Jason steed royal decree, p.1
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       Jason Steed Royal Decree, p.1
 

           Mark A. Cooper
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Jason Steed Royal Decree


  JASON STEED

  BY ROYAL DECREE

  MARK A. COOPER

  Copyright © 2014 Mark A. Cooper

  All rights reserved.

  ISBN-13 978-1500561291

  DEDICATION

  To Sandra, you are the reason why I look forward to waking up everyday.

  All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems.- except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews-without permission in writing from its author.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  www.markacooper.com

  Library of Congress Catalogue-in-Publication data is on file with the author.

  Chapter one

  “How much longer are you gonna keep this up?” Shamus shouted.

  “Keep what up?” Maude asked, slamming down his dinner so hard on the table most of the peas spilled off the plate and ran across the vinyl tablecloth.

  Bradan smiled as he watched the peas run across the table. He climbed from the chair and left his brother and sister-in-law to argue. The O’Neill’s told everyone Bradan O’Neill was still-born thirty-eight years earlier. The hospital staff fought to save him and eventually had brought him back to life. His brain was damaged, and as a result, he had a mental age of a four-year-old. He would be held in a mental asylum if it wasn’t for his younger brother Shamus taking him in. Shamus’s wife Maude helped look after him.

  The family lived in a small three-bedroom local authority home on McDonald Street, in the Lower Falls area of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Maude worked at the local grocers. She stood just under five foot tall with shoulder length red hair. She married Shamus, her school sweet heart, ten years earlier. The couple argued frequently. They had been unable to conceive a child, and after constant arguing or nagging as Shamus called it, he finally agreed with Maude that they would adopt a child.

  However, having a retarded thirty-eight year old man in the home became an obstacle to adopting an infant. Social services were concerned that Bradan was clumsy and being in the home was not a safe environment for a tiny baby.

  “Okay, I’ll come to the meeting tomorrow but it seems like a waste of time to me. You’ll only get upset when they turn us down again.” Shamus affectionately placed his hand on the back on Maude’s hand. She smiled back at him before settling down and started eating her dinner. Maude loved Shamus; it took just a smile and she would do as he asked. Shamus was a tall, thin man, usually unshaven with a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.

  But his broad smile and large brown eyes melted Maude’s heart. She had adored him since they were at school together.

  *

  Shamus and Maude were shown into a meeting room and asked to wait for caseworker Jerry Duffy. Plastic toys spilled out of a trunk in the center of the room. The walls were painted with rainbows, fluffy white clouds, and characters, mostly dwarfs from the Disney movie Snow White. Maude clutched her purse tight, her curly red hair bouncing off her shoulders as she looked around the room, finding it hard to contain her excitement.

  “Ah Shamus and Maude top of the morning to ya.” Jerry Duffy smiled. The little Irish man paced into the room and shook the couple’s hands. He stood no taller than five foot and had a gap where his two front teeth should have been. It gave him a lisp as he spoke.

  “Do you have any news on our application for the adoption yet?” Maude asked.

  “Maude.” Jerry paused. “I can call you Maude and Shamus I hope? If ‘twas up to me, I’d be giving you a baby today, but other workers on your case are concerned about Bradan, after he hurt that wee boy a few years ago.”

  “That wee boy, as you put it, was fourteen and stealing Bradan’s drawings. He deserved to get his arse kicked,” Shamus argued. “Bradan doesn’t have much. His drawings may seem like nothing to others but they are everything to him.”

  “Shamus, I’m on ya side, but others think he’s off his nut and worried if you had a baby or a little snapper in the home who touched his drawings… Well you can see their point?” Jerry said.

  Shamus looked at Maude. “I told ya this would be a waste of time.” Maude’s eyes welled up. She and Shamus had been hoping to have a baby, but after ten years of marriage, nothing had happened. She longed to have a child of her own. It made matters worse sitting on the sidelines and watching as her friends give birth to multiple children.

  Jerry opened a file and smiled. “I do have something that might cheer you up. It’s not a baby, but it’s a child who needs a family. To start with, we just need to find him a foster family, but if you like him and he likes you, then maybe we can consider something more permanent.”

  “Him?” Maude said excitedly. “How old is he?”

  Jerry looked back at the file. “He’s twelve. He just arrived in our care. I don’t know much about him. He was born in Belfast and has been living with an adopted family in England. Apparently, the adopted parent died a few years ago and he has been bounced around a few foster families. Social services in England think it may be easier for him back in Belfast.”

  “Twelve, that’s nice. I have a niece that age. Can we meet him?” Maude asked. She looked at Shamus for approval. He nodded and held her hand.

  “Well, he’ll be here tomorrow. I can bring him to your home. These older children can be a challenge. They sometimes have issues and need just as much love and care as a wee baby.”

  CHAPTER TWO

  Twelve-year-olds Jason Steed and Scott Turner travelled by Royal Air-Force transport plane to Shackleton Army barracks in Northern Ireland. They had spent the last three days reading and going over Jason’s cover story for his undercover mission.

  They were very close friends but couldn’t be mistaken as brothers. Scott was thin, his skin white as if it had never seen the sun. His short hair brown matched his large brown eyes. Jason was slim and walked with confidence, his hair blond, short at the back and side and long in the front. His bangs covered his blue eyes.

  As expected, Scott being extremely intelligent had picked it up faster. He bombarded Jason with question after question until Jason had the information planted deep in his memory. The army barracks were to be Scott’s home for the next few weeks while Jason was undercover. Should Scotland Yard Undercover Intelligence (SYUI) need to get information from Jason, Scott would be used as his contact.

  No one would suspect anything suspicious of two twelve-year-old boys talking together. The boys were taken into a room by George Young, head of SYUI, who had travelled on ahead. He met the boys in the corridor.

  “Nice flight, boys?” George asked.

  “Are you kidding? It was a military plane. It was noisy, cold, and stunk of oil.” Scott said. Jason looked on, saying nothing. He knew it was only a matter of time before he was whisked away and undercover. He hated telling lies to people. He had gone undercover with a family once before, and he had struggled emotionally with the situation.

  George took the boys into an office with a metal brief case in the center of the table.

  “This is for you, Jason. It will help you with this mission,” George said and gently opened the case. Both boys peered inside. Jason’s smirk quickly changed to a frown. Scott’s eyes beamed.

  “Is this a joke? If it is, it’s not very funny.” Jason scowled.

  “That is way cool,” Scott said. He picked up the brown grubby teddy bear from the case and started to examine it. Jason looked at his friend in wonder.

  “Scott I know you better than that. Even you still
don’t have a teddy,” Jason said.

  “You are one smart cookie Scott.” George smiled. “How could you tell it’s not just a cuddly toy?”

  “It’s not?” Jason asked, looking even more mystified.

  “Well George, you’re hardly likely to be giving Jason a cuddly toy. He’s about to go undercover in the home of an IRA bomber. What’s in it? A gun? A bomb? A laser? Do the eyes shoot bullets?” Scott paused, examining the Teddy bear more. “Oh, he’s only got one eye.”

  “What are you two talking about?” Jason asked.

  George took the teddy bear from Scott. “Jason on this mission you get gizmos,” George said.

  “Gizmos?”

  “You know Jason, just like James Bond had tear gas disguised as talcum powder or that cigarette that could shoot out a bullet or a pen that could do the same and lasers,” Scott said.

  “But how did you know that the teddy was a gizmo?” Jason asked his friend.

  “Why else would it be in a metal case and opened for you by the head of SYUI?”

  Jason shrugged his shoulders. “What does it do?”

  George explained. “Pull his button eye and twist it to the right and it starts recording. Both ears have powerful microphones built in. To replay it back, you have to turn the eye back to the left and push it in again. Then, push the nose twice. A miniature speaker is fitted in his mouth. It’s not going to be loud but loud enough for you to hear if you hold its mouth to your ear.” He demonstrated.

  “So if I want to listen to what I recorded I have to cuddle it and have it almost kissing my ear?” Jason smiled.

  “Yes, look after Charlie well. Now, we have to move. We have work to do,” George said passing the teddy bear to Jason.

  “Charlie?”

  “Charlie Ted. Call him that. The story is you have had him for as long as you remember and you keep him as a comforter.”

  “But I’m twelve,” Jason whined.

  “You’re also an orphan with no family, so anything like Charlie gives an orphan some familiarity and something to hug. You never know, you might get to like him,” George said.

  “Can I take Jason’s picture holding his teddy bear?” Scott said.

  “Not if you want to live,” Jason snapped, glaring at his friend.

  George took them into another room where a man was waiting at a desk.

  “Jason, this is Paddy Murphy. He is going to take you to meet your real social worker, a gentleman called Jerry Duffy,” George said.

  Jason looked up at the man and shook his hand, followed by Scott who was grinning.

  “Paddy Murphy? That’s a bit over the top don’t you think. Surely you could have come up with a better name than that?” Scott laughed. The man pulled back his hand from Scott and glared at him.

  “That’s my name, it is,” Paddy Murphy said in a broad Irish accent.

  “Oh. Sorry, it just seemed a bit obvious,” Scott said.

  “Well, you’re in bloody Ireland now so get used to it,” Paddy said. He turned and looked at Jason who had a large smirk on his face. He seemed as if inspecting something for damage. “And as for you Jason, get those posh clothes off. You’ve come from a foster home; you can’t go in wearing that. And your shoes.” He passed Scott a bag of clothing. “Help your friend get ready; we need to move. Jerry Duffy will be waiting, he will. And why is your hair so long? I can’t see your eyes.”

  “That’s Jason. He always has long hair in the front,” Scott said as he opened the carrier bag and pulled out the clothing and shoes they had chosen.

  “Can he not speak for himself?” Paddy asked, looking at Jason.

  “I can keep my jeans. Jeans are just jeans,” Jason said.

  Paddy looked down at him, his face inches away from Jason.

  “You’re wearing bloody new Wranglers and Nike trainers. Get them off,” Paddy said, prodding Jason with a pair of jeans from the bag. “These jeans are what foster children wear, cheap ones from the market.”

  Jason took a deep breath and undressed to his underwear and picked up the jeans provided for him. They were used, torn and frayed at the bottoms He pulled them up, hoping they would not fit. Scott picked up a pair of grayish baggy underpants and waved them at Jason with a grin across his face.

  “Jase, you gotta put these on too,” Scott said.

  “No one is going to get close enough to see what undies I wear. I’m keeping mine on,” Jason said. No one argued. He pulled on a loose fitting vest and topped it off with a blue hand knitted jersey. His new Nike trainers were replaced with a pair of used and scuffed school shoes. “At least they fit.” He sighed and felt the loose material hanging from his backside. “Although these are hanging off me.”

  “Of course they fit you. We have planned everything to fine detail. Now say your goodbyes to Scott and let’s go,” Paddy ordered.

  Scott looked at his friend and smiled. “I like the look. You would fit in with a bunch of rotters from a housing estate.”

  “I think that’s the whole idea. I wish I was staying at the base. It looks much more fun than where I have to go,” Jason said. He forced a smile. He went to shake Scott’s hand goodbye, then thought about a hug and then thought better of it. That was girly, so he ended up with a pat on his friends shoulder. Scott felt just as awkward and patted Jason’s arm.

  George came back into the room and looked at Jason. “Okay son, do us proud again. We need as much information on this lot as you can get. Every little detail could save a life or more. If we can find out who supplies the IRA with weapons and explosives, you are saving the lives of many plus saving the terrible injuries that they inflict. And if you can get the name of the head guy of the IRA, that would be ideal but probably impossible. And most important, more important than anything else, you must do one thing for me,” George said.

  “What’s that?” Jason asked, thinking he had missed something.

  “Jason, please...” George paused and placed his hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Please look after yourself. Don’t take any risks. This is a brutal war. We are not here to take sides. You can’t take on the IRA. Just get the information and get out.”

  Jason couldn’t swear on it but was sure he noticed George’s eyes welled up slightly. “I will, George. I’m just a poor little orphan going to live with a family, who just happened to blow up my grandparents,” Jason said.

  “We suspect Shamus was responsible, Jason. That’s all, but we have enough to know he is a high-ranking IRA officer. We need more than that. Taking him off the streets won’t stop the bombs going off. We need the suppliers and the man at the top issuing the orders,” George said.

  Paddy looked at his watch. “Mr. Young, we have to get going. Come along, Jason, it’s time to go to work.” Paddy packed the additional sets of clothing into a case and placed Charlie Teddy on top before closing it.

  Jason followed Paddy outside to a yellow Ford Cortina. They never spoke to each other as they drove out of the barracks towards the center of Belfast. Jason watched the scenery flash by. He thought Northern Ireland looked like parts of Britain, mostly the run down parts. Slogans and memorials such as ‘Brits out’ and ‘Sinn Fein Rules’ decorated homes, many covered the whole house from the base to the roof.

  Another building was painted red with the Ulster Freedom Fighters slogan and the image of a hooded man with a gun. Among the political slogans was a house painted with a picture of George Best, an Irish soccer star. When a sign read ‘Free Derry’ the area seemed more run-down, with more derelict homes. Many with windows boarded up.

  Eventually, they stopped at Belfast Council Social Welfare offices. Paddy parked the car. He caught the curb with one wheel. He tried again, this time the back wheel was on the curb. He gave up and turned the engine off. Jason made a mental note not to trust Paddy’s driving.

  “Okay we’re here,” Paddy said. Jason never spoke. He was tentative, a mixture of excitement nervousness, dreading who he would be meeting, where he would be eating and sleeping. The jer
sey had already started to make him itch around his neck.

  Jason followed Paddy into the offices. They were met by Jerry Duffy.

  “Hello, young man. You must be Jason Norris. Welcome back to Ireland.” Jerry smiled. Jason had chosen the undercover name Norris again, rather than Steed, after his idol, the world karate champion, Chuck Norris.

  “Hi,” Jason quietly replied.

  “Have all the barber shops in England gone on strike?” Jerry asked.

  Jason looked puzzled. He was unsure of what he had said. The Irish accent was taking a while to adjust to. “What, who’s on strike?” Jason asked.

  “Why is your hair so long, boy?” Jerry asked and smiled, rocking back and fourth on his heels.

  “I don’t know it just keeps growing. Maybe I should stop eating,” Jason replied in a contemptuous tone.

  Jerry raised his eyebrows at Paddy. “Maybe it was a long journey and he’s tired. Okay Paddy, I’ll take it from here. It was nice meeting you. I’ll take Jason to meet the O’Neill family.”

  *

  Jerry stopped his car outside the O’Neill’s home on McDonald Street. Jason sluggishly climbed out the car and looked up and down the street. It was empty, apart from a few old parked cars. There was no sign of activity on this street, but he knew from the twitch of a curtain or two from neighboring homes that someone had noticed his arrival.

  McDonald Street was a row of thirty or so identical terraced stone built homes. Each one had a different color front door. The O’Neill’s home had a red front door; they did not own a car.

  Maude O’Neill opened the front door and beamed when she saw Jason looking up at her. He parted the blond fringe of hair that hung over his eyes and smiled back at her.

  “Maude, this is Jason Norris. Jason, this is Mrs. O’Neill,” Jerry said.

  “Jason, what a nice name. You’ll be needing your hair cut soon.” Maude smiled.

 
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