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    Rigby Taylor
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Mortaumal - 19. Raul, Miss Busty, & Brawl

Raul

School plodded along while Mort became increasingly introverted. The only thing he enjoyed was woodwork where he was making an elaborate small table with turned legs and complicated inlay. His reputation with staff members had taken a dive and he was treated with wary suspicion in case he also made fools of them by exposing their inadequacies. He was learning that the life of a truth teller is a lonely one.

One evening after eating boiled rice and beans with raw greens and fried eggs—his self-defence instructor Brawl’s all-purpose diet for health, fitness and enhancement of the senses required for self defence, Mort lay on his bed, head empty of thoughts, empty of hope, empty of ideas, empty of desires. A state of mind understandable perhaps in someone at the end of an active and purposeful life, but not recommended for teenagers in full health and fitness.

Random thoughts and images flickered across what he thought of as his internal viewing screen. A vision of Han, with his powerful hairy legs and calm self-assurance left a painful erection in its wake. Mort began to play with himself but couldn’t be bothered. The erection remained, however, triggering other sexual memories. Perhaps Steward was ready to draw him again? His grandfather reckoned most fit and healthy men get a kick out of showing their bodies. It isn’t a gay thing, he reckoned, simply a desire for peer approval. Steward wasn’t his peer, but he did approve of Mort and it’d be more fun to wank with an approving audience than alone, so…

Five minutes later he arrived at the basement flat to find half a dozen men milling around in the small garden, drinking and chatting. Hoping he hadn't been noticed he had just turned to retreat when Steward called, ‘Don’t go, Mortaumal. We need you.’

The men were all in or around late middle age, all vaguely respectable, all dressed rather dully. They were amateur artists who met once a week at each other’s houses to share the twenty-five dollars an hour it cost for a model. A lean Latin type with a manicured goatee and moustache that made him look sort of sexy, was the only one who wasn’t overweight. Two had full beards that made them look alike. They had been waiting for tonight’s model when Mort appeared. Steward drew him aside and asked if he’d come to pose for his painting. Mort said he had, and apologised for coming without ringing first.

‘No, no!’ Steward exclaimed. ‘I told you to do that. And now you’re here you can earn a few dollars.’ He explained about the other artists and the model who’d be arriving any minute. ‘He’s a handsome bloke, a couple of years older than you, will you pose with him?’

‘What if he doesn't want to do it with me?’

‘He’ll be delighted.’

‘If he’s unattractive then I’m not staying.’

‘Fair enough... ah, here he is.’

A jaunty cap on short curly hair, classic features, muscled bronzed arms and chest in tight T-shirt, slim waist, respectable bulge in lycra shorts, well formed thighs and calves. White trainers without socks completed the picture.

‘I know you!’ Mort said in shock. ‘You’re the cop who’s been giving road safety lectures at school and is so handsome all the girls have the hots for you.’

‘And you’re the handsome kid who asked intelligent questions.’

They grinned in relief at meeting someone who wasn’t old and slightly decayed.

Steward introduced them and asked Raul if he’d model with Mort.

Raul pulled a face. ‘What if he shoots his mouth off at school?’

‘I won’t! And don’t you tell anyone I do this, I’d never hear the end of it.’ Raul offered his hand. ‘We tell no one, OK?’

‘No one,’ Mort echoed, as they shook hands.

The artists moved inside and arranged their drawing boards on tables, portable easels, wherever they felt comfortable with a good view of the square of carpet in the middle of the room.

Mort had a sudden rush of panic. He was already getting a hard on. What would Raul think? What would the artists think! He beckoned Steward. ‘I can’t do it, I’m getting a hard on and…’

‘Steward grinned. ‘Everyone in this room, including Raul is gay or queer or homo or same-sex-oriented...whatever you want to call us. And we will all be delighted at your tumescence, so just enjoy yourself, OK?’

‘You’re...?’

‘A happy man? Surely you’re not so innocent as to imagine any self respecting heterosexual would invite a young man in, ask him to strip, draw him stark naked, and then invite him back whenever he likes?’

‘I... I just thought you were, you know, liberated... a tolerant freethinker.’

‘An education system mired in medieval religiosity like Queensland’s, could never produce such broadminded paragons.’

Embarrassed at his ignorance, Mort still only half believed, but bravely stripped and joined Raul on the carpet, where they adopted a three minute pose face to face, bodies almost touching, arms draped over the other’s shoulders. Raul appeared not to notice Mort’s erection poking into his belly.

‘You’ve a great body,’ Mort whispered.

‘Thanks, so have you. And a perky penis. Where’d you get those pecs and shoulders?’

‘Self defence classes and I work in a plant nursery. Some of the girls said you were so sexy they love to be fucked by you.’

‘Yeah, females are like that. Stupid cows. Imagine all they have to do is spread their legs and every guy on the planet will come running. As if any self-respecting bloke would shove his tool into their filthy holes. Did you know there are more disease bacteria and fungi in a woman’s cunt than in an arse? In fact, arseholes are comparatively sterile. So there’s no way I’ll be screwing them. Think of how jealous those cunts at school would be if you told them you cuddled the cop they had the hots for. Shame we’re sworn to silence.’

The whispered, friendly conversation continued intermittently through the following hour during a dozen short poses in which the models adopted a variety of what they hoped were wrestling poses, neither having learned the sport. Their complex intertwining made it increasingly difficult but increasingly interesting for the artists to work out whose legs and arms belonged to whom—but no one complained, it was too fascinating. After a ten minute coffee break they adopted two twenty-minute poses to give the artists time to work up their drawings a little.

After one of the most relaxed and happy evenings Mort could remember, he was almost embarrassed to accept the fifty dollars. Being paid for having pleasure seemed too good to be true!

They were invited to pose for the next three sessions. Steward would make sure Mort knew where to go.

 

Back in his room listening to Perdita’s faked moans of lust and another overweight loser grunting, He began to worry he’d made himself as cheap as Perdita by allowing Raul to touch him so intimately, and letting all those strangers see his erections. At least he hadn’t ejaculated, although there’d been copious quantities of lubrication—or pre-cum as Raul called it, that had to be wiped up. The artists seemed nice enough, and they’d told him several times what a refreshingly pleasant and normal young man he was.

But he’d seen them grinning and making comments about him that he couldn’t hear. He didn’t want to get a reputation as a slut. He hadn’t felt bad doing it—quite the opposite! It was afterwards. He tried to imagine what he’d think if he saw someone like him doing what he’d been doing. Would he think he was a common hustler? Raul was twenty-two—not old, but seven years older than him, so it was different for him. Guys that age were supposed to be sexually active and promiscuous. It was all so difficult. And did it even matter what people thought? He’d wait till morning to decide.

 

Miss Busty

Towards the end of the school year it was hot. Forty-two degrees in the shade. The school was well ventilated when there was a breeze, but breezes seemed to be out of fashion—it was either a typhoon or the doldrums, howling winds, hail stones the size of tennis balls, thunder and lightning with floods, roofs torn off and trees ripped out by the roots, or utter stillness during which thick blue/grey smog settled on the city. People became irritable, couldn’t sleep, and bashings, domestic violence, motor accidents and murders increased.

‘The climate is changing,’ a few souls whispered, not daring to voice their opinion loudly and suffer the opprobrium of being labelled a conspiracy theorist. ‘Business as usual’ trumpeted the government. ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got it all under control. The weather will soon return to normal.’

‘This is the new normal,’ whispered the whisperers, but no one believed them.

Complaints from the girls saw restrictions ease, and they were permitted to wear their light summer pinafore frocks without a blouse, and sandals instead of shoes and socks. The consequent lavish array of bosom cleavages, naked shoulders, arms and legs set many boys’ imaginations on fire. The sole sartorial concession for boys was to allow them to discard ties and undo the top button of their shirt. Knee-length shorts with shoes and socks remained compulsory.

Miss Bussty, Mort’s thirty-two year old General Science teacher, considered herself a doyen of style and led the charge to cooler fashion-wear with a skimpy little skirt that barely reached mid thigh, topped by a lace bodice designed to cope with breasts several sizes smaller than hers.

Mort, who found the heat and humidity particularly enervating, was unable to comprehend the reasoning behind the double standard, so wore leather thong sandals, his floppy nylon running shorts and a loose tank top.

‘What do you think you’re wearing, Mortaumal?’ Miss Bussty sneered as he walked into the room. ‘It’s not a nudist camp.’

Mort gazed calmly around the room. He’d already worked out that he had more skin covered than most of the girls, and if you calculated flesh to fabric ratio, considerably more than his buxom teacher.

‘I’m wearing more than most of the girls, and relatively, a great deal more than you, Miss. Why should boys be expected to cover everything while girls uncover everything? That’s sexist and it’s too hot to wear buttoned shirts and long shorts.’

‘Sniggers all round.

‘Girls look good wearing little, Mortaumal.’ The teacher’s tone was patronising. ‘Boys look rude. Men are not nice to see unless properly dressed. You look like a male prostitute touting for business.’

Roars of laughter greeted this witty riposte.

As Mort stared at his teacher’s cleavage a memory flashed through his head—he and his grandfather coming across his grandmother kneeling at the edge of a flowerbed, bare bum and vulva exposed. ‘Look! A vulva flower. Shall I fertilise it?’ Shrude had asked. ‘Yes please,’ his wife giggled. Shrude promptly sank to his knees and copulated enthusiastically.’

Blood pounded in Mort’s neck. His grandparents had healthy attitudes to sex, not like this cow whose insult he could not let pass. Pointing at the teacher’s generous breasts he sneered, ‘As a biology teacher you will know that when female mammals desire sex they show their bum and swollen vulva to the males. But because humans stand upright and wear clothes, their genitals aren’t on view, so when females are randy they display their bosom cleavage and paint their lips red like a swollen vulva. Your dress is cut so low your tits look like a giant bum, and your lips are painted red.’ He turned to the class. ‘Have you boys all got the message? Miss Bussty’s on heat!’ Picking up his bag he ran for his life.

 

The following day, still wearing his non regulation gear, he was called to the Principal’s office, told to stand in front of her desk with his hands behind his back, and instructed to write an apology to Miss Bussty before going home to change into the correct school uniform.

‘I will if she will. She told me I looked like a male prostitute touting for business.’

‘She was making a joke and trying to teach you how to dress.’

‘So was I. And while we’re on the topic of dress, can you tell me why girls are allowed to dress properly for the heat, while boys aren't. And don’t tell me its because girls are beautiful and boys are ugly, because that’s nonsense. And while you’re about it, why is it OK for female teachers to wear so much perfume it makes us gag, and shove their cleavages at us when marking our books? And why do females paint their faces like clowns, dye their hair, wear jewellery that makes them look like Christmas trees and shoes that are dangerous to run in?’ He paused for breath.

‘Finished?‘

‘No! Why, when loads of studies have proved that boys learn best with male teachers, are there so few male teachers? All the female teachers I have seem to dislike boys. They favour the girls and make boys sit up and act like girls. They don’t like us asking questions—think we’re trying to be cheeky. They don’t seem to understand anything about what boys like and want, and how they think and…’ Mort shook his head in frustration. ‘Forget I asked those questions. You’re a woman so the whole concept of sexual difference is beyond you. Women think men are just females with penises and are simply being difficult when they don’t live and behave like women, so it’s pointless even discussing this. So...no, I will not apologise to that woman for telling her she is displaying herself in a sexual manner as if she’s asking for it.’

An intelligent adult would have listened carefully to an intelligent fifteen year-old’s well thought out litany of concerns, and entered into a discussion in order to correct misconceptions, repair the pupil/teacher relationship, and possibly made a friend in the process.

The principal sniffed, gathered her papers together, gazed with a baleful eye at this offensive young upstart, took a deep breath and said in a voice that told him she had more important things to do with her time, ‘Go home and don’t come back. We need boys like you like we need an outbreak of plague. Go and find yourself a school that suits you.’ With a flick of the fingers Mort was dismissed.

The only thing he took from the school was his inlaid table, which was finished apart from the last coat of varnish. The Woodwork teacher was upset at his leaving, and gave him the brush and varnish required, telling Mort he would always be welcome back and to come and see him if he needed any advice on working with wood. They shook hands and, as he walked away, Mort shed the only tear to fall since his arrival in the city.

 

He didn’t tell Perdita; she had lost interest in everything about him except the inheritance.

 

Brawl

Getting expelled from school. Losing his friendship with Han. The stress of living with someone who hated him but wouldn’t let him go because she wanted his money. The fear of what would happen to Marshall and Angelo if she made her accusations public. The impossibility of ever getting a conventional education. These and other worries were undermining Mort’s health as well as the little pleasure in living he’d managed to extract during his short and eventful life. He began to lose weight; lay sleepless at night; spent hours just sitting, head empty of all thoughts except how to end the impasse.

He had completed the three sessions posing with Raul for the group of gay artists and enjoyed them at the time, but afterwards remained assailed by doubts. Why did doing what gave him pleasure sometimes feel as if it was... not immoral so much as... wrong? Not right? No, that wasn’t it. He knew he was doing nothing wrong, but he knew other people would disapprove, think he was a filthy exhibitionist, but he knew he wasn’t. It was good clean fun and Raul never seemed to doubt himself. There were no drugs, nothing crude or rude, they didn’t fuck, although in some of the poses it looked as if they did. When he’d asked one of the artists—the scrawny bloke with the goatee if he thought Mort was being sluttish, the fellow had been surprised. ‘Of course not!’ he said with a frown. ‘Don’t even think it. You’re a great model. There’s artistry but nothing degrading in your poses and you’ve given us more pleasure than most of us have had for years. OK?’

But...Was it because Raul was older? He didn’t seem older and certainly not wiser, even though he was a motorcycle cop. In fact sometimes he seemed a bit simple—never questioning anything. Mort took a deep breath but couldn’t shake off the doubts. Perhaps he was basically dirty and everyone except him could see it, because there must be more behind his getting kicked out of school than what had happened. Surely kids couldn’t get expelled simply for telling the truth and sticking up for themselves. There was something about living with others he didn’t understand. It was time to get advice.

The following afternoon while standing on one leg inspecting the sole of his foot for an imaginary thorn, Mort gave Steward an accurate account of his fight with Mr. Preggy and the run in with Miss Bussty, then asked his opinion.

‘Opinion about what?’

‘What those teachers did.’

As George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach.” I’ve always reckoned that too many teachers are the failed dregs of academia who get their kicks from knocking their betters.’

‘That means I’m better than them?’

‘Precisely.’

‘Nothing else?’ Mort found it difficult to conceal his disappointment. He’d been hoping for some revelatory philosophic insight that would explain all and set his mind at rest while damning everyone else to perdition. Clearly, Steward wasn’t the sort of person to delve into these sorts of problems. He’d even admitted to living on the surface, as he put it, so Mort should have guessed. ‘Have you decided what sort of painting you’re going to make of me?’ he asked to change the subject.

‘Yes.’

‘Well?’

‘You’ve told me you want to know who your father is so you can understand why you’re like you are. You met your mother not that long ago, has that explained who you are and why you are what you are?’

‘No—at least I sure hope it hasn’t!’

‘It seems that what you’re seeking is yourself. You feel as if you’re only half a person. So I’m going to paint you collapsed, not dying but giving up, while another more virile, enthusiastic, happy you is struggling to lift you, both physically and mentally, to wake you and melt into you so you become one, whole, complete person.’

Mort thought it sounded a good idea, but doubted he had the strength or will or desire to accomplish such a transformation. The talk with Steward had confirmed his opinion of many teachers, but he remained in an emotional limbo. Bored, tired, uninvolved, uninterested and, although not miserable, not happy either.

 

The nursery was now occupying nearly all Mort’s time and energy. He’d taken over most of the heavier jobs previously done by Stefan who had been complaining of indigestion and nausea for a while, and put it down to overwork and stress. Stefan had also lost a lot of weight, but said it was because his throat hurt to swallow. As Lydia’s bountiful supply of sympathy was mainly for personal use, Mort tried vainly to convince Stefan to see a doctor.

‘Don’t waste your time,’ his wife sighed. ‘He’s a typical male. Any excuse to avoid work. The slightest twinge and he thinks he’s dying. Women are the strong one’s when it comes to pain. I can imagine the weeping and wailing if men had to give birth.’

As she was childless and had recently raced off to the doctor with a suspected heart attack, only to discover it was heartburn, Mort wondered how she could be so sure of her opinion.

With the extra work and his lack of energy, Mort’s explorations of the city’s parks and reserves that had fired his imagination when he first arrived, ground to a halt. Only the Wednesday evening self-defence classes remained sacrosanct. While practising and sparring all his worries dropped away and for a couple of hours he was his old self. At least that’s what he imagined until Brawl drew him aside and asked what the matter was.

‘What do you mean?’

‘You’re thinner, your eyes are dull, and your body’s lost its vigour.’

‘I’m just a bit down at the moment. Hard work at the nursery. Not sleeping too well. Nothing serious.’

‘It’s serious when a kid like you goes downhill so fast. What’re you doing Saturday afternoon?’

‘Nothing planned.’

‘Good, you’re coming to my place for a hangi.’

Mort grinned. ‘You’re going to hang me?’

‘A hangi, not a hanging,’

‘What’s a hangi?’

‘Barbecue in a pit.’ Brawl wrote the address, drew a map, and extracted a promise that Mort would be there as soon as possible after the nursery closed on Saturday.

Brawl’s place was just over four kilometres from the nursery, so he jogged over straight after work. The wooden house was large, with a new corrugated iron roof. It was perched on high stumps that created a large covered area underneath where several tables had been set out. At least thirty people of all ages and sexes were milling around.

Mort wandered up the short drive and skirted the house, heading for the large garden at the rear, which boasted a lawn, three shade trees, and beyond them a vegetable garden, neatly set out in rows. A twinge of homesickness was alleviated by vague but friendly greetings from everyone whose eye he caught. If they were curious about this pale stranger, they concealed it politely.

‘I’m a friend of Brawl’s,’ was a passport to a glass of fruit punch—non-alcoholic he was informed proudly. Someone was strumming on a guitar under a giant old mango tree and two men were singing in harmony. Mort crossed the lawn to stand as close as possible, having discovered in those few moments that he loved simple two-part harmony. When they stopped he begged them to sing more of the same.

A very fat woman draped in a flowery purple cloth suspended from copious breasts, shoulders and arms bare and a pink hibiscus flower tucked into her hair, approached and stood glaring at him with her hands on her hips. In a voice that managed to sound both mellow and sharp she demanded, ‘Who are you? Why are you here? Where do you live?’

‘I’m a friend of Brawl’s from his self defence class; he invited me. I live near Toowong.’

‘I saw you looking at my grand daughters, they’re not available.’

Mort looked confused. ‘Neither am I.’

‘And neither are my grandsons!’ her eyes glittered in suspicion. ‘This afternoon is for family. No whiteys.’

‘Then it’s lucky I’m a beigey or should that be an ochrey.’

She frowned. ‘What’s that?’

‘Beige? Ochre? Pale yellow/brown.’

She didn’t crack a smile. ‘Where’re your parents from?’

‘Grandad arrived on a boat from somewhere northeast when he was young. He refused to say from where, because people only make stupid generalisations if you tell them any more. I’ve no idea who my father is.’

‘You’ve no business just barging in like this.’

‘I didn’t! I expected Brawl to be here. He didn’t tell me there’d be a party or I’d never have come. And if anyone had told me I’d meet someone like you, I’d have run a mile.’

‘Well, you’re here now, so go and find him... if you know what he looks like!’ With a suspicious toss of her head she swung around and sailed like a vast purple hot-air balloon towards the tables beneath the house.

Mort remained where she’d left him. Increasingly embarrassed and wondering whether to go or stay when his attention was attracted to the centre of the garden where a steaming hole was being opened—perhaps Brawl was there. Soil, blankets, banana leaves and wire baskets of food wrapped in more leaves were carefully removed. Then, accompanied by lots of noisy, friendly banter the baskets were carried to the tables where half a dozen older women divided the contents into large dishes, placed them on the tables, and everyone tucked in with their fingers, placing portions of pork, chicken, taro, steamed banana and several other vegetables on leaf plates before moving away, laughing, gossiping, chattering, to sit on chairs, on the ground, on blankets and eat in the shade.

Mort decided it was time to go.

‘Thanks for coming.’ Brawl was standing behind him. ‘Take whatever you need and come and sit with me.’

They found a quiet spot at the farthest end of the vegetable garden under a persimmon tree, sat cross-legged on the grass, and ate in silence.

‘What do you think,’ Brawl asked, licking his fingers.

‘Of?’

Brawl shrugged. ‘Whatever.’

‘I’ve never eaten with so many people before. It’s noisy, but everyone’s so relaxed and easy. Except for…’ he decided not to mention the fat woman in case she was Brawl’s friend. ‘No one’s frowning. Most people are laughing. Those two men sang so beautifully I felt like crying. What were the songs?’

‘They’re pop songs people sang sixty or more years ago, before rock and roll and electronically amplified music. Isn’t your family like this?’

Mort nearly choked. ‘I haven’t got a family. But if everyone I’ve ever known and liked was having a party it wouldn’t be like this. They’re all rather earnest about things—even enjoying themselves. It’d be more of a duty than something you just do for the fun of it. They make jokes, are determinedly agreeable, but it’d be a serious business. No one’s telling those kids to shut up, to sit down, to stop whatever they’re doing. I lived with my grandparents till I was nine and grandma was always nagging.’ He heaved a large breath. ‘Who are these people?’

‘My family.’

‘All of them?’

‘Family simply means anyone who’s even vaguely related, or think they’re related, or would like to be. The two guys who were singing are sons of cousins on my mother’s side. Several of the kids are theirs. Their wives are over there.’ He pointed at two fat women. My wife is the one in the purple dress. A heart attack waiting to happen. I think you’ve met her.’ His eyes twinkled.

‘Yeah, she is... large.’

‘Obese.’

They smiled thoughtfully.

‘Scrappy, the weightlifting bloke you met who told you to join my defence class, is my son, and that scrawny woman in the ridiculous high heels is my daughter. That handsome young man is my grandson, her son, and everyone else is an aunt, uncle, cousin or…’ he spread his hands and smiled.

‘Where is Scrappy? I liked him.’

‘At home, I suppose. My wife refuses to allow him to bring his boyfriend here; she’s religious so thinks god hates everyone who doesn’t have her opinions. He wouldn’t come anyway; he hates these sorts of gossipy, backbiting family gatherings.

‘Do your other children, cousins and grand children all live here?’

‘It seems like it sometimes. My wife runs an open house, which is why I’m seldom home. Would you prefer this sort of family to yours?’

Mort considered the question carefully, gazing intently round at everyone as if for the first time. Scrutinising, listening, thinking. Finally he looked up at Brawl with a deep frown. ‘Could I just go into my room, shut the door and be totally on my own?’

‘No. You’d be sharing with at least two others who have access whenever they want.’

‘Can I tell them to turn off their music if I don’t like it?’

‘You can, but they’ll laugh and ignore you.’

‘Who chooses what to watch on TV?’

The oldest woman.’

‘Does every adult have the right to tell every child off if they’re naughty?’

‘Yes. In fact every woman usurps the right to tell everyone else, especially men and boys, what they are doing wrong, what they should be doing and when. It can get pretty fraught if the guys disagree. Usually they just shrug and go and play football or something... simply to get out of the house and away from the women’s nagging.’

‘Then I’d hate it! I know it all looks nice and friendly, but I have to be allowed to do what I want without thinking someone might disapprove, or tell me I’m not doing the right thing, or I should be doing something else, or that I had to share a bedroom or my things because Kevin or someone didn’t have one and all that commune stuff that this looks like. Forgive me if I’ve got it wrong, Brawl, but I’ve been brought up as a loner and I’d feel claustrophobic after even one day of living so close to others.’

Brawl smiled. ‘I knew we had something in common; apart from self defence.’

‘Then why did you marry and end up like this?’

‘As you’ve realised, the pressures on family members to conform are enormous. On my twentieth birthday the slim, pretty girl who became my ginormous wife announced to her friends that we were engaged. We weren’t, we’d only fucked a couple of times, but that was enough, and to maintain the family honour I was forced to marry her. From then on my life has never been my own.’

‘You don’t seem unhappy.’

‘I’m not. I love my kids—usually, and my grandchildren—sometimes. My life is fairly easy. I’ve plenty of support if I need assistance with anything. If things go wrong there are dozens ready to help. OK, I wouldn’t have chosen this life if I’d had the choice, but now I have it I either accept it or go mad. We all have the choice to make the best of the hand we’re dealt in life, or stuff it up by resenting it and wishing it was different. All in all I’ve been pretty lucky. As TV announcers delight in saying after accidents, “It could have been much worse”. Of course it could.’

Mort was silent, then looked up with a slight smile. ‘And your point is?’

‘What is there about your life that’s making you sick?’

‘Mmm… I guess it’s the uncertainty. I’ve done a few things recently because I wanted to, and I don’t regret doing them, yet I keep doubting that I should have done them. Living alone I’ve no one to bounce myself off, so to speak. If I lived here I’d have plenty of people to tell me if I was a fool or not.’

‘Bounce off me.’

‘Seriously? Why?’

‘I like you.’

‘OK.’ Mort gave a succinct account of the things in his current life that confused him, but in the telling he became emotional and brushed angrily at unwelcome tears. ‘Who was right? Should I have just shut up like all the other kids and done as I was expected? Have I the right to be independent when it doesn’t affect others?’

Brawl put his hand on Mort’s shoulder and held it there, gazing into his eyes. ‘Don’t hold back, Mort. It’s manly to cry when you’re emotionally involved. It’s part of what makes you worth bothering with. No one’s watching or listening.’ He sat back and considered the questions. ‘Most kids are like most adults, timid, shy, frightened of being different. They don’t know enough to understand how things work, so they don’t rock boats in case they fall overboard. The tragedy is that cretins like those teachers are in charge of what should be temples of education. They’re bullies, destroying love of learning and pleasure in thinking with their bigotry, sexism, racism, blinkered morality and mindless conformity. And because most girls go for true blue Aussie guys who hate wogs and blacks and queers and everyone and every thing that isn’t like them, there’s not much hope of change.’

‘Do you think I should have just let Mr. Preggy get away with his racist crap?’

‘Everyone does what they must in order to be able to live with themselves. I suspect you had no choice if you wanted to remain sane. When people act in ways contrary to their true feelings and values, they become depressed and suicidal. Border guards who have maltreated asylum seekers, and soldiers who’ve killed innocents in the Middle East are obvious examples.’

‘And do you think I deserve to be kicked out of school?’

‘You deserve a medal. Quite frankly, you’re better off out of the place. You’ll learn nothing useful in such an institution, geared as it is to promoting the religion of endless material growth in a desert of morality engendered by unquestioning religiosity. According to the latest reliable science we’re all going to be out of a job pretty soon. This is the hottest year ever recorded; the last sixteen years have each been hotter than the previous. Great chunks of polar glaciers are sliding into the sea and slowly melting. It’ll take a few years, but last time the planet was as hot as it is now, the seas rose to between seven and nine metres higher than they are today. Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth are built on sea-level marshes. The Arctic Ocean is ice free in summer for the first time since before humans appeared on the planet. Vast tracts of once fertile land on the Darling Downs, the food bowl of Queensland, are lying arid, cracked and bare; not so much for lack of rain, although it has been very dry, but because inland the temperatures are between six and twelve degrees hotter than the coast. Insurance companies are unable to pay claims for the hundreds of houses destroyed in the fires that burned across the western hills last month, and the fire and storm seasons haven’t officially begun yet!’

‘I hadn’t thought about all that.’

‘Of course not. But it puts conventional education in perspective. You’re learning more useful stuff at the nursery than at school, so stuff them. Work hard, keep fit and prepare for what’s to come by learning to take care of yourself. No one else is bothering, so you’ve got an advantage already.’

‘Makes sense. Thanks.’

‘As for having fun modelling with that guy, who was hurt? No one. In retrospect, do you feel you’ve damaged your chances of a happy adult sexual life because of it, or would you like to do it again?’

Mort blushed and admitted something he’d not yet admitted to himself. ‘I’d love to do it again. In fact I’d love to dance and strip and then jerk off on stage in front of a cheering audience. Is that disgusting?’

‘No. Because you said a cheering audience. You don’t want to shock, you want to entertain with your body, and that’s no more wrong than entertaining with a beautiful voice, or clever writing or skilful painting technique, or clever batting in cricket, or clever goal shooting in basketball and soccer. As long as your desires remain simple, healthy, clean and non violent, you’ve nothing to worry about. But always remember that he who sups with the devil needs a long spoon. It’s easy to become contaminated morally, intellectually and physically. But I think you’re able to remain the sort of person you admire.’

‘You’ve no idea what a relief it was to tell you my secret wish, Brawl. And your response was…’ Mort grinned shyly. ‘Thanks.’

‘No thanks necessary. But about the future. Have you thought about how you’re going to live in an overheated world in which, according to the majority of scientists, no one is going to survive till the end of the century? Can you imagine what it’s going to be like during the years leading up to extinction? I’ll probably escape the worst, being older, but you and most of those young one’s over there won’t. And what about all the other forms of life that are being exterminated alongside humans? Did you know that between one hundred and fifty, and two hundred species of life are becoming extinct every day! Every day! But no one seems to care or want to do anything about it. Beside that, how do you rate your problems on a scale of one to ten?’

Mort burst out laughing. ‘You sure know how to put things in perspective! Now I’ve spoken to you I realise I’ve had an interesting and pretty good life so far. In fact, thanks to you I’m now feeling happy! So my problems rate a zero.’

Copyright © 2018 Rigby Taylor; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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I think Mort has just had his life validated by Brawl, or he has been given some serious perspective on his life. Mort does see the men around him (school, nursery, party) being dominated by their wives, or allowing themselves to be manipulated to get laid, and then resenting it for the rest of their lives.  Is this becoming 'Fifty Shades of Queensland?'  

I think Mort will either find a way to bypass or 'test-out' of the secondary education system he's in to get what we in the US call a GED (Government Equivalency Diploma); or he will find a way to use some of his money, which so far has not been discussed much, to be tutored until he can test-out of the rest of his secondary education. Sadly, it looks like Stefan is being set up as the next male in Mort's life to die.  Can Mort intervene and get Stefan to a doctor before it's too late?  

Edited by skyacer
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Ah! What it is to be 15! Based on my own childrens experience it is truly difficult to be a 15 yo bloke; nothing much makes sense, adults seem to know it all or be really stupid, your hormones are all over the place. Life is bloody hard. The our hero has the comp,exity of all the people he cares about dying, his "mother" being less maternal and less caring than any person has the right to be and his school likfe is non existent. I really hope this is the nadir and it looks up and rosy from here on? 😊 

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I’ve not yet travelled to Australia, so I’m very curious about the way society is portrayed.  Are the people as violent, hateful, prejudice, and close-minded as they appear in your stories?  Women seem to rule, and men appear to be second-class citizens whose sole purpose is to provide sperm.  Well, they also appear quite useful as objects to be kicked around and belittled by women.  

 

And are the races and classes so distinct and separate that intermingling isn’t normal?  I find the characters to be at odds with my preconceived thoughts that Aussies were friendly, low key, live and let live people who were very open and approachable.  I realize you’ve taken artistic license to portray the worst of society, but how close does the society portrayed in your stories resemble the real life society in Australia?

 

another fantastic chapter my friend!  

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It's so nice to read a story which mentions temperature in Celcius like a civilized country. ;)  Do you also use meter and kilometer ?

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1 hour ago, Timothy M. said:

It's so nice to read a story which mentions temperature in Celcius like a civilized country. ;)  Do you also use meter and kilometer ?

 

Yes, tho' they tend to be "metre" and "kilometre". "Meter" is used but in terms of "water meter", or "electricity meter".

From memory we changed over in the early 70s? I am sure some one will correct me if i am wrong!

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4 hours ago, Okiegrad said:

I’ve not yet travelled to Australia, so I’m very curious about the way society is portrayed.  Are the people as violent, hateful, prejudice, and close-minded as they appear in your stories?  Women seem to rule, and men appear to be second-class citizens whose sole purpose is to provide sperm.  Well, they also appear quite useful as objects to be kicked around and belittled by women.  

 

And are the races and classes so distinct and separate that intermingling isn’t normal?  I find the characters to be at odds with my preconceived thoughts that Aussies were friendly, low key, live and let live people who were very open and approachable.  I realize you’ve taken artistic license to portray the worst of society, but how close does the society portrayed in your stories resemble the real life society in Australia?

 

another fantastic chapter my friend!  

 

While I can guarantee Australia, even the state of queensland, is not perfect, our author has used his skills to extrapolate, enhance, stretch and all round multiply some of the less desirable characteristics of Australian society!

 

There is no doubt Australia was a very conservative very macho place. Then from about 1968 a social revolution started. While many good things changed, i think we lost a bit too (i think that goes for all revolutions, social or otherwise). As where I live at present, the dramatic increase in "freedom" was great, its counter point has been what some call "political correctness" others a simple breakdown of society. Either way, I think particularly among younger men, there is a sense of confusion and loss.  This is what our author is addressing. In my experience teen aged boys, more so that girls, need rules, not only for guidance , but also something to bang up against and break occiaionally. 

 

Well that's enough diatribe from me. Apologies, @Rigby Taylor, for taking over your comments section with my own rant!

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4 hours ago, Okiegrad said:

I’ve not yet travelled to Australia, so I’m very curious about the way society is portrayed.  Are the people as violent, hateful, prejudice, and close-minded as they appear in your stories?  Women seem to rule, and men appear to be second-class citizens whose sole purpose is to provide sperm.  Well, they also appear quite useful as objects to be kicked around and belittled by women.  

 

And are the races and classes so distinct and separate that intermingling isn’t normal?  I find the characters to be at odds with my preconceived thoughts that Aussies were friendly, low key, live and let live people who were very open and approachable.  I realize you’ve taken artistic license to portray the worst of society, but how close does the society portrayed in your stories resemble the real life society in Australia?

 

another fantastic chapter my friend!  

In general, in my opinion, Aussies are great people.  Keep in mind that with any country, it is important to separate the people from the self-righteous politicians and others in positions of power (and abuse) over us. I do not feel that I have anything in common with the fundigelical swamp-dwellers that are now infesting the US government, nor will I defend them in any discussions or arguments.  I will though work to put the rule of law back into our government and elect those who want us to have a future on this planet.  What we see now in the US is a government that hates its own people, that hates education, hates anything that is not white/Aryan and Hitler-esque. I am disgusted by what is being reflected back at me and shown to the world.  

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51 minutes ago, Canuk said:

 

While I can guarantee Australia, even the state of queensland, is not perfect, our author has used his skills to extrapolate, enhance, stretch and all round multiply some of the less desirable characteristics of Australian society!

 

There is no doubt Australia was a very conservative very macho place. Then from about 1968 a social revolution started. While many good things changed, i think we lost a bit too (i think that goes for all revolutions, social or otherwise). As where I live at present, the dramatic increase in "freedom" was great, its counter point has been what some call "political correctness" others a simple breakdown of society. Either way, I think particularly among younger men, there is a sense of confusion and loss.  This is what our author is addressing. In my experience teen aged boys, more so that girls, need rules, not only for guidance , but also something to bang up against and break occiaionally. 

 

Well that's enough diatribe from me. Apologies, @Rigby Taylor, for taking over your comments section with my own rant!

Thank you for your response.  I Also believe that boys need rules, if for no other purpose, it gives them something to break haha.  My kids attend private Catholic school, and I know my son saw more than his fair share of the Head Masters office haha.  My daughter however has never had a stroke against her though.   I think it’s quite telling in many ways.  Even though my son is a gentleman who has been raised with ethics, boundaries, rules, and respect....it’s almost a right of passage for boys to scuffle and press the limits.  😂

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37 minutes ago, skyacer said:

In general, in my opinion, Aussies are great people.  Keep in mind that with any country, it is important to separate the people from the self-righteous politicians and others in positions of power (and abuse) over us. I do not feel that I have anything in common with the fundigelical swamp-dwellers that are now infesting the US government, nor will I defend them in any discussions or arguments.  I will though work to put the rule of law back into our government and elect those who want us to have a future on this planet.  What we see now in the US is a government that hates its own people, that hates education, hates anything that is not white/Aryan and Hitler-esque. I am disgusted by what is being reflected back at me and shown to the world.  

I’ve met a few Aussies and they were incredibly kind and fun to be around.  We weren’t close by any means, and kept a certain level of decorum between us, but from the impression they made, I could sense they were very kind.   

 

As as far as our own Government, I appreciate your views, and the veracity in which you hold them.  It’s always great to hear other points of view, and to see where our fellow countrymen fall with regards to opinions. I’m a Conservative by nature, so probably tend to fall much more on the right side of the continuum.  But I must say, many of your opinions are similar to ones I feel, even as a life-long Conservative.  I’ve always taken great pride in our Government, and our leaders regardless of party.  I’ve been proud that even when the stench of politics gets thick in the air, leaders still represented the core values and beliefs of the electorate.  Those being respect for the rule of law, respect for alternate views and opinions, and the belief that the greatest time for our country lie ahead of us.  Kept us all pursuing that city on the hill.  Until recently, when grace, decorum, integrity, civility, and kindness have simply been paved under. 😕

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9 hours ago, skyacer said:

I think Mort has just had his life validated by Brawl, or he has been given some serious perspective on his life. Mort does see the men around him (school, nursery, party) being dominated by their wives, or allowing themselves to be manipulated to get laid, and then resenting it for the rest of their lives.  Is this becoming 'Fifty Shades of Queensland?'  

I think Mort will either find a way to bypass or 'test-out' of the secondary education system he's in to get what we in the US call a GED (Government Equivalency Diploma); or he will find a way to use some of his money, which so far has not been discussed much, to be tutored until he can test-out of the rest of his secondary education. Sadly, it looks like Stefan is being set up as the next male in Mort's life to die.  Can Mort intervene and get Stefan to a doctor before it's too late?  

Some good analysis here, and some interesting questions. Education is not a priority with his money, especially today when a university degree is no passport to a job. Anyone can work in MacDonalds, 

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8 hours ago, Canuk said:

Ah! What it is to be 15! Based on my own childrens experience it is truly difficult to be a 15 yo bloke; nothing much makes sense, adults seem to know it all or be really stupid, your hormones are all over the place. Life is bloody hard. The our hero has the comp,exity of all the people he cares about dying, his "mother" being less maternal and less caring than any person has the right to be and his school likfe is non existent. I really hope this is the nadir and it looks up and rosy from here on? 😊 

Your wish is about to be granted. I sure agree about being 15 - at that age I sincerely wished I was already retired - the road ahead seemed far too complicated. 

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7 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Boy, you make it hard to like women don't you?

I have liked many women, but not in my personal space - as colleagues, fine, but every time I let one get close they start to tell me how to live what is wrong with my kitchen arrangements, that I should be more sociable - ...  and then I discover the hairdresser and the grocer and the butcher down the road knows more about me than they ought. 

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1 hour ago, Canuk said:

 

While I can guarantee Australia, even the state of queensland, is not perfect, our author has used his skills to extrapolate, enhance, stretch and all round multiply some of the less desirable characteristics of Australian society!

 

There is no doubt Australia was a very conservative very macho place. Then from about 1968 a social revolution started. While many good things changed, i think we lost a bit too (i think that goes for all revolutions, social or otherwise). As where I live at present, the dramatic increase in "freedom" was great, its counter point has been what some call "political correctness" others a simple breakdown of society. Either way, I think particularly among younger men, there is a sense of confusion and loss.  This is what our author is addressing. In my experience teen aged boys, more so that girls, need rules, not only for guidance , but also something to bang up against and break occiaionally. 

 

Well that's enough diatribe from me. Apologies, @Rigby Taylor, for taking over your comments section with my own rant!

I am delighted, Canuk, all comments are very welcome. Unfortunately, the 'social revolution'  that started in 1968, died at the end of the 1990s as we moved ever closer to the type of society espoused by the USA. There's an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots, and government encouragement and fiscal support of religious schools in preference to secular state schools is reaping the reward of societal divisions along the fracture lines of both race and wealth, and the expense of tertiary education is putting it beyond the reach of all but those with wealthy parents The treatment of indigenous people has reached a new nadir in the rates of incarceration, the lack of social services, removal of children, wealth, and general contempt in which they continue to be held by what seems the majority of Queenslanders. Every Budget sees a reduction in spending on social services. People are genuinely friendly and I like just about everyone I meet, but there's an alarming ignorance due to the self-censoring of all mainstream media to show only the point of view of the UK and the USA. Some of the nicest people I have ever met were poor Spaniards in Franco's Spain.  This tale is fiction, and I have deliberately weighted events to stress a particular line of thinking that is held by many men who have been maltreated by family courts in domestic violence, divorce and custody cases. A balanced approach to fiction will confirm prejudices, a confronting approach might set people disagreeing and therefore thinking. 

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1 hour ago, skyacer said:

In general, in my opinion, Aussies are great people.  Keep in mind that with any country, it is important to separate the people from the self-righteous politicians and others in positions of power (and abuse) over us. I do not feel that I have anything in common with the fundigelical swamp-dwellers that are now infesting the US government, nor will I defend them in any discussions or arguments.  I will though work to put the rule of law back into our government and elect those who want us to have a future on this planet.  What we see now in the US is a government that hates its own people, that hates education, hates anything that is not white/Aryan and Hitler-esque. I am disgusted by what is being reflected back at me and shown to the world.  

It seems to be a world-wide trend, Skyacer. As population pressures and unequal wealth distribution push us ever further back into the age of dog eat dog if you want to survive. The brief period of social conscious government was an aberration while the world changed from a basically agrarian mode to industrial, and now with the change to digital with all the possibilities of constant surveillance, we are re-entering the 'Dark Ages' of village life, every move and thought controlled by the "Lord" of the manor, which became the 'natural' human state once we left the forests.

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3 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

It's so nice to read a story which mentions temperature in Celcius like a civilized country. ;)  Do you also use meter and kilometer ?

We are a metric country, but we use the civilized spelling of metre and kilometre - however we pronounce kilometre like the uncivilised world - kill-OM-ita, instead of keelometre [no stress].

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8 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Boy, you make it hard to like women don't you?

It depends on the situation. In my experience many women make it hard to like women. But this is fiction, Wesley. I'm exaggerating to wring tears from my readers eyes. It'd be a different story completely if everyone was lovely to each other. Having said that, I do believe that men make better parents for boys than women, are more genuinely sensitive and empathetic, are more stoic in everything, more inventive, greater risk takers, and that women should leave the instruction of their sons to the fathers after the age of about 5, and that fathers should be very involved with their sons, and that schools should be sexually segregated and boys should be taught by men and girls by women and............

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6 hours ago, Okiegrad said:

I’ve not yet travelled to Australia, so I’m very curious about the way society is portrayed.  Are the people as violent, hateful, prejudice, and close-minded as they appear in your stories?  Women seem to rule, and men appear to be second-class citizens whose sole purpose is to provide sperm.  Well, they also appear quite useful as objects to be kicked around and belittled by women.  

 

And are the races and classes so distinct and separate that intermingling isn’t normal?  I find the characters to be at odds with my preconceived thoughts that Aussies were friendly, low key, live and let live people who were very open and approachable.  I realize you’ve taken artistic license to portray the worst of society, but how close does the society portrayed in your stories resemble the real life society in Australia?

 

another fantastic chapter my friend!  

As a general rule, Australians are no different from all other humans. Thanks to mass media that parrot nothing except the propaganda of the UK and USA, we are ignorant of the rest of the world and think we are a noble and perfect race, deserving of the high standard of living we enjoy. We also believe that our assistance to bomb and destroy other civilisations is done for humanitarian reasons - not commercial, and therefore refugees from those countries are nasty people who deserve to be locked in prison camps on remote islands, never to be released. We also believe that it is natural for our indigenous people to live in poverty, to be incarcerated at 25 times the rate of whites for the same offences, that it is in their interests to remove their children from them instead of providing decent housing, jobs and security so they can look after them well. These beliefs are genuine, so Queenslanders holding those beliefs cannot be considered to be evil, merely ignorant and too busy trying to maintain their wasteful consumerism to take a genuine interest in the rest of society. In other words, they are perfectly normal. 

Yes, this is fiction and I have deliberately tweaked some things - especially the behaviour of the few women who appear, in order to create tension. It is easy for the uninvolved observer to see the imbalance, but for someone like Mort, deeply involved, the world can seem a very, very threatening place and my exaggerations are one way for me to involve the readers'  emotions in a similar way. 

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Thank you Brawl. I was beginning to worry about Mort. I am glad you were able to set him straight. And thank you Rigby for more of this mostly enjoyable (except for the sad parts) story.

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8 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Thank you Brawl. I was beginning to worry about Mort. I am glad you were able to set him straight. And thank you Rigby for more of this mostly enjoyable (except for the sad parts) story.

And Thank you Jeffrey for reading and commenting.

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