The Odd One Out
Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
Once Colt was satisfied Dennis had settled in with his mother, Charlie ended his term of exile, returning to Colt's bed and without having Dennis snooping, they once more turned their attention to finding Toby.
Again it was the computer acting as their main tool for the search, this time it was much easier. Charlie typed the name of the property supplied by Dennis into the search engine and immediately Forest Home Station appeared. Not only did the station have its own site but supplied location and telephone number also the name of its manager. Charlie quickly jotted down the information.
"What do you want to do, send an email or telephone the station?" Charlie asked.
"Where is it?" Colt eagerly answered, scrutinising the information on the monitor. There was a map but much too small to gauge its location. Charlie increased the map's size, becoming full to screen.
"I don't think we will be driving up for the weekend, it's in the Queensland Gulf country a good fifteen hundred kilometres, probably more." Charlie pointed to the closest town, "Near Georgetown."
Running his finger across the map to the east, he pointed to a large darker patch on the map adjacent to the Queensland coast, "and that's Cairns a good four hundred kilometres east of the station." He removed his finger from the monitor, "What do you think?"
"You know I had it all planned, now it's only a matter of sending an email or punching in the number on the telephone, I'm not so sure. I'll have to think about it before making any decision."
Colt became nervous, what if his brother didn't wish to know him? Obviously Toby had no idea of Colt's existence or he had a host of relations around the district, otherwise he would have enquired while talking to Dennis. If he had visited the farm to see where his parents once lived, he would have met Eric, who was looking after the property for the two days Colt was away with the horses. Why had he chosen those two days to be away? If only Dennis had been responsible for once, he would have met Toby long ago. Then again if he had, would he have believed Toby to be his brother? As Toby's chanced meeting with Dennis was some time before Colt discovered his brother's birth certificate.
"I'll leave it for a couple of days; I really have to think out what I'm going to say to him. I don't want to make a call and scare the pants off him."
"That is a good point. When you're ready I'll help you in what you decide." Charlie switched off the computer and handed Colt the paper with the station's information. Colt folded the note, slipping it under the key board for safe keeping, standing for some time his eyes and thoughts fixed on the scrap of information, caught in indecision. It would be so simple to pick up the telephone and call.
The boys retired to the verandah and sat for some time without conversation. Eventually Charlie went for beer. Returning he passed a cold can to Colt. "You're not saying much." He commented as Colt accepted the beverage.
Colt eventually broke his silence. "I was thinking about Toby. Going by what Dennis had to say, his other family kept the name of Toby for him but what does he looks like, what sort of character is he and what he will think of having a brother."
"I thought Toby was on your mind. More than likely he will think much the same about you as you are about him."
"I suppose you're right, how's the job going?" Colt asked.
"Actually I think I'm going to like it, I didn't believe I would but they are a great lot of blokes and easy going." Charlie answered and pointed to a shooting star. "Did you see that?" He exclaimed loudly. It was more than a miniscule dust particle burning up as it hit the atmosphere and quite close, releasing a sizzling sound on its descent, while in the adjacent yard the houses stirred with the phenomenon but seeing the world didn't come to its end, soon settled.
"I recon that landed down by the river," Charlie added pointing towards the suspected strike position. "Do you reckon we could find it?"
"You could search for a week and find nothing, probably appeared closer than it was." Colt answered.
"I guess so."
"You know I found a piece of meteorite some years back when I was at school, it's on the shelf in the lounge room. It just looks like a melted bit of iron with some stones in it." Colt boasted.
"I've never seen it?"
"Its over the fireplace about nine centimetres in size and sorta round, I know it's real as I showed it to Tom Bennet the science teacher. He wanted it for the school's rock collection but I kept it." Placing his beer on the floor beside his chair Colt went for the meteorite. Moments later he returned and passed the heavy slag of iron to Charlie.
"You're right it does look a little like a chunk of melted metal." Charlie agreed. After a short period of scrutiny he passed the rock back to Colt. "Where did you find it?"
"It was while camping up in the hills. I haven't even looked at it in years. I think I will give it to the school." Colt placed the space junk on the window ledge.
"I wish I had a brother." Charlie aspired.
"I'll be your brother if you like, I'll even adopt you." Colt offered.
"You don't adopt brothers. No seriously, when I was growing up it would have been fun having more family around but mum had a hysterectomy after I was born."
"What's a hysterectomy?" Colt asked.
"Don't know much about it but afterwards you can't have more kids."
"A bit like lopping the balls of a bull," Colt grinned and crossed his legs with the thought.
"Women don't have balls." Charlie admitted somewhat seriously.
"As a kid I didn't mind being the only one, come to think of it I never thought about it," Colt answered, "suppose I wouldn't wish to inflict my parents on some other poor unrepenting bugger." Colt gave an ironic grunt and went for more beer.
"Were your parents really that bad?" Charlie asked as his friend returned.
"Na, I suppose not, just different but they did live their lives as if I didn't exist. They had a parrot called bird, a cat called cat and often I was the boy or the kid."
"Did you love them?" Charlie asked.
Colt's tone changed from ironic to serious. "I don't rightly know, I guess love is a two way street and if it isn't flowing from one's parents, more than likely it won't flow the other way either." He paused, "but I tell you one thing, life with Pearl and Jock was never boring."
"I thought you're parents were Lillian and Stan?" Charlie asked sounding somewhat confused.
"True but at home they called each other Pearl and Jock." Colt laughed with the memory.
"Your family and names, I suppose you will be telling me Dennis is really Dennis and who knows what Mavis' name is."
"Nope that's their names, or as far as I can say."
For some time the two sat in silence. Colt obviously had something he wished to say but appeared to be having trouble formulating the subject. At length he spoke.
"If there were one moment in your life you would wish to hold." He paused and continued: "You know some moment you would want to last for ever and never end. What would it be?"
Charlie thought for a time before answering. "Like Christmas day or your birthday?"
"No not necessary, maybe even when you're alone, or walking or visiting a friend." Colt added.
"I don't know, suppose I never thought about it."
"There must be something." Colt coaxed.
"Suppose there was a time - did I tell you I went to boarding school for a year?"
"No, when was that?"
"When I was fourteen and I hated it so much my parents eventually had to bring me home."
"I'll bet you got up to all sorts of tricks at the school." Colt suggested.
"No nothing, that was later with my Uncle Donnie." Charlie protested.
"Don't think I would like being there but surely it wasn't at boarding school when you had your memorable moment."
"No way but it was during the school holidays and back home in Mt. Oakey. I had been to see a film and after the movie, while walking home along the main street." Charlie gave a laugh, "you'll think it silly."
"No I won't go on."
"It was a hot night and all the shops were closed and no one was about. As I walked home a feeling came over me. I felt comfortable and the darkness was like a blanket around me. All of a sudden I was overpowered by emotion and didn't want to go home I wanted to walk all night. For an instant I believed I knew the answer to everything but couldn't relate it in words. I tried to hold onto the feeling, understand it but at the end of the main street, the thought of returning to school took control and it was gone."
"That's it. I did return to boarding school the following week but was back in town for keeps soon after and no matter how I've tried I have never been able to reclaim the feeling I had that night." There was another pause. "I told you it was silly." Charlie concluded.
"No not at all."
"What about you Colt, you must have lots of moments."
"That's easy it's now this very night, this minute; here on the verandah, with all those stars and the sound of the horses in the next paddock."
There was more but Colt couldn't utter the words. He couldn't admit sitting there with Charlie by his side was his real moment but there wasn't need to do so, Charlie understood his friend's mood and accepted Colt's omission positively.
The last expedition to the refrigerator for beer left the hall light burning and the glow shone across Charlie's thighs and under the material of his board shorts.
"You're not wearing your teddy bears?" Colt grinned.
"I like what I see." Colt's grin became as wide as the gap between Charlie's leg and shorts.
"I can see that, you're getting turned on." Charlie agreed as Colt rose from his seat.
"Come on bed time." Colt nodded towards the doorway. "I'll be your uncle for the night."
It took four days but eventually Colt was brave enough to make his telephone call to Forest Home Station. Jotting down a number of points of enquiry onto the sheet of paper Charlie had supplied with the station's information, he was ready.
"Come on Charlie, it's now or never." He admitted and reached for the telephone. Charlie read out the telephone number. The line crackled as the connection was made. Colt believed he could hear the signal switching its way along the hundreds of miles of copper wiring then at the end of the line a click and a voice.
"Good Evening Forest Home" A woman's sing-song voice came with the crackling.
"Good Evening is that Mrs. Gooding?" Colt asked nervously.
"It is - who is speaking?"
"My name is," Colt was about to give his first name but under the circumstances decided on Russell, "Do you have a Toby Blake working there?"
"No we have a Toby Stanthorpe." The woman answered.
It then reoccurred to Colt that Toby wouldn't be known by his birth family name as he had been adopted out, or to be factual, given away without a care.
"Is there any chance I could have a quick word with Toby?" Colt asked.
"You're in luck he is here at the moment talking with my husband, just one moment."
A clunking sound came across the line as the woman roughly placed the receiver down. Then there was nerve wracking silence, the moment turned into a minute and the minute to many. Colt could feel sweat forming on his brow and his hands turned clammy. He wished to hang up the telephone but had to continue. Eventually a young inquisitive voice came across the line.
"Hello Toby speaking - who's this?"
Colt forgot to speak.
"Hey Mrs Gooding, there isn't anyone there." Toby called back and was about to end the call.
"Hello," Colt, his voice cracked broke his silence.
"Yes it's Toby here, who is this?"
"Were you once Toby Blake?" Colt asked.
"Was once but I was adopted."
"Toby, were your parents Jillian and Stan Blake?" Colt asked.
"They were but they are dead. Who is this?"
"My name is Colt Blake, or if you want my full title Colt Russell East Blake and I'm your older brother."
"You're having me on." Toby declared, his voice sounding somewhat confused, both he and Colt fell silent. Eventually Colt broke the quiet.
"No it's a fact mate and when you went looking for your parents, my parents, the bloke you spoke to was Dennis and he is your cousin and you have more family around these parts that you would believe."
The conversation expanded for some time with both parties most excited by their mutual discovery, until Toby declared he would have to hang up, as his boss needed to talk to him about his following day's work.
"I'll keep in contact but I would love to meet up." Colt assured.
"For sure, I have a million questions to ask, I have a few weeks off over the monsoon season, around Christmas; if you like I could visit."
"Like - I insist." Colt buoyantly answered.
With that Toby rang off, leaving Colt quite bemused and lost for words. He had a multitude of questions to ask but they would have to wait. For now it was enough that one of life's mysteries had been solved and he believed, if only to a minute degree, he could put to right the wrong done by their parents.
As soon as it was possible Colt visited his aunt with the news. Mavis was most interested but Dennis sat idly by without comment. If he couldn't exploit the situation, it wasn't of use to him and the discovery of one more cousin had no bearing on his hedonistic life style.
"So what are you going to do about it?" Mavis asked.
"Toby said he had leave from his work around Christmas and he wants to visit."
"Are you excited?"
"Somewhat but I wonder what he looks like." Turning to Dennis Colt asked. "Hey Dennis what did Toby look like?"
"I can't remember, I had a few," Dennis was ready to admit to smoking pot at the time but changed it to beer, "drinks and didn't take much notice. Barry Cummins the postie put him on to me."
"You're no help at all." Colt complained.
"You can't win them all Cousin." Dennis profoundly declared and left the room.
Mavis shrugged her shoulders and tutted. "That's my boy," she said, "a gentleman to a fault."
"No matter, he was of some help, without his information on where Toby was working I wouldn't have found him at all, as his name is now Toby Stanthorpe."
"I remember the Stanthorpe's, a lovely couple who couldn't have children but that was a long time ago. They were friends of your father's and came from some property towards Mt. Oakey." Mavis recalled.
"Did they breed horses?" Colt asked, if so it was somewhat odd his aunt didn't recollect the fact earlier.
"Don't rightly know, I recollect they had horses but nearly everyone had horses in those days."
Mavis had been reading the local newspaper when Colt arrived and was most interested in an entry in the obituary column. She reopened the paper and returned to the page. "Do you know Marcus Westford?" She asked.
"Sure I do, he's the crook from the Estate Agency. I had a run in with him last year. He wanted the farm for almost nothing; to carve up for housing." Colt gave a sneer and shook his head, "offered me half of what it's worth and said it was a great deal."
"Well he won't be offering any more deals, he has died and there is a quotation supposedly from him in the obituary column." Mavis ran her finger down the page, "Here it is; I'll read it to you." She commenced to read.
"To all those I have offended, given ill advice and misappropriated, I wish for forgiveness." Mavis paused, "I won't bother with the rest it's the usual will be missed by. What do you make of that?"
"Was he a religious man?" Colt asked.
"Catholic I believe."
"There you go; he's repenting to enter through the gates to heaven, hoping to meet his maker with a clean conscience." Colt answered without displaying reverence for the man.
"That won't help Agnes Ramsay, he cheated her out of her house and she ended up in some dive of a nursing home." Mavis protested.
"There were a lot of Agnes Ramsay's in the district and I should think with his popularity they could hold his funeral in a telephone box." Colt maliciously declared.
"He tried it out on me as well." Mavis added.
"He was brave." Colt laughed as he commenced to leave.
Mavis placed the paper down, "You be sure and keep me posted on Toby."
"That I will, I'll be on my way, there's a cricket club meeting at seven." Colt poked his head around the door into Dennis' room. "See ya," He called but Dennis had gone.
"I didn't hear Dennis leave." Colt said on returning to the lounge room.
"He's a sneaky little bugger; he crepes around the house like some cat. Are you sure you can't give him a room at the farm?"
"I'm quite sure."
"If you see Les Ferguson, let him know I need to speak to him about the catering for Saturday's function." Mavis called after Colt.
"Toby," Colt rhetorically spoke his brother's name as he passed through Mavis' gate. "I have a brother." The thought pleased him, bringing on a wide and uncontrollable grin and if the distance wasn't so great he would borrow Charlie's utility and travel to see Toby that very night.
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