This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 932 words.
For the next six months, Tony felt as if life was on hold. Mel and Scott made countless trips back and forth to hospitals, even another stay down in London. Scott was back working some shifts as a police sergeant, but Mel had told her head teacher that she was unlikely to be coming back, and she should advertise her job at the school. Annie immersed herself in knitting things for Angela, and started to become obsessive about cleaning the house. As for Tony, he kept working on the old green Cortina, replacing most engine parts and renewing the chrome trim.
Anything to take their minds off what was happening with little Angela.
Then one Sunday evening, there was a knock at the door. Mel and Scott were there with Angela, and Scott’s parents were with them. Mel looked happy. “Sorry to arrive unannounced, dad, but we have something to discuss with you”. Annie made tea, and offered cake and sanwdiches. Mel held her hand. “Sit down, mum, we have to tell you something”.
Scott did the talking.
“On Friday, I took a call from a consultant in London. He had been discussing Angela’s case with a colleague. It seems that man has done similar operations to the one Angela needs. In fact, he has done it six times in the last two years, and has a hundred percent success rate. None of the children went blind, none got brain damage, and all are doing well. He is prepared to see us in Boston next month, and all being well he will operate the same week. We would have to stay there for a while after though, for follow ups and tests. I spoke to my Inspector, and he is prepared to recommend compassionate leave, and Mel is leaving the school anyway, so that isn’t an issue”.
Annie was delighted, and jumped out of her chair to hug her daughter.
Tom Reynolds nodded. “Yes, it’s great news. The best news. Trouble is, it costs a small fortune. We have not long moved to our place in Skegness, but I still have fifty thousand left from my police pension lump sum. Goes without saying they can have that. Then Scott tells me they are not going to buy the house on the new estate, so that frees up the deposit money they saved. But they are going to have to rent somewhere to stay in Boston, or pay for hotels. There might be more money needed for the extra tests later too. By our reckoning, they are still ten grand short”. The silence around the kitchen table was intense. Tony could see everyone looking at him.
Except Annie, who was looking at the floor.
“I will find that money, Tom. leave it to me”. Mel had tears running down her face. “Thanks, dad. And you mum”.
When they had gone, Annie was in a mood. “Why did you tell them that, Tony? You must know we only have a couple of thousand in the savings account. We would have had so much more if you hadn’t spent everything on those bloody cars”. She went up to bed without saying goodnight, and Tony took the bottle of Brandy out of the cupboard in the living room to pour himself his first stiff drink since last Christmas Day.
Early the following Saturday, Kevin showed up at the house. Annie had hardly spoken to Tony all week, and he had been sleeping in Mel’s old room to keep out of her way. He was wearing a jacket when he came downstairs, and carrying a folder. “We are going out for a while, love. Don’t worry about dinner, we will get some fish and chips or something later”. Still grumpy, Annie shrugged. “Do what you want, you always do”.
During the hundred and forty mile journey from Sleaford to Ascot, Kevin followed Tony’s Consul Cortina all the way. Tony had insisted on giving him the money to fill up the tank of his car, and thanked him for his help. At the famous Ascot Racecourse, the Classic Car Auction was about to start not long after they arrived. Tony went to the office and signed the necessary papers, handing over a set of keys so any potential buyers could see the car being driven around. Then him and Kevin watched as interested parties walked up and down inspecting the numerous cars parked in rows.
When it got to the green Consul Cortina, the auctioneer announced he had a commission bid already, and started the bidding at seven thousand five hundred. A few bidders in the crowd pushed it up quickly to almost ten thousand, then they all dropped out except one. He continued to bid against the commission bid until it got to eleven thousand eight hundred, then shook his head.
It was all over so quickly, Tony hardly realised when the hammer came down.
Back in the office of the auctioneer, the man smiled as he opened the cheque book. “My commission bidder had told me to go to fourteen. That is the best example of a sixty-three car I have ever seen, and I’ve been doing this a long time my friend”. He raised his pen, and Tony leaned forward. “Make the cheque out to Melanie Reynolds, please”. As they walked back to the car park, Kevin put his hand on Tony’s shoulder. “Well, your Angela’s going to get her operation, but I reckon you are gonna miss that old Consul”. Tony shrugged.
“It’s only a car, Kev. But it was a good runner”.