Sunday, 21 October 2012

A real "Greyfallows"

Not too many k's from where we live is this old mansion.   It's called Mintaro.  We didn't have it in mind for Greyfallows, because we didn't even know it was there!  It's just been placed on the market after the death of its owner.

Have a look at the photos--marble walls and ceilings, carvings, painted frescoes.    How beautiful it is!  It'll give you some idea of how we imagine "Greyfallows".

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Chapter 3, part 2

A Tang Dynasty Horse

The Tang Horse was one of three Chinese restaurants in Beauville and was her favourite.  The paintings of misty Chinese mountains, the softly twanging music, the spicy fragrances, all seemed exotic to her.  In the window was a reproduction of a green Tang dynasty horse and she liked to imagine she was somewhere far more interesting than her home town.  As usual, she took a table facing the street.  That way she could pretend she was in Paris, watching the passers-by, or some restaurant in Chinatown in San Francisco.  Anywhere rather than Beauville.  She ordered, as she always did, sweet and sour pork and green tea, and ate slowly, thinking all the time of good things, of her little cottage and its garden, of her life as a teacher, which she mostly loved and found deeply satisfying, and of her friends.  Even Jennifer, who could be so annoying, she knew, really cared about her and was always there for her when things were bad.
The bell on the restaurant door tinkled and she looked up to see who had come in.  She felt the blood drain from her face, and her stomach tighten into a knot.  It was Shane Campbell.  He appeared not to notice that she was there at first, and then, observing her, turned away suddenly, his features twisted into an odd expression.  Shane Campbell had been the great love of her life.  He had thick, curly brown hair, golden brown eyes and his broad, muscular body bore testament to his obsession with many different sports.  He had been captain of the school footy team.  She had been in love with him since she was fifteen.  He was a bit older than the others in the class, not because he'd been kept back, but because he'd started school later than usual.  This meant he was one of the first to get his P plates and to get a car.  He had worked hard at the local auto-mechanic in a part time job and saved enough to buy himself an old Holden Monaro sports car which he and his mates did up in the back yard and drove up and down the streets of Beauville.  The car had a deep burble and a huge engine and Shane was the envy of every male in the class and the adored object of every female.
She never showed him how much she fancied him.  Because of her shyness, she remained aloof.  She watched with wistful envy as he went after each of the gorgeous girls in class – Emma Pratchett, Laura Simpson, Chanelle Roberts, and the others who were all slim, with long, flowing hair and perfectly proportioned faces, and seemed so confident and glamorous and clever, and made little snide comments about her when she walked past.  These were the sort of girls Shane Campbell pursued.  Lucy knew she didn't stand a chance.  She stayed in the background, never speaking to him, never taking any notice of his bad-boy behaviour, or pandering to his arrogant assumption that he was the most important human being on earth.  None of his relationships seemed to last very long; perhaps three months as most.  Then the girl was ditched and Shane would walk with a little added swagger in his step into the classroom and start looking around for a new conquest. 
One day after school he came up to Lucy, where she was waiting at the gate for one of her friends. 
“Hey,” he grinned charmingly, and held her eyes with a warm, confiding gaze. 
“Hello, Shane,” she said expressionlessly, ignoring the powerfully muscled arm casually draped over the gate she was leaning against.  She had no intention of being added to the list of trophies taken by the bad boy of Beauville. 
“I saw you at the Rialto last Saturday.  What did you think of the movie?”
“It was Casablanca,” she muttered, “I've seen it a dozen times.”
“I love old movies too,” said Shane softly, his eyes travelling over her face.
“Really?” she said, feigning indifference, although her heart was beginning to pound a little harder in her breast.

A Holden Monaro HQ

“Yup.  Casablanca is one of my favourite films of all time.  Hey, I've got some jobs I need to take care of on Saturday arvo, how about you come along for the ride and we can maybe take in a movie afterwards?  Or whatever you'd like.  Go for a Coke, anything.”
So she did.  It was only much later that she discovered he hadn't even been into the cinema that day and didn't know who Humphrey Bogart was, in fact had never seen Casablanca.
He took her in his wonderful old coupé to a footy game in the next town of Mallaroo.  She found the game pretty boring, but he stood next to her the whole time, so close she could feel the warmth of his body, and after the game made disparaging comments about both teams and how much better he and his team would have played.  By then Lucy's sense of reality had diminished under his charms and she didn't see this for what it was – an arrogant and rather pathetic attempt to big-note himself.  She agreed with him and felt that this was the happiest moment of her life.  She was with the hero of the town, handsome, sexy, intelligent and thoughtful.  He even loved old movies for goodness' sake!  After the game he took her home in the winter dark and she was half disappointed, half pleased, that he didn't try anything with her but merely asked if she would like to come out with him next weekend and perhaps hang out with him at lunch time at school.
The crunch came on the fourth date.  They had gone through the early stages of kissing and petting but now he made it clear he wanted to go all the way.  Lucy was old-fashioned.  She believed that you shouldn't have sex before marriage unless it was with someone you were sure was the lifetime partner for you, and even then it somehow seemed wrong.  She resisted his sweet talk, and then his increasingly amorous and demanding advances.  She could see he was becoming angry, but also that he was a little intrigued.  Obviously none of the other girls had held out.
“Do you love me?” he whispered huskily, breathing into her ear.  She nodded, unable to speak.  “I love you very much,” he breathed, pulling back to gaze into her face, his brown eyes warm and filled with sincerity.  “Won't you do this for me,” he begged, “For our love?”  Still she refused, although she was hesitating.  He dropped his arms.  He drove her to the cottage and turned his face away when she wanted to give him a goodnight kiss.  That Monday at school he pretended not to know her when she joined him for lunch. This treatment continued all week. 
On Friday he said, “So would you like to come out tomorrow?”  Grateful for any crumb, she accepted at once.  The next night they sat in the car outside the takeaway diner.  Shane said, “I'm sorry I behaved so badly this week, but I really care for you and I was hurt.  Because you didn't want to prove you loved me.” That night she lost her virginity to him.  Their relationship lasted just as long as all the others.  But by then Lucy was hopelessly in love with him.  He dumped her one Thursday lunchtime in front of all his friends and all the other girls of the class.
“You're such a prissy, up-yourself bitch, Lucy,” he said offhandedly, his eyes sparkling with malice.  Foolishly, she stammered, “But you said you loved me.”
“Oh come on, Lucy!” he countered, “You're so not my type!  All those curls, those old-fashioned dresses.  You look like my auntie!  And anyway I prefer my women hot in bed.”  His friends sniggered.  “Seriously, you need to do something about yourself.  You wouldn't look so bad if you did something about your hair and stuff.”
Her eyes brimming with tears, trying desperately and failing to hold them back, Lucy stumbled away, as far as she could, to the other side of the playing fields, her cheeks burning, her heart torn in two.  She heard the word 'frigid' and a guffaw of laughter from the boys.
Shane had made a point, after that, of flaunting his new girl in Lucy's face.  He found someone in the neighbouring town to go out with him.  And later, when she heard that this girl, Rosa, the daughter of an Italian family, was pregnant, Lucy was saddened but not surprised.  Shane Campbell was married at nineteen and divorced at twenty-five, with three children, no career, no progress in life, no qualifications, no hope.  After his public humiliation of her she had made a point of ignoring him whenever she saw him.  She didn't have much, but she did have her pride.  She had told her mother about the whole thing and her mother had produced the usual platitudes – men only want one thing, you must hold out until you're married, why don't you find a nice boy with career prospects, and so on.  But even though Lucy never went near Shane again, she still loved him deep down.  His appearance in The Tang Horse spoiled her evening for her. Yet another reason to leave this dump, she thought, get far away from all these people.  At the same time, she felt trapped.
She heard the scrape of a chair at the table behind her.  The next minute Shane was standing next to her table.  He was alone.  She wondered at that.  She knew he had divorced, a messy divorce, but he was still good looking and probably just as charming as ever.  It surprised her that he was coming out to eat alone.
“May I join you?” he asked.  There was a flash of the old, warm charm, but his eyes were a little bloodshot, his shirt tighter around his belly.  Her eyes averted, she shook her head, pushed her plate to one side, rose, and leaving fifteen dollars at the cash register, left the restaurant, wondering if she would ever be able to return.  She was conscious of him staring through the plate glass window at her retreating back, and she thought, this has to be one of the worst weeks ever.

Next part  >>>

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Chapter 3, part 1

Near Tumut, oil, by Chris Huber

On Monday morning she had hardly made her cup of tea in the staffroom before Jennifer grabbed her arm and exclaimed excitedly, “Who do you think he is?”
“What on earth do you mean?” retorted Lucy impatiently.  She was in a bad mood and depressed, and Jennifer's bounciness could be very irritating.
“Him!” replied Jennifer, “Mr Handsome-who-sweeps-in-from-overseas-like-Lord-Muck and starts tarting up a house everyone else thinks should be bulldozed.”
“Well?” said Lucy, feigning a lack of interest.
Jennifer's eyes glittered, “He's Adam Montpellier, the famous pianist!”
Lucy was staggered.  She had heard Adam Montpellier play, on the radio.  She'd seen him on TV, and never would she have recognised him as the man who she'd met peering through the windows of her cottage.
“Why does she call himself Montpellier if his real name is Greyfallow?” asked Lucy, more to shut  Jennifer up and distract her than from any real desire to know.  I suppose, she thought to herself, that's why he's left.  He came here for peace and quiet and now that he's been found out, he's going away again.
“Montpellier,” said Jennifer, “Is his mother's name.  She was French, from some noble French family.  Come with me!”  She dragged Lucy off to her classroom and showed her the result of Google searches she'd made on the computer.
“What made you think about it?” asked Lucy, still trying to process the news.
“I thought I recognised him,” said Jennifer, “He seemed familiar and I racked and racked my brains,” (and Lucy knew just how much Jennifer could rack her brains), “before I came to school this morning – it nearly made me late – and so I started digging.”  And she produced a pile of printouts.  Lucy read, astonished, the news reports about Adam Greyfallow's life.  Everybody seemed to know him as Adam Montpellier and she wondered if he'd been ashamed of the Greyfallow name or whether he had had a falling out with his father.  She wondered if it had anything to do with the court case that had tied up the house for so long.  There he was, stepping out of limousines onto red carpets; there he was, taking a bow at the Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York.  There he was, in tuxedo, his hair an immaculate, gleaming black wing sweeping over his broad forehead, his eyes a glint of sapphire in the flash of a camera, with a gorgeous redhead on his arm.  And then there was the report of the terrible accident and the death of the lovely model, and the news that Adam Montpellier had disappeared, distraught with grief, three months before.  There had been reports of sightings from places as far apart as Buenos Aires in Argentina, Dublin in Ireland and Calcutta in India –  but none of them was verified.
Lucy felt her heart go out to Adam.  He must have withdrawn from the world because of his terrible grief.  But she felt her own heart break a little too, because she knew that now she had to face up to the fact that he'd come and gone, and that even if he ever came back, he could never love someone like her.
Lucy was in a low mood for the rest of the day, thinking how someone interesting had finally come to Beauville and then gone away for good.  She tried hard not to snap at the children during class, but somehow they seemed to sense that she was in trouble and behaved much worse than usual.  In the end she had a shouting match with Tommy Morrison, the alpha male in her Year 8 class, and afterwards felt sickened and embarrassed by the whole thing.  It was so unlike her.  After she got home to her little cottage she went and stood outside, looking up towards the great house and wondering if, in fact, it ever would be a home again, with people, the laughter of children, parties and music, lights shining from the tall windows at night. 
She went inside and decided that she had to do something to take her mind off the mood she was in and the facts she faced.  She decided to turn out a cupboard and found that in the process of cleaning, dusting, killing redbacks, and laying down new, fresh paper on the shelves, she felt much better.  When she stood back and saw the freshly folded towels and linen she felt much calmer inside.  She decided, on the back of this improved mood, to go out for dinner.  She could have done her own internet searches for the news of Adam Montpellier, but she concluded that it was a bad thing for her to dwell on what would never be.  With a sense of virtuous satisfaction, she showered and changed and drove into Beauville.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Chapter 2, part 2

But he smiled.
“Well, that would be lovely.  And now, may I offer you a cup of tea?  We have the luxury of electricity!”  And he indicated an orange cable that ran from a power post beyond the house to a makeshift table constructed of some wooden crates where there was a kettle and a mug.  “We have water, too,” he said, “So I can offer you some tea.  It won't be Spode, though!”  And she saw on the crate some cheap china mugs.
“I should be delighted,” she replied, echoing his phrase from the week before, even though the mugs weren't the cleanest.   Lucy decided to accept his offer.  She felt, despite herself, happiness building inside her, because he treated her like a friend.  She told herself not to be silly, because she wanted him to treat her like a lover, but maybe that was unreachable, and maybe the best thing she could have was his friendship.  While the tea was drawing – and this time it really was teabags in mugs – he took her along the balustraded verandah and she pointed out the sights of the town to him.

The Campaspe River by T F Levick

“That's where I went to school,” she said, “Beauville College.  I teach there now.  And that's where I broke my wrist when I fell off my bicycle.”
He looked amusedly at her.
“Were you a bit of a tomboy?” he asked.
“No,” she replied thoughtfully, “But I was a bit of a loner and was always in a hurry to get from one place to another.”
“What do you teach?”
“Quite a few things, actually.  I trained to teach English, but then we did Hamlet as a school play and I was roped in to do that, so then they gave a few drama classes to teach and because I did some music, now they've got me teaching the primary grades choir.”
“What music did you study?” he asked quietly, not looking at her.
“Oh, you know.  The sort of thing one does at school,” – where you have hopes – “guitar and a bit of piano and singing.”
“Did you consider studying music further?”
“No,” replied Lucy, “to be a professional musician, you have to be the very best.  Second best isn't good enough.  And I wasn't even second-best.  But I do have a lot of fun.  The littlies enjoy singing so much, and I'm good with them.”
“Yes,” he answered with a smile, but his thoughts obviously elsewhere, “I'm sure you are.” 
Stop prattling like a lovesick schoolgirl, Lucy urged herself.  There was an awkward silence.
“Come and look at the swimming pool,” he said, and carrying their mugs they set off around the back of the house.  Set in the ground was an enormous swimming pool lined with mosaic.  It was filled with gum tree leaves, strips of bark and a thicket of fallen twigs and small branches.
“I don't know,” he said, “Whether I'll have to pull the whole thing out and start afresh or whether we can patch the cracks.  Come and look at this,” he said.  He held out his hand and helped her step down into the shallow end.  She felt the warmth of his hand sent a thrill up her arm.  It was so strong and yet the fingers were fine-boned, not delicate, but elegant.  She had to search for the word, and elegant summed them up perfectly.  Yet they were also very manly and strong.  He had cleared away a few of the leaves on the floor of the pool, and there, set into the concrete was a mosaic pattern of a mermaid.  “I think,” he said, “The whole pool is probably decorated with these 1920 images.  It would be wonderful to be able to fix it and to have this 80 or 90 year old pool in use again.”
Lucy couldn't help wondering why he'd come to Beauville, because it looked to her as though the inheritance of the house was more or less worthless – he would have to spend as much on it again as it was worth, and probably (she thought back to the ripped up floorboards) even more.  What was it that brought him here?  Why did he hole himself up in a small Australian country town far from the bright lights of the world?  She was sure that someone like him – handsome, capable, and wealthy – would be the darling of the cocktail party circuits and parties everywhere, from Hollywood to Paris.  And yet, here he was, being nice to her, Lucy Grady, with freckles on her nose, and hair that no matter what she did didn't look glamorous and soignée.  She was too scared to ask him in case it made him think, so she just accepted it, but later that night as she lay in bed reading a cheap thriller she thought about it and wondered.
The next morning was a Saturday, which was, of all days in the week, Lucy's favourite.  She would treat herself to a latte at the Blue Velvet Café on the High Street, and she would go and browse through the second-hand bookshop and see if they had any books of the authors she was fond of.  If the day wasn't too hot she would take a packet of sandwiches and walk along the river listening to the currawongs and the magpies trilling in the gum trees.

But that Saturday was ruined, because shortly after nine o'clock she saw Adam driving very fast in his black Lamborghini down the driveway from the big house, and when he turned out of the gate he headed, not towards Beauville, but in the direction of the freeway that led to Melbourne.  She immediately felt that he had given the whole project up forever and that she would never see him again.  Well of course he's left, she thought bitterly to herself.  She wanted to leave.  And someone as glamorous and sophisticated as Adam would never want to stay in such a dump.  Somehow coffee at the Blue Velvet Café and a morning spent browsing dusty books in an old bookshop lost all pleasure.  She heard, later, from one of the builders whom she knew because his kid brother was at the Beauville College, that Adam had gone back to Melbourne and they didn't know when he would return.

Next episode >>>>