Copyright Stevie Turner @2019. You can find Chapter 6 here.
“Hi Connie, how’s it going? Didn’t see you last week.”
Mike plonks his tray down and takes a seat next to me.
I take a sip of tea and feel a slight blush to my face.
“My son needed a tooth extracted. I stayed with him at the hospital.”
“Oh?” Mike looks at me with interest. “How old is he?”
I realise he’s clocked my middle-aged features so I’ll have to tell him about Kieran, otherwise he might think I’m one of those overbearing matriarchs unwilling to let their adult children flee the nest.
“He’s thirty, but he’s mentally disabled.”
He wants more information. I butter my scone and try to hold off a while longer.
“Was he born like that?”
I shake my head.
“He suffers from epilepsy. One day when he was seven he went into a grand mal fit that lasted hours, and he was never the same again. The doctors couldn’t do anything to stop it. He’s brain damaged and is usually either in a wheelchair or in bed these days.”
He seems genuinely concerned. I swallow a mouthful of scone, which feels deliciously warm and crumbly.
“It was a long time ago.” I shrug. “We get by. My husband left, he couldn’t cope with Kieran in the state he’s in, but my daughter and her husband help out as much as they can. Kieran goes to a day centre on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that’s why you won’t see me the rest of the week.”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to pry.”
“That’s okay.” I reply. “It’s all water under the bridge now.”
We eat in silence for several more minutes. When I finish my scone I sit back in my chair.
“I remember you told me you’re a healer.”
“That’s right.” Mike cuts into a fat sausage with gusto. “I didn’t realise I had the gift of healing until I was in my mid-twenties. I’m psychic, and when I joined a development group the leader told me I had healing hands.”
His fingers are about the same size as the sausages on his plate. They look more like they should be shoveling something, building a wall, or changing a flat tyre.
“You’ve got hands like my dad had.” I chuckle. “They look like they’d be more at home drilling or sawing.”
“I can’t even bang a nail into the wall. Totally unpractical, that’s me, but do look me up on Google and you’ll see what I can do.”
I decide not to tell him that I already have. Instead I play along and pick up my phone.
“How do you spell your surname?”
“D-U-V-A-L-E.” He wipes a last piece of bread around his empty plate. “Michael Duvale.”
The familiar website comes into view straight away from my previous search.
“Wow. You’ve got excellent reviews.”
“Thank you.” He drains the last of his tea. “I was given a talent, and I try to use it to the best of my ability.”
“Have you healed any of your family?”
I already know the answer, but want to hear it from Mike.
“Yeah.” He answers with a snort of contempt. “I cured my then wife of bowel cancer. However, she was so happy to have her death sentence lifted that she ran off with my best mate.”
I screw my face up into what I hope is an expression of sympathy. I hardly know the guy, but a question has started to burn in my brain and I won’t rest until I know the answer.”
“Do you think you could do anything for Kieran? I mean… I’m willing to pay the fee required and take him to wherever…”
There’s one of those pregnant pauses, and I’ve no idea what he’s going to say next. I hold my breath until he nods.
“I can give it a go, but no promises. Have a look on the website and see which meeting is nearest to you. The places get filled up quickly though.”
“That’s great. Thanks” I cannot stop my mouth from breaking into a broad grin. “I’ll write you a cheque now if you like?”
“No, no.” He holds out an arm and the flat of his hand. “That won’t be necessary. Just pay on the day after the session. Can you get Kieran to a meeting?”
“Even if I have to walk.”
When I get home I log into the computer and search Mike’s website. The nearest meeting is next Saturday afternoon at the Holiday Inn in Norwich, about an hour’s drive away. There are three spaces left. I pick up my phone and dial Katie’s number.
Her cheerful voice always makes me smile.
“Hi love. Listen, don’t think me strange, but I want to take Kieran to a healing session in Norwich. Would you and Finn be able to give us a lift and help to get him in and out of your car? It’s on Saturday afternoon. You can go off and do your own thing while we’re in the venue, perhaps shopping?”
“Healing? Er …sure. We’ve got nothing on. Tell me more.”
I try and explain my limited knowledge on spiritual healing. Katie is intrigued. We carry on chatting about nothing in particular, and after I end the call I give Kieran a hug.
“I know you’re in there, darling.” I whisper into his ear. “One of these days you’re going to talk to me again.”
My son swallows some pureed apple. His face turns the colour of claret as he strains to fill his nappy.
Chapter 8 on Tuesday…