It was late and cold. Day three of the Jacksons epic adventure was coming to a close, this time in a snug hotel room in central Bruges.
Their bedroom window let in a dull yellow light from the street glow of Christmas in the square, and the lead lining of the windows that supported the little square pieces of glass made the room feel like a horror house; the walls were littered with light and dark.
Jim and Susie were fast asleep in the master bed and James, Toby and young David, who was only five, were squished in on the floor. Silence filled the room, which was abruptly interrupted every hour when the dull chime of the bell tower struck a new beginning.
It was 2am.
Three days ago, Jim and Susie abandoned their little suburban cottage in Hampshire, packed up the car and drove. No plan or end in sight, they just drove. Susie didn’t want to leave but Jim insisted. She put it down to his job, his mid-life crisis that led to this sudden up haul of their entire life. She thought Jim wanted out of mediocrity. But Susie was wrong.
Two weeks prior, little David had walked in on old Jim with one of the girls from church, and 18-year-old school leaver to be precise. David told his brothers almost instantly, unaware that the consequences involved a ruler and Jim’s old leather belt. This he kept quiet.
After restless nights awake in bed, living under the false promise of his teenage boys — who were blackmailed into silence — Jim couldn’t take it any longer. He feared the worst. It was only so long until his companion fessed up and threw Jim under the bus. After all, he should have known better.
And so, Jim fled, promising his family that a better future was out there, that the church needed him. But there was no more church, no more work, no more life. Three days ago, Jim died.