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Bonzer Words!: There's Less To This Than Meets The Eye

Colleen McMillan tells a tale of failure - and major success.

Jeffrey gunned his red Mercedes up the sloping driveway to his McMansion. At the push of a button three quarters of the bottom storey of his three-storey home sprang open like a great gaping mouth, revealing not teeth, but vintage cars. He parked thinking, as he always did; there was still room for one more. Pulling his brief-case from the car he turned to smile, and wave, at the man on the motor mower as he neatly followed the line of rosebushes edging the driveway.

As the garage door clunked softly behind him Jeffrey's smile vanished, and the broad shoulders of his Gucci suit slumped. At least Lisa and the children were not home yet; ballet lessons or something. He still had time. Dropping his coat, and pulling off his tie, he poured himself a stiff drink before heading for his study.

There he locked the door and unlocked his black brief-case.

Rows of little black and red figures leapt out to shout their obscene message at him. He could swear the red ones were leaping about in a triumphant dance—evil revengeful little demons. Was it his fault things had gone wrong? Where would the world be if there were no entrepreneurs, no risk takers? A world full of stupid sheep that's what, he snarled at them, but they continued to taunt.

To quote Jeffrey's accountant, 'it had taken some doing to crash so spectacularly.' His complicated empire of mortgage holdings, developments and rental properties had fallen like the proverbial house of cards, and not all the time spent calculating, recalculating, and juggling bank loans was going to change a thing. Hope seeped away like water poured on sand. He was broke; worse than broke, he was in debt. He was bankrupt. Jeffrey put his head in his hands and wept.

A loud bang and the sound of children's voices roused him; his wife and children. They would have to be told. How would Lisa cope? Would she cope? He had always lived his life according to his own pre-ordained standard. She fitted this picture. She wore his wealth easily; played her part as wife, mother and hostess; was beautiful blonde and toned, an accessory any man would be proud to wear, but… had she signed up for this?

'Daddy, Daddy!' was followed by a bang on the study door. 'Daddy, we're in the concert on Saturday. Daddy, open the door,' his twin daughters yelled.

'Just a minute, I'm talking on the phone,' he answered as he composed himself wishing that his tie wasn't strewn across a kitchen chair. Men look more confident when wearing a tie. He needn't have worried for the moment he opened the door the twins threw themselves at him; both talking at such a rate that it was only necessary for him to murmur assent or surprise. Finally he shook them off and walked over to kiss Lisa on the cheek.

'How was your day?' They spoke simultaneously.' 'Great, great.' ' Busy, the kids you know,' came both replies. Followed by, 'dinner won't be long if you want to change.'

Almost unbeknownst to himself Jeffrey's mouth opened and the words, 'Sorry Love I have to go out again. I tried to ring,' slid out. The lie slipped smoothly between them leaving a slimy trail of mistrust. He saw it in her face as he grabbed his coat and left. He left without his tie. He left without the black brief-case in the unlocked study.

Later when the twins were in bed Lisa let herself think. She had to know, although, just what she was afraid of was still sheathed in grey. Overcoming a feeling of inbred distaste at looking through another's, even a husband's private things, she opened his brief-case. The grim black final notices, the rows of little red devils made their message clear. She sat there waiting for Jeffrey to return; afraid he wouldn't, afraid, afraid.

She must have dozed, for she started awake at the sound of his voice. 'Lisa, what the hell?'

She barely recognised the man standing in the doorway; clothes rumpled, eyes red, despair owning him.

Lisa stood up, and walked across the room and looking up into her husband's ravaged face, she put her arms around him. 'It will be all right Jeffrey. It will be all right. We can start again. We still have each other and the children. We will do it.'

© Colleen McMillan


Cplleen writes for Bonzer magazine. Plerase visit www.bonzer.org.au


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