Saturday, 30 April 2011



After Horsey had hung up, Cush walked round and round the apartment. " What the hell did that bastard Piper know? " he wondered.  He racked his memory trying to remember what he might have told him.  He was pretty sure he said something to him about the waterfront deal, but he couldn't quite remember.  At the time he thought Piper was in with them all.

As he had suggested to Horsey, the only course of action they had other than in topping Piper was to get him as pissed as a newt and pump him.  Horsey agreed.  Leave it to Horsey to arrange.

Cush wandered into his study, vaguely recalling he had a Chamber of Commerce meeting the following day.  The Council CEO and his Executive Assistant had drafted a speech for him, and left it for his final approval.  He thought he would take a gander at it anyway.

He grimaced in disgust as he saw that Brandi had been hard at work at his desk and left her "work" behind.  There was her "scrapbook" with large gold lettering on the front cover, "THE FIRST LADY OF CAIRNS".
He flipped through the pages.  The first page covered his election victory with a clipping from the front page of "The Cairns Post".  It brought a grin to his face, as he recalled the night.  There had been three candidates for the Mayoralty.  Val Schier, the incumbent was up again for a second term, then there was Boyd Jamieson, an Independent, and then himself.  There were no words to describe it.  He had SHIT it in, receiving over 70 percent of the vote.  Schier received 20% and Jamieson, less than 10%.  "The Cairns Post" had described it on the front page in huge banners....."A POLITICAL TSUNAMI FOR CUSH".

The photograph taken by "The Cairns Post" was of he and Brandi waving glasses of champagne.  He turned the page and there was an interview with Brandi by some tart writer from "The Weekender" with all these photographs of her wearing her various rags..  Curious, he kept on turning the pages, noticing more and more newspaper items of Brandi where the female journalists all gushed and slobbered over her.  There she was at the Cairns Amateurs last year, wearing a hat suspiciously like a peacock's arse, then more and more photos of her modelling clobber somewhere.  Apart from the one photograph at the very front, every photograph in the scrapbook was of Brandi being described as "the First Lady of Cairns" or "the Lady Mayoress".   Narcissistic little bitch!  thought Cush disgustedly flinging the book aside.

He sat down at his computer and fired it up.  Just then the phone rang again and he looked anxiously at the call number displayed.  Unknown number.  He decided not to answer it, just in case it was the silly little bitch again phoning from Melbourne.  Hers was one voice he didn't want to hear again tonight.

The answering machine kicked in, and there was a hesitation before the caller began.  He recognised the voice instantly.  JOYCE!

"Ken, it's Joyce here," she said nervously.  "I'm phoning just to find out how you are......."

Ken grabbed the phone and cleared his throat.  "Hello Joyce!"
There was a strained silence.  Ken thought it was well over two years since they had last spoke.
"How are you Ken?" asked Joyce.  "I saw you on the television news tonight, and I thought I would phone and find out if you are alright."
"Fit as a mallee bull, as usual, but how are you anyway?" replied Cush, rapidly thinking.  Obviously his first wife still carried a bit of a torch for him, he reckoned.  He'd be stupid not to keep her there in the loop still fretting for him.  After all, he doubted if Brandi would hang around if he got really sick.  And someone would have to look after him.

"Oh, I'm very well thanks Ken," replied Joyce.  "I'm living in Townsville now.........."
"Townsville, hey..." broke in Ken.  "So you moved up there to be with Peter and his family?"
Peter was their second son  whom Ken had always loathed.   His favorite was the older son, Luke, who was a SAS officer currently serving in Afghanistan.  Chip off the old block was Luke.  Peter was a poncey mankey little poofter who took after his Mother.  Unfortunately.
"Yes," said Joyce.  "It has been wonderful seeing the grandchildren and watching them grow up."
Cush thought rapidly trying to work out how old Peter's children were by this.  He had never seen them and frankly had no desire to see them.  However he had to humour old Joyce who was a bit touched in the head when it came to rugrats.
"That's real nice," he said, warmly.  "Yes, you would enjoy that."
There was another awkward silence as both thought hard of what to say next.  Finally Joyce broke the silence.  "Well Ken I better go.  I'm glad you are alright."

"Lovely hearing from you again Joyce," said Cush putting as much warmth and sincerity as he could muster into his voice.  "I will keep in touch with you from now on.  I promise!"

Cush leaned back in his chair as the call ended and grinned.  He had to keep the old bag on a string, hanging in there, in case bloody Brandi either pissed off on her own or he booted her out first. 

He was definitely in a much better mood as he opened up his Word Document and perused the speech he had to give to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce the following day.

In Townsville, in the suburb of Mundingburra, Joyce Cush, who was now known as Joyce Taylor, having reverted to her maiden name, washed her hands in the basin of her tiny bathroom in the small duplex she had bought.  After speaking with Ken, she had felt dirty somehow.  She shuddered and scrubbed away at her hands.  She had never wanted to ever speak to him again after the divorce, however Luke, their son, had phoned one day from Afghanistan where he was serving, and asked how his father was.  She said she would find out.

She had done that for their son.  She reasoned if Luke could face the Taliban and the various warlords in Afghanistan, then she could manage one phone call to his father.  Still, the phone call compelled her into washing her hands with antibacterial hand soap for over ten minutes. 

Joyce glanced up at herself in the bathrrom mirror.  Ken wouldn't recognise her now!  Oh, she had made a lot of changes in her life since the day he walked in and said he was leaving and getting a divorce.  For the first three months, she could do nothing but lie in bed, cry and pick away at food and do the least amount of housework.  Severe depression, said the psychologist.  But then, Peter her son, and his wife, Megan had come for a visit and they talked her into moving to Townsville, to be with them.

After she had moved into the tiny and modest duplex, Megan, her daughter-in-law, suggested she have a make-over, turn herself into a "new" woman.  Joyce had protested, but Megan was persuasive.
Gone were the floral suits and sensible cuban heeled shoes which Ken liked her to wear.  She now wore tight jeans which showed off her slim Size 10 figure, with T-shirts emblazoned with slogans.  She had her silvery white hair cut very short, which she gelled each day so that it stood up in quiffs.  Occasionally, she sprayed red or green onto one of the quiffs, just to look a bit more colourful.  Once, feeling terribly emboldened by her new look, she had even gone to a tattooist, and had a small tasteful tattoo of a rose on her right shoulder. 

She was a new woman with a new life.  The entire feminist movement and revolution had passed her by.  She had married in the early 1970s when it was all beginning.  From then she was kept busy keeping house, looking after Ken and having babies.   With Ken away so much in the army, she had to do everything around the home and it was a full-time job.  When Ken retired, he joined so many organisations, that she was kept busy again doing his secretarial work, reminding him of his commitments, cooking, entertaining, even writing up his speeches, particularly when Ken was Governor of the Gold Coast Lions for a year.

Moving to Townsville therefore was all about her, Joyce Tayor how, not about Joyce Cush.  It was her time to do the things she had always wanted to do.  She joined the P & C of the local State School where her grandchildren attended.  She joined a local craft group and surprised herself at how easy it was to create and make jewellery.  Lastly, Joyce joined the Mundingburra Branch of the Australian Labor Party.


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