along with a very obvious downturn in the mood of the house’s occupants long after young Frank’s visits ended.
On Frank’s most recent visit to the farm he’d had a massive argument with his parents in the living room. Rob listened from the staircase in the dark hallway outside. He did not like the man one bit but was most hurt by the disdain he showed the elderly McCallums. He was positively cruel to them and they were too nice to be treated by that by anyone, let alone their own son.
Needing a drink of water, Rob had crept through the darkness of the hallway towards the kitchen, but timed his trip badly as young Frank came crashing through the living room door just as Rob approached. Frank shoved him violently out of his way, Rob jumping most of the way in fright at Frank’s sudden appearance. Frank, who had continued barrelling towards the front door, stopped suddenly as something occurred to him then turned and walked menacingly towards Rob.
Reaching the boy he said quietly to him. “You’re the one whose parents left in the middle of the night.”
It wasn’t a question and Rob didn’t give a reply, he just looked at his own feet.
“Yeah, you’re that one. Smart people your parents. Obviously saw what a waste of space you are. Just a stray really, aren’t you?”
Rob’s eye’s misted but he wouldn’t give Frank what he wanted. To make him cry. Instead he just lifted his head to glare at the older man.
Young Frank nodded towards the living room. “Those two old duffers will see through you too eventually you know. Nobody needs a kid like you hanging around. Bad luck, that’s what your type always brings.”
Young Frank turned and walked towards the front door again, tossing one final remark over his shoulder as he left. “I expect you’ll be gone by my next visit.”
Rob went to bed that night mind racing. He knew that Frank was using his insecurities against him, that he’d just set out to upset him. It didn’t matter though, how many times he told himself that, the little voice inside him, the part that hated himself whispered to Rob that every word was true. The McCallums would ask him to go soon.
Rob had asked Mr McCallum after the encounter what he’d done to annoy young Frank. “It’s not you he’s angry at, son, It’s me. I wasn’t always a terrific father to Frank.”
Rob didn’t push for more. He could see that Mr McCallum was upset, so he decided to stay out of young Frank’s way whenever he was on the farm and give him one less target.
In a hurry to spend some time fishing with Mr McCallum, Rob took a shortcut home to the farm, after school had ended for the day, through Neville’s farm and Moses’ field. As he made his way to the edge of the bull’s enclosure he saw Frank’s tractor parked in his own field. Frank had a tool bag and was fixing the old water pump that supplied the cattle’s trough near the edge of the field nearest his own farmhouse. Lifting his head Mr McCallum noticed Rob heading his way and gave him a wave before turning back to the pump. Rob waved back and then stopped dead. The gate leading to the McCallum’s field was open. Broken off the weak hinges he’d spotted earlier it now lay in the mud covered in footprints. Moses.
Still walking towards the gate Rob scanned the McCallum’s field. He spotted Moses, still looking pretty steamed, behind a little knoll off to Mr McCallum’s rear and to his left. Rob wasn’t particularly worried at first. Frank would hear the bull coming from a good distance and get himself to safety. It was as he thought this that Rob noticed two things.
The tractor’s engine, right beside Mr McCallum, was still noisily idling away, drowning the noise of Moses hoofs. Worse, Moses had decided that Frank was a good outlet for his pent up frustrations and was hurtling towards the old man in a charge at high speed and Frank was oblivious.
Nae’body’s Hero is almost complete and wil be available by February 2013.
You can by my debut novel “Bobby’s Boy” on paperback or Kindle here: