Backstreet Child

Backstreet Child by Harry Bowling

Book: Backstreet Child by Harry Bowling Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harry Bowling
deliverin’ the flowers at a quarter to eleven.’
     
    Nellie nodded sadly. ‘It’s gonna be a big turn-out. I’m in the first coach wiv Sadie, Maisie an’ Maudie. We’re wiv Florrie’s relations. You’ll be in the second coach, Joe. I dunno who’ll be wiv yer.’ A sudden loud crack of thunder made them all jump. ‘I’ope it doesn’t do this termorrer.’ Nellie shook her head. ‘Florrie never liked thunder.’
     
    Joe nodded. ‘She’s gonna be missed,’ he said. ‘I remember when I first come ter Bermon’sey. She looked proper stern when I knocked on ’er door fer lodgin’s. She turned out ter be a diamond.’
     
    ‘She always ’ad a soft spot fer you, Joe,’ Nellie told him. ‘She loved ter fink everybody was talkin’ about ’er ’avin’ a young man. That was Florrie all over. They broke the mould when they made ’er.’
     
    Carrie noticed a look of distraction appear on her mother’s face and she became concerned. ‘Look, Mum, yer’ve got a long day in front of yer termorrer. Why don’t yer go up an’ get inter bed,’ she urged her. ‘I’ll bring yer cocoa up in a few minutes.’
     
    As the evening wore on, the storm gradually lessened. Soft music was playing on the wireless as Carrie ironed Nellie’s coat in the scullery. Rachel sat at the parlour table writing a letter to Derek. Joe was lying back in his chair with his eyes closed, his feet resting on the iron fender. Suddenly Rachel looked over to him. ‘Is it one or two g’s in conflagration?’ she asked him.
     
    Joe opened his eyes and scratched at his head. ‘Two, I fink. No, ’ang on, it’s one,’ he replied.
     
    ‘Never mind, I’ll put war,’ Rachel said smiling.
     
    ‘Is that to young Derek?’ Joe asked.
     
    ‘Who else?’ Rachel replied, giving him a coy grin.
     
    ‘Don’t ferget ter tell ’im yer love ’im,’ Joe said jokingly.
     
    Rachel put down her pen and wiped ink from between her fingers. ‘Derek’s f inishin’ ’is trainin’ soon. ’E’ll be gettin’ a ship then,’ she told him.
     
    ‘’E’s a nice young lad,’ Joe remarked. ‘I ’ope ’is intentions are honourable.’
     
    ‘I wanted us ter get engaged,’ Rachel said softly, eyeing the door in case her mother overheard her, ‘but Derek feels we should wait.’
     
    ‘Well, I fink the lad’s talkin’ a lot o’ sense,’ Joe told her. ‘Yer both still young an’ there’s a lifetime in front of yer. Jus’ take it easy.’
     
    ‘Yeah, but if war does start, Derek could be away fer ages,’ Rachel said, her face flushing slightly. ‘ ’E might be killed or badly wounded. I want ’im ter know I’m waitin’ fer ’im, so ’e’ll be more careful.’
     
    Joe smiled fondly at her. ‘Look, luv, Derek’s gonna be all right, an’ in any case it might not come ter war.’
     
    Rachel stared down at her ink-stained fingers for a few moments. ‘Yer love Mum, don’t yer, Joe?’ she asked quietly.
     
    ‘More than anyfing,’ he replied.
     
    ‘Well, if it was you in Derek’s place would you be sure that Mum would wait fer yer, as long as it took?’
     
    ‘As long as it took,’ he said.
     
    ‘Well, that’s ’ow I want Derek ter feel, that I’d be waitin’ fer’im, no matter ’ow long it took,’ Rachel said with feeling.
     
    ‘I’m sure ’e does. I could see that look in ’is eyes when yer came back from Brighton,’ Joe told her, a ghost of a smile playing around his lips.
     
    Rachel let her shoulders sag as she sat at the table. She felt at ease with Joe, she always had done, and she knew she could confide in him, tell him that she and Derek were lovers, but she knew by the look on his face that there was no need. He already knew. Did her mother know? she wondered. She and Joe would have talked about the trip to Brighton, and after all, they were lovers themselves. They would know the signs, see the looks she and Derek exchanged constantly.
     
    Rachel picked up the pen once more. Joe closed

Similar Books

The Stronger Sex

Hans Werner Kettenbach

Black Parade

Jacqueline Druga

Captive Heart

Anna Windsor

Six Crises

Richard Nixon