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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
Charlie and Michael Baxter lost their father at a young age. They have been brought up by a hard-working mother who loved and treasured her boys. Unfortunately, she passed away before they finished college and through no fault of their own, they found themselves homeless. This is their story.

What Happened To The Baxter Boys - 13. Chapter 13

Does this Chapter need an advance tissue warning? I'm going to say nah and take my chance.

It was a busy week for Stacy, with a family to look after. He also spent a lot of time contacting staff and volunteers from The New Boot, enlisting help and support for a new show. As if that was not enough, he was organising a surprise birthday party for Charlie and Michael. Compiling the list of proposed guests was the easy part. Planning the food frustrated Stacy until he spoke to Kate, who offered to help. Kate was a lifesaver, and Stacy was very relieved by the offer from his friend.


Brad was busy in The Recycle Shop preparing stock and replanning the shop layout to accommodate Santa's Grotto. It had been a huge success the previous year and showed all signs of being just as popular this year, with local children asking when Santa's post box would appear. Every child that sent Santa a letter had received a card from Santa, this year Brad wanted to do better. He was hoping that he could enlist Max and Charlie to help him with a few of his ideas. He would ask Charlie when he saw him later. Brad's spare time had been taken up visiting Charlie and getting to know him better. Naturally, that meant they had more than a smooch or two, but nothing beyond smooching, yet.

Michael enthusiastically started work on Monday afternoon. On arriving, he learned that all of the staff had been told to start at that time. Ian and Kevin were both there to greet them, as were Benjamin and Joseph. Sean and Rachel, the Manager and Assistant Manager, were also there. They already worked for and knew Ian and Kevin. Mark, the new full-time member of staff and Jenny and Sarah, the new part-time members of staff, were all experienced, having worked for a pawnbroker before. The last member of staff that Michael was introduced to was Peter Chan. Like Michael, he was new, inexperienced and part-time. He was Chinese-British from Hong Kong and explained that he went by Peter as most non-Chinese people could not pronounce his given Chinese name.

After the introductions, the new staff members were inducted into the company and completed all of the necessary paperwork to become bona fide employees. After a short break, they sat through a brief explanation of some of the different reasons why customers use the services of a pawnbroker and the differences between pawnbroking and buy-back agreements. For Michael and Peter, it was confusing. For the others, it was a good refresher. Michael and Peter were told to concentrate on selling and learning about the types of items they sold, as that would be their main focus initially. They would be taught the intricacies of buying and assessing, and the finer points of the different agreements as they gained experience.

They were then told what they would be doing for the remainder of the week. Sean spoke to the staff individually and wrote up the rota for the rest of the week and the following two weeks. Michael was pleased to see that he would get the chance to work with everyone, allowing him to get to know them.

Then the real work started, which entailed cleaning, decorating and setting up shelving in the shop to hold items for sale and secure displays for items of high value. The back area of the shop was kitted out with a safe to store high-value items and the cash needed for the shop's daily operations. Another safe was installed to keep high-value customer property safe and separate from high-value stock. Two sets of shelving were installed, one for excess shop stock and one for customer property. When the stock was sourced and delivered, it was prepared and put on display or stored in the back area if it was excess stock. The windows would be the last area to be filled with displays.

When the tills and computer systems were installed, all the staff were given training on how to use them. Sean led the training, which included refresher training for the more experienced staff, some of whom were new to the company. The experienced staff were also encouraged to help mentor the inexperienced staff and were reminded that if the planned expansion went ahead, they would promote from within wherever possible.

Michael and Peter were the two youngest on the staff. They got on well and started building a friendship. When Michael was not working, he was either looking after Harry or helping Stacy plan for the Christmas show. He was excited about working with Stacy and talked with him about his new job. Stacy was impressed by Ian and Kevin’s new enterprise and how they had set it up. Michael was impressed with the new things he learned from Stacy about entertaining as they excitedly planned the Christmas show.


When Charlie arrived at work Monday morning, he checked the job board and saw that he was working on the Triumph with Joe. Knowing where Joe would be at that time of the day, he went to the staff kitchen and found him making a mug of tea.

“Morning Joe.” Charlie was eager to speak with Joe about Harry's Mini. He had a good feeling that Joe would help him convince Harry to restore the Mini.

Joe stirred milk into his tea before responding. “Morning, Charlie. You're sounding chipper today.”

“Yeah, I'm good, thanks. I want to speak to you about something.” Charlie started to make himself a mug of tea.

Joe looked at Charlie cautiously. “Please don't tell me you want to beg off working on the Triumph.”

“No, nothing like that. But there is another project that I want to work on, and I'd like some advice.”

“Oh, another project. What is it that has got your interest?” Joe was all ears.

“Well, you know about Gramps, who Michael and I live with. He has a Mini Cooper S that I'd like to restore for him. It looks in decent shape for its age, but it hasn't moved for nearly three years, so I was hoping to get some input from you.” Charlie sounded hopeful.

“You got my attention from the moment you said Mini Cooper S. What do you want to know?” Joe was interested. Joe loved restoring old cars. It was his passion, but a Mini Cooper S was high on his bucket list of cars he would like to get his hands on.

Charlie sipped on his tea and put the mug on the table. “Saturday, I checked it out as best I could. I think I could get it road-worthy for about £400 if the engine starts, but that wouldn't be a full restore. That would cost a lot more. Even if I did all the work on my own time, it would still cost about £1,500 or more. I'm sure that I won't be able to do it all, so that will increase the cost to at least £2,000.”

Joe got thinking as he spoke, “You seem to have a fairly good idea of what you're doing, so what do you want to know?”

Charlie took another drink of his tea. “Harry is reluctant to spend that amount of money on it. I've told him what I think it would be worth when done up, but he's not convinced. Is there any way you could check it out and tell him what you think it could be worth?”

Joe finished his mug of tea and asked, “When is Harry free?”

“Pretty much most of the time. He's retired and still recuperating from a heart attack.” Charlie was happy he would be able to arrange for Joe to look at the Mini this week.

“Is he home now?”

“Wha...erm, yeah.”

“Well, stop hanging about, grab your coat, and I'll grab the truck keys. Let's strike while the iron is hot and go look at it now.” Joe left the kitchen to get the truck keys from the office.

Spencer saw his dad take the truck keys and asked. “Dad, what are you up to now?”

Joe smiled back. “Nothing much, Charlie and I will see you in a bit.” With that, Joe and Charlie got in the truck and set off to Harry's house, leaving Spencer confused and wondering what had got his father so stirred up.

Harry was surprised when Charlie let himself in. “Charlie, what are you doing home early? What's happened?”

“Nothing has happened, Gramps. I've brought Joe to have a look at the Mini.” Charlie brought Joe in to speak to Harry before taking him out to see the Mini.

Joe spent nearly half an hour checking over the Mini as best as could be done at the time. He stopped to make notes and asked to see the registration papers. Harry took him inside the house and gave him all the paperwork that came with the car. Joe looked at the V5 registration document, set it down, and then looked at the original logbook. It clearly showed two things that interested Joe, the original registration date and stamp for 1965 and the change of ownership before the V5 was issued. The documents showed that Harry's son had only been its third owner since it was new. The remaining paperwork was every MOT certificate issued for the car and a full-service history until Harry took ownership. When transferred into Harry's name, Harry would be its fourth registered owner.

While Joe was looking at the papers, Michael returned with Missy after their walk. “Hi, Charlie. Hi, Joe. Charlie, what's going on with Gramp's Mini?”

“Don't worry, it's nothing bad. Joe has come to give Gramps a second opinion on the Mini about the cost of restoring it and its value.” Charlie spoke quietly, not wanting to disturb Joe.

“Okay, Harry, are you ready for this?” Joe asked.

Harry sat forward in his seat. “Go on, give it to me.”

Joe sat back before he spoke. “First off, Charlie was close on his estimates for the work it will need and assuming work that cannot be fully assessed while it's on the drive. If I took it into the garage and charged for the work, you are looking at around the £3,000 mark, give or take a couple of hundred. Any work that Charlie can do in his own time will start to reduce the cost, which could be considerable. But Charlie is way out on his valuation of the car.”

“So it isn't worth doing then.” Harry sighed.

Joe sat forward in his seat. “No Harry, quite the opposite. As it stands, with nothing done to it you could sell it for ten to twelve thousand. Fully and properly restored, I'd put a £40,000 reserve on it and put it into an auction. It could reach £50,000.”

Shocked, Harry sunk back into his chair. “Are, are you sure?”

“As sure as eggs is eggs.” Joe chuckled. “That wad of paperwork is the full documented history of the car. Every tax disc, MOT, service history and receipt, including the original logbook, it adds value, so do not lose them. My advice is to get the work done, then if you need the money, put it into an auction at a classic car rally. If you want to keep it, insure it for £50,000 or more. I'll happily give you a written valuation for insurance purposes.”

After a brief discussion, an agreement was made for the Mini to be stored at the garage where Charlie could work on it in his own time after work and use the facilities of the garage for a nominal weekly charge. It also meant that when it needed work that Charlie could not do, it was already where it needed to be for the work to be done, and Harry would pay the garage for that work. Later that day, the Mini was moved to the garage and stored beside the Triumph. Charlie was glad that Joe had helped him convince Harry to restore the car and over the moon excited that he would be able to work on the restoration. It filled him with pride to do this for Harry.

Neither Charlie nor Michael noticed anything unusual as the week passed, which Stacy was thankful for. Arrangements with Brad, Harry, Spencer, Ian and Kevin were made and kept quiet. Kate had been an absolute godsend helping Stacy prepare food for the surprise party, including two individually decorated birthday cakes. Kate has spent a lot of time to individualize the decorations for Charlie and Michael. Charlie’s sported a red Mini Cooper S, and Michael’s had a picture of his guitar.

Friday afternoon, the plans started to be put into action. Danny and Jason, who had previously been unaware of anything, were instructed to clean and decorate the games room in the basement. Knowing what was about to take place, they both worked hard to make it look good.

Kate, Steve and Liam brought the food from Kate's kitchen and laid everything out on tables in the games room for a 'help yourself' buffet before covering it with sheets.

To Michael and Charlie, it seemed like all their friends were busy today. Joe was taking Harry to a classic car presentation about Minis, and Brad had apparently made arrangements to see his sister.

Peter nearly let the 'cat out of the bag' when he announced that he needed to get cleaned up and changed before leaving work as he was going to a friend's birthday party, saying to Michael, “I'll see you later.”

Michael felt like he had a lump in his throat when Charlie picked him up from the shop. “ I know things are looking good for us, but you know something bro? Sometimes it still feels like life sucks.”

“I know what you mean, but things are getting better. We're both working, we have made some good friends, and when Gramps has recovered, we can look for our own place. That's got to be good, right?” Charlie, as always, tried being optimistic.

Michael sighed, holding back his tears. “You're right, I know that, but it's your twenty-first today and my birthday on Monday, and we still can't afford to even buy each other cards, let alone celebrate.”

“Hey, I know it feels bad, but we get paid at the end of the month. We can celebrate then. That's something to look forward to, isn't it?” Charlie was determined to remain positive.

Michael let a single tear drop and wiped his eyes. “Yep, you're right. I'm sorry.”

When they entered the house, the phone was ringing. Picking up the handset, Michael spoke. “Hello.” Charlie could only hear Michael's side of the conversation as he fussed Missy.

“Oh. Hi, Stacy.”

“Give me a sec, and I'll ask him.”

Michael held his hand over the mouthpiece. “Stacy wants to know if we can go over to his house. He wants to talk about the Christmas show. Apparently, Andy is there, and he also wants to introduce us to Christian. He said not to worry if we haven't eaten. We can eat with them.”

Charlie looked at Michael with a sort of half smile. “Sure, let's get showered and changed first. It beats sitting here on our own getting miserable.”

Michael spoke back into the mouthpiece. “Give us time to clean up and change, and we'll be there in about forty minutes or so. Is that okay?”

“Okay, see you in a bit.” Michael replaced the handset and dashed upstairs with Charlie to get ready. The thought of not having to cook after a day's work was appealing.

Stacy saw them park on the drive, and after making sure that everything looked normal, he met them at the front door. Stacy steered them to his studio, where Andy and Christian were watching the DVD of the Christmas show. When Charlie and Michael entered, the DVD was paused.

Andy was the first to speak. “Hi, Michael. I'm guessing you are Charlie.” Andy held out his hand to Charlie. “I'd like you both to meet my better half, Christian.”

After they exchanged handshakes and spoke for a few minutes, Charlie spoke to Stacy. “It seems pretty quiet in the house. What have you done with Max and Jason?”

Stacy was momentarily taken aback but quickly recovered, replying, “Oh, Max is working late, and Jason is out with Danny. They should be home soon.”

While Andy and Christian continued chatting with Charlie and Michael, Stacy slipped out to the kitchen. Picking up his phone, he made a call.

“Hello, is everything in place?” Stacy asked.

“All is in place and secure,” came the reply.

“Good. Now is the time to put the plan into action. Are you ready?” Stacy asked.

“Ready as we will ever be.”

“Okay, go now.” Stacy hung up, slipped his phone into his pocket and returned to the studio.

A few minutes later, Jason and Danny could be heard entering the house. They were obviously in good spirits as they could be heard joking with each other. Stacy had his fingers crossed behind his back, hoping they didn't overdo it. Jason opened the basement door to the games room and quietly made his way down the stairs. Making sure that everyone was in position hidden behind a hanging sheet, he signalled to Danny who noisily descended into the games room.

Immediately, they shrieked, “YAY!” in unison, ran up the stairs and burst into the studio.

“Thanks, Pop, it's perfect.” Exclaimed Jason, ignoring everyone else in the room.

Feigning surprise, Danny turned to Charlie and Michael. “Hi Guys, we didn't expect to see you here. Come and look at what Stacy's done.”

Charlie and Michael were stunned as they were each grabbed by a hand and dragged down the stairs. Andy and Christian were both hiding a grin, and Stacy's insides felt like they were being churned over in excitement.

Charlie and Michael were almost dragged off their feet several times but eventually made it downstairs to the games room in one piece, where they were brought to a stop in front of a white sheet. Stacy stood in anticipation at the top of the stairs. Andy and Christian were stood beside him.

“Well, what do you think?” Jason asked.

Charlie and Michael looked at each other, perplexed. “Well, it looks good, I suppose. You know, for a white sheet.”

“Not that silly. This!” said Danny as he tugged on the sheet.

The sheet drifted to the floor to a chorus of “SURPRISE!”

Charlie and Michael were in shock and dazed by the unexpected turn of events.

As the sheet finished its drop, they heard one sharp bark before they spotted Missy barrelling toward them. As her attempts to jump up and give her sloppy doggy kisses were unsuccessful, she ran around them excitedly until they knelt to give her a fuss. When they stood, they were enveloped in hug after hug being wished, Happy Birthday, by everyone there.

Jason was last in line with a hug and was asked by Charlie, “How did you all know?”

“Pop has his ways.” Jason smiled. “And before you ask why I'll answer that too, because it's yours and Michael's birthdays, that's why. Now I do believe it is time to celebrate.”

Jason placed an arm around each of his 'brothers' waists and guided them to the tables. One was covered in an array of neatly cut sandwiches and plates full of different finger foods. There was enough to feed a small army. The other table had two birthday cakes at the centre, with a wrapped gift in front of each of them surrounded by other sweet treats, fruit, and two huge bowls of trifle.

Nervously, they picked up the gifts and unwrapped them. Inside each one was a new Sony Xperia mobile phone and prepaid sim card topped up with twenty pounds of credit. The enclosed cards were signed, with love from Gramps, Max and Stacy. The joint gifts sent them in search of the men responsible, showering them with thanks and hugs.

The evening was a total success. The lads circulated, greeting each of the guests individually, receiving birthday cards containing gift cards from most of them. They got to meet Spencer's wife and children who took to them straight away. Charlie was introduced to Ian and Kevin, Michael's bosses, and Benjamin and Joseph. Joseph created a rehash of his greeting to Michael by hugging 'Just Charlie' to everyone's amusement. Charlie also met Michael's work friend Peter. Brad, Harry and Joe were jokingly told off for telling lies but quickly forgiven and hugged. Charlie snuck in a quick kiss when hugging Brad. Janice was thanked for the cards and gifts she gave, and for bringing Missy, who enjoyed being the centre of attention and playing with Spencer's children. Michael and Charlie made sure to thank Kate for all her work in making food and creating the amazing cakes for them.

As with every party, there was some guest entertainment when Liam, in his wheelchair, Danny and Jason appeared as The Choirboys to sing their version of Stevie Wonder's 'Happy Birthday To Ya',which was enhanced when Missy decided to 'dance' with them. This was followed by the more traditional 'Happy Birthday' as Charlie and Michael cut their cakes. After the cake cutting, Stacy and Michael were encouraged to perform 'You're The One That I Want' and several other songs after Stacy had donned a suitable wig.

With the party over, all of the cleaning up done, and everyone gone home, Charlie and Michael lay in their beds with a single thought between them. How do you repay friends like this for everything they have done for them?

Hey there! I just wanted to let you know that this latest chapter might be a bit shorter than usual. I hope you don't mind too much - it just felt like the right time to wrap things up.
As always, I'm eager to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment or a reaction to let me know what you think. I absolutely love reading your comments, and I promise to reply to each one. Thanks for your support!
I thought I should give you advance warning that Chapter 14 may be delayed by a day or two, but I will be doing my best to get posted on schedule.
Thank you to @raven1 for all of your hard work editing and beta reading helping and supporting me in the writing of this story.
Copyright © 2023 Mancunian; All Rights Reserved.
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I hope that all readers will enjoy this story and will leave reactions and comments to let me know what they think of the story along with any other comments they wish to make.
This story would not have been possible without the invaluable help and support of @raven1 who has worked hard as the editor and beta reader and deserves a lot of the credit for the end result. 
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Story Discussion Topic

Welcome to The Boot World discussion forum. This includes all of the stories from The Boot Series and the Lost Soul Series. The Boot was the first story posted in this collection of stories, it was originally intended as a one-off story. Like many one-off stories, it grew and The Boot Three Years On was written as a follow-up. Some readers asked about the back story of some of the characters, which led to the Lost Soul Series. Together they form The Boot World. Both Series have grown and in
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Chapter Comments

1 hour ago, Anton_Cloche said:

@Mancunian you wrote: "Hey there! I just wanted to let you know that this latest chapter might be a bit shorter than usual. I hope you don't mind too much - it just felt like the right time to wrap things up".

While this chapter is "a bit shorter", it contains your usual well-written latest update on events in Michael and Charlie's lives which continue to get better and better.

The surprise party to celebrate both their birthdays comes at the perfect moment for them, just as they were feeling a bit low. One could say that their lives are entering a new year on a happy note. Full of promise, opportunity's and and good health, surrounded by friends and a new extended family.

And on that note, as 'our' year (2023) draws to a close, I wish a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year to all.

🍾 🎆 🎉

Santé, Cheers.

Happy New Year, @Anton_Cloche 

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1 hour ago, chris191070 said:

A perfect feel good chapter. Charlie and Michael, happy, content and loads of friends who they celebrated there birthdays with.

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year, @chris191070

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1 hour ago, akascrubber said:

Wonderfully, the surprise was kept to the very end from Charlie and Michael. Remarkable.

Love the sheet device which was new to me.  

They all joined in and made it a happy communal celebration.  Hearing Stacy with wig and Michael sing " You are the One I Want " had to be so joyous


Thank you for ending 2023 on such a happy note. 2024 promises to be even more memorable for all.

Thank you @akascrubber, it was hard work keeping the party a secret, but it was worth it and enjoyed by all. 

Did you get a slice of cake or did @raven1 polish it off? :gikkle:

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1 hour ago, Albert1434 said:


I'll never be able to listen to this track again without picturing Michael and Stacy wearing a permed wig, lol.

Edited by Mancunian
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