Brownsville Tales, Jayden & Cade
One time, a long time ago, Mrs. Paterson's Infants Class, from Brownsville Central Primary School, went for an outing to the Erua Lagoon Nature Walk at the edge of the town. They went down there in a bus and a couple of cars and they assembled at the starting point.
Mrs. Paterson had considered cancelling or postponing the outing because of the lack of support; only two parent-volunteers had turned-up to help her. But she decided to go ahead rather than disappoint the children. Also, it was a lovely sunny day, so it'd be nice to get out in the fresh air for a while.
It was a well-defined track they were going on, level and easy with wooden boardwalks above the water here and there. The kids were all very young, fit and healthy and they needed regular activity to get rid of some of all the energy.
There were 23 children so that was, roughly, 8 kids for each adult to keep an eye on. What could go wrong? (Famous last words!)
The kids were lined-up in eleven pairs and a spare and, with one parent leading the way and the other bringing-up the rear, they started off. As they were all very young, the boys chose to walk with boys and girls with girls, of course.
Some were more excited than others so, as soon as they started walking, the line was long and strung-out. With all the tight curves in the bush-surrounded track, only a few kids could be seen at any one time.
Less than halfway along the track, there was a point where the boardwalk was over the edge of the lagoon on the right-hand side. Jayden Collis and Dave Fortune came around the corner and saw Cade Caldwell struggling and trying to fight off three boys who were about to push him off the side. He was crying and the others were laughing and jeering.
"Hey! That's not fair!" Jayden was outraged and he rushed forward to help. Dave Fortune went a couple of steps forward, then stopped, turned around and rushed back to find his mother who was somewhere behind them.
"Let go of him!" Jayden yelled and that was all the warning that Richard McGovern got before the smaller boy slammed into him and knocked him off the boardwalk and into the waist-deep, muddy, water.
The other two immediately forgot about Caldwell and turned on Jayden, trying to throw him in as well. He was not as easy a target as Cade was, he was bigger and stronger too and he wasn't going easily. However, it was two on to one so it would only be a matter of time before he was in the water.
But Cade was still there and he was mad enough to do something, so he did – he shoved Brandon Kirk off the boardwalk and into the drink. (Not that anybody would drink the dirty stuff). The third would-be bully now found himself alone with the odds of two to one against him, so he did the logical thing – he jumped in with his mates.
Mrs. Fortune turned-up just in time to see this and she dropped down to help lift the kids back up to the boardwalk. "Dave, run up to the front and get Mrs. Paterson. What happened here, Cade?"
Jayden answered. He shrugged and said, "They fell in. Come on, Cade." He took hold of his elbow and they carried on along the walk.
The outing was cut short and the school never did find out what had really happened because, of course, no-one told them. It was decided that it was just boys being boys – they were fooling around and some of them fell in.
From that day on, Jayden and Cade were the best of friends. They both lived in town, just around the corner from each other, so they were inseparable at school and away from it as well.
Years went past and everybody grew – everybody except for the adults, they just got older. Cade grew faster than Jayden did, by 9 years old he was the tallest in their class and gangly with it. Jayden was shorter and stockier but still the stronger of the two.
Not that that worried them much, they were good friends and they never fought with each other – well, not much. They were still boys after all.
They were in and out of each other's houses, as best friends often are and were readily accepted by both families. They were even both included in family outings and holidays. The two boys together were easily entertained, they amused each other and they were a pain when separated.
All of their parents agreed, Jayden and Cade were good for each other, they should've been brothers and they almost were. They lived happily ever after, until it all fell apart four years later.
A Head-Hunter came to town and Colin's father was his target. Ian Caldwell was a mining engineer and a good one too. His reputation had spread far and wide until the company developing a new mine in West Australia heard of him and decided that he was just the man they wanted.
He wasn't keen at first, but the Recruiting Officer was very persuasive, to be in at the beginning of a major new industry was exciting and challenging and the money being offered was too good to say no to. So he didn't – he said yes and they were shifting to the West Australian outback.
Cade's reaction to the news was interesting. He was not happy about it and he didn't want to go, but he didn't protest by screaming and yelling like most nine year-olds would. He was much more gracious than that.
"I don't like it, but of course you have to go. It's too big a chance for Dad to miss it. Could I stay here and live with Jayden's family? No? Well, can we take Jayden with us?"
"No, we couldn't. Jayden has got his own family and he belongs here with them."
"Yes, I'm sure. That's just the way it is. We're sorry, Cade."
"Oh. I'm sorry too. I'll go around and tell Jayden now."
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, Mum. It's better if it's just me. He's probably going to cry and so am I. I'll go and do it now."
His father said, "I know it's hard, but there'll be other friends in your life."
"Maybe there will, but there's only one Jayden. I'll be back soon."
Jayden reacted to the news in a much more normal way – he hit the roof! He screamed and yelled and said that they weren't having it – they'd run away and live together in the bush and fuck the lot of them!
Cade grabbed him and held him and they cried on each other's shoulders – the only time he'd actually seen Jayden really cry. Both of them felt like they were losing a brother.
They had less than a month, which was barely enough time to say goodbye, to promise to write regularly and to vow and declare that they'd be together again one day.
On the morning they left Cade showed that graciousness again. His parents took him around to Jayden's house to say goodbye on their way out of town. They knew they were coming, so all of the family came outside when they pulled up in the drive.
Jayden was there, of course, with his mother and father and his grandfather, his father's father. Even his two older brothers and his younger sister were there waiting to say goodbye.
His parents, brother and sister all said general goodbyes to everyone, but Cade went along the line and spoke to each one individually. At last he came to Jayden. "I'm not saying goodbye to you."
"You're not? Why not?"
"Because I'm not – no goodbyes, just 'I'll see you later.' Thanks, Jayden, for everything, so far."
"Yeah!" Jayden grinned through his tears. "So far. Thank you too, you're a good mate and I'm going to miss you – so much!"
"Yeah, me too." Cade smiled sadly. He offered his hand, like the grown-ups do, but Jayden was having none of that – he grabbed him and hugged him and cried on his shoulder.
"I love you, Bro."
"Yeah, I know. I love you too. I always have. Laters, Jayden – until next time."
"Yeah, next time."
Cade was trying very hard to contain himself. Jayden didn't make it easy, he wasn't trying at all. He grabbed him again and sobbed and bawled loudly – which was not right for a boy to do. Much to his relief, Jayden's mother took him from him and held him. He smiled and nodded his thanks, got back into the car and closed the door.
They could still hear Jayden wailing as they drove away.
Mrs. Caldwell looked back at her quiet boy in the back seat. "You all right, Cade?"
"I'm okay. Thanks, Mum."
He was quiet and lifeless and she worried. It was a relief when she looked back again, a couple of minutes later, and she saw quiet tears sliding down his cheeks. At least he wasn't bottling-up his emotions.
She felt so sorry for the kid. All of the rest of the family were excited about the adventure, but not him. He just looked so sad, like his world was ending – which it was, in a way.
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