Thursday, August 4, 2011

De-ja Vu

“How many times have I told you Miranda? Don’t stare into space!”

The teacher’s voice slowly broke into my consciousness and I struggled to keep my attention on the subject in hand; history, a lesson I always found it difficult to concentrate on.

It wasn’t until many years later when I learned of the number of wives Henry VIII had, and what happened to the less fortunate of them that I wondered why, when history had surprises in store around every corner, those in the education game in my youth made it entirely boring. What else could a girl do, but gaze?

Staring into space! Huh, if only that teacher knew! It wasn’t space that captured my thoughts; it was the other world encroaching.

For some time I allowed myself to be transported back in time, and all in the blink of an eye. I could be sitting quietly when suddenly I knew I had been in this space and place sometime in the past. For ages I kept quiet. After all, we all had heard about silly old Billy who ended up in the Asylum [spelt with a capital A].

The Asylum didn’t bear thinking about. Once a patient crossed the threshold of that establishment they were doomed to a life inside, a life of unimagined horrors stories of which drifted beyond the grey, stone, walls like rotting seaweed after abnormally high tides. You know the smells? Driving along a winding narrow road near the ocean one’s nostrils are suddenly assailed by a pong fit to make the nose disappear off a hedgehog, not that a hedgehog prefers the narrow sandy strips between ocean and highway.

The poor souls incarcerated behind those walls were seldom released to the Outside World. They existed, or so we are led to believe.

So, for simply ages I kept my little secret excursions into the Other Space. A short visit every so often was enough. Deliberately seeking to find that Other Space all the time, even I knew, might not be a sign of a healthy mind. Still, it did make those boring moments in the classroom tolerable.

One day, as Miranda was walking with her Aunt along a long white graveled dusty road, the grassy slope of a hillside where sheep grazed in contentment rolling to the coastline, she noticed out at sea a boat. This boat was unlike any that plied the coast today.

Casting a quick look at Aunt Miranda realised that this spectacular view had not captured Aunt’s attention. And not knowing where or what this boat represented Miranda inquired, “Aunt? What boat is that?”

Aunt stared at Miranda, then out to sea, then back to Miranda. Miranda was gazing beyond the horizon where the waves rolled gently in, crashing on the rocks splashing up a wondrous spray. Aunt gave the matter her full attention, took the binoculars from her shoulder bag and put them to her eyes. Nothing was in view. She looked back at Miranda who still gazed into the distance.

Aunt touched Miranda gently on the shoulder intending to inquire in which direction to look when Miranda, shook her head slightly as if clearing her mind, and visibly refocused her eyes. The distant look disappeared. Miranda looked uncomprehendingly at Aunt.

“I was on that boat just the other day,” Miranda stated.

Aunt gently reminded her that she had been living with her at the seaside for the past two years and neither of them had taken a boat trip.

“But Aunt, I could see everything so clearly. I was there, yet now I am not so sure.”

A slight wobble in Miranda’s voice gave Aunt a clue. She asked Miranda is she often woke from a dream, or a daydream, knowing that what she had seen just couldn’t be. Miranda confessed she had, and by the dawning look in her eyes it became obvious to them both that this was another of those occasions.

“Miranda”, replied Aunt, “You have experienced De-ja Vu.” She proceeded to explain that de-ja vu occurred when the brain skipped a rhythm. Miranda nodded, accepting the explanation, even though it made no sense.

As happens in most stories time goes by, and Miranda grew out of the strange de-ja vu experiences as exciting times in the life of a young woman unfolded.

It wasn’t until we were high on a rock in the middle of no-where that Miranda turned to me and announced that we should not be on that rock; it was sacred. Hearing the fear in her voice I acquiesced and together we scrambled down. She announced that she had another attack of de-ja vu and recollected being there years earlier when a murder took place.

I didn’t tell her that I too had seen the same murder scene and by the clothing of the participants it was obvious the attack had occurred over 100 years ago.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Storm

The Storm

Jack listened to the wind howling and heard the window frames rattling as the storm whipped itself into a frenzy. Outside all was not calm but Jack, in his ivory tower, did not worry. A illuminating even more the wondrous items Jack had collected all around him.

The magnolia walls of this luxurious dwelling were the result of a sustained buying up of sale price paint. As Jack remarked to the salesperson (Jack didn’t take much notice of people and would not have been able to say definitely if the person was male or female), “Magnolia goes with all décor.”

Crystal chandeliers sparkled in their reflected glory; the deep blue plush velvet chairs and chaise lounges scattered willy-nilly on the pure wool carpet (New Zealand made of course) highlighted Jack’s exceedingly grandiose tastes. Nothing was spared in time or money to present the façade Jack so delighted in.

Jack was a loner.

Jack did not like other folks cluttering up his important life. He employed women from the village at the foot of the mountain to maintain the tasteful standards he demanded. Not that he ever encountered this busy work team. They arrived at the dwelling in the clouds when Jack was asleep. The hour long trudge up the mountain- side the women workers did not mind. Nor did they care they never laid eyes on their boss. Except if their work was slovenly, and then they didn’t see him, just the letter of dismissal he left on the highly polished, lace covered mahogany table with its monstrosity of a flower arrangement (always white lilies!) that almost covered its immaculate surface. On the whole the women liked this job. No boss around and there was a certain satisfaction in knowing their hard toil kept the place like the palace it purported to be.

The fact it was in the dead of night when they wended their way up the narrow track was a bit of a worry. Not that they were at risk of attack; oh no! Jack kept his two guard dogs, Snap and Bite in a compound at the entrance gate. Legitimate visitors had a card, which they zapped, and this in turn locked the compound ensuring the dogs would, or could, not attack.

Jack liked to think that he was the master of his destiny: a destiny of living in splendour, being in charge of his life, and not having the hassle and bother of “other folks”. “Other folks” were what Jack detested. They were the people who turned order into chaos.

* * * * * * *
Fred cast an anxious eye out the cockpit of the Tiger Moth. Ahead he could see a storm and a storm was the last thing Fred wished to encounter. The black clouds crashed together and a flash of lightning zigzagged across the darkening sky.

For months Fred had worked towards this weekend. A gathering of pre-1980’s fixed wing planes had filled his dreams and thoughts night and day.

Fred was a fighter pilot during the war and had kept up an interest in aircraft. Flying a small plane in the elements showed a courage he considered pilots of the modern passenger aircraft did not possess. The constant use of electronic navigational aids did not encourage the pilot to keep a weather eye alert. The pressurised cabin was no match for the wind and rain which he encountered flying his baby.

Modern flying was so ho-hum. No different in reality to getting on a bus or a train. Except of course, one couldn’t get off until landing.

Fred in his twilight years remained an excellent advertisement of how life could be lived. ‘Live life to its fullest’ was his motto. And living life to its fullest was what Fred did every day. Flying his aeroplane, climbing large hills (mountains he had given up on when turning 75), swimming daily in the ocean: all these activities kept Fred young in body and mind.

Fred did not like the scenery outside the window. The clouds were coming ever closer. He had already hit a serious bump of turbulence and the plane had plummeted several feet downwards. Fred valued his life and had no intention of letting him, or his plane end up in untoward circumstances.

A gap in the clouds appeared, and Fred could make out bright lights below. Perhaps he should attempt an emergency landing whilst he had the chance. Even if the storm took a couple of hours to work itself out, Fred still had loads of time to complete his journey and in one piece as well.

Another flash of lightning and a loud crash of thunder rent the skies. The little Tiger Moth struggled to stay aloft. Fred was quickly becoming alarmed. His many years of flying had taught him one thing. Do not think you can control the weather.

Safety was the better part of valour. Fred took control of the situation and manipulated his little plane down through the break in the clouds and made his careful way towards the bright lights.

* * * * * *

The old oak trees which surrounded the never used tennis courts were creaking and groaning as the wind whipped around, leaves flying in all directions, a high branch showing a fissure of white where the wind threatened to break it off completely. A sudden gust lifted the roof off the changing pavilion and set off the burglar alarm with a horrendous shrilling.

Jack, slumbering fitfully in his spacious room grunted and opened his eyes. What was the noise he had heard? He slid out of bed, thrusting his feet into the carpet slippers on the mat, and shrugging into his dressing gown padded over to the window. Flashes of lightning lit the skies. Jack could see the mess outside and over by the tennis court in particular. He would have to go and investigate. There was no sense in allowing the whole property to be lifted up and whipped away during the night.

As Jack opened the door another noise gained his attention. A sudden light accompanied by a crashing noise almost sent him back into the safety of the house, but too much was at stake. Bother and damnation!! Jack’s patience were at their lowest in the wee small hours of the morning and to be outside in a storm at that ridiculous hour irked him even more.

He stomped over the lawn, narrowly missing treading on the herbaceous border that tonight looked like a disaster area. All was in darkness again. The lightning seemed to have moved towards the hills and large raindrops plopped onto Jack’s nose. This was becoming quite intolerable!

“Help.” A faint cry attracted Jack’s attention. “Help, help me please.”

Jack listened. Surely those silly women hadn’t walked the narrow path in such a storm to clean his house? It didn’t sound like a woman’s voice, though to be honest Jack had not heard many voices for years.

“Help.” There it was again. It sounded near by. Jack gave himself a mental ticking off. He should have brought a torch. There he was, outside in the rain which by now was falling steadily, no torch, and strange sounds coming from the direction of the tennis court. Nothing for it, he decided but go and take a look. For all he knew the noise could have come from someone on his property with criminal intent. That thought was enough to energise him. He strode purposely towards the tennis courts, his slippers becoming wetter by the moment, and his pyjama trousers legs flapping damply about his ankles.

In the half-light Jack could make out something suspended in the tree that was leaning precariously under the strength of the storm. “Help!” The sound was stronger now and very near. “Help me please.”

Jack peered into the gloom. That thing in the trees was moving. Was it? It couldn’t be? It was…. it was a parachute, and dangling in the lower branches Jack made out the shape of a man. A man calling for help.

Jack was startled. He did not want to see people. He did not want to know about people needing help: people who might enter his home whilst he was there. That meant conversation, and Jack had left conversation way behind, many years ago. Jack cursed inwardly.

“Can you get me down from this confounded tree?” the cry was distinct and urgent. “I think I have a broken ankle.”

Jack thought. A broken ankle? That meant he would have to carry the man to the house, and call for medical attention. But, hang on; the weather was too rough for a doctor to come up tonight. Trees may have covered the track further down, and Jack could see that this rescue attempt was over to him.

Jack hurried over. Above him hung Fred, captured by his parachute harness, in the fork of the oak tree. “Where was the ladder?” Jack had to think back to where he had noticed it last. He recollected the gardener had not long ago trimmed the high hedge that separated the lawn from the vegetable patch, and the ladder had been in use to trim along the top. Jack stepped gingerly across the turf and grabbed the ladder that was standing against the wall of the garden shed.

“Won’t be a tick,” he called. He carried the ladder over to the oak, set it up as best he could in the conditions, and carefully positioned himself to give the assistance to the injured Fred who managed to get enough traction to lift him-self off the tree fork and tumbled the short distance to the ground, moaning as he landed on the grass. “Thank you squire,” Fred said. “You have saved my life.”

“How did you arrive here?” asked Jack, his voice very quiet and scratchy after years of not being involved in conversation.

Fred thought. “I flew in,” he replied, trying to make light of the situation.

“Flew in!” Jack retorted. “Where is your ‘plane then?”

Fred shook his head ruefully and replied,” My plane sir, crash-landed in the other field, and I managed to eject before the impact. You must stay clear as it may burst into flames.”

Jack hoped not, but felt that the ‘plane had been on the ground too long for that eventuality anyway.

He hurried as fast as the dim light and the now fierce storm conditions allowed back to the garden shed where he managed to find not only a torch with good batteries, but also some twine. The twine he used to tie Fred onto the ladder, and somehow he dragged the ladder, and Fred, back to the house. Helping Fred indoors meant Jack having to touch the man. Jack had not touched anyone for over 20 years.

“Lean on my shoulder can’t you?” Jack muttered quietly. It was a huge responsibility to have placed on him. Jack could feel a tight band around his chest and he knew he was nervous of this situation. Fred leant gratefully against Jack’s arm and together they maneuvered themselves into the front room where Fred slumped onto the sofa. Jack eased off Fred’s boot and took a look at the ankle. It didn’t appear to be broken, just badly bruised and swollen. Carefully Fred attempted to move his foot and found he could. He raised a twisted smile as he remarked, “It seems the ankle isn’t broken. I will be able to leave once this storm abates.”

Jack’s careful upbringing had installed in him the necessity of hospitality and he asked Fred if he preferred tea or coffee. Fred replied, “Tea would be welcome, thank you.”

Jack hurried into the kitchen and quickly found the electric jug that he filled from the tap. Whilst the jug was boiling he placed two cups on a tray, and fished in the cupboards until he found the biscuits he knew to be somewhere.

Jack was more concerned how they were going to fill in these early morning hours. He wondered if Fred could play cards, or chess maybe, or even checkers. It had been many years since Jack had played any of them but now he felt an urgency to talk, to spend time with his fellow man. “Would you like to play cards?” Jack asked of Fred. Fred considered this a moment before replying, “I don’t suppose you have a chess set have you? I would love to have a game of chess. It is years since I have had a game.”

Jack walked over the passage to the library and returned carrying the chess set which sat on the table, but was never used. They laid out the pieces, drank their tea and ate their biscuits and all the time Jack felt himself softening. How nice it was to have company. Fred regaled Jack with his exploits in his aeroplane and Jack listened with envy. “It’s a pity my plane is lying in your field though,” Fred said. I don’t think I will be flying in it for some time. Parts are difficult to come by you know.”

Jack smiled. His face lit up as he remembered the Tiger Moth he had stored in a hangar on another part of the property.

“Fred,” he said, “I think this was our lucky day!”

Fred stared. How could anyone call this a lucky day! It was so unlucky. He had been caught in a storm, his plane, his pride and joy, had crashed landed, and he had ended up upside down in a tree with a badly swollen and bruised ankle. Lucky! Jack had to be crazy to even think that!

“Seriously,” Jack smiled, “this is your lucky day. In another field of mine I have a hangar and in that hangar is a Tiger Moth. Now, if you feel you can fly it then how about we both go to this air pageant? Listen, the storm is abating, and I know from past storms that the day will dawn bright and clear.”

Fred was astounded. This whole episode was turning out much better than he could ever have wished. He looked down at his ankle and while it was turning a brilliant purple-yellow he could see that the swelling was already subsiding. The drink had warmed him, the biscuits had brought back his energy, and this Jack guy was turning into an all right sort of chap.

“Right,” said Fred, “we will do that. Any more tea in that pot?”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Joe's Bike

Many years ago in the wilds of a northern country lived a young boy whose one dream was to own a bike. Every day he listened to the tramping of clogs on their way to the mines and determined that when his time came to enter the wide world of earning a living he would at least own a bike.

His favourite subject at school was not the English language. He much preferred the dialect he had grown up with … and understood. Songs were written and sung in that dialect. Music hall jokes were made in that dialect. For him it was normal. He had many interests: leg pulling, setting his classmates up for a joke, and eventually he became proficient at fixing and repairing all types of things; the smoothing iron, mending the big pot hanging over the open fire with a rivet, mending punctures on his Dad’s pushbike, hammering protectors into winter boots to give them a longer life, and a myriad of other tasks of which young folks of today have no comprehension. He left school and started working.

Long hours of hard labour determined the young lad that he would improve himself, and make a mark on the world.

One day as he was trudging home from a cold, wearisome day he spied a bicycle shop, and out the front, all-shining with its classy paintwork stood his prize. A bike! He raced home and found the tin, which he kept hidden on the top of the wardrobe, and tipped it onto the counterpane. With a long sigh he carefully counted the pennies, but knew deep down inside that there were not enough coppers to buy a bike. That bike was going to be his to own - of that he had no doubt. Joe sat on the edge of the bed and thought. A few extra shillings a week would come in extremely handy.

Looking out the window he noticed old Mr Black down at his allotment. Mr Black was toiling in the evening sun in the rows of beans and carrots that grew prolifically in the well-fertilized garden. Away in the far corner, near the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes Joe could see the compost heap onto which Mr Black tossed all his kitchen leftovers, along with any stray weed that dared show its face amongst his prize vegetables. As Joe sat he became aware that Mr Black was getting on in years – he hadn’t noticed that before. An idea popped into Joe’s able mind. Would Mr Black let him take over some of the hard work, and in the process he might earn the odd bob or two.

“No time like the present,” he thought as he headed out the back door and through the gap in the fence. “Good even’n’ Sir,” Joe called. “Lovely even’n’ isn’t it?”

“Hello there young Joe,” Mr Black smiled a greeting. “What’s a young lad like you doing out here when you could be down on the green chatting up the lassies.”

“I was wondering if you would like a hand with the allotment.” Mr Black considered this for a moment. Not every day did someone offer to help him out and it needed time to sink in.

“That’s mighty kind of you Joe,” replied Mr Black. You can begin by digging over that rough patch beyond those couple of cabbages. I need another area cleared for some winter caulis.”

Joe wondered whether he should mention the little matter of payment, but decided against it … no sense in pushing it too hard and coming straight out and asking for money as that was not the done thing in his home. Joe whistled while he worked. He rather liked being out in the dusk, with no worries at all. “Strange,” he thought, “but I like this gardening lark.” Payment was no longer that important, though he still coveted the idea of owning that bike.

When the patch was dug over, the biggest weeds tossed on the compost heap, and the soil looking ready for transplanting the cauliflower plants which had been raised in the potting shed near the pear tree, Mr Black leaned on his spade and turned to Joe. “Joe lad,” he said, “you have been a great help to me.” You must take some carrots and a cabbage home to your Ma. “

Joe hadn’t thought of this eventuality but gratefully accepted the offer. This would be a welcome addition to the menu at home. The carrots would brighten tomorrow’s meal of tripe and onions, though he rather hoped his mother would not cook the cabbage as well. Onions and cabbage, as he knew, were a bad combination.

Helping Mr Black became an almost nightly occurrence and Joe gave up all thought of asking for payment. The pleasure of just gardening and helping the elderly gentleman, plus learning the tips and knowledge was more than recompense.

The weeks slid by.

One evening a couple of months later Joe headed down the back yard, through the gap in the fence and towards the allotments. Pushing open the gate he thought it strange that Mr Black wasn’t there. They had made prior arrangements and tonight was to be the night Mr Black had set aside to show Joe the intricacies of potting up. Joe felt uneasy. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he knew that something was seriously wrong. Near the blackcurrant bushes and just beyond the prize cauliflower Joe could see Mr Black’s legs sprawled on the ground. Joe raced over. Mr Black lay there very still, so very quiet. Joe knew instantly that Mr Black had died in his favourite place, doing what he loved best. Joe walked sadly home to tell his parents who in turn informed Mr Black’s family.

Six months later a letter came in the mail for Joe. It was official looking with a seal on the back. Joe wondered what it was about and upon opening it he was astounded to see a solicitors’ cheque for ten pounds. A fortune! Joe did not consider he deserved such a sum for had he not learned so much from Mr Black. His love of gardening would stay with him forever and he would always have Mr Black to thank for that.

The next morning Joe woke with an idea in his head. Leaving the house a little earlier than needed, he made a detour past the bicycle shop. There, just inside the door, stood the bicycle he had coveted all those many months ago, the bicycle which he had almost forgotten about whilst gardening with Mr Black. That bike was going to be his. He had more than enough to buy it, and tonight, on his way home from work he would stop off and make his purchase.

Joe bought that bike and his lifelong love of cycles and motors began. His prized purchase of latter years was a motorbike. He had obtained his wish, and in the process had gained the hobby of gardening, a love he sustained for a lifetime.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Dream?

“Cuthbert Aldwin Pendlebury, purveyor and assessor of human frailties at your service. Cap in hand, at your command!”

I laughed self-consciously at my attempt at humour, peering around in the hope no one had heard the little aside. Not that anyone was around. I opened my office one week ago, and in the intervening period no enquiries had been made for my services.

I spent the past twenty years wandering the state, fruit picking in the south, assisting with the grain harvest in the mid-west, and when in a seldom state of wealth I fossicked around the mullocks for the elusive gold that had been overlooked. My spirit was strong, my body slowly bending under the weight of accumulated years. Considering myself a student of human nature a new career path in private investigating appeared a suitable alternative, offering a solid base from which to operate. The thought that no one needed my services had never entered my reckoning.

I looked around my office, a small dingy back room in the small dingy house I purchased from meagre savings, in a suburb that had seen better days. A large board attached to the wooden gate, which could have done with a lick of fresh white paint, proclaimed to the world the services offered, if the customer cared to wander down a narrow concrete footpath ducking and diving to avoid the overhanging branches of the bottlebrush that made a dash of red against the worn out cream fibro walls and fence. A second hand desk, which I had stripped and re-varnished, stood near the rear wall, a plush-red office chair placed carefully over the worn patch in the donkey-brown shag-pile carpet. The dark beige walls made a dismal background for the tatty posters of far away exotic destinations attached to the paintwork with double-sided tape. In fact, now that I take the scene in with an unbiased eye, it slowly dawns that this is not the existence I desired. No clients, not even a telephone enquiry, a second rate house in a third rate area, and the chances of a job that would pay the electricity, little alone pay me a basic wage, were non existent. The telephone chat I had almost perfected sounded as cheap as the surroundings.

Making an instant decision I telephoned the real estate office, offering the residence up for rent, thus setting in place a process whereby I could be my own man in an environment where I felt at home. The constrictions imposed by this physically enclosed city-block, and the compressing of my psyche in the emotional backwater, no longer provided the necessary enticement to while away my days in complete boredom.

* * * * * *

As I look back it is obvious that my aspirations to enter the world of investigation were nothing more than dreams. The blueprint laid down for me read differently. The place I belonged was the wide-open spaces … unfettered by timetables and deadlines. Ahead the tarsealed road promised a new beginning, a journey into the future, where only the elements provided testing grounds.

Following a sudden inclination I flicked on the turn indicators, checked in the rear vision mirror for approaching traffic, and finding the view clear, executed a sharp turn right to take me away from the busy highway towards the relative calm of the midlands.

Lunchtime drew near; the day was warm bordering on hot; a break was essential. A lay-by offering shady respite appeared around the corner, tall river gums casting shadows over the rest area. Where better to eat the sandwiches I had quickly prepared? Ham, cheese, and tomato on whole-meal bread, washed down with remnants of a flask of tea. I leaned back in the seat, rested my head on the headrest, and drowsily listened to the hum of the bees working the flowers on the gums. Somewhere in the distant a crow ark-ark-arked his noisy cry as he fed on the remains of the road-killed kangaroo.

Had I slept? The sun’s rays now cast lazy shadows over the car, time to get on the move again. Hurriedly filling my water bottle from the nearby tap I eased out onto the roadway that wended its way between wattle and gum trees reaching an open farming area where oranges and mandarins grew side-by-side with luscious mangoes, and a prolific market garden with rows of pumpkins, sweet potato, and a tall strange variety of beans stood to attention. The sight of such fresh abundance proved impossible to pass by; I pulled into a roadside stall, chose a bag of sweet tasting, juicy oranges, and after dropping gold coins into the container provided, continued on my way.

Pzzzzzzzzt. Oh damn! I knew that sound of old. A flat tyre!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Search

“It was odd how well he knew me”, muttered Joe as he pulled the faded khaki cap low over his eyes and hurried from the dimly-lit bar, pausing momentarily at the door to check he wasn’t being followed. His heart rate slowed, and the fine veil of perspiration that covered his brow evaporated by the time he reached his vehicle.

Behind the bar of ‘The Five Star’ Lucinda was laughing as she poured a Scotch, sliding it along to the two black leather-clad motorcyclists leaning nonchalantly on the polished oak counter.

“Strange chap that?” Lucinda tossed the words into the smoky atmosphere and without waiting for a reply, turned her attention towards the couple who had just walked in.

Mike and Bobby tipped back their drinks. After riding several hundred miles across barren countryside, the steep hills offering only limited protection from the howling winds that picked up debris and hurtled it meters from where it had been originally tossed from car windows, they were pleased to stretch out and relax. It had been a long day and a decent meal was next on the agenda.

“Lucinda”, called Mike. “What’s the food like in this place?”

Lucinda took the menu across and recommended the steak, with mushrooms and eggs. Mike and Bobby ordered and wandered over to a table near the window. Outside, streetlights cast a muted golden glow onto the pavement and cars, their headlights flashing like torches, sped by. Mike brought a faded photo from his wallet and after wiping the table with his sleeve, carefully laid the crinkled black and white picture out in front of them pressing out the worst of the creases.

“Bobby, do you reckon we will ever find him?” Mike asked, in an anxious voice.

“Of course Mike”, replied Bobby. “It’s a dead cert! There must be someone who knows the old man, even if it has been twenty years since he left.”

“You know what I reckon?” said Mike. He continued, “I reckon it was that old boy with that funny cap. He had a vague familiarity.”

Bobby looked doubtful. That old guy shuffled along and looked scared of the world. Surely that couldn’t be him! But this was Mike’s mission, so he would play along.

“Ya reckon?” he asked. “I don’t think you’re right! That guy was old. He must be seventy if a day! The chap in this photo won’t be more than 50.”

“Yeah” replied Mike, but I am not sure. Looks can be deceiving. Hey Lucinda”, he roared, “Who was that old guy in here before? The one we were asking where Grove Place is?”

Lucinda thought long before she replied that the old guy was Joe Wilson who came into town weekly to buy groceries and a few farming supplies. “He’s not such a bad old chap”, she said, “just a bit of a recluse. And by the way, I don’t know of a farm called Grove Place around here. I only know of The Willow Grove. Are you sure you are in the right area?”

“Joe Wilson?” Mike Wilson whispered the name. “Bobby we have found him! We have found my Dad! No wonder I found him easy to talk with! He’s my Dad!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Egg

Beyond the water eroded exterior lay another land, another world; a new beginning and as the yellow centre of the universe diminished the translucent white of the albumen disappeared.

For Doni time was running out. As rapid growth cramped his space, his source of nourishment became more precarious by the hour. Doni wondered if he should give serious consideration to moving his head quarters somewhere more spacious.

From the edge of his nose a spur was growing. Imaging a crowbar in every shape and form, Doni knew instinctively this new development symbolised his future. No one had informed him the correct usage of the ugly protrusion that appeared overnight. Living a short life in a tiny universe, which was the only home he knew, had been a period of dramatic development. A humble black dot that was his beginning changed hourly, daily, until he was barely recognisable from that simple single cell.

Frustration teemed with an acute feeling of claustrophobia filled Doni's mind and body. He was trapped. He had to escape before this universe crushed him into oblivion. Banging on walls achieved exactly nothing. Crying was not in his repertoire. Hunger drove him on as an overwhelming urge to leave this place pounded in his mind.

Lying on his back Doni lurched his head upwards ... outwards. The rocky exterior, worn smooth by aeons of ocean flow of the ebbing and surging tide, started to crack. With energy hitherto unknown, Doni directed a massive onslaught at the wall. He pulled the spur back. He lunged it outward. Over and over he repeated the dance.

Music reverberated through his head. One, two, three, lunge; one, two, three, strike; one, two, three rest; one two three lunge... A jagged crack opened up. Doni, his strength charged with ambition, powered all his effort into this, the Escape for Life. Lunge, strike, rest. Lunge, strike, rest.

A trickle of salt water dribbled into the universe that had been Doni’s home for a lifetime. White foam curled around his feet. Doni stretched out ... his legs broke free... the case split open leaving him exposed to another world.
Beyond lay the pounding surf. All around the warmth of the golden sand drifted its welcome; crabs and sand hoppers hurried to investigate. Doni had arrived in another world. There was no hard shell to protect him, no yellow inner glow to nourish him; instead he had Freedom.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Time in Cue ~ Ends

Horses sweat, plants transpire, and people perspire. Those words of wisdom were reiterated by the adults of my childhood … parents and teachers intent on instilling the correct usage of the English language into my young brain. My gray matter absorbed the information enabling me to correctly answer a Biology question at exam time. One rebellious corner of my mind allows me to still blithely comment, "I am sweating!"

Today that phrase is apt. Minute droplets of perspiration cling to my arms. Had I looked at them under a microscope I may think I am looking at rain clinging to a recently cleaned window. The droplets converge as new-born streams joining with other streams to trickle down to become a river that plunges, as a waterfall, down my forehead, spreading across the platform of my face, narrowing its passage over my chin, and before I have time to grab tissues, or a towel, it wends its way into the gorge beneath my shirt. Wiping up the perspiration is futile. As quickly as I mop, another rivulet forms.

Without warning a wind whistles from nowhere swirling mini dust storms before subsiding as quickly as it began. The air is cooler; an eerie calmness prevails.

The sky, which earlier in the day was wall-to-wall, or rather horizon-to-horizon blue carpet now sports a covering of white fluffy mats … sheepskins in the sky. Beyond the caravan park, its ablution block once upon a time the local jail, red dust rises to blur the image of sky, only to race towards the main highway north like a mist rolling in from the ocean. It sweeps down the highway driven by a lone gust of wind that rattles the loose sheet of roofing iron outside my balcony door. Again the wind raises its voice … shaking trees, the flags flying from their respective poles dancing the tango with vigour, as yet another cloud of dust swirls, white this time from the abandoned gold diggings on the outskirts of town.

Cars creep cautiously along the ribbon of highway, their lights on dim to make their presence known to other motorists.

As waves crash on distant shores rhythmically under the baton of a hidden conductor, so the wind rises and falls, its chorus repetitious, its verses as yet undefined. An empty Coke can rattles and rolls its lonely way along the street. The crows that spent half the morning perched on a high vantage point waiting for a suitable moment to swoop and raid the dogs' dishes, cluster in small groups in the shelter of the band rotunda …their flying time under suspension for the afternoon.

Later … hours later … the setting sun illuminates the edges of the cloud that have diminished leaving a larger carpet of blue tinged with gold as the sun sinks to the west. In the distance a veil of rain drifts downwards, but it appears to evaporate before reaching ground level, while north behind the location of the mini dust storm, a rainbow adds a glorious splash of colour. Once again the rain has snubbed us … maybe during the cool night hours it will come calling as a welcome guest.

But hark! Darkness cocoons the town in a blanket until a display of forked lightning pierces the now black ceiling lighting the sky like a New Year's fireworks celebration. Thunder rumbles breaking the silence. Slowly the trees bend to a gentle breeze that increases before easing completely. Rain falls its drop echoing on the tin roof. Five minutes later the rain is over.


My Time is Cue is over.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Time in Cue ~ Part 33

Summer Heat

It's hot! The thermometer on the outside of my balcony door read 43 degrees in mid-afternoon. Now, a couple of hours later, it has dropped … by 2 degrees.

In contrast to this time last year I feel it is at least seven degrees warmer, though this does not necessarily qualify as being caused by global warming. By all accounts these early hot temperatures point towards a cyclone season, and indeed over east, off the north-eastern coast cyclone Guba is building in force. It will not affect us here in the west.

It wasn't until recent years we heard about the El Nino and La Nina effect, but it is these opposing weather symptoms that create our varying weather patterns. The come and go.

Our air-conditioning unit in the kitchen is awaiting a piece of copper pipe … it arrived in the post this morning, but our handy men have gone north … for the day. Our air conditioning is on hold. In the meantime our evening cook is hot and bothered, and with just cause. With any luck it will be in full working order tomorrow!

I sat outside drying my hair and watched the fluffy white clouds moving around the sky like a dancer waltzing around the dance floor for the final dance. The slithered around the blue yonder, some turned gray and on the far outskirts of town I could see the rain falling. If this were a city that rain would still be in the far outskirts.

In my room the air con is rattling as it circulates cool air. It is pleasant and it is where I cheerfully spend my spare time. The balcony loses it attraction after quarter of an hour.

Earlier I headed to the bathroom to shower and wash my hair. The tile floor was warm to walk on and there was no need to run hot water as the cold tap ran warm. This phenomenon occurred last year … after Christmas. This year is definitely hotter, and while I am aware cyclones cause damage to homes and the environment, I secretly hope that one will affect us … we are far enough inland not to be bothered by the extremes. I have been informed should a cyclone hit the coastal area we can expect rain and lots of it. The highways are, infrequently, rendered impassable as surface water drains away slowly. Perhaps the lake will fill? Perhaps the fish that live in the lake mud, awaiting water in which to swim, will hatch and we will see fishing as a pastime. Perhaps … perhaps.

It all depends on Mother Nature, and she is unpredictable. We cannot foretell exactly which way she will turn. It is but a waiting game.