Green Lizard Log – Episode 64

(In which Jack gets back to Margany station and begins work and Lois has an idea.)

On the day my compulsory isolation finished my daughter came down from the Sunshine Coast and picked me up. The last two weeks was probably the worst of times with nowhere to go and I marvelled how anyone who is in prison, could survive without going completely mad – no matter what they had done nor whether they deserved to be locked up or not. I had already explained to her my reasons for coming home at this time so she didn’t even question me when I asked her to drive me to the hospital in Toowoomba, where Clarrie was.

What a difference! This was as far from Jersey as anything could be. The two lane divided highway ran flat and relatively straight. The paddocks were starting to dry off but closer to Toowoomba it was a bit hillier and greener. The road started to twist and bend through the hills and then we ran down onto the flat and there were houses and buildings and Toowoomba. I was quite surprised at how unfamiliar it was after all my time overseas.

It was much cooler here than Brisbane had been. Toowoomba is about seven hundred metres higher than Brisbane. The scenery was there but it would wait for another day. I didn’t have the time, nor the inclination to play the tourist. My priority was Clarrie. Lizbeth drove me to the hospital but visiting hours were limited at that time so we went and had coffee nearby. I rang Lois. She was with Clarrie and came out to see me. I had explained everything to Lizbeth in the car on the hour and a half trip and organised for her to bring Terry and the grandchildren to Margany in a few weeks. The children had always enjoyed visiting when I had the place and would be happy to see it again. Then she headed home. Lois would drive me to Margany after we had seen Clarrie.

He was a miserable and unhappy man. His main problem was his frustration at not being able to do anything. Like all good wives, Lois was patient with him. After we’d exchanged niceties we got down to business.

“Well if you boys are going to talk business I might go for a wander.”

“Umh,” I said, “I’d rather you stayed if you don’t mind. I’ve been looking at all the records and detail you’ve put on the website and I think we could do with your input.” I turned to Clarrie. “Lois seems to me to have her finger very nicely on the pulse of the place.”

So she stayed and we, all three of us, talked about priorities and expectations. When we were finished Lois fussed around and fluffed pillows and kissed foreheads and promised to come back in a few days.

“I can’t thank you enough Jack,” said Clarrie. “I didn’t expect you to come back here to help. I really thought you might know someone who could do the job. That’s all.”

I told him how happy I was to be able to spend time on my old homestead.

“And don’t hurry, just get better. I plan on enjoying myself,” I said.

And that was that.

Lois had a room in a motel and had booked one for me. It was a good ten hours to Margany by road and we would leave first thing in the morning. From then on she would fly down to see Clarrie in Doug Wilson’s little Cessna, whenever he had a trip.

That is about all to tell. I got back to work as soon as I’d settled in and spoke with the head stockman and the other boys. Clarrie had kept on most of the staff that I’d had and we didn’t have any trouble getting to know each other.

Margany Again

One the first day back I got the shock of my life. I was wrong but I was sure I saw Jimmy Wirraway walking around the back of the machinery shed. It was like seeing a ghost. It only took me a moment but I knew it had to be his brother Mick. He walked up to me with the same Jimmy smile on his face and said, “Well. So you’re Jack. Jimmy was real crook on missing you.”

“Well where did you come from?” I asked. “Jimmy told me you were over Innamincka way working for the wildlife people.”

“That’s true. I’m with National Parks and Wildlife Service. I’m at Coongie Lakes National Park but when Jimmy got crook I come over to help him and haven’t gone back yet. I suppose I’m absent without leave. This new mob what runs this place are good people but all the boys are happy to see you back. Are you staying?”

“I’ll stay until Mister Thomson gets better. Maybe six months. Maybe more.”

“That’s good. Jimmy told me, you and me gotta go walkabout like before when your missus died. Then I betta go back.”

All that’s another story. We went walkabout and he went back to Innamincka and the Coongie Lakes and I swore I’d go and stay with him when I finished here. One of the good things, or bad things depending how you look at it was I was too busy to spend much time fretting and worrying about Annie and Molly. Dylan sent me a few photos of the children now and then. I did let Jersey and the whole saga invade my mind at nighttime but in the daytime there was never room.

Lois was a real Godsend. I suggested I set up in one of the workers’ cottages but she insisted I stay in the homestead. There was fair bit of contact required with her running the books and the paperwork and so we got to know each other well. She spent about two or three days in every ten down at Toowoomba with Clarrie – it depended on whenever Doug Wilson had a trip down.

Then Lois organised for Clarrie and me to have face-to-face conversations on the computer. Face Time or something where we could talk and see each other. One night after we had eaten Lois and I were talking and she asked me about Jersey and I started telling her the whole story. This in turn led her to tell me a bit about herself and Clarrie. They had three children. She named them. I don’t know if it’s just me, or does everybody have a string of catastrophes that follows them wherever they go.

“It was about fifteen years ago. Two boys, eighteen and twenty two, and our daughter right in the middle between the two of them. When the younger boy turned eighteen they decided that they would all go to Fiji for a holiday before they settled down to finish University. Their plane went down between Fiji and Vanuatu. They were never located.  That’s part of why we’re here. Both of us had good jobs in the city. Clarrie was originally from the country but I was city through and through. But we couldn’t stay. Every time we went anywhere people were afraid to talk to us. Nobody knew what to say. So Clarrie did a course in farm management and got a few jobs as managers here and there and in the end we knew we wanted our own place. And that’s how we found Margany Station. It’s home now.”

She stopped talking and I said nothing. Often silence is the best thing.

“Oh but that sounded terrible,” she said suddenly. “This was your place for all your life and here am I going on about how it’s mine. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be silly. I know what you meant. Anyway I’m just thrilled to be here now. It stops me worrying about my friends over in Jersey.”

“That brings me to an idea I have about you and your friends. It is so good for Clarrie that he can talk to you and see you face to face. Why don’t I set it up so you can talk to your friends over there?”

“I don’t know Lois. There’s all the problems with time and things like when would we ever be awake together.”

“You let me think about that. Give me Molly’s phone number and Annie’s and I’ll work something out.”

… be continued

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