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Bonzer Words!: Gambling

At the heart of Colleen McMillan's story of violence is the mysterious grey shadow.

Colleen writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please do visit www.bonzer.org.au

A grey shadow, intermittently streaked silver by the new-born moon, flitted across the path, through the bushes, to the window. Sinuously, silently, he lifted his lithe body onto the sill. The window was open, not far but far enough. Lacy curtains stirred softly as he sought to see further into the room, obviously a bedroom, but then he already knew that.

Suddenly a light snapped on and a male voice roared, “where is it, you bitch?” Afraid but fascinated he shrank into the dark clinging creepers.

“Give it to me I say!” the bullying voice grated.

“Please Ted,” a woman huddled on the bed, pleaded. “I’ve given you everything else, even my engagement ring, but this belonged to my Great Grandmother.”

“I don’t give a coot in hell who it belonged to. I need it now.” He lowered his voice persuasively, “I’ll buy you another when my luck changes.”

“No Ted, this cannot be replaced. It is not mine to give. I hold it in trust for Angie.”

He snorted, “Angie! And where is our bloody daughter and that smart arse husband of hers when I need them.”

“Wisely staying out of your way,” she murmured.

“What did you say?” Again, he roared.

No longer controlling her anger the woman raised her voice. “They’ve got you out of trouble before and you haven’t repaid them, just went on gambling, saying ‘when your luck changed’. Face it Ted, it isn’t going to change.”

With a bellow like a wounded bull the man launched himself across the room. Quickly the woman moved from his path. Still shouting obscenities he proceeded to pull out drawers, smashing them to the floor in his haste, to rifle through the wardrobe, throwing searched garments and handbags about in his frenzy.

“Tell me where it is or I’ll bloody kill you.”

Thwarted he turned to the woman. She, who had been standing quietly by the window had not been idle, from her pocket she had taken a magnificent amethyst and diamond bracelet and held it out the window.

The grey shadow slipped silently away, minutes before two police cars screamed up the driveway.

In the light of day the neighbours gathered. None admitted to calling the police but all had heard, and all had watched through concealing curtains, first the woman taken away in an ambulance, then the handcuffed man in the police car.

Much later that day they observed the woman, her arm now in a sling, emerge painfully from her daughter’s car and call softly. What she said they could not distinguish but they did see her lilac-point Burmese cat come running, uttering mews of delight, to rub itself around her ankles.

They watched as the women and the cat drove off in the car.

They did not see the amethyst and diamond bracelet nestling in the soft fur of the cat’s neck.

© Colleen McMillan 2003


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