Castle Roland

The Odd One Out

by Gary Conder


Chapter 13

Published: 13 Jun 16

The Odd One Out

Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved

Odd Man Out Logo

Harry was due to arrive the following day and Colt had an empty pantry.

"I'll have to go shopping," He said and checked the refrigerator. "Milk, cheese, butter; what else." He called to Charlie who added a list of his own.

"I'll come with you." Charlie suggested.

"Good you can drive."

Once in town Charlie stopped for petrol and as he was filling the tank, Colt called through the window to a young red headed bean pole of a fellow walking by.

"Hey Will or is it Steve." He called his head and shoulders protruding through the vehicle window.

The lad turned. It's Steve, Blakie cant you tell the difference, you were at school with us long enough.

"Shit Steve how do you expect to tell you apart when your own mother can't." Colt answered.

"There is one way to do so." Steve suggested with a broad grin.

"Yea and I'm not going to have you drop your dacks in the street to prove anything."

"What have you been up to since the cricket finished?" Steve asked.

"Not a lot, the horses keep me busy. How's Dianne?"

"Great, she's gone somewhere with Will, see ya." The young skinny red head turned and went on his way towards town.

"Who's that?" Charlie asked climbing back into the cabin.

"That my friend is a long story." Colt answered and laughed.

"Out with it."

"It's quite a story."

"I've all day." Charlie declared.

"Well it's like this, Steve and Will are identical twins and both passionate about the same girl and she couldn't make up her mind which one of the twins she liked best, so Dianne did the only thing possible." Colt was enjoying his telling, drawing his story out for as long as possible.

"What did she do?" Charlie was most interested, refusing to start the motor until Colt finished his story.

"It seemed that seeing Dianne never knew which twin she was out with or screwing, unless the light was on, she decide to have them both and often at the same time."

"What's the go with the light?" Charlie asked.

"Steve has a birthmark on his arse, other than that they are mirror images of each other, face, hands, dick balls everything." Again Colt laughed.

"How do you know that?"

"I was at school with them and there was sports days, what do you think."

"You perv." Charlie teased and started the motor.

"Not only that but they both want to marry her, so Dianne suggest, seeing they couldn't legally marry, the three of them live in some strange de facto relationship, a pas de trois sorta thing, if there is such a saying."

"What if she gets preggers? They won't know who the father is."

"Don't suppose they thought of that."

"What do their oldies think of it all?" Charlie asked, allowing his conservative upbringing to surface.

"I doubt if they know."

"Would you do something like that?" Charlie asked as he turned into Main Street. Finding a space close by the supermarket he parked.

"If you were a twin probably and I am somewhat partial to red heads, maybe I could make it a foursome with them."

"Are you fair dinkum?"

Colt gave a grin but refrained from answering.

"Sometimes I have my doubts about you Mr. Colt Blake, you're the quiet smouldering type and who knows what's hiding in that devious little brain of yours."

"Not a lot, mainly horse sweat and the scent of leather." Colt answered.

It was while visiting the supermarket's meat section Colt noticed the old man at the far end of the counter. Giving Charlie a nudge to draw his attention, he spoke in a whisper. "You know who that old bugger is?"

Charlie glanced in the direction of the stranger. "No who?"

"That, my friend is Coach Jamieson."

"He doesn't look so old." Charlie observed. Jamieson would have been in his late sixties, even early seventies as his tenure as coach did pass usual retirement age. He was a tall well built man who, except for a sun lined face, could pass for much younger, while still possessing a full head of salt and pepper hair in a style too young for his advancing years.

"That was the school's resident molester."

Jack Jamieson received his order and turned before Colt could move away from his presence.

"Young Russell Blake, I liked your cricket this year, except for your golden duck, are you going to play district next season?" Jamieson asked his eyes switching from Colt to Charlie. "Who have we here? The opposition spin and duck master, now that's what this town needs, a good spin bowler." He said returning his eyes back to Colt and down to the crotch of his jeans. Colt felt naked under the old man's gaze and if he could have done so, would have crossed his legs away from the greed of Jamieson's eyes.

"No Jack I don't think I'll be playing cricket next season." Colt declared turning away from the Coach's gaze.

"That's a shame you could bat for Australia if you put you mind to it." Jamieson turned to Charlie, "What about you young fellow, are you playing locally now?"

"Don't rightly know." Charlie answered vaguely.

"You're a damn good bowler; I wish I had had you on the school team."

Jamieson excused himself and as he moved towards the check out Colt whispered to Charlie. "I bet the dirty old bugger would have loved you on the school team."

"Did he rape you?" Charlie asked.

"No but I didn't ask for it."

"Did you enjoy what he did?" Charlie asked.

Colt thought for a moment. "Suppose in a way I did and as I remember, I imagined it to be Eric down there working away with his mouth."

"Oh well no damage done." Charlie brushed away the incident, remembering when he had visited his Uncle Donnie.

"Not to me but others may have been damaged."

"Why did you tell him you wouldn't be playing next year?" Charlie asked, believing it to be odd for his friend to lie about his future position in the team.

"Don't rightly know. It was as if I was protecting myself by lying. I felt naked standing there listening to him talk, feeling his eyes piercing through the front of my jeans. I guess by shamming I felt I was distancing myself from him."

"Yes he does have wandering eyes." Charlie agreed and moved towards the check out. Colt quickly pulled him back into the shop.

"Hold on a minute or we will be waiting behind Jamieson, I don't want to start conversation with him."

Eventually Jamieson departed and it was the boy's turn to be served.

"Morning Russell," The young Checkout Chick greeted with a smile, as she unconsciously passed each product under the scanner, her eyes beyond Colt and fixed on Charlie. A new face in town was always a draw to the local girls. "Who's your friend?" She asked, her blond pony tail dancing about with each mechanical movement of her small white hands, with their perfectly manicured painted fingernails.

"It's Charlie Wyse from Mt. Oakey." Colt introduced.

"Hi Charlie, I'm Rhonda." She introduced herself with a girlish giggle.

"It's nice to meet you Rhonda."

"Don't you play cricket?" Rhonda asked as the last item passed through the checkout.

"I do but for Mt. Oakey."

"Rhonda Clifford would you stop nattering and get a move on, some of us have work to do." The elderly voice of Violet Bradley, a fellow of the Woman's Association and associate of Colt's Aunt Mavis, cut across the girl's discussion. Instantly the smile dissolved from Rhonda's face as Colt turned towards the woman. "As for you young Mr. Blake, you should know better than to hold up the queue."

"Good morning to you Mrs. Bradley." Colt nodded his head in doubtful respect and paid for his shopping.

Harry arrived late in the afternoon with Wayne at the wheel of their shining new Falcon. They had only recently purchased their new vehicle and part of the visit was to give it a long run.

Harry was first out of the vehicle and his shoe into a pile of horse dung.

"Horse shit, now I know I'm home!" He declared loudly shaking the dry fibrous muck from his shoe.

Colt met his uncle at the car and offered his hand while nodding courteously towards Wayne, who responded with a smile and a gentle nod of the head while collecting their bags.

"Do you want a hand?" Colt asked as Wayne closed the boot.

"Na, there is only a couple of bags and I'm accustomed to your uncle using me as a pack horse."

"Now Wayne, try and be nice to our host."

"Yes boss." Wayne answered and fell in behind Harry and Colt.

The three walked towards the stairs, where Charlie quietly waited leisurely leaning on the verandah rail. Harry lifted his head and smiled, "G'day mate." He greeted. Charlie nodded without responding. The three reached the verandah. Colt introduced the visitors to Charlie and led the new arrivals into the kitchen.

"Sit yourselves down for a mo' before I show you your room. Coffee, tea beer?" Colt offered.

"Coffee would be nice," Wayne suggested. While Harry appeared to be intrigued with Charlie. Eventually he spoke.

"Charlie what's your family name?" He quizzically asked.

"Wyse, why is that Harry?"

"I thought so, I knew your old man; you are the image of him when he was your age. We were at school together. I also knew your mother." Harry revealed in amazement.

"I didn't know dad lived here in town." Charlie answered.

"He sure did, he met your mother at a local bush dance night; he could dance like the devil himself.

"Dad's too serious to dance these days." Charlie replied and excused himself.

"Are you sure it alright with Charlie?" Harry asked once out of hearing.

"Do you mean about the two of you?"

"Yes that about the score."

"Sure he is," Colt affirmed, "come on I'll show you to your room or rooms if you wish."

"No we'll bunk in together if you're sure it won't upset anyone."

"Nope, only Mavis but she won't be visiting, I've already warned her you were coming, so treat the place as if it were your home; besides it used to be anyway."

Pausing at each bedroom door, there were six in all, Colt declared ownership to the first. "That's my room." He continued to the next, "Charlie's room and yours will be the one on the left, there's a double bed already made." Harry opened the door and peered into the sparingly furnished room, stepping aside as Wayne passed with their bags.

"Should do fine," Harry said, "what do you think Wayne?"

"No worries, you know me, I could sleep on a park bench." Wayne agreed and placed the bags on the bed.

Dinner that night was perfect. Apparently Wayne was a head chef in a swanky city restraint and put his culinary skills to work in Colts kitchen, dramatically ordering everyone out as he worked, while turning mere meat and vegetables into a banquet, also to go with Wayne's feast, Harry had brought with him some bottles of top shelf wine.

"It all tastes like vinegar to me," Charlie honestly answered and opened a can of beer. For the sake of courtesy Colt sampled the wine but concurred with Charlie.

"You country people are Philistines." Harry protested, pouring himself a glass of red.

"You're country born." Colt quickly interjected.

"Don't remind me but that was in another life." Harry protested.

After their meal Colt and Harry retired to the front verandah, while Charlie, wishing to give his friend and Harry some space agreed to a game of poker with Wayne. At first Wayne suggested they play chess but Charlie found the game too ponderous, suggesting something a little lighter, so Wayne proposed gambling with matchsticks. Each stick worth a dollar, while at game's end the debt to be paid with a handshake.

At first uncle and nephew were contented to relax listening to the night but people being a gregarious species couldn't allow the symphony of the dark to remain unchallenged for too long a period. Besides Colt still had many questions he wished to ask and finding his brother Toby was dominant but Harry was gone from the town even before Colt's birth and couldn't help.

Harry did have some knowledge of his brother's horse breeder friend but the name escaped him, promising on his return home he would investigate further. He possessed a photo album with a photo of Stan and the horse breeder included. Also there were many other photographs of Colt's parents that he would supply.

"You know this house wasn't as big when we were kids and your dad and I had a room under the house, even shared it with a snake or two on the occasion. Mavis had a room inside. It was dad, your grandfather who built all the rooms and that wasn't until we were in our mid teenage years." Harry declared.

"Why did he do so with only three kids?" Colt asked.

"Who knows, he once read about the Winchester house in California and maybe that had some influence on him."

"What's with the Winchester house, anything to do with the rifle?" Colt asked.

"It was the rifle fellow. I don't rightly know the full story but I believe old man Winchester died and his daughter kept building rooms onto the house as her old man kept haunting her." Harry paused and released a rye grin, "guilty conscience I guess."

Colt changed the subject. "Mavis tells me you have two daughters?" He asked.

"Had I suppose would be more appropriate, that was in my wild days, both pregnancies occurred almost in the same month. I don't even remember the other girl's name and her family left town soon after discovering she was pregnant." Harry paused and laughed. "Her old man came knocking with a verbal shotgun, threatened to cut my balls off" Harry's mirth became a sigh, remembering his wild days when he swung from straight to being gay as the whim arose.

"What about Judy's mother?" Colt asked.

"Stella was different. She was tomboyish and in the right light could easily be mistaken for a boy." Harry paused and released the style of laugh that people gave when remembering something pleasurable. "I would have married Stella."

"Why didn't you?"

"Ah I met Wayne and all thoughts of marriage then became obsolete."

"Didn't you know you were gay earlier?"

"I knew I was different; the odd one out as if to say but thought it was only a phase and I would grow out of it with the love of a good woman. Besides even if I wished to do so, who could I talk to? Back then I couldn't admit being gay even to myself." Harry paused and continued "not like these days, they shouted it out for everyone to hear and every group of friends has to have at least one gay member."

"Were there other so called gay fellers in town back then?" Colt asked.

"A few, while I was down the street I noticed one or two still around and by their appearance now married. I suppose back then they were only experimenting but I wasn't."

"Any regrets?" Colt asked.

"None what so ever, meeting Wayne was the best thing that ever happened to me." Harry paused, "that and going down to the city."

"Want another beer?" Charlie offered and both opened another can.

"What about you young fellow, there must be more about you than horses." Harry asked.

"There isn't a lot, what you see is about all there is, I like cricket and playing football and having a drink with the mates. I love horses and living out here away from the gossip of town." Laughing he continued "and away from the gossip of your sister."

"Mavis was always somewhat spiteful, even as kids she leant more towards Stan than me." Harry answered.

"Truly Harry, when you get to know her and accept her ways, Mavis isn't that bad."

"What about your mate Charlie?" Harry was becoming personal and Colt believed he was standing at the edge of a very large precipice, would he topple into the unknown. For a second he would and then as he felt his emotions lean towards declaring himself he pulled back and didn't answer the question.

"Charlie seems to be a likeable lad," Harry continued.

"He's a bloody good bowler," Colt offered, attempting to mask his true feelings towards Charlie.

"So I hear," Harry accepted.

It was the third beer that brought Colt back to the edge of his precipice, this time he felt prepared to open up to his uncle.

"Can you keep a secret Harry?" Colt asked in a low unsure tone which caught his uncle's attention.

"Why have you got one?" Harry asked

"Everyone has secrets and sometimes they even keep it from their self."

"Very smart young fellow, I reckon I can keep mum." Harry assured.

For some time Colt remained silent as his emotions swung from revealment to secrecy and back again. Eventually he spoke.

"You know that apple you were talking about, I think as you expected, it didn't fall far from the tree." Colt sighed nervously and turned his face into the night, fixing his gaze on the dark silhouette of the distant mango tree and lighter outline of the shed beneath shimmering in the moonlight.

"You're gay?" Harry disclosed a little too loudly for Colts liking.

"Keep it down Harry,"

"What you and Charlie?"

"Sort of but we've never spoke about it, just do it, if you know what I mean."

"Do you love him?" Harry asked.

"I don't think I know what love means, I like being with him and miss him when he goes home for the weekend but love's a bit girlie."

"What are you going to do about it?" Harry asked lowering his voice to an almost whisper.

"That's the problem, I don't know, most probably nothing." As Colt spoke there was a rise of laughter from the card players with Charlie, in good spirit, accusing Wayne of cheating.

"I did not." Wayne disputed and won yet another hand as Charlie accepted his protest.

"Want a refill?" Charlie offered, making his way to the refrigerator.

"Sure, what is it with you and Colt?" Wayne asked.

"I don't know what you mean." Charlie answered suggesting it was time they should join the two on the verandah.

"Are you two an item?" Wayne, like a dog with a bone, wasn't prepared to let it go.

"What do you mean by an item Wayne?" Charlie asked.

"You know, at it, lovers."

"Lovers!" Charlie announced somewhat loudly, bringing both Colt and Harry to turn their heads. "What makes you say that?" Charlie lowered his voice.

"It's the way you look at each other, care for what the other thinks. Sorry if I've offended you." Wayne was peddling away from his assertion, believing he may have overstepped that thin line of propriety. He had but Charlie was willing to accept his intrusion.

"Maybe we are but you will have to talk to Colt about that." Charlie answered, again suggesting they join the others on the verandah.

"What's the topic?" Charlie asked on joining Colt and Harry.

"You wouldn't believe me." Colt answered and flashed a look towards Harry that defied him not to repeat what he had been told.

"Unlike you lot I have work tomorrow, I'm off to bed." Charlie yawned and excused himself.

"I'm off too Harry, Colt do you mind if I fix myself a coffee first?" Wayne asked.

"Sure make yourself at home, you know where everything is."

Once again Harry and Colt were alone to enjoy the solitude of the night.

"Don't you miss the farm?" Colt asked while listening to the chirping of crickets.

"Not at all, I was more than happy to leave. I love the city, the lights, crowds of people, restraints, even a night club on the occasion."

"I've never been to the city." Colt admitted.

"Why don't you come down and stay with Wayne and me for a while? There's plenty of room and Wayne works mostly at night, he would show you the sights."

"I don't think so, a couple of days and I'd miss the horses."

Harry shook his head in disbelief. "You're nothing like your father that is for sure. Stan was more than prepared to leave the care of the farm to others and travel. As for myself I was also glad to see the back of the place. I'd say you're more like my dad, your grandfather, it was impossible to drag him from his horses."

"Stan also loved his horses." Colt protested.

"Maybe so but not as much as he did the night lights."

Harry paused before becoming serious, "there is one thing I do miss and that is the innocence of youth. Once it's gone you can't get it back." Another pause, "don't ever lose it Colt."

Colt shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know what it is, so how can I lose it?"

"That's the problem, you never know what it is until it's gone."

The second day of Harry's visit became quite warm for that time of the year. Some said climate change but if one was to do some research, it was the same every year, Indian summer and with Easter approaching it would be gone.

Harry suggested a swim in what he once called his private swimming hole.

"Any one for skinny dipping," Harry announced after lunch. Wayne agreed, Charlie wasn't sure and Colt wasn't interested.

"What's the matter kid were all men together and I'm sure none of us is any different to the other." Harry remarked.

"I wouldn't bet on that," Charlie commented giving a mischievous glance towards Colt, without either Harry or Wayne connecting with his innuendo.

"Alright then but best we wear shorts, there have been town's kids along the river of late and I don't want to shock them." Colt warned, not wishing to be naked in front of his uncle or Wayne. It was agreed.

Late afternoon after their refreshing swim and Charlie had left for Mt. Oakey, Mavis arrived without the knowledge her brother was visiting. She did know he intended to do so but had no idea when and Harry had parked the car at the back of the house. Not that she knew her brother's car but the sight of a strange vehicle may have warned her away.

Halfway up the front stairs in her usual flurry, she paused at the sight of a stranger standing, his face in shadow, close to the verandah rail. She froze; fight or flea but too late to turn and leave.

"Good afternoon sis." Harry solemnly greeted and stood like a sentinel guarding against an onslaught of twenty years of despise. Mavis refrained from answering, reaching the verandah as Colt came from inside, his face distraught with regret.

"Sorry Mavis but I did warn you; you should have telephoned first." Colt apologised and led her into the kitchen as Wayne fled from sight to the bedroom without being discovered. Mavis didn't respond.

"Coffee Mavis," Colt offered.

"Suppose so – I should think I'd need something stronger after what I just saw." She answered curtly.

"What do you want me to do, I could ask Harry to take a long walk?"

"Doesn't matter, it's happened now."

"Do you want to speak to Harry?"

"East I don't know, I just don't know."

Colt made coffee while Mavis sat in silence, her stare beyond the large kitchen window to the cottonwool clouds motionless in the vault of blue. It was obvious she was angry but beneath that harden exterior there was a woman's softness, the spark of what was once a sister's love for her siblings that pride would not allow it to reignite.

"Harry's here until Wednesday." Colt advised; his voice soft and pensive. He poured the coffee.

"Is he alone?" Mavis asked.


"Where's your fancy mate?" Mavis asked.

"Charlie has gone home for the weekend."

"Well I suppose that's a god send, at least the two can corrupt him."

"Harry won't corrupt anyone; we are all adult Mavis and have our own lives to live." Colt' voice gentle but firm, "do you want me to bring Harry in to talk to you?" Colt asked.

"I don't think so; I only came over to give you the news about Judy." Mavis' mood suddenly improved.

"She is alright?"

"Of course she is; she's just become engaged to David Rosenbach." Mavis' eyes brightened as she spoke but wished it were Colt announcing his engagement and said so.

"David's Jewish isn't he?" Colt asked more out of what domination the wedding would be, than his interest in David's religious belief.

"No he's C. of E. only the name is Jewish but somewhere way back I think the family may have been."

"When is the wedding?" Colt asked.

"Quite soon, I'll let you know later."

"Then Harry should be told." Colt declared with a measure of vigour.

"Tell him by all means but Judy doesn't know who Harry is, she believes her father died when she was a baby, so I don't want him turning up for the wedding."

Mavis turned her head towards the verandah but Harry had gone. He had wisely taken himself to the stables.

"East I want you to promise you will keep Harry away from Judy." Mavis was most adamant as she gathered her oversized bag about her and readied to leave.

"Harry wouldn't do anything to hurt Judy." Colt assured.

"Good and you can tell Harry from me, I can almost forgive him for being homosexual and leaving but I can't forgive him for what he did to Stella and Judy."

Mavis had been gone for over an hour before Harry returned from his walk. Appearing somewhat shaken, akin to one who had seen the reflection of someone thought dead and uncharacteristic for Harry, he was lost for words. Colt immediately related his conversation with Mavis to his uncle.

"I wouldn't do that Colt." Harry assured.

"I believe you, maybe some day you can make it up with Mavis but I would leave it to her to make the first move."

Again Harry agreed with his nephew, even if saddened by the experience.

"You know Colt, I may never come this way again, I know now it is wrong to chase the past, especially one full of guilt." Harry sighed and opened the refrigerator, "ah we're out of beer, another failure."

"Try the fridge in the pantry its chockers."

Harry returned with two cans of beer, want one?" He offered.

"Not at the moment but Harry. You leaving wasn't a failure, just think how much worse it would have been if you stayed, married Stella, brought up Judy and probably others, then found you could no longer live the lie."

As Colt concluded Wayne entered the room. He had kept himself busy and away from Mavis' visit, hearing Harry's voice assumed she must have departed.

"I'm sorry to be a wet blanket Harry but we should be heading back tomorrow. I just had a call and the boss wants me to work Tuesday, someone's gone off sick." Wayne suggested collecting the can of beer Harry had offered to Colt. On opening the beer he regained his manners, "Sorry Colt I must have been thinking I was home, do you mind?"

"No not at all."

"About Tuesday," Wayne repeated.

Harry placed his beer down, "suppose we should be heading back, I think I have caused enough trouble here even without going into town."

"No trouble at all Harry and I expect other visits from you. I still have a stack of questions about dad and the old days and we will do that pub crawl I promised." Colt words were cheerful and reassuring.

"That may end in a lynching party." Harry brightened somewhat and finished his beer. "You know young fellow, I may just take you up on some future visit. It may be interesting to meet a few of the old crew from school." Harry smiled. "And conquests."

"Good, and like I promised, I'll get you back in the saddle again, see if any of the Blake horsemanship rubbed off on you." Colt turned to Wayne. "What about you Wayne, are you any good on a horse?"

"A fashion clothes horse maybe." Wayne declared without a morsel of enthusiasm towards placing his fashionable arse onto the leather of a saddle.

That evening after another marvellous meal prepared by Wayne, Harry and Colt, as became their habit, found comfort on the verandah among the crickets and darkness, while Wayne humoured with Colt's music collection. He called from the living room. "Hey Colt,"

"What's up Wayne?"

"Country music is that all you have?"


"Whining voices complaining about their woman clearing out and their dog dying," Wayne protested.

"There not all like that there's some Graeme Connor CD's and two or three Paul Kelly." Colt called back.

"Shit mate I don't believe it, there's a Pink Floyd CD here."

"That belongs to Charlie." Colt answered. "If you look inside the cupboard to the left, you'll find the rest of his collection."

Wayne pushed the Pink Floyd disc into the player and lay back as tracks from Dark Side of the Moon filled the air with their haunting strain.

"That reminds me," Harry spoke as Wayne cranked up the volume. "What are you going to do about Charlie?"

"In what way do you mean Harry?"

"Are you going to make a proper relationship out of it?"

"That is a good question, it's alright for you and Wayne, you don't live in a small town with an aunt who is always trying to marry you off to the first girl who comes along, regardless if she's fat with buck teeth and spots."

"Other couples live in small towns and get along alright." Harry informed.

"Not this town, what about the footy and cricket team, they would more than likely tar and feather me." Colt felt a chill out of a warm night as he thought of Eric or the other's discovering his true leaning.

"I would be surprised if there weren't couples even in this town."

Harry envisaged.

"I've never met them."

"You've never gone looking and you won't find them out here on the farm and they don't walk around the streets with signs hanging around their necks."

"I could always shack up with our old coach." Colt laughed in an attempt to remove the seriousness from their conversation.

"Well all I can say young fellow, if you don't do something about it, someone else will, or Charlie will drift away to the city in search of that someone."

"Maybe you're right."

"Too right I am and I've seen it happen many times. He's a good lad and it's obvious he thinks the world of you."

The conversation on Colt's relationship terminated as Wayne became tired of Pink Floyd and joined them. Leaning across the verandah rail he spoke. "You know something Harry I could get use to country life."

"Do you want to make a tree change?" Harry asked.

"As long as you bring along the night clubs and the restaurants," Wayne paused and with levity added, "also the fashion houses."

"Who is this fellow marrying Judith?" Harry asked displaying a spark of fatherhood towards his begotten daughter.

"David Rosenbach, you remember the Rosenbach's? The family has been in town for yonks."

"Is his old man the Archie Rosenbach from the chemist?"

"That's the family."

"I went to school with Archie, he was a great bloke. What is David like?" Harry asked showing the vigilance of a father for his daughter's wellbeing.

Colt gave a grin. "Circles," he said and shook his head.

"What do you mean by circles?" Harry asked.

"Everything goes around in circles, you went to school with David's father Archie; I went to school with David. Nothing changes, only goes around in generational circles."

"Ah but I broke that circle of your's by leaving town." Harry announced, finding a flaw in his nephew's decree.

"No you just made a new circle and I'm sure down in the city you have other circles within circles."

"You have me there and the conversation is going around in circles. When is Charlie due back?"

"He has a long weekend and won't be back until tomorrow afternoon."

"Then I won't see him before we leave, you make sure you thank him for us staying and again." Harry paused and pointed a demanding finger towards the middle of Colt's forehead, gently touching. "Be sure you do something about that young fellow or you will loose him."

Harry and Wayne departed late in the afternoon and Charlie returned from visiting his parents a short while later. For their tea they had leftovers from Wayne's previous night's meal and for dessert a beer on the front verandah enjoying the calm of the night.

"How's you mum, you said she wasn't well?" Colt asked.

"Much the same and like Mavis on my back about settling down."

"What did you tell her?"

"Not a lot, only one day I may surprise her." Charlie released a light tittering, "Or more to the point shock her."

Colt wished to ask his friend what he meant by shock but couldn't find the words. Why he could not was a mystery and it bit deeply into his essence, as Harry's words came back to him, haunting like the ghost of Christmas past. Testing him, teasing, demanding but still he could do nothing. Say nothing. He looked deeply into Charlie's face and found comfort. It was like settling into a soft pillow after a hard day's work. Was this the love Harry spoke off? If so Colt was truly in love. Lowering his eyes he watched as Charlie's bare chest rose and fell with each slow deep breath. What was life like before Charlie, he could hardly remember but he knew he wished for this wonderful experience to continue.

"What do you think mate?" Charlie asked.

"I think it's about bed time." Colt answered and called Max back to the verandah.

The darkness in the room felt good but not as pleasant as Charlie's hand across his body as it searched for the heat of his manhood. Moments later he felt the moisture of Charlie's lips and soft warm breath on his neck. Charlie paused and laughed. It was a nervous laugh, almost apologetic and laced with guilt.

"I think I may have brought you undone to Wayne." He whispered close to Colt's ear.

"How's that?"

"He asked me if we were an item, you know, at it and I sort of didn't deny it and said he should ask you; I couldn't think of anything else to say."

Colt burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"I also came out to Harry and said much the same, except I didn't say to ask you. I think we've had a good one done on us and they were working together."

"Do you think they will tell anyone?" Charlie appeared nervous.

"How can they, they don't know anyone in town and who they tell in the city doesn't matter."

"Suppose you're right."

"Keep doing what you were doing." Colt whispered and moved closer into the scent of Charlie, wrapping his arms around his friend's shoulders, drawing him closer.

"Well are we?" Charlie asked.

"We're definitely at it." Colt confirmed somewhat comically as his uncle's words returned once more. –'you better do something or you will lose him.'

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