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Wombat Bill

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About Wombat Bill

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  1. Wombat Bill

    Life Goes On

    When I was young I read very little because I wasn't given stories that interested me and many had two many words. I once remember trying to read a story that took 3 pages to describe the sky. When I started writing recently I quickly discovered I could not write long passages of description, so I gave up trying and just stuck to the facts that drive the story forward. I remember a very old TV show Dragnet where the lead character used to say "All we want are the facts, ma'am". That is my writer's motto. So my unwasted words are by chance rather than design. But if it works, good! I guess I write what I want to read.
  2. There will not be a fourth book immediately. I don't want to write about covid times. This will become a period in history, best forgotten. I have done my covid bit in "The Covids" I will be starting a new project with two of the characters. There is a clue in the epilogue. BUT I love these characters, they have become my family, so I want to do more in the future, but no firm plans as yet.
  3. On Mardi Gras night all available staff were on duty in the various venues and even those partners that did not normally work there, were co-opted for the night. Every food waiter was dressed only in black tight fitting pants and bow tie. Bartenders and drink waiters, including Dean, were dressed in glittery rainbow boxers. The different rooms were decorated and the air was filled with incense. Guests were served champagne on arrival and ushered to their tables as the meal had to be served early so that all diners could be finished before parade time. The parade lived up to its usual standard of fun, colour, inclusion, satire and a few serious messages. Dean’s crew kept the drinks flowing all through the parade viewing. After the parade, dessert was served in Poppy’s and then the guests were invited to move to Divas for the show and party. <> Ed Weiner opened the show. “Well was that one fucking great parade, or am I wrong?” she asked “It was great.” was the general reply. “Right answer.” she replied “Because I’m never wrong... really. And I’m an expert on parades. I mean, I’ve been paraded before the magistrate’s court on a few occasions. But that’s enough about me. What shall we talk about?” “Sex.” Someone yelled out. “Now why does that not surprise me? But not just now, I remembered what I was going to ask you. Have you heard about this new Chinese virus thing? It’s all the rage in Wuhan apparently. I mean it’s not bad enough that we import all our goods from China, now we even import our diseases from there. But hey, I shouldn’t be too harsh on them, they gave it to use free of charge. That’s got to be something.” When her audience stopped laughing she said “There’s another new thing around town, they call it social distancing. But it’s not new to me, I haven’t spoken to my neighbour since 2002. And there’s all this advice about hygiene and such. They tell you not to touch your face to avoid spreading germs. Well, I’ve got that one sorted. My advice is to have a glass of wine in each hand. Speaking of which, when did this become a dry event? Waiter!” Just then Dean was passing the stage and Ed called “Dean baby, can you come up on stage?” As Dean walked up to Ed, she said “Meet the lovely Dean everyone. Isn’t he beautiful and the best bartender in town. Don’t you just love his muscles?’ she asked as she patted his chest. “And what have you got there on your pecs darling?” “My new nipple rings, bought just for tonight.” “Did they cost a lot my love?” “Yes, they’re fairly expensive.” “Well you could have me hanging off your nipples for free.” “Think I’ll pass on that.” “Now what are you up here for sweetie, besides refusing my generous offer?” “You asked me to come up?” “Oh yes, sorry got distracted by your p p pecs. Anyway, what I want to ask you is, I hear you’ve invented a new cocktail and you have one for me. I just love cock...tails, don’t you folks? Yes, of course you do. Now tell me sweetie, what ‘s this new cocktail of yours.” “It’s called a quarantini, Ed. You’re supposed to drink it alone” “Thank you Dean, now get that cute butt off my stage and see if anyone needs a drink. Although I think you’ll have it easy for the rest of the night. They’re pissed to the eyeballs already.” Ed Weiner sipped the cocktail “Not bad, but if I had to go into quarantine I think I’d need more than a few of those. Probably they could feed them to me intravenously.” As she leaned over the edge of the stage, she called another waiter over “Darling, take this glass for me, it’s empty, that ‘s not use to Mamma. Now back to serious business. Some of my friends in the audience are waxers and hairdressers. They say that if we have a lockdown the first businesses to close will be personal services, such as nail and hair salons, waxing centres and tanning studios. So don’t be surprised if it gets very ugly out there on the streets. Now here’s a little health advice. You know what they say, feed a cold, starve a fever, and drink a corona. You know, there’s so much health advice around these days, it’s hard to know what to believe. I mean the WHO... not it’s not a question, it’s a statement. Anyway, the World Health Organisation said a mask and gloves was enough to go to the grocery store. Well I’ll never listen to them again. When I got there, everyone else had clothes on. While I was trying to hide behind the shopping trolley, I heard this old lady telling her friend ‘My grandchildren are so good at social distancing, they won’t even call me.’ “Awww” said the audience. “I know sad isn’t it? But when I got home I saw a neighbour talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. So I went into my house, told my cat and we had a good laugh.” There was just a groan from the audience. “She was talking to her dog, and I told me cat and.....oh fuck it, I hate it when I need to explain ‘em.” Now, because some of you, with the emphasis on some, have been such a wonderful audience, I must apologise, because this is all you’re gonna see of me tonight. I know, I know you want more but I’m sorry that’s your lot. The rest of tonight’s entertainers will be younger, fitter, have more muscles and everything else you lust after. But they won’t be as funny as me. No one would dare to upstage me. So my lovelies enjoy what is going to be a very different show. I must warn you there will be nudity, so I’ll wait 15 seconds for those that might be offended, to leave.... No one leaving? So what if I told you there will be sex on stage?” Ed waited another fifteen seconds. “Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you, it’ll be too late to whinge on social media tomorrow. Good night.” As Ed walked off stage the lights went down and Max’s voiceover announced “Everyone, please welcome to the stage our very own Fedora Duo.” Then the sounds of Joe Cocker’s You Can Leave Your Hat On filled the air. As the lights came up again, Justin and Snowy were standing at a bar, each with a cocktail in hand. They were both dressed in full dinner suits complete with bow ties and fedoras. They removed their hats and put them on the bar, toasted each other, put down their drinks and appeared to start an argument. In a threatening gesture Snowy removed his jacket and threw it on the ground. When he held up a fist, Justin removed his jacket and held up two fists. They shaped up to each other, as boxers do and then both grabbed their own shirtfronts and ripped them open, revealing pumped lightly oiled chests. Their shirts were discarded, but the bow ties and collars remained intact around their necks. They strutted around the stage for a few moments, finishing at the front of the stage and went down on their knees. As they shook their upper bodies the lights caught their nipple jewellery so the crowd whistled and applauded. They then stood and slowly removed their belts. Snowy walked behind Justin and pushed his back till he bent over. Justin remained in this position while Snowy gave his butt a good slap with the leather belt. Snowy then bent over and allowed Justin to do the same to his arse. When the crowd yelled “WOW” they repeated the butt slapping a few times and finished by discarding the belts. Then turning their backs on the audience grabbed their pants and ripped them off by the Velcro fastening. They turned to the audience who, prompted by Brett, started a slow clap. Again they turned their backs on the audience, did a few butt flexes, which caused the clapping to get louder and faster. The two boys then slapped each other on the butt a few times, grabbed each other’s boxers by the arse end and they ripped to shreds as they came off. They waited a few moments then turned together, holding the fedoras over their tackle. Each man then removed his hand from the hats, but the hats remained in place. When the audience yelled “Awww” they waved a finger each, indicating no. Then they took hold of the hats, removed them, put them on their heads and took a bow. The applause and whistles went on for minutes. As it finally died down Max’s voice announced “Thank you Snowy and Justin. Now, yet another sexy act for your pleasure called Me and My Image. A stage hand, dressed all in black, including a balaclava that made him almost invisible, wheeled a large mirror frame onto a dimly lit stage. He then pushed a ballet bar alongside the mirror. As the music started a handsome young man, wearing only a small ragged piece of cheese cloth wrapped around his waist, walked onto the stage and did a few ballet stretches at the bar. Then stepping to the middle of the stage entertained the audience with a few modern dance steps. He stopped suddenly when he saw the mirror. He looked at the audience, scratched his head , then walked to the mirror. He looked at his image, tilting his head side to side, then did a 360 turn and again looked at his image. Noticing a dirty spot on the mirror he scratched at it, but was not satisfied with the result. He stepped aside from the mirror, removed cheese cloth, returned to the mirror and started to polish it, all the time keeping his eye on his own image. Polishing finished, he discarded the cloth, turned towards his audience and held out his arms to attract applause. The audience obliged. He then turned back towards the mirror, preened his appearance, by running his fingers through his hair, smoothing his eyebrows and rubbing his hands over his chest. Satisfied with his appearance he turned back to the audience, but this time, his image did not turn. Instead of turning, the image stepped out of the mirror and stood very close behind him. When the audience gasped, he gave them a puzzled look and as he turned sideways, the image moved to stay behind him. He then turned back to the audience, but his image stood still, leaving them standing side by side. He did a double take at the sight of his own image beside him and the audience laughed. As they stood together, the audience was amazed at their similarity. No one could pick any differences, except one. On closer inspection a few audience members in the front row noticed their erections were not entirely in sync. Max announced “Thank you to our twins Isa and Duncan. Please show your appreciation for their amazing performance.” Again the audience obliged. “Now the entertainment continues, this time with a solo performance from a man who calls himself Equus. I wonder why?” Ravel’s Bolero started softly and slowly. The stage was lit by a single spotlight on a chaise lounge, centre stage. A tall dark handsome man, dressed in a suit, walked onto the stage and took a bow. He removed his jacket, then removed his tie and hung it over the back of the lounge. As he removed his shirt, to the sound of the music, the audience gasped at his muscled chest and abdomen. The strip continued as he removed his shoes, sox and pants, leaving him wearing only tight boxers. As he strode around the stage giving everyone a good view of his handsome body the spotlight followed him. He eventually returned to the lounge turned to face the back of the stage and ripped off his jocks. The audience waited for him to turn towards them but he did not. Then the figure dressed in black, walked on stage. He walked pass Equus, and behind the lounge, where he took the tie from the lounge and walked to Equus, still with his back to the audience and his hands behind his back. The black figure then tied Equus’ hands with the tie and left the stage. Equus turned and finally gave the audience a full frontal. He then lay on the lounge, hands tied behind his back, and stared at the ceiling. The audience had no idea what he was now going to do but waited in silence. By now the tempo of Bolero was increasing and Equus began to move his hips from side to side. The music tempo quickened and Equus did a few pelvic thrusts. His penis was rock hard and perfectly vertical as he continued his thrusting. He still stared towards the ceiling and paused his thrusting momentarily. Then as the music reached its crescendo, Equus turned his face to the audience, the spotlight grew brighter and long strings of cum shot forth from his twelve inch canon. They reached over a metre in height and to a spellbound audience, seemed to pour back down in slow motion, landing on Equus’ chest and abdomen. The black figure then walked on stage with a towel and wiped Equus clean. He stood up, his hands were untied and he took a bow to shouts of ‘amazing’. ‘fabulous man’, ‘what a gusher’ ‘no hands, what a stud’. Max’s voice thanked Equus and added “So you like hands free, well you’re gonna love Juanito’s Wet Dream. Please welcome our very own Juanito, a little less dressed than when he usually appears on this stage.” Juanito walked on stage dressed in a white T shirt and black stretch jeans. In the centre of the stage was a bed with no ends and mounted about a metre above the floor, so it was at eye level for most of the audience. He yawned and then went about preparing for bed. He removed his phone from his pocket and placed it on a side table. He removed his T shirt slowly teasing the audience be revealing his abs an inch at a time, then his chest and finally removed the shirt and threw it to a lucky audience member. He unzipped to reveal no jocks and no pubic hair. Before removing his jeans he turned away from the audience. As he slowly rolled them down, he bent over, giving the audience a grand view of his butt and eventually his hole. He then mounted the bed, lie on his side, facing the audience and pulled the sheet up. He closed his eyes and from that point onwards he did not move at all, he just lay there motionless. Then the black figure pulled back the sheet to reveal a sleeping Juanito. As the bed began to revolve the audience enjoyed the 360 degree view of his relaxed body. The bed continued to revolve and finally stopped revolving, leaving Juanito facing the audience with a full erection, but still no animation from any other part of his body. For all intents and purposes, he was sound asleep. He continued to sleep motionless for about three minutes. As much as they enjoyed the view some grew restless, wondering what he was going to do, while others waited patiently for a surprise. Then there was one twitch of his penis and the cream spewed forth, to the utter amazement of his audience. He had not only achieved a hands free orgasm, but without moving any part of his body. The lights went down and when they came up again Juanito and the figure dressed in black took a bow together. As the whistles continued, Raj removed his balaclava and they took a final bow. They left the stage and the house lights came up, so the audience could discuss how he was able to do it. None of the solutions they discussed included electro stimulation of the prostate, managed by Raj, concealed behind the bed. After allowing for the audience to settle, Max announced “It just keeps getting better doesn’t it. Well fasten your seatbelts and get ready for this ride with Tristan and Snowy. In low light, a naked Tristan pirouetted to centre stage and dropped to the floor doing side splits. Snowy then strode manfully on stage and proceeded towards Tristan as the lights slowly grew brighter. Snowy leaned over Tristan, lowered one arm with the forearm horizontal. Tristan gripped Snowy’s arm and was lifted to a standing position. In his other hand Snowy was holding a twelve inch stainless steel penis sounding rod. When Tristan was at full length, Snowy slowly inserted ten inches of the rod into Tristan’s proud erection. He was so hard his penis held the weight of the rod in a perfectly horizontal position. He slowly walked around the stage and returned to Snowy, who was by then rock hard also. Tristan walked towards Snowy and docked the remaining two inches of the sounding rod into Snowy. The two were now joined. With his hand wrapped around his penis, Tristan slowly stroked back and forth. The audience was quiet but their anticipation could be felt throughout the room. Some were expecting Tristan to come, but he didn’t. When he finished stroking his manhood, he withdrew slowly from Snowy and revealed only two inches of the sounding rod protruding from Snowy. While stroking his penis he had in fact been using his thumb, held underneath his penis, to transfer the rod to Snowy. Tristan then looked at the protruding two inches, then looked questioningly at the audience, who understood exactly what he was asking. Almost in unison they answered his unspoken question with a “Yes”. He pushed the remaining two inches into Snowy, who then walked towards the front row and invited an audience member to check there was no trick by giving him a magnet and asking him to slide it along his penis to ensure it was completely filled with metal. He then returned to centre stage and by using no hands, only the muscles at the base of his penis, he forced the rod out and let it fall heavily onto the stage. They both took a bow to applause and whistles. Then Max announced, “Please welcome back on stage all our performers for tonight. Slowly the audience started to stand to give them all a standing ovation. ***** The following Saturday, Divas was dressed in red and white, Virginia’s favourite rose colours and each table decorated with roses from the garden at Crystalline. Edward was so nervous about his first wedding as celebrant that Romel doubted he would be able to carry it through. “Why are you so nervous, you’ve been on the stage and playing to audiences for years?” “This is nothing like that. When I’m Ed Weiner, I’m someone else hiding behind lots of makeup and playing a character. Now I’m going to be out there, almost naked, just me with no character to hide behind. I can’t joke my way through a routine, this is a serious business.” “But you’ve passed your exams, got your licence and rehearsed at home many times. You’ll be fabulous.” “I wish I had your confidence in me.” <> As the guests started to arrive and were ushered to their seats, Edward became a little distracted from his nervousness. From the side of the ceremonial area he supervised from a distance and kept sending Romel out to check on the arrival of the wedding couple. When Desmond arrived, Edward went out and had a few words with him, to ensure he was aware of the procedures for the day. They then awaited the arrival of the bride. At the entrance of the venue, Jonathan was pacing up and down the street, like an expectant father. Finally he saw his Rolls Royce come into view and went over to escort Virginia from the car. “What are you doing here Jon?” “Just lending a hand. As a mature bride, I don’t suppose you want to be given away, as such.” “Definitely not, I’m not anyone’s property to be given way.” “I get that, I just thought you might like an escort to the room.” “In that case I accept your offer, Sir.” As they reached the foyer, Jonathan said “Can you wait a bit before you go in?” “Why?” “It’s just that...um...Lachlan’s not here yet.” “Lachlan’s not getting married, I am. Why should I have to wait for Lachlan?” “Um...it’s important to me, that he be here.” “I don’t understand Jon, I know he’s your partner but it’s my wedding and I’m not waiting any longer. Des might think I’ve stood him up.” “Oh he won’t think anything of the sort.” “Well I’m only waiting a few more minutes and then I’m going in.” “Thank you.” While waiting Virginia walked towards the closed double doors and pushed them open just a little to see her assembled guests. Meanwhile Jonathan was looking out the external door awaiting the arrival of Lachlan’s car. Without turning around Virginia said, “Have you seen the decorations, they’re exquisite.” “Yes, the roses are from our garden.” “How thoughtful Jonathan.” She continued to peer through the narrow door opening trying to identify her guests from behind. Eventually her patience reached its end and she demanded “Jonathan, as my self-appointed escort, do you think you could open the doors for me to make an entrance, so I can go to my own wedding?” “It would be my pleasure.” she heard from behind her, but she knew it was not Jonathan’s voice. She turned around, paused for a moment and then exclaimed “Thomas!” THE END
  4. In mid January rain started to fall in some areas across the east coast of Australia. Over the rest of the month, the rain spread and aided firefighters in all east coast states. The states experienced rain, hail and severe thunderstorms. But it was not all good news. Heavy rains brought on the risk of flash flooding, falling trees and landslips after fire had wiped out trees and undergrowth. While thunderstorms can bring useful rain, it can also come down fast and in high quantities, making the weather system a double-edged sword. Where there’s high concentration of ash and very vulnerable landscapes, short bursts of heavy rainfall can cause mudslides. Debris such as soil, trees and rocks can make their way to the waterways from the fire ravaged landscape. *** Nationally, thirty three people died including nine firefighters. Among the nine fire fighters were three aerial firefighters from the USA who were killed when their water-bombing C-130 Hercules aircraft, operated by Coulson Aviation, crashed in southern NSW on 23 January 2020. Over the next month the statistics started to roll in. Houses lost 3,094, 17 million hectares (65,000 sq miles) of land were burned. That’s an area the size of Florida or three quarters of the UK. One billion mammals, birds and reptiles died and it was estimated that hundreds of billions of insects were lost. Australians were grateful for the 1,000 personnel provided by Canada, USA and New Zealand, as well as other support from 20 other nations. Over 152 thousand volunteers, 15 thousand paid firefighters and countless support people were involved along with over 500 aircraft. *** Mid January, while the nation was still dealing with fires and clean up, news reports started to feature stories about a new corona virus disease in China. At first little concern was evident until the first case in Australia was diagnosed on 25 January, the day of Lunar New Year and the day before Australia’s national day. The patient, a man from Wuhan, flew to Melbourne from Guandong on 19 January. *** In late January in Sydney, thoughts turn towards the upcoming Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. As well as community entries, the parade also includes commercial floats. This year Craig and Justin applied to enter a float to promote their ‘Catering With Benefits’ franchise company and Divas planned to combine with Dean’s for a float promoting their businesses. At least that was the plan until Brett asked Justin if he could watch the parade from the rooftop of Poppy’s, as the parade route always went down Flinders street. “I don’t think it would be safe to go up on the roof.” replied Justin. “But the parade goes right past the front door; it would be a shame to waste the opportunity to have a ringside seat.” “I’ll talk to Craig and see what he thinks.” <> “I agree it wouldn’t be safe on the roof and the building owner might not be happy with people stomping around on the roof.” was Craig’s opinion. “But it does seem a shame that we can’t take advantage of our position on Flinders.” “Maybe there’s another way and we could make big bucks from it.” “I like the sound of that.” “What if we had a stand erected over the front entrance, high enough to see over the crowd on the street. We could charge people to view the parade, and also have Poppy’s open for dining.” suggested Craig “And Dean’s and Divas could be involved as well.” “We could offer a complete package, parade, dinner, drinks and after party.” “Let’s talk to the guys and see what they think.” *** When Lachlan received an email from Mardi Gras advising of the parade and party date and a link to the Festival program he realised he would miss all the fun of Mardi Gras this year, unless..... “Jonathan, have you ever been to Mardi Gras?” “No, it’s not really my thing. Although, I have seen it on TV.” “Maybe it wasn’t before, but now that you are out, don’t you think it’s time we walked down Oxford street, hand in hand?” “You really want me to come out that far?” “Why not, there’s no point leaving the closet door ajar.” “That’s a quaint way of putting it. So what would this entail, I’m not standing in the street with thousands of screaming queens.” “Very few of the people watching the parade are screaming queens, most of them will be in the parade, but that’s not really the point. You won’t have to stand in the street, we can get tickets in the VIP stand and you will have a seat and an uninterrupted view.” “That’s sounds better, so when is this shindig on?” “29th of February.” “That’s only a month away. Do you want to go home so soon?” “I would like to take you to Mardi Gras and we can come back here anytime. How about it?” “It may be a good time to go back, as there are business matters to finalise with the public float of the company, and it may be better to be there in case there are any last minute details to attend to. Let’s do it.” *** The business owners had a meeting and all agreed the party was a great idea. Craig quickly found a contractor to erect a scaffolding viewing stand over the front entrance and Edward got the advertising organised. He really need not have bothered with the advertising as word of mouth spread so quickly they were fully booked before the weekly edition of the gay newspaper was published. *** Lachlan was looking for the website to book seats in the VIP viewing stands when he came across the Star Online, newspaper site. There on page three was a full page ad for Mardi Gras at Divas, offering seating with an uninterrupted view of the parade, a four course meal, wine and beer included and an after-parade party all at the one venue. He immediately went onto the booking link to discover it was fully booked. When he told Jonathan he said “I know those people. That’s where we held some functions for my ill-fated political campaign. I’ll give them a call.” “But it’s fully booked already.” “My good man, I like to think I still have some sway in certain circles in Sydney, leave it to me.” When Jonathan identified himself and reminded Edward of how much business he had put through the venue, Edward replied “Of course Jonathan, I’m sure we can find space for two more.” “Excellent, it’s always a pleasure to do business with you, but my party might be more than two.” “Jonathan, I am happy to oblige you, up to a point. But if I can give you some advice, it would not be wise to antagonise a bitchy old acid-tongued queen, who incidentally will be on stage on the night and looking for a target.” “I don’t take kindly to being threatened.” “And I don’t take kindly to be leaned on, so now that we understand each other, shall I send you the confirmation for your booking for a party of two?” <> Jonathan had the staff close up the villa and he and Lachlan returned to Sydney early February. There was already speculation in the Australian media that the Government may soon close the international border, so Lachlan was pleased they had made the decision to return. When Jonathan turned on his phone on arrival, he had a message from Virginia saying she had some exciting news. He called from the limo on their way to Castle Hill. “Hi Nia, we’ve just arrived and on our way home now. What’s your news?” “Desmond and I are getting married.” “Well, congratulations.” “Thank you, I’m glad you are supportive of my decision.” “Why wouldn’t I be, we both have our separate lives now.” “Oh, I don’t know, just all the past and that. I thought you might have reservations.” “Not at all, I hope you will both be very happy. Have you set a date?” “Not an exact date but we see no reason to wait, so as soon as we can arrange a ceremony and a venue.” “Would you like to have it at Crystalline?” “That’s generous of you to offer, but I think there are too many distracting memories there. I hope you understand Jon.” “Of course, I just wanted to make the offer. So what plans have you got?” “I want Craig to do the catering, wherever we have it, so he’s coming over today to discuss it.” “That’s good, will I be invited?” “Of course Jon, you’re already on the list.” *** Craig and Justin went to the Potts Point apartment to meet Virginia and Desmond. “It won’t be a big event Craig, just close friends.” “That’s good, because I’ve heard rumours that the health department may soon be limiting the number of people who can attend indoor venues.” “Because of this Corona thing?” “Yes, it’s starting to sound serious. Anyway, would you like to have your wedding at our venue. We could do the catering and the attached venue, Divas has a great atmosphere.” “Yes, I’ve been there for Jonathan’s political thing.” “So will you be getting married in a church or a civil ceremony?” “Oh no church wedding for me, been there and done that. Besides, it’s unseemly to be a bride in white more than once.” “Then may I suggest a marriage celebrant I know?” “Of course, who?” “Do you remember Edward, who runs Divas?” “The one that dresses as woman?” “Well yes, him. He’s just got his marriage celebrant’s licence.” “Virginia, can I have a word?” asked Desmond “What is it Des?” “This Edward, will he be dressed as a woman for the ceremony?” “No, he only does that for a show, he’s... what do you call it, Craig?” “A drag queen.” “That’s it, I’ve heard he’s very good at it, maybe he could do it for entertainment afterwards.” “But not for the ceremony?’ asked Desmond. “No, he takes that responsibility very seriously.” assured Craig. Justin then suggested “Then all we have to do now is set a date and get some menu plans to you.” “Just looking through our diary Virginia, Divas is booked up for all weekends in February, so how about grabbing the first or second weekend in March?” “Let’s go for the second weekend, and that will give us a month to get invitations out and RSVP’d.” “I’ll log it in now.” The Mardi Gras parade and party were held on 29 February, making it the last major event of its size to be held in Sydney before a Public Health Order on 15 March forced the immediate cancellation of major events of more than 500 people because of the Covid 19 pandemic.
  5. Overnight the smoke lifted slightly, providing some reprieve for those sheltering on the shores of Mallacoota. Suddenly, for the first time in days there was some daylight, because there had been a wind change and the fire had bypassed the town centre. However, help was still not at hand and the situation was about to become a health issue, with about 5000 people needing access to toilets. Food was also limited. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, went on national television and announced ‘The Federal Government, especially our defence forces, are working together with the Victorian Government to respond to the bushfires. The Premier and I are in regular contact. Reports of persons unaccounted for are very distressing. There is still an active fire in the area and the town of Mallacoota remains isolated.’ The Minister for Defence announced ‘I have authorised the ADF to deploy assets to the Victorian fires, including helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and naval vessels will sail to East Gippsland with supplies and eventually evacuation.’ On radio, the local member of parliament advised ‘There are at least four people missing in Victoria and dozens of homes have likely been lost in Mallacoota. We will have to find a way to get some of those people out as quick as we possibly can. The full assessment of damage at Mallacoota hasn't been done. The agencies haven't been able to get there safely yet, to go through street by street. My mate on the ground tells me dozens of homes have been destroyed. People will need help to get through the next few months and years.’ As Desmond wandered around talking to people he listened to their stories. Geoff Belmore told him “I’ve lost two houses. Been holidaying in Mallacoota for 25 years and lived there for the last four. I have been working on the units for the last couple of years. Finally got them finished and suddenly it’s totally gone. The whole structure has collapsed.” Another told of his losses “I have a 1977 Corvette, a 1964 Holden ute, a 1942 Dodge that I was turning into a hot rod, a beautiful Harley Davidson, a boat that I loved with a couple of brand-new motors on it and now they're molten aluminium." Musican Justin Brady also lost his home. “I was able to save my instruments, including a fiddle, harmonica and mandolin - but my home on Karbeethong Hill did not survive. I lost everything pretty much. I built the house 25 years ago but only just recently, the last three months, I decided to live here as my base." <> As well as army reservists, the federal government also sent in the Navy. HMAS Adelaide sailed from Sydney to be located offshore from fire-affected areas near the border of Victoria and New South Wales. The ship, fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, can carry 400 crew, including medical staff, as well as 300 tonnes of emergency relief supplies. HMAS Choules, an amphibious landing ship with a dock for helicopters and the capacity to carry 700 troops also left Sydney Harbour to help Mallacoota. It will be joined by MV Sycamore - a patrol vessel that can carry a helicopter. Private Gas company Esso also helped with the rescue and recovery effort in Mallacoota by offering two ships and helicopters to help emergency services and assist in evacuations. Food and petrol supplies were heading for Mallacoota and helicopters were also assisting in the delivery of the supplies and to facilitate a shift change for the firefighters on the ground. A barge containing 30,000 litres of fuel and a two-week supply of food and water was also on its way from Melbourne. Upon arrival the locals formed a human chain to carry cases of food and bottled water from the barge to a waiting trailer. A large helicopter flew from Bairnsdale Airport, carrying 20 firefighters, sent in to relieve some of the exhausted and injured firemen on the ground. Tap water was re-connected in Mallacoota and is safe to drink again but people were urged to restrict their water usage to conserve supplies. HMAS Choules is capable of carrying about 1,000 passengers, but about 5,000 people remained stranded around the town's beach area, including about 1000 locals. The ship will make two to three trips over the coming days, with a view to evacuating all of those stranded before conditions worsen on Saturday. The vessel will also deliver water, food and medical supplies. Virginia and Desmond lined up to register for Friday's evacuation. The commander of HMAS Choules said the registration is to gauge how many of the 4000 people stranded want to be evacuated. If the number is greater than 1000, then there will need to be a second load. It is 16-17 hours to the closest boat port, then it would return for a further evacuation trip. *** Finally the HMAS Choules evacuation mission began. Authorities advised, the journey will be complex and has been restricted to the able-bodied and those above the age of four, as it may involve climbing up rope ladders and boarding smaller ferry boats. “I don’t know if I can do that Des. I’ve never climbed up a ladder since I was a child playing on the slide, let alone a rope ladder.” “You’ll manage, I’ll help you and there will be naval staff to assist also.” Others wanting to leave will be offered flights out while conditions are still relatively clear. Priority for evacuation by air was given to young children and their families, the sick and the elderly who would not be allowed on HMAS Choules. *** Two days later, Desmond and Virginia were among the first 900 people to board vessels at Bastion Point to be ferried out to HMAS Choules under a thick cloud of smoke. Their rescue from Mallacoota will be a 20-hour journey to Melbourne. There were a number of teary faces as people left the much-loved area, again shrouded in a blanket of deep, heavy smoke. Virginia overheard a sombre conversation between a little boy and his mother lining up to board. "I never want to come here again," the boy said before his mother tried to reassure him: "But we'll go back next year. Everything would have grown back." As the weary Mallacoota evacuees and their pets boarded HMAS Choules for the journey to safety they were provided with a little comic relief when the ship’s commander greeted the displaced with an instruction to think of the impressive navy vessel as ‘a cruise ship without the pina coladas’. After days of life-threatening fire, black skies, oppressive smoke, caring for a sick child and repeated disappointments about evacuation, Megan, a visitor from Montreal, told Virginia "I have had enough of Mallacoota. I don't cry much but it definitely came out last night.” Nineteen-year-old Jackie Stefanopoulous, who was on board HMAS Choules, had been holidaying in Mallacoota with her boyfriend and his family."All of a sudden we heard about the incoming bushfires. I was petrified, a lot of people were petrified," she told Virginia. "The sense of uncertainty was frightening, like not knowing whether we will be OK, understanding that there were bushfires surrounding us only a couple of metres away. I feared for my life, it was really scary." *** The following day, HMAS Choules docked at Hastings where the evacuees were transferred onto buses. About 700 people headed to Somerville, relief centre with a further 200 going straight to Melbourne. Those headed to Melbourne were put up at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre or at Crown Casino Hotel. Virginia and Desmond opted to go straight to Melbourne so they could rest for one night then fly back to Sydney on the first available flight the following day. *** Diesel was dropped into Mallacoota to power generators with priority given to relief centres, hospitals, airport, communications and essential services. Petrol supplies also arrived in Mallacoota with four 200 litre drums of unleaded fuel for the public to access until the power is restored to the town. Fresh milk and produce was delivered to the supermarkets of Mallacoota by the Australian Defence Force. *** A few days later, two vets from Healesville Sanctuary arrived in Mallacoota to treat injured wildlife. “Despite their injuries and trauma, the bravery shown by the koalas and wildlife at Mallacoota is inspiring,” Dr Leanne Wicker said. Zoos Victoria chief executive Jenny Grey estimated 500 million animals had been killed in bushfires this fire season but believed the full impact was impossible to determine. Everyone who registered their desire to leave Mallacoota was evacuated, and the residents who chose to remain appeared to be in great spirits as they went about returning their town to as close to normal as they could achieve. However, outside observers felt they had not really taken in and comprehended the enormity of the devastation. With army convoys arriving in town, locals were confident they could start the rebuild. Over 300 homes were lost in Mallacoota. *** Desmond and Virginia slept soundly at the hotel that night. It was their first night in a bed after spending two nights huddled together on the beach and one night on the navy ship. They secured a flight out of Melbourne mid afternoon and were back in their Potts Point apartment by 7.00pm. As they flopped into the lounge, Virginia said “Des, I was thinking on the flight what we’ve been through in the last week and honestly don’t know how we coped. In fact it seems like a bad dream, as if it wasn’t real. I was so far out of my comfort zone I find it hard to believe.” “But you did cope Virginia, and you should be proud of how you managed.” “I suppose so, but we really got off easily compared to some of those folk I spoke to on the beach. We come home to a clean comfortable safe home, but many of them don’t have a home to return to. I don’t know how they find the strength to carry on.” “The instinct to survive and move forward is strong when people are faced with adversity.” “This whole experience has made me realise how out of touch I have been with people who have to work hard and worry about their homes, their jobs and their families. I’ve led a somewhat privileged life, with none of those worries, not even children.” “But you’re a good person who has led the life you were dealt.” “Maybe, but I want more, I want to do more. I want to be involved in the lives of real people.” “Am I not real to you?” “You know that’s not what I mean.” “Well you donated to those firefighter’s families. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.” “It’s not just about money Des. Sure I could give away lots, and I will when I get my head around this. But I want to be personally involved in helping people less fortunate.” “What’s the name of that friend who runs a hospital charity? Remember we went to her fundraiser.” “You mean Cynthia Broderick?” “Yeah, that’s her. Why don’t you speak to her and see if you can help there.” “Brilliant idea Des, and one more thing. As our house survived the fire I want to make it available for a homeless family to use. Apart from being the right thing to do, I don’t think I will want to go back there anytime soon.” “We’ll have to go back some time to collect the car.” “Can you organise that, I couldn’t go back so soon.” “Sure, I’ll get onto the local police and see what they suggest.” “Oh damn, I just remembered, I must call Jonathan and let him know we’re safely at home.” <> Her call went to voicemail as Jonathan was busy and could not hear his phone from the bedroom. A naked Lachlan rolled towards Jonathan and asked “How long have we been lovers?” “About a year now, why do we have an anniversary coming up?” “I don’t mean since we became partners. I mean since we first met at the club and started having sex on an irregular basis.” “It must be ten years or so, why?” “I was thinking about our sex life and what we’ve done together. Do you remember you fucked my on that first night?” “And every time since, that we’ve been together.” “Exactly, that’s what I mean.” “I’m not following this conversation Lachlan.” “Every time we have sex, you fuck me.” “That’s right, that’s our roles.” “But why does it have to always be like that.” “Well sometimes I jerk off over you. I thought you liked that.” “I do, but that’s not what I mean.” “Then tell me for fuck’s sake.” Lachlan sat up, looked Jonathan in the eyes and said “I want to fuck you.” “But...but...what. But I’m the man and you’re the...” “Go on Jonathan, what am I?” “How do I put this? I’m the fucker and you’re the fuckee. Is that how you say it?” “No it’s not how you say it. We’re lovers and is should be equal.” “But I thought that’s how you like it.” “I do like that, but I’d also like to try it the other way around sometimes.” “I’ve never given it any thought really.” “Have you never been the bottom?” “No.” “Well, then it’s about time, don’t you think?” “Um...I’m not sure.” “I’d really like to try, you might like it.” “And if I don’t?” “Then I’ll stop and we can discuss it.” “Will it hurt?” “Might the first time, but you’ll get used to it. Do you love me?” “Of course I do and do you love me.” “Yes and that’s why I want to be inside you; to share equally in our love making.” “Then I’d be honoured to have you be the first to violate my body.” “You could have put it more romantically, but I’ll take what I can get.” “On the contrary, I will be taking what you can give.” “Jonathan, roll over.”
  6. NO WAY, I'm over it. Did this in my first story The Covids.
  7. With Edward busy all night, Romel joined Jeremy, Brett, Rani and Daniel on their table for dinner. Brett was his usual bubble self and he, Jeremy and Rani kept each other entertained with shop talk. “We had a bit of an upset in the waxing studio this week. While I was cutting a woman’s hair, her friend was having a Brazilian in the next room. Suddenly we heard a huge shriek from the waxing studio.” said Rani. “But clients often let out a little scream, especially if it’s their first time.” “I know, but this was a blood curdling scream, so I went in to see what was happening.” “And?” asked a curious Brett. “Well it seems that when Damian was about to remove a swatch of wax, he inadvertently grabbed the string on the clients tampon and ripped it out.” “Oh a bit embarrassing sure, but hardly worthy of a scream.” “Oh that’s not when she screamed...it was when he tried to put it back in.” Brett lost control he laughed so loudly, then spilled his drink and when he finally stopped laughing, said “How disgusting?” “I agree” said Jeremy, “He should have been more careful.” “I don’t mean Damian, I mean how dare the woman go for a waxing down there when she has her....well you know what...I’m not saying it.” <> Meanwhile, Romel and Daniel found some commonality, having both flown in to Sydney, the day before. “Did you see the fires and the smoke as you approached Sydney?” asked Romel. “Yes, it was an amazing, but terrifying sight. Even from such a height you could see the red glow surrounding Sydney and the smoke plumes rising. We had to fly a bit higher than usual over Queensland and New South Wales, to keep above the smoke. When I took coffee into the cockpit I could overhear the captain discussing the possibility of diverting to Brisbane if Sydney air traffic control could not find us a clear glide path.” “But can’t planes now land just using radar?” “Not in Australia generally. Special equipment is required for that and Sydney Airport does not have it, only Melbourne and Perth, because they have more foggy days than Sydney.” <> The table cloth soaked up Brett’s spilled drink, just before it reached Daniel’s side of the table. “For Christ’s sake Brett, what’s wrong with you?” “It’s not me, it’s your woman’s waxing stories, they are such a crack up. Has she told you the one about the tampon?” “I don’t think so, do I really want to hear it?” Rani stepped in “It happened while you were away, I’ll tell you at home.” “You might like this one Daniel, and let it be a warning to you.” said Jeremy. “I had a guy in the other day. It was his first time at our studio because he was so embarrassed by what happened he could go back to his regular salon. It seems his regular waxer was not available so he said he would take whoever was available. He then wandered down the hallway and into the room he usually goes to. Being a regular, he knew he needed to take off his jeans and jocks. So while his waxer was preparing the wax he prepared himself and lay there waiting. After a few minutes, the woman turned around and in shock muttered, Oh my gosh…I only do eyebrows.” <> At around 11.00pm, Andy received a text from Virginia, telling him they had abandoned their house and had joined thousands on the waterfront. She told him many were expected to lose their homes and all their possessions. That put a damper on Andy’s New Year celebrations, but it also gave him an idea. Poppy’s had finished food service for the evening and most of the staff had settled into Dean’s Bar to wait for the new year. That included Justin’s ‘best’ waiters. Andy quickly arranged a conference with Craig, Justin and Edward. “I think it’s a great idea.” said Craig. “Yes, let’s do it.” added Justin “All my guys are here, I’ll get them ready.” “I’ll go and make an announcement, while you get organised.” said Ed Weiner. “And I’ll find all the ice buckets I can.” <> Ed Weiner had a word with the DJ and he stopped the music fifteen minutes later, so she could make the announcement. “Now stop all that boogying for a while, my lovelies, I’ve got a very important announcement to make. As you all know, much of the country is ablaze and while we party hard here, many are fighting hard to save their homes and indeed their lives.” “Well they do choose to live in the trees. What do they expect?” “Who said that?” asked Ed. Nobody volunteered, so Ed asked again and this time someone replied “He did.” “Would you please both come up on stage.” The offender yelled “And what are you going to do if I do?” “You’ll only find out if you come to Mamma.” “Ok, I’m game.” As he approached the stage, six waiters, stripped to their boxers and lead by Justin walked into the room carrying ice buckets. They were followed by Craig leading six kitchen staff, each carrying a mobile EFTPOS machine. The twelve lined up in front of the stage and the heckler was escorted onto the stage by One Eata. “Now young man, what shall we call you besides, that arsehole who needs empathy training.” asked Ed. “I’m Scott.” “Oh, named after another arsehole. Now mamma should take down your pants and slap your scrawny little arse.” “Oh good.” he replied. “But I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to give you the honour, yes I said honour, of being the first to donate to Divas bushfire relief fund.” “What?” “You heard me, I’m not going to repeat it.” Then signalling to Justin, said “This young man with the muscles and the ice bucket will come up on stage just for you. If you do what Mamma asks he might even let you touch his muscles.” “Oh, I know this one, you’re going to dump the ice on me.” “Is that what you’d like?” “Do your best, I can take it.” “Justin, would you please oblige?” asked Ed. Justin tipped the bucket over the man’s head, but nothing fell out. “Oh Justin we seem to have a problem, the bucket’s empty. But don’t worry, Scott here is going to help you fill it, aren’t you Scott?” There was no answer, so Ed continued “Now Scotty, it’s very simple. All you have to do is take out your wallet and remove all the cash and put it in the bucket.” He removed his wallet, but only had ten dollars cash. “Oh, a plastic man are you?” asked Ed. Then signalling to Craig to come up on stage turned to Scott and said “Craig here, has a brand new EFTPOS machine, and I can see you have a shiny new credit card in your wallet, so why don’t you two get together and make magic money happen.” While Scott was donating, Ed addressed the crowd, “Well lovelies, I don’t think you need me to explain what’s going to happen between now and midnight. So while my hunky waiters and cool cooks move among you, get those wallets out, open those purses and give till it hurts, because the people you will be helping are hurting right now as we party. If I see those buckets filling up and the money machines eating your plastic, I might be able to persuade One Eata to do another number for you.” “Yes.” yelled the crowd. “But before that Mamma will entertain you with a song to get you on the mood.” Ed called “Hit it Raj” and the familiar sounds of Abba’s Money, Money, Money filled the room. <> Jeremy wasn’t much for dancing, so Brett resorted to dancing by himself or anyone else he could get near to. While grooving away to ABBA’s sounds he caught sight of Richard, one of Tristan’s dancers, standing by the stage and waved and smiled at him. Instead of waving back Richard beckoned Brett to come to him. Thinking this might be a good opportunity to get a professional dance partner, he went over. “Hi Richard, want to dance?” “Not now, I’ve got to get ready for my performance at midnight.” “Oh yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. But why did you call me over?” “I need your help to prepare.” “How can I help?” “I’m a really nervous performer, and that’s ok, they say if you’re not nervous before a performance then you become complacent.” “You need me to calm you down?” “No, not as such, but we have a pre-performance ritual and that helps me forget the nerves. When dancing with the professional company we have warm-up exercises, make up and costumes. Interacting with other people, especially the dresser helps me get tuned up for the dance.” “That’s good, but what’s different tonight?” “We are not using makeup or costumes.” “Oh I see.... I think.” “What I need is for you to take the place of my dresser, but because I am performing nude, will you be my undresser?” “If I understand you correctly, it would be my absolute pleasure Richard. Not one I was expecting, but a pleasure none the less.” “Good, come with me.” They went into a small storeroom behind the stage. Brett could hear the other dancers chatting in a nearby room, and asked “Why are we here?” “I don’t want to do this in front of the others, they’ll not understand.” “Ok, what do I do?” “You do know how to undress a man, I assume” “Of course, I’m an expert.” “Good, you’ve got fifteen minutes, before I’ll be missed.” Brett firstly removed Richard’s sweatband and asked “Can I wear it?” “Certainly, you can keep it if you like.” After putting the band on his head, Brett slowly removed Richard’s sweaty T shirt, sniffed it and said “I’ve heard the old saying that men sweat and women perspire, but dancers glow. Is that what I can smell on your shirt?” Richard did not answer, but smiled gently at Brett, who said “These track pants have to come off now.” “I’m ready, but do it slowly.” answered Richard. Brett kneeled, and pulled down Richard’s pants to his ankles. Richard then stepped out of them in a manner that only a dancer could. “Nice step” said Brett as he folded the pants and set them aside. Remaining on his knees he took in the view of Richard’s bulge and touched it gently. “What are you doing, naughty boy?” “Just checking to see if you’re wearing a protector.” “Not much point tonight, is there?” “So this is all you.” He then looked up and said “Remember at the pool party you said I would probably not be able to swallow all of you?” “Y e s?” “Well from what I can see from down here, I think I could manage that easily.” “Look again.” suggested Richard. Upon further inspection, Brett did notice a big change taking place in Richard’s tight boxers. “Oh I see what you mean. Should I release it?” “Yes, you must surely do that.” As Brett pulled down the boxers very slowly, firstly Richard’s pubes crept out, then his shaft became visible and Brett continued to pull down the shorts, further and further and further, until Richard’s manhood, now at full length, sprung up, hitting Brett’s chin on the way, and stood at attention. Brett stared in amazement and envy, but said nothing. “Well?” asked Richard “Very well, isn’t it?” replied Brett breathlessly, “Couldn’t be any better.” “It’s yours if you want it.” “Now?” “Why not?” “It’s just that...um...oh fuck it, you’re certainly very tempting, how can I resist?” “Why resist, indulge, enjoy, go for it.” Brett did his best to accommodate Richard and milked him for all he could. As Richard withdrew from Brett’s mouth, his hungry friend looked up at him with a broad smile. Richard took Brett by the shoulders and lifted him to his feet. As he said “Thank you” he wiped a little white stickiness from Brett’s cheek, then licked his finger and added “Mmm, some of my best.” Brett swallowed deeply and replied “Some of my best work also. Do you feel relaxed now?” “Yes, I do thank you, but I have a little confession to make.” “You’re guilty about doing that with me?” “Yes, but not for the reason you’re thinking. I’m guilty because I didn’t tell you the full truth about preparing for my performance.” “You mean all that makeup and dressing stuff wasn’t true?” “Oh that’s true, all of it, but as this is my first naked performance in front of an audience I was worried about getting an erection during the performance. I am hoping that having an orgasm so close to the actual performance will lower the chances of that happening.” “Well you certainly would be the centre of attention waving that around the dance floor.” “Mmm.” replied Richard “Wait, you mean you used me?” “Perhaps I did, but didn’t you enjoy it?” “That’s not the point. I thought it was a mutual arrangement.” “It was, we both wanted it and we both enjoyed it. What could be more mutual than that?” “Perhaps that’s the wrong term. I meant, I thought you wanted me for who I am.” “I did want you, that’s why I asked you, rather than just jerk off.” “Now I’m completely confused.” “Brett, can we discuss this at another time. The rest of the guys will be wondering where I am and it’s getting close to curtain time.” “Sure, no problem; whenever you’re ready, just call Brett’s rent boy service, mouth open 24/7.” “Please don’t be like this, I want to be your friend.” “Not sure it’s a good idea to mix business and pleasure. Might see you ‘round.” “I’ve really got to go Brett, bye. Hope you enjoy the show.” As Richard grabbed his clothes, rushed out and closed the door behind him, Brett did a closed fist pull down and said “Yes, got ‘im, he’ll be back for more.” <> A few minutes before midnight, the DJ stopped the dance music and both Queens went back on stage. Ed said “It’s almost next year, so before we start the countdown I have one request and a little speech. Firstly would you please clear the dance floor, top up your glasses in readiness to welcome the new year and I promise you a super surprise at one minute past midnight.” As they all got drinks, Ed continued “2019 has been a great year for many of us and I expect 2020 to be even better. So to all of you... have an absolutely fabulous 2020.” The crowd toasted Ed and then One Eata started the countdown “9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1...” As 2019 became 2020 the crowd shouted “Happy New Year.” and hugged the person nearest to them. Then at one minute past midnight, the lights went off. “Don’t panic lovelies, just bear with us and all will be revealed.” One minute later a single spot light shone in the centre of the dance floor. As it slowly increased in diameter, it revealed a jumble of limbs that slowly started to unfold as the spot light became brighter. Then a slow but deep drum neat started. As the beat got louder and faster the jumble of limbs unfolded like a blooming flower, to become four naked male dancers. *** Near the border town of Albury NSW, following another day of extreme bushfire danger, with strong winds and soaring temperatures fanning flames towards major population centres, a tragedy occurred. On New Year’s Eve, while many were celebrating the arrival of 2020, a brigade was fighting a fire at Jingellic. Extreme weather conditions, generated by the fires created extreme winds in the area. Samuel McPaul died when his truck was flipped. He and two others had been mustering cattle caught in a paddock on flat ground. They decided to move away from the area. Quite unexpectedly, they experienced extreme winds, described as a fire tornado, that lifted the back of the eight tonne truck, fully inverted it and landed it on its roof, trapping the three crew members. McPaul left behind a pregnant wife Megan, expecting their first child in early May. A second vehicle working on the same fire was also blown over and the firefighters on board were taken to hospital with burns and crash injuries. <> A little later, in Mallacoota, a lone voice on the pier yelled “Happy New Year.” Another voice was heard asking “What’s to be fuckin’ happy about?” Then another answered “You’re still alive, be thankful you grumbling bastard.”
  8. @ReaderPaul, probably every Australian has a bushfire story, even our city friend @Summerabbacat. @chris191070, the party's not over yet. @starboardtack, great to have you on board. I am pleased you and @NimirRaj notiiced the contrast between between city and country, and well spotted @NimirRaj for picking up the difference between the resources of the rich and not so rich. These chapters about the bushfires really had be blocked at times. That is why there was such a long break between chapters last month. The seed for these chapters was planted along time ago by @ReaderPaul, fertilised back when Virginia bought at Mallacoota and watered for many months till it finally bloomed this month. I feel somewhat relieved that it is almost over, it has been difficult to write. But thank you all for your encouragement and remaining loyal during my period of writer's block.
  9. I was not in personal danger, but our property was threatened a number of times. My partner and I evacuated three times in a month, the first being New Years Eve. Each time we took precious personal items and files, just in case. At the time we had two ponies and 4 sheep. We debated as to what we should do for them and decided they were safer in an open paddock, with a dam, than running loose. The third time we evacuated to my partners's niece's home we really did not think we would be returning. A predicted wind change would have swept the fire towards our property. Fortunately the weather prediction was wrong and our house survived. However 10 houses were destroyed in the next village, only 10ks away. Each time before we left, we took food and crates of bottled water to the local volunteer fire brigade for the support team to prepare meals upon their return from duty. We also told them of our departure so they would not have to waist time looking for us if evacuation became compulsory.
  10. By New Year’s Eve the town of Mallacoota was entirely hemmed in by fire, the road out blocked and mobile phone reception was patchy. The bushfire was big enough to generate its own weather, including lightning that was starting fires in surrounding areas. Fanned by strong winds, the fire was now bearing down on the town at a frightening speed. For the first time in Victoria's history, a state of disaster was declared by Premier Daniel Andrews. The declaration gave the state government powers to evacuate residents and towns in six designated danger areas. People on the outskirts of Mallacoota were ordered to evacuate to the Mallacoota Hall. Desmond and Virginia stayed put and felt reasonably safe as the lake was in their view. Their nearness to water made them feel safer than those on the western edge of town. <> By afternoon, the bushfire burning on the outskirts of Mallacoota had already destroyed several houses, evacuations were underway and a medical centre had been set up. On radio, CFA chief officer Steve Warrington reported "It is pitch black. It is quite scary in that community. They right now are under threat. But we will hold our line and they will be saved and protected. Some people have chosen to stay and defend their houses, rather than sheltering on the foreshore. Trucks will not be able to reach and protect them. Literally as we speak the advice I am receiving from the fire ground is houses are visibly being lost. But the main CBD has been saved. However I would seriously advise all residents to proceed to the foreshore of the lake or the beach." The Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced just after 5pm that the navy and air force would deploy to Victoria to help communities including a possible evacuation at Mallacoota. Forest Fire Management Victoria issued an alert because the fire put heavy demands on tap water and affected supply in surrounding towns. The alert also advised that bottled water was available from the local IGA supermarket free of charge, and additional supplies were on their way. All residents and visitors were advised to restrict their water use immediately to essential use only. Early evening, Mallacoota was under ember attack. Then the power failed. As the red glow of the fire got closer and the smoke made breathing very difficult, even in the house, Virginia became almost hysterical. It was then, Desmond decided it would be unwise to try to spend the night in the house. He knew they would get no sleep anyway so he declared “Virginia, my love, It’s time to abandon the house and evacuate to the lake shore.” “Oh Des, I’ve been waiting for you to say that. I’m so scared, I just want to get to safety. We really should have gone earlier in the week when that Commissioner guy said we should. But no, you said the message was only for campers. What damn difference does it make why we’re here, the fire won’t care.” “I’m sorry you feel like that Virginia, I was just trying to make our Christmas the best I could under difficult circumstances.” “I suppose you were, but look what a mess we’re in now.” <> The lake was not far away, so they drove as close as possible, but when the road became blocked by abandoned cars they took their meagre belongings and walked down to the foreshore. Desmond noticed Virginia’s phone blinking and called out to her “Virginia, you have a message or missed call to attend to.” “It’s a text from Jonathan. He wants to know if I am safe. Maybe I should call him.” “I know he’ll be worried about you, but if you call him, remember you’ll use more battery power than sending a text. I don’t know where we can recharge down here.” “I think I’ll make a brief call to reassure him and then keep him updated by text after that.” It was mid morning in France when Virginia called Jonathan. “Thank god you called back Nia, I was getting worried when I couldn’t contact you. Where are you?” “We’ve just come down to the lake.” “What lake?” “The lake at Mallacoota.” “For fuck’s sake woman, what are you still doing there?” “We can’t get out, the road is closed, but we’re safe for now.” “That’s not good enough, I’ll charter a helicopter for you.” “Thanks Jon, I should have thought of that. Just hold a minute.” Virginia then spoke to Desmond. “Des, Jonathan’s going to get a helicopter for us.” “No, he isn’t. Firstly private aircraft have been banned from the area all week to keep the skies free for fire-fighting and forces rescue aircraft and even if that were not the case all aircraft have now been grounded because of the smoke.” Then returning to Jonathan “Jon we can’t do that because of the smoke, nothing’s allowed in.” “Fuck, what a disaster. Are you sure you are safe?” “Yes, we are and they’ll get us out some way. But I really must go, Des says I need to conserve my phone battery, we can’t charge it down here. I’ll text you if there’s any news.” “Ok Nia, take care and remember....I still love you....in my own way.” “Thank you Jonathan, bye for now.” <> Lachlan continued to monitor social media posts, which included, ‘It’s pitch black outside now so I am a little bit scared - we are getting another attack coming through.’ ‘Both of my children have shown respiratory issues because of four days of constant smoke. We need to get out of the smoke but there are no planes or choppers going anywhere. We are still stuck’. ‘Mallacoota is now shrouded in a burgundy darkness. It's so dark that people are almost invisible.’ *** Desmond and Virginia joined around 4000 people gathered on the foreshore in the hope of escaping the approaching inferno. To protect them the CFA fire trucks formed a ring around people on the foreshore as a new emergency warning was issued. The fire front was expected to enter Mallacoota within half an hour. The Bureau of Meteorology's weather gauge at Mallacoota was showing 49 degrees, with winds gusting up to 80km/h. Virginia was so out of her element and totally terrified. “Des, are we going to survive this?” she asks in hope. “Yes, my love, we are near the water, the CFA has us surrounded and I’m sure there will be rescue teams here soon.” Virginia was wearing a scarf around her face to protect from the smoke, as masks were unavailable. She now pulled it over her eyes, as well, so that she didn’t have to look at the horrified looks on the children nearby. The smoke had grounded helicopters being used to airlift people, so their only hope now was a wind change, which was not predicted, or a water rescue. The crowd continued to swell and by nightfall there were close to five thousand people gathered on the shores of the lake and the ocean. Mallacoota rescue coordinator Don Ashby told the ABC that the CFA is instructing people on the foreshore they should get under the water if the fire trucks activate their sirens. ‘You can see nothing. It is like the darkest, darkest night. You can hear the fire, it's roaring away. We’re getting a lot of ash falling. Unless you’ve got a mask you’ll be in trouble. A lot of people are using wet tea towels. And that works, but you cannot get enough air in.’ he added. A woman on the foreshore told Virginia "My home is in the fire path. I won't have a home. That's just how it's going to be. We have to try to remain calm and I'd rather be alive than be at home." “I know how you feel, buildings can be replaced, that’s why we have insurance.” “Maybe you do, we can’t afford the premiums they charge now if you’re in a fire prone area.” “Oh my god, you mean if your house burns, you’ll have nothing?” “That’s how it is I’m afraid.” “I feel so sad for you, I do hope your house is spared.” “Thank you for your concern.” <> There were now at least 10 fires, including a house fire, in the main street of Mallacoota. People down on the beach were tweeting out images showing a blood red sky. On the other side of Virginia, a visitor, wrapped in a blanket, tweeted ‘We can see the fire coming towards us, there's hot embers flying through the air - small ones, it sounds like a freight train. It's completely black like midnight. There's just a weird red glow.’ Gas bottles from caravans on the foreshore were dragged into the ocean to stop them exploding. People were really scared and talk was that the whole town was going to go. Many of those stuck in the town huddled at the boat ramp where they waited in anticipation. “What are those explosions?” asked Virginia, as they huddled together. What they could hear were multiple gas cylinders exploding in the township as the fire reached them. The gas explosions then fed the fire even more. *** By ten pm, the Party at Divas was in full swing. The three venues had combined for the celebrations. Meals were served in Poppy’s restaurant, entertainment and dancing were held in Divas and Dean’s bar kept the drinks flowing. Ed-Weiner came out of retirement, again and was ably assisted by One-Eata. “Good evening everyone, and welcome to our New Year’s Eve bash, here at Divas. As the name suggests, this is the home of divas, so as a special treat tonight, you not only get Moi, but you get two divas for the same price. Ladies, gentlemen and others please welcome the future of divas, the beautiful One Eata.” As she paraded on to the stage, the crowd applauded, she took a bow and said “I’m glad you have your priorities right Ed.” “How’s that One?” “Age before beauty always.” “You bitch how dare you insult me like that, and on my very own stage as well? Where did you get such a loose tongue?” “From you my old dear.” “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, for now.” “That’s unlike you, why?” “Because I’ve still got some old jokes to tell this drunken lot.” “You’re right.” “I usually am, but what in particular?” “They must be drunk if they’re still laughing at your jokes.” “Do you remember what happened the last time I was on this stage?” “No, it must have been totally forgettable. So I suppose you are going to tell me.” “You betcha arse on it. I sent two men off to emergency with broken ankles.” “Tripped over trying to run away from your groping hands, did they?” “They should be so lucky, but no. They were wearing six inch stilettos and trying to imitate me.” “Oh, I get it. They were imitating you staggering home after a night on the Margaritas.” “Do you want me to walk off now?” “I thought you’d never offer.” As Ed Weiner walked off in a huff, One Eata said “Damn boomers, hard to get rid of, aren’t they? Now I’ve got you to myself, how about a bit of music to liven up this party. Feel free to dance and just ignore me singing my heart out to entertain you.” Backstage, Raj hit play and the Minus One introduction to Pink’s Get This Party Started got One Eata started. Just as she finished the first verse and started on the chorus, I’m Comin’ Up... an unexpected backup singer and dancer stepped on stage and lip synched while dancing behind One Eata. When the crowd started to laugh, she continued until the laughter was almost drowning out her vocals. She stopped singing, held up her hand, to indicate the music be stopped and asked “What?” but the crowd just kept laughing. Finally she turned and saw Ed Weiner behind her, standing hands on hips and asked “What are you doing here?” “Dancing, as you asked.” “I meant the audience, NOT YOU!” “Just thought I’d add a little colour to your performance. It lacks something.” “Mommie Dearest, with an entire rainbow at your disposal, you couldn’t add any colour. You faded away years ago.” As Ed looked forlorn, the crowd sighed “Awww.” When One Eata turned to look at the crowd, Ed signalled for the crowd to continue, and they did. “See.” said Ed, “My audience loves me.” “Ok, you can join me, but stand up front where I can see you.” “I’ll stand up front, because that’s where I belong. Hit it Raj.” She called and the music picked from where it left off, in the middle of the chorus. The crowd loved both Queens and they in turn kept their audience in stitches all night.
  11. The situation in Mallacoota continued for the next four days. The days were like night and the nights were lit by the red glow from the approaching fire. Every available unit and firefighter was out trying to save the town of Mallacoota. Embers were blowing ahead of the actual firefront and starting spot fires up to a kilometre ahead and causing the firefighters to spread their resources more and more thinly. Aerial water bombing was only having minimal effect, it was too late for back burning and brigades were eventually ordered out of the bush and told to apply their resources to saving the town. It was not only Victoria that was ablaze. Much of the east coast of Australia was alight. At this point the Sydney basin was almost completely surrounded by fires producing so much smoke that for days Sydney was blanketed by smoke haze so thick, that at times major roads were closed and even the airport was temporarily closed. Ambulances and hospitals reported a record number of respiratory emergencies. *** Andy had taken the days between Christmas and New Year off from the design studio but Dean had to open the bar the day after Boxing Day. After seeing Dean off, Andy spent most of the morning calling friends to tell them about Thomas and to check on Virginia’s situation. Edward also had the week off, with no bookings until New Year’s Eve. Romel took two weeks off while elective surgery was on hold for the holiday period. He spent Christmas with his family in Manila and was due back on the morning of New Year’s Eve, to be with Edward for special New Year celebrations. Divas was holding a New Year’s Eve party, that was already a sellout, because the party included a late night staging of the premiere performance of The Swap. *** Two days after Boxing Day, the hospital managed to get a psychiatric consultation for Thomas. Andy had still not located Thomas’s parents so he acted as nearest family member for the hospital. He was called to the hospital to discuss the results of Thomas’s psych evaluation. The results were mixed. Thomas was assessed as being in need of further treatment, but the suspicions of his medical doctor were not upheld by his psychiatrist, who did not consider Thomas to be a suicide or self harm risk. He considered the genital mutilation not as a sign of intentional self harm but a symptom of his extreme grieving for the loss of Jared and a clumsy attempt to be closer to him. “So what will happen with Thomas now?” asked Andy “When his medical doctor is prepared to release him, I recommend that he be voluntary admitted to a live-in treatment facility or he can reside at his home provided he was someone with him at all times. If he chooses the second option he will need to attend my rooms for three visits a week initially.” “Has he indicated to you his preference?” “He needs to discuss that with those that will care for him, and I assume that’s you. Also, there is a waiting list at all public facilities in Sydney. I could however get him into a private facility if he has the means to pay.” “If he has private health insurance would that cover the private facility?” “Even the best private insurance will only cover part of the daily cost and for a limited period, but you should check with his insurer.” “So, what you are saying is, he waits for a bed in a public mental hospital or he pays to get into a private one immediately.” “That’s about it. So I recommend you discuss it with him and let me know what decision you both come to.” *** Andy was not prepared to give Thomas the options discussed, especially in his unstable condition. He felt he might choose to wait and Andy did not want that for him. He resolved to ensure Thomas would be able to go to a private facility, even if he had to pay for it himself. He visited Thomas before leaving the hospital but did not mention his discussion with the psychiatrist. As he was leaving, Justin called him to say they were on their way to visit Thomas. “I’m just about to leave the hospital, how close are you?” “No more than ten minutes, why?” “I’ll wait for you and explain about Thomas’ situation.” “Ok, where will we meet you?” “How about the coffee shop?” “Great, see you soon.” <> Over coffee, Andy explained his conversation with the psychiatrist. “And how does Thomas feel about this?” asked Craig. “I’ve explained about getting him into care, but not about the ‘at home’ option. Do you think I did the right thing?” “Without having spoken to Thomas or his doctors, I can’t judge, but I will say that confined care is the best option. It’s important that he feels he’s in charge of his future. Going into psychiatric care can make some people feel they have lost control. Denying him that choice may not be the best way to go.” “But if he takes the other option, then by your own words, he’s not getting the best care.” “I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think it’s wise to run the risk of him finding out later and feeling it was not his decision.” “Does he need to find out?” “You should discuss this with his psych doctor, so that he knows it’s basically your decision.” “Thanks, I’ll do that. I just want the best for him.” “And we won’t mention any of this to him.” “Thanks guys, so you better go and see him now. He seemed a bit down when I was leaving, but I’ve got so much to do.” <> When Thomas saw his friends enter the ward, he sat up quickly but yelled “Oh fuck that hurts.” “Are you in pain?” asked Justin. “Only when I move suddenly. The boys have taken a beating.” “Yeah, we heard, you need to take care of yourself better.” “Oh I’ve heard that so many times this week. I don’t need another lecture.” “Sorry mate, just showing I care about you.” Craig then intervened “Probably best to leave the medical advice to his carers.” “But, I wasn’t giving medical ad....” Before Justin could finish, Craig shook his head, indicating Justin should stop. “So have they given you any indication as to when you’ll be discharged?” asked Craig. “Probably in a few days, but then they want me to go to another hospital for mental care.” “Well that’s good progress. Isn’t it Justin?” “How would I know, I’m not a medical expert.” he replied curtly. “Do you really think I need mental care Craig?” Thomas asked. “Yes, let’s hear your opinion.” suggested Justin. After giving Justin a narrow stare, Craig replied to Thomas “If your doctors recommend it, then I would urge you to follow their advice. They will be able to help you through difficult times and help you develop the strength to deal with your grief. It’s natural to grieve, it takes time and support.” “But sometimes Jared’s presence feels so real and I just want to do stuff that I know he likes. But other times I know he’s.... Oh I don’t even want to say it.” “That’s why you need professional help, so you can distinguish between reality and what you want to be.” “I suppose you’re right. It’s just that I don’t feel like I’m crazy.” “We don’t use such words, but I know what you mean. Mental health is as important as physical health and there is no need to feel bad about accepting help. There is no stigma attached to seeking to improve your mental health.” “May I say something?” asked Justin to Craig, but before he could answer, Thomas said “Yes Justin, please tell me what you think. After all, Jared is your brother, you must be missing him as well.” “It’s just that the way I see it, you wouldn’t hesitate to go to a doctor if you feel physically unwell or injured, so why should you not also accept help when your thoughts are.... a bit wobbly.” “I like that.” replied Thomas “Maybe my thoughts are a bit wobbly sometimes. Thanks Justin.” A chuffed Justin said “You’re welcome, mate.” Thomas was quiet for a few moments and then asked, “Hey can you guys do me a favour? I want you to tell Andy, I apologise if I said anything to hurt him when he was here earlier. I will take his advice and go get some help. Fuck! That doesn’t sound like me, but it sounds good to say it. Just tell him I now know I’m having wobbly thoughts.” Justin smiled, but said nothing. *** When Andy arrived home he rang Virginia to update her about Thomas’s condition. When he explained the options of public or private care, she said “Andy listen to me carefully. Thomas has been a loyal employee and friend to me and my family for many years. If he needs care, no matter what it costs, he will have it. Do you understand me Andy?” “I think so Virginia.” “Good, I could try to call Smidmore about it, but the phone service here is getting worse every day, so this is what I want you to do. Call Smidmore and tell him, I want to pay the costs of Thomas’s care for as long as it takes. Get him to arrange the funding guarantee, or whatever it takes. Now, further, I want you to make whatever arrangements are necessary with the doctors and hospital for Thomas and be assured the costs will be covered. Is all that clear Andy?” “Very clear Virginia, and I want to thank you on Thomas’s behalf. That is an enormous relief.” “Good, now you know what you have to do.” “Before I go, how are things there?” “Much the same as when we last spoke. We are still trapped, but able to stay in the house for now. Although I did hear this morning, the fire will not give up and is creeping closer to the town every day. They say, unless there is a favourable change in the weather then the fire may reach us by New Year’s.” “I’m sorry to hear that. Please stay safe Virginia and give my regards to Desmond.” *** Tristan decided to abandon the idea of the water ballet part of his dance project and just go with the stage version. When he discussed this with Edward it was decided to replace the twins during their recovery and continue with the premiere performance at Divas, New Years Eve party. *** Two days later, Thomas was admitted to The Sydney Clinic private mental hospital as an in-patient. Andy drove him there and spent a few hours while he was checked in, assigned to his room and toured the facility to familiarise him with the layout and available services. The staff encouraged Andy to stay for lunch, as a way of helping Thomas settle in. “Andy, I know I agreed to come here voluntarily, on your recommendation, but now I’m here I’m not really sure.” Andy felt this should all have been explained to Thomas by his doctor, but given that Thomas said he was there because of his recommendation, he felt he owed Thomas some sort of answer. “So you can get well and feel happy again.” “It’s true, I’m not happy, but that’s just because I miss Jared.” “I know mate, and that’s what they will help you with here. You do accept that Jared has passed on, don’t you?” “Some days it seems like that, and other days I know he’s with me and wants me to join him in his activities.” “Well, I’m sure that’s what they will help you to understand about Jared. I’m not an expert in this so I don’t want to confuse you about it all, I’ll leave that to the professionals. They’re very good here and I’m sure you’ll be back with....that is you’ll be up and about soon.” “You will come and visit me?” “Of course, as often as they allow.” “Why do you say that, can’t you come every day?” “I’m not sure, there may be times when they want you to concentrate on your therapy exercises and treatment, so I’ll come when I can.” “I think I understand.” “That’s good.” “But Jared will be here with me all the time, so I’ll have him let you know when you can come.” “Yes well.....now let’s tuck into this lunch, looks delicious.” <> “This place seems pretty fancy, are you sure I can afford this?” “I have good news for you on that matter.” “You mean it’s covered by public health?” “Not this place, there are waiting lists for the public facilities, so rather than wait we got you into this private hospital and if there is any shortfall from your health insurance coverage, it will be paid by Mrs P.” “Virginia’s paying for this, why?” “She loves you, and wants you to have the best available care. Is that surprising? You always said she referred to you as the son she didn’t have.” “That’s very generous of her, will she be coming to see me?” “She can’t because her and Desmond went to Mallacoota for Christmas and a nearby bushfire has blocked the road out of town, so she can’t leave at present.” “Fuck me, will she be ok, is she safe?” “I spoke to her yesterday and she is nervous about the situation but safe for now. Apparently their house is near the lake.” “Well, thank her for me please and wish her well.” “I’ve already done that on your behalf, but will tell her again, directly from you.” *** In France Lachlan and Jonathan continued to monitor news about the devastating fires across Australia. When they had their neighbours Anders and Henri over for dinner, they too asked about the situation. “You must have a lot of fire fighters to deal with all these fires at the same time and that must be a huge expense for your government to pay all these people.” suggested Anders. “Oh they’re not paid, most of them are volunteers.” replied Jonathan. “Volunteers, isn’t that a bit risky having untrained people doing such dangerous work?” “They’re not untrained at all. Each state has their own rural fire service managed and resourced by the state government, but apart from permanent administration and training staff the rest are volunteers that must attend regular training in their own time and are called in, again on their own time, to fight fires as required.” Lachlan then added “My brother, his son and his daughter are all fire fighters and his wife does support work for their local brigade. They attend regular training sessions every Wednesday night and specialist training on other occasions.” “I had no idea people were so,... what is the word in English...altruistic?” “Yes, it’s amazing how people, mostly in small rural communities support each other. They work their regular jobs, run their households, raise their families and still find time to do such important and dangerous community service.” “And you say they don’t get paid at all?” “Not by the government. There is an understanding that if they are volunteer fire fighters then their employer must give them time off when they are required. However the employer is not obliged to pay them for time off. Some large employers do voluntarily pay for short periods, but small businesses can’t afford that and sole traders or self-employed can’t earn money if they don’t work.” “That must put a strain on families.” “It sure does, and most cope for short periods, but this year some of the fires have burned for months and need to be constantly attended to. That is placing unprecedented strain on volunteers. So much so, that the volunteer brigades are putting pressure on their governments to make some support payments during long periods away from their work. ” “Well, they certainly deserve it.” concluded Henri. “And do I understand this correctly? The admin people who sit in a safe office, get paid, but those risking their lives at the fire, don’t get paid.” “That’s pretty much how it works.” *** In Mallacoota, conditions continued to worsen, the smoke was relentless and breathing was difficult even for the healthy. With the smoke grounding all aircraft, the town was now completely cut off except for water access. Attention then turned to bringing in supplies by boat, but this method was relatively slow compared to air access. <> In a desperate attempt to keep smoke out of the house, as well as keeping all doors and windows closed, Virginia started putting wet towels at the bottom of external doors and Desmond taped over edges of doors and windows. They had sufficient food supplies, so as long as the water stayed on they felt confident they could survive in their home until the fire came too close. Virginia filled every large container she could find, with water for drinking and they stopped showering when requested by authorities to save water only for essential use. Camp bathing was a completely foreign concept to Virginia, but she adapted to just washing with a bucket and flannel cloth. Desmond was so proud of her ability to accept the circumstances and adapt accordingly. The woman that once relied on servants for all her needs, including sex, was now hunkered down and dealing with the real-life emergency she found thrust upon her. “Des, do you think this smoke will ever stop?” “I don’t wish to state the bleeedin’ bloody obvious, but it won’t stop until the fire is extinguished or burns itself out. So in the short term Virginia, no. We just have to grin and bear it. I must say, I’m very impressed with how you are coping.” “Thank you Des, but what you see is all bravado. Inside I’m a complete shivering mess. It’s not just the smoke and such, it’s the unknown. Not knowing how long we will have electricity or water and when the fire will reach us. I’m not used to dealing with what ifs and whens. I don’t know how much longer I can manage. Oh Des, please hold me tight and I will feel safer in your arms.” Desmond obliged and the scared couple maintained their embrace until the radio crackled to life again. On ABC Gippsland, the fire controller said “We’re trying to get people inside the hall, out of the embers. We’ve got people on the roof with hoses. With up to 3000 people still in the town, the relief centre has only just sourced a fridge and most people are eating cold Foodbank donations brought in by sea. The smoke has grounded helicopters being used to airlift people.” Sarah Beer, who has children aged one and three phoned in to say “The sky has turned black and our caravan on the foreshore is being soaked with water as a precaution.” Another caller reported "It’s pitch black outside now so I am a little bit scared we are getting another attack coming through, Both of my children have shown respiratory issues because of four days of constant smoke. We need to get out of the smoke but there are no planes or choppers going anywhere. We are still stuck. Mallacoota is now shrouded in a burgundy darkness.” “Des, I don’t think I want to listen to any more of that, it make me feel more scared and those poor people who have already had to leave their homes must be devastated.” “I understand Virginia, but the radio is our only source of reliable information for now.” “I’m sorry Desmond, I know you’re doing your best to keep up to date. You continue to listen, I’ll just go and lie down for a bit.” “Do you want a cuppa, I can bring it to you?” “Thanks, that would be lovely.”
  12. Wombat Bill

    Boxing Day

    Yes that is correct. In rural areas these are placed on higher ground as there are no high buildings to use, as in the city. The problem with this is that fires also like to burn UP hillsides. Since so many were destroyed or damaged in 2019/20 they are looking for new technology or other ways of protecting communication towers. I haven't read anything about it recently. Landlines are generally underground, but use local exchanges, to service small villages. These are very often just a small shed about the size of a one car garage or smaller. We have one just down the road, so a fire in this area would easily destroy it.
  13. It was just on sunrise when Dean and Andy arrived home. They had not slept all night except for dozing in the waiting room of the hospital. “Do you want a cuppa or go straight to bed?” asked Dean as they both collapsed into the big red sofa. “I don’t think I could sleep anyway, so put the kettle on and I’ll try to gather my thoughts.” “Ok, but you know I somehow feel a bit responsible for all this.” “Why you?” asked Andy. “Because I was the one who saw what he was capable of. You didn’t see him in that bloody purple room, balls stretched to breaking point and seemingly not feeling any pain, but instead talking to Jared as if he was in the room. I was fuckin’ scared for him.” “But there wasn’t much you could do, once you refused to put on any more weights.” “We should have stopped him leaving the house. I should have known he would get up to mischief over at the Price’s.” “Maybe you’re right. I don’t mean about you being responsible, but he did tell me before he left that he had bigger plans for the day. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but that must be what he meant and all I did was tell him to drive carefully. I’m the one who is responsible, not you.” admitted Andy. “That doctor sort of scared me also. His balls will probably heal, but if he’s declared mentally unstable, what happens to him then?” “We’ll just have to wait and cross that bridge when we come to it.” “Hey, when that cop came here last night, he was looking for family and for the time that was us, but he must have other people who care about him. You’re his oldest friend, do you know if he has parents or siblings?” “Shit, you’re right, I forgot about that. Locally, I should let Virginia Price know about him first, he always said she treated him like a son. I don’t think he has a brother or a sister and his parents are grey nomads, always driving around the country. God know where they are.” “Do you have old lady Price’s number?” “Not her mobile, but I’ll try the house. No wait, there’s no one there. I’ll try Potts Point and also Jonathan’s mobile. Do you know what time it is in France?” “Probably close to London time, what’s that?” “They’re eight hours behind us so, it’s....no it will be another hour because of our daylight saving so...” “Wait, I’ll check time zones on my phone. Now it’s about six am here so the time in Paris is ..... nine pm yesterday.” “Good, at least they won’t be sleeping.” While Dean made the tea, Andy looked for Jonathan’s number. He was about to press ‘Call’, then paused. “Bugger!” “What’s wrong?” asked Dean. “What do I tell him about Thomas’s condition?” “He’s recovering should do.” “As may be, but recovering from what?” “Oh I see...genital injury?” “Acquired how?” “Just tell him the truth, no point trying to sugar coat it.” “You’re right” concluded Andy and pressed ‘Call’. <> “Hi Andy, so good to hear from you and Merry Christmas to you and Dean.” “Yes, and to you and Lachlan also.” “Thank you, I’m glad you called, because I need an update on Thomas’s condition.” “You know about the....accident?” “Yes, it was the security service that found him and called me as the primary contact for the property.” “Did they tell you what happened to him?” “Yes, that was a bit weird. They said he injured his balls. At first I thought that was strange and then I remembered he was found in the gym, so he must have slipped or dropped some weights on himself. Sounds awfully painful, how is he, have you seen him?” “He’s recovering ok, and we did see him but he’s sedated till the pain improves.” “Oh good, and that makes sense about the sedation. Let me know if he needs anything I can help with.” “Sure Jonathan and I’ll keep you updated on his progress. Now there’s something I need” “Of course, what can I do?” “I need Mrs P’s mobile number.” “Sure, I’ll get Lachlan to text it to you when we hang up. If I try to do it now, I’ll probably lose the call anyway. You know me and modern technology are not a good fit. By the way, I was recently reminded by Virginia, it is now Ms P.” Dean laughed and replied “Thanks Jonathan, bye for now.” As Andy hung up, Dean said “That seemed to go well.” “He already knew about the accident, he was contacted by the security people who found Thomas, but he thinks it’s a gym injury.” “Oh well, that’s less embarrassing to talk about.” “For now, but we may need to have the conversation if we get a bad psych report.” “As you say, crossing bridges.... tea’s ready.” “Good, I’ll have that and then call Virginia. At least I now have a more palatable story to tell.” As Dean was disposing of the tea bags, Andy’s phone beeped. “Any news?” asked Dean. “No, it’s just Jonathan giving me Virginia’s number.” “Are you going to call her now?” “I’ll wait a bit longer, don’t want to alarm her by calling so early. *** Early On Boxing Day, authorities urged Victorians to reconsider their holiday plans. Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, told them they should turn around and go home, now. ‘If you're holidaying in that part of the state, it's time that you left’ he said. “Should we head back to Sydney?” asked Virginia. “I think that message was aimed mainly at campers and people renting holiday homes.” “So we should be safe in our own home?” “For now we are.” Those who stayed didn't know it, but they were already out of time. Later in the morning, an emergency warning was issued for the Mallacoota area. People in the area were told that the earlier Watch and Act warning had been upgraded due to concerns about the out-of-control bushfire at Wingan River bearing down on Mallacoota. The fire spread so quickly that the residents of Mallacoota were already in danger and were advised to take shelter immediately. The official warning was ‘It is too late to leave. Leaving now would be deadly as Genoa-Mallacoota Road is now closed.’ “Des, why is it so black outside, it’s only mid morning?” “Must be the smoke. The wind has changed direction and is bringing the smoke directly to us.” “So does that mean it will also blow the fire towards us?” “Probably so.” “Then we should leave immediately.” “And where would we go?” “Back to Sydney of course.” “Virginia, that’s not possible because the only road in and out of Mallacoota is already closed by the fire.” “Fucking hell.” “Virginia! I’ve never heard you talk like that before.” “I’ve never been in a fucking bushfire before, so perhaps I’ve been saving it for the right occasion.” “Fair enough.” *** Where’s the TV remote?” asked Andy. “If it’s not on the coffee table, maybe it slipped down between the sofa cushions again.” “I really should attach a mobile phone to it, so I could at least call it when it gets lost.” “Hey that’s a clever idea, a marriage between a remote and a phone, I’ll bet Sony haven’t thought of that yet.” When retrieved, the remote soon had the TV spewing forth endless updates on fires in three states. “This looks pretty bad this bushfire situation. At least we’re safe here in this concrete jungle.” commented Andy. “Yeah but we get the smoke, but still far better than then the flames. I don’t know how people in those rural areas cope with the constant threat of being burned out every summer. I couldn’t do it.” A few moments later Andy added “Look at that, they’ve only just rebuilt after losing their home two years ago and now they have to evacuate because they might lose their new home. I’d just give up and scamper back to the big smoke, sorry, I mean the city.” A few minutes later, while watching an injured Koala being rescued by WIRES, Dean said “You know, at least humans know what to do, have cars and are advised where to go, but the poor wildlife don’t understand why their homes are alight or where to go for help. That’s fucking sad.” and then Dean choked up. Noticing this, Andy asked “Are you ok?” “Sort of, I don’t know who I feel for most, the people or the animals. And it’s not just wildlife. What about the farm animals that can’t escape because they’re fenced in?” The sleepless night finally caught up with Andy and he dozed off with the remote control firmly in hand. Dean continued to watch the 24 hour news through half closed eyes, until he saw a partly burned town sign that once, proudly proclaimed, Welcome to Mallacoota. He shook Andy awake and said “Hey, a few weeks back you were talking about a place called Mallacoota, but I forgot why.” “What?” asked a still sleepy Andy. “Mallacoota, why were you talking about it before?” “Oh, that’s where Mrs P bought a house, why.” “It looks like there’s a fire approaching the town.” “Fuck, I better call and see if she’s there, as well as tell her about Thomas. This may be a double whammy for her.” A voice on a crackly line answered “Hello, this is Virginia.” “Hi Mrs P, this is Andy from the jewellery design studio, how are you.” “Bloody scared Andy, have you heard about the fire down here?” “Yes, we’re just watching it on TV, looks serious, are you safe.” “To be honest, I don’t know. We’re still in the house and the fire hasn’t reached the town yet but....” then the line went silent for a few seconds. “Hello Virginia, are you still there?” “Yes, I’m back, damn phone keeps dropping out. Where was I?” “You were saying that the fire hasn’t reached the town yet.” “Oh yes, but Des and I are ready to run if needs be.” “That doesn’t sound good, but before we lose this poor connection, I have some news about Thomas.” “Is he still in France with Jonathan?” “No he’s been back home for a week but yesterday he had an accident and is in Westmead hospital.” “Damn, some Christmas drunk run into him? Is he badly injured?” “It wasn’t a car accident. He sustained a...um...injury in the gym, but he’s recovering.” “Oh that’s a relief, but I should get back to Sydney....Des,” she yelled “I need to go back to Sydney immediately, Thomas is in hospital.” “We can’t get out of town, the only road out is closed by the fire.” “Fuck, I forgot that.” “Mrs P!” said an astonished Andy. “Oh I know, but it’s now my new word to describe this horrible situation I find myself in.” “Forgiven, I suppose, but what was Desmond saying?” “We can’t get out because, can you believe, there’s only one road out of this town. They didn’t tell me that when I bought here. I must have a word with Smidmore about that.” “That is bad, so what’s going to happen if the fire gets closer, is there an evacuation plan?” “They did have some helicopters taking out the ill and vulnerable, but there was no chance of that for us and now theve all stopped because of the smoke. Des says our evacuation plan is to go down to the lake. I don’t know what we do then apart from stand in the lake. Oh Andy, I’m scared, this is not the Christmas I planned. Sorry, here I am babbling on about my troubles when Thomas is lying in hospital. Tell me more abou....” The line then went dead and Andy looked at his phone, which declared Call Ended. He tried to re-establish a connection but just got the usual ‘out if range’ message. He explained his call to Dean who then declared “Now I think it’s definitely bed time.” “You go off to bed, I don’t think I’ll sleep much anyway so I might as well just continue to doze here on the sofa.” “Ok, but don’t be surprised if I start without you.” “Are you serious?” “I am tired, but also a bit stressed, so maybe a quick wank might relax me.” “I’d like to see that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you jerk off yourself.” “Then be my audience, by all means.” They went off to the bedroom, Dean stripped off and lie on his back, as Andy sat in the chair. “Are you just going to sit over there?” “Yes, you promised me a solo performance and that’s want I’m waiting for.” “Fair enough” answered Dean as he tweaked his own nipples and his cock started to lengthen. He then moved his hands to his balls and cupped them gently at first then gave them a squeeze, but suddenly stopped and pulled his hand away. “What’s wrong?” asked Andy “I just had thoughts of Thomas and suddenly squeezing my balls didn’t seem like a good idea.” “So what are you going to do now, I don’t see that stiff rod that you usually display. Do you need help after all?” “No thank you, I will deliver what I promised.” He said as he reached for the massage oil, squeezed a little into his hand and smeared it over his half erection. He then pulled his feet up near his arse, dropped his knees sideways and spread his legs till they were flat on the bed. “Hey impressive position, does that help?” “Just be quiet and watch.” Dean replied as he stroked his penis and kept pressing his legs against the bed. In that position he only needed a few strokes and he was rock hard. Andy was about to comment and then remembered his instructions, so he watched as Dean’s stroking got faster and his breathing also increased in rapidity. Less than one minute later he stopped momentarily to let Andy see the pre-cum seep out of his rod. Andy kept quiet, but gave a thumbs up and looked forward to Dean’s next move. He knew Dean could produce a large load, but was not expecting the force with which he could push it out. Thirty seconds later Andy became an unplanned participant in this act when Dean’s first gush went so high and so far it reached Andy. He smiled but said nothing. He just watched the look of determination on Dean’s face turn to a grin and then the expected ahhhh. He finally broke his silence and asked “Feel better my love?” A breathless Dean replied “Oh yeah!” Andy was about to get a towel for Dean, but decided, as he had not had any breakfast, he might take in a little protein from Dean’s relaxed body.
  14. Wombat Bill

    Christmas Day

    Have you been hacking my computer?
  15. Wombat Bill

    Christmas Day

    There seems to be some relief that Thomas is getting help. With your good wishes, let's hope he recovers. But, the fires continue to burn. Thanks for your comments and reactions.
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