The scene is a 14 year old boy’s bedroom.
The boy, in pyjamas, is sitting upright in bed, his mother, in a bathrobe, smoking a cigarette, sits close to him, her lover, in a dressing gown stands by the window looking out at the night sky. It is three o’clock in the morning, the atmosphere is tense between them.
The boy speaks.
'If Dad is not my Father, who is ? '
It is an important question. It is the most important question he has ever asked.
His mother draws lengthily on her cigarette and blows out a cloud of smoke before answering.
'He is Belgian and a very respectable and influential man..'
'What’s his name ? ' the boy asks.
'I’ll tell you his name when you’re older. I don’t want you to try and find him, writing to him, or anything like that.'
'Why not ? '
'He’s married with two daughters. He’s in the diplomatic service and if it got known that he had had an extra marital affair and that you were the result it would cause a scandal which could wreck his career.'
The boy, unsettled, takes this in, then asks, 'Does he know about me ? Does he know I’m his son ? '
'Does Dad....'he hesitates at the word....' Does...Father know I’m not his son ?'
'Yes, but he must never know that you know. That would be terrible for him.' The boy throws himself back on his pillows closing his eyes. His mother glances at her lover unsure of her son’s reaction.
The boy, his eyes still closed, smiles to himself ‘ I’m no longer Daddy’s son then......Well, that’s a relief. ‘
’He can be severe sometimes, I know, but he’s a good man,' his mother says. 'He has been very good to me and to you. Now that you know the truth it is imperative that you go on behaving as though you were his. You must promise me that you’ll do that. He’s made himself believe that you’re his son and is proud of what you may turn out to be due to him.'
'Does he live in England, my real father ?' the boy asks.
'I don’t know, but I don’t think so. We lost contact with each other before you were born and I’ve heard nothing about him since. He was probably in Belgium when the country was invaded by the Germans. He may not be alive.'
There is silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts, then his mother says 'I’ll tell you everything you want to know in more detail in the morning. but it’s very late now and we must all get some sleep.'
The boy was me.
I couldn’t sleep of course, so I got out of bed, went to what we called the music room, closed the door, sat down at the drum kit I had been given for my last birthday and, for about ten minutes, beat the hell out of the snare drum, the base drum, the bongos and the cymbals.