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Such a Good Boy (1992)

The small country road had been undisturbed by the passing of cars for nearly two hours when the small, dirty yellow Datsun drove down it. As they passed a services sign, Jayne turned round to look at her son. "Timmy?"

He didn't answer. The boy must still be sulking from the smack she had given him earlier on, she thought. Jayne cleared her throat and faced the front again, so she could keep her eyes on the road. "Uh...Timmy...I thought we could stop at the next service station for a bite to eat? What do you think?"

Still no reply. Jayne tried again. "Look, I'm sorry I hit you. I just wanted you to learn some discipline, OK?"

Timmy remained immobile. Jayne began to feel annoyed. Well, if Timmy wanted it that way, that's how he could have it. The car came up beside the service station and she pulled in.

"If you don't answer me, young man, you might as well stay here while I go inside." She waited for a few seconds then glanced at her son again. "No? Well, I'll just have lunch by myself then, shall I?" Defiantly, she pulled herself out of the driver's seat and slammed the door hard, glancing at Timmy through the window to see if he would try to follow her.

****

Once she had collected her meal and found a table, Jayne began to feel remorseful. Timmy was her first and only child. She had divorced his father when Timmy was two, and Ryan had had custody up until a few months ago, when he had been killed in a ski-ing accident. Jayne had had little experience of children when suddenly her eight-year-old son had appeared, and she was still becoming accustomed to how to treat him. Jayne began to wolf down her food so that she could go back to Timmy as soon as possible. Jayne swung her legs out from underneath the table - and a small, solid object collided with them. She gasped and grabbed the table to stop herself from falling.

"Did he knock into you? I'm awfully sorry, are you hurt?" the young woman was saying.

"What?" Jayne looked down into the mischievous face of a two-year-old boy. "Erm - no."

"He would go running about like that..." The woman shrugged, then held out her hand to Jayne awkwardly. "I'm Kelly Dorsett and this is my son, Michael."

"Oh. I'm Jayne Weston," said Jayne, standing up and accepting the handshake. She smiled at Michael. "What a pretty little boy..."

As she reached out, he whimpered and retreated behind his mother. "I'm sorry, he's not usually so shy. Do you have children?" asked Kelly.

"Yes, Timmy. He's eight."

"Is he here with you?"

"No, he's out in the car. I should really be getting back to him..."

"Oh, of course." Kelly stepped to the side of Jayne, pulling Michael with her. "Don't let me keep you."

Jayne smiled and walked away without looking back. Kelly shivered as she watched her go, wondering what it had been about Jayne that had frightened Michael...and then she knew. That woman's eyes - there was something not quite right about them. Her gaze ...it had seemed almost demonic.

****

Jayne clambered back into the car and slammed her door before turning to look at Timmy. "You missed a good meal," she said cheerily. "They had hamburgers with onions - your favourite!"

Timmy stared at her with unblinking eyes. "If you like, I could take you back up there now and get you one. Would you like that? Come on, Timmy..."

She was almost desperate now. She looked closely at her son's face. He did seem a little pale. Maybe he was ill. Jayne put the car in gear and began to drive out of the station. "OK, you don't feel like eating right now. Maybe we'll stop later, if you like. Why don't you go to sleep? We've been driving for a long time, you must be tired." Jayne sighed. I'll just confiscate the TV next time, she thought.

****

Jayne had left the station behind an hour when she heard the blaring siren of a police car coming up behind her. The car drew level and the policeman inside gestured for her to pull over. Puzzled, she did as bid.

Jayne waited as the policeman got out of his car and came across to her. "Jayne Weston?" he said. "Mrs Jayne Weston?"

She nodded. "Is there a problem?"

"You have a son Timmy Weston?"

Again she nodded as he continued. "Well, we've had a report from Timmy's school that he hasn't attended for two months. He was reported missing by -"

"Missing?" she interrupted. "Timmy? But that's ridiculous!"

"Well, perhaps you could tell me where he has been for -"

"Been?" she repeated. "Been? He's been right here with me. With his mother. Nothing wrong with that is there? Here, you can ask him yourself. Maybe he'll talk to you! Goodness knows I haven't been able to get a word out of him all day!"

The policeman bent and peered into the back seat of the car as Jayne continued. "Say hello to the nice policeman, Timmy." The first thing he noticed was the smell...

Jayne reached over and patted the rotting hand of what had once been her son. "Still nothing! I can't understand it, officer. Usually he's such a good boy..."

Such a Good Boy


Robin Tamblyn (author)