While he waited, Tony glanced at the murals on the coffee shop walls. The theme was of sand and ocean, appropriate to the location near the surfing beach. The whole atmosphere of the place induced relaxation and this is why he sat idly and unnecessarily stirring his coffee. It was a beautiful day outside, the sort of day that makes you feel good to be alive. After this I’ll contact Ryan to do some surfing.
Not bad, not bad. Tastes like real coffee, not the new instant coffee currently available. I’ll have to ask what blend they serve, so’s I can get some for home. (taking a sip). Still can’t fathom the phone call, she were real mysterious. I guess I’ll know soon enough. I reckon . . . ah, here she is.
Clare Seaton waltzed into the shop, and recognizing Tony, smiled broadly as she advanced on his table. Still smiling she sat and arranged herself comfortably.
“(Pleasant) Thanks for meeting me Tony, I know it’s short notice . . . (interrupted by the waitress) Oh, just a cup of coffee please, with a small portion of milk . . . (Tony also asked for a refill) . . . now, where was I . . . Oh yes, asking to see you at short notice; I hope I haven’t inconvenienced you, Tony?”
“(Gracious) No, not at all Clare . . . Oh, is it alright I call you Clare? (she nodded) Thanks. It’s school holidays so I’ve more free time on my hands. So then, what did you want to talk about?”
“Well, it’s about Ryan (Tony nodded). He’s just come home from National Service and he’s got some silly idea in his head that he should leave me . . . ah, I mean leave home. I was hoping you could use your influence to stop him. He doesn’t know much about the outside world because I’ve spoiled him all his life. He’s always had his washing done, food on the table, and a happy nurturing environment at home. In a way I’ve been too good to him, so now he thinks . . .
She’s got to be kidding! Does she really believe what she’s saying? From what her husband and son tell, she that creates misery in the house. She obviously can’t separate fantasy from reality. She needs to see a shrink.
. . . so now he thinks he can just leave home and enjoy the same comfort he took for granted at home. You, being a mature adult, can surely agree it’s not in his best interest to leave m . . . I mean, home.”
Tony was about to respond when the waitress returned with their coffees. They both stayed silent as the waitress fussed around them. Eventually,
“Clare, why are you telling me this? Surely this is a matter between you and Ryan. I don’t know why you want to involve me. In actual fact, I think Ryan starting out on his own is a good move. He wants to stay with me, and I thought you’d be happy because you know me. I moved out of home when I was his age, so I can’t see the problem. Sorry.”
“( Edgy) So you’re happy that he would come and stay with you? You’ve talked to him behind my back?”
“(Hurriedly) NO, not behind your back. He asked me if he could stay with me and I said yes. I didn’t know I had to have your approval.”
“(Irritated) I’M HIS MOTHER! (taking a sip of coffee) Of course, he has to have my approval. It’s usual for a boy to stay with his mother until he meets a nice girl and gets married. Then, and only then, can he leave home. Most times the new couple stay with parents until they’re financially able to cope on their own.”
“(Laughing) My oh my, Clare you don’t know your son at all. I know absolutely that Ryan will reject your scenario outright. He’s not a docile baby boy anymore. You should get to know him better.”
“(Livid) HOW DARE YOU! How dare you sit there smugly and tell me I don’t know my own son. Remember I carried the boy in my womb for nine months which establishes a bond . . .”
“(Calmly) Now lets . . . (sipping coffee) not get carried away with that nonsense. I mean, what’s you carrying him in your womb got to do with the subject? Ryan’s old enough to know his own mind and you can’t stop him because he’s of legal age.”
“(Ominously) Can I ask what is your relationship with my son?”
“(Cautious ) Relationship? You know what is our relationship. We’re friends, good mates. Why do you ask?”
“(Dispassionate) Well, I’ve heard it being said around the Surf Club that you two seem to share more than just simple friendship (Tony went to interrupt) no, please let me finish. You can surely see why people are edgy (again Tony tried to butt in) no, I said let me finish. After all, you’re much older and he’s just a young boy. Such a situation is sure to cause concerns.”
“(Furious) Concerns, concerns with whom? I’m not gonna get involved with nasty gossip and troublemaking. If people have something to say, then say it to my face. On that note, no-one has accosted me about my friendship with Ryan. No-one! You listen to too many frustrated old women who have nothing better to do than dream up lies to do harm.”
“(Menacingly) So I understand you’re not going to talk to Ryan and discourage him about leaving m . . . Umm, home?”
“(Fuming) NO! On the contrary I’ll encourage him to move out as soon as possible. You should take time to think about yourself Clare. I heard Bill’s moved out and now Ryan wants to. Can’t you understand it’s you who’s the problem? You’ve literally driven your own husband and son away. You make life so miserable for people around you, the first chance they get is to distance themselves from you. Before you start criticizing others, have a good look at yourself, Clare.”
“(Outraged) HOW DARE YOU! (Bristling) How dare you infer it’s my fault. (Fuming) What a low-life you are Tony Gordon. You’ve corrupted my son and now try to make the fault mine. I can’t believe it. You’ve seduced him to come live with you so you can satisfy your carnal needs. Don’t deny it . . .”
“(Hostile) Deny it? Of course I deny it. What a foul mouth and foul mind you have, madam. You’re almost talking libel. Just because you’re terrified of being alone you can’t then stoop to castigating another person’s reputation. You call me a low-life. Take a good look at yourself, madam, before you call anyone else a low-life.”
“(Scowling) At least we know where we stand. I’ve asked you with all civility to dissuade Ryan from sharing your home, and you simply won’t. (Tony nodded vigorously) Well that makes it all easy for me. Now you should listen very carefully. If my son comes and lives with you, I’ll let it be known that you’ve used your senior age to seduce a younger man to carry on a disgusting illegal relationship and satisfy your carnal desires. I’m prepared to denounce you to the Education Department, the Surf Club, and the police. I’ll even place an ad in the local newspaper. Whilst I have no direct evidence, your relationship has already raised questions, so my notice will simply give credence to rumours. The mud will stick and you’ll never retrieve your good name. You’ll be labelled a pervert wherever you go. I’m also prepared . . .”
“(Outraged) THIS IS BLACKMAIL! (Startled, other customers looked towards the voice source) You’re blackmailing me! I can’t believe you’re blackmailing me by threatening to use harmful and untrue stigma against my character. You would stoop so low to get your way with Ryan?”
“(Nasty) YES! Yes, I would. You’re now my enemy and I’ll employ anything to stop Ryan living with you. I’ll give you one week, ONE week you hear, to tell Ryan he can’t live with you. If after that you haven’t stopped him from living with you, I’ll simply carry out ALL my threats. Of course if you report this to the police, I’ll simply deny we had this conversation. The ball’s in your court mister.”
“( Disgusted) God what a horrible person you are. Full marks to Bill for leaving you. Madam, you bring discredit to mothers everywhere and you’re a disgrace to Australian womanhood. GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!”
“(Arrogant) Gladly, I’ve said my piece and it’s now up to you . . . mister.”
Smiling evilly, Clare Seaton sailed out of the coffee shop and didn’t look back. Apparently Tony was to pay the cheque for both of them.
For several moments Tony sat there and reflected on the conversation. He had no illusion that she wouldn’t make good on her promises. His mind was in turmoil.
Fuck’n hell. What a bitch, no that’s being unkind to bitches everywhere. She’s a simple nut-case. Now I understand what Ryan’s had to contend with over the years. The poor sod. The problem is she’s hit on the truth without knowing it. We can’t afford to have anyone probing into our relationship, because if the truth comes out she’ll be exonerated. Then both Ryan and I would be charged with conducting an illegal relationship and end up in jail. I’ve got to talk to Ryan now. What on earth are we to do?
“ . . . she means it, Tony. When she wants something, she won’t let anything stand in her way. Take it from me she’s capable of great evil to get what she wants. Bloody hell! BLOODY HELL! How could I continue to live with that evil bitch?”
“(Morosely) Well, we have a week before she says she’ll carry out her threat.”
They were sitting in Tony’s loungeroom on two easy chairs facing each other. When Tony finished telling him about the meeting with his mother, Ryan fell into a gloomy depression. He felt ill.
“(Stiffly) So she’s given us a week you say (Tony nodded sadly). Well, what good is that gonna do? I mean she’s holding all the cards and there’s nothing we can do. (sigh) After this, I could really kill her . . .
“(Alarmed) NO! Stop that! I won’t hear you talk like that. I understand you’re upset, hell I’m upset too, but we can’t do anything to make the situation worse, y’hear? (Ryan reluctantly nodded) A week’s a long time, but (sighing) right now I don’t have a solution to offer. For the time being, we have to give in to her and let her believe she’s won.”
Ryan sat quietly shedding silent tears. Suddenly the elation he’d been enjoying this past week had been completely ruined. Now he really did hate his mother; just the thought of going back to live with her filled him with despair. There didn’t seem any way out.
“(Mystified) What concerns me is her claim that people are talking about our relationship. I haven’t had any adverse comments, have you?”
Ryan jolted himself out of the stupor he’d sunk into. When Tony related that part of his mother’s commentary, he’d been baffled.
“No, no I haven’t. No one’s come to me questioning our friendship. Of course folks have complimented both of us, well particularly you, in helping me with me Life Saving certificate and passing the Year 12 exams. They know about my bloody home-life and were impressed I’d been successful. That’s the only comment I’ve had.”
“Yeah, same here. I thought my profession being a teacher would provide adequate cover for us. Who on earth is she talking about? Who’s been questioning our relationship?”
“Argh, probably no-one. Sometimes she makes things up hoping she won’t be caught out lying. (long pause) You’re saying I have to knuckle under, stay home, and let her think she’s won, is that it? (Tony nodded abjectly) Maybe I can, maybe I can. I’ll have to think about it, mate. That’s not worrying me as much as the ‘getting married to a nice girl’ bit. It frightens me thinking about what leverage and pressure she’d apply to make me get married. That doesn’t bear thinking about. OH, SHIT, SHIT, SHIT. I’m trapped, I’m running out of choices. She’s gonna win, and that tastes like the bottom of a bird-cage.”
Silence. Tony could see Ryan was on the verge of tears, and he couldn’t blame him. Clare Seaton was plainly evil.
“I can’t say I know how you feel because I’d be insulting you if I did. What I can say is we’re gonna win in the long run. Look at this as a war. Now she’s won round one, she’s won this battle but not the war. Don’t you ever forget my love for you boychik. I’ll not rest until we’ve crushed yer mother completely. Sure, in the short term, you’re gonna have to bite the bullet, but I’ll find some way of defeating her. That I can promise.”
“I’ve never doubted you love mate, and don’t you ever doubt mine for you. Thanks for being positive. I like your analogy to a war and her only winning round one. I like it, but at the same time, I dread having to go back and live with her. I’m almost inclined to tell her I’m a poofter. I know that’ll hurt her and hurt her bad. It’s . . .”
“(Hurriedly ) Not now, it’d be counterproductive to say anything now. If you did, she’d have all the ammunition she needs to literally put the final nail in your coffin. No, not now. Of course she’s gonna have to find out some time, but let’s choose a time and place that suits us. Say, what about yer Dad? Is there any way he could help us now?”
“I dunno. On several occasions the thought’s crossed my mind that I should just move in with him, but that wouldn’t solve our dilemma would it?”
“No, no it wouldn’t. She wants you at home with her and she’s relying on me to force the issue. I don’t believe going to yer dad’s new place would resolve our problem. She’s clearly targeting you and me, or should I say blackmailing you and me, to keep you at home. She’s got complete leverage with me and no leverage with yer dad.”
“(Tonelessly) I guess yer right, fuck’n right. I’m not thinking clearly.
“That’s Ok. You’re the victim here and I don’t blame you for being muddled. This whole situation is unique . . . uniquely evil. (Pause) I wonder if she realizes how close to the mark she is. I’m talking about you and me having a love affair. Things are just falling too nicely for her, I can’t help but wonder if she has a smokin’ gun? Is there anyone who knows about you and I?”
“Nah, the only people that know are me mates from Nasho and they wouldn’t tell me, mother. No way! No, she’s inadvertently used the truth even though she doesn’t know how accurate she is. No, we have to assume she’s just guessing.”
For a long time the two lovers just sat quietly in the gathering gloom trying to deal with an awful situation. There would be no foreplay today. Eventually,
“Tony, I’d best get going. I’ll go home and give her the silent treatment. That’s the only ammo I have. Tomorrow I’m gonna go bush to my favourite spot and think about what’s happened this day.”
With that, Tony stood up, crossed over to where Ryan stood and gave him a big bear hug. With both men, tears were close by.
“Ok, boychik, we’ll talk again tomorrow. Keep yer chin up, we’re not beat yet. I have a germ of an idea but I need more time and thought before giving it any serious consideration.
The next morning Ryan found himself at his private bush spot. The previous night had been hard. He’d not spoken a word to his mother and rudely ignored her attempts at conversation. When she started whining, he went into his room and closed the door.
Now with the weight of the world on his shoulders, he added solitude to his misery.
“SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!”
The expletive resounded through the silence of the bush. In fact, he luxuriated in the stillness because he could truly vent his feelings without retribution. He suddenly found himself at a crossroad in life; a decision had to be made about where his life headed. Without a doubt, this turned out to be the worst time of his young life.
Of course, there really wasn’t a decision at all, because there were no acceptable alternatives. Looking back on these past years, it still mystified him how events had shaped his journey so far. There had been heartbreak and some funny occasions but over-all his life had been miserable, well only miserable until he met the man of his dreams; Tony Gordon, the man who undoubtedly conquered his heart. And now all that was in jeopardy.
“FUCK! SHIT! FUCK!”
He didn’t deserve to be in this position because he was a good person and hadn’t done harm to anyone; well except for his defensive scraps with the likes of Bert Cree. His half-brother Bert Cree. He’d survived a morbid family life and along the way, had acquired close friends. A victim! OH Yes! A victim of social rejection, of legal persecution, and negative home life. It had been a long time between laughs.
However, If you plotted all these negatives on one side of the ledger, they were easily compensated by his sex life. It could be said that he’d experienced too much too soon, but what the hell, it felt bloody good. He couldn’t understand why society viewed the sex act with such condemnation.
“BLOODY STUPID FUCKWITS!”
Of course he referred to the Catholic Church as the main culprit. It seems God wasn’t satisfied to let his flock enjoy their bodies – which apparently he’d personally designed – he only smiled on sex that produced babies. Of course it had to be conducted only in an approved manner and position. Heaven forbid! They even used a calendar to determine when to do the act.
Sadly now he was digressing and slinking away from decision time. An awful decision, that could not only fuck up his life but others as well. Y’see that’s what they don’t understand, if he had to take the most obvious path, the line of least resistance, then the consequences which flowed would cause irreparable harm – to all.
Sighing, Ryan absentmindedly used a stick to draw a happy face on the soil. Then in a fit of anger he slashed at the image and erased it.
She holds all the cards don’t she. If she acted on her threat against Tony – and I’m convinced she will – Tony’s life and reputation will be shattered. Even though she has no hard proof, there were always plenty of gossipers who would give credence to the rumour. Tony’s spot-on by letting her win Round One; in fact it’s vital she thinks she’s won. My childish goings-on last night will only aggravate the mess we’re in. I’ve gotta make her believe she’s won . . . completely. For now. I can see why leaving and going to live with dad wouldn’t satisfy her. The only leverage she has is against Tony, she doesn’t have anything to pressure my dad.
So that’s it then. I’ve gotta endure the unendurable and make happy with my rotten mother. Well, until we can find another approach that’ll get her off our backs. (sigh) Fat chance!
That night he confronted his mother whilst she cooked dinner. Ryan almost lost it as she turned to face him with a look of infuriating smugness. She knew!
“Well mother dear, I give in. You’ve won. I’ll stay here with you until I find a nice girl to marry. Already I feel sorry for her, because having you as a mother-in-law will be very distasteful. Happy now?”
“Oh don’t be like that son, I’ve only have your best interest at heart. You’ll see, you and I can have a comfortable happy life together, that is until you meet a nice girl. When you do, I’ll be able to advise you as to whether she’s suitable. Now come and eat your dinner. Afterwards, we can sit together and listen to the radio.”
And so Ryan went to bed that night and cried. He cried until his exhausted body succumbed to the need for sleep.
In another room his mother found peace for the first time in several days.
“I’ve won! It’s all been worth it. I’ll have my son with me until he decides to get married. Even after that I’ll insist . . . no, insist is too strong a word . . . I’ll suggest that he and his bride should stay with me. Oh, won’t it be so good to have another female in the house? Dearie me how I’ve longed for some feminine company. Even having my mother took away the loneliness of being the only female in the house. And then of course grandchildren . . . hopefully granddaughters. (sigh) Wouldn’t that be wonderful? And I’m still relatively young aren’t I? I still have some of my youthful allure. What would it be like to have (naming a local football star) thrusting deep inside me? OH GOD, I just know if I touch myself down there I’ll orgasm. . . . OH DEAR, I CAN’T HELP IT . . .
Because she was out back in the laundry room, Clare didn’t hear the doorbell. However little Gus did, and he began to bark loudly and boisterously. Going out to see what the fuss was about, she managed to hear the doorbell. Still yapping excitedly, Gus preceded her to the front door.
When she opened she received a pleasant surprise. Standing there was a young attractive policeman, imparting a wide friendly smile. His gleaming police badge, attached to his gun belt, was prominently displayed. All at once her juices began to churn as she stared in dumb confusion at the young man, who then introduced himself.
“Mrs Seaton? Mrs Clare Seaton?”
“Ahh Yes . . . Umm . . . I’m Clare Seaton. GUS, (calming the dog) Gus quiet, quiet. That’s Ok . . . good dog, good dog.”
“I’m Constable Jake Andrews from Manly Police Station (pointing to his belt badge) and I wonder if I could have a quick word with you. That’s if it isn’t too inconvenient?”
“(Hastily) No, NO, of course not! Pardon my manners, would you like to come in?”
Goodness gracious, he’s a doll!
“Yes, thank you. That’s very kind of you.”
“Come follow me, we can talk in the kitchen. I . . . err . . . would you like a cup of tea?”
“I would, yes I would. Thank you. Once again you’re very kind.”
As she led the constable into the kitchen she made sure her hips swayed suggestively.
“(Pointing to a chair) Now sit yourself down and tell me to what do I owe this pleasure. I hope it’s nothing serious?”
“(Laughing) NO. no, please don’t be alarmed, it’s only a small matter. (smiling broadly) I know policemen can be intimidating at times, so I won’t take up too much of your time. I’m talking to all the people in your street.”
“(Flirting) Well then take as much time as you need; what healthy young woman wouldn’t appreciate spending time with an attractive young man such as yourself.”
“(Smiling broadly and showing a row of perfect white teeth) Why thank you, it’s nice of you to welcome me into your home. I must commend you in keeping your household looking immaculate. My compliments.”
“(Getting flustered) What a lovely thing to say. These days young people don’t appreciate the time and effort required to keep everything clean and tidy. Of course, keeping house doesn’t take all day, so I try and keep myself active in other ways. I seem to have plenty of free time to . . . well, you know.”
The last was delivered with a frank look that transmitted a silent message.
“(enjoying herself) Now . . . Jake? (he nodded) . . . yes, Jake; do you have your tea with milk and sugar?”
“(Pleasantly) Thank you. Yes, just a small milk and two sugars, please. I’m afraid I have a sweet tooth. I can demolish a box of chocolates in one sitting if so tempted.”
“(Giggling) Oh my, It’s such a pleasure to serve a handsome young man such as you. Usually all I have to talk to is boring old housewives. I get sick of listening to their whinges about husbands, children, and other acquaintances. Here, let me get you some cookies I’ve just baked. I’m sure you’ll like chocolate biscuits.
“(Congenial). I think you’re trying to spoil me . . . and I love it.”
With the water boiled, Clare made tea and then brought the teapot, cups, spoons, plates and cookies to the table. She smiled seductively (well, what she thought as being seductive) at the officer and proceeded to be ‘mother’. When finished, she sat back and,
“There, there you are, just as you wanted, a drop of milk and two sugars. Just help yourself to the cookies and if you want anything else . . . (giggling suggestively) just ask.”
“(Smacking his lips) Oh my, these chocolate cookies are bloody marvellous. My mother used to make chocolate cookies for me and I thought them the best, that is until I tried yours. They’re delicious.”
“It’s so gratifying to be complimented. My own family hardly ever says thanks for anything I do, whether it be cleaning, cooking, or washing their clothes. Sometimes it makes me so mad at their lack of appreciation.”
“(Sympathizing ) Well, I find that very disturbing. In my job I’m invited into other ladies homes and I can tell you, if prizes were to be awarded, you’d surely win first prize.”
“(Gushing) Why, thank you. Now, are you married constable? Do you have any family?”
“No ma’am I’m not married. I haven’t found a girl yet who satisfies me. Fact is I don’t like girls, (pause) I like mature women. Perhaps I’m being too hard to please, but I prefer to wait until the right lady comes along. I’m still young so I’m not pressuring myself to find a life partner. I still live with my mother and will do until I eventually get married. I suppose I’m a bit old-fashioned.”
“Oh no, no, your not old-fashioned, that’s the way it should be. A lad stays with his mother until he’s old enough to choose a girl to marry. I think you’re very wise.”
Taking a sip of tea to wash down the last of a cookie, the constable smiled at Clare, who returned the expression. She was enjoying herself immensely and wanted the liaison to last as long as possible. Then the Constable put down his cup and in a low casual voice,
“(Softly) Now Clare, you’ve been a naughty girl haven’t you?”
“(Excited) Naughty? Oh I suppose so. Life’s too short not to have fun, particularly when it comes to sex . . . Oh, I hope I’m not embarrassing you. I love giving pleasure and have learnt many ways to enjoy sex, particularly if you have a willing partner who . . .”
“(Conversationally ) Hmmm, you misunderstand. The naughtiness I’m referring to is your attempt to blackmail Mr Tony Gordon. Now that’s what we call being very naughty.”
Suddenly, Clare’s mouth became dry, and she looked at Jake in confusion. All of a sudden, the room felt very, very cold.
“(Firmly) You met with Mr Tony Gordon on (naming a day and date) and proceeded to blackmail him.”
Icy fingers seemed to encircle her heart which began to beat rapidly.
“(Uncertainly) Huh? What . . . what are you talking about? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“(Firmly) Alas Clare, you do. We both know you threatened to blackmail Mr Gordon, and I’m not going to debate the issue with you. I’m hoping to convince you to abandon such action completely. As you’ll find out, it isn’t in both yours and Tony’s best interests to continue. Now, have a sip of tea and try one of your wonderful cookies as you consider my request. I’ll wait.”
Silence. Pause. Over the original shock, Clare began to get angry.
“(Hostile and voice hard) So, as I now understand, all that honeyed talk was just to get me vulnerable. Well, you’ve really shown your true colours, eh? Who are you to come into my home, posing as a policeman, and make demands? (Harshly) I repeat, who are you? Furthermore, you don’t know the circumstances that forced me to confront that poofter, Tony Gordon. Who are you, his lover?”
“(Laughing) Please don’t get angry. It’s my hope we can conclude this matter quickly and congenially. (Opening both hands as a friendly gesture) There’s no need for undue emotion. Let’s discuss the matter as two mature adults.”
By this time Clare had fully recovered from her original shock. Inside she seethed with fury.
“(Sputtering) Don’t you dare tell me how I should react. (Raising her voice) I REPEAT, WHO ARE YOU? You’re not a cop, so who are you? I mean, you ingratiate yourself into my house with flattering words, then revert to the poisonous bastard you are. Answer me!”
“(Amiably) I’m afraid you don’t understand the situation you’re in. You don’t have any need to know who I am, only that you’ll suffer unpleasant consequences if you insist on threatening to blackmail Tony Gordon, and through him your son, Ryan.”
“(Enraged) BULLSHIT! I’ve got every right to demand he keeps away from my son. If he won’t then I’m entitled to use any, I repeat any measure to force him to leave my son alone. (Irate) He’s a criminal and must be treated as such. You’ll see, I’ve got the law on my side.”
“(Gentle) Yes we realize that. If you did wrong and could be punished by the existing legal system, there wouldn’t be any need for people like me. It’s precisely because you have the law on your side that makes us necessary.”
“(Mystified ) And who is ‘we’?”
“(Relaxed) Who are we? Well, just an organization which operates outside the law to provide natural justice. Now I don’t want to get into a debate, because your case has been investigated, and all that remains is to have you desist blackmailing Tony Gordon. I suppose you could regard my visit as a warning. So, what’s your decision? Will you abandon your blackmail attempt?”
“(Shouting)) NO, NEVER, EVER! I mean why should I, eh? My son has already told me he’s going to stay home until he sets out to get married. So I’ve already won, haven’t I! WHY SHOULD I BACK DOWN? That queer doesn’t want to make an enemy of me because I’ll see him in hell before . . .”
“( Friendly) Fine. Yes, it seems your blackmail has worked and you’ve got your way. Hummm? You’ve achieved this by threatening certain actions which would have unpleasant and unforeseeable consequences for our client. What we‘re now asking is you that tell Mr Gordon you l will no longer apply any pressure if he doesn’t comply with your demands. Are we clear Clare?
“(Ridiculing) You’ve got to be kidding! Now you’re being stupid. Having won the issue and achieved my objective, why on earth would I then turn around and remove the threat, Eh? And furthermore, the law can’t charge me with a blackmail attempt, because I’ll simply deny all knowledge of the matter. It’ll be his word against mine. He can’t prove anything!”
“(Pleasant ) Yes, I agree. However, you still don’t seem to understand, Clare. Our discussions, and what I’m about to outline, will never come before the authorities because we don’t operate within the law. Instead, we operate outside it and thus are able to implement a wide range of punishments not envisaged by the law. You must try and understand this because it’s very important you do. Umm, by the way, may I have another cookie, they really are very good?”
“(Sneering) Have as many as you like; I hope they choke you. To me it ain’t a complicated situation, it’s very clear cut. I threatened that poofter teacher with certain actions if he didn’t distance himself from my son. I also stipulated that my son must stay with me until he gets married. (Smirking) Now both have seen the error of their ways and gave in. My child is not associating with that pervert and has agreed to stay at home with me. Simple! (Sniggering) And now you want me to undo all that and tell the paedophile I won’t take any further action if my demands are not met. In other words, to go back to the original situation. Have I got this right?”
“(Enthusiastically) Yes, yes! That’s it completely. Well done. Now when will you advise Mr Gordon that you’ve changed your mind?”
“(Contemptuous)(Shouting) NEVER! NEVER! WHAT ARE YOU STUPID? NEVER . . . NOW GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
“(Ignoring the outburst) (sighing) Well, that’s a shame. I had hoped you’d be reasonable and think of other people rather than yourself. If you’re so determined to maintain your blackmail then we have to decide on an adequate punishment for you. You see every action we take has consequences. Are you prepared to accept the consequences of not lifting the blackmail stipulations you imposed on Mr Gordon?”
“(Sneering) Consequences? What penalties could you dredge up that would make me tell that creature that I won’t make good on my threats? What consequences indeed, HA?”
Pause and silence. Jake stared into Clare’s eyes and softly replied.
“We have to kill you.”
A cold wave of fear struck Clare. Whilst she heard his words; she could hardly accept they’d been said.
“(Shocked) Wha . . . Wha . . . what did you say?”
“(Calmly) I simply said that as you refuse to remove any blackmail threat on Mr Tony Gordon, we’ll have to kill you. Sorry, I thought I’d made myself clear.”
On hearing the words again Clare began to panic, really panic. He was threatening to kill her. Her heartbeat soared, and her hands became clammy. This couldn’t happen, not in this day and age. It was . . . barbaric. Then,
“(Uncertainly) Oh I see, you’re joking. Well, let me tell you (gasp) I don’t appreciate such humour.”
“(Solemnly) Oh, let me assure you I’m not joking. Whether you believe me I couldn’t care less. I repeat, unless you cancel the blackmail against Mr Gordon, we will kill you. I’ve done this many times in the past and found the same scepticism as you have presently. This disbelief lasted only up until the person died.”
Something in the man’s voice, his body language, and his eyes told Clare he meant what he’d said. Suddenly she’d become very afraid. Deep within, the fear became an icy knot in her stomach. Her hands began to tremble and her mind numbed with the knowledge. She was too frightened to cry. Then Jason continued,
“(Conversationally) And there’s more. We used to exhume buried bodies and desecrate them by throwing them on a garbage dump. We don’t do this anymore because we found a better alternative. (Clare sat immobile fearful to hear the rest) Now we simply wait until a headstone is erected and slash insulting messages across the gravestone calling you a slut, or a criminal, or an adulterer. We have someone watching for any attempt to remove the insults. If this is done we simply repeat the original process until such time as the game ends with a permanent insulting message marked on your memorial stone. We’ve found this process to be very effective. Very!”
Suddenly Clare found voice,
“(Shrieking) NO, NO, NO. Noooooooo! PLEASE, PLEASE, DON’T KILL ME! I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY. I . . . I . . . DON’T WANT TO DIE, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DIE!”
“(Calming) There, there little one. You’re in a bit of shock. You believe me, don’t you? (Her head nodded enthusiastically) Ok, so all you have to do is contact Mr Gordon and tell him you’re withdrawing any threat of blackmail. Ok? (once again she nodded willingly). We’ll give you a week because this has been a shock and you need time to recover. If at the end of a week you haven’t contacted Mr Gordon and told him you’re lifting the blackmail threat, the sentence of death with be carried out. You’ll have no prior warning. Also, if at any time in the future you carry out your threat on Mr Gordon, that will automatically mean your death. Do you understand? (in abject misery she nodded her compliance) Good, good. Now I’ll take my leave and leave you with your thoughts. If it’s Ok, I’d like to take a few cookies with me to share with my people. Is that Ok?”
She didn’t register his going. One moment he was there, and the next, gone. A strange numbness had embraced her, and she sat unmoving for about half an hour. Eventually, the numbness disappeared and she was able to function again as a human being.
Well, sort of.
So now she started to cry. The reality hit hard as she faced her terrors alone. She lay her head down on the table amongst the tea trappings and sobbed, and cried, and sobbed, and cried – until she could cry no more.
She had come so close to her own mortality. There existed no doubt that Jake, whoever he was or represented, would carry out his threat to kill her – and deface her tombstone. Of that, for some strange reason, she had no doubt.
Even after he’d left, even after all the crying, even after she resumed some semblance of normality, she was extremely frightened.
In the late afternoon she’d recovered most of her faculties and poured herself another cup of tea – without the cookies. Her course of action was clear and she determined to do it without delay. Picking up the phone, she called Tony Gordon.
“Say that again, please. I think I heard right, but I can’t comprehend. It’s too good to be true. Is this some kinda trick?”
“No, (laughing) I related exactly what she said. Obviously, she had a hard time telling me; it musta hurt a lot to tell me, to me face, that she was wrong and apologized for any harm we suffered. Who could believe, Eh?”
Ryan and Tony were sitting in the beer garden on the day after he’d met with Ryan’s mother. The meeting with Clare stunned Tony. The fact that she’d backtracked on the original threat so suddenly, meant the contact he’d made early-on had been successful. He’d not been told what was about to happen, only that the matter was now out of his hands. The organization was so secret, very little by way of detail was known. Perhaps it was for the best.
Then there was Ryan. Telling him about his mother’s turn around would be easy, but if he asked the obvious question ‘why’, what to say?
“(Probing) Why? It don’t make sense. I’d already told her she’d won and had in fact reconciled meself to getting married to satisfy the bitch. Now you tell me she just up and went back on her blackmail. It don’t make any sense. Do you? I mean does it make sense to you?”
“Look I’m going to tell you something. I can’t give you any details, or me own life will be in danger – real danger boyo. (Ryan sat forward busting with curiosity) I happen to know of an organization that operates outside the law. All I have is a contact number and little else. You don’t want to know more about them because they’re dangerous and amoral – totally unprincipled. I suspect they’ve contacted your mother and threatened punitive action were she to proceed to threaten me – us. Let’s not ponder on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ because we’re free sexy man, we’re now free to live together forever and fuck together forever.”
Ryan sat back on hearing Tony’s words as thoughts came crashing around him.
Holly shit! I’m free! We’re free! I don’t haveta go back and live with the shrew. Suddenly, I can see a great light at the tunnel’s end. Yeah! I can live with Tony, fuck with Tony and love with Tony. No more fear from mother. I’m so happy . . .
Tony watched Ryan digest the news and could see the elation writ large all over his face. At that moment his love for the boy went into warp drive. Elated, Ryan jumped up and strode to the bar for refills. He’d also just heard from the Vet School that the arrangement in place before he went into Nasho was held open for him.
This was perhaps the happiest moment of his life.
Upon his return the two lovers joyfully contemplated their move together. Somehow small details as what food to buy, whether they needed coffee or tea or both, their favourite meals, what side of the bed they favoured etc, made the reality so joyful. The coming night, for the first time in their own bedroom, would see much activity.
But there was one more matter that Ryan had to take care of. Epilogue
The day dawned bright and clear with the sun providing a gentle warmth. Perhaps the only good time to visit a cemetery. He now stood before Tommo’s grave, reading the tombstone.
(from / to)
Loving son of Shirley and Colin
Taken before his time
Now at peace.
Mate, how I wish you were with me to share my happiness. You sacrificed your young life because you couldn’t endure the pain of living. I’ll never forget what you told me that day in the hospital,
“Ryan I want you to promise me you’ll never, and I repeat never, tell anyone you’re a homo. I’m serious Ryan, don’t ever let anyone find out you’re a homo. Look what’s happened to me, my life is over, I’ll be castigated wherever I go. Promise me, as one blood brother to another, you’ll never admit being a fagott . . . promise me, please mate, promise me.”
How could I ever forget you Tommo? I’m proud to be your blood brother. I’ve met a beautiful man and we live happily together. Your words still resonate, I’ll never forget your message. Things are still bad for us homo boys but I have to hope they’ll get better.
Now you’re gone and my sad is that we didn’t have enough time together. You are the sweetest, kindest, bravest person I’ve ever known. I’ll love you always. In a way you’re eternal because I’ll always remember you in my heart, even in the good times and even in the not so good times.
Rest easy mate. I love you. Always
 A biscuit is another name for ‘cookie’ in Australia
 An English expression meaning to pour tea into waiting cups