The tramp sat, his back leaning against the bank’s wall. His stomach so cramped with hunger, he didn’t bother looking up as a suited man passed him. He had arrive in the town only yesterday, after being moved on from the last one. With the snow lying thick on the ground, he had hoped for more compassion from the passers by.
“Spare some change, sir?” he croaked.
The suited man ignored him and entered the bank.
“Charles, get on to the police and get that beggar moved.”
“Yes, Mr Faulkes.”
Jason Faulkes strode through the lobby and made his way to his office. Once inside he slammed the door and threw his briefcase on his desk, knocking over a photograph frame. He picked it up and gazed at the image of a young man in uniform. Jason hadn’t spoken to his son, Darren, for thirty years, not since he had defied him by joining the army.
The emotions Jason felt when Darren told him he was joining up, came flooding back. The gut wrenching fear for Darren’s safety, twisted and stabbed at him. He was assailed by guilt at not having tried to get in touch with him. In the thirty years since Darren left, he had been tempted to try and contact him, but his pride had always got in the way.
Jason, thought of the tramp he had passed. The vagrant had the look of an ex-service man. A man who'd served his country, yet when he had given his all, his country had obviously given him up.
He straightened his back and buzzed for his secretary.
“Janice, bring me a coffee and a sandwich . . . and Janice, tell Charles to belay that order to have the tramp moved on. Go out and give him £10.00 and a sandwich and coffee.”
“I can’t do that , sir.”
“You’ll do as I say or you’ll find your P45 with your payslip.”
The door to the office open and Janice shuffled in. “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t do what you asked because he’s gone.”
“Get me that coffee.”
The day wore on and Jason’s mood didn’t improve. The thoughts of the dirt stained, starving tramp made him think more and more of his son. Finally he punched in a search on his computer. The site that came up was a government one. Jason scanned the page and found a link for the MOD. He hit the ‘contact us’ link and started to write an email.
The reply when it came, two weeks later, came by mail.
We regret to inform you, that Darren Faulkes passed away on the 14th of March 2011. Please feel free to contact us if you require further information.
Jason stood shaking; tears of regret tracing a line down his face.
A week later he was standing in the office of Margaret Bosworth.
“Take a seat, Mr Faulkes. We were about to contacted you when your email was forwarded to us. Darren’s body was found in an alleyway behind the Morehaven Bank on the 14th March. It appears he died from Hyperthermia and other related problems. It also appears he may have being trying to get in contact with you.”
© Lindsey Chapman - http://word-weaving.blogspot.com/