Damien. Pt 3
Damien, Stephanie's older brother, was out watering the garden.Reluctantly.Defiantly and occasionally squirting the old lab who was trying to catch a small lizard scuttling across the path. Like Stephanie,Damien was in his mother's bad books. Not quite as bad-his only misdemenour had been to flick breadcrumbs across the table. Aimed at Stephanie, they had unfortunately landed in his grandfather's martini.
Pulling the hose after him, Damien scrambled up the tree, his favourite thinking spot for many years. He was feeling a bit lonely since Steph had become immersed in all that Russian stuff.Forever rattling on about some Baba Yaga. And that girl with the frizzy hair, Olga. He aimed the hose at the scampering dog again for good measure, flattening a few daisies in the process, gave up and went off to catch up on some overdue homework. He mused over some possible and some impossible excuses and as quickly dismissed them.
Back in his room, he emptied his pockets onto the desk. Not a lot. He wasn't the sort of boy with bits of string and bus tickets. Just a couple of phone numbers of girls he didn't fancy calling anyhow. What he did have was an old coin he had picked up in the sand while visiting the submarines at Neutral Bay. Many years ago. His father was in the Navy and occasionally Damien was able to go to the mess with him. The coin had always been his good luck charm and he always patted it before he went out to bat. It certainly worked because Damien was the star batter in his year.
He gazed at it again and gave it a rub. At the same time several years of High school History came to fruition. The thought occurred that probably this was a very old coin. His curiosity was awakened.
The following Monday was mid term break. His parents, Hilary and James, had left for overseas, leaving them in the care of Chrissie, who had lit up a Marlboro as soon as the Mercedes had left the driveway. Stephanie had taken it into her head to take lessons on the balalaika, necessitating a trip to the Eastern Suburbs so it was easy to convince Chrissie to drop him off at the State Library on the way. Hilary would be proud when she heard of this new initiative he thought.
The librarian was neither helpful nor very interested, and it seemed to Damien that she was taking the easy way out when she sent him next door to the Mitchell Library. Here he was taken seriously! Out came a pile of reference books, and the librarian, who looked as if he spent his entire life in the dark, tackled them with enthusiasm and persistence and endless chatter.
Damien was starting to wish he had stayed at home either tucked up under the doona or with the X Box or even ringing those girls! Suddenly the librarian pushed back his glasses."Look" he said, " Just look!" There was a picture of Damien's coin. "Russian. Circa 1800" continued the librarian. The old archivist explained how the Russians had reached Australia on 16/6/1807
and had come ashore in the vicinity of NEUTRAL BAY! where all the foreign ships docked. The captain, who spoke 6 languages, had been perspicacious enough to foretell Australia's strategic location to China and the posssibility of trade in the future.Maybe he had emptied his pockets on the beach, into the sand.
Damien pocketed his treasure and sauntered down Martin Place to catch a train home.Because he was the strong silent type, he was smiling to himself. His heart was full with his discovery and the pleasure and the achievement. The only question was...should he share this? or keep it to himself to relish. To pat each time he went into bat. To share might be to lose its power. Or perhaps it would give him an entree to Stephanie's new friends and interests? It was a decision he would have to make back up the gum tree.