A 10 year old boy turns detective to save his mother from a baby-killing charge
I was woken up at five o’clock in the morning by someone ringing the doorbell and banging on the door very loudly.
“Open up!” shouted a voice from outside. “This is the police!”
My room faces the back garden, so I barely heard it. I think I’d been dreaming, so when I woke I wasn’t sure if it was part of the dream. But the banging continued. So I got up and staggered to the stairs, barely awake. I got there just in time to see dad also staggering down the last few steps.
“Dad what is it?” I called out from the top of the stairs as dad reached the front door.
“Get back to your room,” dad replied turning back briefly to look at me. “I’ll deal with it.”
Of course, I didn’t go back to my room. I stayed at the top of the stairs to watch. Dad opened the door and three or four policemen barged past him. One of them – an older man in his forties – wasn’t wearing a uniform. That meant he was a plain-clothes detective – I know that from The Bill. He held up a piece of paper, practically shoving it in dad’s face.
“I’m Inspector Hart of the Metropolitan Police, Area Two. I have here a warrant for the arrest of Linda Blaine on suspicion of the murder of Davida Blaine and a warrant to search these premises. Where is your wife, Mr Blaine?”
I froze in panic. What on earth was going on? Mum didn’t kill the baby! The babies had died of cot death! Both of them! At least that’s what the doctors said!
“This is ridiculous!” dad snapped. But he didn’t sound angry. I’ve heard him when he’s angry and this didn’t sound anything like it. It sounded more like he was afraid. I’d never heard him sounding frightened before… and I think it made me a bit afraid too.
But I didn’t stick around long enough to hear anything else. I ran straight into Mum and dad’s bedroom – ahead of the two policemen who were striding quickly up the stairs. Actually one of them was a policewoman. She followed me into the bedroom, while the policeman stood in the doorway.
The policewoman looked at my mum.
“Mrs Blaine, we have a warrant for your arrest on suspicion of the murder of Davida Blaine.”
I looked round at mum. She was cowering in bed, clenching the covers and struggling for breath. I’d never seen mum like this either. She‘s usually the tough-talking one. (She even looked tough because of her height: she was 5’ 11” – dad is only 5’ 9”.) In fact she was so tough, I’ve even heard her using the F-word on the phone when she talks to her boss – usually when she thinks I’m not listening.
But now she looked completely different… like the world was collapsing on the top of her. The policewoman walked towards the bed as she cringed under the covers and trembled with fear. I ran round to the other side of the bed. I knew I couldn’t protect her; but I wanted to comfort her.
The policewoman pulled at the cover hard and wrenched it from mum’s grasp. At that point I got very angry. I know you’re not supposed to hit a woman, but when she tried to grab my mum I just leapt onto the bed and tried to push the policewoman away. But a big policeman ran forward and grabbed me, lifting me away. I tried to use my karate on the policeman. (I was almost a green belt then.) But he was too big and the kick didn’t seem to hurt him. In fact he almost smiled at it. He probably thought it was funny that a ten-year-old boy was trying to protect his mum from a policeman.
By this stage the policewoman and a policeman were dragging mum away. Dad ran into the room and tried to stop them, but another pair of policeman grabbed him.
“Calm down!” shouted the man who called himself Inspector Hart. Dad looked over at mum. She was still struggling.
“Linda, don’t struggle,” he said helplessly. “We’ll get a lawyer. It’ll all be sorted out.
Mum looked at him with a desperate, pitiful look. But she did stop struggling.
“What about Ethan?” asked dad.
“We have people from social services waiting downstairs,” said Inspector Hart.
“You’re taking him into care?” said Dad. I could hear the anger in his voice – and this time it was real anger and not just fear.
“It’s purely a precautionary measure,” said Inspector Hart.
“Am I being arrested?” said dad. Again the anger was real.
“Not as long as you don’t interfere with the execution of the warrant to arrest your wife or the search warrant for the premises.”
“Then why can’t Ethan stay with me?”
“Like I said, it’s purely a precaution. You may wish to attend the police station when your wife is questioned, or to make arrangements with a lawyer. The boy will need to be looked after in the meantime.”
“He can stay with my sister. She lives near Brent Cross.”
“You can apply to the Social Services for the return of your son. And if you’re not satisfied with their answer, you can apply to the courts. Our job is to ensure that the law is kept.”
The inspector actually sounded quite gentle when he said it. It was almost like he felt sorry for dad. But that didn’t matter to me then.
By now, I was clinging on to dad, while I watched mum being led away. I understood what they were talking about. And from the way mum was looking at me, I knew that she did too. Mum was being arrested and I was being taken away from dad.
I suppose I should tell you a little bit about the background – that way you’ll understand what was going on.
When mum and dad had another baby it was the happiest day in their lives. They’d waited nine years after they had me. And then, one day, dad told me that mum was going to have a baby. It was that sudden.
I was as happy as mum and dad. You see, my friends at school were always talking about their “little brother” or “baby sister” with a mixture of pride and amusement – and sometimes I got rather jealous.
“My little brother tipped over a flower vase,” one of them had said once, with an impish smile. Or “my baby sister stood up for the first time yesterday.” I liked these stories and I always wished I had some stories of my own to match theirs. But I didn’t have any younger brothers or sisters to boast about, and all I could do was listen in jealous silence.
So I was quite happy when dad told me that mum was having a baby.
I knew – sort of – why she’d waited this long. Dad explained to me once. Mum and dad were both “professionals”. Or, to be more exact, they were something called “fund managers”. That means they look after the money that thousands of people save for their pensions. They invest it in companies and it makes a profit.
“It’s a great responsibility,” dad said once.
That was why they stopped having children after they had me, dad explained, whenever I told them I wanted a little brother. “Your mum can’t afford to take too much time out of her work to look after another baby.” So, until I was nine and half, I was an only child. Mum and dad tried to make it up to me by telling me I was “special”. It didn’t really make me feel any better. But I didn’t complain. I mean some of my friends hated their brothers or sisters. So I guess I might have been lucky after all. Anyway, I had a few friends at school and I made a whole lot more on the internet.
But I still wanted a little brother.
So it was one of the happiest days of my life too when mum came home from the hospital with the baby. True, it was a girl and not a boy. But still it was a baby. So what if it was a baby sister instead of a brother? I’d still have someone to talk about to my friends. And she was so sweet and little.
They even let me hold her, explaining that I had to be careful. Mum showed me how to support the baby’s head with the inside of my forearm. I already knew this because I’d read up on the Internet about looking after babies. But I pretended I was hearing it for the first time so they’d be happy that I was listening to them.
It was a bit difficult for mum at first. Felicity – that’s what they decided to call the baby – kept waking up in the middle of the night and crying because she was hungry. That meant that mum had to wake up and feed her. And because I could hear the baby crying and dad talking to mum, it meant that I kept waking up too.
But still… it was nice having a baby to boast about.
And then, after three months, something terrible happened. Felicity died of something called “cot death” or “SIDS”.
I was very unhappy. But I didn’t cry. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t cry, even though I was unhappy. Dad didn’t cry either. Only mum cried. But she cried enough for all of us. It was a hard time for her. She’d wanted the baby so much and one minute it was there and the next minute it was gone. But it was hard for me too. Because now I had to be careful about everything I did. Anytime I did something wrong – even the slightest thing – and I’d get shouted at. I knew that it was because mum was unhappy about the baby – and dad was unhappy because mum was unhappy. But that didn’t make it any better for me.
There was a lot of talk after that about “trying again” and “having another go.” But mum kept saying things I didn’t understand at the time about a “genetic defect” and just wanting to “hold a baby in my arms,” and “what about all those poor babies that don’t have a home?” These were just little bits of their conversations that I knew I wasn’t supposed to hear. But even though we lived in a big house, I couldn’t help hearing these things and I sort of knew what was going on.
I wasn’t sure whose idea it was to adopt a baby, but at some point they told me that they were going to. They thought I might not like the idea, so they told me that it would still be my brother or sister just as much as if his mum had had it. I thought about telling mum and dad that I’d prefer a brother to a sister, because then I could teach him things about football and computers. But I realized that it wasn’t the right time.
And by the time it was the right time, it was already too late – because mum had come home with another girl. If only that had been the end of the story.
Before I go on, I think I’d better tell you what I look like, or at least what I looked like then. I was four foot eight and a quarter inches tall and weighed five stone six and a half pounds. (Now I’m 4 foot 11” tall and I weigh 6 stone and four pounds. But I’m 12 now, so I’ve grown a lot.)
My eyes are sort of… like… something between blue and green (Mum says they’re blue, but dad days they’re green.)
My hair is blond, but not very blond. I mean it’s not blonde like Britney Spears. Mum calls it “ash blond” – but I don’t know if that means like the tree or like what’s left after you smoke a cigarette.
Mum also says that I have an “angelic smile”, but that doesn’t count because she’s… well… my mum.
Anyway, I was telling you about the baby and what I thought about it. Well actually I was really happy about the second baby – and it didn’t bother me at all that it was girl. I mean I wanted a brother. But it didn’t really matter. I mean all babies are nice. (My dad told me that even I was!) They called the new baby Davida – pronounced Daveeda – for some reason.
I remember when they first picked up the baby from the “social services”. It was in a little pink romper suit, just like the last one. But this one had a little white oak tree embroidered on it. (That little oak tree was going to become extremely important over a year later – only I didn’t know that at the time!) They said its mother made it – the embroidered oak tree I mean.
I wondered at the time why the baby’s mother went to all that trouble if the baby was going to be adopted. I think I also wondered why it was being adopted. Was the mother poor? Insane? Maybe she’d even died. I whispered something about it to my dad. But he told me that they didn’t know. I asked him why he didn’t ask. But he said that they’d never tell him even if he did.
“We should just be grateful that for whatever reason, we can adopt the baby,” dad said. “And because the baby has a loving home to grow up in, everyone will be happy.”
Mum was certainly happy. It was such a change in her after the way she cried her eyes out all the time, I was really glad that at last she was happy again.
The trouble was… things didn’t stay that way. Just when everything seemed to be going right, tragedy struck again. And this time mum was shattered. I was ten and a half by then and I understood things quite well. But it’s very hard for me to explain it. It’s about feelings. I mean just think about it. First she was looking forward to the first baby being born. She’s pregnant for nine months. All that time she’s thinking about just one thing: this lovely baby she’s going to have. Then she loses it. And she feels guilty. She keeps asking herself if it’s her fault. I know a bit about these things because Lexie’s mother explained it to me. (I’ll tell you about Lexie later.)
So then she decides to adopt a baby. Is it because adopting a baby is quicker? And she wants a baby so badly that she has to get it quickly? Is it because she thinks she has something physically wrong with her? Maybe she thinks that any baby she has will have health problems?
Whatever the reason, she adopts a baby. It all happens very quickly – maybe even too quickly. (Dad said it’s because we were “middle class professionals.”)
And then – all of a sudden – the new baby died too. I think you can guess how it hit mum. The only thing you don’t know is how much worse it can get.
And the reason it got worse is all because of one man. His name was Rex Heath.