The Odd One Out
Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved
Ben Chambers had the renovations completed in no time at all and under budget but Colt was so pleased with the work he paid the quotation price anyhow. Now all that was left was to bring Charlie and Meg to their new home.
When Colt rang Charlie to give him the news, he was surprised to hear that both he and Meg were packed and ready. It was decided they would only bring the bare necessities in furniture and if needing more it could be collected at a later time, besides there was always the possibility Meg may not be able to settle into her new home.
All was in place and Colt was both excited and apprehensive. Living with Charlie would be easy. He had done so before but if Meg couldn't settle, it would mean once again loosing Charlie to Mt. Oakey, with the occasional visit in either direction. The thought frightened him.
It had been arranged, Charlie would bring his mother and their belongings on the following weekend. Colt became so nervous he had to leave the house and arranged to meet Eric at the club. It was Thursday with only two days until Charlie and Meg arrived. Vail had noticed Colt's disposition and suggested he should go out for the night and get drunk, to take his mind of the approaching weekend. Colt agreed and walked into town.
"What's wrong, you look shithouse." Eric perceived as Colt entered into the club bar.
"Just a bit concerned about Charlie and Meg coming." Colt answered.
"Having second thoughts about living with the mother-in-law?"
"No it's more if she will like her new apartment." Colt ordered a beer and joined Eric and some of the team at their favourite table, tucked away in a dark corner where they could keep an eye on any new talent that chanced to enter the bar.
"It will be fine mate, it will be fine." Eric encouraged.
"Come on mate get some piss into ya, get drunk and forget about it all." Rowan Matthews suggested and poured three glasses of beer from their jug, placing them in a row before Colt.
"Come on mate, skol." Phil Straub demanded bringing all in unison to chant of skol. Colt did.
Friday night was a nervous wait for Saturday. Colt was alone. Vail was in town visiting a friend from his school year and Eric promised to arrive for a couple of coldies but had to cancel. He had left some of his belongings at Sandra's parent's house and she demanded he remove them that very day or they would be put out with the rubbish.
Colt walked the house shrouded in apprehension. He entered into Meg's new living quarters. They were fine to him but would they be so for a woman, especially one who was incapacitated. What did women like? He had no idea. His mother liked everything or nothing, depending on her mood. Mavis was picky and liked glitz. On his visit to Mt. Oakey, Meg appeared to be the homely kind; trinkets of memories and functional. Photos of Charlie as a lad and those of her husband and a number of show prizes won by a youthful son and lovingly kept in pride of place. How could Colt replace that?
Meg's new apartment appeared sterile. Pristine white walls, an artist's canvas waiting for his brush, the flooring soberly carpeted and the surfaces clean and bare. How could a woman appreciate such basic elements?
Saturday's sun bright and warm found Vail out of bed and busy in the kitchen dressed in nothing but his boxer short. The shorts Colt had bought him, sort of silky with little aeroplanes. Colt smiled and told him he may need to be a little more discrete when Meg arrived.
"You're only jealous." Vail announced.
"Why would that be?"
"When you wear jocks everything hangs out."
"That's a weird conclusion, besides I don't wear jocks, I also wear boxers." Colt yawned and glanced down at his own shorts. It was true, even they expose a little more than etiquette permitted. "I suppose that goes for me as well."
"You can go naked if you like, I don't mind." Vail added.
"There is a question I've never really asked you Vail." Colt said.
Colt loaded his chest with air to carry his query but released it once again without issue. "No I don't think it's the right time."
"Suit you're self." Vail replied and readied the table for breakfast.
Possibly it would never be the right time. Vail had by choice become his responsibility and that included self imposed accountability for the lad's moral wellbeing. Often he believed Vail to be gay, sometimes just curious, while at others he appeared most interested in the opposite sex. Colt had given hints and innuendoes and Vail accepted them with wit and clever answers, turning the implications on their head, reversing them back without even a change of facial expression.
"Breakfast is ready, are you going to put some clothes on?" Vail asked, being Colt's usual demand of him.
"What do you reckon, it may be the last chance, how about being daring and eat in our underwear." Colt suggested
"Not like you Mr. Prim and proper."
Colt gave a cheesy grin and accepted Vail's analysis.
"We could take them off if you like and eat starkers." Vail added.
"I don't think so; I don't want to be put off my breakfast."
Now it was Vail's turn for cheesy grins and it would have only taken the slightest hint of concession for him to have done so.
Two things happened that day as Colt waited for the cherry red utility to approach across the bridge. Firstly Mavis called in a mood. She, as usual, was not getting along with Dennis. It wasn't that he was argumentative or even so untidy but he was always under her feet or sitting watching television, with the sound well above her comfort level. Dennis travelled through life locked in his own thoughts and importance. Being with him was like being alone and once out of questions for him to answer there was nothing left to converse.
It appeared Dennis had lost his job as collection jockey and Mavis believed, was back with the drugs.
"I'll kill the little bugger," she declared in a throaty whisper. "Honestly East, can't you give him a room?" Colt explained he had Charlie and Meg coming to stay that very day and if Dennis was back on the drugs he didn't want him around Vail.
"Is the kid still with you?" Mavis asked abruptly.
"He has to live somewhere."
"I suppose so but it's unhealthy, he should be living with a family."
"Mavis, he's over eighteen, he's not a kid." Colt protested, believing his aunt saw homosexuality in every male.
"What if your uncle visits?" Mavis asked.
"He knows about Harry. Vail's fine with it.
"So you won't take Dennis." Her tone somewhat demanding.
"Not won't Mavis- can't, I've converted the back of the house into a flat for Meg. Besides, Dennis is your son." Colt answered curtly. It was final Mavis would have to deal with Dennis her self.
With her failure to unload Dennis onto Colt, Mavis lost her attitude and the conversation became more amiable. She gave a happy chuckle. "I will say something about Dennis, at times he has wit. Just yesterday he came in most jovially. You know the old sisters next door?" She asked. Colt admitted he did so. Mavis continued with her story.
The so called elderly neighbours were more than likely not much older than Mavis but their attitude was old, most probably the result of living alone for many years with only each other for company. They were also a sandwich short of a picnic and if spoken to, would screw up their noses, release an insane giggle while dashing for cove into the house.
It was also a habit of the sisters to heave buckets of water over the fence at intermitting intervals for no apparent reason, before popping their heads over the fence top like metal ducks in a shooting gallery. This day one of the sisters, her head comically popping over the fence line, asked Dennis if he was King George the fifth. Mavis paused.
"What did Dennis say?" Colt asked.
"Yes I bloody well am, so you better behave yourselves." Mavis conveyed Dennis' answer drolly. Then once the account of the two sisters was complete, she once again returned to her problem with her son, leaving Colt's spirit drained.
The second surprise was, as soon as he had finished his conversation with Mavis the telephone rang once again. Colt answered abruptly. It was Harry.
"You sound gruff." Harry perceived.
"I just had Mavis on the line complaining about Dennis."
"How is my dear sister?"
"She's the same; always terse and demanding, how was your trip." Colt answered.
"Great but that isn't why I am calling."
"I was talking to Wayne about Christmas and was wondering if we could have Christmas with you on the farm?"
"No worries but there will be a crowd."
Colt explained to Harry what the situation would be and there would be a woman in a wheel chair living in the house. Harry was fine with it all beside he had know Meg Wyse when he was in his teenage years, she was Margaret Pointer then. Harry had even accompanied her to a couple of bush dances and they, in Harry's description, even stepped out together for a short time.
So it was agreed, there would be two more for Christmas, making it a most interesting and crowded affair.
"Have you done anything about the mate of yours?" Harry asked.
"I have and Charlie will be living here with his mother, she knows the score and mostly suggested it all."
"Great, I like Charlie and think he's good for you." Harry concluded.
Sunlight streamed through the large windows of Meg's new sitting room. She had viewed her kitchen, her bathroom and bedroom, now it was decision time.
"It's nice and bright." She commented.
Colt wasn't sure if bright meant good or bad. Maybe he had made it too much so. Did bright have the same connotation as snug, meaning not enough room to swing a cat?
"I haven't put up curtains yet I thought you could choose them." Colt nervously apologised as Meg wheeled her chair across to the windows and the view of the distant line of callistemon that followed the ribbon of creek at the far end of the farm, where parrots squabbled noisily over the fresh blooms.
"Oh I forgot you even have air conditioning." Colt waved his hand towards the unit high on the sitting room wall.
"What do you think mum?" Charlie asked impatiently.
"I love it but I do think Colt's gone to a lot of expense for one old lady." Meg humbly answered.
"Na wasn't that much a couple of walls. The furnishings were already here." Colt exaggerated as most of his parents collection went with Mavis' garage sale or on the bonfire but he did not wish to embarrass her.
"Yes I like it and so bright not like home but as I said I'm a little embarrassed with it all and don't know what to say."
"You've said enough by liking it Mrs. Wyse." Colt exclaimed.
"It's Meg, remember?" She answered and as both boys released a nervous but relieved chortle.
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