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Chronicles of the

Children of Destiny

DESTINY’S CHILDREN

by

Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly

Copyright 2000-2018

STORIES:

Shards of a Broken Heart

Harvest

Mercy

Living on the Edge

Tapestry of Life

Meludiel

Hank Jones Monster

Crazy Days

Son of Springvale

Gladhaven Chronicles

Destiny's Children

 

Shards of a Broken Heart”

  

Jonathon’

 1 

If love lasts forever, Jonathon.  If love, with all its great mystery, gentle heart, and tender kisses……….  If love really does last forever Jonathon, do you love me?  Do you really love me?’  Jonathon looked at Kirstie, and waved the curls of her blonde hair, flowing in the gentle summer breeze, away from her simple yet elegant face.  The wind blew in the poplars of Glebe Park, just near were they were laying on the green grass, in the heart of the nation’s capital, Canberra, and Jonathon observed them for a moment, almost lost in thought.  He did not respond instantly.  No, that was not his way.  And while, in truth, he did not view himself as the reserved type of individual many had often taken him for, he was honest enough to admit to himself a fair degree of caution guarded the heart of Jonathon Kolby.

He looked at her momentarily, and put up his hand to brush away the curls from her face.  Jonathon Kolby could not speak honestly at this moment.  At this moment, with such a sincere question – a question from a heart truly devoted to himself, in a way more than simple friendship spoke of – he could not honestly respond.  But, looking at her, seeing the sincerity, the sheer intensity on the face of his closest friend, he knew he must answer.  But what answer can a heart, a heart of broken shards, ever so closely guarded…….. What answer can such a heart really give?

He began, slowly, but sensitively.  ‘I, I.  Oh, you know Kirstie.  You know how I feel.’

But that is just it Jon.  I don’t.  You have never really said, you know.  Never really let me know.  It is why I asked.’

She looked at him, her earnest face demanding more of him than a simple ‘You know.’  It demanded more than such a response from a heart seemingly not yet willing to grant her the grace of honesty she truly desired.

Jonathon looked at her, made as if to wave the curls from her face, but she caught his hand suddenly, and looked right at him.

I want to know, Jonathon.  I want to know!’ she demanded.

But we are friends, aren’t we.  Close friends.  Why do you want to mess with that?  Why not let it be.  In time, perhaps.  Perhaps in time I can say the things you want to hear.  But not yet, Kirst.  Not now.’

She looked at him, and her face spoke a thousand words.

So you don’t love me.’

I didn’t say that.  You’re putting words into my mouth.’

But you didn’t say you did,’ she retorted.

No I didn’t,’ he replied softly, again brushing the curls from her face, this time her allowing him.’

She looked at him, the cute frown on her forehead ever a source of delight to him, and turned to look away.  She was disappointed.  He knew well she was disappointed.  But that could not be avoided.  In no real way, at this present time, could that dilemma be avoided.

Eventually she returned her gaze.  ‘Well are you fond of me?  Can you at least tell me that much?’

Of course I am Kirstie.  Most fond.  But to say more than that.  To say more than that with the way may heart has been treated in the last few months.  Well, not even I am that brave.’

I understand,’ she responded.  But did she, really, thought Jonathon.

Silence descended and Jonathon took another bite of the apple he had started.  It was their usual affair, now, eating lunch together.  They worked in a public service department just near the park and for the past three weeks had started sharing their lunch times.  Neither party, really, had suggested the idea, yet it had come about more out of a genuine friendship and desire to simply share some time together.  They had both gone out to lunch, found each other in the park, and from there it had quickly become a tradition.  And Jonathon had, with the state of his heart after his recent break-up, found himself healing in a therapeutic manner in his lunchtimes with Kirstie.  But while in Kirstie he found an outlet of sympathy - the soft feminine touch – Kirstie it appeared had now started thinking something and expecting more of Jonathon than he had really at this stage desired.  But could she really be blamed?

Well, are we still on for the movies on Friday night?’  Jonathon hoped mentioning this planned outing together would distract her.

She turned to him, smiled and nodded gently.  ‘Yes.  Yes, we are still on.  I suppose if movies are what you want out of our friendship I can oblige.’

He sensed the slight bitter tone in her statement, but thought better of responding.  Perhaps better to not say something to cheer her up that he might regret later.

Good.  It is the latest Batman.  It should be excellent.  Unless you want to see something else, of course.  I will understand if you do.’

Perhaps something a bit softer, Jon.  More human.’

Oh, ok.  So you don’t like action.’

It’s not that.  I just don’t think I am in the mood for a Batman movie this week.’

Ok.  Well, we will choose when we get there.  How about that?’

Fine.’

Yes, she was upset.  It seemed what she had asked him had been on her mind for a little while, perhaps soon after their starting lunches together.  And he had not given her the answer she wanted, or at least desired.  But his heart, at this time, could not help that situation.  She would just have to live with it.

After a while Kirstie seemed to brighten up a little, and they finished their lunch and returned to their offices.  All that afternoon, though, Jonathon could tell there was a heart which needed attention, and while today was Wednesday and the movies still two days away, he would think of some way to brighten her up tomorrow.  For, in fact, while he could not commit to the words she wanted to hear, she was really, in truth, the kind of person he felt, in time, he could do.  And perhaps wanted to. 

So he would tread carefully for now, and let the night heal a heart, and tomorrow treat her to something special.

 

 

2

 

 

 

Having managed to gain flex time for the afternoon, Jonathon persuaded Kirstie to also take the afternoon off, promising her something special.  He brought her out to Glebe Park and they sat at a bench, he smiling at her.

 

I know I disappointed you, Kirst, yesterday with what I had said.  So I thought of something that might cheer you up.  I know you love poodles and so this is a gift for you.  Jack!’

 

Jack Kolby, Jonathon’s younger brother, came out from the trees he was hiding in and presented Kirstie with a short-haired white poodle.  Kirstie knelt down and patted it gently, saying hello to it, but after a while pulled away uninterested.  Jonathon knelt down to pat it also, and looked at Kirstie.  He got the point, though.  She would not be bought off so cheaply.  Not traded away from her heart’s desire with a simple dog of all things.

 

Look, if you don’t like the dog I can get Jack to return it.’

 

She looked at him, straight into his eyes, and looked at the dog.  And then she nodded.  ‘Yes, perhaps that would be for the best.  I do like it, though.  But best to return it.  I don’t think I could keep a dog at my flat anyway.  The landlord probably wouldn’t like it.’

 

I guess I should have thought of that.’  Jonathon turned to his younger brother.  ‘Jack, could you take the dog home with you?  I will fetch her in the morning.  The pet store said I could return it if things didn’t work out.’  Jack nodded and walked off with the dog, jumping along with it in a playful manner.  Both Jonathon and Kirstie watched them go and Jonathon, sensing disapproval from Kirstie, turned to try and say the right thing.

 

I guess trying to buy you off was not the right thing to do, huh?’

 

Don’t you think I deserve a bit more?  If you can’t say you love me, don’t let a dog be a substitute, ok.  I deserve better than that.’

 

You’re right.  Of course, you’re right.  It was the easy way out, and I guess I am learning that now.  There are not really any easy ways out in life.  Play by the rules or learn the hard way, really.’

 

I thought you would have known that by now.’

 

I guess I am still learning.  Hey, I am not God, you know.  I don’t know everything, and I admit that.  I guess it is inevitable that I make mistakes.  Only human, you see Kirst.’

 

She nodded.  It was a true statement.  ‘That’s alright Jon.  I forgive you.  But please, no more puppies.  Just be true to me with what you say.  Whatever else, as long as you are honest, I will be a true friend.  You can count on that.’

 

Thanks.  Well, we have a whole afternoon to spend.  Perhaps we go see that movie now instead of tomorrow night.  There are a couple of chick flicks showing.  You can choose whatever you want.’

 

Well, okay.  I suppose I really should return to work, but now that I have taken the time off a movie will do fine.  But as long as it is a romantic one.  I don’t want to see yet another superhero movie.  My brother watches them constantly and always tries to fill my head with what superhero has which powers and who is who and from what universe they are from.  But he’s a geek.  I forgive him.’

 

Jonathon smiled, remembering his teenage years when such things were also a strong reality.  He had been something of a comic geek himself, and still had a small collection of them.

 

 

 

They went to see a romantic movie that afternoon, and Kirstie ended up sobbing towards the emotional climax to the movie.  Jonathon was a little teary eyed himself, and the movie spoke of things which brought back memories of his recent break-up.  There had been two girls in his life in the last year.  The first, the only girl he thought he would ever truly love, who had died in a car accident; and the second, one doomed from the start perhaps, but which had died the death he should have seen coming.  Such had been the fate of dating a Goth-chick with a morbid sense of the afterlife, despite the stunning looks and raven black hair which had enticed him.  But Sandra had been truly an ‘Emo’.  So intensely emotional and absolute in all she said and promised him, that he had literally bonded to her from the first time she started flirting with him.  But in the end the ways of a child of darkness could not heal the hurt in his heart from the death of his girlfriend, and he and Sandra had separated, each going their own way.  He still saw her in the city centre from time to time, as she worked not to far from him, but they were over with.  Perhaps acquaintances at a party to chat about old times, but nothing more.  Nothing more than that.

 

 

 

But now, now he was perhaps drifting towards Kirstie.  Kirstie Smith who, in her own way, was incredibly normal.  Yet in that normality an anchor on reality and straightforwardness that he needed.  Jenny’s death had cut him, in more ways than one.  And then, just three months after that, his heart not even really begun in its healing, a firey romance with Sandra which had climaxed in a separation which only made his heart and head hurt even more.  And at that stage his life seemed turned inside out and upside down.

 

 

 

But then Kirstie had drifted in.  Innocent and beautiful Kirstie Smith, the most regular and down-to-earth types of girls, even more so than Jenny Taylor, who had been perfect to Jonathon.

 

 

 

The Glebe Park dates, or get togethers if not dates, had been the therapy which had begun healing the torn apart life of Jonathon Kolby.  He knew that.  And the source of that therapy was a girl who was starting to become dear to him.  But could he love again?  Could he trust again?  Should he?  And if not, could he allow Kirstie to be strung along the way he might in fact be doing.  That really would not be fair for either of them.

 

 

 

When he dropped her back home that night to her shared flat, he knew he would have to straighten himself out.  Somehow, someway, he would have to come to terms with the shards of his broken heart, and begin healing.  He knew he owed Kirstie that much.

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

Jonathon opened the can of beer and started sipping.  He didn’t drink much at home, surprisingly, as he still liked the stuff.  But the nights of getting drunk were something left to his late teenage years, and besides, his father had never really approved of drunkardness, always advocating the motto of drinking in moderation, something he had demonstrated soundly his whole life according to his mother.

 

 

 

He was at his parents today, Saturday.  They lived in the Canberra suburb of Chifley where he had grown up.  He usually drifted around to his parent’s place once or twice a month, sometimes more, catching up or watching a ‘Raiders’ match on Pay TV with his dad.  They were, in their own way, reliably consistent parents.  They were average Australian’s in many ways, perhaps in most ways, but with a good heart.  They had taught him from his younger days positive values yet were not a religious family.  However Jonathon had been baptized as a youth in the family tradition, but it had not been an issue after that.

 

 

 

Coming into the living room he picked up the remote control and switched on the television.  Then desiring to see what was on Pay TV he picked up the other remote and started surfing.  He was oblivious to his younger brother Jack who came into the room and after poking about at the bookcase came and sat down next to him.

 

Hey Jon.  When did you get here?’

 

Jon continued staring at the TV, flicking channels occasionally before replying.  ‘Oh, 10 minutes ago.  Is dad and mum here?’

 

Nope.  Don’t know were they are, actually.  They left early this morning.’

 

They’ve probably gone shopping and out to lunch.  They might be back soon if that is the case.’

 

Yeh, I guess.’

 

Jonathon settled on a cartoon channel with a superhero cartoon playing, which both he and his brother would like.  He continued sipping his beer and, finding a little haven of escape in his parent’s home, forgot all about his recent worries.

 

 

 

Half an hour later his parent’s arrived home and Jack had disappeared back to his room.  After a few minutes in the kitchen his dad wondered in, holding a can of soft drink, and looked at his son.

 

Look what the cat dragged in,’ he said, smiling at his son.

 

Hey dad.’

 

David Kolby sat down next to his son and, looking at the channel, made a play for the remote, which Jonathon was reluctant to give at first but eventually caved and handed it over.  David flicked through the channels and settled on a replay of a cricket match, which Jonathon had no objections to.

 

 

 

Staring at the screen David eventually spoke up.  ‘So how is it going son?  Work good?’

 

Yeh, work’s okay.  Really, same as usual.  I didn’t get that promotion, but I did place second on their list out of the 7 interviewed.  So better luck next time, I guess.’

 

You’ll get there.  You’re a Kolby, after all.’

 

Too right.’

 

Jonathon took another sip on his beer and then his dad spoke again.

 

Have you dated that Kirstie girl you have been talking about yet?’

 

Jonathon scratched his head, slightly annoyed at the question, but answered anyway.

 

Not yet dad.’

 

Great shot!’ said David, yelling at one of the cricket shots an Aussie batsmen had hit in the match.  ‘Well, you know son, you should.  God knows me and Audrey loved Jenny, but she is gone now son.  And I never thought Sandra was right for you.  It is time to move on, son.  Time to move on and start again.’

 

I wish I could, but not yet.  It doesn’t feel right, yet.’

 

David took his eyes of the screen and turned to his son.  ‘You know, it may never feel right, Jon.  It may never feel right again.  But that is life, you know.  That is what it is like being human.  The important thing, though, is to move on with your life.  To get over a problem which will only frustrate you eventually.  To move on and start again.’

 

I wish it were that simple dad.’

 

And why isn’t that simple.’

 

Because love sucks, okay.  You put your dreams into a girl and she dies on you.  And then someone sucks you in for her little Goth-game and spits you out.  Love sucks.’

 

I don’t think Sandra was using you.  She was just being what she is.  But Kirstie, from what you say of here, seems like someone to start again with.’  He turned back to the screen, saying, ‘Unless you want to be single your whole life.’

 

David turned to look at his father, considering those words, and turned back to the screen.  He took another sip of beer before replying.  ‘No, I don’t want to be a lifelong bachelor.  Look, when I am ready, I will start again.  But not now.  Not for a while.’

 

Whatever,’ said David, and took a sip from his can of soft drink.

 

 

 

They sat there that afternoon, and as the cricket match approached its climax with an awesome one run victory to the Aussies, Jonathon had again forgotten the worries of his heart.  But later on that night, driving home to his flat, he considered his father’s words and knew that they made some sense.  Perhaps that was the life wisdom of his father.

 

 

 

He knew he would have to move on and perhaps, to keep Kirstie available, soon.  But something was needed.  Some sort of release to give him the consolation of heart he desired.  And wherever that was to come from he prayed it would be soon.

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

Jonathon sat typing away at his office PC.  It was Monday morning and he was busy at his public service position working in his mid level basic administration position.  It was pretty easy work now after the first few weeks of learning and adapting to the position, involving two databases and minor financial details.  It was not exactly demanding, but he was very grateful for the position knowing that not everyone out there in the Australian workforce had it as good as him.  Really, public service work in Australia was the good life if you followed the rules, bought your home at the right time and price, married the right person and put your kids through the right school.  In some ways that was what Jonathon was also looking for – the regular, the mundane, the everyday.  It had been the lifestyle he had been brought up with and it suited him well enough.  He had never really dreamed of being a big rock star or famous movie actor – such were the fantasies of others.  Grounding on reality, as his father might say, was the safest way to a successful life.  Too many dreamers out there who didn’t make the most of the basic opportunities given to them.  He was sure he would never be one of them and would take the traditional way of success in life and follow the established patterns his family had long followed.

 

 

 

And in those patterns, a woman, a wife, was usually the standard practice.  The Kolby’s had never been given over to the many marriages mentality, quite common in this era, and Jonathon was in the Kolby mold.  He wanted a wife, and one for life, which is were Jenny Taylor had seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  But she was gone, not to return, and it was true.  Soon he would have to move on.

 

 

 

And thinking on that he thought of Kirstie Smith.  Kirstie was the everyday girl, very pretty and quite smart.  She was only 21, 4 years younger than Jonathon, and was quite new to the service, having just finished her degree in finance.  They had similar personalities in many ways, seemed to want the same general things out of life, and when they started going to the Park for their lunch dates, Jonathon sensed he was walking down a well established pathway.  But he could not commit.  Not just yet.

 

 

 

Thinking on Kirstie and looking at his work, which could wait a while, he decided to take a coffee break and walk over to her section to have a chat.

 

 

 

Kirstie worked on the level below Jonathon in the large public service department, working in the finance section for the department.  She had started low, but was already working in a higher duties position which was in the process of becoming a full time appointment.  She was already doing well, which didn’t surprise Jonathon.

 

 

 

He climbed down the stairs, rather than taking the elevator, and came to her section.  She was busy at work, occasionally chatting with Megan who sat near her and worked in her section.  He came over to her were she was typing away, and patted her on her shoulder.  She turned and when she saw his face, smiled beautifully.  She gave him a gentle punch on his arm and said, ‘Hey fella.  What’s up?’

 

Oh, you know.  Same as usual.  No great demands on my time today so I thought we could grab a coffee break.  Do you want to go to the cafeteria?  Perhaps take half an hour flex?’

 

I’ll just clear that with the boss,’ she said, and got up to go into the side office.  She returned just moments later and smiled.

 

It shouldn’t be a problem.  I can have an hour if I want.  We are not too busy today.’

 

Cool.’

 

 

 

Sitting in the cafeteria Jonathon looked through the windows out at Glebe Park.  Summer was ending and autumn was just about to begin.  In fact he had spied yesterday the first few of the fallen leaves marking the change of seasons.  Looking out at the houses beyond Glebe Park, those he could see, he was silently happy that he lived in such a beautiful city as Canberra.  It was one of the cleaner cities in Australia, perhaps not perfect, but of a high standard.  And as the nations capital it had a social culture attuned to a higher standard of behaviour than the average ocker Australian.  This he believed so true from his rides on Canberra buses as compared to some of the time he had spent in Sydney and Melbourne, and even in Queanbeyan right next to Canberra.  He assumed it was perhaps just the public servants who populated Canberra that made it that way, but of course it was the home of Parliament as well.  Whatever the reason, Jonathon knew he desired to be in no other part of Australia and, really, no other part of the world.  This was home to him.  Home forever, perhaps.

 

 

 

Kirstie, two lattes in hand, with a muffin, sat down opposite him and broke the muffin into pieces.  She took a bite and handed him a piece, which he ate happily.

 

So what did you do for the weekend?’ she asked him.

 

Not much, really.  Went to mum and dads.  Dad had some advice, which I considered.’

 

Really?  What advice?’

 

About my love life.  What else.  I think he wants grandchildren.’

 

Is that such a bad thing?’

 

No.  Of course not.  Everyone should want that.  It is just that it is not the right time for me to think about those things.  Perhaps later.  Later on.  In time.  But not now.’

 

So what are we, Jon?  Are we anything?’

 

We’re friends aren’t we?’

 

And is that all?  Just friends?’

 

And what is wrong with that?’ he asked.

 

She looked away, took a sip from her latte, and turned to look into his eyes.

 

I need commitment, Jonathon Kolby.  Every woman wants that.  Every woman needs that.  Okay.  So while we are friends and everything, if you can’t eventually make up your mind wether you like me in a more personal way, I will have to.  Well.  You know.’

 

No, I don’t know.   But I can guess.  Look elsewhere, you were going to say.’

 

She looked at him, softened her expression, and then nodded.

 

I want family, Jon.  I want a man who can commit to me, and not a dead girlfriend.’  But as soon as she said that, seeing the look on his face, she said, ‘Sorry.  Sorry about that.  But really, that is the way it is.  Okay.  That is the way it really is.’

 

I know, Kirst.  I know.  Just give me some time, okay.  Just give me some time.’

 

She nodded.

 

 

 

They sat for twenty minutes, sipping their lattes, eating their muffins, and after a while chatted small-talk.  Eventually they returned to their offices, and when Jonathon got back to his desk, sitting in front of his PC, he sensed that he would now have to do something seriously about the issues of himself and Kirstie Smith.  It needed to be resolved, and soon.

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

It was windy today.  But that was not unusual in Canberra thought Jonathon, long used to the varying weather in the nation’s capital.  Kirstie was out on the grass of Glebe park, playing with the poodle.  Jonathon had not returned it yet, and Jack, who was sitting next to him, had brought it along to the late lunch at his brother’s request.  He felt another go might now work as she would now no longer hold it against him and perhaps appreciate it.  And seemingly it had.

 

 

 

He looked at Kirstie, silently admiring her beautiful figure and exuberant joy which she so readily displayed when happy.  Watching her playing with the poodle it was as if all his fears and worries had been put aside, for the moment anyway, and he could just bask in the glow of a lovely late afternoon frolic in Glebe Park, enjoying the pleasure of seeing his close female friend in a playful and happy mood.

 

 

 

He watched her, absorbed in what he was looking at, and silently thinking to himself that Kirstie, perhaps, was the one destined for himself.  Jenny had been perfect – he knew that.  But God had taken her from him, never to come back.  Perhaps she was in heaven, now, with a new lover.  Perhaps an angel of God had silently been admiring and desiring her, and God had snatched her away, finding her someone else rather than the love-forsaken Jonathon Kolby.  But how could God be that cruel to himself?  But they were foolish thoughts anyway.  Could God ever snatch a soul for such a selfish reason?

 

 

 

Kirstie had sandy blonde hair, with a tint of red in it at the moment due to dying a few months back, which had almost completely faded.  He had silently wondered why she would ever change her hair colour as he found her natural colours so beautiful anyway.  But, as men everywhere could testify, the ways of a woman are often beyond fathoming, especially in relation to how they dress and show themselves off.

 

 

 

She had greeny-blue eyes, which Kirstie said were hazel, and Jonathon did not question, having not known anyone with hazel coloured eyes prior.  And her face was, while astonishingly simple in many ways, perhaps its purity belying this, also astonishingly beautiful and welcoming.  As pretty as a model, he often felt.

 

 

 

Her figure, now that she was perhaps fully developed, or getting there, was quite voluptuous, with curves suited to his desires.  Really, she was quite a woman to behold, and when dressed to kill was quite a head-turner.

 

 

 

In truth, Jonathon knew he could not really ask for another.  That Kirstie had come into his life, perhaps too soon, but perhaps right at the very perfect moment.  It was now, simply, a matter of healing from his past hurts, and letting the affections of Kirstie Smith come upon his heart.

 

 

 

Kirstie gave the dog one last cuddle, handed the leash back to Jack and sat down next to Jonathon.  And, after a moment, she placed her hand in his hand, and leaned next to him.  Momentarily she spoke up.

 

Jonathon.  I have a suggestion.  And you can say no if you want to, but, really, I think it might help.  I think it might help a lot.’

 

Curious, Jonathon answered.  ‘Yes, what is it?’

 

Well, my mother had quite a challenging childhood.  She was an orphan and was molested by her stepfather.’

 

God, how horrible.  I’m so sorry.’

 

Thanks.  Well, she had counselling a few years back.  With a professional psychiatrist.  And she told me it did wonders for her.  Really helped her to let go of her past fears and worries and even led her to forgive her stepfather and find closure.’

 

Jonathon sensed were she was leading him, and spoke.  ‘So I take it you are suggesting I could use this counselling as well.  To deal with my heart.’

 

Dr Stern is very professional, Jon.  She has 2 PhD’s and has practiced for nearly 3 decades.  If anyone can help, she can.’

 

 

 

Jonathon stroked Kirstie’s hair, almost absent-mindedly, not really thinking on how intimate his actions were, but soon answered.  ‘Look, I will think about it Kirstie. Ok.  But I can’t promise you anything.  Counselling is a big step, you know.  And it is scary in the back of my mind.  There are skeletons in there that I don’t think I really want to share with anyone.’

 

I think Dr Stern has probably dealt with more skeletons than you have had hot dinners.  I don’t think you will surprise her with anything you have to say, Jon.  Honestly.’

 

Ok.  I will think about it.’

 

Do.  Please do.  And let me know, ok.  It could make something happen for us.  And I do want that, Jon.  I do want that.’

 

He nodded, and continued stroking her hair.  He would think this over, this counselling idea.  Give it thought later on tonight, and perhaps over the next few days.  He was naturally reluctant, not really wanting to divulge his most intimate heart to others.  But, perhaps, that was what he really needed to do.  To find the healing he knew he needed, perhaps this was exactly the right thing to do.  Perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

The week was finished and Jonathon Kolby sat in his apartment, thinking back over the last few years, sipping on a beer.  Jenny came to mind and their first encounter.  Even now he could still remember her first words.

 

 

 

Hey, fella.  What’s a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?’

 

Jon smiled, a little awkwardly, because the girl was cute.  ‘Isn’t the guy supposed to say that, from memory?’

 

Hey, I’m a new age girl.  We ARE liberated now, you know.  Not like the old days.’

 

Jon laughed a little at the comment.  She seemed funny, this one.  ‘Well, I usually come to the Tradies to relax after work, but meeting new people is a bonus as well.’

 

Hey, it’s the only reason I would come to the Tradies.  But, honestly, I didn’t expect to meet someone like you.  I would have thought all the blue collars would congregate here.’

 

Oh, you get a mixed bag.’

 

What do you do, hon?’

 

Public Servant.  Pays the bills, you know.  Nothing better to do.’

 

She smiled at him, picked up her wine glass, and came to sit next to him.

 

You don’t mind do you?’ she asked, inquiring wether he had no objections to her sitting down.

 

Feel free,’ responded Jonathon.

 

She took a sip from her wineglass, and looked up at the Keno numbers.  ‘Damn,’ she said.  ‘One more number and I would have won.’

 

Always the way,’ responded Jonathon.

 

What is your name,’ she asked him.

 

Jonathon.  Jonathon Kolby.  But you can call me Jon if you like.’

 

Ok.  Jon it is.  You can call me Jenny or even Jen if you want.  Jenny Taylor.  21, single and looking.’

 

I’m 23, single and, yeh, I guess I am looking too.’

 

And you come to the Tradies to find a girl?’

 

Not really.  Just a place to unwind.  Often the kind of women who come here are real sheilas, if you know what I mean.’

 

I could imagine.  What department are you in?’

 

Aviation.  Just over near the Casino in Civic.’

 

Yeh, I know the place.  I have a cousin who works there.’

 

Really?  What is his or her name?’

 

Ralph Stewart.  I am pretty sure it is Aviation and that is the place.  But I have never met him at work, so I couldn’t say for sure.’

 

Sorry, I don’t think I know him.  But it is a big place.  Most departments are.’

 

Yeh, sure.  You know, Jon.  You are pretty cute.  My kind of guy, I think.’

 

Jon smiled, but was a little embarrassed.  Jenny really was a good looking lass herself.  Brown hair, with a lovely smile.  And she seemed to like him, which was a bonus.

 

So, are you hungry?  Why don’t we have a meal together?  That is if you are not meeting someone?’

 

Thanks handsome,’ she responded.  ‘That would be lovely.’

 

Jon looked at the clock.  It read 10 to 6.  ‘The bistro opens in ten minutes.  Do you want to play the pokies until then?  I will shout you some dollar coins.’

 

She smiled again.  ‘You really are sweet, Jon.  But I have enough money of my own.  I am not a gold digger, you know.  I work in my own job in a chemist, full time as well.  I can take care of myself.’

 

I am sure you can,’ responded Jon.  ‘Take it as a gift from a new stranger.’

 

Well, putting it that way.’

 

They got to their feet and walked over to the pokies section.

 

 

 

After about 5 minutes Jenny had made a profit of about $20 on one of the machines, and was chatting to Jon about how lucky she was being.

 

I am never this lucky, you know Jon.  I think you are perhaps really good luck for me.’

 

Let’s hope so.  Now try for the jackpot.’

 

Jenny smiled and went back to the machine.

 

 

 

 

 

As he sat in his apartment thinking back over that encounter, a tear came to Jonathon’s eye.  He missed Jenny.  Really, he did miss Jenny.  She was a straightforward and honest girl, and always spoke her mind.  And her beauty had haunted him ever since she had left him.

 

 

 

He came into his room, put on a Mozart CD, and laid on his bed.  ‘To you Jenny,’ he said, raising his beer-can.  A half an hour later he was snoring loudly, his mind full of dreams of poker machines and pretty women.

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

Jonathon looked up at the writing on the wall.  ‘Bon Jovi, coming to Canberra for the first time ever.’  He couldn’t believe it.  He really couldn’t believe it.  He was a diehard Bon Jovi fan, and had been since he was young.  There music, perhaps like no other, spoke to his heart.  When Jon sang on ‘Stick to your guns’ from the New Jersey Album, ‘Aim from the heart.  Some will love and some will curse you baby.  You can pull the trigger, but only if you had to.  Yeh, only if you had to.’  The man was pure passion, to Jonathon Kolby.  Pure passion.  And he had grown up with that music and, as he grew and concentrated on understanding the lyrical message behind Jon’s intentions, he grew up as a person.  In a funny way Bon Jovi were Jonathon Kolby’s spiritual mentors.  They were a normal hard rock band, but there was something different about them.  Something deeper.  And when you went into the lyrical content of any Bon Jovi album and analysed it deeply, you began to understand that they were sledged by many on the alternative scene because they were actually better musicians with a better quality of music, and others were simply jealous.

 

 

 

One song had long struck Jonathon.  “Diamond Ring, were it on your hand, going to tell the world, I’m your only man.  Diamond ring, Diamond ring.  Darling you’re my everything, Diamond Ring’.

 

 

 

Jon hoped he would find a diamond ring one day.  One lady, pure, loving, affectionate.  One lady he would not be ashamed to stand behind and show his purest heart.  One lady who would be his everything.  Instinctively he thought on Kirstie.  Perhaps Kirstie was the one.  Perhaps Kirstie Smith, blonde haired beauty with a heart full of soul, was the perfect one to come into his life.  But had he already given that Diamond ring away?  Had his heart already loved in a way it could never love again?

 

 

 

He thought on Kirstie’s suggestion about the counselling.  Perhaps that would be the next logical step in the healing process his heart so desperately needed.  Perhaps that would be the right thing to do.

 

 

 

Jon.  What are you thinking about?’  Kirstie had snuck up on him were he was standing at the bulletin board, lost in thought.  He looked to be concentrating deeply and Kirstie wondered innocently what was on his mind.

 

 

 

Uh, oh.’ He looked at the poster.  ‘Oh yeh.  Bon Jovi are coming to town.  And they are incredible Kirstie.  We have got to go see them live, ok.’

 

 

 

Kirstie looked at the poster.  ‘Well, ok.  If you want to.  You like them do you?’

 

They’re fantastic.’

 

I know living on a prayer, but not much else, you know.’

 

That is one of their classics.  I love them to death, really.’

 

Ok we’ll go see them.  If that makes you happy.  What are doing now?  Do you want to go get some lunch?’

 

Jon thought on that.  ‘Uh yeh, sure.  Why not.  I’ll just go log off on my PC.  Meet you at the cafeteria in 5, ok.’

 

I’ll be there.’

 

 

 

Jonathon waved at her and returned to his desk.  Logging off he was happy at the Bon Jovi tour coming to Canberra.  It had made his day.  And thinking on how a good thing had happened in his life, he suddenly found it easy to consent to Kirstie’s suggestion.  Perhaps counselling was for him.  He would find out soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

Getting home that afternoon, Jonathon was inspired to put on the New Jersey album.  As the intro drum beats of ‘Lay your hands on me’ began, he sat on his sofa, relaxing.  The music was passionate – oh so passionate, and his mind turned to that girl of passion who had entered into his life just after the death of Jenny Taylor.  Sandra.  How could he ever forget Sandra?

 

 

 

Hey, wassup?’  Jonathon sitting in a Civic café looked at the Goth chick who had just said hello to him.

 

Oh, you know.  Same old shit.’

 

Cool.  Can I sit,’ she asked.

 

Go ahead.’

 

Sandra sat down opposite him, and looked at the menu.

 

Vegeburger.  I’ll have one of them.’

 

You’re a vegetarian, I take it?’ asked Jonathon innocently.

 

Hell no.  I love my meat.  But vegeburgers are yummy.  Especially the Hungry Jack’s ones.  I am addicted to those ones.’

 

Yeh, they’re ok,’ responded Jon.

 

The girl picked up her backpack and brought out a CD.  It was Evanescence’s ‘Fallen’ album.  ‘This is the fucking best album ever made ever, bro.’ said the chick.  ‘You have heard it haven’t you?’

 

Jonathon looked at the CD.  ‘The Daredevil song, right?  I have seen the video.’

 

Fucking A.  Amy Lee – she is God, you know.  If God were a chick.’

 

Jonathon smiled at the language.  It was typical for a teen, but perhaps this tween girl had not really grown up that much yet.  She was a Goth after all.

 

So you’re a Goth, I take it?’

 

I am fucking Emo.  There is a difference you know.’

 

Sorry.  I am sure there is.’

 

That’s ok,’ she said softening.  ‘My name is Sandra.  What’s yours?’

 

Jonathon.  Jonathon Kolby.’

 

Nice name.  So what do you do?’

 

Public servant.’

 

Shit, you must be bored then.  Office work is hell to me.’

 

Do you work?’

 

Yeh.  For my dad.  A receptionist.  He doesn’t hassle me to do much and pays me a lot.  I find it fucking boring, but he gives me money so I don’t complain.’

 

And then you buy Evanescence CDs with the money?’

 

Hey, don’t knock them.  They kick ass.  I can lend you the album if you like.  You’ll love em.  Trust me.’

 

I’ll think about it.’

 

Sandra looked at him, and noticed his looks.  ‘You’re ok looking, you know.  And you dress ok for a public servant.  But the question is,’ she said somewhat dramatically, ‘do you have a dark side?’

 

Jonathon tried a joke.  In a gravely voice he said, ‘Emporer Palpatine enlisted me long ago.  For I am,’ he said pausing, ‘Darth Insanus!’

 

Sandra burst out laughing at the joke.

 

Darth Insanus, hey.  Huh, you’re funny.  That is a good one.’

 

Jonathon smiled to himself, pleased at his little Star Wars joke.

 

Yes, Darth Insanus.  Legendary brother to Darth Maul.  And he is vengeful, believe me.  Obi wan must pay for his brother’s death.  Insanus will have his revenge.’

 

Sandra continued to chuckle.  She had been raised a Star Wars geek as well.

 

But what will Luke do?  Will he confront,’ she paused dramatically again, ‘the DREADED INSANUS?’

 

Jonathon paused.  ‘Well, we all know Mr Lucas is secretly busy at work on Episodes 7 to 9.  Despite his claims he can’t fool us all.

 

She smiled.  ‘Let’s hope so.’

 

 

 

They chatted casually, then, for an half hour and as time passed Jonathon’s mind was taken away somewhat from the mourning of the death of his recent girlfriend, Jenny Taylor.  This Sandra girl, whatever else, was definitely entertaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting on the couch, reflecting back on that first encounter with Sandra, Jonathon smiled.  They had ultimately separated after their 7 month romance.  She said she needed someone more into the Emo scene.  But they kept in touch and his heart was glad that life had not stolen this one to from him.  But life moves on, and perhaps the next girl was the one.  ‘Third time is the charm,’ he thought to himself.

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

Jonathon was excited.  He had never gotten this far on Super Mario World before – ever.  The final level and the last big boss.  Soon he would rescue the princess.

 

 

 

Half an hour later, his brother Jack constantly boasting that he had finished the game years ago, Jonathon had an ego.  The little DS game had been fun all day and he was glad he had finally finished it.

 

 

 

His father, sitting down in the lounge of their home, flicked on the TV and started watching some golf.

 

 

 

Golf?’ commented Jonathon.  ‘You have never been into that.’

 

Well, I played a game recently, and have taken a bit of interest.’

 

Yeh, ok.  Not my type of sport, but each to his own.’

 

Yep.  How are you going with that Kirstie girl?’ his father asked.

 

She suggested counselling.  Help me to deal with my past problems – you know with Jenny and Sandra.’

 

Might be a good idea.’

 

I have generally concluded the same myself.  Sort of made up my mind the other day.  The psychiatrist works in the city.  A woman – Dr Stern.  Apparently she has been practicing for years with great success.  I suppose she might have something useful to say.’

 

It couldn’t hurt son.  And I think Kirstie is worth the effort.’

 

I am not doing this for Kirstie, dad,’ said Jonathon, mildly annoyed. ‘I am doing it for me.’

 

Sure you are.  But you need to move on as well, and that is why you are doing it for Kirst.’

 

Jonathon looked at him squarely, but acknowledged the point.  Perhaps his father did know better.

 

When are you going for the first session then?’ his father asked.

 

Well, I will get the contact details from Kirstie on Monday and find a time.  But it will be soon.’

 

And then you can get back to a normal life.’

 

Let’s hope so.’

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

At work on Monday Jonathon found himself to Kirstie’s desk and shared with her his decision.  She got up instantly and hugged him, telling him he had made the right decision.

 

It will only help, Jon.  Believe me.  You will be a new man after a while.  Over your past heartbreaks.’

 

I hope so, Kirst.  I hope so.’

 

She looked at him, and suggested something which had been on her mind for a little while.

 

You know, Mr Kolby.  If you go through with this counselling, you may find your heart opening up and healing in many ways.  Dr Stern is a practicing Jew and teaches basic spirituality.’

 

God know.  Religion is not for me, Kirst.’

 

But weren’t you baptized.’

 

Uh, yeh.  But the family has never made a big deal of it.’

 

Oh, ok.  But it couldn’t hurt, you know.  And I bought you this.’

 

She reached down to her desk and picked up a King James Bible.  She handed it to him and he looked it over.

 

The bible, huh?  I think dad has a copy in his bookshelf, if he ever reads it.  What, are you religious or something?’

 

I go to church every week.  Didn’t I mention it?’

 

I must have not noticed.’

 

Oh well.  Still, you should read it.  There is a lot of wise advice in it.’

 

A lot of controversy as well.  The churches fight each other constantly.’

 

Not as much as they used to, ok.  They are getting along better these days.  Less bickering and infighting.’

 

If you say so.’  He looked at the large leather bound copy of the King James Bible he had given her.  It was heavy, which made him think that the publishers wanted its spiritual value to be emphasized because of it.  He would honour Kirstie’s desires, though, and have a look at it over the next few weeks.  Whatever else, it couldn’t hurt.

 

 

 

They had lunch together that day, and Kirstie was constantly smiling at him, joyful as she possibly could be at Jonathon’s decision to seek the counselling.  He had made his best friend happy with this decision, as he could plainly see.  And that, for now, was a good thing.  If they were to be together, doing things for each other seemed a necessary step for a relationship to work properly.

 

 

 

Later on that night he sat down and started reading the first book of Genesis of the Bible.  He got up to chapter nine, which talked of a covenant with mankind the sign being the Rainbow, and put the book down.  The genealogies had been tedious, but the lessons seemed obvious enough to himself.  Perhaps this book was still just the basic sense of morality society observed.  He thought himself a moral enough person, and had not really bothered with religion because of it.  He had always felt that those who went to church simply needed a fix more than other people.  He was fine himself, so didn’t bother.  And having read through the early part of the bible he seemed content enough with his position.  But he would continue with the study, more for Kirstie’s sake than his own.  Perhaps it had something useful to say.  Perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

Jonathon looked nervously at the glass exterior walls of the office.  Kirstie was with him, holding his hand.

 

Well,’ she said, looking at him.  ‘Are you ready?’

 

I guess,’ he replied.  She opened the door to Dr Stern’s office and they both approached the receptionist.

 

We are here to see Dr Stern,’ began Kirstie.  ‘An 11 O’clock appointment for Mr Kolby.’

 

The receptionist nodded, pressed a buzzer, and after a few moments Dr Stern herself came through a door and motioned them to come inside.

 

 

 

Jonathon.  Good to meet you,’ said Dr Stern, offering him her hand, which he took and shook.’

 

Thanks.  I hope this can help.’

 

Whatever help it gives you often comes from your own sense of desire to be healed.  There is an ancient saying – ‘Physician, heal thyself.  If you want to be healed Jonathon Kolby, much of it, most of it, will come down to your own desire.’

 

Jonathon nodded.  That much seemed to make sense at least.

 

Kirstie touched his arm.  ‘Do you want me to sit in with you, or wait outside?’

 

Jonathon considered that for a moment but, knowing he trusted Kirstie implicitly and that it had been her own idea, assented to her staying.

 

The Dr motioned for Jonathon to lie down on a couch, and Kirstie sat on a seat against the wall.

 

Dr Stern began her approach, having gotten an immediate impression on the nature of this new client, and assessing the best approach, from her experience, to begin with.

 

Jonathon.  Now relax.  There is nothing in here which will cause you any harm.  There are no tales I will tell of what you tell me.  It is confidential.  This is a place of healing, Jonathon.  A place were you can deal with your anxieties and release them.  And then go forward a new man.  Now tell me, what is the main reason for your visit.  And speak freely.’

 

Jonathon began.  ‘A little while back I met a girl.  And I loved her.  Straight away I loved her, and was thinking of marriage.  But she,’ he paused.  He found this difficult, bringing this part up.  But he knew he needed to.  ‘But she died.  And I lost the love of my life.’

 

Dr Stern nodded.  It was something not unfamiliar to herself.

 

And your heart has been hurting, hasn’t it Jonathon.’

 

Constantly,’ he replied.

 

Tell me, did you feel guilty when she died.  As if it were your fault.’

 

Jonathon looked at the doctor and sensed she perhaps already knew what he had done.  ‘Guilty.  I don’t believe in guilt.  But I felt remorse.  Certainly I felt remorse.’

 

The doctor nodded, and continued her questions.

 

How did she die?’

 

Jonathon froze up then.  He did not think he could speak so soon of that.  ‘Look, doctor.  Maybe later I can speak about that.  But not now, ok.  Please don’t ask.’

 

Very well.  So tell me, what has it been like since her death.  How have you managed to cope.’

 

Oh, life goes on.  My heart has been broken in shards, especially after Sandra left as well, but life goes on.  Hey, I’m a Kolby.  We’re made of the right stuff.’

 

Everyone hurts sometime, Jonathon.  Even the toughest of us.  People with Iron wills are often the most sensitive of souls behind that tough exterior.  So you are not fooling me.’

 

Jon decided to be a little more honest.  ‘It has been hard.  When a girl who you were going to marry is snatched from you, well…… It just sucks.’

 

You have had the blues, then.’

 

In a nutshell.’

 

The Doctor nodded.  This was, really, not a difficult case to fathom out.  He had lost someone and his heart was hurting.  He needed time to deal with the grief and move on.  Now, her role as she saw it, was to mentor him back to a place were he had dealt with his sorrow and regained his strength of soul to go on and risk love again.

 

 

 

Jonathon, your story is a tragedy.  But let me say something.  For thousands of years such tales have been told.  It is not new.  Of course, when it happens to you, it feels as if you are all alone and the world is against you.  But you are not alone, Jonathon.  Kirstie your friend is with you and she will be there to share your heart.  If I have any advice in this first session to give you it is this.  Realize that your experiences, while unique to yourself, are part of a long history in mankind of life, death and the struggle for existence.  So many tragedies have gone before us, but I will quote your own words.  Life goes on, doesn’t it Jonathon.  You got back to work, returned to your routine, and moved on with your life.  Your heart hurt, and will probably never heal completely, but life simply goes on.  We can’t change the past, Jon.  We can never do that.  But the future is our gift.  And for the healing you need for your heart, think on the gift of the future and what you can make out of it.  Perhaps think of loving again, and the joy that will give you.  If you can find that sort of peace, the hurts of the past will gradually heal and you will become a new man.’

 

Jonathon listened carefully to all this counsellor had to say.  The words, in a way, seemed like timeless advice.  As if they had echoed down the centuries from a soul who truly understood.

 

Thanks doc, I’ll try.’

 

Good.’

 

 

 

They continued the half an hour session for a while longer, him briefly sharing his first encounters with Jenny and Sandra.  And, after leaving the office and walking to the car with Kirstie, Jonathon reflected on something the doctor had said.  The future is a gift.  And with that gift, so he felt, he could shape his dreams and let go of the sorrows of the past.

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

That is a big one,’ commented Jack at Jonathon’s catch.  They were at Lake Eucumbene fishing, and Jonathon had just caught a large trout, the biggest of his life.

 

Are we going to eat it,’ Jack asked.

 

Why not,’ responded Jonathon.

 

 

 

Later on, as they munched on the fried fish and chips which they had also brought along, Jonathon reflected on the counselling session.  It seemed, so far, to have done him some good.  He had let go of some grief having got it off his chest and the healing process had begun.  He was now glad of Kirstie’s suggestion, and happy with Dr Stern who seemed to care.

 

 

 

Jack spoke.  ‘It is getting bloody cold, Jon.  And I don’t like the looks of those clouds.  Perhaps we should head home instead of camping the night.’

 

Jonathon looked at grey clouds to the south as they rolled towards them.  They were grim and bitter, and he spied lightning occasionally.  Could be a storm.

 

Yeh, ok Jack.  Probably for the best.’

 

 

 

As they drove along in the storm, the car shaking violently in the extreme wind and rain, Jonathon gave thought to how life sprang things at you, sometimes quite suddenly.  And that was how it was with his second encounter with the Emo Sandra.

 

 

 

For fuck’s sake.  It’s jonny boy.’

 

Jonathon looked up at the Emo chick he had met the other day.  Here she was again.  She sat down opposite him, smiled, and said boldly, ‘I am going to have another fucking Vegeburger.  What do you say to that?’

 

Your anything if not predictable.’

 

Oh har har har,’ but she was grinning.

 

She looked at the menu, and then looked at him as he made his way through his burger.  Suddenly she stood, and grabbed his arm.  ‘Come with me soldier.’

 

Well, ok.  But can I finish my burger first?’

 

No.  Finish what you are chewing.’

 

He dutifully did so.  She grabbed his arm and dragged him outside the café down the street a little to come against a wall.

 

What now,’ he asked.

 

This,’ she responded, and continued to put her lips to his and pash him furiously.  After a while he felt her hand at his crotch, but moved it away, and pulled away from the kiss.

 

Your not exactly shy in coming forward, are you.’

 

When a girl sees what she likes…’

 

Jon smiled.  She was a force of nature, this one, it seemed.  Totally unstoppable.

 

She gave him a wicked grin.  ‘Do you want to come back to my place and we can, you know.’

 

Sex?’

 

Absolutely.’

 

Jonathon was not sure about that.  He and Jenny had never actually done the deed, as Jenny wanted to wait until marriage.  He was not completely a virgin, having had safe sex a few times, but was still a little nervous.

 

Well, yeh, I guess.’

 

Come on.  Forget your burger, I will give you something much nicer to eat,’ she said, placing his hand at her womanhood.

 

Mmm,’ said Jon.

 

 

 

They were furiously passionate in their lovemaking that afternoon and Jon was overcome with her physical lust for him.  She was all over his body, caressing and kissing and doing the things he liked.  She was something else of a lover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jon, what are you thinking about?’

 

Jon woke from his reflections.  ‘Uh, sorry Jack.  My mind was elsewhere.’

 

Sure.  Well, do you think the Raiders will win on the weekend.’

 

Hope so.’

 

 

 

The conversation carried on, but Jon, while he was listening to Jack, was silently reflecting on Sandra.  She was a force of nature, alright.  As passionate as the storm he was currently in, and life with her had been anything but stable.  Perhaps it was for the best it was over, but whatever else Sandra had been a most exciting experience.  One to never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

No.  Look, no.  I just don’t want to.  Not today.’  Dr Stern backed off somewhat, taking the hint that he didn’t want to speak of Jenny’s death.

 

Well, perhaps you could speak of Sandra some more.  What lead to the break-up?’

 

Jonathon considered that.  He considered that and decided he could share that information.

 

Sandra and I couldn’t have worked in the end.  It was passion:  pure and simple as that.  But it was passion in which neither of us, ultimately, saw long term commitment.  It was never meant to be.’

 

And why was that?’

 

Too different in the end.  Two different species which were never meant to interbreed.  I don’t really know if I am of the light, but she is of the dark, and that is the way it was always going to be.’

 

Dr Stern nodded.  She had an inkling of Sandra’s Emo nature from what Jonathon had shared with her, and now the picture was becoming clearer.

 

How did that passion affect your heart?  Especially after Jenny?’

 

Yeh, yeh.  That is basically it.  Two extreme relationships, one after the other, and both of different natures.  I can see why my heart is as such?’

 

Tell me about it.’

 

Jenny was.  Well, you know Kirstie.  Kirstie is divine to me, almost an angel.  Jenny was a typical Aussie girl, though, in so many ways.  Slightly ocker, not ashamed to show it, but with a grounding.  She understood life and what she wanted from it, even if she did not always know how to get it.  I guess I saw in her something female.’

 

What do you mean?’

 

A woman who still needed a man.’

 

Dr Stern nodded.  It was not an uncommon perspective.

 

And she found that in you?’

 

I guess.’

 

And then, getting back to my question, how did that type of person conflict with Sandra.’

 

Chalk and Cheese, Dr Stern.  Light and dark.’

 

Dr Stern nodded.  It was becoming clearer to her thinking.  Jenny had painted a type of picture in Jonathon’s heart of a romance of a particular type.  And Jonathon had likely been settling into the expectations of that romance.  And then Sandra had come along, with totally different expectations, and Jonathon was naturally confused.  And when Sandra left him his heart was in broken shards as he had put it.  The picture was becoming clearer.

 

 

 

Conflict of values, Jonathon.  Conflict of values, dreams and hopes.  Your mind likely made some degree of accommodations when it was drawn to Jenny and then, perhaps even contradictorily in some ways, it had to make even greater accommodations for the Sandra personality.  And your heart has obviously suffered trauma because of it.’

 

 

 

Jonathon nodded.  The analysis seemed about right.

 

 

 

Dr Stern continued.  ‘Time.  Time is often a great healer.  What you need to take from today’s session is the need for you to have a clearer and firmer understanding of your own sense of values.  You need to know your values and why you believe them.  And when they become more firmly inculcated into your heart and your thinking, you will be able to form stronger relationships, ones in which you sway less towards a more dominant partner and ones in which you are in control of your heart.  You need an anchor, some sort of faith principles, which you attach to and keep you steady.’

 

What do you recommend Dr,’ asked Jonathon innocently.

 

That is a good question, Jonathon.  Kirstie tells me she bought you a bible.  Perhaps you could lay down some roots in scriptural principles.  Perhaps that ancient wisdom might help you in some even unexpected ways.’

 

Jonathon nodded.  It was not exactly what he had pictured, attaching to the Biblical view, but it might be something to consider.

 

 

 

I’ll think about it Doc.  I’ll think about it.’

 

 

 

They continued a short while longer and when Jonathon and Kirstie left the building Jon’s mind was starting to become a little clearer.  He had a better picture as to why his heart was in a degree of turmoil and some understanding of how he might attempt to remedy that.  Healing, in some ways, had begun and was continuing.  And for that he was silently thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

Jack Kolby, Jonathon’s younger brother, was curious on an issue.  Jon had mentioned something to him about counselling and Jack wanted to know why, do decided to ask his father.  But his father said it was for Jon to discuss and that Jack should contact him if he desired further information.

 

 

 

Later on that afternoon, Jack was contemplating Jon’s words.  He’d rung his brother who had filled him in on the basic reason for his counselling session, and assured Jack it was helping him.  But Jack was still concerned.  He had grown up thinking his brother was invincible in many ways, like the aura his father perpetually maintained.  But Jack knew that wasn’t true.  Jon was human, and capable of making mistakes.  And, of course, could be affected like anyone else.

 

 

 

He sat in his room, thinking on his brother, and decided to pray a short prayer to God for him.  He was not a religious person, nobody in the family was, but he did believe in God.

 

 

 

God, could you please help Jack.  Help him to sort his heart out.  Please.’

 

And that was that.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Mr Kolby, Jonathon’s father, reflected on his son Jack’s concerns that night in bed.  His wife next to him was reading one of her typical romances, but Mr Kolby decided to interrupt her.

 

Jane.  Jack came to me asking about Jonathon.  He was worried about him.’

 

Oh, he needn’t worry.  Jonathon is fine.’

 

I know.  But Jack looks up to Jon.  He thinks he is practically invincible.  It might be upsetting him to see his brother in need of counselling.’

 

Yes, I imagine it could.  But what can we do James?  It is just something Jack will have to deal with.  It will help him grow up, anyway.’

 

You’re probably right.’

 

Of course I am.’

 

Well, good night.’  James kissed her and turned his side of the bed’s lamplight off.  As he sought sleep he thought on Jack and Jon and prayed a silent prayer to God for their wellbeing.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Kirstie sat in church.  She had been praying for about 10 minutes for Jonathon and for him to find the help his heart needed.  Sitting there she thought on her growing love for him and what appeared, now, to be the future ahead of them.  Jon was now dealing with his grief and letting go of some of his worries.  There was still an important session ahead, one which Kirstie worried about.  But that would come in its own time.

 

 

 

As she sat there, looking up at the crucifix on the wall with Jesus broken body hanging there, a priest interrupted her prayers.

 

Excuse me, dearest.  But the church must close its doors at 6 pm.  If you really need to I can let you pray longer, but I would only be able to let you out at around 7.  Do you wish to stay?’

 

Kirstie looked up at the Father and shook her head.

 

No, father.  I am finished.’  She got to her feet and they began walking down the aisle to the entrance of the church.  Seeing as the priest was here she decided to petition him.

 

Father, I have a friend.  A good male friend who I may marry one day.  He is having a difficult time with past emotional griefs from girlfriends who are no longer with him.  His name is Jonathon.  Could you pray for him father.  Could you pray for him?’

 

I will bring him to God’s hands, child.  I will pray this evening.’

 

Thank you, father,’ said Kirstie reassured.

 

 

 

Driving home Kirstie felt better.  Church always seemed to give her that spiritual lift she needed.  A way of cleansing the soul.  And although Jonathon was not a Catholic like herself, she believed that the Father’s prayers could only but help.

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

And how did that make you feel?’

 

Perplexed.  I mean Jenny had been coming onto me strongly and when I started kissing her and she shoved me away and called me a bastard I guess I had been misreading all the signs.  I thought she wanted it.’

 

Dr Stern considered that point.  ‘Woman can be strange creatures, Jonathon.  We do not always say what we mean and often expect our partners to be able to read our thoughts practically and pick up on all the signs.  Men are more direct.  They say what they mean.’

 

That is what I thought about Jenny.’

 

Yet she was still a woman.’

 

Yes.  Yes, she was.’

 

Do you want to continue?’

 

Ok.  Well, after our first date and coming back to her place and me misreading all the signs, she did change though.  She did, after that, sort of assume we were officially an item.  And she began making demands because of it.  She expected me to be able to meet her places, sometimes when it was inconvenient, and she could be a little fussy.  But, really, they were minor flaws.  She loved me – I know that.  And our time together was happy.  We went to movies, dined out, partied and did all those things new couples are supposed to do with each other.  Really, it was bliss.’

 

You said she was somewhat ocker.  Did you meet her parents?’

 

Yes.  Angus and Dianna, now they were Aussie mate.  Through and through.’

 

And what did you think of Angus?’

 

Domineering.  Cricket mad and quite loud.’

 

Dr Stern nodded.  A picture was forming.

 

I sense, Jon, and please don’t feel insulted, that both Jenny and Sandra are something of classic ‘dominatrix’.  They, perhaps, both have an inbuilt need to dominate the partnership and dictate how it should function.  From what she said of the demands she made on you and her expectations, and the type of father she was raised with, she comes out as quite a dominant personality.’

 

Jon nodded.  In reflection, despite the rosy glasses he looked at Jenny Taylor with, that much seemed perhaps the case.

 

Anguish resulted, Jonathon.  You are a man, and you instinctively need to be a man.  When a woman is leading it instinctively frustrates you, even if only subconsciously.’

 

And what do I do about that?’

 

Take a stand.  Be a man.  Be your own person.  Be more forceful and aggressive in the decisions you make.  And lead with a woman.  Don’t leave her guessing, ok.  Make the decisions and be the man in the relationship.’

 

I see what you are saying.’

 

Good.  Well our time is up for the day, Jonathon.  But we are making good progress.  I am sure of that.’

 

Thanks Doctor Stern.’

 

 

 

Later on, as Kirstie was driving them back to his apartment, Jonathon thought on that very reality.  He was a man, of course, and he had always felt like one.  But he was kind of sensitive to the fairer sex.  But, thinking about it, that had come from convictions which had arisen in his late teens.  For so long, he felt, men had dominated women in society and that had been unfair – grossly unfair.  They needed a say as well and for that reason Jon had become reluctant to ever be anything approaching forceful with a woman.  As bizarre as it sounded he had a reputation which he considered important and he wanted to set the best example for his own gender that he possibly could.

 

 

 

But was this the way it should be.  Dr Stern had told him to become more of a man.  To lead more and make the crucial decisions.  And thinking about it, and the state his heart had come to because of his apparent weakness, he felt that perhaps that might be true.  Perhaps that much might be true.

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

Having decided he needed a break from it for a little while, Jonathon had taken Kirstie for a weekend trip up to Thredbo to do some skiing.  He was not a great skier, but loved it when he could get a chance.

 

 

 

Standing on top of a slope, Kirstie not far from him, Jonathon Kolby looked out on the world.  This was life, he thought to himself.  This was life.  Fresh air, beautiful scenery and standing on top of the world.  He couldn’t ask for more.  Kirstie waved at him and signalled she was about to make her way down the slope.  He nodded at her and after she had taken off he took off after her.

 

 

 

Gliding down the slope he was exhilarated and his mind, having now started to heal from some of the hurts of the past, felt a lot of the pressure gone in the joy of the current day.

 

 

 

Later that night, at dinner, Jonathon raised his glass and said ‘To fine days of skiing.  May they never end.’  Kirstie raised her glass also and they both drank.

 

 

 

He was drunk that night and as he lay next to Kirstie on the large double bed, as they had agreed to sleep in the same bed, he thought perhaps he could come on to her.  But then, despite his drunk state, thought better of it.  He had slept with Sandra only twice, practicing safe sex both times.  He was always very cautious to ensure he practiced sex safely but now, with age, and learning the ongoing societal statistics of those infected with AIDS and other STD’s Jonathon was cautious.  He didn’t want to die young and, although he and Kirstie had agreed they would not have sex until any potential marriage, he was still a bit nervous in sharing a bed.

 

 

 

It was scary, now, they way diseases could kill you.  Sleep with the wrong person, someone who had maybe been only a little promiscuous and BANG!  There was your life, shot away with a shotgun.  And so, despite his drunk state and the presence of his friend, he restricted himself and reminded himself of the potential dangers.  Better to be safe than sorry he reminded himself.  Always better to be safe than sorry.

 

 

 

The following day they took to the slopes again and skiing along Jonathon was at peace.  That morning he had read a little of the King James Bible Kirstie had given him and it had affected him.  It taught strongly of a moral God and Jonathon had an urge to read it that morning and felt stronger for the experience.  As if a connection with spiritual things had been made and as if he was in the process of becoming a spiritual person.  Of course, that was seemingly what Kirstie wanted as well, but it had snuck up on Jonathon almost unawares.

 

 

 

He signalled to Kirstie and they begun the race they had planned.  She was a good skier as well and when they crossed the agreed finishing point she had edged him out by a few metres.  Later on that night he congratulated her and she smiled and kissed him on the cheek, telling him he competed valiantly.

 

 

 

The following day, Sunday morning, they began their trip back to Canberra.  Jonathon stopped off at Chakola, near Cooma, to visit an old friend.  They chatted for a while, looking over the farmstead, and Kirstie wandered down to the crossing looking at the steadily flowing Newmerella River.  It was beautiful looking river, so calm and pleasant, and looking upstream the scenery was picturesque and calming to the soul.  A beautiful place to visit, she felt to herself.

 

 

 

As they drove along, heading north from Chakola to Canberra Jonathon thought on the up and coming counselling session.  He was ready, now.  He was ready to share that moment of grief which had cost him Jenny.  To finally get it off his chest and move on.

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

Whatever will be will be, Doc.  But me and Sandra were never meant to be with each other.’

 

Why, Jon?’

 

Let me tell you of our last date.’

 

 

 

Jon sat looking at Sandra in the nightclub, the music blaring.  She was on the dance floor, dancing with one of her Goth friends.  It had been like that for a while now.  She would introduce him to one or another of her friends and, although subtley, try and get him interested in the Emo scene.  But that was never going to work.  That scene was just not for him.  She finished dancing and her and her girlfriend came and sat down.

 

 

 

You wanna dance, hon.  Sandra tells me your good at it.’

 

No thanks Shirl.  I’ll sit this one out.’

 

Jonathon stared at the two Emo ladies as they connected to each other in ways, he honestly felt, he never would.

 

 

 

The other Goth left and Sandra sat staring at him.  It was time for Jonathon to be honest with her.

 

 

 

Look, Sandra.  I don’t think it is going to work out between us.’

 

Sandra looked at him.  ‘I know, Jon.  You are way too conservative for me.’  She stood to her feet.  ‘But you were a shitload of fun,’ were here last words as she rejoined her Goth girlfriend on the dance floor.’

 

 

 

 

 

We ran into each other in the city from time to time after that, Doc.  But that had been the end of it.  Two worlds – worlds apart – it was never going to work.  It had been a sudden jolt of intense attraction, but nothing more in the end.’

 

 

 

Dr Stern nodded.  ‘Now, Jenny.  Your final day with her.  Can you speak of it.’

 

 

 

Jonathon steadied himself and began.

 

 

 

Are you sure you want to drive Jenny.  You do still seem a bit sick.’

 

I should be fine Jon.’  Jenny started the car and they began their trip to the city centre.

 

 

 

It was at the traffic lights in Civic when Jenny, having come to fast around a bend, didn’t manage to slow down in time and crashed into the side of a truck.  She had managed to spin the wheel, but her side of the car slammed right into the truck, leaving Jonathon jarred, but otherwise uninjured.

 

 

 

After regaining consciousness, Jon looked frantically at Jenny.  She spoke her final words, albeit faintly.  ‘You know I loved you Jon.  Remember that.’  And then she closed her eyes and died.

 

 

 

Jonathon screamed ‘Jenny’ at the top of his lungs, while the ambulance and the police suddenly arrived.  There were onlookers who had called the emergency services and, as Jon tried to revive Jenny, his door was opened and a police officer checked him for injuries.

 

 

 

Soon an ambulance officer looked over Jenny and checked the heartbeat of her shattered body.  But to no avail.  He looked at Jon and sighed.  ‘I am sorry.  She is gone.’

 

 

 

 

 

In Doctor Stern’s office Jonathon Kolby’s head was in his hands.  He was quietly sobbing.  Dr Stern remained silent, while Kirstie was next to him, massaging his back and saying things would be okay.  Eventually Dr Stern spoke.

 

 

 

Things like that happen in life, Jonathon.  The newspapers are filled with tragedy every day.  There was nothing you could have done about it.’

 

 

 

But if I hadn’t let her drive because she was sick?’

 

 

 

Then perhaps it could have been you.  I don’t think you did anything wrong.  How can I say it, it was the hand of fate.’

 

 

 

Jonathon nodded, but continued his sobbing, Kirstie comforting him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that afternoon, the session over with, Jonathon visited Jenny’s Queanbeyan cemetery grave with Kirstie.  He had gotten her death off his chest somewhat and healing was really starting to come forth.  In reflection, the counselling sessions with Dr Stern had been the right idea.  They had helped him confront the emotions of his past relationships and to help him understand why his heart had been torn asunder in the manner that it had.  And with Dr Stern’s sensible advice and with Kirstie there to nurture him, he had begun moving forward.  Getting to grip with his life and moving on.

 

 

 

He looked down at Jenny’s grave.

 

I’ll miss you sweetheart.’

 

And then he and Jenny walked back to the car, a new life beginning, with the shards of a broken heart now begun in their mending.

 

 

 

 

 

Jack’

 

1

 

I don’t think it’s even because we just get along,’ said Dianne.  ‘Not even that.  It is just the inevitable.’

 

It must be love then,’ said Jack.  ‘Just something in this funny old place, something which has that certain something which the locales of international renown pride themselves on, but which don’t speak as deeply to our own taste in things.’

 

Could it be that it is the capital of the nation?’ asked Dianne.

 

It is probably more the reason why it is the capital of the nation,’ said Jack.  ‘I mean I’m hardly a raiders fan.  Barely follow the league.  The cannons are interesting, but I go for the Sydney Kings anyway.’

 

But whatever we may like or not,’ replied Dianne.  ‘The clans just stay faithful to this old town.  500 generations now, each of us, or thereabouts.  And while we don’t rule the north and we don’t rule the south, and we don’t and never really rule anyway, here we are at about a dozen on the list, each of us, competing I do say, and they try and shake us off, but the clans just stay perpetual it seems.’

 

Must have been choices in the blood to let the nomad style be done with.  Green grass?  It never really is.  Just some sort of decision that this will do.  It’s our lot in life.  May as well learn to appreciate it and live with it,’ said Jack.  ‘Must be the heart of Kolby logic or something.’

 

I think the Daly’s are bred of that idea also,’ said Dianne.  ‘I mean, its posh as any, and it’s got its excitement, but it is always at the arboretum for me on Sunday afternoon when I say I don’t really want to live anywhere else in the world anyway.’

 

It’s Black Mountain tower for me,’ replied Jack Kolby.  ‘When I’m looking down at the grass and trees from the lookout.  Just something in those shrubs and those views which is intoxicating.’

 

It’s love,’ said Dianne.  ‘We love this place.  We don’t try for glory here, to rule the Empire.  We don’t build Babylon any bigger than it already is.  We’re not sporting giants, or club presidents, or anything at all special.  Just the ho hum pleb who gets on with life.  Not even any real ambition.’

 

Maybe they like us?’ suggested Jack, finger raised in query.

 

Remember, they know how stupid you are Jack Kolby.  ‘Every Canberran clan knows just how thick the Kolby’s always have been.  Legendary, I have been informed.  Grandmother has volumes of cutouts from centuries and centuries of reports on the infamy of the Kolby clan in the region.’

 

You jest,’ replied Jack grinning.

 

Maybe,’ she said.  ‘But does it last, dearest Jack?  Does love last forever.  We’ve been here 500 generations.  Will we be here 500 more, and maybe then some?’

 

Time will tell, Dianne Daly. Time will tell.  Now pass me the pizza, and let’s watch the show.’

 

The TV proved entertaining, and the evening passed, and traditional families of the Canberra Monaro region, longstanding clans, had their fun, grimly aware it was Sunday, and not the beloved Friday night, and that public service toil awaited them in the morning, yet again reminding them of the long held frustrations of Garfield the cat.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Jack was studying doctrine.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Bahai and Noahides are the Kingdom of God.  They serve in Australia in the Public Service associations, including things like defence, police, hospitals, law course, parliament, the standard public service, and the various institutions of Australian society.  The Kingdom of God were not dedicated builders of Babel, the private sector, where greed was rampant and the individual went off to achieve fame, fortune and glory with a business initiative.  If you entered the Kingdom of God by joining one of his Monotheistic assemblies and came to faith, there were usually quiet words from the pastor to which your future employment options became a lot more clear.  You’d been redeemed from Babylon.  You were now a servant of the Kingdom, and ruled the world, and had to earn your place in the hierarchy.  The sinners, which were the other half of society, always had general rights to repent and join the kingdom if they chose to, but the general way society had worked for many ages now is that they generally did not, did what they wanted to do, as the Kingdom of God ran the show.  Standard Monotheistic Doctrine from the Canberra Theological Institute.  Fascinating, he thought to himself.

 

 

 

2

 

Jack was at the hyperdome.

 

Chips.  With gravy,’ said Jack to the Kingsley’s Chicken chick.

 

Do you want a coca cola or a sprite with that?’ the lady asked.

 

Coke,’ replied Jack.  ‘And make it the extra large chips and gravy.  I’m hungry.’

 

Jack sat in the foodcourt of the hyperdome, watching the activity.  Seven ‘Charity’ clowns were wandering around the court with a bucket to gather donations for children suffering from hardship in the outback.  An old organization, the Charity Clowns.  His father had donated regularly to them, they being a Tuggeranong charity established a long time ago, and Jack made sure he gave a few dollars every now and then.

 

Hey mate,’ said a voice behind him.  He turned.  ‘Jonno.  Jonno Bryant,’ said Jack.  ‘Shouldn’t you be working on Friday?’

 

Flexi day,’ replied Jonno.  ‘The minutes have finally added up.’  John Bryant sat down, and started eating his subway sub.

 

Going to the circus down the road at all?’ asked Jonno.

 

Lions again.  Amusing,’ replied Jack.  ‘Banned for a long time in Australian circuses, and they start going back to old laws.  The end of the progressive agenda of political correctness I have been informed by my girlfriend.  Times are changing again.  Out with the new, in with the old apparently.’

 

Never liked grandmother’s views,’ said John.  ‘Tried to defend gay as a normal lifestyle when the religionists are coming back into fashion.’

 

They’ve always been at it,’ said Jack.

 

Not my stuff, but I live under the blokes code,’ said Jonno.  ‘Gay was never a thing.’

 

How is Rachel?’ asked Jack.

 

She’s staying with her mother.  Problems at work with her job.  It’s caused her too much stress, and she won’t talk to me about it.  Says she needs family at a time like this.  I said to her what the fuck am I then?  But she buggered of and just rang to tell me where she was and that she wouldn’t be home for ages.  Women, I do not understand them.’

 

Boys and bras and boots,’ replied Jack.

 

Did you get the new tires for the beast?’ asked Jonno.

 

Emu brand are cheap, and I was all for it, but the Big Red’s were just within budget range.  The upgrade looks jazz though.  It’s a fine machine.’

 

I’ll come around later and check it out.’

 

Bring beer,’ said Jack.  ‘I’m dry at the moment.’

 

You working today?’ asked John.

 

Lunch break.  Back at the office shortly.’

 

You and Dianne.  It’s serious now, isn’t it?’

 

Still too soon to say.  We get along.  Same life philosophy.  Too soon to know for sure though.  I have an ex who still likes me.  Considering my options.’

 

I’m lumbered with Rachel.  I don’t love her anymore.  Just like her a bit.  They say to be loyal to your missus, but I don’t know.  Other fish.  Not sure if I care that much.’

 

Do the shit that you do, then,’ replied Jack.  ‘Come on, man.  Rachel’s not that bad.  She was always the geeky chick you liked.’

 

Still is,’ said Jonno.  ‘I don’t know.’

 

You’ll break her heart if you leave her,’ said Jack.

 

Some times hearts need to be broken,’ replied John.  ‘If it’s not working out.’

 

Suppose,’ replied Jack.

 

They watched the clowns for a bit, who were performing, and Jack looked at John Bryant.  And old mate, who was possibly at a crossroads in life. Not sure what to do or think next.

 

Seeya,’ said Jonno.

 

Jack watched the clowns for a while, and sipped on his drink, and then put his rubbish in the bins, and made his way back to his public service office.  The clowns were on his mind, as he walked up the stairwell, and sitting down to his pc he clicked on the charity clowns website, and considered that he might give a donation.  But he was on a budget, so would probably have to think about it.  He looked, though, at the form, filled in his credit card details, and clicked proceed.  Guess he had a heart after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan’

 

You are the Rimwalker, are you?’ asked Dak Bluddhook.

 

I am illustrious, magnificent, and wise beyond my years,’ replied Jan Kolby.

 

Dak looked at the space ship.  ‘You call that a ship?’

 

The Wolfklaw has led me around the galaxy rim these last 5 years.  I know it well.  The shanty planets, the lowlives, the drinking holes.’

 

Can you connive, cheat, steal, lie, discriminate, and, if necessary, really fuck somebody up?’ asked Dak Bluddhook.

 

If necessary,’ replied Jan Kolby.

 

Then welcome to the League of Piracy,’ replied Dak.  ‘Good to meet you.’

 

And with those words began a tirade of jobs for the League of Piracy, a chapter in the life of the illustrious Rimwalker he would tell his children, grand-children, and great grand-children.

 

The End

 

 

Harvest’

6,000 SC

2,030 CE/AD

 Chapter One

It is always interesting you know when things come together in the end.  It is always interesting when you see those weaves and strands of this great tapestry of life come together from a seemingly haphazard beginning, yet gradually form a picture and, when complete, show something to be shown off and remembered.  And the tapestry of life for the Gilmore family, an old farming family of the Monaro region of New South Wales, wove itself a beautiful pattern for those seven special months just three years ago when all the harvests of life for these special members of the Gilmore clan came into fruition.

 

Jenny Gilmore was the youngest of the Gilmore clan, but her sister Fiona was expecting and Jenny knew her position as the baby of the family and the apple of her father, Stewart’s eye, was in jeopardy.  But oh well, such was life.  Stewart, while he was never really known as a family man, so worried about the constant drought and need of rain for the fields, still took somewhat of an interest in his eldest daughter’s first pregnancy, despite Fiona’s stubborn refusal to reveal the father of the child, much to the annoyance of her grandmother.  But Stewart was a practical man, necessary for farming in Australia, and had such morals that if his daughter wanted to go it alone with the child then he would stand behind her.  Funnily enough he wanted a grandson.  Someone to leave the farm to as he himself had no sons and worked the farm alone apart from his two daughter’s help and his elderly mother who made the meals, gathered the eggs and occasionally helped with the milking.

 

Jenny and Fiona could share with you many a tale of their fathers laments over the lack of rain for their farmstead.  They lived on a property outside of Dalgety in the Snowy Mountains area of the Monaro region, where it was extra cold in winter and snowed often, but still quite warm in Summer.  Yet rain, which was a constant worry for Aussie farmers, was the blood of life for their farm as without it they had to rely on their yearly ration of water from the Snowy River which, these days, was often just a trickle.  Fiona often shared with Jenny that she felt their father exceeded his ration from time to time, something many farmers in the region likely did, but despite maintaining this she had no real proof.  Jenny liked to think her father would do the right thing by the council and uphold their family’s good reputation, but she was a realist as well.  She knew her father was human – only human – and susceptible to the same temptations common to man.

 

The Gilmore’s property ran sheep and cattle, but they grew corn and lucerne also, as well as a small vineyard.  Stewart would often say that with one good harvest they could pay off their debts and live a far better quality of life.  ‘Even buy a few more fields, a new tractor, and fix the fences,’ he would often say, speculating on how he would spend his windfall if it ever occurred.  Jenny wanted a car, now that she was nearly sixteen, but Fiona called all such speculations fantasy.  ‘Live in the real world,’ she would often say to the dreams of her father.  Stewart liked that in his daughter.  So like her mother – practical, realistic and down-to-earth.  It was a perfect attitude for the struggle of the farming life.  The one Gilmore, though, who had not a care in the world it seemed if the farm prospered or not, the elderly Janet Gilmore, Stewart’s mother, was not so taken with how well they reaped the fields, but how well she was reaping souls in her life-long commitment to the great commission of Christ.  She was a dedicated Jehovah’s Witness, the unspoken official religion of the family, taken seriously mainly by Janet herself.  Yet Janet was indeed one dedicated witness, determined to reap souls for the Kingdom.  Despite her elderly age of 82 she still went out on the doorknocking evangelistic crusades the Watchtower regularly undertook through the Monaro region and she thought privately to herself that she must have handed out, now, over 10,000 copies of the Awake and Watchtower magazines.  Yet she had not harvested greatly – never had done.  Still she kept the faith and believed her God would one day reward his servant for her lifelong commitment.

 

Jenny Gilmore was not overly religious like her grandmother, reflecting more of her father’s attitude of live and let live.  And, perhaps, such an attitude was necessary for the life of Jenny Gilmore.  She was not a popular girl at school or in the district – in fact she was markedly unpopular.  She had worn thick glasses since a young age and always looked quite square.  And of course she’d had horrible acne since about 13.  These, coupled together, did not help her in the boys department and as she was also something of a tomboy being raised to work on the farm and with the less then feminine looks of her youth still persisting Jenny Gilmore was not exactly the happiest of rural teenagers.  But everyday, looking in the mirror, she told herself that the acne ‘seemed’ to be getting less and less all the time and that as she was developing in her looks she ‘seemed’ to be growing more feminine.  And of course, something her father had often promised her, but always backed out on due to lack of funds, she could always have the eye laser surgery that had been recommended to her which would supposedly cure all her seeing problems.  Yes, Jenny Gilmore had problems, but there were solutions coming down the road a little she constantly reminded herself – she just had to be patient.

 

 

 

How about Jenny?  That’s a good name.’

 

Get serious,’ replied Fiona Gilmore to her sister’s suggestion of her own name for that of the child in Fiona’s womb.  ‘Jenny is the last name on earth I would choose.’

 

Gee, thanks,’ replied Jenny, less than pleased.  But Fiona had a grin on her face.

 

Only kidding sis.  I love your name.  You know that.  But we can’t have two Jenny’s in the family.  Could you imagine the confusion at dinner time?’

 

Jenny laughed, imagining to herself such a situation.  She placed her hand on the belly of her sister who pulled up her t-shirt to let Jenny see if she could feel the baby kick.

 

Seven months to go, Jen.  Seven months and then a special Gilmore child is born.’

 

Gilmore?’ queried Jenny.

 

Well, you know.  I am hardly going to name the child after its father.’

 

And why not?’ asked Jenny, another member of the Gilmore clan keen to know who the father was.

 

Because this child of mine is a Gilmore through and through.  I just know it.  Besides, I don’t think the father will really care that much in the end.  I don’t think he really loved me, like the way he said he did.  He just wanted sex.  That’s all they really want you know Jenny,’ she said turning to her sister.  ‘That’s all boys really want in the end.  They want to screw you and then they want to screw you – leave you up the duff.’

 

They’re that bad are they?’ asked Jenny, still somewhat naïve of the opposite sex she dreamed about.

 

Fiona moved Jenny’s hand to were she imagined the baby was kicking.

 

There.  There! Can you feel it?’

 

Jenny nodded, but persisted with her question.  ‘And boy’s are really that bad are they?’

 

Fiona confessed then.  ‘Well, no.  Not really.  No sis, boys are what they are.  Boys will be boys, as they say.  We need them, we love them, but boy how we hate them as well.  But we can’t live without them in the end.  Funny that, how I lucked out.  But who knows what the future holds?  Who knows?’

 

The future holds good things,’ said the elderly Janet Gilmore, coming into the kitchen of the Gilmore homestead, having just risen from a sleep-in, now at 5 past 11 in the morning.

 

Yes, but you would say that Nan.  You’re supposed to, aren’t you?  Like a good Christian.’

 

Watch your mouth Jenny Gilmore.  Remember, the eyes of the Lord are everywhere to know who has done good and bad and who has spoken against him.’

 

Jenny nodded, used to such a rebuke.  ‘I’ll be careful,’ she promised her grandmother.

 

You’ve had a good sleep-in, gran,’ said Fiona to her grandmother.  Janet Gilmore carefully lowered herself onto one of the ancient wooden seats at the kitchen table and picked up the newspaper.  Reading through it she turned to Fiona to reply.  ‘Sleeping in is the prerogative of the elderly, dear grandchild of mine.  Remember Solomon did say a foolish son sleeps through the harvest.’

 

Your point?’ queried Fiona, puzzled.

 

Well he said nothing about Grandmothers,’ replied the elderly Gilmore.

 

Both Fiona and Jenny smiled at their grandmother’s wit.  Janet continued to read through the newspaper as Jenny again felt Fiona’s stomach trying to feel the baby kick.  Janet stopped reading the paper momentarily to watch her grand-daughters.  She doubted, at just under two months, Jenny would feel the child kick, but the teens perhaps liked to think so.  She’d had three children of her own, one boy and two girls, and she had fond memories of others feeling her belly in likewise a manner.  One of the mysteries of life, she thought to herself.

 

 

 

So what do the Gilmore children have planned for such a fine day as this?’  Fiona picked up on the question.  ‘Children?  You haven’t called us children in years?’

 

Oh, you will always be children.  Always the daughters of somebody, God to not say the least.  You will always be my babies, and I love you so.’  Jenny got up and hugged her grandmother affectionately, saying, ‘And we love you to gran.’  Fiona nodded as well saying, ‘Always, gran.’

 

That is very good to hear, young Gilmore’s.  Now what are the day’s plans?  Or has that son of mine got you busy with farm-work this Saturday morning?  He really should let you have more of your Saturday’s to yourself.  You are still young and need to enjoy your youth.  God knows the farming life will always be there for you, but it can wait.  Something Stewart never nearly enough brings to mind.  Far to worried about this farm he is.  He should just trust in the Lord and let things run themselves.’

 

Fiona picked up on that comment.  ‘But the farmwork still needs to be done, Gran.  The cows won’t milk themselves after all.’

 

Won’t they!’ exclaimed Jan Gilmore in a bout of spiritual zeal, almost prepared to say they would.  But she softened.  ‘No, I suppose you are right Fiona.  They won’t milk themselves.  Which reminds me, do we have any eggs in the fridge?  I haven’t been out for them for days now.’  Fiona got up and checked the fridge and produced two eggs which she showed to her grandmother.

 

Well that does it.  I am going senile.  Forgetting to gather the eggs.’

 

Don’t say that gran.  You are just getting older.  Not old, mind you.  Just older.’

 

Oh you flatter me Jenny.  But I know I am getting over the hill.  Still I will go get those eggs now so I can at least have a decent fry up for breakfast.’

 

I’ll help you,’ said Jenny, getting to her feet, but her grandmother would have none of it.

 

No Jenny.  I am still perfectly capable of gathering eggs despite my age.  You go off now and have some fun today.  I will tell Stewart to leave you alone for the day.  You are young and need to be happy.  Look,’ she said, reaching into her purse, bringing forth a fifty dollar note.  ‘Here, take this and ride into Dalgety.  Spend the day with your friends in town and do what teenagers do.’  Jenny was about to say no but thought better of it, happily accepting the fifty dollar note.

 

Not that I have that many friends in Dalgety, gran.’

 

What was that?’ asked Janet Gilmore who had already turned to pick up the egg basket and go and gather eggs.

 

Oh, never mind,’ replied Jenny.  Her grandmother nodded and went off to gather the eggs.

 

Jenny looked at the fifty dollar note in her hand.  ‘Wow,’ she said to herself, mildly sarcastically.  ‘Fifty bucks.’

 

Now don’t go spending that all at once,’ said Fiona with a smile on her face.  ‘Nan is not always that generous.’

 

I won’t,’ replied Jenny.  ‘In fact I doubt I will spend it at all.  I don’t want to ride into Dalgety.  Nobody likes me there.  Nobody ever has.’

 

Fiona nodded, empathising with her sister.  While Fiona herself had been a popular enough girl from a young age she had known Jenny had lucked out in that department.  But things could change and Fiona knew boys.  And noticing the way in recent months that Jenny, although she would never say it to her, but noticing the way the acne was receding and her looks gradually turning more and more feminine and appealing – well her sister may very soon start attracting the attention of the boys she so eagerly sought.

 

Look, sis.  Try your luck.  Ride in, go to the café and order a hamburger.  And if any boys are around try talking to them.  You never know your luck, ok.  Trust me.’

 

Jenny looked at her, years of frustration peering through her eyes.  But she was still an optimistic enough youth and eventually nodded to her sister’s request.  ‘But don’t blame me when I say ‘I told you so,’ she retorted to Fiona.

 

I won’t.  Now go on, get going.  I can handle the farming duties today – there is not much on today and pretty light work.  And the doctors say these days they like a healthy mother when it is time to give birth.  Now go on, get.’  Fiona shooed her sister, who left the room and went to her bedroom.  Looking in her cupboard she pulled out her red skirt and black t-shirt with the big red Loveheart in the centre of it she had bought in Cooma earlier that year.  If she was ever going to attract the attention of a boy she had to look her most appealing.  Looking in the mirror bemoaning her glasses she reluctantly said, ‘well here goes,’ and left the room, making for her bicycle and the 7 Kilometre trip to Dalgety.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

It was a sunny day in late summer, but not that hot with sufficient cloud coverage to keep a cooler temperature.  Jenny had walked the distance from home to Dalgety many times in her younger years, mostly with her sister, but now she rode on her mountain bike.  It was not too hilly a ride and after about an hour she was nearing Dalgety.  Approaching the long steel bridge which ran across the Snowy River which ran through Dalgety Jenny brought her bike to a stop on the side of the bridge and peered down to the water.  She had swum in that river a number of times, especially on her own property were the river passed through, and knew it well.  When she was very young, around 7, she had played occasionally here in town with a small group of friends of boys and girls, but that had only lasted a couple of years.  They had grown apart and now seemed to have disowned her.  It was late summer at the moment and weather in the snowy mountains region of the Monaro at this time of year was usually warm enough, if not hot, but today was quite pleasant.  Peering down into the water she picked up a loose rock from the road and threw it down, watching it make a circular wave pattern.  Later on she might go down to the river and fling some smooth rocks across the surface to watch them bounce a few times on the water.  It had always fascinated her in her younger years, seeing how many times she could make the rock bounce before plummeting below the surface.  She once swore she had made it bounce ten times with a huge fling once, but in later years perhaps felt she might have been exaggerating somewhat.

 

She continued past the bridge and came to the oval were a game of cricket was in progress.  The men were in traditional white playing in the local Monaro district competition.  Her father Stewart had played cricket in younger years but given it up with the demands of farming.  But he’d told her tales of the century he once scored playing for Dalgety and also boasted he was not that bad a leg-spinner in his day.  Jenny had no real interest in the game, not even the big matches on television, and she swore that test cricket bored her to death.  Seriously, five days to determine the winner of a silly game like cricket, and half the time it was either washed out or ended in a draw.  No, such foolery was not for the attention of Jenny Gilmore.  Yet, despite that attitude, she parked her bike at the side of the oval and sitting under the trees watched the game in progress.

 

There was a small crowd gathered watching the match, likely just family and friends which was the usual turnout for the smaller Monaro competition, unlike some of the crowds the big city matches occasionally got her father told her.  She sat watching for a couple of hours as the first batting side completed its innings with some big hitting in the last few overs.  It was one of the pub sides from Cooma and they had amassed 236 in their allotted overs.  A good score which would be hard to beat for Dalgety Jenny thought to herself.  She continued watching for a little while and was about to leave when one of the Dalgety players came over to say hello.  A lad of about 17 who looked strangely familiar to Jenny.

 

Jenny.  Jenny Gilmore.  How the hell are you?’

 

Jenny smiled, but was not sure what to say.  Eventually she stumbled out a reply.  ‘Uh, yeh.  Uh, hi.  Umm, do I know you?’

 

The blonde lad smiled, shaking his head somewhat.  ‘You don’t remember, huh?  Surely it hasn’t been that long.  But I suppose it is.  I’m Craig.  Craig Coleman.  We used to play under the bridge over there when we were younger.  You even let me kiss you once.’  Jenny blushed, somewhat embarrassed, but was starting to remember.

 

Craig?  Yes, I think I do remember you.  But didn’t your family move out of town?’

 

Oh, we still kept the property.  My uncle and his wife and two kids stayed behind.  But we returned earlier this year.  The city life wasn’t really working out for us and dad reckons the farming life is probably in his blood in the end.  No point in being a fish out of water after all.’

 

I guess not.’

 

Craig came and sat down next to her, turning to look at her more closely.  ‘So how have you been Jen?  It’s been a while.’

 

Oh, you know.  The same I guess.  A little older.  Maybe a little wiser, as gran would say.’

 

Craig chuckled at that.  Looking at him Jenny could not help but notice that he had grown into a strong and attractive looking young man.  He had broadish shoulders, strong looking arms and fine legs.  He had really developed well.

 

So tell me,’ began Jenny.  ‘Will Dalgety win the match?’

 

Craig grinned.  ‘It could be close, but I think we might do them, just.  I am opening by the way.  I played for a club in Canberra and did well.  The city competition is a lot harder so maybe the big match practice might put me in good stead.  We’ll see, anyway.  Well, are you going to stay and watch me bat?  Or do you have to get going soon?’

 

Oh, I will watch you bat.  I rode in,’ she said indicating the bike near the tree.  ‘I don’t really have to be back until sundown.  So I will watch your whole innings.’

 

He smiled, a smile which brightened Jenny’s lonely heart.  ‘Thanks Jenny.  Well, the team is having a talk and I can’t miss it.  But I will come and say hi again once the match is over.’

 

Sure,’ replied Jenny, watching him get up and walk back over to his mates.

 

We bat in about 20 minutes,’ he yelled to her as he walked off.

 

Sitting there she was a little thirsty.  The café was only a short walk away and she had time to get a drink and a burger.  She got to her bicycle and rode to the café and ordered a cheeseburger with chips.  She sat on the café porch, looking down towards the oval, eating her chips and drinking cola.  It had turned out to be a good day so far after all.  Who knows what would happen with the rest of it.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Six!’ yelled the small crowd and as if in response the umpire but up both arms signalling the score.  The situation was exciting for young Jenny Gilmore – very exciting.  Craig was on 93, the team on 211, with 4 over to go and 26 runs needed for victory.  It couldn’t be any closer.  The next over was the final over of the spinner and he bowled very tightly only conceding 4 runs.  But Craig hit a 6 off the last ball of the next over and with the other batsman having scored 5 runs off the over himself the team only needed 11 runs off two overs with Craig on 99.  They were 9 down and close to victory, but one wicket would give the victory to the pub team from Cooma.  The over stared with the best bowler from the Cooma team brought back into the attack and Dalgety were getting excited.  But to no avail, the second ball of the over the number 11 blocked but the ball deflected off the bat skywards and was caught by silly-mid-on.  The game was over – the Cooma team had won.

 

Jenny got to her feet and clapped as Craig came off the field.  Despite losing the match Craig was really still a hero and had come as close as you possibly can to scoring a century without actually doing so.  The crowd was clapping and shortly the man of the match was named as Craig Coleman.  Jenny sat watching the hoo-hah for a while, deciding it might be time to leave.  But as she was walking her bike back to the road Craig ran over.

 

Hey, are you going already?  We’re going to the pub for a drink.  I am just under age so will have to sit out the front and drink soft drink, but you can do that with me if you like.  What do you say?’

 

Jenny hesitated.  Despite telling herself a number of times that afternoon watching that match that Craig, perhaps, had just been polite introducing himself to her it seemed that Mr Coleman, perhaps, had other things on his mind.  And that seemed to include getting to know Miss Jenny Gilmore a little better.  She was flattered.  This was what she wanted – what she really wanted – but now that she might have it, she almost instinctively wanted to say no.  She was nervous and butterflies were in her stomach.  Perhaps she was simply not ready for this.  Perhaps all the awkward things which had happened to her were simply nature’s way of saying the time was not right.  But looking at him, looking at the pleading look on his face, she knew she could not say no.

 

Sure.  I’ll come along.’

 

Great,’ he replied.

 

 

 

            As they sat in front of the pub were the other underage players were gathered Jenny was somewhat nervous.  Craig spoke to her occasionally, but was mostly talking to his other team-mates about the match.  But he was a boy after all, and that is what they liked to talk about.  As the afternoon waned and the players gradually disappeared she found herself alone with Craig who was drinking a cola and looking at the fading sun.  An idea came to him and he spoke up.

 

Why don’t we go down to the river, you know, like old times.  Just to have a look around.’

 

She nodded.  Walking down to the river pushing her bicycle, Craig walking alongside, Jenny Gilmore was suddenly quite happy.  It was nice.  Nice to have a boyfriend, well, sort of boyfriend.  Of course, nothing official had actually happened yet, but he seemed to like her and relationships had to start somewere after all.

 

            They came down to the river and, as she had thought of earlier that day, picked up flat pebbles and started flinging them across the surface of the river, seeing how many times she could make them bounce.  Craig soon copied her and she noticed instantly how much more adept he was at this thing.  But he was a boy in his prime – not really that surprising.

 

            As the sun began to wane Jenny realized the time was getting late and she should really get going.  Her family likely knew were she was and would come looking if it got too late, but it would be best not to make them worry.  She signalled to Craig and said she really needed to leave soon.  He smiled and put out his hand.  She took it and shook it while he said, ‘It has really been good catching up again Jenny.  Somehow I feel like a missing part of my childhood has returned to me.  Hopefully we will see more of each other.’

 

Jenny nodded, responding, ‘Yeh.  Yeh, I’d like that.’  She waved then and started pushing her bike back up to the bridge, Craig falling in behind her.  As she sat on her bike she turned to look at him and he waved, turned and made his way back towards the oval were his car was parked.  As she began riding along Jenny thought to herself that maybe, just maybe, things were finally changing for the better in the life of young Jenny Gilmore.  It least it was a start.  Things could only get better from here.

 

            Riding along the sun finally set and the sky darkened a little.  It would be bright for some time yet, this time of the year, but she would arrive home in late twilight.  But try as she might she could not bring herself to have any concerns over her late arrival home that day.  Her father might be a little worried but she would talk to her sister that night and share her news.  And despite the lecture she felt coming from her father for disappearing without letting him know and doing any work, for the meeting of Craig Coleman she felt it was just about worth it.  In fact she was sure of it.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Good grief, Jenny.  You were late because of a boy?’  Jenny’s father, Stewart Gilmore, stood there shaking his head, wondering were his youngest worker had been all day.  Fiona had not commented and Janet had remained silent just about, simply saying the girl must be doing what young girls do at her age.  And seemingly that had been the case.

 

Well, he was a guy I had known as a kid, ok.  Craig Coleman.  His family has moved back to the region and he was batting all afternoon, so I couldn’t exactly leave.  He nearly made a hundred after all.’

 

The Coleman’s, huh,’ said Stewart, taking off his akubra hat and wiping off the sweat of a hard day’s work.  ‘So John Coleman is back in the region.  Doesn’t surprise me, though.  He was never a city boy.  Too much country in him.’

 

That’s what Craig said.’

 

Stewart Gilmore looked down at his young daughter and thought better of rebuking her anymore.  She was young after all and, in the end, he wanted both daughters married rather than being spinsters.

 

Look, its ok Jen.  I could have used you today, that’s all.  There were a few things I needed your help with.  But your young and you need to find yourself.  I can’t ask everything of you, with your schoolwork and all.  But I will need you tomorrow so don’t go off skedaddling, alright.  I want you up bright and early.’

 

Sure daddy.  And sorry about today.  I know I should have told you I was going but gran told me to get going.  And you know how she is.’

 

Don’t I ever.  I’ll have to have words with her.’  Stewart looked down at his daughter silently pleased that she seemed to finally being attracting the attention of boys.

 

Now if you want this Craig fellow to like you, show yourself a lady.  And don’t you go getting in any trouble like your older sister.  You see how she ended up, and without a man I must say.  Besides, I don’t think your grandmother would approve of any fancy business.’

 

Nor you daddy?’ asked Jenny, gently inquiring.

 

Well, no, I guess.  I mean you know how I am with mum’s religion.  It never has really been for me.  Heck, I guess I believe in God, but you can take things too far.  And I think your grandmother suffers from that.  Thinks she’s bloody Christ himself the way I see it.  Trying to save every Tom, Dick and Harry.’

 

It’s just her religion, dad.  It’s important to her.  Gives her something to occupy herself with.  Besides, I don’t think people mind in the end, really.’

 

I don’t know.  There’s lots of bloody arguments about religion.  Same as politics.  And especially were the Jehovah’s Witnesses are concerned.  Worst of the lot, some people say.  Same as those Mormons.’

 

Good grief.  Nan is far from being a Mormon.  She would faint if you said so.’

 

Ah, they’re all the same in the end, those fundamentalists.  Same as the Baptists and those Pentecostals.  You know religion isn’t really for me, but I have studied the denominations somewhat from time to time, and I listen to what people say.  It seems to me there are normal churches and then there are the ones which try and tell everyone what to do.  As if they are the special chosen ones.’

 

Jenny was curious about that point.  ‘And what is a normal church?’

 

Probably your mothers, the Anglicans.  I attended a few times back in the day with her.  And you and Fiona were both baptized in that church as I recall it.’

 

Jenny looked startled.  ‘We were baptized?  But Nan has been hassling us to do that for years.  She never said anything like this.’

 

Oh, don’t worry about that.  Every church wants to baptize you in their own church.  And a lot of them don’t mind fishing for members from other churches.  I think there is a strong competition with Jesus for which church can win the most souls.’

 

Jenny smirked at that and Stewart had a big grin on his face.

 

Anyway, enough with the religious discussion.  I am glad you have found yourself a man, but I need you bright and early tomorrow morning, ok hon.  Bright and early.’

 

Jenny nodded as her father left the kitchen, off to his room.

 

 

 

            Jenny looked into the pot which was simmering on the stove top.  It seemed to be a stew of some kind and looking in the oven there were potatoes and pumpkin baking.  It would be a good dinner.  She left for her room and decided to get changed into her pyjamas.  Sitting at the dresser, looking into the mirror, Jenny Gilmore was pleased with herself.  As if today she had accomplished the first part of a long held goal to improve her life.  Of course, in reality, she’d had to do little of the work herself, mainly just go with the flow.  Craig had introduced himself to her and done all the asking.  She’d simply gone along with the ride.  Perhaps, thinking to herself, that was how it was supposed to be for the fairer sex as they were called.  Perhaps men were supposed to do all the asking, like Nan occasionally said, and women were meant to choose which one appealed to them the most.  But Jenny Gilmore could not say that she was anything if fussy.  She had been almost prepared to take any interest in any boy whatsoever who came along.  Ok, perhaps not any boy – there were reasonable exceptions.  But she had been in such a state of her lack of friendships that practically anyone could have become her friend.  But now, with that new friend, perhaps, being the quite handsome Craig Coleman, it seemed as if God had answered her silent prayer in a way most pleasing.  In fact, thinking on Craig, most pleasing indeed.

 

 

 

            A knock came to her door and Jenny said ‘Come in.’  Her sister Fiona came inside, sat on the bed, and looked straight at her.

 

A boy.  Is dad really telling me the truth?  A boy talked to you today?’  What was his name?  Dad didn’t say.’

 

Jenny smiled.  Of all the things in the world to talk with her sister about it seemed, finally, she had something womanly to chat about.  And about time too.

 

It was Craig.  Craig Coleman.  A kid I knew growing up.’

 

Oh,’ said Fiona, instantly making the connection.  ‘I know Craig pretty well.  I think I knew him more than you did after he stopped hanging around you.  They were just trying to be cool in those days, sis, and you were never seen as being cool.  But really, don’t let it worry you.  Times change.  They always do.  But Craig, he was a good kid.  Always polite and caring.  He hung around some rough nuts from time to time, but he was always worth getting to know.’  She paused, thinking over younger years.  ‘So the Coleman’s are back in town?  Well that is good to know.  They were always a strong part of our community.  They really never should have left.’

 

Craig sort of said the same thing,’ responded Jenny.

 

Well, did he ask you out?  Or was he just being friendly.  A girl has to know these things.’

 

Uh, no.  He didn’t ask me out exactly.  But he said it would be nice if we caught up again sometime.  So I think that means he is interested.’

 

Not necessarily.  He might just be being friendly.  Perhaps you are just a person from his childhood which he wants to remember fondly.  Perhaps that is all it is.  But if he does like you the next time you see him, well you will know.’

 

How exactly?’

 

You just will.  Take it from me, guys are obvious.’

 

Ok.’

 

Fiona stared absentmindedly, seemingly thinking over her sister’s good fortune, before coming back to herself.

 

Well, you get some good sleep after dinner, ok.  Dad wants you up bright and early.  I thought you might get into trouble with what gran suggested, but you are young.’

 

You sound like dad.’

 

Very funny.  Come on, lets go eat.  Nan is about to serve up.’

 

The two of them got to their feet and made their way to the kitchen of the Gilmore homestead.  Janet had just started dishing out the meals and motioned for the girls to be seated.  Shortly Stewart joined them and when the meals had been served, Grandmother motioned for silence and asked her offspring to close their eyes.

 

Dear lord,’ she began praying.  ‘We thank you for this wonderful day.  You are so good to us to provide for all our need and we thank you for this food from your creation and ask you to bless it to our bodies.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.’  The Gilmore’s opened their eyes and began their meal.

 

 

 

            Finishing off desert Jenny put her bowl on the sink.  While she occasionally washed up the dishes, Janet seemed happy enough to have that as one of her chores for the household.  Going into the living room she turned on the television and sat down watching the last half hour of 60 minutes.  But she was not really concentrating on the program and as her father came into the room and sat down near her, lighting up a cigarette and staring at the box, Jenny’s mind was alive with thoughts of Craig Coleman.  The family had given her a good impression of the Coleman family.  They seemed like real salt of the earth people, people who she could trust.  So if anything were to ever eventuate between herself and Craig, which she now hoped did occur, it would perhaps be good for all concerned.  Providing the Coleman family liked her, that is.

 

 

 

            Later that night, as she drifted off to sleep, Jenny Gilmore was quite pleased.  It had been a tough few years since her mother’s passing, and the Gilmore’s had knit together because of it.  But Laura’s passing was now something which the mourning of sorrow had turned into the strength of going on.  They were stronger as people, now.  More capable of handling the difficulties in life.  And while she missed her mother greatly and could think of nothing more she would like to do than share her stories of Craig Coleman, she thanked God that she at least still had her sister and her grandmother, and even her father, despite his malehood.  It had been a good day for Jenny Gilmore and as she finally found sleep and dreams invaded her head she was happy.  It seemed, now, things were finally turning around for the youngest of the Gilmore clan.  It seemed, now, things were getting better.  Getting better indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

 

Stewart Gilmore, 49, husband to the late Laura Gilmore, mother of his two daughters, whom he had loved dearly, was a farmer through and through.  And an Aussie through and through.  His family, so the family chronicle told, went all the way back to convicts from the first fleet.  And they were amongst the first settlers in the Monaro region, coming to their current homestead in the 19th century, as belied the age of the home.  Oh, it had been modified and rebuilt somewhat over the years, but you still saw the age in the place.  And in some ways you also saw the age in Stewart Gilmore, so anxious and worried for rain he had become in recent years.

 

Stewart knew he had no son, which he constantly told himself should not bother him as he was the proud father of two beautiful daughters.  Yet there was something about having a son, something part of humanity since ancient days, which spoke of leaving a legacy and having someone walk on further in your shoes to live the family dreams.  Yes he wanted a son and, silently, prayed that Fiona’s child would be a baby boy who he could teach the ways of farming and have carry on the Gilmore name.

 

Stewart was not a religious man like his mother who was a very dedicated Jehovah’s Witness.  He’d had a number of arguments with his mother over the years, especially in his turbulent teens in which he had abandoned religion totally.  His father had been non-religious in most ways and Stewart had seemingly followed that trait.  But Janet Smith had captured the late Fred Gilmore’s heart, despite being part of that newer Christian denomination full of zeal, the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the Philadelphia Watchtower and Tract Society.  And having made it her lifelong desire to convert her husband and then her son to the society Janet had lectured him on religious morality since a young age.  But he’d never been baptized having decided against it when he seemingly had the choice made to him in his teenage years.  Stewart was questioning – still questioning – and had no firm beliefs to speak of in relation to the big questions.  He knew he was an agnostic in reality, despite thinking that God probably was there.  But despite thinking the creator of all likely did exist he could simply not make the leap of faith to absolutely affirm such a truth.  There was still too much doubt in the heart of Stewart Gilmore.

 

Stewart was proud of his daughters, Fiona and Jenny, but kept his praises mainly to himself.  If anything, the miracle of life his daughters represented were the main reason he did suggest God likely existed.  Seeing his own face mirrored in some way in the faces of his children just spoke to his heart of the miracle of life and gave him quiet, heart-warming solace.  And that miracle, from time to time, he saw expressed in the farming life.  When a new calf was born, or ducklings which were on their farm started attaching to their mother and running after her, or even when they occasionally had a good harvest, Stewart was reminded why the life of a farmer, which was in his blood, was the life he had never left.  Part of nature – part of the natural cycle – producing food for the rest of society – was an idea central to much of the philosophy on life of Stewart Gilmore.

 

Now, three and a half years on since the passing of Laura, Stewart had healed.  And healed so much that, despite pretending he would never speak to his daughters about it, he had been having a romantic friendship with a widow who lived in town.  They had met at the pub, but he had known her a little over the years, occasionally saying hello.  But when Laura had passed, after a few months he felt the need for intimacy again, and this stranger who he knew had been widowed a while suddenly seemed quite appealing.  He had first talked to her in the pub just after a year since Laura’s passing.  He had wanted to ensure he waited the year as a sign of respect to his late wife, but when his mourning was complete the lady in question seemed quite willing to embark upon a new relationship with him and they had been meeting at her house for over two years now and slept together often.  It was funny, that.  His mother might possibly say they were fornicating which Stewart knew was supposed to be a sin.  But he had read the scriptures from time to time and gotten the impression that, for widows and widowers, later on in life, having proven faithful, that God probably didn’t mind that much.  Which in a strange way was important to him.  Oh, he had not really confessed any great faith, but he still exercised a degree of caution, and did not really want to offend the Almighty should he be up there in heaven keeping score.

 

Stewart, generally, was happy enough with his lot in life.  Things could be better, especially if they got more rain, but the farm managed to get by and the bills were usually, if often late, paid.  He had two daughters who he loved and watching them grow each day and face similar trials of youth he had grown through gave him joy at the wisdom life brought simply with experience.  He was very happy that Fiona was expecting, and the son he expected would make a welcome addition to the family.  And now, of all things most surprising, young Jenny might finally be showing signs of getting herself a man.  Which reminded him strongly of his promise to her.  Yes, he had long promised the surgery for her eyes, which would definitely improve her appearance, and felt he soon could make good on that promise.  He had been putting a little aside for a few months now and while the surgery was not exorbitantly expensive, it had usually been just out of reach.  But soon, very soon, he would make good on his promise and give his daughter the sight she so richly deserved.

 

Yes, all things considered, Stewart was happy with his life.  It was nothing remarkable, perhaps unlike a prime minister, or a great author, or noble laureate.  But it was a life which pleased him and, all things considered, he wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

 

 

Come on little piggy.  Come on.  Come get your food.’  The little pig grunted and came out of his little hut as the scraps were tossed into the sty.  They’d had pigs a number of times, always ending up slaughtering them for the delicious pork, ham and bacon such pigs delivered.  Stewart had never really committed to the idea of breeding pigs though, used to his other main sources of income, but they purchased piglets from time to time at the markets to fatten up and slaughter for food.  He admitted to himself that he loved the taste of bacon and over the years through particular feeding habits he had practiced he was sure that he was getting a better quality of bacon.  But his mother said it all tasted the same to her.  It was Sunday morning, around 9, and Jenny was out on the motorbike moving the sheep to another field, while Fiona was tinkering with the tractor which needed fixing.  Fiona was a mechanically minded child, very fortunate for a girl considering he didn’t have a son, but perhaps it was simply the way he had raised both girls to be men to look after the farm.  He had no son so had to make do with what he had.  He thought to himself these days that if he were to have an accident with the tractor or some other misfortune befell him the girls, now, would likely be able to manage the farm.  They knew the shearers they had to get in during shearing season and would likely manage that okay, an integral part of their income; and all three Gilmore ladies knew how the milking machines worked.  Harvesting the corn and lucerne was a little trickier, but Fiona was starting to get the hang of it, and Jenny had no problems with the grapes and making wine for the small wine label they ran.  ‘Gilmore Monaro Estate’ was not exactly a best selling wine label, as they did not produce a great quantity of wine, never really committing the necessary resources to do so.  But it sold well, usually, and they had outlets throughout the region which happily enough sold their product.

 

As the pig went through its meal Stewart thought on his plans for the evening.  By now he knew his daughters must be thinking something was up, so many times had he spent the night away from home when he claimed he was just going to Dalgety pub.  They weren’t stupid - they were Gilmore’s after all.  But despite the worry that somehow they would find out, he could not stop seeing Michelle.  She was his girlfriend, now.  And while he had sworn to himself that the memory of his daughter’s mother was something sacred for him and his daughters to share, he likewise had to face reality.  Sooner or later he would have to tell them about Michelle.  And perhaps sooner, before they found out for themselves anyway.

 

Watching the pig finish off its eating returning to its hut, Stewart looked at the sky, took off his akubra, and wiped his brow.  They would only work to midday today.  He never really felt comfortable working any longer on Sunday knowing they both needed the rest and his mother’s religious concerns for that day.  There was work to do in the winery, fixing some of the vines to posts which had come off during last nights strong wind gusts.  And he wanted to take a drive around the property to do a full stocktake of the fences, something he had been putting off for some while.  There were a few nagging fence lines which had been on his mind, and a gate which really needed looking at, but funds had been scarce recently.  Still they had enough for now, but what he really hoped and prayed to the God he was not really sure he believed in was for good rain for the next few months.  Come spring later on in they year, if they had good rain, harvest could be good this year.  And with a good harvest and good crops came good money.  And with good money he could attend to things which had been lagging and perhaps give all the Gilmore’s a special few months to be remembered.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Fiona had been tinkering with the tractor all morning.  The Gilmore family had two tractors, the other one quite old which was generally past its use by date but, if necessary, could be fixed up to run as well.  And throughout the morning she occasionally felt they may have to in fact do just that.  She was not exactly a mechanic but knew enough by now that she could likely carry the title of Mechanic’s apprentice without too much trouble.  She had cleaned the spark plugs that morning, thinking that was the main problem, but then it still hadn’t worked.  She’d spent a couple of hours looking through the engine, trying to work out what the problem was, but to no avail.  But now she thought she was stupid.  And having just checked the key starting mechanism, she found it loose.  Tightening it up she tried the key and it cranked over the engine and the engine started.  ‘Success,’ she smiled to herself.  Stewart came over to see her and motioned for her to turn off the tractor so he could speak.

 

What was the problem then sweetie?’

 

Just a loose starter engine for the key switch.  It took me ages to find the problem, but its all working fine now.’

 

Good.  Well I’ll need her tomorrow, so you can clean her up if you like and then take the rest of the day off.  I’ll probably be finishing shortly anyway.’

 

Sure thing dad.’  Fiona got to work checking the oil and fuel and noting the fuel was low drove the tractor over to the farm’s diesel pump and filled her up.  Diesel was delivered regularly and they had a pump which they used for the farm vehicles.

 

            Filling the pump Fiona thought about the child within her womb.  She was only 19, which often to her seemed young to have a baby.  But not really, she reminded herself.  Nature had dictated she was ready so she would have to accept the consequences for her infidelity.  Well, not infidelity exactly, but pre-marital shenanigans.  Fortunately gran had not hassled her too much, generally showing sympathy and understanding for her situation which relieved her greatly.  Fiona was like her father somewhat in religious thinking and morality but had a little more sympathy for the faith of her grandmother.  She did believe in God, a jump her father had not committed to, but did not pursue religion with any great zeal.  Fiona, in general, saw herself as a down-to-earth country girl.  A true blue Aussie.  She had been reasonably popular in her school years and had dozens of casual friends and a few close ones.  And in fact it was one of those closer friends, one of the males, which had gotten her into her current situation.  He was a Cooma lad, the main town of the area, apart from Canberra further up north.  She had gone to school with him at Monaro high in Cooma, he being in the year above her.  And when they had left school he had gone off to university, only returning home for holidays.  In fact, it was December the previous year when he had been back in town that they had caught up and done the deed which led to her current state.  He had promised he would look after her but had recently returned to Canberra and his university life.  ‘And the other women’, Fiona often thought to herself.  But she did love him.  She knew that much.  And if he ultimately did prove faithful to her and her child, well, if marriage became an option she likely would not decline.

 

            Fiona had plans for the future, and she had no plans.  More like dreams which were less than concrete which was surprising because she was a very practical girl at heart and noted often.  Oh, she reminded people to live realistically, and she presumed in the end she did, but she fantasized about being a country singer from time to time and seeing the kind of life that could bring.  She also had dreams of working somewere in Canberra or Sydney in a high-flying career.  But deep down she was a country girl and realized the farming life her father had brought her up in would likely be the bread and butter of the rest of her days.  But that didn’t bother her.  At times it was a lonely life, stuck out on a farm near Dalgety at the back of nowheresville.  But while that was not completely true, apart from the farm itself there was not much to do.  There was a Dalgety dance night every now and again, which the girls had attended for a number of years now, but Fiona was less interested in that now, concentrating on her child.  Yes, it seemed that her baby would occupy much of her life now and the dreams she had for herself, well, the child could carry on and live those dreams for her.  But that was life, wasn’t it.  We make plans and then along come children who take over our dreams and become the central rock of our lives in our sense, teaching us to be responsible and dependable citizens.  Fiona knew that.  She knew that was what being pregnant had done to her so far – taught her to be more responsible and less flaky.  She realized she had been raised well, to respect her elders and to have good values and she knew the importance of passing on such values to her own child.  They were the things which got you through life and taught you how to relate to the rest of society.

 

            A bigger family would be good for the Gilmore’s, now that their mother Laura had passed.  Oh, they got along well, but it had seemed for a while as if something was missing, as if with the passing of Laura there was still an empty place which should not have been at the kitchen table.  But perhaps the little child in Fiona’s belly would make a difference to that.  Fiona liked to think so.  Oh, she could never replace her mother with her child, but it would give everyone in the family, especially her father Stewart, something to focus on since Laura’s death.  In every way Fiona felt the child had come just at the right time.  She had names, Jonathon if it was a boy and Laura, after her mother, if it was a girl.  And while she felt it would be wonderful to have a female child named after her mother she couldn’t help but believe it was a boy to satisfy her father’s desires.  Either way in around seven months she would find out.

 

            Jenny was dear to Fiona.  The little sister she had held in her arms at only 3.  She loved her – loved her dearly.  And she had a heart for her little sis and the problems of life which had beset her.  Oh, they were nothing drastic in the end, but being unpopular was something Fiona had never really had to face, unlike Jenny.  But, it seemed, in her sweet sixteenth year Jenny Gilmore might finally be showing signs of blossoming into a fine young lady.  Indeed the acne was less now and she was looking more and more feminine each week virtually.  The eyes would hopefully have the surgery they needed soon – and especially soon if this new boy was interested.  Jenny had never had a boyfriend, unlike Fiona who’d had a few by Jenny’s age.  But if Craig Coleman was to be won by Jenny, well she needed every advantage she could possibly get.

 

            Stewart, her father, was in many ways now the rock of Fiona’s life.  Like so many young daughters, their mother was their role model and the one they looked up to with questions on life and all the worries they had.  But Fiona had lost her mother at 16 and since that time it had been her father and to a lesser degree her grandmother she had grounded upon.  And because her father was so important to her life she tried to help him with the farmwork as much as she possibly could, even in her current pregnant state.  Something she admired about her father was his dependability and faithfulness.  He would not cut and run on his children – something which seemed totally impossible to the doting Fiona Gilmore.  No, no matter how tough things got, and they were often quite tough, Stewart would stand behind his family like a fair dinkum father, and see them through both the tough times and the good.  And she loved him because of it.

 

            Janet Gilmore, her grandmother, was, while Fiona was growing up, not exactly the kind of grandmother she thought fitted the normal mode.  Her mother, Laura, had often told her that Gran was a religious zealot and to not take too seriously the things she said.  Fiona had been shaped by her mother’s words about her grandmother from a young age, but recently had come closer, somewhat, to understanding her grandmother’s perspective on life.  She had been to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall meetings a few times in her life and had gained something of an understanding on were her grandmother was coming from.  And, in Fiona’s mind, it was something of a persecution complex.  They were sometimes called cultic by other branches of Christianity, mainly because they refuted the trinity doctrine.  And from what Fiona saw this created a backs-to-the-wall mentality amongst her grandmother’s fellowship, one which viewed itself as being against the whole world.  And because Fiona had grown to understand that, and appreciate that her Grandmother had spend 82 years in such a mould, it was easier to understand were her Nan was coming from and relate to her because of it.  She really didn’t think other Christians were as against her grandmothers church as her grandmother herself thought.  In fact, from discussions, most people just thought they were another church these days.  But, perhaps, the old stigma was alive in her grandmothers thinking, something which continued to motivate her in her evangelistic zeal.  But that was her grandmother, and despite thinking she might like to from time to time, she probably wouldn’t change her for the world.

 

            Ultimately, things were generally good enough in the life of Fiona Gilmore.  She was not really sure if she would change anything at the moment, so satisfied she was with it all.  Oh, she could always win the lottery, which she supposed a lot of people dreamed about, but being realistic things were as they should be.  Life was good and the new baby would be the icing on the cake when it arrived.

 

 

 

            ‘Fiona, do you have a moment?’  Jenny Gilmore had come from the homestead out to see her, with some query on her mind.  Fiona was pumping diesel into the tractor but sensed she’d put enough in.  She finished off, replaced the pump handle, and put the tractor fuel plug back on.  She turned to her sister, wiping her hands on her overalls.

 

What’s up sis?’

 

I’m back at school tomorrow.  Dad has decided the cold I had is definitely over with so it is time to get back to school, even though I start late this year.’

 

You’re only a couple of weeks late.  You will catch up.’

 

I hope so.  But I am in year 11 now and they sometimes dress a little casual at Monaro in year 11 and 12.’

 

Don’t I know it,’ replied Fiona.  ‘We are starting to be called adults by year 11, sis.  The teachers are less worried about what we wear then.  They assume we are mature enough to know how to dress.’

 

Right,’ said Jenny, gaining a firmer understanding.  ‘Well, you know Craig?’

 

Yes, I know Craig,’ said Fiona smiling.  ‘What about him?’

 

Well, he is in year 12 this year, just above me.  And, well.  Umm.’

 

Spit it out.’

 

Well, what should I wear at school?  For him to notice me, you know?’

 

Fiona smiled.  Her sister was such a girl.  Funny that, though – what else should she expect.

 

Look, it is not so much what you wear, sis.  But how you wear it.’

 

What’s that supposed to mean.’

 

It means your attitude and how you come across is far more important.  Who you are as a person will last a lot longer than how you dress, if you take what I mean.’

 

Jenny nodded.  Her sister sounded wise.

 

Yeh, you’re probably right.  I shouldn’t worry so much, huh?’

 

Just be yourself.  If he is going to like you he is going to like you for you – for who you are as a person.  And there is no point in trying to be what you’re not.  You will only betray yourself in the end.’

 

Jenny nodded.  Yes her sister was wise.

 

Well, I will just wear what I wore in year 10.  That will have to do.’

 

Probably for the best.’

 

Thanks sis.’  Jenny put up her hand in a little wave and walked back to the house.  Watching her go Fiona thought on the things she had said to her.  They were true words, words which came from her mother from her early teens.  And she trusted her mother’s wisdom.  If Jenny was to find a man, she could not be anything but what Jenny Gilmore was in the end.  To try to be otherwise was a betrayal, and that was not something the Gilmore’s were into.  Not something at all.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Janet Gilmore loved Jehovah.  She loved her God with all her soul, mind and strength.  But sometimes, just sometimes, she wondered if her God felt the same way.  Yes, she knew what the scripture taught and what the elders who ministered to her from the pulpit continued to remind her in relation to the fidelity of God’s love – but sometimes she questioned wether he really was listening.  Oh, he had always taken care of her.  She was now 82 years old and had lived a long, fruitful and rewarding life.  She had seen wars, droughts, childbirth and any of the other conditions common to society – but one thing, which made her question the love of God – was wether he really was paying attention or not to her prayer requests for souls to be given into the kingdom.  And that was the biggest priority of all for Mrs Janet Gilmore.

 

            First and foremost of all the souls she truly desired to come to know the love of Jehovah was her son, Stewart.  Stewart, in his pre-teen years, had attended the watchtower services when his father permitted, but had left this faith entirely in his teenage years.  She still remembered strongly the arguments she had with Stewart over the existence of God and why, amongst a world full of religions, that her particular strand of Christian faith was the truth when so many others also made that claim.  Certainly, she had answers she could give, and gave them often, but he was too jaded in the end to really take seriously the viewpoints of his mother.  As a theologian might say, God was ineffable to her son Stewart, beyond understanding and even really knowing for sure.  But she loved him and had prayed for him just about every day of his life to come to know her heavenly father.

 

            The other souls she was most interested in were, naturally, her two grand-daughters, Fiona and Jenny.  Fiona seemed accepting of her grandmother’s faith, but non-committal.  As if she perhaps already had a worldview on God and religion which she didn’t intend changing from.  And Jenny, well the lass was still young and mouldable, but she seemed destined, to Janet, to follow in the footsteps of her older sister or father, or a mix of both.

 

            But there were other souls in the district who Janet Gilmore had witnessed to many a long year on the virtues of firstly Christian faith and then the teachings of her own movement in particular.  But, despite a lifelong commitment to the great commission of Christ, apart from the occasional visitor to the assembly whom she had given a copy of ‘Awake’ or the ‘Watchtower’ magazine to, she had never really reaped any souls for the kingdom.  And this she desired to do strongly, knowing Christs words on the importance of bearing fruit.

 

            Yet, despite her situation, and despite the questions she had towards Jehovah who should indeed be keeping faith with his faithful servant, Janet had concluded that if she kept the faith, in the end, the reward would come.  She just had to be patient.

 

 

 

            In other aspects of her life she was generally content with things on the Gilmore homestead.  She had met Fred Gilmore decades back, who she found one of the more handsome men in the district.  It had not taken him long to propose and no sooner were they married than she was pregnant with her first child, Fiona, Stewart’s sister.  Fiona lived just a few months before dying of cot death.  It had been a tragedy for her and Fred to face, but she fell pregnant very quickly afterwards and the birth of their second and final child, Stewart, seemed to console the couple somewhat.

 

            Fred had never really liked her religion.  He had been brought up a nominal Anglican, but never really attended church.  And so, having met Janet, the religious divide between them had been a non-issue.  Life with Fred Gilmore on the farm had been good – very good.  She had been a faithful and loving wife, as her faith taught her to be, and through the hard times and the good times she had grown to trust her God, that he would always be there for her, providing for her in ways beyond her.  And he had always, thankfully, done so.

 

            And then, a while back now, but seemingly only yesterday, Fred had passed and she was left with Stewart and Laura and the children and then only Stewart and the Children.  Funny how life brings loved ones into your life and then just as easily takes them away she had thought to herself.  Funny that.  But she had faith for those gone from her that she would meet them again one day in the world to come and for now concentrated on where she was in life, loving those the Lord brought to her.

 

 

 

            Sitting in her upstairs room of the Gilmore homestead Janet was looking through the recent issue of the ‘Watchtower’ magazine.  It was nothing out the usual but she still answered the questions ready for the next service.  She often travelled into Cooma to attend the Kingdom Hall there, but often just studied at home as well.  While she still drove she was a little shakier on the road in recent months.  It could well come down to her needing to ask her son Stewart to take her to assembly and, while that was not the end of the world, she sensed there might be some problems.  Just then a knock came to the door and Janet spoke ‘Come in.’  Young Jenny came into her room, dressed in her school clothes.  Of course, she would be back at school tomorrow, now that she was over her summer cold.  ‘Yes Jenny.  What is it?’

 

Well, Gran.  I don’t really know how to say this, but, well.’  She gathered herself.  ‘I mean, I totally respect what Fiona says and agree with her, but boys do like you to look good, don’t they?  I mean they like you to dress well don’t they?’

 

What has Fiona been saying to you?’

 

She says that it doesn’t really matter how I dress.  A boy should like me for who I am rather than what I look like.’

 

Janet nodded to herself.  Perhaps her wisdom from life should speak on this.

 

While I should rebuke myself for saying this, child of mine, but while a woman needs to show herself gentle and feminine it is often the sad truth that those who dress in a way which attract a man’s attention will often get the prize others miss out on.’

 

So I should dress up then?’

 

Don’t look like a harlot, mind you.  But yes.  It is still a very feminine and natural thing to want to look good for a man.  It is natures way dear Jenny.’

 

Jenny nodded.  She had been through a phase that afternoon of questioning everything she knew on this subject, but still felt boys wanted a girl who looked good, something her grandmother seemed to reinforce.

 

Be yourself Jenny, in what you say and do.  But dress well as well.  Look good for him.’

 

Thanks gran,’ said Jenny and hugged her grandmother.  It was exactly what the teenager wanted to hear.

 

Is that all?’ Janet asked her granddaughter.

 

Yes that’s all.  I’ll go and pick something now.’

 

Janet nodded as her granddaughter left the room, happy to have offered some advice.

 

 

 

            As she returned to her magazine her mind drifted to her younger days.  She had dressed very formally when first dating Fred Gilmore.  Of course it was different in those days.  Before the 1960s came along and the sexual revolution began.  Oh, they weren’t naïve in her day – they knew what was what.  But it seemed to her they had lived in the shadow of the bygone Victorian era with all its morality and then, suddenly, the 60s hit and sexual morality had not been the same since.  In some ways, despite the very conservative inclinations within the heart of Janet Gilmore, it was a relief.  What had been kept in the shadows could at least now be discussed in some way and she really felt people at least deserved to be educated on the subject before making an informed decision.  She queried to herself from time to time what God, the great creator of sex in the first place, really did think on human mating rituals.  Perhaps they were an area of amusement to him, or was he really the king of sexual morality that the scriptures seemed to maintain.  It would be something she looked forward to learning about for certain in the world to come.

 

 

 

            She was tired, and though dinner was due shortly, she felt she might just have a little nap.  It couldn’t hurt.  As she lay there she gently drifted off to sleep and dreams of boys from her youth filled her mind and one particularly handsome Fred Gilmore pledged, in her dream, that he would be hers forever and ever.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

The breakfast table, early Monday morning, Jenny due back for school on the bus to leave shortly, was alive with chatter.  Fiona had ironed Jenny’s clothes twice at Jenny’s request as the girl really did want to make a good impression on her first day in Year 11.  Fiona felt, maybe, she was fussing to much but understood as well.  Janet Gilmore was also at the table having risen early.  Today she was out doorknocking for her church with another Jehovah’s Witness from the Dalgety area.  That morning they were eating bacon, eggs, tomatoes and hash-browns – a traditional Aussie breakfast.

 

And remember,’ said Fiona to her sister whose mouth was full of bacon.  ‘This is your big year, nearly the biggest of them all.  HSC is next year so you will want to study hard this year, more than ever, to get ready for that.  If you really want to go to university getting good scores on your HSC is absolutely essential.

 

But I heard,’ said Jenny through mouthfuls of bacon, ‘that you can get into university as a mature age entrant at 21 anyway?  So what does it matter if I am late a few years?’

 

I think its 20 sis.  But surely you want to get on with your life and not waste a couple more years at the farm.  You have always been good at school and we all think you could do well at uni.’

 

But I like the farming life as well, you know.  I didn’t know you were that eager to get rid of me.’  Fiona came and hugged her sister.

 

We’re not, Jenny.  But you could have a great life.  And a university degree goes a long way to achieving that.  Don’t take year 11 and 12 lightly.  Believe me.  The harder you study now the easier it will be later on when it is important.’

 

Jenny nodded, believing her sister.

 

Janet Gilmore spoke up.  ‘In my day it was still not quite the done thing for a lady to attend university.  Oh, the suffragettes brought us our liberties, but women still had a fight to get somewere on their own in those days.  For myself, not that I would have chosen otherwise, but the married life was about the only real option.  So think carefully Jenny Gilmore about your future.  You have so much promise and can offer so much to this world.  Let your dreams come alive and chase them.  They are what you have in the end.’  Jenny nodded as she chewed on the bacon.  She had heard similar things from her grandmother before.

 

            Stewart came in the room and looked at the bacon in the frying pan.  ‘Hey, is this for me?’

 

And the hash browns and tomatoes.  Sorry, we’re out of eggs.’  Stewart loaded up a plate and sat down at the kitchen table, looking at his daughter in her school clothes.  Jenny had done up her hair and had a small hair scarf to make herself look attractive.

 

My, don’t we look a treat,’ he said to his daughter.

 

Daaad,’ moaned Jenny.

 

I mean it.  You look a peach, Jenny.  I am sure Craig or whatever his name is is bound to notice.’

 

Don’t embarrass the girl,’ said Janet Gilmore.  ‘You can see she is nervous for her big day.  I remember your first day at school.  You couldn’t stop talking about all the new kids you had met that afternoon.’

 

I remember,’ replied Stewart.

 

Jenny looked at the clock and finished stuffing down her bacon.  ‘Ok.  I gotta go.  The bus will be out the front in about 10 minutes so I can’t wait.’  Fiona came over to her.

 

Ok.  Do you have everything?’

 

Jenny looked at her sister.  ‘Yeh, I think so.’

 

And don’t be nervous, okay.  I know it is a big day and you are looking forward to maybe seeing Craig.  But just be yourself.  You will be fine.’

 

Jenny nodded.  Fiona gave her a hug and Janet waved at her, while Stewart smiled at his daughter.  Three minutes later she was out the door, heading to the unsealed dirt road at the front of the property were the Dalgety School Bus drove past.

 

 

 

            Watching her go Fiona thought on all her glory days in school.  They had been good days, great days many of them, but they were gone now.  And now the regular humdrum of life which all adults had to face put its nose in.  She was lucky, in a way.  She now had a child to look forward to and in that way could show she was important to the world.  But she had been worried just last year, living out on the edge of Dalgety, nobody really to talk to that much, stuck on a farm.  It was almost as if life had forgotten her temporarily.  But now she had something to look forward to and could share in the excitement of her sister’s life for now.  And soon, very soon, the patter of tiny little feet to bring new joy to her heart.

 

 

 

            Yes, it was another bright new day for the Gilmore clan and as they went about their business for the day the bright summer sun rose steadily in the sky, another new and glorious day of hope and untold promises.

 

 

Chapter Three 

Jenny looked at the notebook in front of her.  Year 11 Advanced Mathematics.  She had studied the higher grade of maths all the way through high school and had enrolled for year 11 Advanced Maths as well.  She should be ready but some of the problems looked challenging.  The teacher, Mr White, said he would help her out and give her a few tutoring lessons in lunch time until she caught up, but she was reluctant to agree to that at first because she wanted to be ‘seen’ at lunch.  But she knew it was in her own best interests and without a reasonable excuse agreed.

 

            Sitting there in the library that lunch time, Mr White had just left after helping her for about 10 minutes on some of the introductory material.  She was doing her best to really concentrate – she really was – but she couldn’t help but feel anxious to get outside and see if she could find Craig.  But, funnily enough, as she got stuck into her studies someone had crept up behind her and sat down at her desk.  It was Craig Coleman.

 

            ‘So whatchya doin?’ He asked, picking up her maths book.

 

Maths, Craig,’ responded Jenny, ever so pleased to see him, but not wanting to let him know that.

 

Yeh, I know I probably should be studying in the library at lunch as well.  Can’t get anywhere without studying my dad always says.’

 

He’s probably right,’ replied Jenny who had put down her pen.  Craig picked up the scientific calculator.

 

This,’ he said, indicating the calculator, ‘becomes a lot more fun in Year 11 and 12.  We use it a lot more.’

 

I always assumed we would,’ responded Jenny.

 

Yes, you would.  Your smart, aren’t you?’  Jenny just blushed at that.

 

Craig opened the old text book and looked at the inside cover carefully.

 

What are you looking at,’ asked Jenny.

 

Craig kept the textbook open and handed it to her, pointing to a little note which had been written inside the cover of the book.  It read ‘Turn to page 414.’  She turned to page 414 and found another note which read, ‘Turn to page 311.’  She turned to page 311 and found another note which read, ‘Turn to page 66.’  She turned to page 66 and found the final note which read ‘You suck!’  She laughed out loud and Craig grinned.

 

How did you know that was there?’

 

This was my textbook from last year.  I wrote it in there.’

 

Jenny grinned and pushed his shoulder.  She stared at the note saying ‘You suck’ for a few moments, before returning to her sums.

 

            After a few moments of Craig casually using her calculator he spoke up.  ‘You know, Jen.  I don’t really have a girlfriend.  So if you want to hang out with me, well that would be okay by me.  I mean it doesn’t have to be anything serious.  We can be just friends, you know.  Friends.’

 

This was something Jenny Gilmore had longed to hear in the last couple of days.  And now it had happened and she was not sure what to say, caught off guard at first.’

 

Uh, yeh, well,’ she stuttered.

 

Well?’ he said, looking straight at her.’

 

She came to herself.  ‘Yeh, sure.  We can be friends.  I would like that.’

 

Great!’  He replied.  ‘Well, I am heading off now and I know you have to study, but I will see you on the bus this afternoon.  I wasn’t on this morning because I had a doctor’s appointment, but I will be taking the bus with you each day now.  And we can sit next to each other if you like.’

 

Sure, that would be great.’

 

Cool.’  He got to his feet, typed something into the calculator and handed it to her and walked off.  She looked at the calculator.  It read ‘58008’.  But she turned it upside down and read ‘Boobs.’  She smiled to herself.  He had a sense of humour did this Craig Coleman.  Someone to watch out for.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

That afternoon during her final class for the day, economics, Jenny could barely concentrate on the lesson.  She was looking forward to the long trip back home to Dalgety and her time chatting with Craig Coleman.  Already she was fantasizing about perhaps being his unofficial girlfriend; but of course it was just that, unofficial.  But that didn’t matter.  If she made a good impression, which she felt she already had, he would like her and might be interested in having her as his girlfriend one day.

 

The clock ticked over to half-past three and the school bell rang.  She finished off her notes from the board, put her notebook in her bag, and started making her way towards the western front entrance to the school were the buses would be.  She found her bus and looking on it didn’t yet see Craig, but the bus wasn’t due to leave for a few minutes and she was sure he would arrive.  A couple of other students from Dalgety who were in her year said hello to her, as they had that morning, seemingly taking a little more of an interest than previous years.  And she was just starting a conversation with Natalie Cooper when Craig sat down next to her.  He smiled to Natalie and said hi but then turned his attention to Jenny.  ‘How’s tricks?’

 

Oh, everything is alright,’ she replied nervously.  She could feel the eyes of Natalie Cooper on both of them, but didn’t want to say anything.  There was nothing to say, anyway.  They were just friends after all.

 

            Shortly the bus took off and did its rounds of the Cooma schools and then started making its way out of Cooma, headed for Berridale.  From Berridale they would turn south for the trip to Dalgety.

 

            All that long afternoon, which seemed to last forever, Craig chatted about this and that and Jenny felt like she was dramatically falling in love.  Of course that wasn’t true but she was very soon smitten with Craig Coleman with all the attention he lavished upon her.  When they finally reached Dalgety he got off at the main stop.  She was almost tempted to get off as well, but stayed on the bus and waved him goodbye as she continued along.  When she got home coming through the kitchen door finding Fiona all her conversation was on Craig Coleman.  Yes, indeed, the lass was smitten.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            The following day followed a similar routine to the previous except that morning she rode on the bus with Craig.  Craig introduced her properly to his Dalgety friends and, it seemed, Jenny Gilmore was now becoming something she had desired for so long - popular.

 

            That lunch-time at school she was again in the library catching up on her maths study when Craig found her again.  They chatted casually but he sensed she was concerned with her work so he started helping her.  Craig was an A Average student, very used to getting high grades in most of his subjects.  He was in Advanced Maths for year 12, and handling it, and found little difficulty in helping Jenny understand her problems.  For Jenny it was the right person to become her friend at the right time for so many reasons, and was she ever grateful.

 

            But no new romance ever gets off without a problem, and that problem, for Jenny Gilmore, was found in the person of Natalie Cooper.  Natalie was in year 12, Craig’s year, and ever since he had gotten back to the region she had been mildly flirting with him.  And that afternoon on the bus, thinking it had just been her imagination yesterday, she was confronted with another woman after her man.  Of course, Jenny was a gentle and reserved type of girl and when put to the test, which she was, she did what came instinctively and withdrew from the challenge.  Craig himself seemed to like the attention of both girls but, from what Jenny could see, he particularly liked the close attention that Natalie was giving him.  When both Craig and Natalie got off at the Dalgety stop Jenny was tempted to get off as well, as she did not like the thought of losing her boyfriend before she even had gotten him, but something in her heart, something about Fiona’s words, told her that if Natalie could steal him away from her, then he wasn’t really for her in the first place.  And so she remained silent and calm the following morning and afternoon while Craig was being flirted with by Natalie but, to Jenny’s relief, he came with her the extra few kilometres after the Dalgety stop saying he would walk home from Jenny’s place.  Natalie had gotten off at the Dalgety stop but there was a look of defeat in her eyes.  Sitting there in the front of Jenny’s property Craig said something which relieved Jenny’s fears.

 

Yeh, I like Natalie.  She’s a fun girl.  But I’m not interested in her, okay.  Not in her.’  Jenny nodded, quietly taking in that information.  She showed him the property briefly but he declined an invitation to be introduced to her family.

 

Perhaps some other time, okay.  But I gotta run.  See you tomorrow.’  And he took off.

 

She was more certain of herself now and had growing confidence in Fiona’s words.  If she just remained herself then boys would see her for who she was, not what she looked like.  And she would trust in that.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Honey.  Do you ever think, well maybe.  Maybe you could tell your daughters about me.  It has been over two years now.  They are grown girls.  I’m sure they will understand.’

 

Funnily enough, despite thinking he really did not want to hear this from Michelle Brooks right at the moment, Stewart Gilmore felt perhaps he should.

 

Yes, I suppose you’re right.  I have been putting it off for ages, now.  Finding excuses not to tell them.  Mainly Laura, you know.’

 

I know.’

 

But there will never be a right time.  Not with news like this.’

 

Hon, they’re grown girls.  They know how the world works.  We move on, after a while.  All of us do.  And when someone we love has left us – well we are only human, and we still need a little loving.’

 

With other such words Michelle gently persuaded Stewart to share the news of her existence with his family and Stewart finally assented.

 

But not right at the moment.  Just give me a few months, okay.  Only a few more months.  I need the time to work up to it and find the right moment.’

 

Sure thing honey.  I’ll trust you’ll know when.  Now come over here and give me some lovin.’

 

Stewart dutifully rose from the couch of Michelle’s home and they made their way to the bedroom and a night of pleasure.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Stewart got home late that night but as soon as he walked into the kitchen, noting the time of 5 past 1, Fiona caught him with news.  ‘Time is right.  Chloe is about to give birth.  Should be any time tonight.’  Chloe was a mare, one of 3 horses, the property ran and she had been pregnant.  Tonight was the night by the looks of it, and Stewart knew the time was about right.  ‘Jenny and Gran are with her.  I was waiting here for you.’

 

Come on then,’ replied Stewart.

 

 

 

They came into the barn were the horses were stabled and found Janet and Jenny watching over the mare.  The other horses were grunting, seemingly in expectation.  It was a long night and the horse moaned many times, but around 4.20 in the morning she heaved her final heave and the foal came out.  They cleaned up the new foal, it was a male, and the mother soon made its way to nursing it.  As Stewart watched on he again gave thought to the miracle of life and thought on the God of his mother which apparently made all things possible.  And looking at Fiona his daughter, and the seven months to go to his first grand-child, things were starting to make sense to Stewart Gilmore.  Things on how the circle of life all flowed and worked in harmony together.  And he prayed a silent prayer of thanks because of it.

 

 

 

The colt grew quickly over the next few months and they named him Stanley.  It was a time of growth for many of the Gilmore’s, including the colt.  Jenny and Craig remained good friends, but as Craig had put it that time in the library, just good friends.  Nothing more had yet eventuated.  Jenny had noticed that her acne was definitely much less now and soon, she hoped, it would be gone entirely.  Every day to the other Gilmore’s it seemed as if Jenny’s time of life had come and she was now shining in the way all young girls ought to shine in life.  As autumn passed and winter began the property, much to Stewart’s great relief, was seeing a reasonably good bout of rain.  Nothing to break the drought in the region, if such a thing were really possible, but good rain nonetheless.  Fiona felt the baby in her womb, definitely kicking now she thought, and the Gilmore’s each day, anxiously awaited the moment.  And Janet Gilmore continued to pray each day for her offspring, patiently waiting on the miracle her God would deliver for her.

 

 

 

It was mid winter, just past the solstice, when Jenny had news for her sister.  Craig had finally asked her out.  To go see a movie at the Cooma cinema this up and coming Friday night.  It was a big action flick but Jenny really didn’t care what was showing.  It was intimate time with Craig that she had really looked forward to.  She pestered Stewart all that week, but he never gave her a firm answer.  But Friday morning, just as she was leaving for school, he gave his consent to her seeing the movie that night with Craig.  ‘But be sure you are home at a decent hour, okay.  Before 11 if possible.’

 

That day at school Craig was more attentive than normal promising her a night to remember with a subtle smile on his face which Jenny was not quite sure about.  But it was her big night so she let that subtle smile go.

 

The movie was one of those big action blockbusters about aliens and robots and Jenny had a hard time following what was happening but realized later that it was just a show movie, not to be taken seriously, and mainly for the male audience.  Half way through the movie Craig had put his arm up above her seat and then, gradually, lowered it.  Jenny was nervous but didn’t object.  She knew he liked her.  After the movie they were eating snacks in the foyer when Stewart suggested they see a Cooma lookout before returning to Dalgety.  Jenny had no objections so they were soon making their way back towards Berridale before veering at the top of the four mile and taking the dirt road up to a restaurant which had good views.  When they arrived they found that the restaurant had close but Craig parked the car and looked at his girlfriend.  ‘You know Jen.  I like you.  I really like you.  And I thought tonight could be really special for us, if you know what I mean.’

 

Jenny smiled.  She wasn’t naïve but she was not quite sure what he was driving at.  But when he grabbed her and started kissing her for the first time, quite roughly, she didn’t really want to push him away.  But when he grabbed for her jeans and started unbuttoning them she was in a panic.  She thought on her sister Fiona and what had happened to her because a boy had been too eager.  And again she thought on those words of her sister, those cutting words.  ‘He should like you for WHO you are and not WHAT you can give him.’  And instantly she made a decision.  She pushed him away, but he got a little rough and said, ‘you know you want it, babe.  Don’t fight it.’  But she tried again to push him away, but still he persisted.  She was getting nervous and almost anticipated he might rape her when something in her rose up and yelled ‘NO!’  That was the point Craig took the hint and stopped what he was doing.  He had her jeans around her knees but that was as far as they had gone.  She tried not to cry but pulled up her jeans and buttoned them.  ‘Can we go home now Craig,’ she said, with a frozen voice which scared Craig Coleman.

 

            It was quiet all the way back to Dalgety and when he let her out at her home she barely said a word.  She had seen a side of Craig Coleman which she was not sure she liked at all.  Yet, as he drove away, she did remind herself that he had stopped when she insisted.  He was a guy, but he was not a rapist.  And she reminded herself that when she slipped into her room to go to bed that night.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

What’s gotten into you?  The big night and suddenly not a word.’  But Jenny remained silent, not responding to her sister’s question.

 

What, did he try and rape you?’ she said exaggeratingly.  But when Jenny looked at her immediately with a big shocked look on her face, Fiona knew something had happened between them.  She got off her seat and came and stood in front of Jenny, looking down into her eyes.  ‘Seriously Jenny.  What happened?  He didn’t force you, did he?’  But Jenny just turned her head away, too embarrassed to say anything.  Fiona, though, was very anxious.  ‘Did he…  Did he rape you?’ She asked incredulously.  Jenny finally responded, looking at her sister.  ‘No.  He didn’t rape me.  Okay.  But he wanted to go all the way and he got pretty heavy about it.  But I shouted ‘No’ and he finally stopped.  He had my jeans around my knees.’

 

Fiona let out a breath which she had been holding and sat back down.  It was not like the Craig Coleman she knew, but he was a guy.  And he was getting older and at that time of life when these sort of things could happen.  ‘And I thought he was such a nice guy,’ she said to herself, which made Jenny respond.

 

He IS a nice guy, Fiona.  He just got carried away.  He did stop when I yelled.’

 

Look, seriously Jenny.  ‘I don’t think he is the kind of guy for you.  If he has to go that far and be yelled at to stop…. Well next time he might not listen.  Know what I mean.’

 

Don’t say that.’

 

I am telling you this for your own good, okay.  I think perhaps you and Craig Coleman need a breather for a while.  Just stay away from him for a while, okay.  Give yourself time to think about it and were it is going.  You don’t want to end up like me after all.’

 

Jenny looked at her sister’s belly and almost, despite knowing she should think otherwise, finding that it might not be that bad to be pregnant and have a new life growing inside her.  But she banished the thought just as soon as it came, knowing she should know better.

 

Please, don’t tell dad okay.’

 

Don’t tell me what?’ said Stewart Gilmore, just entering the room.

 

Fiona responded quickly after Jenny gave her a nervous glance.  ‘Nothing that concerns you Mr Gilmore.  Private woman’s business.  No need for a male to interfere.’

 

If you say so,’ responded Stewart, who poured himself a bowl of corn flakes.  The conversation went silent and Jenny soon left for school.  But all that day Fiona worried for her sister and prayed a few times that God would resolve the situation for the good of all.

 

 

 

Jenny did not talk to Craig on the bus that morning and she hid in the library at lunch-time to escape him as well, not hanging out at there usual spot.  She thought he might come looking and he did, but he just looked at her for a few moments.  She looked at him as he stared at her and he put up his hand in a wave and then left.  While she was not really sure, she felt he had been convicted and was sorry.

 

But, that afternoon, he did not again speak to her on the bus but spoke with Natalie Cooper all the time.  It was silence, an awkward silence, but perhaps for the best as Fiona had said.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

It was at dinner time, when Stewart again found the girls secretly talking, that he finally had enough.  ‘Anyway, how did that date with that Craig fellow go.  It must be what you two are whispering about.’  Jenny looked convicted.  She looked at her father, but then stared down at her dinner plate.  Stewart was perplexed.

 

Did I say something wrong,’ he asked nobody in particular, but Fiona answered.

 

The date didn’t go well,’ Fiona said to her father.  Jenny looked at her sister with daggers in her eyes and said, ‘You promised you wouldn’t tell.’

 

He needs to hear,’ replied Fiona.  She turned to her father.  ‘Craig.  Craig Coleman, well he got ambitious with Jenny.  If you know what I mean.’

 

Stewart looked from Fiona to Jenny, and while staring at Jenny said to Fiona, ‘Tell me exactly what you mean, Fiona.’

 

He got physical with her.  But Jenny yelled No before they did it.  I mean, he had her jeans around her knees before they stopped.’

 

That was as much as Stewart Gilmore could take.  He rose to his feet, glared at his daughters, and then walked across the room and grabbed his coat.  ‘I am going out.  A certain Gilmore family to see.’  Jenny and Fiona ran after him but they were too late.  He had gotten to the four wheel drive and as they watched him go Jenny was in tears.  ‘He’ll kill him,’ she screamed.  But Fiona knew better.  She knew her father would have words, but leave it at that.  But words to be remembered.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

So tell me, John.  Why did you raise your son to be a rapist?’

 

John Coleman took affront at that word, but remained silent.  He had a good idea, now, what had happened between his son and Stewart’s daughter, but wanted to hear it from Craig himself.  He called the lad in who dutifully came into the room, looking nervously at Mr Gilmore.

 

Craig’ began John.  ‘Could you please tell me what happened on Friday night between you and Jenny.  And be precise son.  Mr Gilmore wants to know exactly what you did.’  Craig began nervously.  ‘Well, we went to the movie and I suggested we go up to that lookout near the four mile.  She said okay.’

 

And what happened then,’ asked John.

 

Ok, I tried it on with her.  But nothing happened, okay.  Nothing happened.  She said no, I stopped, and we went home.’

 

It was a bit more than that according to my daughter,’ responded Stewart with unveiled hostility.  Craig softened.

 

I told her today at school I was sorry.  I mouthed it to her in the library.  But nothing happened.  I mean, I’m sorry Mr Gilmore, but I really like your daughter.  I think I love her in fact.’

 

It is a funny way of showing love, Craig.  You practically forced her from what I was told.’

 

But I stopped,’ insisted Craig in return.  ‘Really, unless she had agreed, I never would have done it with her.  And that is the way it was.  I stopped.  I got her home again.  Look, I am really sorry okay.  It just got out of hand.’

 

I’ll say it did,’ retorted Stewart.

 

John turned to his son.  ‘Okay, Craig.  You can go to your room.  We’ll have words later, okay.’  Craig left, and Stewart stared at John Coleman.

 

Look, Stewart.  I am really sorry okay.  But you know Craig as well.  He’s a good kid.  He really just likes the girl a lot.  He has been talking about her for months now.  But these things happen, you know.  But I am sure he respects her.  I am sure of that.’

 

He’ll be respecting Jenny Gilmore, I can tell you that.  He’ll be respecting Jenny Gilmore.’  He looked at John, satisfied he had said his piece, and picked up his hat from the sofa.  ‘Okay.  I’ll be going now John.  But tell your son this.  If he wants any future with my daughter, well he better rethink his ways.  He better rethink them strongly.’  John nodded and Stewart, satisfied, left.

 

 

 

Later that night Stewart and Janet were in the kitchen, in front of the open fireplace, with Stewart sharing what had happened with his mother.  Fiona was in the next room, but listening as well as she could.  Stewart had calmed down somewhat, but did say one thing which Fiona later shared with Jenny.  ‘The kid took it like a man.  I could see it in his eyes, though, when he said he loved her.  He meant it.  Like he really cared and wanted to be with her.’

 

The passions of youth, son of mine.  The passions of youth.’

 

Stewart nodded at his mothers words of wisdom.  They had consoled his pride somewhat, but there was still something to be said to his daughter.  She would not speak with Craig Coleman for a good long while.  As far as seeing each other, well they were grounded.  She needed to learn her lesson if she had not done so already and as far as Stewart Gilmore was concerned so did Craig Coleman.

 

 

 

All that week at school Jenny, as per her father’s wishes, did not speak with Jonathon Coleman.  On Thursday in the library he came to see her and said again he was sorry.  She accepted his apology but told him that for now she couldn’t see him because of her father.  And it seemed that was too much for the lad because the following morning on the bus he was strongly in conversation with Natalie Cooper and throughout Friday she saw him kissing her at lunch time.  And then Friday on the way home on the bus they kissed as well and they were officially together as an item the kids on the bus said.  Jenny was heartbroken.  Despite thinking she should know better according to the words of her family, she was still distraught and that afternoon, getting home from school, she ran to her room and burst into tears.  Fiona followed her in shortly and could see she had been crying.

 

What’s the matter Jenny?’

 

Jenny sobered up somewhat.  ‘It’s Craig.  Him and Natalie Cooper are now boyfriend and girlfriend.  I’ve lost him,’ and saying that she burst out in tears.

 

All that evening all Stewart Gilmore would say was that it was best it had happened now.  No point in prolonging a friendship which was doomed to failure.  But Jenny still missed Craig.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            Yet, life moves on.  It inevitably does.  And as winter continued its steady march from July into August, the Gilmore family returned to its steady routine.

 

 

 

            Jenny’s geography class had an excursion up to the snowfields.  It had been snowing that winter and even Dalgety had gotten a bit.  Her class was to go up and identify certain geographical formations around Mt Kosciusko and write up a report on them.  Jenny had been to the snow a number of times since her youth as they lived on the back door virtually to the snowfields.  When the bus got to Jindabyne there was a bit of snow around the town, but later as they got higher up the mountains they encountered more and more hills and valleys covered with snow.  Mr Jones the teacher instructed them that they had an hour and a half as soon as they arrived to enjoy themselves, eat lunch and play in the snow.  But after that the serious work would need to begin.

 

            Jenny was in her warm winter clothes and on the bus trip up she had excitedly looked out the window, noting the familiar landscape.  But try as she might she couldn’t get her mind off of Craig and Natalie.  She had lost her boyfriend before they had even been official and it really looked as if the bout of unpopularity she had encountered since a youth was set to continue.  But looking out the window of the bus, looking out at the glorious scenery, she tried to put away such thoughts and concentrate on having a good time that day.

 

            She had brought with her Fiona’s digital camera and had already taken a number of pictures.  The Camera could take hundreds of pictures and it was empty so she happily snapped away all that morning and afternoon.  She took pictures of the small glacier, of some crows which were hanging around a dead kangaroo which she found in the snow and of all sorts of wildlife.  Of course she took many photos of Mt Kosciusko which was mainland Australia’s highest mountain.  It was not exactly the most impressive of peaks – there was no real glory about it – but it was the highest point on mainland Australia and she was tempted to leave the group and run up to conquer the peak.  But perhaps some other time she thought to herself as she returned to her schoolwork.

 

            She did manage to take some spectacular shots of mountain views and later on that night, having returned home, she was in front of the computer downloading the pictures.  She liked one view quite a lot and set it as the wallpaper for the computer – a pleasant reminder of a wonderful day.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            The colt had grown and while Stewart still refused Jenny to ride it, she was tempted to sit on its back and go around the stables a little.  But it was still young and needed its freedom, her father told her.  It would be broken in soon enough

 

            Life on a rural farm was generally pleasing enough to Jenny Gilmore.  But as her sister and father reminded her she was a bright lass and could have a good future before her if she wanted to.  She had been to Canberra quite a number of times in her 16 years and Sydney as well, and while she more instinctively chose the country life as the life that would be for her there was something appealing about living in a fancy flat or unit in the big city, working a real career and earning big bucks.  She could have all the fancy things in life she really wanted, have nice clothes, even nice jewellery (which she didn’t really wear anyway), and live somewere spectacular.  When they had recently been in Canberra visiting the Questacon science centre they had driven past some new flats on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in the heart of Canberra.  The flats looked beautiful to Jenny – so much more impressive than anything in Dalgety, Jindabyne or Cooma.  And living in one of them working a real career – well it certainly had an appeal to it.  And thinking these thoughts over a couple of weeks Jenny decided that possibly, just possibly, that might be the kind of lifestyle she would end up choosing for herself.  Oh, she loved her father and didn’t know how she could ever possibly leave the farming life.  But, in the end, as her grandmother would say, it was her life and her own destiny to find for herself.  And because of that, and the temptations to the good city life before her, Jenny dove into her schoolwork with more passion than ever before.  If she was going to make it in life she needed a good education with good grades.  That was no mystery.  And despite the affairs of the heart still interested in a certain Craig Coleman her new zeal for her studies seemed to abate that somewhat.

 

 

 

            Jenny again took to taking photos with Fiona’s digital camera around the farm.  When Fiona had first gotten the camera she had let Jenny use it when she wanted to but Jenny had only a little interest at first.  But after the trip to the snow and seeing all the wonderful types of pictures she could take an interest in photography itself sparked and she began taking photos of all aspects of farming life.  After a few months she had an extensive collection of photos on the family computer and had even bought a few USB drives to keep her different collections on should the computer hard drive ever break down.  She didn’t really think about it initially, but after a while she wondered to herself wether photography itself could be a career worth pursuing.  She certainly liked taking pictures – she could happily do that all day – and a career counsellor at school had said the best professions, in the end, are the ones in which you are doing work that you enjoy doing.  Work that is no work in that sense.  And Jenny certainly enjoyed taking photos.

 

            One afternoon Stewart got out his fathers old Kodak camera from years ago.  Looking at it, though, it seemed to come from the mid 1960s and seemed quite advanced for a camera from that era.  But Stewart told her that cameras and photos were a big thing by then and that the big companies had produced some real quality items by that era.  Film and producing the shots would be expensive but Stewart forked over some cash for her to spend it on and she had the government youth allowance to buy film with as well.  Taking the digital photos and printing them off on a computer printer had been alright, but the quality of the photos had always been second rate.  Doing it the old fashioned way, Jenny found, produced a far superior photo and something to be treasured and remembered.

 

            And in that zeal Jenny Gilmore took to taking more photos around the farm and throughout the nearby Dalgety region.  Once she found a magpie with a broken front beak.  She ran to the house to get some bread and threw the bread at the magpie but it disappeared.  But it returned about ten minutes later and starting eating the bread.  Carefully, very carefully, she came closer to the magpie, which seemed to mind less after having been fed by the stranger.  She got half a dozen beautiful shots of a magpie with a broken beak and when they had been developed she put them up on her wall.  She’d had them blown up a few sizes from the regular photo size but didn’t mind the extra expense.  They were excellent photos and made Jenny think of the harshness of nature and how living things learn to cope with obstacles in their path and still survive.

 

            And then, surfing the web, she found a local Cooma photography competition.  The entry fee was $15 and it was open to all entrants in the local Monaro district.  She thought it over for about five minutes and then, rushing to her father to borrow his credit card which she needed to pay online, something which Stewart was reluctant at first to let her use, but understanding her impulsive desires to enter the competition straight away, relaxed and let her use, Jenny entered the competition and began planning out what could be a winning photo.  She had a number already which she might be able to use, but no.  She wanted something special.  If she was going to win the competition the winning picture would have to stand out and look something different and wonderful.  And so, writing in her notebook, she began writing down all the ideas which entered her mind.

 

 

 

            It had been an engrossing few weeks for Jenny Gilmore, caught up with her studies and then with her photographs, and for a while her heart was forgotten as she was occupied with her dreams, thoughts of Craig Coleman and Natalie Cooper almost forgotten.  Almost, but not quite.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 

 

            Craig Coleman sat on the porch of the Coleman homestead, just south of Dalgety, thinking about life.  Natalie was on his mind.  His current girlfriend.  And while they’d had sex just the once, Craig was rethinking, now, wether he really wanted Natalie as his girlfriend at all.  Now that he’d had what he so desperately wanted with Jenny with Natalie instead he felt like he was cheating on Jenny.  For, in a strange way, it was as if he had already promised himself to Jenny Gilmore.  Not so much in word, but in choice of heart.  He remembered her from growing up, playing under the Dalgety Bridge.  It was one of those faces from childhood you never quite forgot and he had kissed her once, asking her to marry him, to which she had just giggled.  But now, several years later, it seemed as if Jenny Gilmore was still the real girl who he desired a commitment with.  Oh, Natalie was alright, but he didn’t feel himself drawn to her in the way he felt drawn to Jenny Gilmore.  It was as if something deeper was at work.  Call it fate, call it destiny, it just seemed to Craig Coleman that when he did the romance sums everything added up to equalling Jenny Gilmore.  And because of that he had made a decision.  He would break it off with Natalie Cooper.  As carefully, as sensitively as possible, he would tell her he was no longer interested and leave it at that.  But he would wait a little while – a few weeks, maybe a month or so, and then, with time passed since his mistake made with Jenny Gilmore, try and give it another go with her.  This time, if he was careful, things could hopefully work out much better for him.

 

 

 

            As he sat on the porch, the sun setting in the distance, Craig resolved himself on that point.  Really, Natalie was fun, but not the kind of girl he would ultimately want to settle down with.  Not so much a personality clash, but a clash of worldviews.  She was a fun, good time girl, which he liked and needed as well.  But Jenny Gilmore was more down-to-earth.  More realistic about life and its possibilities.  And it was Jenny Gilmore which had won the heart of Craig Coleman more than Natalie Cooper.  And so, yes, he was decided.  He would indeed break it off with Natalie, wait a while, and see were things went from there.  For now that would be his plan.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Stewart Gilmore looked at the clouds.  They looked promising – very promising.  So far this winter they’d had good rain on the property.  Much better than the last few years.  In fact, with another few good showers he was almost confident enough to say they would have their best harvest in years – perhaps ever.  And for the life of an Australian farmer such news was of paramount importance.

 

He was out on Chloe, moving the sheep from one yard to another the old fashioned way, whistling and yelling to his kelpie sheepdogs ‘Shiner’ and ‘Bluey’ all the time.  Usually he would take the motorbike but funds were getting scarce and horses cost nothing, practically, to run.  So he had mounted Chloe and was moving the sheep from the southernmost paddock to one on the eastern side of the property.  He moved the sheep regularly as they chewed through paddocks.  He would let one paddock be whittled down and then move the sheep to another paddock, letting the old one start growing again.  It was the usual practice for sheep farmers and Stewart continued on in the traditions his father Fred and his father before him had handed down.  He knew what he was doing, was confident in his work, but just prayed silently for a good harvest every now and then to make all their hard work worthwhile.  It was those good years which made the farming life worth it in the end.  Oh, it was a lifestyle you would ultimately have to choose for yourself if you wanted it.  It had its ups and downs, good times and bad.  But you really needed the temperament for the challenges it brought if you were going to survive.  But harvest, when everything was going well, well that was what it was all about.  And Stewart had a growing confidence that in the upcoming spring they would have a harvest to remember.

 

            As he whistled and yelled he looked out over the property.  It was not a huge amount of land, but it was good land, close to the river, and you could do a lot of things with it if you had to.  There was an old dump were they tossed their rubbish and old things up on a corner of the property were the girls had often adventured to in younger years.  Up there were a number of older farm vehicles which had passed their use by date as well as this and that piece of old no longer functioning farm machinery.  He could just imagine if he got the grandson he desired that the little tyke would have no end of fun playing at the dump, crawling over the old trucks and machinery, getting into no end of trouble.  But that was one of the real joys of the farming life.  And thinking to himself Stewart knew he wouldn’t have it any other way.    

 

 

 

            ‘Those clouds look good Chloe.  We best get about our business before it comes down.’  He got back to work, whistling and yelling in the way to taught to him and after a little while had finally moved the sheep to the next paddock.  He closed the gate of the paddock, as he had done for each and looked at the clouds.  They were about ready to burst.  As he made for home, going along the dirt track, down to the river and then crossing it, the rain did pummel down and as he came into to the farmstead kitchen he grinned at his mother who was sitting at the table.  ‘I think your Jehovah God has done something right for a change.’

 

He always does the right thing,’ responded his mother.

 

And today is a beauty.  We will have hours of rain with those clouds.  And forecasts are good for the week.  Its just what we need for a bumper harvest.  Just what we need.’

 

Janet Gilmore nodded.  She was pleased for her son, but not really worried either way.  The farming life had its ebb and flow and that was that.

 

 

 

            Later on that evening, having watched the weather report on the news, Stewart was grinning to himself.  Rain all week for the region.  Big cloud coverage all over the state.  Not enough to break the drought, so they said, but good nonetheless.  He celebrated by going out to the pub for the night and, heading over to Michelle’s, enjoyed a good night with a ladies company.  Better times were coming for the Gilmore family.  Stewart was sure of that.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            Fiona sat at the family computer in the living room of the Gilmore homestead looking through hundreds of Jenny’s digital photos.  The girl had really taken a shine to taking pictures and there were all sorts of colourful and lively photos of the homestead and outlying area.  It made Fiona think, now that Jenny had rumoured a possible career in photography, of wether there was something she could do herself around the farm to occupy herself with and perhaps make some sort of living from.  Certainly, she had the farmwork and at this stage was set to take over from her father one day as the main worker on the farm.  But that was still a couple of decades away – a lot could happen in that time.  She sat down in her room one afternoon with a notepad and a piece of paper and wrote down all the possible things she could do to occupy herself and perhaps make a little money as well.  A career had been at the back of her mind since leaving school, but she had just gone with the flow of the farm for the meantime, nothing better having yet come along.  But now, out of inspiration from her younger sister, she had a few ideas and wanted to see if anything could come of them.

 

 

 

            Right on the top of her list she stupidly wrote ‘Photographer’ borrowing Jenny’s idea, simply because she had no other idea to start the list.  But after a while, looking at that idea, she wondered if they could, after learning the craft, go into business together.  It could be interesting.  But no.  She crossed out the word after a while and went to sit out the back to think up things she could pursue as some sort of occupation apart from the farmwork.  Sitting there for half an hour or so she produced the following list of ideas.

 

·        Selling woolly jumpers, socks and other woollen items online from farm wool and knit by myself and Nan

 

·        Concentrating on the winery and seeing if dad will let me take it over

 

·        Writing fiction books

 

·        Writing Poetry

 

·        Artistic painting

 

·        Woodworking

 

·        Making pottery

 

·        Copperwork

 

·        Making basic jewellery

 

And finally

 

·        Studying an online university degree

 

 

 

She felt, if she were to be serious, the last option may possibly be the best one if the farming life was ultimately not for her.  But she knew if she gave it further thought she could produce a whole page full of do-it-yourself items which she could potentially sell online through a website.  It was simply a matter of finding the most suitable idea, one which worked well with her talents, and pursuing it with dedication and commitment.  If Jenny’s photography ever took off she could thank her sister for the being the source of inspiration and the motivation should she herself ever prove successful.

 

 

 

When Jenny got home from school Fiona shared with her the ideas she had come up with and Jenny was very supportive.  ‘It is good to have something we like doing to keep ourselves occupied, sis,’ were Jenny’s words of encouragements.  In some way it seemed sound advice and keeping that in mind Fiona would sleep on the issue and give it a few weeks of careful thought to decide how she would proceed.  Certainly, there was no rush, and she had a baby due soon which would take up much of her time.  But the child needed a future like herself and planning was important.  Success came through careful planning so her grandmother often remarked and Fiona Gilmore decided that to be her motto for now.  With careful plans her foundation for the future could be laid.  It was all in her own hands and all before her.  Something to be excited about and something to be thankful for she thought to herself as the days ticked by.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Just for the record, Stewart, you know I love you don’t you son of mine.’  Stewart smirked to himself but knew he shouldn’t have.  And while his mother’s affectations were never unwanted it seemed in recent weeks she had gotten even more emotional towards her family.  Perhaps it was just her old age.  Perhaps she feared dying along in some paranoid state of mind.  Or, perhaps, she really just did love him.  He suspected religious motivation, knowing his mother and her devotion to her lord, but still, in the end, she had said the words and he loved her for them.  He got up from the sofa came over to his mum and gave her a hug.  ‘I love you to mum.  Don’t forget that.’

 

I won’t, son of mine.’  She seemed to be happy after that Stewart noticed which made him happy as well.  It was good being happy.

 

Janet Gilmore knew she had to say those words.  They had been on her heart for some time.  Something within her asking her this:  If you really love your family, have you let them know?  And so she had decided she would show love to her family from then on, even more so than in the past, and be the rock of love her family always and continually needed.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            ‘Look, Craig.  I really don’t know if that is for the best.  Dad is still upset with you.’  Jenny looked at Craig, a little anxious as she still had strong feelings for him, but understanding she had to obey her father’s wishes.

 

Jenny, look.  I am not perfect, ok.  Really, I am far from it.  And while I had fun with Natalie Cooper she just doesn’t compare to you.  What words can I say to tell you that I am really sorry?  What words can I say?’

 

Jenny softened at that, a little voice in her heart saying, ‘Its ok.  He means it.’  ‘Well, alright.  I accept your apology.  I know you can get out of hand but I also know you can control yourself if you have to.  Look, I’ll talk to dad tonight.  I’ll try to persuade him you have changed.  He might listen, but I can’t promise anything.’

 

That’s all I ask.’

 

 

 

As he walked away Jenny thought on how she would communicate her desires to her father.  Stewart could be stubborn at times, especially when it came to the welfare of his family.  But he had a soft heart as well.  A soft heart which would listen to the gentle voice of his daughter if it was one of true sincerity.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

With her pottery business up and running, Fiona was happy with life.  Stewart had paid for the kiln and after a few weeks of lessons in Cooma she had started designing her own works.  The first few efforts were rather average, but after that she noticed a gradual improvement in the styles and quality of her work.  And what she was learning in her lessons wasn’t hurting either.  Sitting in her shack studio which Stewart had built near the barn, Jenny wandered in.

 

Hey sis, what’s up,’ said Fiona.’

 

Oh, nothing.  What you doing?’

 

Some mugs.  I have a basic design which I am working on constantly to make them as durable as possible.  Once they are up to scratch and after I have painted and glazed them they will go online on to my website.  And then, if I’m lucky, in comes the money.’

 

Jenny nodded, but only seem half interested.  ‘Is something on your mind,’ asked Fiona.

 

Well, uh.   Yeh.  It’s Craig.  He wants to get back together with me.  He says he has changed and that he is really sorry.’

 

I know Craig is, deep down, a good guy Jenny.  But you should be careful ok.  He can get a bit out of hand as you know well.’

 

I know.  But, well.  I think probably have feelings for him.’

 

You think?  You either do or don’t.  There is no in between, really.  I mean, I guess you could be uncertain, but you need to know Jen.  Do you?  If you do that means something.’

 

Yeh, I do,’ said Jenny nodding.

 

Then go tell dad.  Tell him you love him, if that is what is really in your heart.’

 

Thanks Fiona.’

 

No Worries.’

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            A few months later Stewart Gilmore was a happy man.  Spring was bearing good results for the farm and as Summer neared he knew Harvest was coming.  A great harvest.  It had taken him a while, and initially he had said no, but he had finally allowed Jenny to date Craig Coleman again, but under strict rules.  They had to be home by 8 pm at the latest, and no going off anywhere secret or private.  And while he had concerns that Craig might try something he knew Jenny would keep him in line.

 

 

 

            And now, with the way things were working out in his life, Stewart Gilmore had started attending the Kingdom Hall assemblies with his mother.  He was not really convinced of any faith yet, and doubted he ever would be.  But he wanted to make his mother happy in her latter years and the preaching was fine.  He had gradually grown accustomed to what the Kingdom Hall went on about.  Sitting there, on the back porch, watching the sun go down, it had been a hard day’s work, but thinking over his life he was happy enough with it and felt, in the morning, he would make his announcement.  The time was now right to share with his family his girlfriend,

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            ‘This is Michelle.’  Jenny, Fiona and Janet looked at Stewarts girlfriend, a somewhat anxious look on his mother’s face, but the girls seemed fine with it.  Fiona came forward and gave Michelle a hug.  ‘Good to meet you, Michelle.  I guess it is about time Dad moved on.  It’s been long enough.’

 

Nice to meet you,’ said Jenny, offering her hand which Michelle shook.  Michelle turned to Janet.

 

It is Good to meet you at last, Mrs Gilmore.’  Janet looked at Michelle and looked at Stewart, who just waved his head in the direction of Michelle urging his mother to respond.  Janet turned to Michelle.  ‘Well, the pleasure is all mine Michelle.  Come, let us go into the sitting room and you can tell me all about yourself.’  Michelle and Janet disappeared leaving Stewart with two curious daughters.

 

So, you have moved on, huh dad?’  began Fiona.

 

Well, don’t tell this to your grandmother, but I have been dating Michelle for a fair while now.  I just wanted it to be the right time for her to get to know you.  To let Laura’s memory still be the number one thing between us.’

 

Jenny came forward and hugged her father.  ‘Thanks, dad.  And we don’t mind.  We know you need someone too.’

 

That’s good too hear,’ responded Stewart Gilmore, a greatly relieved father.

 

 

 

Michelle, after a couple of months, moved in with the Gilmore’s and seemed to be a happy new cog in the family.  Jenny and Fiona quickly bonded with her and Stewart, seeing how the relationship had slowly come together and worked well was generally a happy man.  Things were smooth at the moment.  Very smooth.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Harvest.  A bloody good one.’

 

So how much will we take in,’ asked Fiona to her father.

 

Money in fair words, Fi.  Money in fair words.’

 

 

 

And, indeed, as payday came around that Summer, a good harvest was indeed taken in by the Gilmore family.  A harvest which brought a blessing to one of the oldest Dalgety families.  And then, another surprise, a surprise from Jenny.

 

He’s proposed,’ asked Fiona, totally shocked at her sister’s announcement to the family.

 

Oh, that is good news,’ responded Michelle.

 

Stewart looked at his daughter Jenny, suddenly quite impressed with the young lady.  ‘Well, as a gift young Jenny, you can have that surgery now if you want to.  For your eyes.  I have enough put aside for it and you can look beautiful on your wedding day.’

 

Jenny came forward, hugged her father, and said thank you’s after thank you’s.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

            One of the largest weddings in Dalgety history took place in early Autumn in a blessed year for the Gilmore family.  Jenny looked radiant, dressed in virginal white, and Stewart was ever so proud as he walked his daughter down the aisle in the outdoor ceremony on the farm.  There was quite a turnout with half of Dalgety present and numerous family and friends.  The Harvest of the Gilmore Family had blessed them greatly and as the year turned over and the new one got under way, tiny little feet belonging to the firstborn child of Craig and Jenny Gilmore were placed on the lap of Janet Gilmore as she held her great-grandson Jamie.  ‘Now, little Jamie.  Listen to me on this.  You have a stubborn grandfather, and your mother and aunt are in his mould.  But for heaven’s sake, please come along to service when you are grown.  I must have at least one regular member of my family at our services.’  And, as if in response, the cherubim angel Jamie burped and Janet Gilmore smirked.  Another little happy day in the life of the Gilmore family of Dalgety in the Monaro region of New South Wales, Australia.

The End

 

 

 

Mercy”

He’s not much to look at,’ said David.

I wouldn’t expect him to be.  He’s 72, spent the last 40 years on the street, so he was barely able to communicate to me, dealing with schizophrenia, hoodlums, other drunkards and failing health.  He’s been in a bad way.’

We are way over budget already this week, Daniel.  Perhaps Vinnies can feed him.  They always take care of the ones we can’t handle.’

Daniel looked at Fred.  He looked at him and an inner voice said ‘Have Mercy.’

I know, Dave.  I know.  We just have to, ok.  I’ll put my own money into it.’

David nodded.  ‘Alright then.  We’ll make room.’

Later that evening, Daniel Rothchild and David Rothchild had finished their rounds of the streets of Sydney, and in the back of the Bus were 8 lost souls, needing food, needing shelter, needing love.  They would be taking them back to ‘Haven’ to give them temporary shelter, to personally look into their situation and see what could be done, and to give them that ‘Light of God’s love’ that people on the streets did not always receive.

They had been doing this for some time now – quite some time.  They started the work in Canberra, but it spread Australia wide, and David continued the work himself in Jerusalem.  It was there personal ministry in a sense, but Daniel Daly also got involved a lot as it flowed out of ‘Haven’.  Daniel Daly and Daniel Rothchild were the brains behind the work initially, and Daniel Rothchild, who had founded Haven and given it its initial doctrinal stance, but left things mainly to Daniel Daly afterwards, took this work of ‘Haven’ perhaps more seriously than anything else.  They had good finances now – had been making more and more money – and they employed other workers for ‘Haven Outreach’ around the world.  But they never neglected the personal touch.  They never neglected doing the ‘guts’ of the work themselves.  They knew they had to.  God’s love demanded it of them.

Later that evening in the Shelter Daniel brought Fred out to the back room, were there were 3 beds put aside for special cases, currently 2 of them unoccupied.  These were special cases which the Outreach wanted to take special care of – those souls which touched them as particularly in need.  Fred didn’t have a lot of years left in him.  That much seemed apparent.  And, knowing how long he must have been out on those streets, suffering, thinking nobody at all loved him and that society had forgotten him, mercy and pity of strange quantities had risen up in Daniel’s heart.  He just had to help this guy.

He helped Fred undress and shower and, when he was comfortably in bed Daniel brought in some new clothing from the special supplies cupboard, which he let Fred know were now his.  ‘You can stay with us now, Fred.  You don’t have to leave.  You can stay for your final years.  We don’t mind.’

Fred nodded, but wether he really took the information in or not Daniel couldn’t really say for sure.  But the old man seemed grateful anyway.

Daniel sat with him that night.  He sat with him well into the wee hours, reading softly from the Bible.  He read about Samson and Delilah, and about David slaying Goliath, and he read some of the psalms and proverbs.  Fred seemed to listen for a while, but then seemed to have dozed off, but Daniel read on anyway.  Somehow, someway, this was doing Fred some good.

Haven Outreach’, in a very real and true sense, was the heart of what Haven had wanted itself to be for a long time anyway.  To start with funds had been limited – they only earned so much and had to help themselves before they could help others.  But, in time, their income had grown and they had committed to doing this sort of outreach service, like the Salvos and Vinnies also undertook.  There was also a new player – or perhaps, in a strange way, a very old player.  The Samaritans.  The Taheb pushed his ‘Hostel’s’ strongly these days as places of refuge for those of lower incomes in a tough money hungry world.  But they likewise had an outreach program and, from time to time, Haven worked directly with the Samaritans on this.  David had long been a fan of the Samaritan movement, and had met the Taheb himself a number of times.  Ultimately David seemed to have chosen the Karaite way for himself, but the Samaritans and the Taheb were his other faith, his other respite of spirituality, and he took it to heart to work with them were and whenever possible.

The work, sometimes, was overwhelming.  Your heart could not help but fill with sorrow at the real crap some people had to deal with in their lives.  Naturally, they couldn’t always help everybody.  A lot of people just didn’t want helping, and a lot were too far wasted away on drug or alcohol use that the life they lived was now a shell with a ghost inside just wanting more of that stuff.  But, thankfully, there were a lot of souls which David had coined the term as ‘redeemable’ – souls which had just, it seemed, gone off the tracks for a while and just needed a correction or two.  Sometimes a correction or three, but the Rothchild’s didn’t mind that.

And nights like these they ran into ‘Fred’s’.  Fred’s, who they somehow had missed in previous outings, a guy who probably hid as best he could from the society that either had rejected him or that he had rejected, staying away from all those who could possibly harm him, even when it was someone, like Haven Outreach, which was trying to do him some good.

David and Daniel had given much of their life to this work.  And, right at the back of Daniel’s mind, he knew that in the eternal destiny before him this work would crop up again and again at times, and that he would need to be a strong and resolute ‘father figure’ to those who needed shelter from the harsher elements in life.

But, that was what it was all about anyway.  Shelter.  Helping others.  Being that ‘Haven’.

He watched Fred that night, and watched him for a number of months.  The old man never really improved that greatly and, despite being able to finally persuade him to take the medications, he still seemed a reclusive fellow in his heart, out of touch, out of the mainstream.  He passed on a few years later and, David giving the words at the funeral to a handful of people, one who had been on the streets with him and known him for years, Daniel spoke kind words of prayer to God for Fred’s soul.

Father.  There are a lot of Fred’s.  This one, well, perhaps he was not that special in any particular way, but just special in the way we all are in the end.  Souls who need a home.  Souls who need love.  I pray, make a heavenly abode for this poor man, and grant him grace at this time of his journey, grace which Fred needs, like so many of us, from your infinite mercies.  Amen.’ 

The End

 

Living on the Edge

Symonston sucks,’ said Thadric.

I’m only on a frikking Living Allowance.  What do you expect?’ replied Decadence.

How the hell are we supposed to cope on a hundred bucks a week?’ queried the metalhead.

50 bucks for food, and I got a loan from Vinnies for a solar panel.  They paid for the solar panel and had it installed on the roof, and centrepay deductions are sent to Vinnies to pay it off for me.  After 5 years my debt will be gone.  Free leccie, Thaddie.  $50 a week on food and grog, and the rest is on fucking metal.’

Thadric looked at the wall of the caravan.  ‘Man, tape cassettes. What, you the original metal bitch or something?’

Dad’s shit,’ replied Decadence.  ‘He left it all to me in his will.  But I’ve got 5000 CDs I’ve bought myself so far.  ‘They’re in the filing cabinets in the front.  Locked tight with keys, so don’t think about knicking em.  I’ll know it’s you.’

Your sweet,’ replied Thadric, looking over the archive.  He took out ‘Mob Rules’ by Black Sabbath, and put it into the stereo player.  ‘How much do you spend on dope?’

Not much,’ she replied.  ‘A blunt every week or so.  Just one.  And a 25 gram pack of tobacco every 3 months.  Just a rollie or two each arvo.  That’s enough for me.’

I see,’ he replied, as the music started playing. ‘You’re lucky.  You don’t have to eat much.  Blokes my size should have  a food coupon as additional, because we need to eat a bit more regardless of how much we diet.  It ain’t fair, sweetie.’

Tell it to the judge,’ replied Decadence, and sat down on the bean bag, looking at the magic book Lucy Potter had given her.

Don’t know why you want to hang with a witch,’ said Thadric, going to the fridge, and taking a can of coca cola.

50 cents for that,’ said Decadence.  ‘I’ll charge you a quarter of it’s price.  You are getting a discount, believe me.’

Thadric put a dollar in her telephone money vase, and took back 50 cents.

Anyway, I ‘m not really into practicing magic.  At least I don’t think so.  Just want to learn. One day – maybe.  Maybe I won’t be such a loser.  But I don’t know.  Don’t know if I really want to change my scene in the end.  I like this place.  It’s simple.  And I’m not sure if I want to be complicated.  Daniel says get a life, get an education and get a job.  But I think I want to bang head, and let it go.’

He’s one of the society elitists.  What do you expect.  Expects everyone to conform.’

Drink your coke,’ said Decadence.

The afternoon passed, and Decadence was putting out her washing  on the line at the back of her caravan.  She looked around, at the three pregnant teen girls, who had succumbed to the same dude at the western edge of the caravan park.  He’d cracked on to her, but she wasn’t interested.  She wasn’t into fucking around.  Not really for any reason, but just that she wasn’t the kind of girl to give it all away.  Just how she was.  In the end, when it came down to it, life went on, and it didn’t mean jack having a big house and everything under the sun if you weren’t happy.  She was in love with Bon Scott and Bruce Dickinson, and metal was her god, and that was enough.  But it was lively running into Lucy Potter and the new friends she’d made.  But, still, she wasn’t going to change.  She’d be the same Decadence she always had been.  And run with life in Symonston, and rock and roll her heart, and whatever came along in life apart from that, well, so be it.  She wasn’t bored.  She was happy.  She was content.  And as she saw loverboy walk onto the scene, she chuckled as the girls all approached him and started screeching, as she finished up her last peg, went inside, and rocked the rest of fhe afternoon away to Master of Puppets, not giving a damn about the real world and all its formalities and expectations.  Who gave a damn anyway.

The End

 

Tapestry of Life’

 

 6,018 SC

 

2,048 CE/AD

 

The date with Puteri had been nice – quite nice.  But he was going to remain single.  She was not the one in the end – not the one.  But who could be, now?  Who could be?

 

Daniel Daly was still single, 76 and felt he probably would never marry.  But, despite his older age, it was still an option simply because he looked so young still, and felt it as well.  People generally estimated him to be 42 to 45 years of age at most, and often as young as 35.  He no longer shared his real age with people – he had stopped doing that about a decade ago.  And now, thinking over what just might be going on in his life, he felt he may never share his real age again.

 

Daniel Rothchild, perhaps his best friend, seemed to be suffering from the same complaint, if you could call it that, as was David, Daniel Rothchild’s brother, and Daniel Rothchild’s wife, Jessica Goldstein.  There seemed to be a general lack of getting older amongst the group, and this was puzzling.

 

But, he had a solution now.  A solution which seemed reasonable.  The messianic era had begun – as simple as that.  And in this era the elect of God, which he figured he just might be, had certain promises, and great age was one of them.  And if great age was indeed one of the promises he was now receiving, well, that was a bloody good thing.  In fact, a very bloody good thing.  Haven was small, at the moment, despite many years in attempting to grow the fellowship in Canberra.  It had 7 regular members in Canberra, one of them being Daniel Rothchild who was not technically Noahide, but Jewish.  But Jews were children of Noah as well, so that didn’t really seem to matter.

 

The fellowship had fluctuated somewhat over recent years with various progressive or liberal noahide views on what really constituted a noahide.  Daniel had felt from time to times that, based on his observations of the human genomic structures, that it was not necessarily implicit within the religion of Torah that everyone need be descended from Noah.  Genesis 1:26-27 seemed to imply many families created at the beginning, and Haven Fellowship often taught this as a possible perspective as well.  As such the fellowship had been called both Haven Noahide Fellowship to start with, had changed its name in some ways to Haven Adamide Fellowship, and then just simply Haven Fellowship.  That was the title which seemed to be sticking at the moment.  But, while historical truth was always an important issue, they did not necessarily expect they would ever really get the answers they needed.  They were not available historically, so the basic torah position would have to suffice for the time being.

 

Daniel lived at 29 Merriman Crescent, were he had lived on and off since 1990, 58 years ago.  He had other family, not his own children, and a number of them lived in Canberra as well, but he was currently alone at 29 Merriman.  It suited him well enough, though, and he enjoyed the house and the spirit which had built up at the place, perhaps through his prayers, or perhaps through God’s blessing.

 

Soon there would be a wedding.  Yet another to attend.  David, Daniel Rothchild’s brother, had finally found the commitment he needed with Justine Atkinson, who Daniel knew a little.  She was in the process of converting to Judaism, yet still apparently desired to retain her Christian faith as well.  That was not unusual in Daniel’s thinking.  He felt people could have more than one religion if they really wanted to – it was just tradition which dictated otherwise.

 

He thought on a wedding present he could get them and decided on some collector’s cards from his own collection, some old ‘Raiders’ cards, which he knew David had envied for a long time.  They should make the perfect gift for Mr Rothchild.

 

Apart from the wedding, though, it was a quiet time in Daniel’s life.  Generally quiet.  Puteri had returned to Sydney and he didn’t think he would contact her again.  She seemed not quite right for him – to other for his personality.  One day, hopefully, the right girl would come along.  One day.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Jenny Gilmore was 36, single, living in Canberra in the suburb of Kingston in a nice unit, working for the Public Service, and generally content.  Content in most matters apart from one – her single status.  Craig Coleman had been her one and only boyfriend in her teenage years, but after she had turned 19 they had split up, and he had gone back to Natalie Cooper.  She attended university in Canberra, then, studying biology, and now worked for the CSIRO in a biologicals department.  But that was now finished, having just gained work in the biologicals section of Australian Quarantine, or AQIS as it was also known as.

 

Single life suited her well enough now – she had not really known any other way for any great length of time, and while she was still a virgin, never having gone all the way with Craig, she did hope one day the right man would come along and show her the finer art of lovemaking.  So she hoped.

 

She shared her unit with her nephew, Jamie, whose mother Fiona had died in a farming accident a decade ago, being sorely missed by both of them.  Jenny prayed for her sister all the time, praying to Jehovah who her gran had taught her strongly was the true God of creation.  She believed, in her heart, Fiona was in a better place somewhere in heaven and hoped for good things for her.

 

Jamie was an intelligent young man, full of typical teenage bravery, but very bright at school.  He had just finished year 12 and next year was about to start university, probably, if he didn’t take the year off he was thinking about.  She thought him so intelligent that if he wanted to be something flash like a doctor or a lawyer she believed he could achieve that, such faith did she have in him.  Jamie was undecided though and despite his high test scores, was not even sure if he wanted to go to university.  Something else might be out there for him he told his sister from time to time.  Something which he was not sure about, but felt it in his heart.  She believed him but still felt, whatever that something was, a university education could not hurt it.  And with such words she had been gently persuading him to see that sort of wisdom, with the hope he would come to his senses and choose a suitable degree course of study.

 

She had been thinking about returning to university herself to pursue a master’s degree in science.  Eventually she would aim for the PhD, but that was likely years away.  For now, though, work was her life, apart from that her china collection, which took up the other room of her unit, filled with many expensive pieces she had collected over the last decade since starting her collection.  Some of Fiona’s pottery was in her collection which, after Fiona’s death, had given her the impetus to start collecting seriously.  And now she devoted half of her salary to purchasing high quality items for her collection.

 

She rented the unit she was living in, bought her food, had pay tv, and bought a number of CDs and old records, but mostly kept to herself, with her social life lived largely through her nephew Jamie who she doted on.  She had been saving slowly for a deposit to buy a unit, hopefully somewere in Kingston as she liked the suburb, but was not greatly worried about when.  Before she turned 40 was basically her aim, so she still had 4 years left to get around to it.

 

Her father, Stewart, visited every now and again, the only other family she had, her grandmother dying 2 years ago.  Stewart was single again after a failed romance, and ran the farm alone.  But he was retired now, received a government pension, and mainly just milked the cows and collected eggs.  The farm was there for Jenny and Jamie, should they want it at any time, but Stewart had suggested, after he had passed, they simply sell up and buy themselves a nice home, which was one of the main reasons Jenny didn’t really bother trying to buy a unit of her own.  She doubted her father would live forever after all.

 

She had one close friend in Canberra, a certain Jewish lady called Jessica Goldstein, who she worked with at CSIRO.  They had been friends for about 5 years now, and had coffee together most days.  They occasionally caught up after work for drinks as well, but it was mainly a work related friendship, and she had never dropped by the unit.  But she treated Jenny like gold whenever they were together, and Jenny appreciated the friendship greatly.  This, really, was what life had given her so far.  She couldn’t really complain, or perhaps she could, but she didn’t.  Besides, she was happy enough, had interesting work, ate well, and enjoyed collecting her china and looking after Jamie.  She was content, if lacking that little spark.  Perhaps that would come along soon, she hoped.  Perhaps.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Kirstie Kolby worked for the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service.  She was 49 years of age, married to Jonathon Kolby, and generally content with her life.  Recently, though, she had thought about doing something which she knew she shouldn’t, but was nevertheless tempted to anyway.  She had thought about committing adultery.  She worked with a colleague called Daniel Daly who had been in AQIS for a while.  He was an admin officer, not high up, but with cute looks and a great personality.  He always smiled at her, chatted quite smoothly, and seemed to admire her looks.  She never wore her wedding ring to work, and when he was around she noticed him looking at her fingers occasionally.  She thought why – he wanted to know if she was attached.  She had never declared her marriage to him, and now didn’t want to in fact.  In fact, not at all.  She had come into this section a year ago, and only her supervisor knew she was married and she had asked him not to disclose this information.  She was a private lady and did not want her private life put on parade for various reasons.  But so she could commit adultery had never really been one of them, which was perhaps why she was somewhat convicted at the moment.  But she had decided, in the end, that she needed an affair in her life.  She still looked very good, feeling in her late 30s at most, and perhaps looking that, and Daniel really looked fine, despite not knowing how old he was which he had never discussed.

 

She would make up her mind soon, one way or the other, and despite loving her husband Jonathon very much so, she felt she would try out this Daniel Daly and see, if he was interested, just what he was made of.

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

He noticed her immediately, the same perfume, the same spirit, and when Kirstie came into his little alcove, dressed in a mini skirt and shirt, her shirt a little loose at the neck, Daniel was instantly aroused.  It was lunch time and the wing was mostly empty at the moment, a few workers down the other end, but Daniel always ate his lunch in the office and surfed the web during his lunch break.  She sat down on one of the seats of a co-worker and looked straight at him.

 

Daniel.  Do you like me?’

 

Daniel was not really sure what to say.  Of course he was attracted to Kirstie Kolby, had been for a while now, and thought she was apparently single as she wore no rings.

 

Uh, yeh.  Kirst.  Quite a lot.’

 

She nodded.  ‘Well, do you want to do something about that, then?  If you know what I mean?’

 

He looked at her, suddenly aware what she was after, suddenly quite aware, and suddenly not sure really what to do.  Fornication had been practiced by himself in his younger years with the prostitutes of Fyshwick, but he had given that away.   But now, to be confronted with what appeared to be carnal sex with an attractive lady, well he really was not sure what to think.  But the erection in his pants told him, even if his head didn’t.

 

Kirstie looked at his pants, looked around, and came over to him.  ‘I can make this quick,’ she said, and got down on her knees.  ‘Hopefully nobody will interrupt us.’

 

Daniel was thinking he really, really should refuse, but when she pulled down his trousers and underwear, revealing his hardened cock, he knew he couldn’t.  She bent forward, put her tongue onto his cock, and started sucking avidly.  Grabbing his balls with her other hand, she masturbated his cock with her hand and sucked like a proper whore.  She looked up at him and said, ‘You’re fucking hot,’ and that was just too much.  He erupted come into her mouth and she stood, looked right at him, opened her mouth to show his come on her tongue, and swallowed it in front of him.  She then grabbed his cock with her hand, kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, ‘I’ll expect my treat, Danny Boy.  I’ll expect it.’  That said she walked out of the alcove and he quickly pulled up his underwear and pants, and put his hand to his head, really not knowing what to think.  ‘That had been – alright,’ he thought to himself.  ‘Really, quite alright.’

 

 

 

He signed off on his computer, left a note for his supervisor to let him know he would be away for the rest of the day, and took off for home.  He needed to think about things, suddenly very important things, and decide just how he would handle this new situation.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Kirstie was in one of the office bathrooms, washing her mouth out.  She had to be careful, she knew that.  She could hardly go home to Jonathon with her breath smelling of come.  He would notice immediately.  She liked the taste of Daniel’s seed, not unlike Jonathon’s.  And she had the intention of tasting it again, if he was willing, which she suspected he would be.

 

 

 

Staring into the mirror she realized, then, that she had likely committed adultery now.  Or had she?  She guessed that, perhaps, until actual intercourse took place, she might not be technically guilty, but she had definitely pushed it.  But looking into the mirror, suddenly, she didn’t care.  She was a grown woman.  She was liberated.  Why should she remain bonded to the traditional Christian heritage she had grown up with and always accepted.  Perhaps, just perhaps, this had been the stir of rebellion she had never known in her teens finally catching up on her.  Perhaps that was all it was.  Or perhaps it was simple temptation, something to which she had succumbed.  But, looking in the mirror, thinking of the sweet tastes which could possibly still come forth, she decided in an instant that she would succumb to those temptations.  What on earth could possibly be the price after all?

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Daniel sat quietly in his room at 29 Merriman, sitting in the dark, drinking a can of Coke.  He had made up his mind long ago that he would wait until marriage before he had sexual relations again.  He had lost his virginity to a prostitute in Fyshwick when he was 26 – a long time ago.  And he had been around 35 times or so to the girls of the night.  But then, at 36, he had given it away and not visited since then.  And Kirstie had been his first sexual experience with a woman since then.  Really, it had been 40 years hadn’t it?  So long.  But he had been committed, determined to remain pure for at least long enough for a woman to know he had finally developed some sort of decency on the issue, something he felt he had failed upon in his youth.

 

 

 

But now, what could he say to a woman?  How could he claim innocence?  How could he?  He had succumbed, thinking he should have known better, but he had succumbed.  And now, perhaps, in Torah fashion, he was defiled.  He had washed as soon as he got home, as Torah taught, and would remain away from people, in his home, until the following morning, again as Torah taught.  The regulations on sexual relations were quite explicit in what they required, and Daniel really wanted to please God.  He had failed, he knew it, but that didn’t meant he would give in.  He didn’t go 40 years to quit now.  He didn’t commit to that much chastity to give it all away so suddenly.

 

 

 

And, right then, he made his decision.  He went to his computer, opened his email account, typed in the letter, hit send, and an email to his supervisor announcing his quitting his position was delivered.  He wouldn’t see Kirstie Kolby again if he could help it.  He would not take the risk.  His reputation with his fellowship deserved as much.

 

 

 

Finishing the letter he suddenly felt better.  As if his dignity had been restored.  He still felt no real guilt over the action, guessing that God was not greatly miffed with him.  He was only human after all and had served in purity for so long now.  But it was good he had made the right decision to separate from the temptation.  That was good.  And sitting there, thinking his purity was still safe to some degree, he was oblivious to the car which had just pulled up out the front, and a certain lady who was looking for the treat she had insisted upon.  A certain Kirstie Kolby.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Bloody hell,’ said Daniel.  ‘What the hell are you doing here Kirstie?  And how did you get my address?’

 

I followed you home once, Danny.  A week ago.  You are not that hard to tail without being noticed, you know.’

 

He just shook his head.  ‘Well, what do you want?’

 

My treat.  Remember, I gave you what you needed.  It is my turn, sweetie.  Don’t forget, a woman has needs as well.’

 

Not a chance in hell, Kirst.  I have quite AQIS.  I just put in my notice.  I don’t want to see you again, ok.  I mean, its nothing personal.  I like you, and it would have been nice if we could have had a proper romance before what happened, happened.  But it did, and I can’t take the chance it will happen again.  I just can’t.’

 

Why?  Are you married?’

 

Well, no.  No I’m not.  But I have responsibilities.’

 

What responsibilities.’

 

Well, if you must know, I run a small spiritual fellowship.  Our numbers aren’t huge, but I take it seriously.’

 

What’s it about?  I’m a Christian.  Perhaps I might be interested.’  Having said that she pushed past him, came into the lounge and sat down, expecting him to do likewise.  He looked at her, frustrated, but if she really wanted to know about his fellowship, then he may as well tell her.

 

He looked at her, and decided to give her a basic introduction.  He walked over to a bookcase, grabbed a ‘Rainbow Bible’ of the fellowship, and handed it to her.  ‘This has our basic beliefs, but essentially we are a Noahide religion.  Noahides are children of Noah who hold to the Rainbow Covenant.  We are not Jewish and we are not Christian or Muslim.  Our religion is very simple, just holding to the Rainbow Bible which is Genesis 1 to 11:9 in our tradition.  It is basic and simple, but we try to take it genuinely seriously.  We don’t pretend to be perfect, we don’t even pretend to be that holy, but we try to keep the faith and follow what God expects of Noahides according to the Torah.’

 

What is the Torah?’ asked Kirstie.

 

The Jewish word for the Pentateuch, if you know what that is.’

 

First five books of the bible,’ she said, looking at the Rainbow Bible he had given her.

 

Look, Daniel, ok.  I didn’t know you were religious, okay.  I wasn’t really sure.  But I can understand were you are coming from, okay.  Believe me on that.  I won’t hassle you for my treat.  We will leave it as just that one time.’  She stood up, ready to leave, and looked at the Rainbow Bible in her hands.  ‘Well, can I have this?’ she asked him.  ‘I might want to read what you believe after all.’

 

Uh, sure.  Be my guest.’

 

Thanks.  Oh, and don’t quit.  Don’t be an idiot.  I can keep my distance if it is a problem.  Trust me.’

 

Yeh, well, I’ll think about it.  Okay.  I’ll think about it.’

 

See you at work then.’  She came over, kissed him on the cheek which he didn’t object to, and left.

 

 

 

Watching her car pull away he was suddenly quite relieved.  That, actually, hadn’t gone too bad.  It hadn’t gone too bad at all.  In fact, now that he had been confronted by her and seen that she really wasn’t bothered by the incident, he felt much better.  As if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  Perhaps he wouldn’t quit after all.  Perhaps not.

 

 

 

He finished off his Coke, took a copy of the Rainbow Bible off his shelf, sat down and started reading, but his mind full of thoughts of Kirstie.  Perhaps this was a romance after all.  Perhaps.  If she wasn’t married, he sarcastically thought to himself.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

The transfer to AQIS had gone smoothly, with little problems, and Jenny, now working in the Biologicals section, under the supervision of Kirstie Kolby, was generally pretty happy with her new position.  Kirstie was a great friend immediately and they had lunch together every day the first week to get her acquainted with AQIS.  Then, one day, a Mr Daly had joined them for lunch, who worked at the other end of the branch, a quite cute guy who Jenny liked immediately.  He was not sure if Mr Daly and Kirstie were an item, as Kirstie had never said anything about being married, but she noticed the way Mr Daly looked at her, and thought, perhaps, something was going on.  And then something weird happened.  Something very weird.  She was in Kirstie’s office, late one night, when Kirstie asked her a bold question.  ‘Have you ever considered a threesome, Jenny.’

 

I beg your pardon,’ responded Jenny, not quite sure what Kirstie was driving at.

 

Have you ever considered a threesome?  Or have you done so already?’

 

Jenny was not naïve, and now knew what Kirstie meant.  ‘Umm, ahh.  Well no, Kirstie.  Not quite my style, ok.  I mean I like guys, but haven’t thought about doing two of them.  Perhaps in fantasies when I was younger.  But not since then, okay.  Not since then.’

 

I wasn’t thinking about 2 guys, Jenny.  How about 2 girls and 1 guy.  Have you ever considered that.’

 

Jenny was still a little shocked, and just shook her head.  Kirstie tried again.  ‘Have you noticed Daniel.  Daniel Daly.  Do you like him?’

 

Uh sure.  He’s cute.’

 

What would you think of having a threesome with him.  With him and another girl.  Perhaps me, for instance.’

 

Jenny just looked at her, totally shocked.  ‘You are kidding, aren’t you.’

 

Kirstie just looked at her, and came over to her.  ‘Have you ever kissed a girl, Jenny?  Have you ever done a Katy Perry?  Have you?’

 

Jenny just looked at her, shocked, but when Kirstie came close and kissed her on the mouth, poking her tongue in, Jenny didn’t resist.  It was a blissful thing, that, kissing a pretty girl.  And Jenny suddenly felt fire down below.  Real fire.  Kirstie pulled apart, and looked at her.  ‘Shall we try and get Daniel interested?  He is working late, and I gave him a blow job 3 weeks ago.  I’ll bet if we crack on to him tonight he’ll do both of us.  How about it?’

 

Jenny just looked at her, but didn’t refuse.  She didn’t refuse.

 

 

 

They found Daniel in his alcove and he smiled at them as they entered.  Kirstie came up to him, and quickly kissed him.  ‘Will you give me my treat now, Mr Daly?  I have a girlfriend who wants to enjoy some Danny Boy as well.’  Daniel looked at them, and the instant erection in his pants told him this truth.  When you’re time is up, you’re time is up.  It is as simple as that.

 

 

 

It was 20 minutes of carnal lust, and he gave them the treat both were after.  And both smiled at him afterwards.  There was still no intercourse, as Daniel refused that.  It was something he still had, no intercourse without a condom.  Something he had maintained all his life, and he wasn’t about to budge on it.  But he was tempted, now.  He was tempted.  And suddenly having two girls in his office who now were happy to have sex with him, Daniel Daly really did not know what to think of the God whose prayers for a mate had been ignored long enough, to be replaced by two apparently carnal daughters of the night.  He really did not know what to think at all.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

Jenny had never had a man go down on her before.  Never once.  It was her first sexual experience in that sense, and she had orgasmed quite quickly.  Daniel looked good and she had put her hands on his head while he went down on her, his tongue seeming to know exactly what to do.  And then she had come and seen what all the fuss was about.  And now she wanted more.  Boy, did she want more.

 

 

 

Of course, kissing Kirstie had been wonderful as well, and while Jenny knew she wasn’t a lesbian, somehow she had gotten it into her head that perhaps she should try the bisexual thing, now that she had become somewhat acquainted with a woman.

 

 

 

She was at home now, and had put on Britney Spears Singles collection CD and had ‘3’ on repeat, listening to it over and over again.  It was one of her favourite CDs, a favourite from her youth, and suddenly it seemed quite relevant.  While she didn’t know a Peter, Paul and Mary, she knew a Daniel and Kirstie, and perhaps a Daniel, Kirstie and Jenny could be something very interesting.  Something to write home about, as funny as that may sound.

 

 

 

But, was she getting ahead of herself.  Was she really thinking too much of what may have just been a temporary act of lust.  She hoped not.  While she had no real convictions on the issues, something her gran would possibly tell her she should have, she still felt, perhaps, perhaps she should be cautious.  You never knew were this sort of behaviour could lead, after all, could you.  You never knew.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

The car accident was a sign from God.  Kirstie knew it.  She knew it in her heart, without any doubts whatsoever.  It was a sign of great disapproval, and at the funeral, attended by most of he family, and the entire local Kolby clan, with Jonathon her late husband being put to his rest, Kirstie knew she had betrayed his trust, and brought shame upon herself.  Of course, they had never had children, and perhaps that was just the way it always had to be.  Perhaps God had foreknown her infidelity and preserved her from children as a punishment.  As a sign to her on her judgement that she had been an unfaithful wife, and that Jonathon had been kept from her in this sense.  She felt guilt, now.  Huge guilt.  And sitting at home, an empty home, thinking about how her infidelity had cost her her husband, she knew she would never be the same again.  Never the same again.

 

 

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

She told Daniel about Jonathon, she wanted to get that off her chest, and the look on his face told a thousand words, as if he was guilty of murder, practically.  But later on that working day, around the end of the work day, she came up to him and said this.

 

Daniel, you know, it wasn’t your fault.  It wasn’t your fault at all.  But I have been thinking all afternoon that there was another reason.  Another reason Jonathon is gone, now.  It is because I belong with you, okay.  I belong with you.’

 

Daniel looked at her, began to think about saying something, but went silent.  He finally spoke.

 

I guess I love you, Kirstie.  I guess it is as simple as that.  I also lust after you, believe me on that.  I know I should say, really, that we can’t possibly be together now.  After what happened.  But I can’t, and I won’t.  I want you to.  So if you want to be with me, then that is okay.  Really, it is okay.’

 

 

 

And that, as they say, was that.

 

 

 

They stayed together, after that, did Daniel and Kirstie, for many long years.  They had 3 children in that time, Kirstie still having eggs amazingly.  And they named the first child Jonathon Kolby, taking his mother’s first married surname in honour of Jonathon.  The other two children took the ‘Daly’ name, and Daniel was amazed at finally being a father, as strange as the circumstances were which brought it about.  They lived long, after that.  Very long in fact.  For Daniel gradually found out from David Rothchild that he was one of the elect of God, as was Kirstie.  And destiny chose a path of life for them, a strange and mysterious path.  But, like all the children of God, it had its purposes.  And the tapestry of life, with all its strange and mysterious ways, worked out in the end for Mr Daly, as it will hopefully do for all who read this tome.  As it will hopefully do for all.

 

* * * * *

 

'What are you doing here?' Daniel Daly asked a certain lady who had shown up at 29 Merriman Crescent.

 

'Daniel Rothchild? Why did you adopt him out to the Rothchild's?'

 

Daniel looked at his former flame. 'Please don't let this go general public dear. The old man would never approve. It is a mystery we are trying to keep.'

 

'Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly the Second, you are no mystery. As plain as the day you were made. How many people in Haven Noahide Fellowship now?'

 

'About 50,' he replied. 'Who are dedicated.'

 

'Assembly of the Divine Creator has 5,000 in this region. Easily that many,' replied the lady. 'Your father is far more successful at soulwinning than you. He left you with Haven, and instructions how to do things, and you rarely bothered. Just took it casually.'

 

'Yeh. Where is the old fart now anyway? Haven't seen him for a while.'

 

'He's around. He sees you regularly, from a distance. Doesn't disturb you. Likes the mystery of you being him to many people. Old fashioned devil, old Daniel.'

 

'Don't I know it,' replied Daniel Daly. Daniel Rothchild was required. You refused to be family, and I couldn't afford the reputation of raising a single child who might appear to look like a bastard.'

 

'Well, he's not,' she replied. 'We still have a legal marriage as far as I am concerned.'

 

'Legal before God, sweetie. We were never registered though,' replied Daniel.

 

'Your father did the service. We're registered in the Kingdom of God. What has civic society got to do with it? We don't need them interfering. We're Noahides. We are the oldest covenant, dude. We keep things private somewhat. And this Kirstie Kolby? Another wife?'

 

'Biblical,' replied Daniel.

 

'I don't dispute that,' replied the lady. 'Just didn't think it was your style.'

 

'It was certainly the old man's style. How many has he got again? 11? 12?'

 

The lady remained silent. 'Probably about 15 now. Only one is registered though.'

 

'And how many shitty little brothers and sisters do I have around the traps?' asked Daniel.

 

The lady smiled. 'Probably over 100 now, I think.'

 

'He's a bloody randy sod. Always was,' replied Daniel. 'Anyway, if you want to see Daniel, he's up the road at 177 Merriman Crescent. Staying with his brother David for the time being.'

 

'You showed him the picture of me, didn't you?'

 

'He knows who you are,' replied Daniel Daly.

 

'Right, Callodyn,' said the lady.

 

'Don't call me that,' said Daniel defensively.

 

'Your a child of destiny. Don't be ashamed of it,' she replied.

 

'Go on, get,' he said. 'Kirstie is hanging out the washing and she'll be in any moment. I don't want to have to explain about you.'

 

'Fine,' said the lady, and handed him a small album. 'Photos. Of what we've been up to in AOTDC. There is some information on the back of the photos. Your old man says you can catch up with things a bit if you like now. Your old enough.'

 

'Good,' said Daniel.

 

The lady looked at him, sighed, and said 'I still love you, you know babe.'

 

And then she was gone, and Daniel smiled at the unique tapestry way life ran itself, as when you thought a strand of life was finished, it came back at the most unusual of times.

 

* * * * *

 

'Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry? Why are you such big fans, by the way?' asked Kirstie to her husband Daniel Daly.

 

'I met Kelly once,' said Daniel. 'Not long ago. A small concert here in Canberra, at a meet and greet afterwards. Oh, dad was a huge fan of those 3. Said he had a massive crush on them. Played their music all the time when I was growing up.'

 

'I didn't think that would have been old Cyril's taste,' replied Kirstie.

 

Daniel looked at her. 'Uh, yeh. Oh, uh, Cyril had diverse taste in things. But never mind about that.'

 

'So, where are we going today?' she asked him. 'You said we were visiting a place down in Bredbo.'

 

'We're going for a visit to the Assembly of the Divine Creator, as it is called. The second of the Divine Fellowships of the Advancing Noah Movement,' replied Daniel.

 

'I thought Haven was the Advancing Noah Movement?' queried Kirstie, eyebrow raised.

 

'It is. We're the first of the Divine Fellowships?'

 

'There's more?' she asked, surprised.

 

'7 divine fellowships, and a stack of Assemblies of Faith. I'm not technically involved with them. They are run by – uh – somebody else. A relative of sorts I guess.'

 

She looked at him suspiciously. 'Did you really found Haven?'

 

'Maybe not,' he replied. 'Look, let's get going. I suppose you might need a revelation.'

 

They took off, and reached Bredbo after about 45 minutes, turning onto a street, and coming to a religious temple. They came inside, and found an office. Daniel knocked.

 

'Enter,' said a voice, and Daniel looked at Kirstie nervously as they went through the door.

 

'Shit!' said Kirstie. 'Who the hell are you? Daniel's twin or something?'

 

The man looked at Kirstie. 'This is the Kirstie girl? Your wife I take it?'

 

'You got it bro,' said Daniel.

 

'So he is your twin then?' replied Kirstie.

 

Daniel looked at her, and then at the old man, Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly the First. 'Yeh. Yeh, sure. He's my twin brother. Why not.'

 

'It's a pleasure to meet you,' said Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly the First. 'I'm Daniel. Yes, me and Daniel are very closely related. It's all a big mystery though. Nobody ever really understands our relationship. It's something divine.'

 

Daniel smirked. 'If you say so Daniel.'

 

'Who started the ANM?' Kirstie asked the Daniel of AOTDC.

 

'Well, I did actually,' replied Daniel. 'Daniel here was given responsibility for Haven Noahide Fellowship. He's grown it quite slowly, but that is the way HNF goes I guess. Just life I suppose.'

 

'Fascinating,' replied Kirstie. 'So, are you married?'

 

'Indeed I am,' replied Daniel. 'But we won't speak of that.'

 

'You don't want interfellowship?' asked Kirstie.

 

Daniel of AOTDC looked at Daniel Daly of Haven. 'One day. One day when Daniel here has got off his arse and built up Haven properly.'

 

'There's over 50 of us now,' replied Daniel defensively.

 

'Then soon enough, I guess,' replied Daniel of AOTDC. 'Soon enough.'

 

They chatted on all afternoon, and had a late lunch at the Pancake Pantry, before returning home.

 

'So, you've got a twin brother,' said Kirstie, a grin on her face.

 

'I guess so,' replied Daniel Daly. 'I guess so.'

 

* * * * *

 

'So who is older? You or your brother?' asked Kirstie.

 

'Well he's Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly the first, so what do you think?'

 

'Funny that,' said Kirstie. 'Both having the same name, you'd think he was your father or something.'

 

'Yeh, funny that,' replied Daniel. 'Yeh, he's got a few minutes over me I guess.'

 

'So who is this Paul Saberton fellow?'

 

'We'll be there shortly. He's the founder of Mamre Fellowship. Pentecostal Father and Son Church. He is intimately involved with the other notable Saberton around town, Father Scotland, the Presbyterian fellow.'

 

'What, are they related?' asked Kirstie.

 

Daniel looked at Kirstie. 'I guess that is a mystery. Paul was involved with Presbyterian's for a while. I guess some roots can run deep in the end.'

 

'I guess so,' replied Kirstie.

 

They arrived in Spence in Belconnen, and came up to Paul's house. Daniel knocked, and Paul soon greeted them, and they came inside. Chris White was also present.'

 

'Hey Chris,' said Kirstie. 'You know Paul then?'

 

'We're old friends,' said Paul.

 

'So you think Daniel still needs Jesus?' asked Kirstie to Paul.

 

'He probably should keep his faith. He was a Pentecostal. I understand that people sometimes just can't see it the way you do, but he has his reasons for being a Noahide I guess.'

 

'Still preaching Branhamism?' asked Daniel.

 

'We teach it a little from time to time,' replied Paul. 'We are not officially a Message congregation, but he is an influence. In the end I guess I do acknowledge he was Oneness, and not completely right in some of the things he believed.'

 

'They believe in Jehovah alone as God the Father,' said Daniel to Kirstie. 'Jesus was the first begotten son, the Agent in Creation.'

 

'And that is the divine truth,' said Paul.

 

'And I am not sure if he is completely who you think he is,' replied Daniel. 'He's possibly angelic, but probably was just a man in the end. Descendant of Zerubbabel, so sure he was from the house of Christ, and it's not the end of the world to call him Jesus Christ, but it's not the complete truth. I think the Church is in the Kingdom of God. There was no resurrection at the time of the Maccabean abomination of desolation. No resurrection on Earth, but it likely did happen in the heavenlies. And so the Kingdom of God was born, but as a friend of mine tells me, if Israel alone was the Kingdom in the year 2000, with only 20 million souls or so, they had not become a mountain filling the whole earth, as Daniel 2 prophesies.'

 

'So you acknowledge we are the Kingdom of God then,' said Paul.

 

'Part of the Kingdom,' replied Daniel. 'But so is Islam and so is Bahai.'

 

'Humph,' replied Chris. 'Doubt it.'

 

'You'll always be a fundamentalist, Chris. It's probably just your genes.'

 

'Very funny Daniel,' replied Chris White.

 

Paul made drinks, and they sat around talking theology all afternoon, and creationism in the twilight hours, before calling it a day.

 

'Hey, they have a great spirit,' said Kirstie, as they were driving home.

 

'They've earned that from their works,' said Daniel. 'But yeh, they are pretty cool. Pretty cool.'

 

* * * * *

 

Puteri smiled at Father Scotland's joke. 'Richard Saberton. You are far cruder than Paul, you know.'

 

'It's why you like me so much,' replied Richard.

 

David Rothchild took a Tim Tam from the plate in Father Scotland's lounge. Justine Atkinson poured some more milk into her tea, as Paul hadn't poured out quite enough.

 

'So, the growth of the Presbyterian Church is fundamental to life as we know it, is it Richard?' asked David Rothchild.

 

'We are an elect predestined congregation of Chris,' said Richard. 'All Calvinists end up in Calivinist church, while Armenians continue struggling for a salvation which is not easy to obtain.'

 

'Interesting theology,' said Justine. 'Baptists accept predestination.'

 

'Mostly, yes,' said Richard.

 

'So can the Arminians earn their salvation then?' asked David.

 

'Indeed they can,' replied Richard. 'There are deep mysteries in the Christian Church. God is the saviour of all men, especially those who believe. Some are by works, and if their works are not strong enough, they will be found lukewarm and spat out. But the Church of the Living God is founded on the grace of God, and it is God who works in us to do his will of his good pleasure.'

 

'Dual salvation theology,' replied David. 'Fascinating.'

 

'Who said it was Dual,' replied Richard. 'There are many tapestries of eternal life in the New Testament. More than just those ideas.'

 

'If you say so,' replied David. He looked at Puteri. 'Are you a convert, now, to Presbyterianism?'

 

'No,' she said. 'I'm a muslim. But I am an official associate or Richard's private congregation.'

 

'Is it sanctioned by the Presbyterian Church?' asked Justine.

 

'I do account to them, and follow Presbyterian theology. I report to St Andrews regularly for discussions.'

 

'How are you and Paul related?' asked Justine.

 

Richard looked at Justine. 'I'd rather not say. It is a mystery we choose to keep.'

 

'He has a brother called Richard,' said David. 'But I'm not sure if that one was a believer. Is he you? Have you come to faith?'

 

Richard smiled, but would not speak. 'Let's talk creationism. And Noah's Ark,' said Richard.'

 

And so they chatted about Noah's Ark, and Creationism, a popular Saberton subject, and the afternoon passed, and all was well.

 

* * * * *

 

6050 SC – 2080 CE/AD

 

'What year is it?' asked Kirstie.

 

'2080,' replied Daniel.

 

'In the Haven Noahide Fellowship Calendar?' asked Kirstie.

 

'Uh, 6050 SC. 6050 Since Creation. But it is 6243 SC in the official ANM calendar. Our calendar is the best of early judgements, and we've stuck with it, but the ANM one is deemed as accurate as we can get it biblically. We maintain both.'

 

'So it's the year 6243 since creation in technical terms,' said Kirstie.

 

'As close as we can get it,' replied Daniel. 'We have an old document in Haven which uses that date, and it was developed quite early, but before that was the official HNF date. The official HNF date is used in our Chronicles writings.'

 

'I see,' replied Kirstie.

 

'Our online postings in Google groups use the official ANM calendar,' said Daniel. 'It's the way it has always worked.'

 

'The Hebrew calendar differs,' said Kirstie.

 

'No clear conclusions on the date start for that one,' said Daniel. 'Possibly when they left Egypt and started the calendar during Sinai. Don't know for sure.'

 

'Right,' said Kirstie. 'Well use the ANM one, ok. With me. I like to use the official offical stuff.'

 

'Will do,' he replied.

 

Kirstie sat on the couch, watching the TV, while Daniel sat on the other single seater couch, using a calculator, and doing sums for something.

 

'It gives you a sense, though,' said Kirstie.

 

'A sense? What gives you a sense,' asked Daniel.

 

'The year. 6243 Since Creation. It gives you a sense. We've lived through so much. Humanity. We've had so much history. There have been so many countless lives before us, who've had dreams and aspirations. Who've done it all, and given it all for love. And loved, and lost. And then the next generation has done it all again,' said Kirstie.

 

'That's the tapestry of life,' said Daniel. 'We go on a journey where we all tell our own tale, and its all woven together by destiny into an amazing pattern of glory.'

 

'And then along comes Alexander Darvanius,' said Kirstie soberly.

 

Daniel looked at her. 'You have an issue with Alexander Darvanius II don't you?'

 

'He is so. Eghhh,' said Kirstie. 'The pinnacle of pride as far as I am concerned. David Rothchild. Now he is humble and loving. A true and decent child of God. But Alexander? I bet he has gold trimmed toilet paper, he's that up himself.'

 

Daniel chuckled himself. 'That will be $7,000 for the toilet roll, Mr Darvanius. Are you paying by cash or cheque?'

 

Kirstie chuckled.

 

'Oh, we are having a special. 4 rolls for $20,000. Only the best from Royal Executive toiletries,' said Daniel, grinning.

 

'But that's exactly my point,' said Kirstie. 'He is the kind of asshole who would have that sort of thing. He's a beast as far as I am concerned. A capitalist, ecumenical beast.'

 

'I suppose so,' said Daniel. 'But he does have a softer side. You just need to get to know him.'

 

'Why he is one of God's elect is beyond me,' said Kirstie.

 

'No, he's not aging much either,' replied Daniel. 'Seems to have the long life plan. I think we're likely heading towards some sort of judgement day and conclusion of things. Why we have the life of trees now.'

 

'Isaiah 65,' said Kirstie quickly. 'I looked it up. Where that doctrine you've mentioned many times comes from. God's people will have the life of trees, but it probably culminates in the Day of the Lord. Judgement Day.'

 

'Something like that,' replied Daniel. 'As best as ANM can surmise anyway. There are many elect in the world, and we keep private lives, but people know. It's told in whispers, but people know.'

 

'And I guess we can't have the good guys without the bad guys,' said Kirstie.

 

'Give Alex a break,' said Daniel. 'He might surprise you one day.'

 

But Kirstie would not be persuaded. 'You invited him to dinner again next week, didn't you. I overheard you when he was leaving last night.'

 

'Yes. He said he'd probably be able to make it. Is it a problem? David will be coming over as well.'

 

'No. Not a problem,' she replied. 'I think I'll speak my mind. So it's not a problem at all.'

 

Daniel looked at Kirstie. She was most certainly a woman who knew her own mind.

 

The End

 

'Meludiel’

 ‘Do you think she heeded the rebuke?’ Karanasius asked Brendakius, his Ozraphim brother.

It was arranged properly.  The dragon was shocked – quite shocked.  He had not expected David to choose a human over his twin.  But he has chosen Justine Atkinson instead of Meludiel.

Then he has made his choice.”

Such is life.”

Then neither Daniel nor Ambriel will win her heart.  That is quite ironic, I think.”

Mmm,’ agreed Brendakius.

*   *   *   *   *

Rebecca looked at the sign.  “Haven Noahide Fellowship”.  This was it, she thought to herself.  A whole life dedicated to Jesus, countless concerts dedicated to his glory, and then a crisis of faith in which God says ‘It aint him.’  And so what choice did she really have?  Judaism had had its initial appeal but, ultimately, not again.  Not again.  She would not again go down the Jewish pathway – it was too much to commit to those people yet again.  And they were not hers – they were not her family, her culture, her identity.  They were simply not Loveheart’s or Celtic Anglo people.  Yet Noahides were everyone, and the Celts and Anglo’s were Noahides.  So would give this ‘Haven Noahide Fellowship’ a chance.  Perhaps it was for her after all.

*   *   *   *   *

God looked down at Meludiel entering the Haven Noahide Fellowship assembly hall.  He knew his daughter Rebecca would be nervous, but his Son Daniel Daly would take care of her.  That much he knew to be true.

*   *   *   *   *

The sermon was interesting, similar to her Baptist heritage in many ways, but a bit calmer.  She noticed that instantly.  She thought on Justine who had suggested that if she really was having a faith crisis with the Baptist church, then perhaps she really should look into the Haven one.  Her new friend David Rothchild had spoken about it and said that his brother Daniel knew the pastor, a close friend, another Daniel ironically.  Perhaps this would be right for her.

Sitting there in the small hall, the other 5 Noahides having left, Mr Daly noticed her and came down and sat next to her.

Well, Miss.  How did you find the sermon?’

Oh, it was ok.’

Do you know what we believe?’

Noah’s covenant.  I have looked into it a bit.’

Yes.  We are pretty simple in the end.  Mainly the first part of the bible until the Tower of Babel.  Uncomplicated, really, unlike the Talmud based movement.’

I heard about that.  I didn’t like some of the things they taught, nor their strong connection to Judaism.  They’re too Jewish for me.’

Jews have kept Unitarian faith for a long time when most gentiles strayed.  But I know what you are saying, it is the same conviction that I have.  Judaism, too me, is for a particular type of people.  People with convictions on Torah and that particular type of lifestyle and connection too God, but for me it is too awkward and inconsistent with my own nature.  But there is another reason also.’

Which is?’

Noahide faith represents the oldest covenant with God.  As a proper Noahide our assembly represents, in our faith, the oldest and deepest connection to God.  We strive to be the most grown up, in a sense, amongst the children of men.’

Isn’t that Israel’s job?’

Yes, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  But while that may motivate them, they don’t take it seriously any more.  It is religious observation without passion.  For many idolatrous messianic devotion without God’s due respect.’

What do you mean by that?’

Daniel picked up the bible, showed her 1 Samuel chapter 8, and read it to her.

‘…..But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD told him, ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you;  It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.’

Rebecca was convicted.  ‘The same problem with Jesus, isn’t it?’

100% Miss.  God gave them Saul, and then David, and they worshipped him.  They still loved the LORD, but he wasn’t the God of their hearts that he wanted to be.’

And that is what you claim as Noahides, is it?  To be devoted to God alone?’

Yes.  That is the purity of the faith we represent, and we try our best not to corrupt that truth.  We are of the Oldest covenant.  Of the oldest brit.  And we try to take it as seriously as the oldest covenant warrants.  To be that which the Most High esteems greatest of all.  And we will never budge from that, Miss.  Never.’

She looked at him for a moment, her decision made.  ‘I would like to join your fellowship, if that is ok.  You have said enough for me.’

Glad to have you.  We are meeting for lunch at 1.  Do you want to come along?’

The fellowship you mean?’

And a few other interested parties.  There is a Jewish man named Daniel Rothchild who occasionally takes an interest, but doesn’t come that much anymore.  He might be here today, but don’t count on it.’

I know him,’ said Rebecca, stunned.

Small world, isn’t it.’

 *   *   *   *   *

Two years later Rebecca was finally happy.  Haven was working well.  They had not really grown, but it didn’t seem to matter.  It was a devoted fellowship and there was a quiet, gentle spirit when she was at assembly.  Something which said to her innermost heart, you are home.  And she had grown to know she would never leave, and that she had found what she had been looking for.  And for that she was thankful.  Truly thankful.

The End

 

Hank Jones - Monster  

Tell me,’ began Sebastian Ford.  ‘Living in this cell.  Does it feel like home?’

Your curious wit,’ began Hank Jones, ‘Is beneath you, Sebastian.  Still, the intellectual capacities ingrained into you by the dimwits above you shouldn’t really surprise me.  You’re a cop, after all.  Aren’t you Sebastian?’

A servant,’ commented Sebastian Ford, from the other side of the glass, glaring at Hank.  It was not a glare of respect.  It could never be that.

One questions just who you serve.’

The people,’ responded Sebastian Ford, the bible held steadily in his right hand on his lap, staring down this devil.

The people,’ mocked Hank, smiling dementedly.  ‘All for the love of the people.  $450 a week, after taxes, a modest home, forgive me.  Unit.  A wife who won’t give you head like she used to.  A cocaine addicted son, and a prostitute for a daughter who tells you to go fuck yourself and your damned Christian church.  I mean, you have found faith?  Haven’t you, Sebastian?’

I’m not married,’ commented Sebastian Ford.

No.  I didn’t think so,’ said Hank, staring at him from his dark solitude.  Staring at his adversary.

Sebastian held the remote control upwards, and pointed it at the box in the cell.  The volume came up a little.  Benny Hinn, today.

Pentecostalism,’ commented Hank cynically.  ‘The heart of your evangelical world.’

Jesus forgives,’ said Sebastian Ford, born again member of the Pentecostal Church of the Living God.

Jesus,’ said Hank.  ‘When I was a lad, I came to terms with him.  I liked him,’ he said, with the slightest tone of crudity on the word liked.

Jesus loves you,’ said Sebastian.

I never met him,’ said Hank coldly.

Jesus knows everyone,’ said Sebastian Ford.

The power of the divine.  If it really exists,’ the same crudity on the word really.

You welcome hell?’ queried Sebastian.

Hank stared at him.  He was a psychologist.  Cold, hard, clinical.  Atheistic.  Hell, now.  That was a fantasy for grown ups, wasn’t it.

Tell me, Sebastian.  In all your Christian virtue, do you still get a hard on?’

Sebastian remained silent, not commenting.

Does Miss Atkinson come to you?  In your dreams, Sebastian?  Does she touch you, there?  Were you want her too?  Does she, Sebastian?’

I don’t see a need to talk about Christine.’

Christine, is it, Sebastian.  Now why doesn’t that surprise me.’

Silence came over the cell.  There seemed, at that point, an emptiness in the conversation, which seemed wanting to cascade into a fierce heated debate on the person of Christine Atkinson.  A person held very, very , dear.  To not just one of those present.

 

Christine is a fine agent.  The FBI are proud of her.’

Proud enough to touch her, Sebastian.  To touch her, there.  Against protocol.  Against policy.  Or does your ‘Jesus’ virtue deny your dick, Sebastian?  Does it?’

Sebastian said nothing, clutching at the King James Bible.

Christine is a good woman,’ said Sebastian.

With a vagina,’ responded Hank instantly.

Hank looked at his opponent.  ‘Do you dream about that?  Do you Sebastian?  Miss Atkinsons Vagina?’

I knew you were a serial killer.  I didn’t know you were also a leech.’

Forgive me, Sebastian,’ said Hank, somewhat apologetically.  ‘But you are only human, aren’t you Sebastian.  Only flesh,’ he paused, looking upwards, before returning a dreadful lustful gaze, saying, ‘and blood.’

Sebastian Ford stared at the face of evil, pointed the remote, turned the volume up to maximum, and left the cell of Hank Jones, the demented face of evil looking dispassionately at Benny Hinn on his Indian crusade, before looking away.

*   *   *   *   *

Maybe he’s right, Sebastian.’

Sebastian clutched at the bible.  ‘It’s not a crutch.’

Religion.  It’s hardly our profession.  We’re serious men.  University men.  We know better.’

The higher power.  It….’ He left off. ‘ It did something in my life. At that altar.’

Or you wanted it to.  To justify yourself.  To tell yourself, your Sebastian.  You’re the good guy.  Hank is the evil one.  You’re a saint, he’s a sinner.’

Moral relativity?’ queried Sebastian.

Scruples are not good for our profession,’ Sebastian, continued his therapist.  ‘A higher power?  I mean, is that really relevant?  For men like us?  Does that matter?  A hole, in your heart.  A yearning, which needs love, affection.  That lies there, and that King James fills it.  But we leave it in the end, Sebastian.  We get the hell over it, so to speak.’

There’s something there,’ murmured Sebastian Ford, clutching even more strongly at the leather bound tome in his hands.’

The doctor looked at his patient.  This didn’t surprise him.  Nervous breakdowns were common.  He, himself, was deistic ultimately.  A higher power explained his own questions, but it was not the focus.  Morality was inherent in the design.  The way they had come to be.  But obsession over it, in this doctor’s eyes, had ruined more souls than it had ever saved.  Souls who had been upright citizens of their country, lost on obsessions of puritanism, a drug that had infested his nation far too long.

Get the hell over it, Sebastian.  Life goes on.  Whatever you think you need in that book doesn’t matter that much in the eyes of eternity.’

Then what does?’

The psychologist remained silent.  He had answers.  Sebastian needed his own.  He offered a thought, though.  ‘Whatever is out there, Ford, in the end, scum like Hank Jones will get what is coming to them, and good guys, like us, well….. Well, if more is to come, then so be it.’

Sebastian nodded, coldly.  But, yeah.  Whatever it was.  Whatever was at that altar, he would let it be now.  He served a purpose.  He served a point.  If he really needed faith, then…….Well all in God’s good time.

 

Later that afternoon, he sat down in a park not far from home, looked at one last verse in the bible, a quote from genesis.  ‘The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’.  He underlined it with a marker, left the bible on his bench seat, and walked off.  He had his answers.  He had enough answers.  And whatever he was, as a man, Hank Jones was not.  That much, deep, deep down, he knew enough to be true.

* * * * *

Christine Atkinson was sitting on a bench near the training ground of Quantico, leafing through various files. She was currently a Crimes analyst, working at Quantico itself, preparing and researching a book on serial killers, their internal motivations, and psychological profiles. One case, Hank Jones, was the subject of much of the book matter.

From a distance Sebastian Ford observed her, not coming near, just for a moment watching her, noticing her face, even her physique, but such thoughts being quickly rebuked.

'Christine,' said Sebastian, presenting himself.

'Mr Ford,' responded the FBI agent. 'A pleasure to see you.'

'Thanks Christine. Do you mind?' he queried, indicating the seat next to her.

Christine moved over a little, and Sebastian Ford sat down. He pulled out a lunchbox from his leather satchel, took out a salami and tomato sandwich, offered one to Christine who shook her head, and started eating.

'We have an issue, Christine. An unpleasant one.'

Christine looked at him momentarily, and returned her gaze forwards. 'I'm sure the FBI can handle whatever the situation is. I'm non-operational. Just a desk job, now, Sebastian. Had my fill, I guess.'

'A good agent never has their fill,' said Sebastian. 'Not an FBI agent anyway. We're not just cops, Christine. We can't just run away and hide when the going gets tough. This is a dirty world, and its full of dirty crime, and the strongest of us need to stand against that crime.'

'Still preaching, I see,' said Christine.

'I'm not preaching. Its the reality.'

'Yes Batman,' she replied.

Sebastian didn't say anything, but continued eating his sandwich, and soon started sipping on juice. Then he reached down into his satchel and pulled out a manilla folder. 'The Shark' was emblazoned over the cover. He placed it in her lap, and continued sipping his juice.

She looked at it momentarily, but said nothing.

'The Shark is the worst we've encountered.'

'Why the name?' asked Christine.

'It's unpleasant said Sebastian.'

'Nothing shocks me much anymore, Mr Ford.'

'He amputates them first. That much we have worked out. But he feeds the limbs to sharks. And then, presumably, throws in the victim into the water, drowning them, eaten by the shark usually.'

'Lovely,' said Christine, picking up the fille and looking through some of the photographs.

'Has a Jaws fixation,' said Sebastian. 'Quotes from the novel are always found on laminated cards shoved into the bodies throats.'

'He has a sense of humour.'

'Not sure about that, though, anyway,' said Sebastian.

'About what?' asked Christine.

'That its a guy. One letter the Shark signed. Good luck catching me fellas. I'm a really nasty bitch when it comes right down to it.'

'A woman,' said Christine, momentarily surprised.

'It looks that way.'

Christine looked at the photographs a little longer, and then handed the folder back to Sebastian. 'Not my concern,' she said. 'I'm committed to my writings.'

'There's a catch,' said Sebastian.

'Which is?' queried Christine.

'One letter. Sent to us. From the shark.'

'What did it say.'

'Hope uncle Hank is entertaining you. He's one hell of a guy.'

Christine turned and looked deep into the eyes of Sebastian Ford.

'I'll start next week,' she said shortly.

'I'll start brewing the coffee,' responded Sebastian Ford, and briefly smiled to himself, stood, raised his hand in a farewell gesture, and slowly left the grounds of the Quantico training facility.

Christine sat there, going through the remainder of her lunchbreak and, looking out at the recrutits going through their drills, said to herself. 'I can't escape you, can I Hank?'

The leaves rustled in the wind, the recruits hollered and yelled and continued their drills, and silence was the only other reply.

* * * * *

Christine Atkinson was driving her Ford Focus, an Australian model she'd had imported and changed the steering wheel from right hand drive to left hand drive, simply because she loved the car so much, through the countryside of Washington state, pine trees enshrouding her, lost in thought.

'She'd looked at the email from Sebastian on the Shark. 17 victims so far in the last 2 years, and no substantial leads. They'd followed the usual investigative techniques, followed up on the traditional contacts, and were at an end of their tether. What next? Hank, next. Naturally. But Sebastian wanted Christine to handle that. Christine got results.

The Shark, it seemed to Christine, was not a woman. Too cruel. Too viscious. Too dark to be a woman. She knew her sex well, she was a woman, and they rarely were involved in the seedy work of serial killing. It was not unknown, and indications were strong in this case that a woman was potentially the prime suspect. But something wasn't right. She smelled a rat. Something – different.

In her years of experience she'd developed a certain healthy respect for Serial killers. Not any admiration for their nobility of character, for they were the devil's own. But a grudging respect for the cavalier 'Fuck the World' mentality which granted them the absolute liberties they claimed. They didn't care. They had no respect for conventions, no respect for societal norms, no respect for the law. In a strange way, while he repulsed the deepest fears in the heart of Christine Atkinson, that brutal savagery of freedom both disturbed Christine, but in that fear she found a crude and animalistic respect. Respect for the killer at the head of the pack. Respect for the brutal alpha male who twisted, cut, and sank his fangs into all challengers and did what he would. She repented of it constantly. But it was a dark desire, born in the silence of lambs, which pervaded her thoughts, especially on quiet nights, lonely nights, when she dreamed evil dreams, and visions of blood filled her head.

She shook off this thought, and reminded herself she was agent of the law, but Hank's grinning madness condemned her still, cited her hypocritical devotion to a manmade rule, only made to control and restrict.

God she hated him.

She hated him.

Shortly the pines gave way, and she approached Cardleford Washington FBI headquarters. There was an officer at the gate, and she handed him her pass. He looked her over, checking her pass.

'Thanks Ms Atkinson. Agent Ford is expecting you.'

She smiled, and received back her card and drove into the facility, parking.

Coming to the front entrance she entered and found a reception area, a young woman seated, smiling at her as she approached.

'Here to see Agent Sebastian Ford. Christine Atkinson. Quantico.'

The woman nodded, checked her screen, and said, 'Level 3. B Wing. He's in special crimes office.'

She nodded, and looked at the elevator, but the recent health kick she was on forced her to the stairs.

Finding B wing, she found the glass door, knocked, and an officer shortly answered.

'Christine Atkinson,' she said, showing her ID.

'Christine. I've heard a lot about you. Agent Hawkins. Come in.'

Christine entered the building. It was traditional FBI, more modern looking then some place, and Sebastian was at the back of the room, next to the photocopying machine, looking out the windows at the surrounding grounds.

Sebastian turned and looked at her. 'The coffee is still brewing. Sorry,' he apolgized, pointing to the coffee machine near the copier.

'That's ok,' said Christine.

She entered the room, and found a seat opposite Sebastian's desk.

'So,' he said.

'Yes,' she replied.

'You know Christine, I'm really very grateful. We can handle this, you know. But there is a connection between you and Hank. Something in you he respects. You'll get to him when others won't.'

'What's first?' she asked.

'I'll show you the bodies. They're in the morgue down below. Then we'll have some lunch and talk through the case this afternoon. Agent Hakwins here has been on the case from the beginning. He'll fill you in on were we are up to.'

'Great,' said Christine.

'Remember, Christine. Hank trusts you in his own convoluted way. You have an opportunity to get information on the Shark another officer might just run into a brick wall on.'

'If you think so,' responded Christine.

'Your too humble,' he responded.

'Have their been any new victims?' she asked agent Hawkins.

'Not since early February. Two months. But, following the pattern, its only a matter of time,' responded the agent.

'Then we have no time to waste,' said Christine.

The coffee machine started beeping. 'Coffee?' asked Sebastian.

Christine nodded.

Later that afternoon, Sebastian had worked up a bit of a sweat, showing Christine all around the compound, and had showered, and was in his office, reading, of all things, the Bible. He needed a break from it all, all the heaviness, all the gruesome details, and found comfort in the gospel, and sat there, looking out the window. He had an email in his inbox. From June. June Middlesworth. She was in his church, the Elect Church of the Living God, and they were not exactly large worldwide. They were Pentecostal, and true to the faith of the Word, but they were at odds with the world. At odds with a society which fascinated in monsters like Hank Jones. They were the chosen ones, they told each other. The true chosen ones.

It was believed, in the church, that the return of the saviour was imminent, but before that, a world holocaust, of judgement and wrath of God. For the scriptures did not lie. And Jesus would return, upon the trumpet of the Angel Uriel, the firstborn Son of God, for Jesus was Christ, in the Kingdom of the Elect Angels, and Uriel would sit as King at the Grand Coming, and the Prince of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus, would show his love and his grace and his salvation as the Elect Angelic Christ. And, so it was believed, Jesus would sit in Jerusalem, and Uriel in China, for ancient text of 'The Word of Heaven', the text afore Genesis in the Holy Bible, spoke of Uriel's people and that the first man, Dirt, was indeed born in the mysterious east. Yet Christ came from Israel, and all the nations had their tutelary angelic Prince, each who would rule the world in the grand and glorious Kingdom of God upon the coming of their Lord and Saviour. And this Sebastian believed, and it gave him confidence and faith, and he could stare down creatures like Hank Jones because of it, because he knew his judgement was coming.

He would leave the email – till the morning. Get in early, and pray a little, and see what June had to say. But he was finished for the night, and going out of the office, he thought on the grim work ahead of them, and sighed. Another day – another dirty dollar.

* * * * *

'Who are the Morning Stars, Hank?' asked Christine

'I see you've been talking with Sebastian,' said Hank.

'You are talking to Angels now, apparently. The Morning Stars of God.'

'Job is a wonderful book,' said Hank. 'Sebastian is born again. Convinced I need to - reform my ways. I pray to the Morning Stars. Especially Satan. He's a Morning Star after my own heart.'

Christine nodded. 'The Shark. What do you know of him?'

Hank glared at her through the window, and sat down with the Bible he had obtained. He looked at her. 'The Beast. He's my kind of guy. Devouring the church. That's the way to go.'

'So, you are into the Devil,' said Christine.

'I'm into - lot's of things,' said Hank. 'But the devil, he's fine.'

'I've thought about it, you know You know, you have never really been impressed with the fact that it is murder. That doesn't bother you. But, you know, eating people. It is actually just kind of weird.'

Hank looked at her. 'What is life if we can't get a little bit nuts.'

'A hell of a lot less fucked up,' said Christine in reply. 'Jesus probably had good ideas. I'm not particularly fussed. But the Devil is hardly the best role model.'

'Depends what you are into, sistah,' replied Hank in a southern accent.

'He gets thrown into hell in the end of that book,' said Christine. 'Not where I'd like to go.'

'Where life's a big party,' replied Hank.

'With all the Devil's Morning Stars,' said Christine. 'I'm sure you'll have a party. Burning in eternal fire.'

'This cell. It's a little bit chilly in winter. The fire will warm me up.'

'I'll bet,' replied Christine. 'The Shark. What do you know about him?'

'Quote a scripture at me, Christine. Like Sebastian does. I'm dying to hear it.'

Christine looked at him, and thought on a verse she remembered from Sunday school. 'I, the Lord thy God, am a consuming and avenging fire.'

'Oh, he's a passionate one is the Almighty,' said Hank. 'Such an - inspiration. The Shark is a regular type of lad. He likes the sea a lot. East coast villages on the shore. Not as far south as Miami, but not as far north as New York. He's a centred sort of guy. But you'll have to quote more of that bible at me, sistah, if you want anything more. I'm taking a nap. See yah.'

Christine looked at Hank as he turned to his bed, and walked away. She had her information for now.

* * * * *

Sebastian Ford looked at the surveillance tape. 'There,' he said to Christine.

'What?' she asked.

He rewound the tape, and forwarded it a screen at a time, and then he paused. 'Right there,' he said.

She looked. 'A guy in a jacket.'

Sebastian used the magnifier, and zeroed in on the jacket. There was a shark logo on it.

'Common enough design,' said Christine.

'This was taken the afternoon of the murder,' said Sebastian. 'It's two blocks away from where the body was found.'

She looked again at the figure. 'What is the jacket?' she asked.

Sebastian brought out a sheet of paper with a picture of a shark logo on it. 'Theodore's Shark's Club.' was written underneath the logo.

'It's a club from New Jersey,' said Sebastian. 'Poker club. Private. They specialise in winning competitions.'

'He's a card shark,' she said. 'And gets a kick out of his identity.'

'Could be successful. Or not,' said Sebastian. 'But does this to hilight his ego. Past abuse most likely. Maybe father or something deeper.'

'Usual motivating factors. Justification against someone who has wronged him. His way of compensating and making sense of it,' said Christine. She loked at the picture on the screen again. 'He's about 6 feet tall, and it looks as if he is white.' She turned to Sebastian. 'When do we visit this club?'

Sebastian pulled out two plane tickets. 'We leave tonight. In at JFK at 11. Staying at a hotel near the club. Tomrrow, when they open at midday, we chat. Go home and get a rest,' he said. 'I'll pick you up at 6.'

Christine nodded, and looked again at the picture. They had their first lead.

* * * * *

'Albert Johnson,' said Theodore Rivera. 'The bloke is Alec Smith.. Lives at Amity Island.'

'Amity?' asked Sebastian Ford.

'Where the shot Jaws?' asked Christine.

'Yeh. He's a shark alright. His quirky sense of humor,' said Albert.

'Do you have an address?' asked Christine.

Albert flicked onto the members address book on the private club register, and wrote down an address. He passed it to Sebastian.

'Thanks Albert,' said Sebastian. 'We'll be in touch.'

As they left Sebastian turned to Christine. 'This is too easy,' he said.

'I like it easy. Sometimes they make silly mistakes.'

'Not so sure,' replied Sebastian.

They drove down to Amity in a car borrowed from NYPD, and found the address. Sebastian knocked. They waited. Nobody home.

'Let's look around,' said Christine.

'We don't have a warrant,' said Sebastian.

'No harm in looking through windows,' said Christine, walking around the side of the house. The back yard had a pool, and a garage, which was locked. They looked in through the window of the garage, but it all looked pretty innocent.

'Sebastian!' yelled Christine. She pointed. There was a fresh pile of dirt. 'A grave?' she asked him.

'Just too obvious,' replied Sebastian.

'I'm calling it in,' said Christine.

Soon Amity police were at the address, and they dug up the dirt. They found bones. Old bones.

'Human,' said Christine. 'We have our man.'

Later that day Alec Smith came home to find a raft of police cars everywhere. He asked what all the fuss was about and Sebastian spoke with him.

'Mr Smith. Can you account for these human bones we've found in your back yard?'

Alec hesitated. 'Mr Smith, I'm arresting you on suspicion of murder. You don't have to say anything..' and on it went. The Shark had been busted.

* * * * *

'You got your man,' said Hank.

'Alec Smith,' said Christine. 'Hasn't confessed, but the bones are a female lady of similar description to the others, and he won't give any answers. We have enough for trial.'

'Alec Smith?' said Hank. 'Interesting.'

Christine looked at the Monster. 'Why do you say that?'

'Alec is into bones,' said Hank. 'There's nothing new about that. But he's not a skin man. I thought you would have noticed. The shark skins at the club.'

'What about them?' asked Christine.

'You didn't inquire who skinned the sharks? He's good at it. Lot's of experience,' replied Hank. 'I think you know what I mean.'

Christine looked at Hank, and instantly the name 'Albert Johnson' dropped into her head. 'I've got to go,' she said to Hank.

'Oh, Christine,' said Hank. 'Give my love to Albert. He's an old pal like Alec. Did lots of interesting business with both of them.'

She looked at him. 'Monster,' she said.

'Like your God. I like the taste of flesh,' he replied. Christine stood there, yet again apalled by the face of evil, and turned and ran. They had a killer who might just have skipped the coop.

* * * * *

It took three weeks, and they found Albert Johnson, drunk, in a seedy hotel of New Jersey, high as a kite. He had a skin with him. A fresh skin. All the traits were the same. Christine knew Hank had given her the tip off to a criminal they might just have missed. It was no redeeming sign in the madman, but she gave him a slight ounce of credit for that.

It was later, though. And a terrorist group, the Hand of Allah, were suspected of being behind the escape of Hank Monster, when outside of his cell, in the garden, for a reward for his help in the 'Shark' case. Hank had written to the public front of the organisation, inquiring in his newfound zeal of faith in God, as to whether Allah was the truth of truths. The letter had been sent, despite authorities thinking perhaps it shouldn't, but he had been allowed occasional correspondence. Somehow the Hand of God got into the thought that he was seeking conversion, and that their fellow must be freed. Whatever motivated the terrorist groups thinking was beyond them. But he was gone, and they had an old enemy on their most wanted list once more. Life was never easy, Christine Atkinson thought to herself. And sometimes monsters got away, yet she hoped and prayed he would not be found, but die in a ditch, dead at the hands of Allah's henchmen. But only time would tell if that prayer would find its fruition. Only time.

The End

 

Crazy Days 

Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly lived at 29 Merriman Crescent Macarthur. Daniel Rothchild, who had recently been using the moniker 'Daniel Daly' as well from time to time, in a convoluted plan they had arranged between themselves, visited him from time to time, but had his own life. But Daniel Daly, the co-founder for the most part of Haven Noahide Fellowship, lived at 29 Merriman Crescent, and had a simple enough life. He was quieter in most ways than the outgoing Rothchild boy, but that was who he was. He was schizophrenic, had been for many years, but that was life – wasn't it. Some things cropped up and you dealt with them as best you could. He was now well established in a mental health group of friends he had known for a while. Marcus Chuan Chi Chin, Andrew Wojcik and Rebecca Hill being some of his closest friends in the group. He often was picked up by a health worker, Adrian Chan, to come in and bring him to group activities, though he could arrange his own way their if he needed to. Presently, he was not working, and was living on savings, but life still had other possibilities associated with it. 

Rebecca Hill was a down-to-earth girl, in the group, younger than him, and they had become friends over a number of years. Daniel liked to tease Rebecca, who enjoyed the single life for the most part, that her only real boyfriend was Jesus Christ, as she was a devoted Christian. But she was not taken to marriage for the most part, having worked in various occupations since leaving school, and now working in an aged care facility in Canberra. With Rebecca, Marcus Chin was a close friend, and they'd had many a group lunch together and birthday celebration, as well as various activities organized by the group. Rebecca enjoyed scrabble and studying weather patterns. Perhaps a future occupation Daniel thought to himself for the lass, yet she did not appear overly driven at this stage of her life to seek out any really grand glories as of yet. But who was? Who really ever bit into the possibilities of an unplanned life, and chased the dream of glory. Not everyone necessarily wanted that out of life. Or did they?

'I don't think its for me,' replied Rebecca. 'Weather girl. With my Asperger's I'm somewhat drawn back.'

'Reserved, perhaps,' suggested Daniel.

'Rebecca is happy as she is,' said Marcus, as they sat in the luncheon area of the Souther Cross Club, right next to were their friday MHT group meetings took place.

'Life is a dream of glory, which we don't really bother with very much,' replied Daniel. 'But why should Madonna get all the glory?'

'She works hard,' said Marcus. 'All that live touring all the time. Would take it out of me.'

'Yes. You like to do nothing, don't you,' said Daniel.

'My speciality,' replied Marcus, and the three of them laughed.

'These may be our Crazy Days of our eternity, but it doesn't mean we can't make the most of them,' said Daniel.

'But I do,' said Marcus. 'I have a very full life.'

'Do you have a full life?' Daniel asked Rebecca.

'I'm happy,' she replied.

'I need something more,' said Daniel, and they sat quietly for a while, perhaps reflecting on the conversation.

'But you have me,' said Marcus, opening out his arms.

'I'm not gay yet, Marky Mark,' said Daniel, and again they laughed.

'You don't know what you are missing out on loverboy,' said Marcus, the predictable smile on his face. Apparently Marcus was not actually gay, but the things he said often made you wonder.

'What do you want out of life, Rebecca?' asked Daniel.

'Oh. Serve God. Be a good citizen. Help people.'

'Why?' he asked again.

'That's what gives me meaning,' she said softly.

'She is a godly woman,' said Marcus.

'Yes,' said Daniel.

Their meals arrived, and as they ate, they continued to chat.

'I'm sort of, quiet,' said Rebecca. 'A lot of people are very, active. I know.'

'You don't want to be?' he asked.

'I have a routine,' she replied.

'Things you do which make you happy,' said Daniel.

She nodded.

'Balancing it all is the secret I suppose,' said Daniel.

The conversation went quiet for a while, and as they ate Marcus waved at Daniel from time to time, even though seated next to him, but it was one of those things he did. He was a very loving guy, in reality.

'I think Rebecca is probably quite happy with her life,' said Marcus. 'She might possibly marry if she met the right type of guy.'

'A Christian, though,' said Daniel.

Marcus looked at Rebecca.

'It would be for the best,' said Rebecca.

'I believe eternal life works in cycles of the one we live on earth, repeated forever in the heavenlies. We stay the same age of about 20, but we go through it from cradle to grave over and over again.'

'It's an interesting idea,' said Marcus.

'Maybe total fantasy,' replied Daniel. 'Maybe just a hypothetical possibility of God's. But it's sort of how I understand things at the moment.'

'Then we will do it all over again,' said Marcus.

'Maybe,' said Rebecca.

 

Later on, back at home, Daniel was working on his autobiography, and wrote down some thoughts on Marcus and Rebecca. He was actually quite pleased with his friendship with these two and, while initially much of his eternity was going to be claimed by Noahide faith, he knew so truly in his heart, later on, when all the hype had settled down, these two might become quite important to him. He believed in salvation as a Noahide, naturally, be believed Marcus and Rebecca were also likely in good standing on that issue. Perhaps these two would become his besties over the long haul? Time would only tell he supposed. 

Story End

 

END NOTE: Rebecca is a real life friend of Mine, like Marcus. Here she is, in her own Words, in some letters she has written to me (once subtly asking for a story.) I produced Crazy Days as a result of the request. 

Dear Daniel,

Just wanted you to provide some information about me that you probably don’t have if you are ever planning to do some more writing about the Leisure Program members at Tuggeranong again soon.

I have worked at Goodwin Homes, Ainslie as a Catering Assistant for the last 3 years and work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings and Saturday evenings.

I have attended church at Hughes Baptist Church, Hughes for the past 2 years

I have played clarinet for a grand total of 18 years this year, though have played with the Weston Winds Community Band at Stromlo High School, Waramanga for the past 12 years (since 2002) and the Hughes Baptist Church Worship Band for the past 2 year (since 2012)

I have attended the Tuggeranong Leisure Program for the past 9 years(I don’t have a mental illness, but have another condition called Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of Autism, on the high end of the Autism spectrum, which gives it’s sufferers an intelligent, knowledgeable, bright and intellectual way of thinking).  Tony Beer, my 59 year old knowledgeable scrabble mentor and really good friend for the past 9 years, also has this condition, which is why we get along so well together- someone who I have learnt a lot from, as he knows so much.  I win half the scrabble games we play each week(it is nice to win the scrabble games over someone so good- Tony wants me to win them as much as possible and doesn’t mind losing the games at all, which is really gentlemanly).  We are both scrabble mentoring a few other students in the game at the moment- Ann in Belconnen and Jarrod in Tuggeranong.  Jeff Danaher regularly plays with us as well.  Tony was one on the first people I met at the Leisure Program, when I joined his scrabble group, which was part of this program at the Belconnen Community Centre at the time in Belconnen, which we still both go to, though we now do it at the Belconnen Library).  I hope to join the Woden Scrabble Club in September(where Tony Beer also goes).

I have known Marcus Chi Chuan Chin(CCC) for 8 years.  He is my other really close friend at the Leisure Program.  Another real gentleman, who I have done a lot of things with as well over the years we have got to know each other.

I have lived in Curtin in Canberra for all my 31 years.  I am able to live independently from my parents, but live near my parents and younger sister, Stephanie, who is 28 and brother-in-law, Nick(Nicholas), who is also 31.  My birthday was on 29th May and I was born in 1983.

I was one of the best spellers in my class at school and came first in my year 12 class in 2001 in Accredited English.

I am 56% Analytical and 44% Creative, when it comes to the make-up of my brain.

 

From Rebecca Hill

Dear Daniel, 

Thank you for your e-mail and your interesting story.  I have just finished reading it.

Hope you are keeping warm with this cold winter weather in Canberra.  Felt like snow today.  Yesterday, the temperature was –5C to 7 degrees, a bit cold for my liking.

Everything is going well for me, thanks, though pretty busy with my job as catering assistant at Goodwin Ainslie, making all those desserts, cups of tea and coffee(which they always appreciate- (I often get told by the elderly residents I serve how much they like me the best) and that my tea and coffee is the best and serving dinner to the elderly 4 half days a week- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings and Saturday evenings.  I always enjoy having a chat with the elderly residents if I can as well, which they appreciate.  Tomorrow, it will be 3 years since I started working there exactly, which is good.  I am now 31 years old and hope to continue to work for a long time to come yet(I hope for another 25 years).  The last time I got majorly sick was 9 years ago and haven’t had a major cold in all this time, since I joined the Leisure Program.  I think I have a good, healthy immune system, exercise and eat the right things, which is why I am rarely sick and can do many things in my life at any time.

I have got up to 18 years of playing the clarinet this year(I started in 1996)- I first belonged to Canberra Youth Music at the Ainslie Art’s Centre between 1998 and 2001, then I joined my current band, Weston Wind’s Community Band(Weston Winds) in 2002 and am still there now.  In 2002, I joined Hughes Baptist Church Worship Band.

Here is a story of how I first met Tony Beer at the Leisure Program and our journey together as good scrabble champion friends who have Asperger’s Syndrome and despite our difference in age:

I am still enjoying playing scrabble 2 days a week with Tony and Jeff, though after my annual holiday in Western Canada from mid-August to mid-September, I plan to join the Woden Scrabble Club on Wednesday evening at the Woden Southern Cross Club that they also belong to, as I those two fellows really well and the location of the club is close to where I live in Curtin, which makes a difference.  I hope to play some other scrabble players there and see how they play as well.  Every scrabble player plays differently.  After 9 years of playing scrabble together, Tony and I are getting close scrabble games now, winning half the games each and average in the 300’s(my scrabble average being 285 and Tony’s being 295).  Tony was one of the first people I met at the Belconnen Scrabble Group I joined when I was 22 back in 2005 and has remained a supportive, older mentor and good friend to me ever since(someone I look up to quite highly and hope to follow his good example of being able to work for 28 years, having a tertiary education and being able to keep his health in fairly good order, which is not too bad for someone who goes to the Leisure Program).  He has the Asperger’s Syndrome condition that I have, which is not a mental illness, but a mild form of Autism on the bright side of the Autism spectrum- in comparison, Autism is a much more serious condition on this spectrum, where most people would think you really couldn’t do much in you life without help.  Having Asperger’s Syndrome is why I look younger than I really am and has made it easier to become good friends with Tony, understand what he says and come along to a disability group of people who had much more serious mental health conditions than either of us, who I didn’t know at first and get to know them as well(Tony wanted to be my mentor in scrabble and patiently support me in the game right from the beginning as a really young girl just starting out in her adult life and needing other’s support to succeed other than her family, which was really nice).  Tony is a bit like an uncle in a funny kind of way, really smart, gentle, mature, patient, understanding, intelligent, scientific, creative, humorous, intellectual and amazingly knowledgeable(I have learnt so much from him over the time I have known him- in fact, both of us have got better at the scrabble game and both of us have expanded our vocablurary a great deal).  I understand much of what he says better than a lot of other people at the Leisure Program do, probably because I am also a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Scrabble to me has become a bit of a form of therapy, which has helped ease my stress levels, especially with work, made me feel more mentally strong in the mind and is a good social thing that has allowed me to make friends with other people, who I have things in common with more easily.  Tony, as well as Marcus have an ability to cheer me up, even when things are going a bit tough for me in my life or am feeling tired with their cheerful, friendly and humorous personalities.  When we come back from Belconnen on Tuesdays on the bus, after playing scrabble there, Tony often tells me quite personal things he has told nobody else in the Leisure Program, tell some funny stories that make me laugh(he is a great story teller) and sometimes tells me a few jokes as well.  Tony is the same age as my dad, Paul(59).  We have also gone on many Leisure Program trips together- we are both good at walking long distance on the flat and he has come to my birthday a few times. Tony’s latest ranking in scrabble, after his last tournament is now 840 in Australia, which is in the middle of the range and Jeff is ranked 509.  Playing such a good scrabble player is a challenge sometimes, not always easy, but is gradually getting easier for me the more I practise the game with him.  It is a real honour and thrill to play Tony and be able to beat him 56 times in our 2  practise sessions so far this year.  It is not like the champion is dominating the games we play all the time anymore.  Tony enjoys the challenge against playing me and doesn’t mind losing them to me- he wants me to win the scrabble games as much as possible(after all, he is a real gentleman to me, anyway).  Tony also thinks that I am now a better scrabble player than Jeff now and thinks I am doing really well in the game, because of the fact that I am able to practise scrabble more often each week with him than Jeff is.  He also thinks I am also better looking.

I have been good friends with Marcus Chin at the Leisure Program for 8 years and have seen his improving health over this time.

At the Leisure Program, I am known as the “young, fit girl”, because of my age and my ability to do physical things, like climbing hills or my speed of walking long distances.  I regularly walk 20km per week.  The job I do also keeps me fit.  Many people think I look 21, but my family thinks I look more like 26.  This is to do with my Asperger’s Syndrome condition.  I am really 31.  People who regularly are there at the Leisure Program, who are a similar age to me from their early to mid-30’s include Brett Young, Isaac Lane, Andrew, Sean petit and Steve(a new fellow).

Keep up with your stories and I will see you at the Leisure Program tomorrow,

From Rebecca Hill

The End

 

 

Son of Springvale

The theophany was born on the 20th of November in 6179 in the reckoning of the adjusted calendar of Haven Noahide Fellowship, the year 2016 in the regular common era calendar. He was born in Cooma hospital, but lived his early life in Springvale, a small tiny township south of Dalgety, found on few maps it was so small. His father was Jeremiah Debear, and he was a regular father, attendant of the United Pentecostal Church, but young Wolfgang Debear did not 100% agree with his father's conclusions that Jesus Christ Almighty was exactly that – the living God. He did not agree at all.

When Wolfgang turned 25 he started suffering from Schizophrenia, and heard voices. And then he had a psychotic attack, refused the medications his parent's suggested, and drifted off out onto the back roads of southern Monaro region, were he wandered until he was 40. 15 years of crazy adventures, were voices told him he was God, and he believed them as well. Who else could Wolfgang be apart from God Almighty? If there was a God, it wasn't Jesus, it was Wolfgang. But he never took it that seriously, especially after his 39th year when an Eternal Voice said to him, 'TIME TO GET SERIOUS WOLFGANG.'

Wolfgang drifted into Canberra, into Tuggeranong, and having his birth certificate with him, which he'd had in his wallet for the last 15 years, he registered with Centrelink, who said he'd need an address, so they put him on the emergency housing list, and found him a place in his 40th year. It was in Gilmore, in Alice Jackson Crescent. And then the Cherubim Daniel Daly, 347th Cherubim of the Realm of Eternity, dropped by one afternoon, having chatted with him at the Chisholm shops, and they started talking about the Universal Faith Assembly, and God had found his calling in life. Head pastor of the the Universal Faith Assembly of the 7 Divine Fellowships, and Daniel delivered him the complete works of Melanie C on CD and said 'She's our Girl'.

God married in his 41st year, a lady he had converted to membership of the Universal Faith Assembly. She was a pretty lady, and she liked God. April was her first name, and she became April Debear. And they had a child which he named 'David' and God was happy. Wolfgang was happy.

* * * * *

In his years wandering around, Wolfgang had dropped into Canberra a number of times, sitting on the steps of Calvary Chapel a lot, were his father went to church, the family driving up from Springvale once a month to attend. He saw his dad often, who gave him regular cash, and watched Wolfgang as he wandered around Chifley oval, which was next to the church, and sat up in the corner of the oval, in a quiet section, just nearby a set of flats called Chifley house. But most of the time he was wandering around Tuggeranong when his wanderings brought him to Canberra a few times a year, and he wandered around, sleeping in parks and ovals, and knew the place quite well by his 40th year. In Macarthur playing fields Daniel Daly had met him a number of times, and he'd advised the lad often to sort his life out. Wolfgang drank alcohol, never to excess and never ever got drunk, but he enjoyed a drop to get him through the nights. He had a warm sleeping bag he slept in at nights, and drank water from taps most of the time, or from the Snowy or Murrumbidgee rivers, or various other creeks, but always seemed to have enough cash when he was hungry for a hamburger or some hot chips and gravy or some other cafe food he enjoyed eating. Daniel helped him financially, as well as his father, and Wolfgang was a wildman in some ways, Mr Natural, lost off his his psychotic fantasies, an adventurous world of his own imaginations. There was nothing quite like God's younger years, and although he was alone a lot of the time, somehow he didn't mind. He was on endless crusades to redeem mankind in his hear, the calling of his young life, and the voices always told him he was saving the world. His crazy missions were all part of the masterplan for the salvation of mankind. Wolfgang knew that was true – somehow.

He met April, actually, when he was about 30, as she lived in Gilmore, and she said he was a crazy sweet kind of guy, and though she was only 15, she said she could marry a guy like him. He never forgot that.

His adventures always made sense for a while, and he would read his King James Bible, and know that Salvation was of the LORD, and his mission was to redeem them all. Somehow he made the Sun rise one night, although it actually rose at its correct time, but Wolfgang knew his prayers at what was surely midnight were answered. There were all sorts of redemptive works he accomplished, all in his own heart, his own little world of imagination, but, when his late 30s started coming along, he started calming down. And the then the voice of the Almighty, and Wolfgang was mostly over it. Time to finally settle down.

* * * * *

'Wolfgang. I have noticed something on the computer.'

Wolfgang was nervous.

'On our youtube account. A lot of American African pop artists. Females, especially.'

Wolfgang breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn't found the porn. 'Uh, yeh. Is that unusual?' he asked April.

'No. Not really. It's just that there is an awful lot of them. Especially Rihanna. You must have favourited her entire video career and live performances.'

'Uh, yeh,' he responded, and came in from the laundry, through the hall, to the main living room were April was watching TV. 'Just got a thing for Afro women,' said Wolfgang.

'Yet you married me,' she said.

'Love knows no boundaries,' he said softly.

She picked up the remote and changed the challenge to a nature show. They sat in silence for a while, and she rested against him. 'Just don't cheat on me with any nigger bitch,' she said after a while. God nodded.

A few weeks later Daniel Daly was around, and they were discussing matters pertinent to the Universal Faith Assembly.

'As you would know from reaidng the Rainbow Bible, AOTDC does have a universal focus, but it operated within the framework of an Anglospheran perspective on things. But UFA is truly international in its focus. It is broadminded, attempting to represent every culture, and has non-racial policies more strongly enforced than the other fellowships. Karaite Abrahamism works within it, to a degree acting as a father of nations for blessing, but as part of the community of UFA, an international Noahide community. The Abrahamides of the UFA are meant to be less focused on their own racial identity and think more in common as being members of the human race, and less racially expressive. Ultimately the same is expected of the Israelite members of the Universal Truth Assembly also. We are meant to be universal and united, sharing the bond of being the family of Noah and the blood which unites us. Judaism outside of the 7DF may have as much focus on its own identity and uniqueness as it jolly well chooses to be, and they can the chosen of God till Kingdom Come, but not in the UTA. No way in 7DF, which is a united humanity with non-racist policies. In this sense the Anglospheran policies of AOTDC are mainly 'Cultural' paradigms we promote, rather than any racial agenda. Right?'

God nodded at Daniel's words. They were familiar teachings, which he had gradually been growing used to. Daniel's vision for the future of the Seven Divine Fellowship's of Karaite Adamide-Noahide faith as he liked to express them.

'What do you think of Inter-racial marriage?' God asked Daniel, out of the blue.

Daniel looked at Wolfgang. 'Nothing wrong with it.'

God nodded to himself. 'Right. Good to know.'

Later on God was watching porn again. Nigger bitch porn. April possibly would mind. Daniel didn't. He would allow his pastor to rule his heart on this occasion. He liked those fine afro booties.

* * * * *

Wolfgang had walked home, walked all the way, back to Springvale. It was like that – he would get an impulse to do something, and off he want, grabbing nothing more than his wallet and a drinking flask, willing and able to walk hundreds of miles to accomplish whatever whim came upon him. So he wanted to go home, walking down the Monaro highway, and have a getaway. He needed to think.

He was sitting not far from the Chakola turnoff, near the monument on the hill, which he always wondered about, and looking east towards the rising sun. It was early in the morning, and he had been walking 4 days now. Springvale was still a fair way off, but he was nearly at Cooma and, this time, he had calmed down somewhat and felt he would bus it home from Cooma back to Canberra, most of the psychotic impulsiveness for this particular trip having left him. But he had wanted to go home to think about something, which he was doing now. His wife, and their young child David. But did he love April? He knew, in this earthly life, that decision had already been made, and that he did love her, but it wasn't as deep as he had originally thought. She had been attractive, and he had been attracted, but as time passed, and the novelty wore off, she was not exactly what he thought he needed. It was bizarre. She didn't go to UPC, but he felt that in that church she would be at home more than any other place. Weird. But while he would stay loyal to her for their life together, he had already let his heart wander, and found the old pop singer 'Rihanna' in the centre of it. Her music got to him most of all, and he fantasized about being with her one day.

For some strange reason he liked to watch the sun rise from the east. Seemed to be like that – face the new day, full of hopes and possibilities. Just what he was meant to do now. He had saved the sun enough, after all. But he didn't take those thoughts that seriously any more. Recognized them, with the help of his psychiatrist, for what they mostly were. Vain fantasies.

God didn't really have work, yet, but the UFA had some members now, in Canberra and the region, and they met up once a month, with Daniel occasionally in attendance, but he was involved with each of the 7 Divine fellowships, for the Rainbow Bibles had been merged into one, and while they were united, there remained as the core idea 7 separate fellowships of Karaite Adamide-Noahide faith. Such was what Daniel had worked upon, and such had been what, through perseverance, had come to light. Wolfgang had been chosen to be the head pastor of 3DF – the Universal Faith Assembly – so he took to that now as his life mission, to let it lead him were it would. And to God be the glory whatever glory came.

He sat there for a while, watching the morning dawn, and then, suddenly inspired to get to Cooma quickly, so he could get to MacDonalds and enjoy the morning brekkie, he got up, got started, and was chuffing along in no time, coming into Bunyan and working his way steadily towards town. And he enjoyed his MacDonalds, but when he got to the Newsagency, ready to go in and book his trip back to Canberra, his pride surfaced, and off he went, back down to Bombala street, and off, up the road, heading down the track to home, determined to make the distance, just because anyway. Just because, anyway.

* * * * *

When he was home in Springvale, a voice said to his heart. 'Go now, return to Cooma, and book that bus trip to Canberra. And walk back, even now, all the way to Cooma.' And Wolfgang, feeling this compulsion strongly in his heart, ventured forth to the street and said 'Fuck!'

He walked, and walked, and got to a familiar stream after a long while, and filled his plastic milk bottle with water, and drank at the stream, and walked on. He was eager.

And as he walked a voice said to him again, 'Your wife is not right for you. Leave her. I will provide another in time.' And Wolfgang, feeling that knowledge to be true, continued on and said 'For fuck's sake, ok.'

And then, as the night came on, he was in Berridale, and sitting by the creek, because he had too much pride to book a room for the night in the pub, he was cold and shivering, and had no sleeping bag, he felt a voice speak to him yet again, for the final time. 'To live is to suffer. Few will suffer as greatly as ye must, but I will have mercy, for there are others whose extremes are plain stupidity and not wisdom.'

Wolfgang sensed something important. 'I can take it,' he said.

'No. You can't,' said the wind, and Wolfgang knew the wisdom of God.

He got to the 4 mile the following evening, and was exhausted. And then he made the Alpine pub, and God had mercy. He was allowed to book a room for the night and have some crumbed fish and chips for dinner. He was famished, and wolfed it down. And he slept that night, and dreamed of little black cats, and there was a soft laugh in the background as he patted a little black cat and called it a cutie.

The following Morning Daniel Daly met Wolfgang in the Newsagency, where he was using the internet. 'Come on. I'll give you a lift.'

And Wolfgang, feeling something in him soften up, yielded, and accepted mercy. For he was only human in the end, anyway.

As they drove back up to Canberra, Daniel looked at Wolfgang. 'Teach me what you know about Abraham.'

Wolfgang looked at Daniel. Then he began talking. 'Abraham, originally Abram, is the first of the three patriarchs of Judaism. His story is a center piece of all Abrahamic religions and Abraham plays a prominent role as an example of faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Biblical narrative revolves around the themes of posterity and land. Abraham is called by God to leave the house of his father Terah and settle in the land originally given to Canaan, but which God now promises to Abraham and his progeny. Various candidates are put forward who might inherit the land after Abraham, but all are dismissed except for Isaac, his son by his half-sister Sarah. Abraham purchases a tomb (the Cave of the Patriarchs) at Hebron to be Sarah's grave, thus establishing his right to the land, and in the second generation his heir Isaac is married to a woman from his own kin, thus ruling the Canaanites out of any inheritance. Abraham later marries Keturah and has six more sons, but on his death, when he is buried beside Sarah, it is Isaac who receives "all Abraham's goods", while the other sons receive only "gifts". A common hypothesis among critical scholars is that the Abrahamic passages were composed in the early Persian period (late 6th century BCE) as a result of tensions between Jewish landowners who had stayed in Judah during the Babylonian captivity and traced their right to the land through their "father Abraham", and the returning exiles who based their counter-claim on Moses and the Exodus tradition. The story of Abraham is related in Genesis 11:26–25:10 of the Hebrew Bible. Terah, the tenth in descent from Noah, begat three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begat Lot (who was thus Abram's nephew), and died in his native city, Ur of the Chaldees. Abram married Sarai, who was barren. Terah, with Abram, Sarai, and Lot, then departed for Canaan, but settled in a place named Haran, where Terah died at the age of 205. (Genesis 11:27–32) God had told Abram to leave his country and kindred and go to a land that he would show him, and promised to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless them that bless him, and curse he who may curse him. (Genesis 12:1–3) Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the substance and souls that they had acquired, and traveled to Shechem in Canaan. (Genesis 12:4–6). There was a severe famine in the land of Canaan, so that Abram and Lot and their households, traveled south to Egypt. On the way Abram told his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister, so that the Egyptians would not kill him. (Genesis 12:10–13) When they entered Egypt, the Pharaoh's officials praised Sarai's beauty to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace, and Abram was given provisions: "oxen, and he-asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she-asses, and camels". However, God afflicted Pharaoh and his household with great plagues, for which he tried to find the reason. (Genesis 12:14–17) Upon discovering that Sarai was a married woman, Pharaoh demanded that they and their household leave immediately, with all their goods. (Genesis 12:18–20). When they came back to the Bethel and Hai area, Abram's and Lot's sizable livestock herds occupied the same pastures. This became a problem for the herdsmen who were assigned to each family's cattle. The conflicts between herdsmen had become so troublesome that Abram graciously suggested that Lot choose a separate area, either on the left hand (north) or on the right hand (south), that there be no conflict amongst brethren. But Lot chose to go east to the plain of Jordan where the land was well watered everywhere as far as Zoar, and he dwelled in the cities of the plain toward Sodom. Abram went south to Hebron and settled in the plain of Mamre, where he built another altar to worship God. (Genesis 13:1–18). During the rebellion of the Jordan River cities against Elam, (Genesis 14:1–9) Abram's nephew, Lot, was taken prisoner along with his entire household by the invading Elamite forces. The Elamite army came to collect the spoils of war, after having just defeated the king of Sodom's armies. (Genesis 14:8–12) Lot and his family, at the time, were settled on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Sodom which made them a visible target. (Genesis 13:12). One person who escaped capture came and told Abram what happened. Once Abram received this news, he immediately assembled 318 trained servants. Abram's force headed north in pursuit of the Elamite army, who were already worn down from the Battle of Siddim. When they caught up with them at Dan, Abram devised a battle plan by splitting his group into more than one unit, and launched a night raid. Not only were they able to free the captives, Abram's unit chased and slaughtered the Elamite King Chedorlaomer at Hobah, just north of Damascus. They freed Lot, as well as his household and possessions, and recovered all of the goods from Sodom that had been taken. (Genesis 14:13–16). Upon Abram's return, Sodom's king came out to meet with him in the Valley of Shaveh, the "king's dale". Also, Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem), a priest of God Most High, brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram and God. Abram then gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. The king of Sodom then offered to let Abram keep all the possessions if he would merely return his people. Although he released the captives, Abram refused any reward from the king of Sodom, other than the share to which his allies were entitled. (Genesis 14:17–24). The word of God came to Abram in a vision and repeated the promise of the land and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram and God made a covenant ceremony, and God told of the future bondage of Israel in Egypt. God described to Abram the land that his offspring would claim: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites. (Genesis 15:1–21). Abram and Sarai tried to make sense of how he would become a progenitor of nations since after 10 years of living in Canaan, no child had been born. Sarai then offered her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, for Abram to consort with so that he may have a child by her, as his wife. After Hagar found she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress, Sarai. Therefore, Sarai mistreated Hagar, and Hagar fled away. En route an angel spoke with Hagar at the fountain in the way to Shur. He instructed her to return and that her son would be "a wild ass of a man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren." She was told to call her son Ishmael. Hagar then called God who spoke to her "El-roi", From that day, the well was called Beer-lahai-roi, ("The well of him that liveth and seeth me." KJV margin). She then did as she was instructed by returning to her mistress in order to have her child. Abram was eighty-six years of age when Ishmael was born. (Genesis 16:4–16). Thirteen years later, when Abram was ninety-nine years of age, God declared Abram's new name: "Abraham" – "a father of many nations" (Genesis 17:5). Abraham then received the instructions for the covenant, of which circumcision was to be the sign.(Genesis 17:10–14) Then God declared Sarai's new name: "Sarah" and blessed her and told Abraham, "I will give thee a son also of her". (Genesis 17:15–16) But Abraham laughed, and "said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?'" (Genesis 17:17) Immediately after Abraham's encounter with God, he had his entire household of men, including himself (age 99) and Ishmael (age 13), circumcised. (Genesis 17:22–27). Not long afterward, during the heat of the day, Abraham had been sitting at the entrance of his tent by the terebinths of Mamre. He looked up and saw three men in the presence of God. Then he ran and bowed to the ground to welcome them. Abraham then offered to wash their feet and fetch them a morsel of bread, of which they assented. Abraham rushed to Sarah's tent to order cakes made from choice flour, then he ordered a servant-boy to prepare a choice calf. When all was prepared, he set curds, milk and the calf before them, waiting on them, under a tree, as they ate. (Genesis 18:1–8). One of the visitors told Abraham that upon his return next year, Sarah would have a son. While at the tent entrance, Sarah overheard what was said and she laughed to herself about the prospect of having a child at their ages. The visitor inquired of Abraham why Sarah laughed at bearing a child at her age, as nothing is too hard for God. Frightened, Sarah denied laughing. After eating, Abraham and the three visitors got up. They walked over to the peak that overlooked the 'cities of the plain' to discuss the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah for their detestable sins that were so great, it moved God to action. Because Abraham's nephew was living in Sodom, God revealed plans to confirm and judge these cities. At this point, the two other visitors left for Sodom. Then Abraham turned to God and pleaded decrementally with Him (from fifty persons to less) that "if there were at least ten righteous men found in the city, would not God spare the city?" For the sake of ten righteous people, God declared that he would not destroy the city. (Genesis 18:17–33). When the two visitors got to Sodom to conduct their report, they planned on staying in the city square. However, Abraham's nephew, Lot, met with them and strongly insisted that these two "men" stay at his house for the night. A rally of men stood outside of Lot's home and demanded that they bring out his guests so that they may "know" (v.5) them. However, Lot objected and offered his virgin daughters who had not "known" (v.8) man to the rally of men instead. They rejected that notion and sought to break down Lot's door to get to his male guests, (Genesis 19:1–9) thus confirming that their "cry" had waxed great before God, and they would be destroyed. (Genesis 19:12–13) Early the next morning, Abraham went to the place where he stood before God. He "looked out toward Sodom and Gomorrah" and saw what became of the cities of the plain, where not even "ten righteous" (v.18:32) had been found, as "the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace." (Genesis 19:27–29). Abraham settled between Kadesh and Shur in the land of the Philistines. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham openly claimed that Sarah was his sister. Upon discovering this news, King Abimelech had her brought to him. God then came to Abimelech in a dream and declared that taking her would result in death because she was a man's wife. Abimelech had not laid hands on her, so he inquired if he would also slay a righteous nation, especially since Abraham had claimed that he and Sarah were siblings. In response, God told Abimelech that he did indeed have a blameless heart and that is why he continued to exist. However, should he not return the wife of Abraham back to him, God would surely destroy Abimelech and his entire household. Abimelech was informed that Abraham was a prophet who would pray for him.(Genesis 20:1–7).Early next morning, Abimelech informed his servants of his dream and approached Abraham inquiring as to why he had brought such great guilt upon his kingdom. Abraham stated that he thought there was no fear of God in that place, and that they might kill him for his wife. Then Abraham defended what he had said as not being a lie at all: "And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." (Genesis 20:12) Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham, and gave him gifts of sheep, oxen, and servants; and invited him to settle wherever he pleased in Abimelech's lands. Further, Abimelech gave Abraham a thousand pieces of silver to serve as Sarah's vindication before all. Abraham then prayed for Abimelech and his household, since God had stricken the women with infertility because of the taking of Sarah. (Genesis 20:8–18). After living for some time in the land of the Philistines, Abimelech and Phicol, the chief of his troops, approached Abraham because of a dispute that resulted in a violent confrontation at a well. Abraham then reproached Abimelech due to his Philistine servant's aggressive attacks and the seizing of Abraham's well. Abimelech claimed ignorance of the incident. Then Abraham offered a pact by providing sheep and oxen to Abimelech. Further, to attest that Abraham was the one who dug the well, he also gave Abimelech seven ewes for proof. Because of this sworn oath, they called the place of this well: Beersheba. After Abimelech and Phicol headed back to Philistia, Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba and called upon "the name of the LORD, the everlasting God." (Genesis 21:22–34). As had been prophesied in Mamre the previous year (Genesis 17:21), Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, on the first anniversary of the covenant of circumcision. Abraham was "an hundred years old", when his son whom he named Isaac was born; and he circumcised him when he was eight days old. (Genesis 21:1–5) For Sarah, the thought of giving birth and nursing a child, at such an old age, also brought her much laughter, as she declared, "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." (Genesis 21:6–7) Isaac continued to grow and on the day he was weaned, Abraham held a great feast to honor the occasion. During the celebration, however, Sarah found Ishmael mocking; an observation that would begin to clarify the birthright of Isaac. (Genesis 21:8–13). Ishmael was fourteen years old when Abraham's son Isaac was born to a different mother, Sarah. Sarah had finally borne her own child, even though she had passed her child bearing period. When she found Ishmael teasing Isaac, Sarah told Abraham to send both Ishmael and Hagar away. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac's inheritance. Abraham was greatly distressed by his wife's words and sought the advice of his God. God told Abraham not to be distressed but to do as his wife commanded. God reassured Abraham that "in Isaac shall seed be called to thee." (Genesis 21:12) He also said that Ishmael would make a nation, "because he is thy seed". (Genesis 21:9–13). Early the next morning, Abraham brought Hagar and Ishmael out together. He gave her bread and water and sent them away. The two wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba until her bottle of water was completely consumed. In a moment of despair, she burst into tears. After God heard the boy's voice, an angel of the Lord confirmed to Hagar that he would become a great nation. A well of water then appeared so that it saved their lives. As the boy grew, he became a skilled archer living in the wilderness of Paran. Eventually his mother found a wife for Ishmael from her home country, the land of Egypt. (Genesis 21:14–21). At some point in Isaac's youth, Abraham was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. The patriarch traveled three days until he came to the mount that God told him of. He commanded the servants to remain while he and Isaac proceeded alone into the mount. Isaac carried the wood upon which he would be sacrificed. Along the way, Isaac asked his father where the animal for the burnt offering was, to which Abraham replied "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering". Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was interrupted by the angel of the LORD, and he saw behind him a "ram caught in a thicket by his horns", which he sacrificed instead of his son. For his obedience he received another promise of numerous descendants and abundant prosperity. After this event, Abraham went to Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1–19). Sarah died, and Abraham buried her in the Cave of the Patriarchs (the "cave of Machpelah"), near Hebron which he had purchased along with the adjoining field from Ephron the Hittite. (Genesis 23:1–20) After the death of Sarah, Abraham took another wife, a concubine named Keturah, by whom he had six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. (Genesis 25:1–6) According to the Bible, reflecting the change of his name to "Abraham" meaning "a father of many nations", Abraham is considered to be the progenitor of many nations mentioned in the Bible, among others the Israelites, Ishmaelites (Genesis 25:12–18), Edomites (Genesis 36:1–43), Amalekites (Genesis 36:12–16), Kenizzites (Genesis 36:9–16), Midianites and Assyrians (Genesis 25:1–5), and through his nephew Lot he was also related to the Moabites and Ammonites. (Genesis 19:35–38) Abraham lived to see his son marry Rebekah, (and possibly to see the birth of his twin grandsons Jacob and Esau). He died at age 175, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah by his sons Isaac and Ishmael. (Genesis 25:7–10 1Chronicles 1:32). In the early and middle 20th century, leading archaeologists such as William F. Albright, and biblical scholars such as Albrecht Alt, believed that the patriarchs and matriarchs were either real individuals or believable composites of people who lived in the "patriarchal age", the 2nd millennium BCE. But, in the 1970s, new arguments concerning Israel's past and the biblical texts challenged these views; these arguments can be found in Thomas L. Thompson's The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives (1974), and John Van Seters' Abraham in History and Tradition (1975). Thompson, a literary scholar, based his argument on archaeology and ancient texts. His thesis centered on the lack of compelling evidence that the patriarchs lived in the 2nd millennium, and noted how certain biblical texts reflected first millennium conditions and concerns. Van Seters examined the patriarchal stories and argued that their names, social milieu, and messages strongly suggested that they were Iron Age creations. William G. Dever has stated that by the beginning of the 21st century, archaeologists had "given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible 'historical figures'". Abraham's name is apparently very ancient, as the tradition found in Genesis no longer understands its original meaning (probably "Father is exalted" – the meaning offered in Genesis 17:5, "Father of a multitude", is a popular etymology). The story, like those of the other patriarchs, most likely had a substantial oral prehistory. At some stage the oral traditions became part of the written tradition of the Pentateuch; a majority of scholars believes this stage belongs to the Persian period, roughly 520–320 BCE. The mechanisms by which this came about remain unknown, but there are currently two important hypotheses. The first, called Persian Imperial authorisation, is that the post-Exilic community devised the Torah as a legal basis on which to function within the Persian Imperial system; the second is that Pentateuch was written to provide the criteria for who would belong to the post Exilic Jewish community and to establish the power structures and relative positions of its various groups, notably the priesthood and the lay "elders". Nevertheless, the completion of the Torah and its elevation to the centre of post-Exilic Judaism was as much or more about combining older texts as writing new ones – the final Pentateuch was based on existing traditions. In Ezekiel 33:24, written during the Exile (i.e., in the first half of the 6th century BCE), Ezekiel, an exile in Babylon, tells how those who remained in Judah are claiming ownership of the land based on inheritance from Abraham; but the prophet tells them they have no claim because they don't observe Torah. Isaiah 63:16 similarly testifies of tension between the people of Judah and the returning post-Exilic Jews (the "gôlâ"), stating that God is the father of Israel and that Israel's history begins with the Exodus and not with Abraham. The conclusion to be inferred from this and similar evidence (e.g., Ezra-Nehemiah), is that the figure of Abraham must have been preeminent among the great landowners of Judah at the time of the Exile and after, serving to support their claims to the land in opposition to those of the returning exiles. Abraham is given a high position of respect in three major world faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Judaism he is the founding father of the Covenant, the special relationship between the Jewish people and God – a belief which gives the Jews a unique position as the Chosen People of God. In Christianity, the Apostle Paul taught that Abraham's faith in God – preceding the Mosaic law – made him the prototype of all believers, circumcised and uncircumcised. The Islamic prophet Muhammad claimed Abraham, whose submission to God constituted islam, as a "believer before the fact" and undercut Jewish claims to an exclusive relationship with God and the Covenant. In Jewish tradition, Abraham is called Avraham Avinu (אברהם אבינו), "our father Abraham," signifying that he is both the biological progenitor of the Jews (including converts, according to Jewish tradition), and the father of Judaism, the first Jew. His story is read in the weekly Torah reading portions, predominantly in the parashot: Lech-Lecha (לֶךְ-לְךָ), Vayeira (וַיֵּרָא), Chayei Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה), and Toledot (תּוֹלְדֹת). Abraham does not loom so large in Christianity as he does in Judaism and Islam. It is Jesus as the Messiah who is central to Christianity, and the idea of a divine Messiah is what separates Christianity from the other two religions. In Romans 4, Abraham's merit is less his obedience to the divine will than his faith in God's ultimate grace; this faith provides him the merit for God having chosen him for the covenant, and the covenant becomes one of faith, not obedience. The Roman Catholic Church calls Abraham "our father in Faith" in the Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Canon, recited during the Mass (see Abraham in the Catholic liturgy). He is also commemorated in the calendars of saints of several denominations: on 20 August by the Maronite Church, 28 August in the Coptic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East (with the full office for the latter), and on 9 October by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. In the introduction to his 15th-century translation of the Golden Legend's account of Abraham, William Caxton noted that this patriarch's life was read in church on Quinquagesima Sunday. He is the patron saint of those in the hospitality industry. The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as the "Righteous Forefather Abraham", with two feast days in its liturgical calendar. The first time is on 9 October (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 9 October falls on 22 October of the modern Gregorian Calendar), where he is commemorated together with his nephew "Righteous Lot". The other is on the "Sunday of the Forefathers" (two Sundays before Christmas), when he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. Abraham is also mentioned in the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, just before the Anaphora, and Abraham and Sarah are invoked in the prayers said by the priest over a newly married couple. Judaism holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through birth, and Christianity that one becomes a descendant through faith, but Islam holds that descent is unimportant – Abraham, in other words, is not the father of the believing community, but a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Mohammad. Ibrāhīm is mentioned in 35 chapters of the Quran, more often than any other biblical personage apart from Moses. He is called both a hanif (monotheist) and muslim (one who submits), and Muslims regard him as a prophet and patriarch, the archetype of the perfect Muslim, and the revered reformer of the Kaaba in Mecca.[26] Islamic traditions consider Ibrāhīm (Abraham) the first Pioneer of Islam (which is also called millat Ibrahim, the "religion of Abraham"), and that his purpose and mission throughout his life was to proclaim the Oneness of God. In Islam, he is referred to as "Ibrahim El Khalil" (إبراهيم الخليل), meaning "Abraham the Friend [of Allah]". Paintings on the life of Abraham tend to focus on only a few incidents: the sacrifice of Isaac; meeting Melchizedek; entertaining the three angels; Hagar in the desert; and a few others. Additionally, Martin O'Kane, a professor of Biblical Studies, writes that the parable of Lazarus resting in the "Bosom of Abraham", as described in the Gospel of Luke, became an iconic image in Christian works. According to O'Kane, artists often chose to divert from the common literary portrayal of Lazarus sitting next to Abraham at a banquet in Heaven and instead focus on the "somewhat incongruous notion of Abraham, the most venerated of patriarchs, holding a naked and vulnerable child in his bosom". Several artists have been inspired by the life of Abraham, including Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), Caravaggio (1573–1610), Donatello, Raphael, Philip van Dyck (Dutch painter, 1680–1753), and Claude Lorrain (French painter, 1600–1682). Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1