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In the last chapter, Melanie and Elke got together for one night but was it a one night stand or is there more to this? Melanie is conflicted and Elke seems content to take a step back and wait, will these two women get together? In this final chapter the story comes to an end.
One of my favourite movies is Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. It’s a simple love story that didn’t do so well at the box office but I love it for its simplicity. The over arching theme being that the person you should be with is right by your side and should be your best friend. The title of this story comes from one of the songs on the soundtrack and it’s become one of my favourite songs, it says so much in so few words. The movie doesn’t exactly parallel Elke’s courtship of yours truly but there are some similarities.
One of the scenes that springs to mind is the morning after Birdee and Justin have slept together, when she steals away, wishing she could turn back time and not go all the way with Justin. I too stole away that next morning and drove to the Olinda Arboretum and sat in my car to mull over my changed situation with Elke. Prior to last night we’d been good friends, we clowned around a lot although that had been somewhat muted in the aftermath of Jeff’s suicide but there was still laughter. I trusted Elke with my kids, my mother had even started asking after her, which was a big thing for her.
So why did I feel so guilty? Was it because I’d had sex so soon after Jeff’s passing? How long did you wait before having sex? Would I have felt the same way if I’d had sex with Bob? I tossed that one up in the air and it came back with a resounding yes. Bob had been Jeff’s unofficial sponsor although Jeff somewhat begrudgingly relied on him towards the end. On the other hand, Jeff had known Elke for months and that brought another kind of guilt.
To make matters worse, I had three children to consider. James had begun wetting the bed at night and there had been troubles at school as well, I’d been called to the school the other week because he hit a kid and gave him a blood nose. It turned out he’d been teased by a school yard bully who made fun of the fact his father had killed himself. In the end the teacher recognised that James was probably doing what other kids would gladly have done to Kevin but I still felt uneasy. Kevin was a year older and a whole head taller but James had laid him out with one punch, which suggested a strength and rage that would need to be tempered.
The girls were a mystery because of their age but I was quietly hopeful that the fact they were twins might provide a kind of support for them but my priorities were with my kids, and yet I couldn’t deny that I’d felt something last night. I felt needed, loved, protected and respected by both Bob and Elke, although those feelings were much sharper when it came to Elke.
Did I love Bob? Love was probably stretching it, I felt I needed him in my life but after that brief kiss in the car I knew that spending more time with Bob would only lead to the inevitable. A love triangle was not my idea of a good time and I sincerely doubted Elke and Bob would want to share me either.
I still didn’t have an answer when I got back home but by then the kids were sitting in front of the television watching cartoons while Elke made breakfast for herself. A pile of dirty dishes in the sink evidence that the kids had already eaten.
“You hungry?” Elke indicated the toaster on the bench.
“Um,” I frowned as my stomach rumbled, “toasted raisin bread.”
“Ooh,” Elke grinned, “that could cause problems, I just had the last two slices. There is a packet of muffins though, or I could duck out and get some more.”
“Don’t bother,” I opened the cupboard and took down a packet of muffins, “I need to do some more shopping today.”
“I was going to head down to Agnetha’s today,” she replied, “I could take the kids with me and leave you to shop in peace.”
I wanted to say no but instead said, “okay” and she shot me a strange look.
“About last night.”
“We need to think before we leap,” I countered.
“You took the words right out of my mouth,” she replied, “take time to think things through. It took me by surprise.”
“You and me both.”
Alison came into the kitchen about then and spied the muffins, a smile drifted over her face as she tugged my jeans.
“Can we please have some muffins?”
“I,” I stopped, “sure, sweetie.”
As it turned out, Elke left before me and that was a relief because I seriously needed time alone and it wasn’t to go shopping. I was almost out the door when the phone rang and thinking it was Elke I raced to the phone.
“Nothing,” Agnetha replied, “Elke just got here with the kids and I was going to go shopping, do you want to catch up for coffee? I’m heading over to Eastlands.”
“Um,” I paused.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Agnetha replied, “how about we meet up in an hour?”
That meant only one thing. Agnetha must bahis firmaları have been told about last night.
However as it turned out, she didn’t know but she did suspect something had gone on as we sat in a café in Eastlands and tried to skirt around the subject but eventually I blurted it out.
“I slept with her.”
“I thought something had happened,” Agnetha’s spoon clinked against the side of the cup as she stirred her cappuccino, “she was quieter than normal.”
“What do I do?” I looked away briefly.
“About Elke?” Agnetha paused, “do you love her?”
“Of course but it’s just that,” I trailed away.
“You’re both women?”
“That should be obvious.”
“So what’s the problem?” Agnetha looked at me.
“Isn’t that obvious too?”
“There isn’t a problem unless you make it a problem,” she replied, “Elke isn’t some bunny boiler and I know I’m prejudiced but if you said no to her she’d take that on the chin and move on.”
“I’m relieved to learn that,” I replied, “but it’s the effect on the kids I worry about, it’s a big step for me as it is, how will they react?”
“Children look for security,” Agnetha replied a moment later, “it’s part of the human condition, without getting too clinical, we look for food and shelter first, everything else comes after that. Kids will check out a new partner to see if this affects their relationship with their principal carer, you are their mother. The relationship between you and them is critical. All they’ll want to know is will Elke come between you and them? If the answer is no they’ll adapt. There are exceptions to every rule but it’s a good rule of thumb.”
It was a clinical diagnosis but it was what I needed to take with me that day. There was other stuff she passed on as well. Humans had to learn to adapt to changing situations and environments, it was what made us the dominant species as opposed to our nearest living relatives. Could I adapt to this or would I give into tradition and walk away?
It was a question without any answers I reasoned some time later as I followed Agnetha back to her place. Elke was still with the kids and as I watched them playing in the back yard I realised with a start that they didn’t have any idea what had happened last night.
“I’ve got six afternoon shifts coming up starting tonight,” Elke stepped over to my side.
“You’ll have my answer in a week,” I sighed, “I’m sorry if I can’t give you an answer before then,” I looked at her, “it’s not something I planned for but it’s something I need to think about.”
“I understand,” she replied, “I’m in the same boat but if we push out to sea then we’re committed to stay together, which means I have to make my own changes.”
“What would they be?”
“Well maybe not moving in right away but it would be on the horizon. It’s something I would have to plan for and there’s the children, we need to have boundaries.”
I nearly said yes there and then but I merely nodded and squeezed her shoulder.
“Go and say goodbye now,” I murmured, “and I’ll see you soon.”
We left not long afterwards. It was the first time I’d had a weekend with just me and the kids for over six weeks and I was torn between relief and longing. I was all right for the afternoon and for about an hour after the kids were in bed but then the loneliness set in. If Elke was here we’d be sitting back and just chatting about anything, she was the most open minded person I’d known and I felt as if I was pushing her aside and for what reason?
The reason in hindsight was to show me what life was like without Elke. She had been there on the outskirts of my life when Jeff was alive and when he took his life she became part of my life. It felt almost as if she’d been waiting for an opportunity and yet I knew that was too simplistic. Elke is very practical, it’s a natural part of her makeup, especially when she’s working a case but back then she was a Senior Constable just working the streets. The streets of Ringwood back then were a lot more dangerous, every other weekend there were ‘incidents’ at Ringwood Railway station and then there were the pubs. Try facing down a man mountain when you’re Elke’s size and you’ll find you have to think on your feet without having to draw your pistol. You adapt your posture, the tone of your voice and always look out for the sucker punch. I have every admiration for our men and women in uniform, it’s not a job I could do.
With that being said, Elke had brought a stabilising influence to the home front. My kids had seen their father lying dead in the driveway a few months ago, he’d been loaded into an ambulance and driven away. The next time they saw him he was in a coffin that was lowered into a hole in the ground. James wanted to know why they couldn’t fix him, the girls I kept back from the graveside because it was too upsetting. Elke’s explanation was much simpler than mine.
“Your dad is gone but your mum is still here and she loves you very much but right now she needs to know you’re going to be okay.”
Sometimes kaçak iddaa the simplest explanations are the best.
Not having her there for a week forced me to fall back on a simple explanation.
“She’s working afternoon shifts for a week, she’ll be too tired.”
“Can we go see her?” Alison wanted to know, “I want to show her my new picture.”
This was on Wednesday evening, one of my Alanon nights. I’d been able to get Sigrid to babysit for me and I muttered something about Thursday and then Sigrid was at the front door and I had to jump in the car.
It was playing on my mind all the way to the meeting in Ringwood East, a mere fifteen minute drive from Elke’s place in Ringwood and my answer came at that meeting. It’s a funny little thing about meetings. They say you get answers to the problems that have been bugging you, if you keep an open mind. Sometimes it’s just what someone says when they’re sharing their story, other times it happens in the ‘second half’ of the meeting when we’re standing around drinking coffee and tea. There are also those times when it just comes to you out of the blue, I guess because you’re focused on something else while part of your brain is mulling over the problem, but this time it was who I met outside the meeting.
Bob was dropping off his sister at the meeting. I came to a dead stop when I stepped away from my car and found him leaning on the bonnet of his car with a mobile phone at his ear. He saw me and held up a hand and I waited for him to finish the call.
“Well, well, well, this is a coincidence.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Dropping my sister off,” he glanced over his shoulder, “her car’s at the panel beaters after she had an argument with her letter box,” he grinned slyly, “the letter box won that round so I volunteered to drop her off.”
“She wasn’t?” I stopped.
“She was stone cold sober, she’s been under a bit of stress lately with her ex and just wasn’t paying attention when she backed out of the drive and clipped the edge of the letter box, it’s made of brick so it’s not going anywhere in a hurry.”
“Reminds me of the time Jeff ran over my garden gnome, twice in one week,” I sighed, “I wanted to know what he had against Dopey.”
“So how are you?”
“I’ve been better,” I looked at the front door to the Health Centre.
“Something you want to talk about or would you rather?” Bob’s eyes shifted.
I stared at that door for a few seconds before I made up my mind.
“Something happened on Friday night.”
“You mean after you and I went out?”
I nodded and looked away.
“I got with someone,” I replied.
“Who? Or is that anonymous?”
“Elke,” I blurted it out, “I didn’t mean for it to happen but it did and now I’m confused.”
“Oh,” Bob looked past me, “so, do you love Elke or not?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“It’s a question with one of two answers, yes or no, there is a third answer if you want to avoid the situation but saying I don’t know just muddles your head.”
“Yes,” I replied, “I do love her.”
“So, what’s the problem?” Bob folded his arms.
You could have floored me with that statement. He just didn’t seem at all fazed by what I’d just said. Was this guy for real?
“It is what it is,” he went on. “Life just happens, we can fight like fuck and get nowhere. I fought the booze for years and I won most of my fights, whether they were physical or in a court room but the only thing to beat me was alcoholism. I’ve got a sister in there who can have half a bottle of wine at a restaurant and leave the fucking bottle behind. I’ve got a brother bouncing from one woman to the next, and now he’s thinking he might be bisexual, I’ve got another brother who’s just walked out of a two year marriage with another alkie and there are seats in an A.A meeting with both their names on them.”
He looked past me for a moment.
“My sponsor always tells me you can lie to everyone else and if you’re a good enough liar, you might just get away with it for a while, but if you lie to yourself you’ll always lose. I lied to myself for eighteen years, told myself I was just gonna have a couple of beers, didn’t every man deserve a couple of beers after work? I drank myself out of marriages, jobs, lost mates, nearly destroyed my parents, all because I lied to myself.”
That meeting must be one of the few times I actually didn’t go into the meeting. I had it in his car and by the time we’d finished, people were coming outside. I think I told him more about me that night than I told people in Alanon and in the end when we parted I knew what I had to do next. I had to see Elke.
There was one thing I wanted to find out before I wrote this next bit. What happened to Tess? I’d never met the woman before that night but afterwards it was kind of hard for me to ignore her and although I never saw her again, in a way she acted as a catalyst to bring Elke and I together.
“She’s still around, she had a couple of kids and lost kaçak bahis both of them because of her drug addiction,” Elke told me a little while later, “she’s been in and out of rehab ever since.”
I thanked her for it and she told me she’d be home soon. She’s a Senior Sergeant with Maroondah C.I.B and although I used to worry like crazy whenever she was working, I think these days I’ve become somewhat used to the danger. You learn coping skills but I confess that when James joined the force, I did worry more about him. He’s with the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and his day to day duties can be quite stressful and dangerous.
Enough! Now that I have my information and a fresh cup of coffee it’s time to get back to writing this next bit. Now as I’ve already mentioned I had this idea to see Elke and it was close to 9:30 by the time I left East Ringwood. Most people would have gone home or made a call from a mobile. I had one of those big chunky Ericsson phones back then, the ‘brick’ and I used the brick to call Sigrid at my house and tell her I’d be home a bit later.
“About an hour, no more. I have to go see Elke first.”
“Take your time,” she replied, “the kids are asleep and Louise is watching a video.”
I detoured via the Seven Eleven store in Heathmont to pick up a notepad and envelopes and wrote out my short message and put it in an envelope. After that I headed off to Ringwood and here’s where it got a little hairy.
Ringwood had always had a bit of a reputation as being a rough suburb, stands to reason I guess with the metropolitan rail link branching out to Belgrave and Lilydale. It had three big shopping malls and two pubs relatively close by, the combination of alcohol, drugs and opportunity is always a bad thing. That night I was the victim of a road rage attack. When I turned into the carpark outside the Ringwood library, I was followed closely by a woman in a little red car. I had the right of way turning left, but she’d been turning right at the same time and I accelerated. This just made her angry and she roared up behind me and blasted me on the horn. I turned into the carpark, but she kept following and when she pulled up beside me I felt my stomach turn to water.
She was screaming abuse at me and then I saw the man in the passenger seat, he was a bikie with a shaved head that had been tattooed. He got out of the car and I wound down the window.
“Sorry, I’m sorry.”
“What the fuck were you doing?” he roared at me, “we could’ve been killed you stupid bitch.”
He slammed his hand down on the windscreen with such force I thought he’d break the window and then she got out of the car. She went around to her boot and opened it while he continued to abuse me, he called me every name under the sun and I tried to wind the window up but he yanked the door open and I screamed.
“Please no, please no.”
Just then I heard the sound of something hitting the back of my car. I looked up in the rear view mirror just in time to see the woman swinging a jack handle at my tail lights. She brought the handle down and I heard my tail light shatter under the impact. She struck it again and the man jerked around.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“I’m teaching the bitch a lesson.”
“Fucking Jesus,” he spun around suddenly and then I heard another sound, this one far more welcoming, a police siren. He stepped quickly forward and held his hands in the air as he called to his girlfriend, “put the fucking jack handle down ya stupid moll.”
“Fuck you, shit lips.”
“I said put it down,” he moved quickly towards her and I heard a man’s voice call out.
“Put it down, Tess before you hurt someone.”
I half turned around and spotted Elke striding towards the woman. She’d noticed me but was focused on the woman.
“Put it down, Tess, this doesn’t have to go any further.”
“She cut me off, the bitch cut me off,” Tess threw the jack handle on the ground, “arrest her.”
“Can’t do that,” Elke took her arm and led her further away, her colleague leaned over to look at me for a moment.
“You okay, madam?”
“I’m not hurt,” I wiped my eyes, “but I’m shaken up.”
“Just sit tight, we’ll deal with this,” he stepped back and turned to the bikie.
“We need to talk, mate.”
“Sure,” he followed him and glanced back at me for a moment, “fucking stupid bitch, it’s those fucking pills they’ve got her on, sends her troppo. She didn’t mean nothing.”
“We’ll see about that.”
I sat in the car and waited. Another police car pulled up a minute or two later and I felt as if I was on show for the whole world. I watched as Tess was put into the back of the van and Mick was led to a police car, he seemed a little calmer now but I could hear Tess kicking the side of the van, it was like a rhythmic tap, tap, tap followed by an almighty thud. She was screaming abuse and I heard the word bitch yelled out several times.
Elke finally came and sat in the car with me. We said nothing for a minute or so and then she chuckled and looked over her shoulder.
“I think she’s trying to do her Terminator impersonation, she’ll press charges against the police for assault tonight and be as docile as a lamb the next morning and greet us like long lost mates.”
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