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Wombat Bill

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About Wombat Bill

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  1. No spoilers, but I think you're going to love it.
  2. They slept late the following morning and while having a morning cup of tea, Charles remembered the parcel and said, “I wonder who the gift is from? It must be someone who didn’t attend the reception.” “But, everyone who was invited attended so I can’t think who would leave us a gift.” “Well there’s only one way to find out, we have to open it, there’s no card on the outside.” “OK, let’s do it together.” The item was well wrapped and packed. There amongst a mountain of packing was a wooden box, about the size of a shoe box, heavily carved with an inlaid symbol, like a family crest or coat-of-arms. “Isn’t it absolutely beautiful Charles?” “Yes, but I can’t find a card, look through the packaging, maybe it’s in there.” By the time Charles had packaging spread from one side of the living room to the other, he declared, “There is no card, maybe they forgot, but who would give us such a magnificent piece and not include a card or some wishes for us?” “I wonder what it’s for, do you think there’s anything inside?” “I can’t open it, but it does not seem to be locked. In fact there does not seem to be a lock or a key hole, nothing to keep in closed.” “Let me try....you’re right it must be jammed shut, I’ll get a screwdriver.” As Max returned with the tool, Charles warned, “Be careful, don’t damage such a beautiful and clearly expensive piece.” But try as he may, Max could not prise open the box without causing damage. “Hey look under the box, there’s some writing there.” “You’re right, but it doesn’t seem to be in English. I can’t understand any of it, looks like some eastern European language.” “I’ll turn on the computer and see if we can get a translation.” When he was ready Charles asked, “Read it slowly while I type.” Max did his best to read, “Pentru cine este în posesia acestei cutii. Trebuie să urmați instrucțiunile din scrisoare. Nu încercați să deschideți acest lucru până la exact 100 de ani după 17 martie 1918. Deținătorul trebuie să îi ofere cadou de nuntă primului cuplu care se căsătorește la sau după această dată. Cuplul trebuie să așeze caseta sub patul matrimonial în noaptea nunții lor. Caseta se va debloca când ...” The translator detected the language to be Romanian and returned the translation as‚ ‘For who owns this box. You must follow the instructions to the letter. Do not try to open this until exactly 100 years after March 17, 1919. The holder must give it to the first couple who wed on or after this date. The couple must place the box under the matrimonial bed on their wedding night. The box will unlock when ...’ “Is that all there is?” asked Charles. “Yes, the parchment seems to be torn off, as if there was more.” “That’s very mysterious, but what is even more puzzling is who left this on our doorstep, and why?” “Do you think the box really is 100 years old? That would make it very valuable, if it is.” “Well, it looks old to me, but I’m no expert on antiques.” “Then that’s what we should do, show it to an antiques dealer. Do you know anyone?” “If I remember correctly, Roger had a relationship with that guy who runs the shop in the junction, what’s it called?...um...Conrad’s Collectables.” “Yeah, that’s it, maybe he can help.” “I’ll call Roger tomorrow and see what he suggests.” About a week later all three of them went off to see Conrad, who was most intrigued by the antique box. He immediately picked up on the crest and asked if he could photograph the box so he could show it to some colleagues in the business whom are experts in family crests and insignia. He suggested that if the crest could be identified then that may give some clue us to the provenance of the object. It was two weeks later when Conrad rang Charles and was very excited about his discovery. “Sorry to be so long getting back to you about this Charles, but I wanted to be certain about what I have been told. The story I have to tell you was once believed to be true, but in more recent times has become to be regarded as a legend. However, now that this box has been found it may turn out to be true, if this is the real thing.” “You’ve got me really intrigued now, when can we meet?” “Why don’t you and Max come to my store tomorrow, if you are free and we can chat then? Oh, and please bring the box with you.” “That will be fine, see you tomorrow Conrad.”
  3. Wombat Bill

    Dancing Queens

    Thank you Summerabbacat for your beautiful comments about Max and Charles. You've now got me tearing up reading your heartfelt comment. This is just a short story of 8 chapters about these two beautiful men. It was written as I finished a larger project where Max and Charles don't appear until the last chapter. I am about to start uploading the new story when M&C is finished. Now, however you've got me thinking differently. Maybe they should appear earlier. There seems to be a good vibe on this site for these two gentlemen. Comments welcome.
  4. After the ceremony, the wedding party moved to a function room at Bondi Beach. Craig had everything ready when the guests arrived. Justin quickly changed into his black tight fitting pants and black bow tie, but no shirt, and went about his duties as head waiter. As the function room overlooked the beach the permanent decor was inspired by the ocean so, Craig and Justin continued that theme. All the waiters were male and wore only, red Speedos with white bandanas tied around their necks. The waiters served champagne and beer as guests arrived followed by platters of small seafood appetisers. When all were seated, the bronzed beach boys served the entree. The main course was a buffet. Firstly, three ripped bodies walked out and sat in the lotus position on the serving table. Three more waiters then brought out large trays of various salads and placed them in the laps of the lotus posers. That was followed by two waiters carrying a surfboard with a display of cold meats; then a second offering a display of cold seafood. During the meal there were a couple of breaks for brief speeches and some anecdotes told by friends of the couple, moderated by their long term friend Roger. Max told of their chance meeting in Hyde Park, all those years ago and Charles added, “It still seems as fresh in my mind today as it was 50 years ago.” Roger added, “Better write it down before bewilderment kicks in young man. That reminds me about the time you got your first mobile phone.” “Oh please don’t tell that story.” pleaded Charles. “Yes, do tell.” one of the guests called. “Tell us...Tell us...Tell us...” they all chanted. “How can I disappoint my fans.” said Roger, and commenced his story. “I was working in the local liquor store drive-thru, back then. Charles drove in to purchase a few bottles of his favourite red and while there he proudly showed off his new purchase, his first mobile phone. After he paid for his purchase he left and I went about tidying shelves between serving customers. It was about an hour later when Charles returned in quite a state.‘Whatever’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘I’ve lost my new phone, can’t find it anywhere at home. I must have left it here because I went straight home; didn’t stop anywhere else.’ he told me. Then I had, what I thought was a brilliant an idea, ‘Give me your number Charles and I’ll call to see if it’s in this area.’ I said. We both heard the phone ringing. ‘You must have dropped it in the car Charles.’ I said. Charles looked in all the storage compartments, then got out of his car and looked in the back and under all the seats, but could not find it. ‘I’ll call again’ I offered. Again we heard it ringing, so we searched the counter and shelves, but could not find it. ‘But it’s got to be here if we can hear it ringing.’ he concluded, then he asked. ‘Is there anyone else working here, maybe one of your assistants found it?’ But I was the only one on duty. So I called the number yet again, heard the ringing and walked around the drive-thru area. Charles followed and wherever we went we could hear the ringing. Then it hit me, so I told Charles if the sound is following us, there is only one place it could be. ‘Where?’ asked Charles. Now tell us Charles, where did you find the phone?” “In my back pocket.” he said as her turned red faced and the guests roared with laughter. Music during the meal had been non-intrusive classical pieces that did not overpower the conversation and speeches. When Roger declared the dance floor open and invited the newly married couple to take to the floor, the crowd were expecting, perhaps a Strauss waltz, but that was not the happy couple’s choice. As they walked hand in hand to the centre of the dance floor Roger snapped his fingers and ABBA’s Dancing Queen filled the room with the sound of their favourite song. Max and Charles showed that they still had the moves and were so inspiring that everyone soon joined them. Again, breaking with tradition, there was no early departure by the newlyweds or throwing of a bouquet. Instead they stayed to farewell their guests and thank the caterers and venue manager. While they were chatting with Justin and Craig, Roger noticed they seemed a little unsteady on their feet and went over, stood between them and took an arm of each for support. Noticing the situation, Craig asked Roger, “Are they OK to get home?” “Well in polite company, one might say they were a little tipsy, when in fact they are both completely pissed.” All laughed, then Roger escorted his dear friends down to their waiting limo for the short ride home. They had especially requested their wedding guests not to bring gifts and were pleased that all who attended the reception had complied. However, on arrival home they found a parcel on their doorstep wrapped in wedding gift paper. Both men had over imbibed on alcohol and were very tired after such an exhausting day so they just placed the parcel on a side table and went to bed.
  5. Wombat Bill

    I DO, I DO

    On the morning of their wedding day, Max and Charles were up early. They had a light breakfast on their terrace and spent the rest of the morning checking their clothes, ensuring the rings were in a safe place and went over their vows. They each wanted to memorise their vows and not use prompt cards. To help with this they had written the vows themselves and kept them short and simple. They had chosen matching light grey suits and plum coloured shirts that they would wear open necked. Neither of them had worn ties for many years and would not have felt comfortable wearing them. Craig and Justin were also up early to prepare for the wedding. They were excited about catering for their first wedding for two older men, they had quickly grown fond of. “Yeah, they are a really great couple and I’m so happy for them. I want them to have a special day, I hope they like the surprises we have planned for them.” “I think they will, now let’s get this stuff over to the reception venue early, so we can get to the park in time for the ceremony.” “Yeah, as ring bearer, I can’t be late, and it wouldn’t be a good look for a wedding planner.” The wedding ceremony was scheduled to commence at 3.00pm in Queens Park, on the Bondi side. The spot had been booked with the local council and Craig had arranged for a small marquee to be erected one hour before starting time. There were chairs for the less able and decorations in a red and white theme, the colour of the boys AFL team, the Sydney Swans. It was only a short drive to the park from their home but they had decided to treat themselves to a limo ride for their once in a lifetime day. The chauffer had them at the marquee at exactly 2.45pm so they could have a brief chat with Paul, the marriage celebrant and hand over the rings to Justin for his role as ring bearer in the ceremony. About 50 guests had been invited to the ceremony and Max and Charles were delighted to see them all chatting happily when they arrived. They dispensed with many of the traditions of marriage ceremonies. There were to be no best man, groomsmen or other attendants. As Max put it when they were discussing who would be best man “You are the best man I know Charles. So it is only you I want by my side.” They had opted for just a ring bearer and of course required two witnesses. One was Max’s brother, the other Charles’ sister. At exactly 3.00 pm, Paul asked the assembled guests for their attention and the ceremony began. The boys did not march down the aisle but instead stood to one side of the celebrant and Justin on the other side. “Family and friends you have come here today to join Max and Charles in a celebration of their wedding. But today is as much about celebrating the many years they have already spent together, as it is about the rest of their lives together. Most couples that I marry are usually setting out on a new life together, but today Max and Charles are not only marrying but also observing their 50th anniversary together.” Paul paused for the guests to indicate their joy with applause. Then looking at the boys said, “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” Paul then looked to the guests and continued, “In their hearts Max and Charles are already committed to each other. They’ve had fifty years to get that right. This ceremony gives formal recognition to that commitment.” Charles and Max smiled at each other and looked at Paul as he asked, “Max, would you please make your commitment to Charles?” As planned they then turned to face each other, held hands and Max started. “Charles, I love you secure in the knowledge that you are my best friend, my dearest, my lover and my kind and adoring partner. We were each given two hands and two eyes, but only one heart - to share with another - I vow to continue to share my heart with you. Hold my hand as we continue through life together.” “Max you are my best friend, my beloved and my true soul’s companion. I know you as my love, who has always been and always will be there for me. I stand here as your loving partner and proclaim my love in order to share with you, but also to share our love with our community of friends and family.” They then turned towards their guests and said together. “Today is the culmination of a dream, come true. We stand before you today about to continue our lives together and take the opportunity to reaffirm our love in front you our closest family and friends. All are welcome to witness, all are welcome to love, all are welcome to our home, built on a foundation of kindness our love." “Thank you gentlemen, now dear guests it is time for Max and Charles to exchange rings. Rings as a symbol of marriage are thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt. The ring finger on the left hand is believed to have been chosen at that time as there is a vein in that finger that runs directly to the heart. The circle of a ring represents eternal love as it has neither a beginning nor an end.” As Paul told the brief history of wedding rings, Justin stepped forward dressed in white trousers and a red jacket, in accordance with the colour code of the day. He began to search the pockets of his jacket, but could find no rings. He looked blankly at the guests and paused... Then with a hand gesture and a facial expression indicating a ‘light bulb moment’, he paused again for a few seconds. Then he removed his jacket to reveal his almost bare chest. The sight of his well developed pecs, pierced nipples and rippling abs had more than a few of the guests goggle-eyed. He was wearing stainless steel nipple hooks and on each hook hung a gold ring. The guests laughed as Max and Charles reached forward and each took their ring from Justin’s chest. Paul then continued, “Friends, Max and Charles will now exchange rings to symbolise their eternal love for each other. However, this is not the first time these rings have been exchanged. Charles will explain.” “Thank you Paul. Exactly forty years ago, which was the tenth anniversary of our life together we gave each other these rings to celebrate that milestone. We had to purchase them separately because the first jeweller we went to would not sell us matching rings as he felt such a thing was inappropriate for his business and his beliefs. Needless to say he did not get a sale and we purchased two rings from another store on two separate occasions.” As Max took Charles’ hand he said, “This ring is a promise that you will never be alone, while I still breathe.” Then he placed the ring back on his partner’s finger.” Charles did the same as he made the following promise, “I give you this ring with my pledge to be the best partner I can be, with trust, love and devotion.” The guests then broke into spontaneous applause. Still standing nearby, Justin thought he could see a tear flowing from Max’s eye and heard a sniffle from Charles. Paul then said, “As you have promised before us to love each other and to share your lives together, both in good times and in not so good times, I now declare that you are married and wish you every happiness.” The beaming couple smiled at Peter and thanked him. “Friends and family it is now time for Charles and Max to sign the Certificates of Marriage.” The celebrant, the couple and their siblings went to a table at the side for the official signing. After completing this Paul presented the certificate and said, “It is now all official.” As the boys took their certificate they kissed to the sounds of oohs and aahs from the guests.
  6. About an hour before retiring for the night, he took his medication, showered and chose his clothes to wear the next morning. He slipped into bed beside his partner but sat up and read for about thirty minutes while he was waiting. While still reading, he felt his partner roll towards him and reach out to caress his belly. It was not long before he felt his partner’s hand travel south across his abdomen, through his pubes and begin fondling. “You’re still a bit relaxed down there, not yet ready for action?” “Well if you keep doing that I soon will be.” He replied as he put his book down and turned off the lamp. Within minutes he had the erection of a twenty year old. “Very impressive!” “Thanks for your help.” “...and the little blue tablets.” The next morning Max and Charles were having breakfast on their tiny Bondi terrace when Charles observed, “You know Max, this time next week we will be Mr. and Mr. All legal and certificated as a married couple.” “You’re right Charles, but you know I didn’t think it could ever be so when we met fifty years ago, not even in my wildest dreams.” “I know, society has come a long way in that time. When we first met we ran the risk of being jailed for what we used to do in the privacy of our own bedroom. Now here we are fifty years later, only a few days away from being legally married on the same day we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary together.” “Did you ever think it would last this long?” “I don’t think I really gave it any thought. I knew I loved you and wanted to spend my whole life with you and that was all that mattered.” “Thank you.” said Max, as he put his hand on Charles’ and squeezed lightly. “How about I freshen up this pot of tea and we can go over the arrangements for next Saturday.” As Max returned with a fresh pot, Charles said, “You know those two lovely boys seem almost as excited as us about our wedding.” “Craig and Justin certainly are the dynamic duo and seem to have thought about everything to make our special day just perfect.” “I wonder what surprises he has planned for the wedding. I’ve heard that Justin can be quite daring in his approach to serving.” “The only clue he gave me was when he asked if he could be the ring bearer, he said he had a surprise way of delivering them. I suppose it will be acceptable for a mixed group. But he didn’t say anything about the reception, so we could be in for some surprises.” “Oh I forgot to tell you, I had a call from Roger and he has confirmed he would feel honoured to be the MC at our reception.” “That’s great, he’s always a lot of fun and a bit of a wit, so should keep out guests entertained.” “He asked me why we especially requested no gifts on our invitations. I asked him what we could possibly need after all these years. He thought for a moment and then said he couldn’t think of anything. So I told him he had answered his own question.” “Well, my love,” said Max as he raised his cup, “Here’s to us and another fifty years together.” “Are you planning to live to 125?” “If you’ll be by my side, I might give it a try.” replied Max as he winked at Charles.
  7. Craig and Justin had been running the successful business, Catering With Benefits, for two years. They had started small, just catering for cocktail parties and other small private functions. The benefits part of the trading name referred to the unique way they served the food. Since marriage equality was legalised in Australia in December 2017 they had turned their talents to catering for weddings and expanded into wedding planning. All their weddings so far had been for young couples, so it was with a mixture of excitement and curiosity that they headed off to meet a couple in their seventies to discuss plans for their wedding. Max and Charles both met Craig and Justin at the door of their home in Bondi. “Welcome boys, so glad you could come.” “Now what can we get you boys to drink?” They all settled own with their drinks and snacks on the small deck at the back of the house. “This is a very comfortable home you have here” observed Craig “Have you been here long?” “About forty years now.” replied Max, “That long” said Justin in complete surprise “So how long have you been together?” “Nearly fifty years.” “How did you guys get together when you did not have social media or bars to meet?” “In our case it was a bit of an accident.” “Or an accident avoided” said Charles. “That’s right Charles” said Max “Back in those days Hyde Park was a common place to meet other men. The best spot was by the Archibald fountain. Do you know that?” “Yes of course” replied Justin “So what happened, how did you know who was gay and who not?” “Well, even in those days we relied on what you now call gaydar, although we didn’t have a name for it then, it was just a feeling you got from observing the other men around the fountain. I was sitting on a nearby seat watching for men loitering around the fountain and waiting for one that took my fancy. While I was waiting I saw three men nearby that were walking around together and talking between themselves. But they did not strike me as being camp, as we were called then.” “How did you know?” “Firstly it was unusual for groups of men to hang around together. Usually men were alone until they found someone and then left the park quickly so as not to appear suspicious. Secondly these three had an air of trouble about them. They would be laughing one minute and then doing things like punching a fist into the other hand. That made me very worried.” “So what did you think they were there for?” “Trouble is the short answer. I was thinking they could either be undercover police trying to entrap men into making an approach to them or they were just out for a bit of fag bashing. It was a popular sport back then.” “Bugger me” exclaimed Justin. “Nice choice of words.” replied Max “Anyway, while I was watching these blokes looking for a mark I saw Charles walking around the fountain. I had not made up my mind if I was going to approach him, he did not really seem my type. But then I noticed they seemed to be looking at him and pointing also. I stood up and walked closer to the fountain and was thinking of walking straight past and out of the park so that I would not get involved with the troublemakers. As I was walking past Charles I heard a noise behind me and someone said ‘get him’ but I did not know who they were talking about. I thought if I run they may chase me and I would be on my own. If it was Charles they were talking about should I help him. Figuring there might be safety in numbers I rushed towards Charles and hustled him away from the approaching trio and towards a couple of other men nearby. That meant we were then a group of four and the commotion attracted the attention of others who also came towards us. The trio ran right past us and left the park. I guess they felt outnumbered by then.” “And?” asked Craig “Well we went for a drink at the Marble Bar to calm our nerves and the rest, as they say, is history.” “And you are still together all these years later?” “Yes, and that’s really what we want to talk to you about. It will be our fiftieth anniversary in two months and we would like to have a special celebration.” “Wow, that is really something worth celebrating” said Justin “So are you asking us to cater for your celebration.” suggested Craig “That’s right boys, but it won’t just be a party, we are going to get married.” “Wow, that is fabulous, it will be our first wedding for an older couple, if you don’t mind me saying so.” said Justin. “Not at all. Now may I ask if you are a couple?” “Yes, we have been together for three years now.” “So you boys have not married yet.” asked Charles. “No, I guess we have not thought about it really, and I am a bit surprised that gentlemen of your years would want to get married after all those years together”. “It’s not just for young people you know. But I see what you mean.” Max added “Well gentlemen of our age have seen the tough times and the better times and now the good times. Over the years we have joined protest groups, marched for our rights, lobbied those in power and generally fought for equality. So after all those efforts we owe it to those who fought alongside us and those who went before us to celebrate what has been won.” “That’s a good way of looking at it” added Craig. “So have you set a date yet?” “Yes we have.”
  8. Two senior men embrace the commitment of marriage. They receive only one wedding gift, a very mysterious gift indeed.
  9. Thank you for reading The Covids. Hope you continue to enjoy the story.

    1. kichaku


      Thank you for a quite entertaining story. I look forward to more with these enjoyable charaters. 

    2. chris191070


      It's a fantastic story, I highly recommend it.

  10. Another medical bill?
  11. Wombat Bill


    Steve arrived home earlier than expected. Strong tailwinds over northern Australia carried flight QF2 to Sydney almost an hour earlier than scheduled. He found Kevin reading, who didn’t even look up he was so absorbed in the book. Steve went to Kevin, gave him a hug, with the book between them and said “Can’t you put that down and give me a proper welcome home after a week away?” “Sorry, I was carried away by this story and hoping to get it finished before you got in.” Kevin stood up and said “Come here you hunk and I’ll give you all the hugs you missed in the last week. At least I assume you didn’t get too many hugs while away. You know what they say about flyboys; one in every port.” “I think that’s sailors. Anyway, I have one in one port only.” “Right answer, now get out of that uniform and fill a few glasses while I finish this. I put your favourite sauvignon blanc in the fridge. I’ve only got a few pages to go and I can’t stop till I find out if the two boys get together.” “Oh, a gay Mills and Boon.” “No, not at all, it’s actually quite a tragic story, wrapped around a sci-fi drama with informative observations on human behaviour.” “Sounds fascinating, I don’t think.” “Well said for someone who thinks DNA magazine is a fine example of English literature.” “It has some well written articles.” “And a lot of eye candy.” “Ok, finish your book and I’ll be back.” Kevin closed the book just as Steve arrived with two glasses of wine. He was wearing only blue boxer shorts covered in red and white roosters. “Hey they’re new. Get them in London?” “No, doesn’t the waist band give you a clue?” Kevin tried, in what he thought was the appropriate accent, to say “Garcon Francais. You’ve been to Paris? “Oui.” “You bastard, you go to the city of love without me! I may never forgive you.” “If you don’t then I may not give you your parcel from Paris.” While Kevin waited in anticipation Steve went to retrieve the gift. He presented Kevin with a large Garcon Francais carry bag. “Wow! Looks exciting.” Kevin was so keen to see the contents he just upended the bag and out tumbled a collection of jocks, sox, T shirts and a pair of red, white and blue swim trunks. He held each item against himself for Steve’s approval. He then checked one of the labels which read ‘Fabriqué en France’. “Wow! Not made in China, that’s refreshing. I love ‘em all, so I suppose you’re forgiven.” “Good, now tell me how did the book finish, did the hero get it in the end, and they lived happily ever after?” “Yes they did become a couple, but not sure about the ever after.” Steve picked up the book and looked at the cover. “Pandemic by Tom Wibball, that’s an ominous title and what’s this round spiky ball thing on the cover?” “That’s a representation of the Corona virus. Corona means crown in Spanish and the spikes represent a crown.” “And this fascinated you how?” “Well it’s about this virus that is first discovered in a city called Wuhan. Don’t know if that’s a real place or not, but it is believed it came from a wet market and transferred from animals to humans.” “Hang on.” said Steve as he tapped away at is phone “Yes, got it, Wuhan is a real place. That should get up the noses of the Chinese.” “It doesn’t take much to piss them off. Anyway this young doctor notices similar symptoms in a number of patients and starts discussing it on a website with other doctors. The powers, that must be obeyed, find out, shut down the discussion and the doctor disappears for a while. He then shows up dead.” “Of course he does.” “He supposedly dies from the virus, which by then has people dropping dead in the streets. The Chinese authorities stop all movement of people in the city, to the point that if you go out without permission they weld shut your front door.” “That’s scary, so do they find a cure for this disease?” “Not yet, but the emergence of the disease happens just before Lunar New Year when traditionally Chinese are travelling all over the world to visit family or to holiday. That is how it spreads so super fast.” “Even to Australia?” “Yes, within two months there’s scarcely a country without it. Then the who declare it a pandemic, hence the title.” “who?” “The who.” “That ancient rock band?” “No, the W H O, World Health Organisation.” “You’d think the writer could have come up with a better name than that.” “It’s a real organisation, numb nuts.” “Oh, anyway go on.” “Well it spreads all over. In Australia they introduce social distancing, which means you have to stay 1.5 metres away from other people. Overseas it is especially bad in Spain and Italy. Most nations close their international borders, thousand of aircraft are grounded and there’s an enormous number of layoffs in the travel industry.” “Hang on! You just lost me, because I’d be out of work. How could that happen? This is all getting a bit farfetched, but then you said it’s sci-fi, so I suppose one must suspend their belief in reality.” “Precisely, now stay with me. Then the Prime Minister of the UK, one Boris Johnson, gets the virus.” “This writer thinks Boris Johnson could be the PM of the UK. Now it’s losing some credibility.” “Well he was a popular Mayor of London, so maybe.” “So does he die an agonising death and London goes into mourning and the Queen has to take over?” “No, he recovers after a stint in ICU and goes back to Parliament. I think the writer is trying to say that the virus does not discriminate. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a PM or homeless, rich or poor, everyone is vulnerable.” “Good point.” “Then the next chapter is where he does lose some credibility. Now wait for this. When it reaches the United States it is not treated seriously by the president and he says it’s only a little flu and can be cured by drinking disinfectant. But when I reached the chapter where over ten million people there become infected, even I started to think this is a bit implausible.” “You’re right, in the richest free nation in the world that couldn’t happen.” “Oh, as a sceptic of this story, you’ll love this bit. He makes the president, Donald Trump.” “The apprentice TV guy?” Steve asked, and took a sip of wine. “Yes, him.” Steve laughed so hard he sprayed his mouthful of wine all over Kevin. When he managed to regain control he asked “And was it about this point in the book that you decided it was a send up of that sci-fi movie Contagion?” “No, apart from that it was a very serious study of how humanity would cope with the world wide spread of a deadly disease. Oh and I forgot to tell you they named this disease the Corona Virus Disease or Covid for short.” “Your family name, how insulting.” “I thought so at first, but it’s not a very common name so they probably didn’t know it was anybody’s name and besides great grandpa shortened his name when he migrated to Australia because nobody could pronounce or remember Covidastovskiuskiene and he thought Covid was easier.” “Just as well, it wouldn’t have fit on his driver’s licence anyway.” “Now that I think about it, lots of medical conditions have the names of people.” “What do you mean?” “Like Parkinson's, Huntington's, Alzheimer's, Tourette’s, Hodgkin's, Bright's, Downs etcetera, etcetera.” “Those families must be pretty pissed off about that.” “No, those people either discovered the disease or researched it. So the naming was an honour.” “Don’t know if I’d see it that way.” “How about a top up and a towel, just in case you laugh again with a mouth full of wine.” “Why, are you going to tell me that China takes responsibility for this and gives the world free vaccines?” “Wine!” When Steve returned, Kevin said “Do you want to hear more?” “Yeah, might as well, you’ve got me hooked now and besides when do we get to the bit about the two young guys.” “I’m getting to that. So there’s this one chapter about Australia where Queensland and NSW both have female premiers.” “Oh yeah, like that’s about to happen.” “So these two start bitching about closed borders. The Qld premier Anastasia, with an unpronounceable surname closes their state border and the NSW premier Gladys, with an equally unpronounceable surname keeps sniping at Anastasia because she can’t go there. Well that continues for a few months till Victoria, the state not a person, has a second wave of the virus and Gladys has to close the NSW/Victoria border so they can’t come here.” “Is that what they call irony?” “Good man, you are keeping up. Now I forgot to tell you earlier, that when the international borders were closed, only Australians returning home or foreigners with a special exemption can enter, but they must go into hotel quarantine for two weeks and test negative after that to be released. Most states put their local police in charge of enforcing the quarantine with armed forces personal to assist.” “This is sounding a bit Orwellian, armed forces detaining civilians.” “Does a bit, so when they have this hotel quarantine in Melbourne they put private security guards, recruited on Instagram, in charge of the quarantinees.” “What’s wrong with that?” “Nothing in principle, but the security guards and snapped sleeping on the job, while the quarantinees sneak out for a smoke or go to the local fast food joint. But it gets worse, when it is discovered that some security guards and bonking the people they are supposed to be keeping in quarantine. This is how the second wave starts.” “This is getting more unbelievable as it goes along.” “You haven’t heard it all yet. They have this government inquiry to determine how this all went wrong and they discover that no one made the decision, no one gave an order and nobody remembers how they came to use a private security company.” “No wonder this is called fiction, couldn’t happen in real life.” “I suppose not, but makes for an interesting read.” “Yeah, so what about the lovers, I’m waiting for that bit.” “You are a romantic aren’t you?” “Well, I am hoping there’s a bit of hot sex in there somewhere. Hang on, you’re not going to tell me that they can’t get together because of this, what was it, sociable distancing thing?” “It’s social distancing, but in private that’s hard to enforce.” “Good.” Before Kevin could continue his phone rang. “Hello.”...... “Hi Gran, good to hear from you.”...... “Aunt Candida? No I don’t.”...... “I was probably too young. Sounds like she’s been away almost as long as I’ve been alive.”...... “Oh, that’s sad”...... “Bugger me, three times?”...... “They say, one is unfortunate, two is carelessness, so three must be a scandal.”...... “Sorry Gran, I’m on a high at the moment, my man is just back after a week away.”...... “No Gran, not drugs..... “Well, I suppose that would ease the pain a bit.”...... “Yes, I think so.”...... “Well, he’s just back from London so he’ll have most of the week off, I’ll check.” Looking at Steve, Kevin asked. “Do you have any plans for Saturday night?” “No, haven’t thought about it really.” “Gran, that should be all right, what time?”...... “Sounds great, I’ll bring a few bottles and in the meantime I’ll talk to Dad, see what he remembers about her.”...... “Ok, love you Gran, bye for now.” “What was that all about?” asked Steve. “Apparently I have an aunt I didn’t know about. She’s been travelling the world for twenty years. She was recently widowed for the third time, inherited a fortune and has come back to Australia because she has no other family.” “Has she just become your favourite aunt?” “I guess so, because she’s my only aunt.” “I just lost interest in your book. I’d rather talk about your aunt.” THE END Premier of Queensland - Annastacia Pałaszczuk Premier of New South Wales - Gladys Berejiklian
  12. Exams were over and both boys felt confident that they had done as well as they could given the difficult circumstances of the past year. Corona restrictions, lockdowns and on-line study for part of the year had been very stressful for all final year students. Added to this for Kevin, was the sudden illness of his grandmother and her eventual death. However, the blossoming of their relationship from school friends to boyfriends had come at a good time so they could support each other. Steve was particularly supportive of Kevin after the death of his grandmother and this further cemented their bond. With all that now behind them they had nothing but free time and lived every day to the maximum. Restrictions were minimal by mid November so they were free to go to the beach, movies and enjoy outdoor activities. There was one particular outing that they looked forward to. The end of year formal was only a few days away and both boys were excited about going as a couple. They had hired their formal wear, bought new shoes and had haircuts together. At first they considered dressing the same but abandoned that idea when Kevin spotted a burgundy and gold floral patterned jacket he just had to wear, while Steve wanted something a little more conservative. The final compromise was matching dark grey trousers, open neck pink shirts and Steve chose a plain burgundy jacket in a darker shade then Kevin’s. When they went to collect their suits, the day before the formal, they ran into Efron, who was also collecting his. Apart from casual passings during exams, Kevin and Steve had not seen Efron since the magpie incident and none of them thought it worth mentioning. After collecting their gear the three had lunch together at a nearby cafe. “So are you two going as a couple to the formal?” asked Efron ”Sure thing, I’m really looking forward to making a statement.” answered Kevin. “And you Steve, is that how you feel?” “I wouldn’t say I want to make a statement, but Kevin’s my boyfriend, I’m proud of that and have no problem being seen that way, even at a school social event. What about you, are you taking anyone?” “No, I’ll just mingle with all the other singles. I don’t think everyone will have partners.” “Hey, I’ve just had a fabulous idea.” said Kevin, “As a special treat, Steve’s parents are picking up the bill for a limo to drive us to the venue. If you’re going on your own, why don’t you come with us? It will be a blast when we all step out of the limo together.” “Are you trying to arrange my coming out, Kevin?” “No, not at all; we’re just school friends sharing a ride. But if some were to see it that way what a ritzy way to do it.” “Are you sure I wouldn’t be cramping your style, riding with you.” “Not at all.” replied Steve “Glad to have you along. We all need to stick together.” “Ok, I’ll do it. Sounds exciting and you guys are really generous. But in all fairness, I should tell you I have been very jealous of what you have together. You know, I followed you to the park one day and was watching you. That is, until I was attacked by a magpie.” Both Kevin and Steve burst out laughing, much to the surprise of Efron. “What did I say that’s so amusing? I thought you’d be mad at me.” The other two looked at each other and each knew what the other was thinking. Simultaneously they said “We know.” Steve continued “We watched the magpie chase you away.” Then Kevin added “We had thought of going to your rescue, but we were having so much fun we just let the maggie keep chasing you.” Then after a chuckle Efron said “You buggers! Did it really look that funny?” “Sorry Efron, but yes it did.” replied Kevin “Well, I suppose that makes us even... friends?” “We all belong to the same brotherhood, so yes. Good friends.” “Thanks guys.” Efron gave each of the boys a peck on the cheek. “Don’t push it Efron.” warned Kevin. “Oh, I was just testing how close we are.” “What are you suggesting Efron?” asked Steve. “Nothing, just putting it out there. Hey, since your parents are shouting us the limo, how about I ask my parents if they might stump up for a hotel room in the city tomorrow night? That way we don’t have to go back to the suburbs after the formal. A night in a top hotel and a big breakfast included would make the celebration of the end of our school lives just perfect. How about it guys?” The formal was to be held in the function room of a city hotel, so Efron ensured his father booked their room in the same hotel. As it was an official school function there was no alcohol served and the supervising teachers either didn’t see or didn’t want to see the small flasks that some smuggled in to add to their orange juice or cola. They also didn’t notice that Efron occasionally went walkabout, up to room 903 to raid the mini-bar. The night was a huge success and no one took any notice of Kevin and Steve trying to be a couple, probably because Efron danced most of the night with them and somehow a threesome went unnoticed. However there were a few raised eyebrows among the teachers, when checking that all students had suitable transport home, Efron proudly announced “That’s ok Miss, we have a room here for the night.” “Do your parents know about this Efron?” “Yes, here’s the booking confirmation and my Dad’s receipt.” “And what about you two?” she asked Kevin and Steve. Efron answered on their behalf “See Miss, it’s for a triple room.” “Very well then and behave. Remember you still represent the school until the term officially ends.” “Of course Miss, always.” “I’ll take you at your word young men, goodnight.” As soon as they arrived in the room, Steve went straight to the mini-bar. “Hey guys it’s not very well stocked, there’s only two cans of beer and a small bottle of wine. No spirits.” “I forgot to tell you this is where I got the minis we drank earlier.” “How about room service?” asked Kevin. “We could try, but what if they ask for ID?” “Then we just say sorry and they won’t serve us.” “Then they might check the mini bar and we’ll not only be in trouble for drinking that, they’ll take away what little is there.” “Good thinking, let’s just share what we have.” After consuming the remains of the mini bar, including all the chips and nuts, the three were not totally intoxicated but were sufficiently relaxed to lose any inhibitions they might have had. It was not surprising then, when Efron suggested “Shall we all sleep in the king size bed.” The joint answer was “Why not.” “Great!” said Efron “Then we’ll need these.” he said as he threw a packet of condoms on the bed. “Oh and I’ve got this as well.” He added as he rummaged through his bag for a tube of lubrication. “You seem to have thought of everything Efron.” said Steve. “Except one thing.” “Rubbers, lube, bed big enough for three, plenty of towels in the bathroom; what else? You guys aren’t into sex toys as well, are you?” “You didn’t ask us if we were willing to join you in a threesome.” “Sorry, I just assumed that...um...am I wrong.” “No” they both answered.
  13. I guess I'm still a newbie, been a member since September. Just discovered this topic when looking at the profile of a new reader of my story. I started writing a few years ago when confined after some surgery. I thought I would just write a short story to fill in some time. Then 80,000 words late I realised I had written a book. I published it as an ebook on another site. Then I found a second book inside me, and after that nothing for about a year. When I was grounded by Covid lockdown, I had a silly idea about the name Covid and wrote a short chapter about a teenager who had a problem with his name. I sent this to my friends and got a good reaction, so I wrote another chapter and so on. When I discovered GA I published a few chapters to test the waters. I was thrilled when I discovered that people liked my story so I continued to write in real time. Thank you to all the members who have supported my writing and thanks to those that run this site and give amateur writers an outlet.. Of course the story takes place in my home state of NSW Australia, where daily Covid cases are now down to zero, restrictions minimal and we are returning to normal. As a result The Covids will soon end and I will move onto a new project. Regards, Bill
  14. Daniel was a complete mess the day after his mother’s funeral. Jenny tried to help, but he just shut himself away in his home office and asked to be left alone. She knew everyone dealt differently with grief, so she let her husband have his time to grieve. Two days later, Jenny could see no change in Daniel. He ate very little and tossed and turned all night. Each time she took him tea he seemed to be pouring over patient notes, but the blank look on his face convinced her that he was not really concentrating on the task. By the end of the week she was desperate she did what she thought she would never do, she called one of his colleagues and told him of Daniel’s condition. “Harold, I know I shouldn’t be calling you about this, but I am so worried about Dan, I just don’t know what else to do. I think he needs professional help, but if I suggest it he’ll just say he’s fine and knows how to deal with it. But, clearly he’s not coping at all.” “Jennifer, grief is difficult for many of us to deal with and time usually helps. Don’t forget he’s a trained professional and should be able to recognise his symptoms and know how to deal with it.” “Harold, I don’t believe Daniel’s just dealing with grief, in fact I know he’s dealing with unresolved issues with his mother.” “I know I shouldn’t ask, but what happened between them.” “Remember Harold, I called you, which means I want help for Dan, so you can ask anything your think is necessary.” “Thank you Jennifer.” “Dan and his mother had a big falling out about a month before she became ill. I don’t want to go into the details of the disagreement, but suffice to say that it was serious between them. Given time I’m sure they would have worked through it or at least agreed to disagree. However, her sudden illness put her in hospital before Dan could speak to her and because of the highly contagious nature of this virus, he could not visit her in hospital. Then she died without him being able to make peace with her. I think that is playing on his mind more than normal grief.” “Jennifer, I really can’t give you any advice as to what you should do other than support him, which I’ve no doubt you are doing, and give him some time.” “Time’s not helping Harold, he needs help now, can’t you help in some way?” Harold was quiet for a few moments then said “Would you like me to give him a call, just as a colleague offering condolences on his loss. I won’t say we have spoken and I’ll see if I can get some feeling about his condition and maybe he’ll agree come see me for a chat, not a consultation. Would you be happy with that approach Jennifer?” “Oh Harold I knew you’d help. Thank you so much, that will be great and makes me feel a bit better already.” “Also Jennifer, if you think you need some personal help, I can recommend a very good woman you can speak to. She is a past colleague, although we don’t see much of each other now. She is easy to speak to and very supportive.” “Thanks Harold, but I’ll be Ok, once Dan gets some help.” “As you wish Jennifer. I’ll call Daniel later today, when I finish my last consultation.” Harold put down his phone and thought ‘Why do people always think someone else needs help and yet they don’t?’ That evening Daniel said to Jenny “I had a call from Harold today.” “Is that your colleague from the health centre?” “Yes, he heard about Mum’s passing and wanted to pass on his condolences.” “That was thoughtful of him, he’s a nice man. Did you talk about anything else?” “Not much but we are having lunch tomorrow. I’ll meet him at the centre first. I’ll go in a bit early so I can set a date to return to work. I can’t expect my colleagues to carry the load for me for too long.” “That’s good Dan, I’m glad you feel like going back to work. You need to be busy. And it’s good you are going to have lunch with Harold; a good opportunity to talk to someone outside of the family. You need that sometimes.” “Maybe...” Daniel said in a questioning manner. Daniel’s lunch with Harold went well in many ways. The two colleagues had a good time catching up outside of work. Daniel did admit to Harold that he was not coping well, although he said he would feel better once back at work. Their lunch went on well into the afternoon. Harold cancelled his afternoon appointments so he could spend as much time as possible with Daniel. Whether it was Harold’s management or the amount of wine consumed, Harold was not certain, but he did get Daniel to agree to seek help from a friend of his in practice on the other side of town. Daniel had not met Walter Savage, but knew him by reputation and trusted Harold’s recommendation. During the consultation Daniel spoke of his mother. “She was a determined woman, had her own views, made sure everyone knew of her views and could not be persuaded to change them. We fell out just before her death and she could not see my side of the argument at all. I feel guilty that I did not make up with her and now don’t have the chance to do so. That is going to be with me for the rest of my life. I have to deal with that Walter, but it’s not easy.” He spoke of his children “They are all doing well in their employment or study. I am very proud of them all. They each have partners now, even the youngest, Kevin. You know, he came out not long before my mother’s death. It just occurred to me that he didn’t get around to telling her. I wonder how that would have gone. He really is a good kid, knows what he wants and his long term school friends is now his boyfriend. I’m happy for him. My oldest Jason, just proposed to his partner Colleen, she’s a nurse, and a damn good one as far as I’m concerned. They haven’t set a date yet, but it will happen. He’s working as a bar manager and studying hospitality part-time. I know he will do well.” Daniel paused and Walter let him have some time to reflect. Normally Walter would take the lead and encourage his clients to speak about their problems, by asking questions that would have them interrogate themselves and open up to him, thereby dealing with their issues. But Daniel was a professional too and knew all the tricks of counselling. Finally Walter asked “Is there anyone else in your life that you want to speak about?” Again, a long silence, then. “Daniel, you haven’t spoken about your wife.” “Oh, didn’t I? Well there’s no problem there.” This sent a strong signal to Walter. “Maybe, but you don’t seem to have any problems with your children yet you spoke about them at length. What is your wife’s name?” “Jenny, but why are you so interested in her?” “Are you not proud of Jenny’s achievements, do you see her as a good wife, good mother.” “Of course.” “Then tell me about her.” “There’s not much to tell really, she’s what you said and a good chef at an Italian restaurant.” After the consultation Walter wrote in his notes - Struggling to get Daniel to open up about wife. May be the key to getting to the root of Daniel’s problem. More than just his unresolved disagreement with his mother. May be nothing to do with his mother at all. Cover story????? He hasn’t elaborated on the reason for the disagreement. Connection ????? Next session - what is it about his wife that he’s not dealing with.
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