[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 (11.5) Meanwhile in Adelaide, all does not go according to plan at Maggie’s “Welcome Home” party…]
The celebration day of Maggie’s return was one of those brilliant late summer days that Adelaide, in 1967 could be proud of. There was not a breath of wind, the skies were clear and deep blue, and parrots squabbled in the ancient gum tree that towered from the neighbour’s backyard. Maggie sat on a fold-out director’s chair under the pergola, where she savoured a glass of sparkling champagne.
While the Tails cooked sausages and lamb chops on the charcoal barbeque, Liam feasted his eyes on the latest “Wheels” magazine, dreaming of a car that would fly him out of this dreary world where he suspected he did not belong with parents he also suspected weren’t his.
Family friend, Boris Roach, bearing two bowls of salad stepped out onto the patio to lay his offerings on the old wooden table painted mission-brown. He sidled up to Liam. ‘Hello, there boy.’
Liam, eyes fixed on the latest Valiant, muttered, ‘Hi, there, Boris.’
The telephone trilled from within the house. Faintly he could hear Max’s voice. ‘Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?’
Instantly Liam froze. He sensed trouble.
‘Jemima? Oh, Jemima, I remember you from…’ Max said. Then the patter of Max’s sandshoes on the wooden floorboards. ‘Liam! Liam! Come quick! It’s J…’ The pattering slowed, as did the voice. ‘Oh, hi, there Mr. Roach.’
‘Ah, my lad, do I detect more visitors for our welcome home party?’
‘N-no, nobody…Prank call.’
Footsteps shuffled up the hallway and in a low voice that only Liam’s keen ears could hear, ‘Best not come…cockroach…’
Then click. Receiver once more resting in its cradle.
While his Aryan-born charges, Monica (4), and Wally (6) cavorted on the lawn under the sprinkler, Boris leant over the wooden table. Tucked in his collar, a large napkin. With two pincer-like claws he held the lamb chop and gnawed at it. ‘Delicious!’ Boris slurped the juices dribbling on his poor excuse of a chin. ‘A fine piece of meat. On par with some humans, I’ve…You know, Maggie, you can have these two chikadees if you like.’
Maggie blanched. ‘Nah, thanks, them two I’ve got’s enough.’
‘I’d hate to put them in Seaforth, or up there in the Orphanage.’
The phone’s bell shrilled again.
Maggie who was bustling past on her way to collect the tomato sauce, picked up the receiver. ‘Hello?’
‘Hello, I was wondering if I could speak to Maggie Taylor, or is it still Cowper?’
Maggie thinned her lips. ‘This is she. And who is this?’
Click! The receiver buzzed and crackled.
‘Hello? Hello?’ Maggie banged the receiver with her fist. ‘Hello?’ She stared at the receiver and then slammed it on the cradle.
Tails called from the kitchen. ‘Who was that, dear?’
‘Nobody,’ Maggie snapped.
‘Where’s the sauce? I can’t seem to find da sauce!’ Rustling and doors banging. ‘Mags where do you put tha sauce?’
Maggie sighed as she strode into the kitchen and opened the fridge door. ‘Here! Are you blind as well as deaf and dumb, dear?’
The afternoon lulled in pleasant sunshine. The boys entertained their mischievous minds and young guests, propelling plums with their sling shots onto the neighbour’s newly laid concrete driveway.
Max discussed upping the ante and ferreting out his dad’s slug gun to take pot shots at the pigeons perched on top of the stobie poles. But when old Mrs Plunket emerged from her home and growled at them, Max abandoned the idea.
Monica whined, ‘Oh, come on! Don’t let an old lady spoil your fun.’
Wally danced on the spot. ‘Slug gun. Slug gun. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.’
‘Maybe not the slug gun; the plum gun will have to do,’ Liam said and stretched the slingshot with plum and took aim. Mrs Plunket grew as purple as a ripe plum and roared at them over the fence. She threatened to have a word to their parents and have the boys clean up the mess. Then she chased them inside. In Liam’s room, they played trampolines on his bed while unstuffing his feather pillow with a robust battle of the pillow versus Liam’s head.
He fought their blows and screamed, ‘I’m hating you more with each minute! You ferals!’
Meanwhile, Tails, Maggie and Boris, full of food and wine, reclined on deck chairs in the balmy afternoon and drifted all three of them into a post-lunch coma.
Boris, still with napkin tucked under his collar; a napkin decorated with smatterings of tomato sauce, smacked his lips and dreamt of roasted human flesh. His latest quarry, August. In technicolour and smells combined, he fantasised how he would marinate his nemesis and then smoke his matured meat on the barbeque.
‘Sweet revenge,’ Boris mumbled. He still hadn’t recovered from August spoiling his fun during the last World War. ‘How dare August take the girl, Frieda from him.’ He had plans for Frieda. Once. ‘Oh, well, there’s always her children,’ he consoled his hurt pride, and then chuckled, ‘And grandchildren.’
The doorbell rang. A mournful “ding-dong”.
‘Yes, coming,’ Maggie, half-filled champagne glass in hand, shuffled through the house, corridor, lounge room and to the front door. ‘I hope it’s not the neighbours complaining that you boys are shooting pigeons again.’
Maggie opened the front door. She paled. The champagne glass dropped from her hand and smattered on the green-painted concrete porch.
‘What’s going on?’ Liam, who had escaped the battleground of his room, asked. He ignored the smashed glass and watched dispassionately as his mother and a blonde figure scrambled to mop up the glass shards and bubbly.
He turned to his brother. ‘Who’s that?’
‘Our salvation,’ Max whispered. ‘Now will you believe there is a God?’
‘If she sorts out the “ferals” in my room, I’m a convert.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Sky above the gum tree © L.M. Kling 2016