by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 4

Bindi, Irma, Belle & Ari

Edgar, the owner of the cabin in the forest was a well-fed, cautious man a few years younger than Stephen. He lived alone in a large old house a couple of streets from his friend. His minivan started first time and sounded in excellent condition. Jarek promised to take great care of it and perform any maintenance required. They decided to pick it up on the following Sunday to have it ready to ferry the boys on Monday morning. Edgar gave Jarek a second set of keys to the cabin, a plan of drains and water reticulation, a brochure about using the composting toilet, and a warning not to waste the rainwater, suggesting swims instead of showers. Waving away thanks, he insisted he was pleased the place was being used and refrained from reminding the young men not to damage anything; trusting his old friend Stephen to have chosen carefully.

Stephen accompanied them out to Jarek's ute. 'You have to do all the driving of the minibus when transporting the boys, Jarek,' he reminded them. 'And Zeno must remain at the cabin. Gossip spreads and we don't want a parent to recognise him and demand not to have an expelled student in charge of their kids. And remember, you must know the whereabouts of every boy at all times, day and night! This is absolutely your number one responsibility!'

'One that I'll make sure we don't fail,' Zeno assured him.

'Jarek, I'll follow you and the first load of boys up to the cabin on the first day, so the parents can see I'm ultimately responsible, and I'd like to visit this week while you're preparing the place, to discuss your programs and anything else that crops up. OK?'

'Very OK! You're welcome anytime at all, no need to phone first. It'll be great to see you.'

They shook hands warmly. Stephen returned to the warmth of his friend's company and the two young men drove back to the place Jarek was sharing with his girlfriend, Bindi. A beat up little Toyota was listing in the drive of an uninspiring weatherboard house in dire need of paint. They parked on the street and conferred.

'This is going to be difficult.'


'Because I'm taking all my gear and leaving immediately. Clean break. However, Bindi can be difficult, so promise you'll stick close?'

'No worries, mate. I'll watch your back. Got much gear?'

'Couple of suitcases, laptop, tramping gear… a fair swag, we'll just dump it all in the back of the ute and sort it later.'

'You're shaking.'

'Terrified. As I said, she thinks we're getting married.'

'I thought you'd told her to forget it.'

'I tried, but she's a leech. Like my mother and sisters she ignores everything she doesn't want to hear, then insists I've agreed with her. If I continue to disagree they start crying! I absolutely need you with me, Zeno. I've never learned to deal with women, especially when they cry. I know it's just a ploy, that they are only mad, not sad, that they're exploiting my weakness but...'

'Stop worrying, I'm tough. If I see you wavering I'll step in. OK?'

'You're a real mate, Zeno.'

A missile struck Jarek on the forehead as he opened the door.

'Where the fuck have you been? I've been calling you for the last hour? You know we've a party tonight at Angie's!'

Zeno gazed in astonishment at the tall, shapeless young woman. Frizzy hair dyed an improbable black, apparently to match the lace bra and panties that failed to arouse any feelings of lust in her audience. Arms akimbo, face a menacing snarl, she looked formidable indeed.

'Who the fuck are you?' she snarled.

Jarek groaned and slid down to sit on the floor, blood streaming from a cut. Zeno knelt and cradled the head.

'Get some disinfectant and a plaster for goodness sake! Jarek's hurt.'

'Don't you speak English? Who the fuck are you?'

'A friend.'

She glared at his school uniform. 'Christ he's getting desperate making friends with school kids.' She flounced away, returning a few seconds later with a wet, less than pristine rag. 'Haven't got any plasters. It's not deep. Tie a hanky round it and get out. Jarek's got some explaining to do and we're late.'

'You'll have to ring and cancel, Jarek's not going anywhere, something's come up and he's moving out tonight.'

'What do you mean moving out?' Her voice changed gear from a penetrating whine to a razor sharp snarl. 'We're getting engaged tonight and he's not getting out of that.'

Jarek groaned. 'Change of plan, my darling. You and I are history, and if you make any more trouble I'll be suing for assault.'

'Assault? You stupid prick, it was only my coffee cup. Hey, come on,' she cajoled, kneeling and pressing her tits against his head. 'Come on, a girl's more attractive for a bit of temperament. You've always said you admired my fire.'

'That doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my life getting burnt.' Jarek shoved her aside and stood. 'Come on Zeno, I need your muscle.'

Bindi threw herself onto Jarek's back, clawing at his neck. He shook her off angrily and shoved her against a wall. She burst into tears.

'Ignore her,' Jarek said as if trying to convince himself. 'Women cry for only two reasons, pity for themselves or to get what they want. They have no emotions other than selfishness.'

After a few minutes of hammering on the door and screaming abuse, Bindi apparently gave up and silence reigned.

It took twenty minutes to pack all Jarek's gear into a couple of holdalls and some cartons he had stored above the wardrobe. Arms full of boxes they were confronted just before the front door by Bindi and Irma Medlar, the teacher who'd defended Ms Nimffo against Zeno's charge of rape. Her jaw dropped on seeing the expelled student.

'What's that rapist doing here?' she snapped. 'And what do you think you're doing, Schwartz? Got cold feet or just a typical male? Use an innocent young woman then dump her as soon as you're sick of her?'

'What the fuck's it got to do with you, you scrawny cow?' Jarek snarled. 'Keep your pointy nose out of my affairs.'

'When a sister is being swindled by a male chauvinist pig it becomes the affair of all the sisters. You've promised to marry Bindi, and marry her you will, even if we have to drag you trussed and screaming to the registry office!'

'I've never promised any such thing!'

'Scum! Bindi told everyone at the sister's meeting at least five weeks ago that you had proposed. There are fifteen women prepared to swear to that fact, so get used to it, mister.'

'Why would you want to marry someone who doesn't love you, let alone want to marry you?' Zeno asked Bindi in genuine surprise.

'Shut up, pervert!' Irma Medlar snarled. 'Men are useless fucks whose sole purpose is to fertilise women and provide for them and their children. Their bodies are ugly, their minds puerile, their desires vulgar, and their interests selfish. In a well-organised world men would be discarded the second they're no longer useful; and trust me, Schwartz, if you don't do the right thing by Bindi you'll be discarded long before your use-by date.'

'Is that a threat, Irma?'

'Take it as you want.'

Jarek turned to Bindi. 'Is this how you think about me, and all men?'

'Of course,' the young woman's tone lacked conviction. 'I'm not as smart as you, so you fooled me for a while, but when Irma invited me to join the Women's War, I realised what an idiot I've been—how you've used me.'

'I used you? You're lazy and sluttish and won't even clean up after yourself. I've paid the rent on this place and for all the food. Your contribution's been mess in every room, unwashed underwear, and frequent bad tempers.'

Bindi burst into tears, subsiding into deep sobs, apparently wracked with misery. Irma wrapped her arms round her friend and whispered into her ear.

'I'm pregnant,' Bindi announced sullenly, staring at her feet.

'If you are, it isn't mine.'

'Don't try to weasel out of this, Jarek Schwartz!' Irma snarled.

Jarek lifted Bindi's chin and looked her in the eyes. 'Are you?'


Jarek's voice was sad. 'You've had far more from me than I've ever had from you, Bindi. I don't resent it, I earn more than you and I'm a couple of years older. Surely you can see we have no future together?'

'No!' she wailed. 'I want to get married!'

'Then do so, but it won't be to me. Tomorrow I'm telling the agent I'm leaving. There's still a week's rent paid in advance, so if you want to stay on after that you'll have to go in and sign up in your name. You can use my bond, or keep it if you leave, so don't tell me I'm selfish.'

'You're a brute! Schwartz,' Irma hissed.

'Come on, Zeno.' They picked up their gear and carried it out to the ute. It took three trips to clear everything watched by the malevolent eyes of the women. As Jarek stood for the last time in the doorway he turned to Bindi and said sincerely, 'Don't listen to poisonous people like Irma, Bindi. She's sour and embittered because no man will have her. You aren't a bad person and will find the right man soon.'

'Jarek Schwartz,' Irma hissed, 'you are a selfish, egotistical, cruel man and I hope something dreadful happens to you.'

'Be careful with curses you venomous witch, they've a habit of returning to haunt you.'

Instead of appreciating Jarek's generosity, Bindi stood on the front steps while they finished loading the ute, screaming insults about his minute attributes, pathetic performance in bed and accusations that he was a fucking faggot screwing his pupil. Neighbours on both sides were peering out their windows enjoying the entertainment as Jarek and Zeno drove away.

There was plenty of space in the driveway of Zeno's house. They parked and sat in embarrassed silence.

'Sorry about that.'

'Not your fault.'

'As for that dreadful creature, Irma Medlar, what did she mean by calling you a rapist?'

'Tell you later. It's a lie. Stephen knows all about it. It's the reason I'm working with you instead of going back to school.

'I see. At least I don't, but I'm guessing it's not as bad as what you've just witnessed.'

'Bindi's not the sort of woman I imagined you'd be living with.'

'Nor me. I rented the house, then advertised for someone to share the rent. She had a boyfriend so I imagined it wouldn't get complicated. Then he shot through about a year ago and she came to my bed for consolation. She was a good fuck at the beginning, I'll give her that. Then a few months ago she got clucky. Reckoned she was pregnant. We've never had unprotected sex, but you never know if a condom's leaked, so I bought a test kit and forced her to use it. She wasn't. But continuing demands that we get married and have a baby, set alarm bells clanging and I've never toucher her since. So if she is up the duff it isn't mine. I wanted to move out earlier but couldn't find a place for just seven weeks till the end of term. Stephen's offer of these camps for the boys is a lifesaver. I haven't told her about it and Stephen promised he wouldn't tell her where I was, so we should be safe.'

'Medlar will know!'

'Yes, that is a worry.'

'I reckon you're a bit generous to Bindi. She's as nasty a bit of work as Medlar, in my opinion. Shouting down the street that you were screwing your pupils. That could get you in deep shit. Especially if you have been.'

'Keep that up and you'll be screwed good and proper, young man!'

'Mmm… can't wait. Meanwhile, where are you sleeping tonight?'

'In the back of the ute, I'm used to it every weekend when I go bush.'

'Did Bindi go with you?'

'Only once. Hated every minute. Moaned the entire time. Resented my going too after a while. Shit! The thought of marrying that woman makes my blood run cold.'

'How's your head?'

'It's nothing. Are you OK? Have you told your parents you've been expelled?'

'Nope. They're easy about things, but not easy to talk to because they never listen. Tend to leap in with their wishes or opinions before you've finished. Dad spends three weeks out of four up country at the mine. Mum refuses to let me go back to live with Grandma next year, insisting I stay with her for company. She'll have no choice now I've been expelled. This time it's me who needs your moral support. Come on.

An imposing, buxom woman in a short skirt several sizes too small and a blouse exposing a cleavage that reminded Jarek of her son's magnificent butt, came onto the verandah to see who's vehicle had pulled in.

'Ah! It's you, Zeno. Where have you been? I've been trying to contact you all day. You're late for dinner.' Bright blue eyes lit on Jarek and the frown dissolved, the face lit up, bright red lips smiled, and a pleasant contralto demanded to be introduced to the handsome young man.'

'Mum, this is Jarek. Jarek, this woman wearing too much lipstick and too few clothes is my mother.' Zeno muttered irritably.

His mother merely tinkled a good-natured laugh.

'How do you do, Mrs. Paigann,' Jarek said nervously.

'Welcome, Jarek. I'm Belle,' Mrs. Paigann's smile was shrewd as she offered a plump hand decorated with several chunky silver rings. 'Oh! Poor man. You've hit your head. Come inside. Zeno, go fetch disinfectant, a bandage, some plasters and your father.'

'Out of the frying pan into the fire,' Zeno grinned at Jarek as his mother took hold of her visitor's head and pressed it to her bosom, practically burying his nose in her cleavage while conducting a thorough examination of the wound. Releasing the gasping young man she patted the chaise longue beside her.

'Come and sit beside me,' she said slyly. 'You're the first friend Zeno has brought home since coming to this place. Have you always lived round here? Have you brothers and sisters? How old are you? You must be the handsome one of the family?'

'No, yes, twenty-five, and I'm the ugly one,' Jarek laughed. 'I was just…'

Whatever he was going to say was interrupted by Zeno returning with a first aid kit and his father. Mr. Paigann looked like a classic ascetic—tall and slim with a long nose, hollow cheeks, hooded eyes and a sensitive mouth that needed a good reason to smile. Like the greyhounds he resembled, he ate sparingly and only when necessary. His habit of bestowing his undivided attention on whomever he was talking with, tended to make them not only loquacious but also nervously honest in gratitude at being listened to for a change.

'Dad, this is Jarek. Biology, physics and physical education guru at school.'

Mr. Paigann turned a penetrating gaze on his guest and smiled softly. 'You are very welcome, Jarek. I'd given up hope of Zeno making a friend in this place.'

'Jarek's hurt,' Belle interrupted before Jarek could transfer his attention to her husband. She held out her hand and Zeno passed a cloth moistened in warm water and disinfectant with which she lightly swabbed the wound.

'It's not serious, a plaster will do,' she decided, taking one from Zeno then accidentally dropping it on the floor. Bending to retrieve it, her right breast escaped the insufficient confines of her blouse and swung free. Apparently unaware, she dragged Jarek's head forward again and applied the dressing before sitting back, nonchalantly tucking the tit back into place.

Jarek wasn't sure how to react, especially as neither Zeno nor his father seemed to think anything unusual had happened. Feeling out of his depth and lost for words, he just smiled.

'How did you get the wound?' Mr. Paigann asked.

As Jarek was still lost for words, Zeno explained. 'His girlfriend threw her coffee mug at him when she realised he was dumping her this afternoon. I was there. It was awesome.'

'Goodness, how terrible for you' Belle sympathised. 'Where will you stay now?'

'I'm fixed, thanks,' Jarek replied with a strained smile.

'Well, if you need anything, you've only to ask.' Turning to her son she took both his hands in hers and in the tone of a penitent said pleadingly, 'Zeno, darling. I wonder if we've been a little thoughtless demanding that you remain here next year. Do you still want to stay with Grandma?'

Zeno burst out laughing. 'OK Mum, what's changed your mind? Don't tell me you're also sick of living in the arse hole of the universe.'

'Well, I have to admit that's part of the reason, the rest is that Ari's been offered a beautiful house only a few hours' drive from the mine, so as I'm sick of seeing my husband only one week in four, I'm going with him. Unfortunately, there will be no suitable school for you, so as it seems stupid to go to the expense of a boarding school, we thought…'

'Send the nuisance back to his grandmother,' Zeno grinned. 'Yes, I still want to go back, so that's fine. When do you want to move?'

'I know it seems selfish, but the sooner the better for my sanity. Of course I wouldn't consider leaving you in the lurch. How long till the end of term?'

'Seven weeks.'

Her face fell.

'However, this is your lucky day, mother dear, Jarek and I have been asked to take groups of junior boys for week-long camps in the rainforest, starting tomorrow, so I'll not be here anyway.'

'Hold fire there, Son,' His father's face was severe. 'What about schoolwork and exams?'

'I'll complete them up there and Jarek will invigilate.'

'Is that true, Jarek?' Ari interrupted.

'Yes, Mr. Paigann. There's no worry about that.'

'Call me Ari.'


'What about all your stuff?' Belle demanded. 'What'll we do with that?'

'I won't be needing much at the camp—there's no electricity for a start, so when you get the movers in to help you shift, ask them to pack up all my gear and forward it to Grandma's.

Belle sighed contentedly. 'How astonishingly fortunate. So, this is your last night in the arse hole of the universe?'


'Will you stay to dinner, Jarek?'

'If you're sure it's no trouble, thanks.'

'Where did you find this delightful young man, Zeno? I thought politeness was extinct. So, Jarek, you'll also be leaving town. Where did you say you were spending the night?'

'I didn't.'

'I noticed.'

'Mum, Stop being so nosy.'

'Why? How can I learn anything if I don't ask questions?'

'There's no point in resistance, Jarek,' Mr. Paigann laughed, 'when the grand inquisitor gets her claws into you.'

Jarek couldn't repress a laugh. 'I'll sleep in the back of my ute.'

'You can't, Jarek,' Zeno said. 'It's totally full of all your junk. You're staying in the house.'

'Excellent. I'll make up the spare bed.'

'No, Mum, it's stupid to dirty sheets for one night; he can sleep with me.'

Belle frowned.

Ari's soft voice broke the silence. 'Belle, stop being obtuse. Jarek and our son are lovers.'

Blood pounded in Jarek's ears, Zeno felt unable to breathe. They both flushed deep crimson but no words of denial arrived.

'Is that so, Zeno?' his mother asked hopefully.

'How did you guess, Dad?'

'I never guess, I observe and draw conclusions. Your tone of voice when introducing Jarek indicated that he was special to you. His reactions when faced with the formidable breasts of my forever flirting wife, indicated disillusion with feminine charms. You are both relaxed with each other in a way that mere friends seldom are. You smile at each other more often than is usual, obviously share a secret, and you have never been seriously interested in girls.'

Zeno stared at him in amazement.

'Ha! That surprised you, didn't it? I know I sometimes appear uninterested in your affairs, but that's because I'm committed to non-interference in your life and choices, and today I've been vindicated. Without parental interference you have chosen the right sexual path for yourself, and a partner for whom I already have respect.' He sat back in his chair, smugly pleased with himself.

'Goodness. How clever of you, Ari. Oh, I do feel silly teasing you like that, Jarek. I'm not really a tart, you know.'

'I didn't think for one instant you were, Belle. I think you're delightful, and it explained how Zeno learned to charm and seduce.'

'You mean I'm not charming and seductive?' Ari rumbled from his chair.

'Of course you are,' Jarek laughed, 'but in a different way.'

'How different?'

'Dad! Stop tormenting him!'

'He isn't, Zeno. He's wonderful,' Jarek laughed. 'You're dry and academic on the surface, Ari, but witty and down to earth underneath. Zeno has been very lucky with his parents.'

'And your parents must be lovely to have raised you, Jarek,' Belle interjected. 'Come on, wash your hands everyone and get to the table, it's an hour past the time I like to eat and I'm starving.'

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