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Three girls stood on my doorstep, one big one in white. Strangers said they wanted to talk to me. I did not have time. At Woolworths, the good employee is always on time. It is a 30-minute hike uphill and across town. Cannot stop. She slashed me. 

Bloody shirt. Woolworths sent me to Casualty. A policewoman drove me home. You will be alright, James. No, I was shaken and stirred. 

That was on top of the screaming and the rest at school. I led a protest, but the principal only laughed. That’s what girls do; get used to it. No, you have a duty to protect children from abuse. How dare you tell me my duty? Wish my dad the lawyer was here. He went off to London. Disappeared. 

I went to church, threw myself on its mercy. I started crying. Sorry, a man should never cry. Father Dan came over. Tell me from the beginning. 

On the eve of my fifteenth birthday, my parents suddenly announced a split up. Atom bomb! I thought we were an ideal, tennis-loving family. Boys are so stupid, said my sister. That very day, Chrissy and I had won the State Under Seventeen quarter finals, singles and doubles. We were on top of the world for a moment. I never got around to turning fifteen.

In a few days, Mum slammed the door and stormed out. She left everything; you name it.

I tried to call her. Instead, her lawyer told me I was invading the privacy of my ex-mother. Ex-mother! That’s rich. A week later, Dad went too. I held the door open. We didn’t shake hands, should have. Only me now.

Forced myself to think. Make a missing person report for Dad, box Mum’s possessions, change schools too. Fat chance.  Pour out Dad’s whiskey, a little revenge.  

About Chrissy, you ask. Like Maria Sharapova, a tennis star but skinny. I was always Mr Wrong; we wouldn’t agree on the two times table. No, she was not my Bond girl, nor was I her James Bond.  Her mum thought I was unsuitable too; I asked her to turn down the radio in the car. Of course, everything about her was perfect, including the volume.

Father Dan asked if I had grandparents, uncles, or aunts. I had a teenage picture of Dad with his sisters. That’s all. Only parents keep the surnames, addresses and phone numbers of relatives. Bet you $50, no $100, no kid does. 

A message from Father Dan: I talked with your mum. Grandparents Mark and Helena are coming your way today. You can stay with them. He was tall and trim. She was shorter and pretty. A doctor, she said. 

Two red flags. They were Fergusons but my mother’s maiden name was Alibrandi on the deed to our house. And the boot of their car held large black bags, a shovel and wire or was it rope on the bottom. Ideal for disposing of a body. On guard.

Their house was in the country. Elegant. I offered to cook some days and vacuum. Everybody hates vacuuming. And I sing too. 

She woke me up that night. You were screaming, thrashing. Take this. Tomorrow we will go for a long walk in the forest. 

So, is that how it ends - strangled and buried in the forest?  I keep My Little Friend, the knife, hidden and handy. Let them try. 



A man is a man, wrote Berthold Brecht. That covers it all for Peter Wright, now writer.


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