[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (8.2) Wilhelm gives Mrs Berry Bogan something to chew on…]
Without waring the Blue Berry Bogan rose. She pointed at Letitia and words exploded from her lipstick laden mouth. ‘Illegal aliens! They are taking over our jobs, our country. They are the ones having millions of children! They will take over our country if we are not careful.’
Wilhelm stood up, turned, and faced her. ‘Yes, but you must understand that they are escaping from terrible persecution. They are often desperate. They need somewhere to go.’
‘But our country is being filled to the brim with aliens! I mean, look at Sydney. It’s like, like spot the white person,’ Berry Bogan argued.
Her children shrank into their cream buns as if the light of morning had made them embarrassed at their mother’s outburst.
Mrs. Bogan stabbed the Age with her false bright purple fingernail. ‘It’s these foreigners, mark my words, man. They are causing the crime to rise.’ Her girl with cream smattered over her rose painted lips was cussing audibly at her plate. The freckled son began hyperactively bobbing up and down as if he was an organ-grinder’s monkey.
‘What are you laughing about, Mum?’ Wilhelm interrupted Letitia’s entertainment. ‘I hope it’s because you are finding Mrs. Berry’s bigoted views as amusing as I do.’
Mrs. Bogan Berry, stared at Wilhelm and then at Letitia. She paled. ‘Who are you people? She pointed at Letitia. Is she? Is she your mother?’
Wilhelm shrugged. ‘What is it, if she is, to you?’ He laughed. ‘Or, if in fact, I am hers? What is it to you?’
At that twist of a comment, the two little vipers stopped their cavorting and fixed their narrow eyes on Letitia.
‘No way!’ the boy exclaimed.
‘Told j’ya she’s too old,’ the girl said and turned to wolf down her bun.
‘Actually, aliens…’ Letitia began, then paused, ‘Aliens,’ she continued, ‘are just human beings – poor, persecuted human beings. They did not ask to be different. They just are. But after-all, in the end, the bottom line is…’ The Bogan family had now simultaneously paled to a seedy shade of green.
Letitia gathered her thoughts and resumed, ‘aliens are just human. Actually, they are nicer, more decent, more moral, more polite than the average Australian – is anything to go by.’ She smiled serenely beyond Wilhelm at the pale mum, daughter and son as they shuffled from the bistro leaving a pile of uneaten buns, coco pops, bacon and eggs, and instant coffee.
‘What a waste!’ Wilhelm glanced at the mountain of discarded food left in the Bogan’s wake.
‘Yep. I bet’chya aliens wouldn’t leave so much food to waste.’
Wilhelm twisted himself around and reached out a groping hand towards the deserted table. ‘Did they leave the paper? I forgot to pick one…’
‘Nup. They took that.’ Letitia was secretly hoping that they had read about her, that somewhere in that paper existed an article on the plane crash in Antarctica. She would be vindicated then. Leave them safe with the false knowledge that she was someone else. Although, she did not fancy being a science teacher, especially that girl’s science teacher.
As if reading her thoughts, Wilhelm remarked, ‘You know there will be no news about the crash, don’t you?’
‘How do you know?’ But before Wilhelm had time to answer, Letitia sighed, ‘Of course, Boris.’ Then as if the utterance of his name triggered enlightenment, she smacked her forehead, ‘Of course! Doris! Doris was their science teacher. Oh, she’d be one mean teacher!’
‘Shucks! I was hoping to read the news and do the crossword.’ Wilhelm lamented, totally unaware of Letitia’s a-ha moment.
Letitia smiled. ‘Hey, is that Melbourne?’
‘Na! It’s Geelong,’ Wilhelm pan-faced replied. ‘Don’t you know that it takes forever to reach Melbourne?’ He then rose abruptly from the table. ‘Darn! I’ll just have to go and get one for myself. I hope they haven’t run out. I hate it how they never have enough papers.’ With that he stomped off in the direction of the buffet.
Port Phillip Bay was murky green and choppy. The early morning sun glanced off the salt dusted window that spanned the bistro restaurant.
Sooner than expected, the Spirit of Tasmania was docking at the pier of Port Melbourne and Wilhelm and Letitia were packed and alighting. Letitia thanked Wilhelm for all he had done and all the help he had given her. When they had parted ways, Letitia sat on the beach by the shore. The sand had bags of shade as if it had just woken up from a long summer night of revelry. The waters of the bay were chopped and churned up, a muddy green blue, as if hung-over from the hard night before. She gathered her scattered plans for the day and resolved to seek out a telephone directory to look up Doris. Perhaps Doris lived in Melbourne. After all the Bogan family must come from Melbourne, surely, she reasoned. And if not, one more day’s delay in reaching Adelaide surely could do no harm.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Melbourne city 1986 © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger)