The Odd One Out
Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
Three weeks, the birth of two foals, one problematic to the extent the vet had to attend and Colt had all but forgotten the light along the river. He had intended to investigate the following morning but on reaching the bridge decided it wasn't worth the effort, as the position of the light was at least a kilometre back from where the bridge crossed the river. It could wait and as there wasn't any obvious intrusion into the property and no reoccurrence, he decided it must have been kids fishing.
It was as Colt prepared his lunch he heard a woman's high pitched call from the open front door. He seldom closed his doors or windows, even during the night, unless windy.
"You home East?"
It had to be his Aunt Mavis as hardly anyone, except family called him East.
"I'm in the kitchen Mavis." Colt called back from a pan of sizzling eggs and bacon. He hadn't had breakfast so combined the two meals into one general fry-up. Colt added two half tomatoes to the pan, while the scent of frying bacon fill his nostrils, sending his taste into a frenzy of delight.
"Smells great," Mavis commented on entering into the broad well appointed kitchen. "It's a little late for breakfast isn't it East." She observed.
"Didn't have breakfast, its lunch as well."
"You shouldn't go without breakfast; it's the day's main meal." Mavis advocated sternly, while giving a most disapproving attitude towards what she believed to be a most unhealthy diet.
Colt refrained from answering, being accustomed to eating when his stomach told him to but arguing with his aunt was pointless.
Mavis dumped her large bag, resembling a chunk of colourful carpet with handles, onto the table and sat, releasing a loud foofing sound as she did so, causing her ample rear to overhang the small kitchen chair in a humorous and most uncomfortable fashion.
"Do you want some?" Colt offered.
"No but I could murder a cup of tea."
Colt filled the jug and continued with his frying.
"I notice you've got yourself a dog. It nearly licked me to death on the steps." Mavis declared noticing the lack of clutter around the room.
"Max is harmless."
"You're dad didn't like dogs." She commented, her eyes now beyond the kitchen into the emptiness of the passage. For the first time she could see all the way to the rear door. Colt poured the tea and commenced his meal.
"I do," Colt answered through a mouth full of toast and egg.
"Neither did you dear mother."
Mavis sipped at the brew, she smiled warmly, "but you make a better cup than your mother did."
"Is that so?" Colt remarked with a grin.
"How are you settling in on your own?" Mavis asked while rummaging through her oversized bag. One could only imagine what the woman carried in such a large container but by the clatter, they were many and varied.
"What about cooking, your mother was a good cook and never referred to a recipe book." Mavis found what she was looking for and produced a small volume of Martha's Cooking Delights, which she placed firmly on the table, tapping its cover twice with her index finger. Her eyes fixed deliberately on her nephew's plate of eggs and bacon.
"I get by," Colt assured and finished his runny eggs, mopping the yolk with a slice of fresh supermarket bread. He had only the previous day attempted to bake his own bread but ended with a burnt crusted lump of rock that even Max wouldn't eat. He left it for the birds but that morning discovered it remained where it was left, without a single peck mark.
"What you really need is a woman's touch." Again Mavis scanned the kitchen; it appeared to have had such an ambience. Tidy to fastidious and clean to perfection.
"Have you a girl friend East?" She asked, her voice lifting an octave.
"I keep my eyes open." Colt declared, attempting to sound sincere.
"How old are you now East, twenty-three?" Mavis asked.
"Hold on Aunt Mavis, I'm still twenty-one." Colt protested.
"Your dad married your mother at twenty and your Uncle Harry had two kids by nineteen and." Mavis quickly pulled back from completing her sentence, as if she had uttered some almost forgotten secret.
"Yea but Harry wasn't the marrying kind." Colt added, releasing a grin that silently declared, 'I've got one up on you there.'
"True but I don't want you turning out like Harry." Mavis' voice lowered into discomfort, realising using her brother Harry as an example may not have been in the best interest promoting the act of matrimony.
It was true Harry, his father's and Mavis' younger brother had produced two children before he was twenty but not to the same girl and as for marrying, that was out of the question. On the birth of his second child, Harry declared he was gay and left town with the barman from the Railway Hotel, never to be heard from again. As for his child, Judy, she grew up knowing she was a Blake but believed her father had died before she was born, which was a secrete the family had held and kept from Judy throughout her life.
"Don't worry I'm not like Harry." Colt assured. That was factual, he wasn't. He would never declare his sexuality to anyone or run off with any of the town's men, besides the true structure of his sexuality had not yet developed only existing in the shadows of his mind. Pushed back into a dimly lit corner where even he would not progress.
Mavis fiddled with the book's cover. She changed the subject, as that of Harry wasn't worth her memory.
"I noticed you've tided up a bit?"
"Just a little," Colt washed his meal dishes.
"Where did you put everything?"
"I didn't, I burnt the lot," As he spoke Mavis' face turned white with disbelief, then red with anger.
"Everything," She choked on the word.
"Everything – broken furniture, clothes books the lot." Colt declared proudly.
"Some of that stuff was worth money, what about Jillian's jewellery?"
"Oh that is still in one of the drawers, do you want it?" Colt offered.
"Rather than have it burnt, or given to strangers," Mavis cadged but it wasn't her sister-in-law's jewellery she had come for. "What I was actually after was stuff for the Opp-shop."
Mavis had not visited the farm for quite some time and seeing the shop's stock was running low and Colt would have no need for his parent's ample collection, he may donate some towards her cause.
"Sorry Mavis, you should have let me know earlier, you could have had it all." Colt insincerely apologised.
He had forgotten his aunt ran the local Opp-Shop, often approaching his mother for cast outs but mostly without success, as an avid bowerbird her sister-in-law wasn't easily parted with her collection and both Jillian and Stan had been bowerbirds.
"Well I suppose." Mavis sighed.
"Sorry but I tell you what, there's a locked shed around the back and I've only recently found the key. If there's anything you can use in the shed you can have it for the shop." Colt offered.
"That wasn't the only reason for my visit." Mavis answered, placing matters of collection for the shop aside.
Colt didn't appear to be listening. Standing at the double sink, cleaning cloth in hand, his focus was through the large window towards the tree lined bank of the river, he appeared angered. A number of his horses were in the river paddock and shouldn't have been so. Someone had left the gate between the two paddocks open and he knew it hadn't been him. "Bloody kids," Colt almost spat out the words.
From that paddock the river was the fence line and at that time of the year the water would be low enough for his horses to cross to the main road beyond. There they could cause an accident, or once again bring him into conflict with the town's council. There was also the chance that brumby stallions could run off with his brood mares.
Colt had previously been warned about wandering stock and told to fence the river. He had agreed but wished to place the divide on the far bank which was town land. That idea was soon rejected. So in jest he sarcastically suggested a fence down the middle of the river, to which he received a most indignant refusal. Eventually he compromised, promising not to stock the river paddock during low river levels.
"What's the problem?" Mavis asked. Colt explained.
Mavis disregarded her nephew's concern, continuing with her other reason for her visit.
"You know your Cousin Judy is turning twenty-one and were having a party for her." Mavis asked.
"No I didn't, I haven't seen her in ages."
"Well she is and the party is at my place and you are expected to be there." Mavis demanded, "you will come?" She added sternly.
"Suppose so, who else will be there?" Colt enquired his voice flat and disinterested, imagining it would be a gathering of giggling women. He always felt out of place amongst girls, older women were fine but those of his own age appeared to be flippant and talk in sexual riddles from behind hands and apologise for everything, even when not at fault.
"That I couldn't say, Judy is doing the inviting but I suppose Dennis will be there."
Colt refrained from discussing the party further. She had been another of the Blake family's indiscretions, being the second daughter to his Uncle Harry and living with her still unmarried mother, but Colt had one final question the devil in him forced to surface.
"Will Uncle Harry be there?" With the question Colt's lips developed into an almost smile, he turned away to avoid detection.
"I hope not, besides no one has seen Harry since he left. For all anyone knows he could have died from that homosexual disease. Besides you know better than to bring up Harry's name around Judy."
It was plainly obvious Mavis had not forgiven her brother and had no wish to converse on the matter. She collected her bag, placed it under her left arm and stood to leave. "You will come?" She repeated.
"Yes, when is it?"
"Saturday week around seven but I know you East so don't come up with one of your usual excuses to avoid family."
"I said I'll be there and I will."
"Right then, I'll be on my way and I'll see you Saturday week and don't forget your promise about what's in that shed for the shop."
On her way out Mavis diverted her attention to the rest of the house going from room to room. Finding some sparsely furnished, simple to functional, others completely empty. At each doorway she paused, huffed and shook her head in disbelief.
"East your dear parents would roll in their grave." She commented on reaching what was once their bedroom. The bed with its four posted splendour remained, as did a small cupboard but the boxes of clothing, props and books and other various items of useless jumble that once skirted the walls, had all been fed to the fire.
"Most of it was junk Mavis, not worth recycling." Colt protested.
"I'm sure some could have gone to the shop, a lot of the clothing was new but it's done now." The woman grimaced and sighed then sighed again. "Don't forget the party, you cousin expects you to be there."
"I said I'd be there." Colt concluded.
"Thankyou for the cuppa, I'll be off then." As Mavis managed the stairs, Max decided it would be fun to race her down, almost toppling the woman as he passed. "East - control your dog!" Mavis complained loudly, clutching onto the railing for support. Colt apologised and called Max back as Mavis safely completed her descent.
Colt, his hands resting on the verandah rail, watched as his aunt drove away along the gravel road leading to the bridge. She appeared to pause before crossing as if recalling the memory of her brother's accident then cautiously crossed over its somewhat precarious planks, before accelerating out of sight among the tall trees that lined the short driveway towards the main road.
Alone once more, Colt's thoughts turned to his Uncle Harry. How old would he be? He was around twenty when Colt was born, so supposedly would now be in his early forties. He had never seen a photograph of his uncle, although there was a single snapshot in the shoe box with those of his parents; that may have been Harry; A short handsome man with long dark hair and a dangerous smile. Was that Harry?
The man in the photo wore designer jeans and tee shirt, his ample chest pushing through the material and the faintest hint of something hiding behind the fly buttons of his jeans. Colt's eyes had been drawn to that part of the man's anatomy, then as quickly diverted realising the consistency of his thoughts. If the image was of Harry he was surely a handsome man but where could he be. Was Mavis correct and Harry had circum to her suggested homosexual disease? Maybe he had died as no one had heard of him since leaving, not even a letter to his brother Stan and they were supposed to be close during their early years.
If he were to meet his uncle, what would he say? "Hi Harry, I believe you're gay, so am I." He didn't think so. Colt could hardly admit the fact to himself never mind another person. Besides in his opinion he was only gay in thought and not in action, as he had never experienced sexual pleasure with another man. Unless one included being molested by the school's football coach when he was fifteen as a homosexual act. If so, then his coach was gay, he was the one instigating the action. Colt's only other sexual experience was with Maddy Ferguson around the same time as the incident with his football coach and that lasted all of one nervous clumsy minute.
Maddy Ferguson had followed Colt around for most of that school year. Eventually they, at her request and persistence, connected and the scrub behind the school yard became their experimental laboratory. Prickles grit and all.
With her dress high her underwear low, Colt endeavoured to mount Maddy but she hadn't accounted for fit. She was virginal and tight, he inexperienced and large. The two didn't connect. Maddy gasped as Colt attempted entry and pushed him away but alas too late, the excitement of it all brought the lad to early climax and he did so across Maddy's dress. They both laughed and his first and only experience with the opposite sex ended within the span of less than one minute. Sixty short seconds of sexual frustration.
Colt's thoughts returned to his uncle. Who was the young barman Harry had eloped with? No one ever mentioned his name, only there had been a young man who worked at the pub. It appeared the town had buried its scandal in perpetual silence. Besides it had been many years since then and most had forgotten the incident and the name of Harry Blake.
Occasionally Colt would receive ribbing from his cricket or football mates, relating his uncle's persona to that of his own but in good humour without the stain of accusation smearing his moral fibre. Harry was no longer a memory, only a scandal whispered in humour around the table at family gatherings, considered folklore and hearsay. To most Harry had died young and to Judy that was fact.
Colt accepted their wit without feeling his own character threatened, as he hadn't known his uncle and if the gossip was true, it occurred long ago, in a different world and before he existed. Besides in today's social currency Harry would most probably become a celebrity.
Many of his mates had never seen Colt with a girl and he seldom spoke crudely as they did, of how he would love to mount this one or that, which was given over to his coyness. If he were to speak about the fairer sex, it would be clumsily delivered, done in the attempt to divert attention away from his actual thoughts.
During Colt's final year of school he did have a girl friend. She like Maddy Ferguson had followed him for most of that final school term but unlike Maddy, Lyn lacked the will to experiment sexually before a ring had been placed firmly on her finger. Lyn Nevil was her name and her father was the school's head teacher, who kept his daughter tightly reined in when it came to boys. That suited Colt fine and even a night out at the pictures had to be shared with Lyn's Sister Beverly in attendance. Once the show was over there was a mad dash to beat her curfew and once home, her father would be waiting at the door to avoid a stolen kiss.
There had been also Saturday afternoons with Lyn, enjoying a soft drink and chips at the Black Cat Cafe but as always there was Beverley. Eventually Colt broke off the relationship as his mates were ribbing him, saying he was dating both sisters, suggesting he was bonking both. His termination was issued only days before her father received word of the bonking rumour and although it lacked substance, forbid his daughter from seeing Colt or any other boy.
Without regret Colt finished with Lyn Nevil and once that final school year was behind him, he mostly kept to the farm and his horses, only going into town for shopping and the occasional visit to his Aunt Mavis. There was always his sport and after a game would enjoy a drink with his mates at either the Cricket Club or one of the hotel bars. Then only a few short months later there was the accident and demise of his parents, Colt quickly discovered their demise and his supposed mourning was a good excuse not to date, allowing himself to settle into celibacy and his thoughts.
The locked shed had been known throughout Colt's youth as the Blockhouse due to its square stone design. In his Grandfather's time it was the Handyman's cottage. Consisting of a number of small rooms but once out of use the dividing walls were removed, the windows blackened and it became a storage shed and quite a large one at that.
In those early years, Colt's Grandfather had a number of workmen but that was during the days when the property was a working cattle run. It was much larger then, before Colt's father had, for no apparent reason and not for the need of money, sold off a greater portion of the holding to a neighbour who as quickly subdivided the purchase into hobby farm blocks of around five hectares each. Over the years many of the small holdings failed and the land became divided for housing to service the growing population.
Stan had earlier attempted to obtain Council approval to subdivide without success, while his neighbour Jim Chalky was on the Council's planning committee and a fist full of dollars in the right direction approved anything. The ink of Chalky's signature was hardly dry on the contract before subdivision was approved but Stan didn't complain, believing he had received a reasonable price. Besides it was poor land and seldom utilized, except when the Circus visited town and permission was given to raise the big top.
Beside the Blockhouse was once the worker's quarters, now long gone. Destroyed in a bushfire that took with it most of Grandfather Blake's stock and a portion of the town. The only reminder that the quarters existed was the baked soil where the flames had leached the goodness from the ground. Now what grass grew on that rectangle of darkened baked clay was sparse and spindled.
Colt approached the Blockhouse; key in hand and with much difficulty the old rusting key entered into the lock but would not budge its mechanism. Too many years had passed since the lock was last activated. Too many storms upon the greying split timber of the door, too much time without the use of oil. A final forceful turn and the key snapped in the lock.
"Shit that tore it!" Colt hissed at the broken end of the key. He shoved violently at the door but it didn't budge. Kicking the door he hurt his foot, "fuck!" he cried loudly while hopping around on one leg while reaching for his boot. Sitting he removed the boot and rubbed vigorously at his toes. The hurt subsided into a dull throbbing.
Recovering from his hurt toes, Colt gave up on the door and moved to the weather side, where the wall had been removed and replaced with two large barn doors. They proved to be as equally challenging.
"I'll break one of the windows." He muttered rhetorically but on reaching for some solid implement, was interrupted by the sound of his telephone. Having to sprint the short distance to the house, he found the toes gave him enough pain to send him hopping at a slower pace.
"Hello!" He shouted into the receiver, puffing from the run.
"Colt," The caller inquired inquisitively, not being use to Colt raising his voice above that of a whisper.
"Yea who's that?" At first Colt didn't recognise the caller's voice, as his thoughts were still with how to open the Blockhouse door and his throbbing toes.
"It's Eric - you do know you've been picked for Saturday's cricket match?" Eric asked.
"No I didn't, I thought after the duck and my past two performances, I would have been dropped." Colt laughed.
"So George hasn't been in contact?" Eric didn't appear surprised.
"He was going to give you a call a couple of night's back but he's been on the booze again." Eric paused, "you're in mate." He added.
"Who are we playing?" Colt asked.
"Again, that came up fast."
"Short season this year, two teams dropped out so like the footy, everyone plays twice."
"Oh," Colt became quiet.
"What's the grief mate, you scared of another quacker?"
"No it's not that."
It was as well his thoughts could not be transferred along the copper wiring of the telephone line, as the Wanderers was Wyse's team and instantly the vision of Charlie Wyse and his waddle to the bowling crease returned and as vivid as it had been on the day of their last meeting.
"Are you still there?" Eric questioned.
"Sorry I was thinking of how I was going to open a shed door." Colt lied.
"Never mind the bloody shed door, will you be playing?"
"Yea I suppose so."
"I'll pick you up around ten Saturday morning."
"How about going to the pub for a couple of drinks tonight?" Eric suggested.
"We'll see, I'll give you a call later on, my mind is on something else right now." Colt ended the call and returned to the Block House but soon lost interest, there was always another day.
This time the game ended in victory for the home team and fortunately, because of his dislike for left handed spin bowling, added to his last innings fiasco against the Wanderers, Colt was moved to bat at four and by then Wyse's left arm had lost its sting. He had faced the spin bowler late in his innings and after hitting him for two sixes and three fours, Wyse was reluctantly removed from bowling to Colt and Colt went on to make a hundred and three before being clean bowled by a ball from the rough.
During the days leading up to the game, a Council truck had missed the slight turn at the pavilion and slammed into the facility wall, knocking out the visitors showers, therefore they had to share facilities with the home team.
It was decided to allow the visiting team first use of the home team's facilities but being a hot day most of the Wanderers had joined the opposition in the club house to refresh with a cold beer before showering. Colt, noticing Wyse settled at the end of the bar, in conversation with a group of his team, decided to join the visitors and shower before Charlie did. Not wishing to be caught naked in the presence of the bowler, otherwise his attraction to the lad could become a little more transparent than he may wish for.
On entry Colt found the changing rooms almost empty. Bill Firth, the opposition Keeper was showering and two other Wanderers had finished and in conversation while dressing. Colt stripped and commenced his shower. The two Wanderers gave him a glance before leaving in humoured dialogue.
"Good hit mate." Bill commented, while standing with his back towards Colt, soaping his hair covered shoulders. The lather made the dark growth appear even darker and denser, as if he had smudges of dirt across his back.
The soapy water ran from the keeper's broad shoulders to meet the even thicker forest of black hair covering his massive rear end, becoming denser in the small of the keeper's back. Firth turned as he spoke displaying an even more enormous gut that hung like a verandah over a black matted bush and button dick. Turning Colt smiled and thanked the keeper for his comment.
"Have you thought of playing District?" Bill asked while manhandling his button appendage and low swung goose eggs with ample frothy water.
"Na Bill, I don't think I'll bother playing next season at all." Colt answered; his gaze consciously towards the facility entrance and away from the Keeper's cleaning procedure.
"You should you know, I reckon you're good enough for State, maybe the National team; we could do with the likes of you in our lot."
As Bill spoke and to Colt's horror the door opened and Charlie Wyse entered in conversation with another of the Wanderer's bowlers. Colt turned away as Bill Firth finish his shower and turned off the water.
"Shit," Colt silently whispered while lowering his head and concentrating on the speckled concrete floor of the shower recess. If it wasn't for the fact that he had lathered himself with soap he would have made a quick exit but before he could wash away the suds, Charlie Wyse was under the shower beside him.
"Nice bash Russell," Wyse remarked as he turned on the water.
"Thanks, your bowling wasn't that ordinary either." Colt answered his gaze still directed towards the concreted floor as he quickly washed away the soap.
"You do well for someone who doesn't like left handed bowling." Wyse commented.
Colt quickly glanced across towards Wyse then back to the floor. The glimpse gave him enough time to appreciate the strength of his opponent's well muscled back, his formed backside, lightly dusted with short blond hair, to the power in his calves. Even a Greek statue couldn't do better justice. Another glance and Colt believed Charlie was returning interest. Quickly he finished his shower and moved to the long wooden bench adjacent to the showers, using his towel to cover a most impressive rising indiscretion.
"You have a property just outside of town?" Charlie enquired as he turned to face Colt.
"Yes," Colt answered finding that no matter how he endeavoured not to admire Charlie's body his eyes, as if magnetic, could not resist such a rewarding temptation.
"You don't drive?" Charlie asked. Closing his eyes as the fall of water massaged his handsome face, then allowing the flow to fill his mouth he forced it out forcefully like a fountain onto the floor.
"I do but I haven't a vehicle at the moment." Colt turned away and vigorously dried his hair. "You seem to know a lot about me." He suggested somewhat impatiently.
"Not really, I heard some of your team mates talking at the bar. If you don't have a car how do you get about?"
"I manage, besides my place isn't that far from town and I have horses, or I walk."
"You actually ride a horse into town?" Charlie asked somewhat surprised.
"Na - did once but much too dangerous these days, I mostly ride the country roads or the Crown Land across the river. Do your ride?" Colt asked.
"I sorta can but don't have access to horses since my uncle sold his property; I don't much like riding 'tho." Charlie answered.
Charlie turned off the water. His sports bag and clothes were a step away from where Colt was dressing. Coming uncomfortably close to Colt's side he stood for a moment, hands on narrow hips while vacantly looking down on his opposition. It was momentarily, a second, maybe half a second but sometimes such a short unnecessary instant appears uncomfortably longer and can say more than a lengthy conversation.
Colt could feel blood pulse at his temples, his throat dry and his vocabulary gone. If he were game he could have reached a single arm's length and touched Charlie, instead he trembled violently. He could feel the tremble in his knees, in his arms and his stomach muscles tightened until they hurt. He quickly reached for his shoes and forced effort into pulling them on, realising his feet were still wet and his socks lay neatly on the bench at his side. Had Charlie recognised his nervous disposition?
Quickly removing his shoes, he reached for the socks and without drying his feet pulled them on. Charlie was now bent towards his sports bag, his naked backside pointing in full view. Colt quickly moved away as Charlie retrieved underwear and pulled them on.
Colt released a relieving smile as Charlie's jocks were covered with small teddy-bears in blue and red and orange, lacking even a miniscule measure of masculinity. Charlie noticed the smile.
"What?" He said quizzically almost a whisper.
"Nice underwear." Colt commented breaking his nervous disposition as Charlie pulled his jeans towards his waist.
"It's my mother's sense of humour." Charlie offered.
"My mother was a little like that." Colt concurred.
"You said was."
"Yes both parents are now gone." Colt offered without displaying regret.
"Oh, sorry," Charlie sympathised as he shouldered his kit bag.
"No worries, I'm alright with it all."
"What direction is your place?" Charlie asked.
"It's just before the Miller road turn off; why?"
"That's on my way, do you want a lift?"
Colt accepted the lift and asked to be dropped at the turning; he would walk the rest of the way.
"Thanks for the ride; my place is just beyond the bridge and first driveway to the left, you can't miss the house, it's the one with the wide verandahs. Drop in for a beer any time you're passing." Colt courteously offered, as he pointed in the direction of his farm.
"Sure thing," Charlie agreed, he winked and within an instant was gone.
"I should have invited him in." Colt thought as he watched Charlie's battered white utility disappear into the late afternoon.
"Why would you do that?" He softly sighed as the dust from the disappearing vehicle settled and a Semi approached from the opposite direction. He moved aside to allow Semi to pass before turning away from the road. With Charlie gone, his gait slow he allowed his thoughts to dwell on the spin bowler.
"He's a good looking rooster." Colt added rhetorically as he crossed the bridge. Momentarily pausing, he peered into the now shallow water below the bridge. For an instant the vision of his parents' demise flashed upon the inward mind. Once again he saw the Citroen bobbing about in the spring flood, he heard his parents arguing as the vehicle hit the bridge, then as quickly the image was gone and his thoughts returned to Charlie and his cheeky smile and wink as he departed.
"Forget about him Colt, you wouldn't know what to do anyhow." He growled. But Colt couldn't forget and Charlie's naked image remained strong, even into the evening when it fuelled his frustration and relief.
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