The Odd One Out
Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
As their vehicle crossed the bridge to home the boys noticed a police car parked on the gravel close by the front steps.
"Hello what's going on here?" Colt declared inquisitively from half out of the car door before Charlie brought the vehicle to stop. Cautiously he approached the parked police vehicle but found no sign of its driver or Dennis and no Max rushing to greet him.
Hearing voices coming from the stables, Colt hurried to investigate, finding Sergeant Clem Ryan and his constable busy binning out horse fodder.
"Will this be enough?" The young constable asked of his sergeant, holding up a large plastic container of fodder for his approval.
"Should be, you don't want to overfeed them on oats. Ryan wisely advised from experience, been brought up amongst horses and farm stock.
"Beautiful animal," Ryan commented running his hand along the rump a dark brown mare.
As Ryan spoke, catching sight of Colt coming across the yard at pace, he paused and called. "You're back young fellow."
"Evening Mr. Ryan, what's happened to Dennis?"
Ryan turned to his constable, Troy you finish up here while I have a word with young Blake."
The two walked back to the house where Charlie was out of the car and waiting at the base of the stairs.
"You know Russell, I Could kill for a beer." Ryan stated, wiping the fodder dust from his lips.
"I'll get it," Charlie volunteered, what about your constable?" He called back from the top of the stairs.
"None for young Fisher, he's driving." sergeant Ryan ordered.
Charlie returned with two beers, he handed one to the sergeant and offered the other to Colt, who refused. Charlie placed the can on the bottom step.
"What's happened to Dennis?" Colt once again asked thinking the worse. Dennis was a most dangerous driver and Colt on many an occasion had refused to drive with him. Believing he must have had an accident, imagining his cousin's scrawny body spread across the road at the two mile or half way up some road side tree.
"He's in the cells," Ryan answered and downed half the can of been in one gulp. "Ah that tastes great." He appraised with a wide satisfied smile.
"What's he done?" Colt questioned.
"He was caught with drugs." Ryan answered somewhat phlegmatically.
"What dealing?" For sure it had to be so; Dennis was known to push a gram or two of weed but nothing too drastic and never the hard drugs.
"Na we caught him with two cigs of marijuana, nothing else and decided to teach the cheeky little bugger a lesson and left him in the cells for a couple of days." Ryan appeared most satisfied with his decision. He continued, "He was panicking about your horses and I promised to feed them while he's cooling off." Ryan finished his drink.
"Want another beer?" Colt offered seeing the policeman had gone beyond his call of duty.
"I wouldn't say no."
Colt offered the can Charlie had left on the bottom step.
"Have you seen the dog? Colt asked almost forgetting about Max.
"It's with your Aunt Mavis, kept coming into town looking for Dennis, I was going to lock them in the same cell.
"What about Dennis?" Colt asked.
"Tell you what young fellow, come by around ten in the morning and you can collect him." Ryan passed the empty can to Colt and called to his Constable, "Hey Fisher you can finish up in there now." Moments later his Constable arrived covered in fodder dust.
"Russell I'll leave the rest to you, I have to be back in town."
"Sure and once again thankyou for looking after the horses, I'll see you around ten tomorrow."
True to his word sergeant Ryan released Dennis right on ten giving a strong warning, next time he would be charged. Very sheepishly Dennis thanked the officer and sat himself in the utility.
"Where's your car?" Colt asked.
"The sergeant drove it around to mum's and left it there." Dennis answered.
"Do you want to go and collect it?"
"Not at the moment, mum's on the warpath, when Ryan spoke to her she said I could stay in the cell. Could I stay with you for a couple of days until she cools off?"
"Where are you staying at the moment?" Colt asked, knowing Dennis was somewhat transient in his abode.
"No where permanent."
"What does that mean?" Colt asked.
"It means I was staying at Terry Watts but his parents are back so I'm staying with mum for a few days but I don't think she will have for much longer than that."
"What about your parents?" Colt asked, referring to his cousin's adopted family but Dennis refrained from answering.
Colt reluctantly agreed providing he didn't bring any drugs. Dennis admitted Ryan had found the last in his possession and swore himself of drugs but he was of weak character and it would only take a little coxing and the chance to make a dollar and his promise would quickly diminish.
Colt dropped his cousin back to the farm before driving to Mavis' to collect the dog and true to form Mavis was in full flight, disowning her son, wishing never to set eyes on him again and as for allowing him to stay, that was not out of the question. Mavis had her reputation with the Woman's Association to consider and a drug dealing son would never sit well with the Association's old girls.
Dennis was shown to his bedroom and seeing he hadn't showered since being locked in the cells, was thrown a towel and told to clean himself up before dinner.
"I hope you have hot water." Dennis said being directed to the bathroom.
"Of course we do, why?"
"Watts doesn't, their hot water service has broken down and there's nothing worse than a cold shower."
"I'd agree to that." Colt concurred.
While Dennis showered Charlie checked the computer for any reply on the Doomben placing. There was an answer but it only supplied the same information Charlie had originally found on the internet.
"What's our next move?" Colt asked as Dennis half naked entered the room, drying his hair.
"Good question." Charlie answered.
"Something else just occurred to me." Colt momentarily held his breath. He continued. "It's quite possible Toby was given another name by his new family. He may no longer be called Toby. He could be called anything."
"Got any good porn?" Dennis enquired and approached, squinting at the monitor.
"Don't you think you're skinny enough as it is, any more wanking and you'll disappear completely?" Colt commented running his eyes over his narrow gutted cousin.
"Or go blind." Charlie added.
Dennis viewed the email. "Doomben cup, I didn't know you were into horse racing; got any good tips?" He commented as the second towel loosely wrapped around his waist fell to the floor, displaying a most undersized member and skinny hairy arse. Without showing any sign of embarrassment he rewrapped the towel around his midriff.
"I'm not. I'm searching for my younger brother Toby." Colt answered, feeling overwhelmed with disappointment.
"I met a feller named Toby in town some time back, when you were over at Harrison's with the horses."
"How come you didn't say anything about it, not even to your mother?" Colt asked astonished at Dennis' account.
"I didn't know you wanted to know; besides he wasn't looking for you. He wanted to trace his birth parents and when I told him they were dead he wasn't interested in anyone else." Dennis finished his drying and continued. "I told him there was a memorial plaque in the cemetery and he went there to have a geek at it. Besides I wasn't aware you had a brother."
"Wouldn't asking about my parents raise you interest?"
Dennis shrugged at the suggestion, he was so indifferent he may as well been talking about the weather, or what he had for lunch instead of a long lost cousin.
"Didn't you tell him you were his cousin?" Colt asked showing an increasing measure of anger.
"Nope, I thought if I did he might sting me for money."
"Thanks a lot mate." Colt hotly rebuffed his cousin.
"Don't blame me, how was I to know you were looking for him."
"I don't suppose you know where he went by any chance?" Colt controlled his anger, realising it wasn't Dennis' fault for not having said something earlier.
"Sure I do – well I did then, who knows now." Dennis answered.
"Alright where was he?"
"He said he was working as a ringer on Forest Home Station."
"Where's that?" Colt demanded.
"I don't know, I didn't ask him." Dennis answered, his tone remaining as apathetical as his interest was in his long lost relation.
"It's a good start Colt, leave it tonight and well do a search for the station tomorrow." Charlie suggested and switched off the computer.
"Dennis go and put some clothes on dinner will be ready soon." Colt suggested. Dennis left the room, removing his towel, again displaying his skinny backside.
Once out of hearing Charlie spoke.
"Are you sure Dennis is your cousin?" He whispered.
"I suppose so, why?"
"He doesn't take after you down there." Charlie was quite engrossed with the difference in appendage size.
"Maybe he takes after his father." Colt assumed.
"Who was Dennis' father?"
"I'm afraid that is the sixty-four dollar question."
"What's for dinner?" Dennis asked, returning fully dressed to the room.
"You will have to ask Charlie, he's doing the cooking tonight, something burnt I should think." Colt answered as Charlie humorously displayed a perpendicular finger from the doorway.
"Don't suppose you could spare a couple of beers?" Dennis asked
"Come on well all have one before eating." Colt led the way to the lounge while Charlie fetched the beer. Passing them around Charlie announced the menu, "As for dinner Dennis its stew and regarding to what your cousin has suggested, it's not burnt." He paused and smiled, "but if you want it burnt, I can easily arrange it so."
After their meal the three retired to the lounge where Dennis, discourteously turned on the television and tuned to some American Football replay, increasing the volume to a level that one would have to shout to be heard. Immediately Colt lowered the sound. "Are you deaf mate?" He protested.
"You play football."
"Yea but not this rubbish,"
"Does anyone play cards?" Dennis asked, loosing interest in the television programming.
"Charlie does," Colt answered somewhat lackadaisically.
"Want a game?" Dennis proposed.
"What sort of game?" Charlie asked showing as little interest in Dennis' suggestion as Colt had.
"Do you have any money?" Colt questioned, knowing well his cousin was always skint.
"I've five dollars." Dennis answered proudly.
"You want to gamble with only five dollars?" Charlie declared somewhat amazed at Dennis' tenacity.
"It's enough I always win."
Neither Charlie nor Colt furnished an answer, leaving Dennis at a loose end for entertainment.
"I don't see any birds around the place?" Dennis perceived.
"There's a pack of crows out in the yard each morning if you're into bird watching."
"You know what I mean chicks, I thought famous cricketers like you two would have them crawling all over the place, panting to get a bit of dick."
"Your gross Dennis, what about yourself you're in your twenties; Married yet?" The sting in Colt's statement was no self respecting female would be interested in his cousin.
Dennis by no means could be considered unpleasant to the eye. He was rather on the small side in more ways than one and somewhat hairy but mostly in the right places. His face carried permanent happiness and even when worried or saddened remained so, as if its structure lacked the muscles to display negative emotion.
It is often said that short people become gregarious and extroverted to compensate for their statute. Dennis was definitely gregarious and like his mother, loved gossip and was capable of spreading it without concern for other people's feelings. To him it was all good humour and to hell with who may be hurt in the process.
Two more beers and Dennis' tongue loosened further. Much of what he had to say was centred on his sexual fantasies and fantasies they were, as Dennis' next sexual encounter, if one did not include hand contact, would be his first.
"What makes you think we'd be interested in your fantasies?" Colt snapped, stealing a glance towards Charlie, who rolled his eyes and changed the television channel. Finding nothing of interest he killed the power.
Dennis appeared to receive the message and lost his voice but not his thirst. "Do you mind if I get another beer?"
"Go for it." Colt apathetically agreed.
"I'm off to bed. I have to start my new job tomorrow." Charlie yawned, leaving Colt with his cousin.
Dennis watched attentively to which room Charlie retired to but Colt and Charlie had already decided to use separate rooms during Dennis' stay.
"I've heard rumours about you two." Dennis declared as Charlie closed his bedroom door.
"Who from?" Colt asked without showing concern.
"Oh just someone."
"Eric Chambers I bet. Dennis you shouldn't go listening to what Eric has to say, he's just stirring the pot."
"As a matter of fact it was Chambers." Dennis agreed.
"See it told you, he's always calling us Mr. And Mrs. Blake it's a club joke mate." Colt finished his beer. "I don't know about you but I'm off to bed."
"Do you mind if I have another before turning in?" Dennis asked.
"Sure but don't get too pissed, don't forget the lights and you know where the dunny is?"
Dennis nodded affirmatively as Colt prepared to leave.
"One more thing cousin?" Dennis spoke in his finest cadging voice.
"Could you do a big favour for me and collect my car from mum's place tomorrow?"
"Little boy too scared to face mummy eh?" Colt teased.
"Something to that effect," Dennis answered and watched Colt as he entered his own bedroom and closed the door.
Charlie was first up, having breakfast almost ready when Colt joined him in the kitchen. "No sign of Dennis yet?" Colt asked and poured himself a coffee.
"I heard him snoring like a chainsaw a few minutes ago; are you ready for breakfast?"
"Sure," Colt agreed, his head in the refrigerator for the milk, "shit how much did Dennis drink last night, he's becoming a right piss-pot."
"He did drink a bit." Charlie agreed. "You should see the lounge room, empty cans and cigarette butts everywhere. It looks like he had a party for one after we went to bed."
"I told him not to smoke in the house." Colt snapped out his irritation but realising being so was hopeless, he calmed.
"It seems he wasn't listening."
"What do you think of Dennis?" Colt asked.
"I can't rightly say, he's your cousin and it's not my place to do so."
Colt gave a chuckle. "Last night he suggested we were at it."
It was Charlie's turn for humour, recognising his friend's inability to say gay. "I suppose he can think what he likes but we haven't given anyone reason to think it, where did he get that idea anyway?"
"Eric I believe."
"Well there you go, no one except Dennis would take notice of Eric I wouldn't let it worry you." Charlie assured.
"I don't." Colt concluded.
"Do you want to drive me to work and have the car?" Charlie asked adding more bacon and eggs to the pan.
"No mate she's jake, I have to pick up Dennis' motor from Mavis' place. He's too frighten to face her." Colt laughed, "you know that feller is a right wuss."
"When it comes to his mother I don't blame him." Charlie concurred.
"Aw, she's not that bad, somewhat dogmatic but she would do anything for you."
"That is as long as you weren't homosexual." Charlie included.
"I don't know, all that about Harry has other connotations rather that his sexual preference. It's more to do with deserting Judy and her mother. She also believes he betrayed his position as the younger brother." Colt explained, while taking his place at the table. He yawned and sipped at his coffee.
Charlie commenced to dish out breakfast. "She's always trying to marry you off and thinks suspiciously of me."
"True and she calls you, 'my fancy mate' but always asks after you."
"So one day you're going to come out to Mavis?"
"I don't bloody think so." Colt enforced.
Mavis wasn't in the best of mood when Colt arrived to collect Dennis' car. She was running late for her appointment with some committee and couldn't stop to talk. To be truthful, in relation to her meeting, it probably wouldn't cause grief if she didn't turn up at all but being full of her own importance, believed the town wouldn't function if she were not there to hold its collective hand.
Firstly Mavis couldn't find her bag, then after finding it, couldn't locate Dennis' keys, telling Colt to return after lunch when she would have a proper search. Colt agreed, so having a couple of hours to spare decided on grocery shopping and coffee at his favourite café.
Seated outside the Black Cat Café, his mind on his cousin's many problems, his eyes across the street vacantly fixed on Bailey's Greengrocery and the stands of vegetables along the footpath, Colt's daydreaming was interrupted by the arrival Steve Holsworthy's Alsatian mutt as it sniffed around the bottom of the vegetable stands. The dog was called King but most in town knew it as Tripod as it had lost its rear left leg after being hit by a car.
It was obvious Tripod wasn't the first mutt to pass that way, so it decided to leave a calling card. Unfortunately the dog was right legged, with the missing limb being his left, and as King attempted to cock its leg it fell on its arse releasing a sharp yelp. It lifted once more onto all three and was about to have another attempt when old man Bailey arrived with a straw broom. "Get out of it you filthy mongrel!" he shouted and threw the broom at the dog. It missed and the animal took off on all three across the street and back towards its home. Leaving Colt impressed and amused at how fast the animal could travel with a missing leg.
Finding entertainment in the animal's misfortune, Colt didn't notice someone approaching from behind.
"How's Charlie Wyse settling into his work at the Golf Club?"
Colt turned to discover Les Ferguson hovering over his left shoulder.
"He only started today Les, want to stop for coffee?"
"No thank you Russell, I've just come from a meeting with your Aunt Mavis, boy can that woman drive a hard bargain."
Colt gave a knowing grin. "Is there anything new on next year's cricket fixture?"
"Not a lot but we may have to change venue, the council want us to use the Keith Herbert ground out near the Bacon Factory."
"Not a good move, the surface is full of gibber stones; it's rough as guts and you could easily turn an ankle, or worse." Colt commented.
"We'll see Russell, I reckon I can pull a few strings but I tell you what, the Wanderers are pissed off with us stealing Wyse from them. Ferguson gave a satisfied smile, being most impressed with the act of procuring the Wanderer's spin bowler, he nodded and patting Colt's shoulder continued on his way.
Colt arrived back at Mavis' at the agreed time but she hadn't returned, so he seated himself on her front steps enjoying the warm autumn sun, while watching two crows squabbling over a scrap of bread on the opposite nature strip. As they squabbled a third crow arrived and stole the bread. Immediately he thought of his team stealing Charlie for their line up and was most gracious towards the theft but even more so Charlie had decided to stay in town.
Mavis arrived some time later in her usual fluster and still displaying mood. Someone one the committee, more than likely in the form of Les Ferguson, had gained her displeasure and nothing but a strong cup of coffee would remove it.
"I ran into Les Ferguson in town, he said he saw you." Colt related playing the devil's advocate.
"That bloody man, he really pushes a hard bargain." Mavis complained.
Colt laughed at Mavis' suggestion. "That is what he said about you."
Once inside the questions commenced and Dennis was at her centre of attention.
"So he's staying out at the farm." Mavis deliberated somewhat dispraisingly.
"Yes, only for a few days."
"And he's too frightened to face me."
"It appears that way, he has asked me to collect his car."
"What about the drugs?
"They were nothing, only a couple of dope cigarettes, they didn't even charge him, just decided to give him a scare."
"I'll give him more than a scare when I see him. I hope you don't use drugs East?" Her question came almost as an accusation.
"No I don't."
"What about you're fancy mate?"
"Mavis you know his name and he's definitely not fancy or some smack head."
"That's good to hear."
"As for Dennis, I wouldn't worry too much about him. I don't think he's stupid enough to get mixed up with that crowd."
"I hope you're right: Another cup of coffee?" Mavis offered.
"No thank you Mavis, I've had enough. By the way did you know my brother Toby had been in town looking for mum and dad?" Colt asked.
Mavis was most surprised, more so she had not heard about someone looking for a family member and on hearing Dennis knew and hadn't said anything turned her surprise to anger.
"That little bugger, one of these days." She cut short, "what else did Dennis say?"
"Not a lot, he wouldn't have said anything except he found Charlie on the internet searching for information." Colt explained the situation also they now had a good chance on tracking Toby.
For the first time Mavis appeared interested in her previously unknown nephew, while wishing to be kept informed. Colt promised and after Mavis finally found Dennis' car keys, he drove back to the farm.
Dennis was seated on the front verandah, dressed in only a skimpy pair of underpants, his legs wide with one hairy ball dangling free and fancy from the side of his poorly fitting jockettes, while sipping at a strong cup of black coffee and nursing the results of the previous night.
Seeing Colt arrive with his vehicle he stood and approached the rail. He called as soon as Colt parked.
"Was mum in a mood?"
Colt delayed answering until reaching the verandah. "She wasn't happy. You know that car of your's is a death trap. How did you get a roadworthy?"
"Ryan drove it to mum's and said it was alright but needs new break pads."
"More than that, I recon it steers to the left something chronic, let go the steering wheel and it's off like a crab: How come Clem Ryan missed that?"
"I dunno, is it safe for me to visit mum?" Dennis again referred to his mother's mood. He finished his coffee and headed to the kitchen for a refill. Colt followed carrying his bags of groceries.
"You know your mother, mostly piss and wind like the barber's cat but she was disappointed with the drugs."
"Do you want coffee?" Dennis offered.
"No thanks, you are your mother's son; you both think coffee or tea will fix any problem." Colt perceived.
"Not to fix a problem but a gut full of grog from last night."
"When did you start hitting the piss?" Colt asked dumping the bags of groceries on the kitchen table. Dennis commenced to peek into each bag. He spied the new supply of beer.
"Don't tell me you want more?" Colt asked.
Dennis puckered and gently moved his head from side to side in almost negligible refusal.
He didn't appear well at all, having a ghostly white complexion and his eyes were quite bloodshot while his body embraced a somewhat stooped posture.
"You're not going to chuck are you?" Colt asked looking around for some container to save cleaning the floor.
"No, I'm alright. Give me a sec."
"Sit down before you fall down."
"Don't fuss cousin, I said I'm alright."
"You certainly went through the beer last night." Colt declared as he restocked his refrigerator with the new supply.
"I'll replace them when I'm in town."
"There's no need but why are you drinking so much?"
Dennis was slow in answering. For a man with the gift of gab, little of what he said was about himself or how he felt. Some said that his gregarious nature was a cover for insecurity. It was certainly annoying and often had him in trouble.
At last Dennis spoke.
"Do you know the Jackson's have kicked me out?" His voice low and his eyes cast even lower.
The Jackson's were Dennis' step parents and had come to the belief it was time for him to make his own way and find work. Besides before adopting Dennis they were under the impression they couldn't have children and no sooner had they adopted, May Jackson fell pregnant and a year later once again, therefore Dennis became somewhat spurious to their needs.
"Where will you live?" Colt asked.
"In the car I suppose, or with Wilson out at McPherson's Flats.
Mark Wilson was another of the districts many wayward characters who, in his late twenties, had a shack in the back blocks past the gibber and although never proven, grew a small crop of cannabis in the scrub. It was Dennis' easily influenced character that drew the two together. Although Dennis seldom smoked the stuff himself, was believed to be King's primary pusher. This Colt knew to be fact as he had caught his cousin pushing at the local hotel bar. After warning Dennis off Colt believed it was the end of it but obviously his cousin played lip-service to the warning and continued with his illicit trading.
Dennis was more mode of transportation than what could be deemed as dealing and the amount in question could only be considered recreational not socially damaging. While unknown to Sergeant Ryan, even his second constable Bob Arnold, was an occasional customer.
"Why don't you speak to Mavis, maybe she could let you stay with her on a more permanent bases?" Clot suggested.
"I could stay here," Dennis smiled and even suffering from the effect of the previous night his eyes brightened.
"I don't think so; you are too untidy and would drive me mad before a month was through."
Colt's answer dissolved the forced smile from Dennis' face. "Anyway I don't think mum would have me."
"You won't know that unless you ask her."
"I could get you to ask her for me." Dennis suggested.
"If I did she would definitely say no, so best you face her. Show her you're a man and not some wuss."
"I supposed you're right, where's Charlie gone? He wasn't around when I got up."
"Work, something you don't know much about. Have you ever had a job?" Colt commented from inside his pantry.
"What's a job?" Dennis asked amused at the suggestion.
"That's about the truth of it but you can't hang around town doing nothing for the rest of your life, Sergeant Ryan already has you marked as a trouble maker."
"You want to know something Cousin?"
"What do I want to know Dennis?"
"For a young feller you sure are old in the head. You're worse than my mother."
"That's me Dennis."
"How long is Charlie staying here?"
"Don't rightly know mate, I guess as long as he wants." Colt returned from the pantry and commenced to restock the refrigerator.
"Does he pay rent?" Dennis asked.
"That is none of your business."
"And you won't give me a room?"
"Nope, as I said talk to your mother, I'm sure she will and go and get dressed, I'm tied of the sight of your balls dangling out."
Colt was correct, the following day Dennis visited his mother and after a long drawn out conversation and the laying down of more than a few ground rules, Mavis agreed to have her son live with her. Soon after Dennis' visit she telephoned her nephew.
"East did you put Dennis up to asking if he could live here?" She asked.
"As a matter of fact Mavis I did, he hasn't anywhere else to go." Colt explained.
"You have plenty of room why couldn't he stay there?"
"Dennis is somewhat fragile at present and need a woman's touch. He needs to feel wanted and definitely wouldn't get that out here." Colt explained.
"I guess so but I don't think I'm the right person." Mavis gave a gentle sigh as memories flooded back of a baby she gave life to and her mother who gave the child away and how she had lived for so long with the guilt, becoming harsh of heart and soul, until she had killed any love she may have had for the child.
"Unfortunately Mavis you are probably the only one who can do so."
Mavis released another sigh it was light and despondent; she knew her nephew was correct and almost accepted the fact.
"Do you think he really is finished with the drugs?" Mavis asked.
"I think so."
"What about his Adopted family?" Mavis added.
"Dennis said they kicked him out and never really wanted him."
Mavis was still attempting to discover reason for not having her son live with her but could find none and a slight tinge of guilt arrived with the knowledge that he wasn't wanted by the Jackson's. Again she supposed her nephew was correct. Again she sighed and accepted her responsibility but with provision.
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