The Squatter Stays

by obohobo

Tags: Ma/Fa, Romantic,

Desc: Fiction Story: After spending a night in a deserted house, destitute Kathryn claims a right to stay there but Bob has other ideas.

Copyright obohobo 2007

Chapter 1: The squatter

"Hi Ma!"

"What have you forgotten today Bobby?"

"As if I would."

"What about your sandwiches yesterday?"

"No Ma, I brought something for you that I found in 'Barn House'." I dragged the woman from the utility room into the kitchen where mother was clearing away the breakfast things. "Ma this is Kathryn and I found her sleeping rough in the house this morning. She says her name is Kathryn Bailey and she's from Scotland. Kathryn, this is my mother, Margaret Dawson."

"Call me Meg, everyone else does... except that slob of course. Can I call you Kath?" Kathyn nodded. "Come on in dear, it can't have been very warm in that house last night." As I expected, mother waddled over to the woman and gave her a hug that almost enfolded her within her bosom. A few tears trickled down Kath's cheek, overwhelmed by the greeting. Like me, mother is rather large in stature and, like many large, slightly overweight people, has a genial, friendly disposition. I don't always take after her in that respect. "Sit yourself down and I'll make a pot of tea. Don't suppose you've had any breakfast either." Whilst filling the kettle she turned on me, "Heh, what you been up to with her? If she was there all night and you've been there well over an hour, what you been doing to her that her clothes are in a mess?"

"Nothing much Ma, she just thought she had to right to live there and I should go away. I had to tell her differently."

That perhaps wasn't the whole truth.

I'm Robert Dawson, 'Bob' or 'Bobby' to most people and I'm a maintenance engineer for a large conglomerate of building contractors. The firm builds roads, bridges, office blocks, shopping malls and the like and because at least some of the projects are worked on twenty-four hours a day, we maintenance engineers at the main depot have to work a shift system too. One day on 'earlies' from six in the morning till two in the afternoon, the next on 'lates' from two till ten o'clock at night and then 'nights' from ten till six the following morning. We then get two days off. I'm mainly in the machine shop but I get sent on site when the need arises. I've worked the shift system for a number of years now and am used to it and enjoy having free time during the day which is more than the nine to fivers get.

Uncle Ernie bequeathed the 'Barn House' to me when he died last March. At the time it was built, 1912, the owners wanted much larger rooms and higher ceilings that was normal for domestic housing at the time, hence the nickname, although they never called it that. Uncle was born in it and lived there all his life but for the last ten or more years, he'd been infirm and had done nothing to the house unless it was directly essential to his welfare. "Why should I worry about the paintwork when what's on there will last my time out on this earth," he would remark bitterly, but unfortunately the paintwork needed attention long before he became infirm and rot had set in to the woodwork, which, combined with a lack of cleanliness, meant the place I inherited was in a very dilapidated state. I visited Uncle Ernie fairly frequently and did any necessary repairs but what he allowed me to do was very limited and, because none of the sash windows would open, a musty, somewhat malodorous smell, pervaded the place.

However, the detached two-storey house set in a quarter of an acre of land, was in a good neighbourhood in small village six miles from Ipswich. The garden, if you could call it that, was a wilderness when I took it over and until a few weeks ago, it lay hidden from the road by an overgrown hedge. Word about the property spread quickly and what I came to term 'the vultures' descended on me. Before I had even received the deeds to the place and started paying off the inheritance tax, land developers besieged me with offers that ranged from the downright mean to overgenerous but it gave me some idea of the value of the place. They would get four dwellings, maybe six if they made them three storeys high, on the site. However, I decided I would spend some time doing the place up and then live in it. Ma didn't want to move and I certainly didn't need a place as large as that, but several times she suggested I find a place of my own again and the 'Barn House' seemed the obvious choice. For three years I'd lived with a woman, Karen Childs, but eventually she found someone else who had a more interesting social life and we parted and not very amicably either so I really wasn't looking for another relationship.

I knew that if I sold, I would have more than enough to buy a modern place but being a practical man, I rather fancied doing it up and working in the building industry, I had access to expertise and materials and could even 'borrow' any heavy equipment needed. That's how I was able to clear the wilderness from around the house quickly; I borrowed a bulldozer on one of my free days and levelled everything and on another day enlisted the help of a mate and fork-lifted the rubbish into a lorry and took it to the dump.

Skilled shift workers like me get paid good money so with a regular income, I was easily able to afford the necessary materials and over the late summer, I gutted the interior and replaced the windows, doors and other outside woodwork, now in early October I had one last door at the back to replace and paint before I deemed the place watertight and secure for the winter. The previous day, I fitted the door into its opening but didn't have time to hang it before going to work on 'lates' and wedged the door in place considering the risk of anyone stealing the few building materials stored inside the house, to be very small. Next morning I noticed the door wasn't quite in place and the wedges were not in the same positions so it was with some caution I let myself in through the front door.

"Get out! This is my place now. I have squatters rights and you'll need a court order to evict me." A woman now sitting up on a bed made from a pile of lightweight insulation blocks, screamed at me. I took an instant dislike to her; she had the same dirty blonde hair as my ex partner. Despite her fierce words, I could see she was very frightened and she needed to be. I'm 6 ft 3 inches and big boned and because of the nature of my work, I'm strong and fit.

The scene struck me as being comical. A smallish woman, who had broken into my house and was sitting on a crude bed in the corner of an otherwise almost bare room, was threatening me. "Is that so?" I laughed and before she knew what happened I tossed her over my shoulder and carted her down the garden. She screamed and yelled and thumped my back but I didn't expect anyone to hear or notice. Coming to a patch of tall, damp grass I rolled her off my shoulder into it. "That's my sort of court order," I grinned and was immediately sorry for what I'd done, realising that she must have been pretty desperate to have spent the night in a deserted house with no heating or bedding. She didn't look like a druggy either and I'd seen enough of them hiding away on building sites. "Sorry, that was mean of me," I apologised and bent down to help her up. Immediately she raised her fists. "Don't even think about it," I warned, "Now if you agree the house belongs to me, we'll go back inside and put the kettle on and see what we can sort out. I won't harm you." I doubt she believed that but with my arms around her shoulders, she had little choice but to return to the house. All the way back she pleaded with me to let her go but she didn't actually forcibly free herself and I guessed she was too exhausted to put up much of a fight. Eventually I was able to drag the story from her.

"I originally came from Worcestershire but my parents moved to Scotland for work and I got a job in the office of a shipyard on the Clyde. Six months ago the shipyard closed with the loss of nearly two thousand jobs, dad's and mine included. I've been looking unsuccessfully for work ever since and my benefits payments were not enough to cover the rent on my house or my car, I had to move back in with my parents. Dad was out of work too although he was able to get odd jobs that paid cash and he seemed to think I could too. I sold the car to pay some debts but it wasn't enough to cover everything and the amount it raised was far less than its real worth. Eventually Dad and I had a row and I decided to look for a job here in the south-east where I heard jobs were more plentiful so I thought to try for the docks in Felixstowe or Harwich. Without money for the fare, I had to hitchhike and that went pretty well until the lift I had pulled off the A14 on to a minor road last night and the driver pushed me out of the car and drove off. He kept my rucksack and my handbag. It was nearly dark and there didn't seem to be anyone about and no shops and no pub so when I saw this place obviously empty, I found a way in and spent the night. So what are you going to do with me now?"

Sitting opposite me at the rickety kitchen table, she looked vulnerable and yet she spoke with a certain amount of defiance. It had taken me quite a while to get her to speak at all and then it all came out in a rush.

"What was in your handbag?"

"Not much. About £25 in cash and a few toiletries, not that it is any of your business."

"Credit cards?"

She shook her head. "Dad cut it up after he had to pay the last bill." Suddenly tears started to flow. "What are you going to do with me?" she asked again.

"First, I'll take you home." She glared at me. "And let mother talk to you and see what she can come up with. Guess we'll have to phone the police to see if they can find the car or any of your luggage but my guess is that by now, the car will be on the continent. So as far as I can see, you're homeless, penniless and have only the clothes on your back. Welfare might help if we get you into town but first we'll see what Ma says. You willing to come with me or do you want to take off and walk to wherever it might be?"

"I don't really have a choice do I? Just keep your hands off me."

Chapter 2: The squatter moves in

"You owe me £324.74p."

"What!! What for Ma?" From the way Kath cringed behind mother, I guessed it had to do with her.

Ma calmly continued to dish up the dinner. "Well you didn't really expect me to pay for your girlfriend's new clothes out of my pension did you?" I saw the smile on her face and I knew there was no hope of arguing with her.

"He's not my boyfriend and I will pay you back as soon as I can get a job," Kathryn jumped in before I answered.

"And I don't want another girlfriend, not after Karen!" I declared, "Over £300 for a few clothes?"

"It would have been a lot more if we hadn't gone to the charity shops and she needed something decent for job interviews and the charity shops don't sell underwear or bras."

"And don't tell me the welfare people didn't find her a place to live?"

"We didn't go there. I said she could stay here until she finds a place or you get the 'Barn' fixed up and she can have a room there. We went to the Job Centre and she signed on to get benefits but they won't come through for another fortnight so I'll need extra housekeeping money until then. Now sit down and eat your dinner. You too Kath, don't let grumpy Bobby put you off your food."

"Am I supposed to give up my room too?" I was becoming increasingly irked by the way this was heading.

"Of course not. She'll use the bed-settee in the lounge, at least until she brings her daughter down here."

"WHAT?" I yelled, "Seems like I should just have thrown her out!"

"Calm down Bobby boy. Through no fault of her own she's ended up in our care and while we are not practicing Christians, it behoves us to do what we can for someone who is in desperate need of help. By then she may have her own place or you'll have the old house fixed up."

"Why can't the father support his daughter?"

"That's for her to tell you when she's ready. Now eat your dinner, you've to work tonight."

Kathryn pushed her plate back and with tears flowing down her face stood and said, "I'd better go. Thank you Meg for what you tried to do but I can't stay here when I'm so obviously not wanted and am coming between you and your son. I'll pay you back when I can. I'll leave you in peace." I hate to see a woman cry and my heart began to melt a little but being stubborn I said nothing. Ma did.

"Sit yourself down Kathryn. Sit down girl. You are here and part of this family now whatever Bobby says. You are staying here in MY house tonight and at least for the weekend. If it doesn't work out, then we'll go to welfare on Monday." Mother's voice held the menace I knew so well from when I was a naughty boy. I felt like that then. She glared at me until I said I was sorry but for the rest of the meal I ate in near silence while mother prattled on about the shopping trip and the trouble they'd had with the bureaucracy at the Job Centre. Kathryn too was very quiet and only answered specific comments from Ma and never looked at me.

At the end of the meal, Ma stood up, "I did the cooking, you two can do the washing-up and make a pot of tea and bring it into the lounge."

"I'll do it!" we said in unison.

"You'll both do it," Ma's stern voice informed us, "Then maybe you'll start help each other."

The tears still hadn't dried on Kathryn's face and once again I felt a real prick for fighting her. This time I did apologise although I didn't put a great deal of sincerity in my voice. The tone of her reply was far more serious. "Bob, I'm sorry to be upsetting your life like this. When I crashed out in your old house last night, I never expected any of this. I didn't ask for this help but your mother gave it to me freely even though she knew you wouldn't agree with her. I appreciate her help and kindness but it will all be for nothing unless we try and get along for a few days. We don't have to like each other, just not fight. Now shall I wash while you dry? You know where the dishes go."

I could see the sense in what she said but it only made me all the more resentful that I hadn't said it first. Like at dinner, we worked in near silence but it gave me a chance to have a better look at her. Trouble was she reminded me too much of Karen, same colour hair although a different style, about the same slight build and small breasts and she had a similar way of moving. Her voice was distinctly different though; Karen spoke in a clear Suffolk dialect whereas Kathryn's was an amalgam of West Country and Scottish. Was my antagonism against this girl because of resemblance to my ex-partner or because of the way mother had befriended her and had taken her side against me or was there some other deeper reason? I pondered these questions that evening sitting in my room and again during slack times when at work. I heard mother and her chatting in the lounge but couldn't hear what they were saying. Mother is an inveterate gossip so that wasn't surprising but again my resentment rose because mother was talking to her and not me, and yet I was the one who deliberately decided not to sit in the lounge with them to watch TV.

Normally when I finish nights, I arrive home about 6:30, go into my room, remove my working clothes and put on a dressing gown and make myself a quick breakfast. That's invariably a bacon sandwich with toast and marmalade and a mug of tea, afterwards I take a shower and go to bed for a few hours. That day was no exception. The problem was, in the two-bedroomed bungalow I would have to pass through the lounge to get to my room and again on the way back to the kitchen and a third time to get to the bathroom and back to my room. Kath would probably still be asleep in the lounge. I pondered over what to do on the way home. "To hell with her, it's my home, do what you would normally do. She's the interloper," I told myself. Ma must have warned her because she was awake when I went to my room and indeed she said, "Morning," as I passed by her bed. She had the blankets pulled up tight to her chin though and her eyes watched me warily when I walked by her bed and again on the way to the kitchen wearing just my dressing gown. Hardly had I started the kettle boiling when she appeared wearing a coat over her pyjamas. I guessed they didn't find a dressing gown for her yesterday.

"May I have a cup too please?" she asked quietly.

I took a mug down and tossed a tea bag in. I don't bother with the niceties of loose tea in a teapot at that time in the morning. "Toast?" I enquired.

"Yes please."

Only a few simple words and a few simple actions but I felt some of my resentment of her leaving. Watching her sitting and waiting for the toast to pop up, dressed in second-hand pyjamas and an outside coat, I could sense how very fearful she was of the situation she found herself in and I knew I was making it much worse for her. Still I couldn't shake off the feeling that she was an unwanted intrusion in my life but I resolved not to make life any worse for her than it already was. If she left me alone, I would leave her be.

"I will pay you back, you know," she whispered after having waited until I'd consumed my sandwich and was supping my tea.

"It doesn't matter. That's not the money, it's..." I left the sentence unfinished, gulped the rest of my tea down and headed for the bathroom.

I awoke at eleven to the faint sound of typing, not the hunt and peck typing mother uses when surfing the net, but the fast, high-speed clatter of a trained typist. I wandered into the lounge to go to the bathroom and saw Kath at our computer and immediately remembered I wore only my pyjama bottoms and I had a semi-erection. She looked round as I entered the room, stared for a moment and then said, "Sorry, did my typing wake you? Meg said it wouldn't. I wanted to get a CV done..." Her face flushed but she ignored the tenting in trousers.

"No, I try to wake about this time so I can get some work done and get a normal night's sleep later. Ma's usually on it now anyway but she's a one word a minute typist."

"I heard that!" Ma called from the kitchen and we all laughed.

At lunch Kath looked sad and shed a tear. "What's up love?" Ma questioned.

"Nothing. Just thinking about Katie and wondering how she's getting on."

"Phone her. With our service you get an hour for 5p at weekends," I answered surprising myself with the quickness of my reply. I tried not to listen as I gathered the stuff I'd need for working on the house but from what I heard her aged parents were not coping too well with a young child. "I'll come and fetch her as soon as I can. I promise Mum," came through clearly. She seemed even more upset after the call but didn't say anything to us.

"Why don't you go with Bobby and help him work on the house? It will take your mind off it for a bit and will help him finish the job sooner. There's plenty of cleaning and painting to do."

I could have kicked Ma. I didn't want her around while I worked and in any case I wanted to have a wank in private. It was a bit difficult at home. "I'll spend more time showing her what to do and then putting it right afterwards," I answered sourly.

That put her back up too and her feisty side came to the fore. "I'll have you know Mr. Know-it-all, that I'm pretty good at painting and decorating. I rented my own house for five years and had to do that up after years of neglect too. I daresay I can paint just as good as you."

For a moment I was stunned by her outburst but Ma grinned and laughed at us. "Now then you two, don't start squabbling already. Take her with you Bobby and if she's no good, she can stay here tomorrow. Give her one of your work shirts to cover herself. Now git going."

Neither of us was in the mood for the other's company and we sat in heavy silence on the short journey to the house and she feigned indifference when I explained what painting needed doing. At least she helped moving the scaffold boards on to the low trestles ready for painting the ceiling.

I had to acknowledge Kath was right, she was at least as good at decorating as I was and made far less mess. On a wet day a month or so previously, I had washed the ceiling and walls of one bedroom in readiness for another day when I couldn't work outside and now we started with the ceiling. I'd only one roller set but she took the wide brush and did around the edges and the light fittings while I filled in the rest. Again, although I was reluctant to admit it, we worked well as a team and certainly the amount of white ceiling emulsion on the walls was far less than if I had done it. A minor accident got us talking.

A sizeable blob of paint from my roller, landed on her shoulder. Quickly I grabbed a cloth and wiped it off. "It's a good job I don't believe you did that deliberately," she threatened but there was a hint of humour in her voice.

"Why? What would you have done about it?" She held her paintbrush to my face and threatened to dab my nose. "You wouldn't dare!" Quick as a flash, the brush flicked forward and I had a white nose. Still holding the brush, she immediately took off for the other room. I had to put the roller and tray down before setting off after her and it evolved into a childish chase from one room to the other until I had her cornered.

"Stand back!" she ordered using the brush as a sword. I had to take another dab of paint to my face before I disarmed her and carried her squealing back to a sawing stool. She struggled and pleaded as I sort to put her over my knee and it was some minutes before I gained a sufficient measure of control the lay half a dozen hearty spanks on her bum. That caused her to squeal even more and to curse me without actually swearing. Laughing, I let her roll to the floor and when she stood and raised her fists in mock rage, I said, "Truce, I need to clean my face."

"And I need to put salve on my bottom after a big bully hurt it." I was pleased that she laughed too. Thereafter we talked amicably although every time she needed to sit, she complained overly about her sore bottom and the cruelty of the man she worked with.

Chapter 3: Kath's life

At tea break we sat on stools facing each other when out of the blue she asked, "What is it you resent about my being offered a place in your home? In your life even? You said it wasn't the money and I've promised to pay that back so it must be something more. What is it? Tell me so I know what to avoid if I can."

I took me a long while to reply. At first I thought to answer flippantly but under her steady gaze, I knew I wouldn't get away with that. From her serious expression I knew she desperately wanted to know but I couldn't find words that would form an answer. "Is it because I am disrupting your life by being in your house?" she asked quietly.

"Not really Kath, not really. There are things that are a little awkward like you being abed when I have to go to my room but that's a minor thing.

"Do you feel I am coming between you and your mother?"

"No, I know you could never do that although she'll take your side at times. I really don't know the reason. It's just a feeling."

"Is it that you don't like girls?" she persisted.

"Not girls in general..."

"Just me in particular?"

"Not really you... my ex partner turned out to be a real bitch. You look like her. There's probably a multitude of other little reasons as well."

"Yeah, Meg told me about my hair colour. Would it help if I dyed it black?"

"No. It's not you, it's something I have to get over. Now let's slap some more paint on — on the walls not me! That at least is a difference between you and my ex. Karen would have only come in here to comment on the colour not being quite the right shade or find a place where I'd missed. At best she might have vacuumed the carpet after it was laid. Never, ever would she have picked up a paintbrush.

We worked quietly for a while but without animosity but my mind was constantly turning over our conversation. "Sorry Kathryn, I shouldn't tar you with the same brush and Karen. I'm sorry. I'll try and get over it but I know it won't be easy. Every time I look at you, I see her reflection. Sorry."

"At least don't blame me for things she's done."

We quietly painted again and then I asked, "Kath, how about telling me a little about your life. I know Ma has pretty well filled you in on mine. And tell me about your little girl." By the time we'd finished giving the walls their first coat and she'd told me about her family and the daughter she hated leaving behind, she was in tears and I nearly was too. Life after a good start, had dealt her some rotten cards. Katie, her daughter was the result of a rape drug liaison with a man who she never saw again and probably doesn't know he has a child; then the shipyard closure and the lack of any jobs or any likelihood of any, had forced her to try and hitchhike to an area she thought might find work only to be thrown out of the car with the loss of everything she had. Almost instinctively I held her close while she sobbed quietly. Feeling her body tight against mine, irreverently my thoughts wandered to what she would be like in bed. Not since Karen left had I had a woman.

Slowly she quietened and quite suddenly looked up and said, "Let's get another coat on the ceiling otherwise Meg will question what we've been doing."

"We could do that too," I grinned, my thoughts and the closeness of her body had started my prick rising.

For a few moments she looked startled and I knew she saw the bulge in my trousers but then she realised I was kidding or at least just trying it on, and she murmured, "Not now."

The words made me ponder on their meaning. Did she mean, 'not now, not ever?' or 'not now but maybe some other time?' Did she actually fancy me? As a person? Or as a meal ticket? During the painting I found cause to look at her closely and I think she knew I was appraising her but didn't remark on it. Dressed in working clothes and covered with one of my shirts, I had to imagine what was underneath, but recalling my earlier view when she was in pyjamas I knew she had a pleasant enough figure but wasn't overly well endowed. Certainly she wasn't as voluptuous as Ma but she was easy on the eye. Was she a woman I'd want to spend the rest of my life with? That was a question that only time would answer. Still I couldn't get over seeing her in the same light as Karen.

For the remainder of the afternoon we worked steadily but without talking except when work made it necessary and we were halfway through coating the walls a second time when I blurted out, "Kath, what would you need to have before you could bring Katie here?"

The question caused an involuntary movement of her arm and a spot of paint fell on the floor. She wiped it up and muttered, "That wasn't intentional." I knew she was playing for time to find the right words. "A home," she answered simply. I had a feeling she wanted to say more but didn't and I left the subject for the time being but I mulled it over in my mind. Maybe the council or welfare would provide something suitable. Ma's two bedroomed bungalow was too small unless I gave up my room and slept in the lounge but then there was the problem of my stuff. Having lived with Karen, I'd accumulated a good deal of household items I expected to use again in the 'Barn House' sometime in the future and it was all jam-packed into boxes in the room and elsewhere in the house.

"Your late!" Ma grumbled when we arrived home, "Dinner's been ready half an hour, what have you been up to?"

"We did all the emulsion painting in the main bedroom so soon I'll be able to store some of the boxes from the utility room in there shortly." I hoped that would appease her a bit. Kath smiled and Ma looked at her questioningly but never said anything. She must have sensed an improvement in the atmosphere between us.

Sunday was wet and I started washing the walls of another bedroom while Kath undercoated the picture rails, skirting, doors and windows of the room we'd worked on the previous day and she did it without getting a spot of paint on the walls. That almost made me resentful again but we were both in a cheerful mood and joked about it. Ma came in the afternoon and made tea and then started on cleaning the kitchen wall, something she'd never done before. I began to see a little plan forming in her mind when she said, "You know Bobby, you ought to do the kitchen and bathroom next. You can work on the other rooms when you've moved in." She was right of course, but I was by no means certain whether it was me or Kath and Katie that she expected to live there.

To hedge my bets I answered, "I wanted to get the upstairs done first so I wouldn't drag the mess through the downstairs rooms. I'll see the plumber we use at work tomorrow and talk about replacing the sink and toilet in the upstairs loo and put a shower in. They're pretty essential."

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic /