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Danny and Moira (part 3)

Continued from Part 2.

It was the Sunday night a couple of weeks after I had given Moira the locket. It was a foul night of the big storm that took down the telephone wires all around the district … so the exchange was out of action. Mrs Glastonbury came in and told me to go home as there was little chance the exchange would be up and running any time soon. I had walked almost to the junction when I saw a utility parked ahead … there were no lights on and after coming closer, I recognised it as Bruce’s ute…and he was there with Moira. I had the feeling he was waiting for me. True enough, for as I got close, he stepped out of the ute. He had a swagger in his step. I stopped.

“Took you a while to get here boy. I been wanting to have a little talk with you.” I could see that ‘talking’ was the last thing on his mind. I paused and did not answer, not really having anything to say and I knew what his intention was.

“You been playing at sweet-talking to my girl, I believe.”

“I … we just talk of things,” I weakly said. “Just things.”

“Yes … I should imagine.” Bruce approached me at the back of the ute. “It’s those ‘things’ I want to talk to you about. With my fists!” And he slowly stepped toward me. I stepped back from the ute … Moira had got out of the car and came around to the back of the ute. She grabbed Bruce by the shoulder and pleaded with him …

“Leave it, Bruce, he’s only seventeen. He’s no equal to you in a fight.” Bruce gave a sudden reflex jerking away of his shoulder from Moira’s grip and swung his arm at her and hit her with a backhander, yelling at her.

“Hold off, woman. Don’t tell me how to deal with this little shit!”

I leapt at him and connected with my fist with one blow. He spun back and grabbed me with both hands and flung me easily to the ground. Moira recovered from his blow and went for him as well. He grabbed and held her and then yelled to me while I was still prostrate on the ground.

“What the hell do you think you’re playing at … eh … eh? Trying to muscle in on my life … my woman!?” he yelled. And then he saw the locket there swinging on Moira’s neck. He flung her away grabbing the locket as he did so and tearing it from her neck … he held it in his fist right in front of my face and yelled:

“You think this will make me go away? Hey? You think this trinket will force me to say ‘Oh, look … my woman’s been stolen by another … so I’ll just leave them to it?’ You think so? … Hey! Well think again!” And he grabbed me by my shirt front and struck me full in the face with the fist that held the locket and he was about to land another when suddenly there was fast moving shadow and a whack! … and Bruce fell off to one side of the road and rolled down the edge to lay dead still on the ground. Moira stood above me holding the bladed spade that she had struck Bruce with. It happened that fast and was without the tragic intent that resulted … but I think that’s how many of these things happen … we both were silent and the storm raged.

Upon examination, we could see that the edge of the spade blade had almost cut through Bruce’s neck and he had quickly bled out. He died quickly and we were there in the wild storm and darkness of the night in shock and with no idea of what to do. We were just a couple of young people caught up in an uncontrollable situation.

After some short while of consoling each other and attending to our own selves, we started to formulate a plan. Considering that while it was in truth self-defence, it would look awfully suspicious if it were to come to the attention of the police and Moira would for sure risk the custody of her child in the process. We were fortunate that day of the week and the violence of the night storm kept all traffic off the back roads … so we set to with a plan … it is a wonder how quick the mind focuses on a problem when the cause demands it. Everything we needed to do just fell into place in that short space of time …

“You take the ute and go pack yours and Bruce’s things and make it look like you both have done a runner … it happens all the time with itinerants, drive to a distant city and leave the ute by a river or the sea with Bruce’s gear in it only so it will look as if he has topped himself … with all those sherry bottles it will not be hard to imagine. I’ll bury him here where he fell and look after this end of things.”

Moira was shaking and tearful, but her natural sensibility soon got control …

“Yes … yes … I will make sure of my end of things and get rid of the car. I will have to get a bus back to Adelaide and act as if Bruce threw me over for another. I can do that.” She wiped away the tears.

“Moira …,” I held her shoulders and said regretfully; ”we can do this if everything goes right. You are both temporary workers, so you will not be missed … I … I have no connection to either of you so I will not be considered … but we have to not be in contact with each other until such a time as it seems there is no chance of us being found out. We cannot see each other again for a long time … a long time … and it’s hurting me already.”

Well … we kissed and held each other and kissed again and professed our love together and swore that we would meet when the time was right. And as Moira drove away in the slanting rain of the night, I truly wondered if I would ever see her again … but there was this deed to do and I set to work with the very spade that killed Bruce, to now bury him.

As I moved to do the job, in a flash of lightning, I saw the chain of the locket on the dirt road at my feet. I picked it up but could not see the locket itself … and though I looked desperately, I couldn’t find it and the urgency of the moment made me attend to the digging of the grave.

Fortunately, the sandy soil there allowed me to dig a deep hole in a short time and I tipped the body into it, making sure to place some heavy rocks on top of the first layer of soil to dissuade any animals from digging down to the corpse. I also took advantage of a road-kill kangaroo just down the track a way to drag it to place it on top of the grave so as to cover any decaying smell from the buried corpse. I then made my way home in the filthy weather up the sleeper track, confident the driving rain would wash any evidence of the night’s deeds far away.

The next few months I lived out in trepidation of suddenly being grasped by the arm by a police constable and arrested for the killing of Bruce … but no … nothing happened … not then nor ever over the next years. Of course, there was some grumbling in the district of Bruce and Moira doing a runner while owing a small amount of money to the local store and rent for the cottage they stayed in … but that was the only gossip that came to my ears. I was never considered connected to the couple owing to my position and age. About six months later, my family changed address over to the Bulldog Run about five miles north of the Sleeper Track, so I never went that way again … so the months and the years came and went with no longer a mention of the couple and the town went on with its life …

As did I … albeit with a melancholy sadness lodged deep in my heart.

Danny continued:

“It was five years to the month before I heard from her again. It was getting near to Christmas and now I was permanently employed in the post office … five days a week and Saturday morning. Mrs. Glastonbury got another lad to man the exchange overnight and the weekend. It was getting near Christmas, as I said, and I was serving old Gladys Auricht in the shop … she wanted a page of stamps so as to send her regular batch of cards and she was fussing with her purse and contesting ‘the price of stamps nowadays’…

“I don’t make the prices, Mrs. Auricht. They’re printed on the stamp by the government,” I said.

So I was busy attending to her wants and though I heard the bell over the front door ring that told me another person had entered the shop, I only quickly glanced up to see and then went back to Galdys’s fussing. What I did see, was a head of red hair … a woman … who went to the far end of the shop there, for it was a gift shop along with the post office, so I didn’t give much thought to her. Then Gladys gathered up her stamps and purse and things and left the shop and I would have gone to attend the other customer except, as fate or chance or call it what you will, intervened and at that moment there started to play a treasured piece of music over the radio … only the music … no singing with it … an’ it was the tune of ‘Danny Boy’. I must’ve been tired or a tad sentimental at the time, because I forgot all about the other person there and went into a kind of daydream … and the music just played softly and seemed to caress me … like even now, sometimes over the speakers here they play ‘Danny Boy’ and I go into a kind of dream … and then too … and it was playing through the tune till it got to that part in the singing where it goes: ‘So come ye back when Summer’s in the meadow …” And I thought I was hearing things, ‘cause I thought I could hear a voice softly mouthing the words … softly singing along with the music; ‘… or the valley’s hushed and white with snow’ … and I suddenly became aware that the other person who came into the shop was singing those very words … and singing them with the same inflection of voice that I remember from so long ago. And then I saw her … I saw her … she lifted her sunglasses and I saw her eyes … and she sung those beautiful words along with the song … but oh so softly so affectionately … to me she sung … only to me as she looked into my eyes … reading me deeply … ‘I’ll be here … in sunshine or in shadow …’ And then she almost whispered breathlessly, those last delicious, delightful words; “Oh Danny Boy … Oh Danny Boy … I love you so …”

There was a quiet in the room so solid and deep that when Danny next spoke it was almost as in a prayer …

“I can’t tell you the feelings that came over me with the seeing of Moira there … right there in front of me … and hearing her say those words to me … enough to say that we threw ourselves into each other’s arms and held and held each other like we would never let each other go again. I pushed my face into her hair just to breathe in her scent and how I wept … how I wept … how we wept.” Danny stopped at that moment and took a deep breath before speaking again … “And that was when I saw her again.”

Tom sat through Danny’s talking, quietly and impassively … for whatever the sentiment, he had to close this episode … this file. He broke the silence …

“Well … whatever the circumstances of your relationship with this lady … this Moira, I have to find her if she’s still alive and talk to her about this death.”

“You’ll not find her this side of Heaven, I’m afraid, Tom. She’s gone.”

“Oh … and you know that for sure, Dad … you kept in touch?” Danny raised his eyebrows a little. Tom persisted; “Well, if you do know her last address, you had better tell me so I can at least go talk to her or her relatives.”

“It’s no use, son … she changed her name by deed-poll before she came back to Sedan that day. She became a different person.”

“You seem to have a close knowledge of the situation … tell me then what she changed her name to.” Tom was getting impatient.

“She changed her name I tell you, Tom. Moira Kenneally became Mary Kennedy!” Danny burst out.

“And just where does this Mary Kenn …” and that was as far as Sgt. Tom Flannigan got, because his thinking had just caught up to his demanding. Tom slumped shocked back into the chair, staring blankly. Danny continued his thoughts for him …

“Yes, Tom … she changed her name, Tom. Moira Kenneally became Mary Kennedy … your mother, Tom. Your mother!”

From that moment on nothing really mattered to Daniel Flannigan, he was comfortable where he was, the feeling was all warmth and embracing … the afternoon sun, the river silently flowing past, he clasped the locket and chain tight in his hand and for the life of him, wasn’t that music he was hearing over the speakers an old favourite … wasn’t it ‘Danny Boy’? Yes, that’s it … Danny Boy! And even the cries from Tom calling for a nurse to come quickly and all the scrambling around and over his person and Tom calling his name over and over … all fading away … nothing could now stop Danny from his long anticipated assignation with his only love … Moira.

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  1. K Carberry

    Really enjoyed this story. I hope the writer has more to offer.

  2. Michael Taylor

    I have to admit that I quite enjoyed this little story. The ending was a really serious “wow”.

  3. Joseph Carli

    Well, is my “Juliet and Romeo” story in the mallee….I put Juliet first because in these days of heroines, my “Juliet” (Moira) is the instigator of the action…..and the redemptor of the affection……just how I like my women…

    K Carberry …thank you for that…and yes, I do have a number of other stories to offer…many are here on The AIMN…and I am currently working on an opera set in the war years in the mallee…I am calling it : “The Ukulele Opera”……watch this space…

  4. Bronte ALLAN

    Wow what a lovely story Joseph! You have truly excelled yourself, once again capturing the essence of country South Australia in the 50’s. Moira/Mary sounded like a really lovely woman, who obviously adored her sweet Danny. Well done!

  5. Anne Byam

    A lovely story Joseph … thank you for sharing this with us all. Enjoyed it immensely …

  6. Joseph Carli

    Thank you Bronte…Moira is a composite of two women…both lovely…one I knew “personally”, though we parted so long ago when I was a young, single man…and she was…..already taken…she had the most glorious thick locks of flaming, red hair…I still miss her at times..the other was even named Moira, and she was the wife of the son of some friends we knew…she was a lovely lady also, though I only knew her from a distance……Danny is based on an Uncle who did work in the Sedan Post office back in the fifties as described in the story…though my uncle was much younger than the Danny in the story…and the Mallee is just that…a glorious natural background for so many tales..

  7. Joseph Carli

    There is a side story to that lady ; “Mrs Glastonbury” who ran the post office in the story, in that when she was at the telephone exchange, she was in the habit of listening into conversations…an absolute no-no in the post office rule book…till one day she was listening into a couple of local ladies having a real goss’ and it was about HER!!…she restrained herself in silent outrage for as long as she could, then burst into the converstaion in a most undignified manner so that she was reported to the PMG (Post Masters General) and she nearly lost her licence to operate…

  8. Freethinker

    Very nice Joe, thank you for sharing.

  9. Jean

    Such an engaging story! I’m sure it was the Mallee area where I grew up – in northern Victoria! Thanks for sharing like this and keep up with your writing.

  10. Susan

    Thank you for your story.

  11. Joseph Carli

    Thank you people for reading and liking my story about Danny and Moira…It is always nice to feel that one has “connected” to other’s sensitivities on such a subject…even if those others are but a select few, for there are many who demand a more cynical outlook, even scorning the notion on the subject of love and desire…a more modern interpretation that satisfies a kind of hunger of “want”, rather than the patience of desire.

    For I believe there is a great difference in Want and Desire….Desire being a sensitivity toward what we may not ever have, and perhaps not even really want to can be living in the moment of the sight of a soul-mate, or place, whose appearance and behaviour are so appealing that you have to contain an impulse to introduce yourself to such a one..instead, you just look or close your eyes and desire…whereas “Want” is more of a frustrated hunger demanding to be full-filled, so that it can become an action on that impulse that usually ends badly…

    In my story, I wanted to show that Danny and Moira desired, where the brute Dobson “wanted” and demanded that want…to dramatic circumstances…even the son of Danny wanted a result..demanded a result that was the requirement of his civic duty…where Danny only desired the emotion of his memory with Moira.

    I remember back many years ago, in the seventies, when I was living in Darwin, I was in the Dolphin Hotel having a beer with Jimmy McCauley after an afternoon of playing baseball, we were joined at our table by two Melvile Island men….BLACK!! dark they were that blueish-black..and one of them had a little chamois bag he placed on the table between was a small bag, much the size of a marbles bag like we had back in primary school…it was tied at the top with a soft cotton tie that threaded through slits in the chamois leather…I asked him what was in the bag…he replied that they were pearls..rough pearls from the Islands he came from…he undid the tie and spread the bag open on the table so that it looked like a nest full of soft-hued, small eggs…say!..have any of you ever seen real pearls in the “raw” to speak…their colour and texture and soft glow is mesmerising….so inviting to touch..which, with permission, I did…I placed my fingertips into that cache and immediately my thoughts went to associate that touch, that sensory perception with the feeling that I was touching another person’s fingertips…almost a sensual intertwining..

    Pearls are, to my mind, the most sensual of precious “stones”..they seem to hold a secret within their skins…a desire…and if I had the money back in that time, I would have bought that bag of pearls..but alas…all I am left with now is a lost desire…but desires are like that..where our wants are fickle and temporary, a desire can linger for a whole lifetime.

    And to my thinking, there is a natural truth that flows through it for want of a better term..: “karmic universe”…that even the Abrahamic God must yield to, surrender to, that is a truth through all the known and unknown universe…: ” One may desire…but one may NOT “want” ..”

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