The celebration dinner was full on and Rob had done a good job bringing it all together. There were just the eight of us at the small restaurant and we each brought presents. Ours was a combined gift and Phil and Dave's names were added to the card, they were told the company bought the present and not to buy anything. We didn't know if they had money or not, they did earn a pretty good wage but to what extent, well it wasn't talked about. Adam and Rob were really teary as they thanked us for their housewarming present, in the envelope were their bills, all up to date with a big red,'Paid,' stamped across them, there would be more, but they would be taken care of later on.
The meal was excellent, I had the stroganoff while Con had the steak, he said it was tender but he seemed to chew on it for ages.
"How long before you can move in guys?" Phil asked.
"Very soon Phil, the builder is going to finish the kitchen and bathroom first so we can move back in three weeks from now, so exciting, I can't wait for it to be finished."
Rob just smiled at Adam and blushed and I think I know what he was thinking about, lots of sex, spas and chill outs, that's Rob.
On the way home I asked why aunty Beth hadn't renovated the Prahran house or put a second story on it and Conner explained she liked it the way it was, she had no airs and graces and certainly didn't need to impress the neighbors.
We chilled out on the sofa for awhile and Conner told me what he had in mind for his semi-retirement, he was going to write songs, lay on the beach and make love to me ten times a day.
I said. "Well we had better be getting started,you've got nine times left today." I looked at my watch and continued, "You have one hour, think you can manage it?" I smiled.
"You're an idiot, let's go to bed," he replied.
We made love once then his eyes put me to sleep.
"I think I want to do more with my little music class Brent, you gave me an idea months ago that's been on my mind, you said you wanted to find out what makes them tick and push them into the right paths, or something like that."
"Close enough Con, I just thought as well as giving them a safe place to go for a day we should find out what they dream of doing in their lives and maybe try and set them up with something else to do, apart from music. I know some will be mechanics and some waiters, not that there's anything wrong with that but every boy has a dream and maybe we can make some come true and get them out of the crap they live in.
"You're right you know, I just didn't have the time to really get to know my boys intimately, Father Thomas knows their stories but I don't."
"Well that's the first thing you do, talk to Father Thomas."
"Okay I will, now I'm back they will be hanging out to see me so I might go see him today after I leave the office, then we can nut it out in Sorrento next week," he suggested.
"Forget it, no fucking on the beach, it's too messy."
"Okay," he said with an evil grin.
I was flying to Perth today and Phil and Dave met me as usual, all was well with them and I talked about Conner's idea. They were very supportive of what he planned to do and thought he might benefit from Mary's help as well. I made our coffee after we soared into the west and noticed the yummy lasagna for lunch today, I can't wait, it looks so good. After serving the boys I sat at my station making notes on my Ipad. I wanted to elaborate on my idea, the older boys would need help first, I thought maybe Conner's company could set up a couple of scholarships with a top university and include accommodation and a small living allowance. The possibilities are endless, maybe apprenticeships with local electricians and plumbers and for the younger one's protection, I couldn't think of anything other than a safe house, maybe mobile phones, I just don't know. I'm not highly skilled in these sorts of things, my nursing brought me in some contact with it but not right down to the nitty gritty, Mary would be the one to ask.
I closed my pad down and pushed the button to heat up the meals then sat at the window looking down at the Great Australian Bight, the sea that lies south of Australia and the thousands of miles of huge cliff faces shaped and polished by the heavy pounding of this great southern ocean.I felt a groan, I say I felt it because that's what it was, a grating movement but it was only fleeting so getting up, I went to the cockpit.
"Did you feel that grating?"I asked.
"No Brent, what was it like?" Davo asked.
"It felt like someone was running a heavy wire broom under my seat, bloody strange feeling but it was only fleeting," I explained.
Phil was pushing buttons and flipping switches, he turned one of the navigation screens to internal and an outline of the jet appeared. He looked at it intensely and so did Davo, I couldn't see any flashing red lights but what would I know.
"No, nothing on here, do you agree Dave?"
"Yes captain, I can't see anything out of the norm but I will take a good look when we land."
"You do that Dave, maybe I imagined it but I'm sure I felt something."
"Well you're safe Brent, nothing is registering on here." He flipped the screen back to our flight path.
"I've got your lunch ready, do you want it now?"
"Yes please Brent, I'm starving and it smells great," Phil answered.
"Lasagna coming up,"I smiled.
Back in the galley I prepared the trays and then took them to my boys, they were joking and smiling with each other, my, 'feeling,' was forgotten.
We landed as usual, nice and smoothly and I walked around the tarmac while the post boys unloaded then filled us up again. I saw Davo looking at the back of the jet, a rollout staircase was provided for him and he had a screwdriver in his hand. He unscrewed a cover on the underside of an engine then looked inside with a small torch but apparently saw nothing, then he did the same with the other one.
"All's good Brent, maybe it was just your imagination, nothing is registering and everything looks okay."
"No problem Davo, just that it felt out of character,that's all."We left it alone and I was happy he had a good look. It's hard to tell, it may not be the engines, maybe the toilet, could be one of a thousand things.
We had a smooth take off and Phil did some crazy maneuver's to test that all was well.
I unbuckled my belt and put coffee on, I potted around for half an hour then went to have a pee. Looking in the mirror I was amazed at the effect Di's Botox was having on my face, it looked pretty normal. Finishing up, I washed my hands and went to open the door but again I felt a vibration and it was more pronounced this time; I panicked and walked swiftly to the cockpit.
"Did you feel that?"
"Yes Brent, fuck it, can you start tying everything down that needs it, we don't know what it is but just a precaution okay,so don't panic and don't feel scared, we are on top of it," Phil assured me.
As he said that, Davo flipped a switch and the flight deck lit up, there were red lights flashing everywhere.
"What the fuck, the port jet is dying?"
"There's too many faults Dave, turn the screen over and start dumping fuel, it looks like we have lost that jet and the other one is failing fast," Phil urged.
Dave pushed a button several times and the jet skeleton came up, there were red flashes everywhere but mainly on the port engine.
"Mayday, mayday this is flight B565, Ricon private jet on route to Melbourne, do you hear me? Mayday, mayday," Dave called into his headphones and then it started, the ride of my life.
Groan,whine, chugga chugga, boom, the jet rocked from side to side and I was scared it would flip over but Phil disengaged the auto pilot and took over the controls.
The second the jet shuddered, we heard an awful groaning sound that echoed through the cabin, it was like a car engine roaring and shuddering. I immediately rushed out and cleaned up the galley of any flying objects, then ran back to the cockpit.
"What's happened Davo, Phil?"
"Buckle up Brent, we are losing altitude fast so tie everything down including yourself, get to your seat fast, I will attempt an emergency landing!" Phil yelled at me.
I ran to the salon and checked everything was away then the galley, hitting my right hip on the armrest I fell into my flight seat. The seatbelt was around my waist in a flash, the jet chugged, that's the only way I can describe it, it was chugging along, my stomach was in the back of my throat, I prayed to God.
"Brent, are you buckled up?" I grabbed the phone off the wall and pushed number one and answered,
"Phil, everything okay here, what's happening?"
"We are going to attempt a belly landing Brent, we can't put the landing gear down as the terrain is too rough, the engines are breaking up, one has gone already and the other is about to go so we have to get on the ground a.s.a.p. Sorry Brent, we really are."
"Don't you dare be sorry, all's going to be okay, right?"
"Prepare for a crash landing Brent and God bless you." That was the last time I heard Phil's voice over the intercom. I looked quickly out the window.
"Jesus Christ," I screamed as I assumed the crash position, the ground was nearly touching us, I noticed it was parallel to the jet, I guess that's maybe a good sign.
It was like doing a belly flop; I heard a tearing sound from the back, twisted metal groaning on metal then it happened; red dirt was flying on to my window. The jet was doing belly flop after belly flop but only not on water and we slid sideways, the jet spun around like a wheel on an axis for what seemed like forever then it stopped groaning when it came to a very abrupt and dusty end. I could feel blood on my face, it had to be, it was sticky and warm but my legs and arms were still attached. Slowly I dared to move my head to look around the cabin, it looked beautifully serene, red dust covered everything but when I got to the back of the plane, it wasn't there, just a big hole letting the hot desert air and red soil in.
Someone was screaming, it was agonizing and so bloody fucking bone chilling.
"Fuck me!" I undid my seatbelt and stood up, I swayed on the uneven floor but managed to get to the cockpit door.
It was stuck so I reached over and took the small axe off the now buckled wall, I smashed the lock and made a small hole big enough to get my hands through, I heaved on the door with full force and it broke away.
Phil was lying over Dave and he was screaming.
"David, David open your eyes, please open your eyes baby, my beautiful David, please," he was sobbing uncontrollably and shaking Dave's shoulders while kissing his beautiful face. I ran back to see if the galley was intact, it sort of was but was pushed into the toilet so I took a paper cup and a bottle of brandy, poured a big part of the bottle in it and took it to Phil.
"Drink this quickly Phil then get out of my way." I yelled.
He looked at me like he had seen a ghost.
"Yes Brent, now let me do my job and move please Phil, drink this and go on up the back please."
He snapped out of his moment and quickly moved out of my way, there wasn't a lot of room to move but as he went all I detected was a slight limp. Dave was very different, I felt his neck and then his wrist, he had a bump on the head but I wasn't worried about that, his pulse wasn't strong and when I looked down, one leg was okay but the other lower half was mangled into the instrument panel, it looked bad, really bad. I couldn't move him but thank God he was out to it, the pain would have been unimaginable.
"Phil, how do I move his seat back?"
"He's dead Brent, leave him alone," Phil cried.
"He's not dead and he's not going to die, not if I have anything to do with it, now help me move this fucking seat out of the way, Phil help me!" I screamed at him.
He looked beside the seat and pulled a switch and the seat came off its cradle, it fell back and with that, Dave's body moved out from behind the panel.
It was a terrible decision on my part but I had to have more room to work, the shock alone could have killed him. His foot was mashed but I managed to tie a tourniquet around his shin where it was broken as I needed to stop the blood flow to the lower half, his foot was hanging on by a slim piece of skin and ligament, something had almost sheared it off.
I looked around for a first aid box, I knew they had one and then finding what I needed, I cut Dave's pants leg off as best I could then poured alcohol onto the wound, I drenched a small pair of scissors in alcohol then slowly cut the skin on Davo's leg. Phil was screaming at the top of his lungs, he walked up to what was left of the back of the jet and screamed until he couldn't take it anymore then dropped to the cabin floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
I didn't have time to go to him; I had to stop that bleeding. What I did next I can't write about but it involved a mini blow torch I found in the galley utensils drawer and whatever alcohol I could get from the wreckage, I bandaged his stump and sat back to take a deep breath, I went through several times what I had doneand could see Dave's color was a little better.
I heard shuffling behind me.
"What do you want me to do?" Phil asked, he looked terrible but sounded calm.
"Phil, we have to move him to a couch so can you see if one has survived please?" I asked him quietly.
He left momentarily and came back.
"There are two."
"Okay, can you open one out and put a clean sheet over it, get one from the storage underneath if you can."
He did that.
"Now I want you to take Dave under his arms and lift him so I can get his legs out and then we can move him to the bed."
He immediately plunged his hands gently under Dave's arms kissing his head at the same time.
"Stay with me Davy, please stay." He started babbling.
"And you fucking stay with me Phil!" I shouted at him. "Now lift, one—two—three…"
We managed to get him to the sofa and I re-checked my work again, his eyes and pulse were a lot better. I had some strong pain killers at the ready in case he came to but I prayed he wouldn't for awhile, I had Phil to deal with.
"Did you manage to start the distress signal?"
"Yes." He was kissing Dave's face and trying to focus on me at the same time.
"Phil, look at me, he's going to be alright, his blood pressure is nearly back to normal and his vital signs are good, on one hand I wish he would wake up but on the other I hope he doesn't until we can get him to the hospital, now you hold him close and talk to him gently and if he moves, call me."
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and walked around outside the plane, the tail was five hundred meters away and was smoking like an old,well-used chimney.
The cabin was almost intact but one wing had swung around and was lodged into the cockpit, it was surreal. I got a weak signal and dialed my number, I thought I heard a voice say, "security," but I wasn't sure so I yelled,"Home, home, home," down the speaker. A message flashed,'no signal,' so I wasn't sure if they heard me. I had to get a better signal but I wasn't sure if the beacon was working.
"Phil is there a way to find out if the SOS beacon is working?"
"Look for a green flashing light on the console to the left."
I did but everything was dead, while I was there I wrapped what was left of Dave's ankle and foot in a sheet, I would get the ambos to dispose of it and I hid it in front of Phil's seat.
"Phil you have to help me, stay with me please, I don't know if I got through or not and I can't see a flashing green light but I have to get us some help so I am going to walk around, if Dave comes to, please give him two of these, he will be in terrible pain so promise me you will give them to him."
"Okay but don't go too far Brent,it's going to get dark soon so take your jacket to keep warm, it gets pretty cold out here at night. Thousands and thousands of miles of nothing was around us so I prayed that my call sparked a search in this area but I had to make sure.
I went outside and walked and walked, no signal but I saw a hill on the horizon so I walked towards it, I was hoping it wouldn't get too cold and I had to go back to Dave, he needed to be kept warm and I hope to God Phil snapped out of it and did that.
I walked back checking my phone every few minutes but I couldn't find the wreckage, fuck me, I was lost.
After what I thought was the third day, I was sitting under a Boab tree in the shade, my skin was red raw, I was scratched, burnt and I knew I had to do something but I couldn't remember what it was. An aborigine passed by and he smiled at me and waved, he had a very large goanna over his shoulder. I slept the day away in the shade, bull ants bit me but I have been here before, I remembered being bitten by bugs a long, long time ago, my skin was used to it and I didn't care. At night I walked, it was cold but I needed to be somewhere, I needed to do something, I stopped exhausted and stuffed if I know why, I turned the telephone on. There was a signal and it beeped and beeped as hundreds of messages downloaded, Conner, I know a Conner I think? I opened the first one and read, 'Where are you, please call HOME.'
Home, my home, I remembered I had to call home, my hand lifted and I saw my ring,then taking it off, I knew my home phone number so I dialed,
"Home," I said.
"Guys we've found him, get a lock on his phone. Are you all right Brent, Brent? Brent are you there?"
(A man was lying in the red dust, thousands of miles from anywhere; he clutched a mobile phone in his hand and the sun bore down on Brenton Walsh's face.)
"Brent, Brent, he's waking up." Someone was calling my name and I had to do something.
"Home Conner, home," was all I could manage.
"You've been found Brent, you're safe with me. I am here and you are going to be all right, Con is with you, you're home."
I smiled as I felt a warm hand on my face; lifting it to my lips, I kissed it gently.
Who knows how long I was out to it but the next time I awoke, I woke with a start.
"Dave, I have to help Dave, Con the plane crashed, Dave's hurt bad and Phil's a mess, I have to go to them." My eyes shot open as I heard a familiar voice.
"Dave's fine Brent and I'm here with you," he said as he touched my face.
It was Phil but he looked dreadful.
I half sat up, my head spun but I held myself there.
"Phil, you're here." Tears started to fall.
"How's David?" My panic took over.
"He's okay Brent, he made it thanks to you. He's here in the hospital but thank God they found you, I told you not to walk off you dick head, but oh no, not Brenton Walsh, he goes off on his merry little way, you were gone for five days Brent and now you have a bad case of sunstroke, dehydration and ant bites not to mention the sunburn. We were picked up within three hours of crashing, the globe was blown but not the distress signal, which I thank God for, David regained consciousness not long after," he said.
"I have to see him Phil, I'm so worried about him,how's his leg?"
"You did a first class job Brent, he's moody and just wants to get out of here. We have just had another fight, he thinks I'm going to pinch his prosthesis when he gets one so he can't run from me when I want the sexy business," he laughed.
"Why the hell are you in such a good mood Phil?"
"Because we survived and you were found, my hero and David's savior. Brent, we were in Afghanistan, my God we have seen a lot worse than a banged up leg but I am sorry for falling to pieces, I really didn't know what to do but you took over and did a wonderful job. I'm happy you were found and David wants to see you a.s.a.p." He prattled on then hugged me, his sobbing took away his laughing and I held him tight while stroking his back.
"I think a visit to Mary's office is needed Phil and soon my handsome friend," I whispered in his ear.
"I know, I was so scared I was going to kill you both with that belly landing but it was all I could do."He was shaking.
"You did good Phil, you saved us all and I know that you're the best pilot in the skies," I said trying to calm him down.
"What's this, playing with my boyfriend behind my back?" Conner joked.
"I'm sorry Conner, so sorry," Phil cried.
Conner also held him and between us we managed to calm him down a bit.
He sat in the chair next to my bed and held my hand, kissing it continuously until Mary came and took him in her arms.
"I told you Phil, you have to talk to me. Brent, I will get to you soon but first things first, good to see you are still with us and still fighting back," she smiled.
"Phil I have a room booked, come with me," she said and gave us the thumbs up as she escorted Phil from the room.
Conner dove on my mouth instantly and I of course dove back.
"Are you okay baby?"
"Sure Con, it was a bit scary but I wasn't worried, Dave and Phil wouldn't hurt me, I never even thought for one minute I would be harmed. I am just so sorry I had to do what I did Con but the wing had spun around and sliced clean through Dave's leg, it was only hanging by a bit of skin. I had to stop the bleeding as fast as I could so amputation was the first course of action and as for getting lost, don't even go there, my stupidity caught up with me, I don't remember anything except I saw an aborigine on my travels, well I think I did," I laughed.
"Probably sunstroke,I was so worried baby, I was thinking back to last year and I couldn't cope with that happening again but somehow I knew deep down inside you would be found." He was lying on the bed with me by this time, I didn't hurt anywhere but I was dying to see David.
"Con, I'm here at home with you and I am okay, I'm not going to dwell on the crash but I am going to ask David's forgiveness and try and help Phil, it's not right that he's feeling like shit when he is the hero and I'm going to make sure he knows that." I kissed him again.
He fell asleep so I pried myself away from him and got out of that hospital bed and took myself to the toilet.
On the way back I went to the nurses station and inquired which room Dave was in.
I pushed open his door to find he was awake, he smiled at me and I hugged him.
"I'm so sorry Dave, so very sorry, I didn't want to do it but there was no choice."
"I know Brent my friend, how are you feeling, everyone was so worried about you."
"I'm good, I wasn't that scared Dave, I knew you and Phil wouldn't put me in danger, but your leg," I strayed.
"Brent I had a friend, a best mate over in Afghanistan, his head was blown off as he was in mid sentence telling me I was a dork so I think I can cope with half a leg. By the way, the doctors want to meet you, they said you did a first class job like I knew you would, have you seen Phil?"
"Umm yes, he came to see me, Mary's with him at the moment as he's a bit upset."
"He was worried about you that's all, it's all good Brent, his adrenalin is leaving him and he's tired cause he's been here twenty four seven and it's grinding me down," he laughed as he stroked my hair.
"Are you really going to be all right Dave?"
"Of course and when the insurance comes through I get to fly a new plane, I can't wait," he said, laughing again.
"Now you're in here making out with Phil's boyfriend, I don't believe you, I had better get you home before the nurses get attacked."
I kissed Dave and told him I loved him.
"Take me home Con, let's go."
He breathed out heavily, "You got it baby."
I checked myself out and Conner drove me home but no Ray and John, so I grabbed my Con and we banged on their back door.
"Brent, Conner, what's the matter?"
"The matter John is I wanted a hug, so here I am."
He threw his arms around me and we rocked back and forth until Ray appeared and did the same.
"Hungry?" John asked.
"Yep but not for food but I will see you tomorrow for breakfast, you can bring it over if you like." I punched a smiling John's arm then grabbed Conner and steered him to the bedroom.
He cried a little before I calmed him down and then he went to sleep, I held him tight to my body. Everybody is coming down from the ordeal but I firmly believed Davo and Phil would not have put me in any danger. I just knew that, I put myself in danger by walking off, half of which I can't remember, if it wasn't for the hundreds of bites and sunburn I wouldn't have even thought much of it but I'm glad my Con is back in my arms, his smell, his face, his warmth, his guns, his pecks, fuck, now what do I do, my dick is rock hard again, fuck it!
I also knew, all jokes aside I would eventually come down to earth and probably with a tremendous thud.
True to their style, breakfast had already been started by the time Con and I finished our showers. Ray and John treated us like royalty, they really went all out to try and move on from a disastrous week and the spread on our table looked like it was to feed a cast of thousands. The doorbell rang so I answered it.
It was my family, Jen, Bob, Rob, Adam, Marty, Di, little Conner even Mary and Tom but the only one missing was Phil, I looked for him but Mary said to give him a little time, he has a lot to deal with. Tom kissed me and hugged Conner who in the meantime had picked up a much larger little boy who gurgled into his face while trying to twist his nose off with his chubby hand. Bob held me and kissed my neck and so did Jen who shed a tear, Adam and Rob did the same while Marty shook my hand but then he relented and hugged me.
Di was a little quiet but very happy to see me, she was the one I thought would crack so I took her hand and didn't let it go for some time that morning, just trying to re-assure her I was okay.
"Got a boyfriend yet Tom?" Conner asked. Oh, wrong thing to say to a fourteen year old in front of a crowd.
He went beetroot red and looked at Mary, poor kid, he really didn't know what to say.
I leaned over and whispered, "Tom, ask Conner if he has." He thought about it for a minute and blurted out,
"No, I'm working on it but when I get one I won't treat him bad like you did to Brent in Brisbane last year," looking at Conner.
"Wha?" Con's mouth wouldn't work.
"Well, I asked you if you were gay last year and you said no. How do you think Brent felt, that was a terrible thing to say, you should have said yes and I love him. If I had someone like Brent as a boyfriend I wouldn't put him down like you did." Tom had the soapbox, all eyes looked at Conner so Di chipped in,
"Well answer him Conner, we are all ears." I cracked up laughing and so did the rest of the table. Tom was kissed and patted on the back and John tried to give him extra pancakes but he politely said no.
Conner's mouth was still open but then he couldn't stop laughing for ages.
"Smart little shit aren't you?" he laughed.
"Yep, if you need any good man lovin tips uncle Conner, I'm available."
He cracked it and began screaming with laughter. Di was holding her ribs and it was good to see she was happy again.
When everyone went home and the dishwasher sloshed its way through a second load, I flopped on the sofa while kicking my shoes off; I decided I needed some quiet time.
Conner was under the shower so I took the opportunity to ring the hospital to inquire how Davo was, they said he was sleeping and comfortable, I relaxed.
"Baby, wake up."
Conner was shaking my shoulder.
"Do you want to go in to see Phil?"
"No Con, let's leave it for a few days, can we just concentrate on us for now, do you think we should go ahead with our holiday?"
"I think we should but I have a better idea, let's just stay home, I want you home here just for now baby, we will see about Sorrento later on okay?"
"Yes Con, it wouldn't feel right at the moment." I laid my head on his shoulder relaxing with my man, thinking about Phil's screaming and what state he would be in now if Dave had died, and then it hit me, what would have happened to Conner if I had died? I shivered.
"You cold hun?"
"No Con, just someone walking over my grave,that's all."
"Do you want to talk?"
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