CHAPTER FORTY FIVE
Brian sat with his hands pressed against the smooth, wooden table. His fingers slowly traced the grooves that had developed over the years. He stared at the parcel he had just wrapped up in the bright red paper with a silver bow on top. Beside it was the blue envelope for the card.
He looked down at the card in front of him with the huge green, smiling monster on it holding a big number six. Slowly, he opened the card and stared at the inside of it. Happy Birthday was already written inside of it, he had to write the rest. But what should he write? To Sammy, love daddy. Was he his daddy anymore? Or was Sammy calling someone else that at this moment in time.
He picked up the pen and stared at the card again. He wasn’t sure if he could do this…
He’d been at home for two days with Kevin and the others checking up on him. They had forced him to eat, even though Brian felt permanently sick. He was also banned from Sammy’s room. Kevin had locked it and confiscated the key after he had arrived one morning and found Brian asleep, with red blotchy eyes from crying, on Sammy’s rug. Brian had begged him not to take the keys; it was the only link he had left to Sammy.
“You can’t do this to yourself, Brian,” Kevin had said.
Brian had spent the next night crying downstairs instead of in Sammy’s room.
Kevin would not even take him to visit Sammy. He was convinced that Brian would try and kidnap him. As tempting as that was, Brian knew it wasn’t possible. Kevin thought it was best to give it some time before he saw Sammy again. Brian knew he was right. He knew that if he saw him now he would only cry. What if he went to see him and Sammy didn’t want to speak to him? It was his fault he’d been kidnapped…
Brian stared at the parcel again. He didn’t have any choice about today. He had to go. He had to show Sammy that he still cared about him, no matter what. Sammy would hate him forever if he didn’t come and visit him today.
Kevin hadn’t been in when he’d called so it’d been Nick who Brian had spent the last hour on the phone with, begging him to give him the address.
“Nick, I have to see him today. Please, tell me where he is. I won’t do anything stupid.”
“Brian, are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“It’s his sixth birthday! I have to go and se him. Nick, please! If you’re that worried, then you can come with me! But I have to go and see him today! He’ll think that I don’t love him!”
“All right, all right, I’ll take you to see him. Kevin told me the address, just promise me that you won’t cry. I can’t stand seeing you cry, Brian.”
“Thank you,” Brian had whispered, the tears already leaking into his voice.
He’d bought the art set for Sammy’s birthday before they had been kidnapped. He knew of the boy’s love for making colourful pictures, so it had seemed like a perfect present. Now it was wrapped up on his table and Brian wasn’t sure if he could give it to him anymore. He wanted to see him so badly but was afraid of how much it would hurt him.
There was the sound of a car horn outside. Nick was here. Brian bit his lip and looked down at the card. He went to sign it ‘Brian’ but his hand wrote ‘daddy’ without him noticing. He stared at it one last time as he heard Nick pap the car horn again. He sealed it in the envelope and grabbed the parcel and Rocky. Then he rushed to the car.
“Okay?” Nick asked, as he clambered in.
Brian nodded silently as he fumbled with the seatbelt. He felt ill. His whole body shook.
“Brian, you don’t have to do this if you’re not ready,” Nick said gently.
“Yes I do,” Brian replied, looking at the parcel.
Brian looked nervously up at the door. He had hardly been out of his house since the kidnapping. He preferred to stay inside where he could bolt the doors. But he had to get back on his feet for Sammy.
Gently he pushed the doorbell and waited. This was it…
A tall, dark haired man with a beard opened the door and stared at Brian in distaste. Brian felt himself cringe under the piercing look. The man sneered slightly as his gaze drifted towards the bruises that adorned his face.
Brian took a deep breath. “C – can I see Sammy?”
“Who are you?” the man asked in disgust. “Wait, I recognise you. You’re in one of those boy bands. Saw you on T.V the other day.”
“My name’s Brian Littrell. I was Sammy’s last carer,” he said quietly.
“You did a fine job, didn’t you? Look at the state of you! No wonder Sammy’s turned out the way he has!”
Ouch. There was another slow rip in his heart.
“W - what do you mean?”
“Would barely speak a word to anyone and wouldn’t do anything we told him to.”
“Please can I see him. I brought him a birthday present.”
“He’s not here anymore. The home took him back. Apparently he’s with a new family now.”
Brian felt his legs beginning to buckle. He had worked himself so much over this and now Sammy wasn’t even here. Where was he? What had they done with his baby?
“Where is he now?” he asked in a faint voice.
“I don’t know. Hilary found him a new family.”
Brian tried to speak again but he felt himself choke on the words. Tears were forming again and he couldn’t stop them. He backed away from the door and then turned and ran. He couldn’t cope with this…
Nick caught him by the shoulders before he could run down the street. Brian struggled through the tears to focus upon his friend’s face. Brian felt an awful spasm of pain inside of him. it was so intense that he cried out and then sunk to the ground with a sob. His baby was gone and he didn’t know where he was anymore…
“Brian, what’s wrong? Won’t they let you see him?” Nick asked urgently.
“H – h – he’s gone!” Brian wailed. “T – they took him to a new family! Where is he Nick? I’m his daddy and I should be with him on his birthday!”
Nick sat down beside him on the pavement and caught him in a tight embrace. Brian felt the his whole body aching with the effort of the sobs as he held his friend close for support.
“We’ll find him,” Nick said. “Don’t worry.”
“Why can’t I keep him? He’s my baby!”
“Let’s get you home, come on.”
Carefully, Nick helped a trembling Brian into the car and picked the present and card up from where Brian had dropped them.
Brian saw everything through a blur of tears. He was aware of half the street staring at him in curiosity. Nick climbed in beside him and rubbed Brian’s arm comfortingly. Brian barely noticed the gesture. He was only aware of his own internal pain as his heart was torn apart.
Kevin was sat in his own car when they returned. He leapt out as soon as Nick had stopped.
“Brian, where the hell have you been? I’ve been worried sick about” He suddenly noticed Brian’s tearful face.
Brian felt another sob hit him at the sight of his cousin. He reached out for a hug and Kevin returned it as he sobbed onto his shoulder.
“What happened?” Kevin asked.
“H – he’s not there!” Brian said.
“I took him to see Sammy, Kevin. I know you didn’t want me to, but it’s the kid’s birthday.”
“He isn’t there anymore,” Kevin said.
“I know,” Nick replied.
Brian pulled away from Kevin. “Do you know where he is? Kevin, please tell me!”
“Brian, listen - ”
“No! where is he!” Brian tried to push around his cousin. He had to call Hilary and get her to tell him where his baby was…
“Brian!” Kevin said, pushing him back into the seat. “Brian listen, Sammy is with anew family and I know where he is - ”
“Where! Tell me, please!”
“Brian, stop it. Look at you, you look terrible. You can’t see Sammy in your state! You need time to calm down.”
“But it’s his birthday - ”
“I know, but imagine how he’s going to feel if he sees you like this. It’ll ruin his day.”
Brian gave another sob and rubbed his stinging eyes.
“Look, I think it would be best if you went and stayed with your parents,” Kevin said gently.
“But - ”
“They called and you’re mom suggested it. You need a break from your house Brian. The memories are killing you. Now, you can go and stay with your family and get your head cleared.”
“But Sammy - ”
“You can call him when you get there and tell him you love him. You’ll see him soon I promise.”
Brian was still trembling. He wanted to see him now. It was his birthday, his special day…
Kevin held out a bag to him. “I’ve got some of your things and I booked us a flight home. Come on.”
Brian slowly tried to stand, but Kevin had to help his shaking body to support itself. He could barely walk as he was led to the car. He kept stumbling and tripping.
He felt numb as Kevin made him sit in the car, his bag and present tightly clutched in his arms. He saw Kevin talking to Nick and then his cousin was beside him.
“Nick’s going to sort Tyke out for you and then he’ll meet us at the airport, okay?”
Brian nodded, feeling too ill to ask why Nick was coming along. He wanted as many friends as he could with him to take his mind off of Sammy’s bright smile which kept invading his thoughts.
The tears slowly trickled down his cheeks.