Liam and Samira

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    For those who have read The Mulberry Tree you may remember Dirk having met up with his friend Liam, one of his former workmates, who had expressed a vague desire to follow in Dirk’s footsteps. In this short story we catch up with Liam and find out what he’s up to.

    (b) LIAM and SAMIRA (/b)

    Liam stood aside at the foot of the stairs and after allowing two young ladies to pass and ascend ahead of him began climbing towards the first floor lounge of the Metropolitan hotel on the corner of Sydney’s Bridge and George Streets. Thirty minutes early for his appointment with his friends Greg and Sue but with nothing else to do he decided that having a drink whilst he waited would be as good a way as any to pass the time, and with any luck he might even find an empty table for them all to sit at when the pair arrived. Unfortunately he was out of luck as it being five-thirty on a Friday evening when most office workers had finished for the day and were looking forward to the weekend all the tables were occupied.
    He ordered a Scotch and Dry and after picking up his glass looked around the bar and saw that the two young ladies who had preceded him up the stairs had probably been the two who had snared the last empty table available. They appeared to be waiting for companions as their jackets were draped over the backs of the two vacant chairs there, however they were each nursing a glass of what appeared to Liam to be Brandy Alexanders. Having worked part-time as a cocktail barman he would be likely to know, though at the moment it was such a popular drink for ladies that perhaps anyone could have guessed that correctly.
    One of the girls was a tall, long-legged, fair-skinned and blue-eyed blonde whereas her friend was almost the opposite, being not so tall – though not really short either – with brown eyes, almond skin and raven-black hair. She appeared to be of Indian descent, or partly at least, although when she spoke it was in a very correct English manner leading Liam to think that perhaps she was also a recent arrival from the old country.
    He wasn’t exactly eavesdropping however from the snatches of conversation he picked up he was able to work out that the blonde had apparently set up her friend for a date with an acquaintance of her boyfriend. She had never met the bloke herself, she’d admitted, but had been assured by her boyfriend Barry that he was an OK kind of guy and that Sam would probably like him.
    Mid-way through his drink two young men arrived at the head of the stairs and after sighting the two girls one of them gave a wave towards their table then the two proceeded to the bar to order a couple of beers. It was obvious to Liam that one of them had already sunk a few glasses before arriving and after that one had looked at the table and growled “Are you setting me up with a (i)Curry-Muncher?”(/i) rightly guessed that the blind date would not turn out be a good one.
    “Her name’s Samira. Her father’s a Brit though her mother immigrated to England from India as a teenager,” said the other. “She’s lived most of her life in London and doesn’t have any trace of an accent at all; In fact she speaks like a well educated upper-class Englishwoman.”
    “Still a Wog in my book. Got a good set of jugs by the looks of it though,” he added whilst leering hard and fixedly at the girl’s ample breasts which were covered by a slightly sheer blouse, “so it might not be a complete waste of a night. You reckon she puts out?”
    “No way, Jerry. She’s (i)definitely(/i) not that type of girl,” his companion replied, taken aback by his companion’s sudden unexpected crassness.
    From where he was sitting, quietly spoken as it was Liam heard the comment and although he considered the guy to be an obnoxious jerk nevertheless looked at the girl again and observed that she did appear to be fairly well endowed in regards to her bust measurement, though to his mind not overly so.
    Samira, the focus of the man’s gaze, picked up on its particular direction and intensity as soon as she realised he was looking at her, and summing him up in two seconds flat decided immediately that she wasn’t going on any date with him. And she made that quite clear shortly after the two men went over to sit at the table where introductions were made.
    “I suppose we’ll be going to some Indian restaurant,” Jerry said in a tone that suggested he wouldn’t be at all happy with that idea, but he was rocked back on his heels by Samira’s reply.
    “If you could drag your eyes away from my breasts long enough to watch my lips you’d see them saying I won’t be going with you, so I don’t care where you go,” she said, and whilst her words may have been spoken quietly her now hard as flint eyes bored straight into him.
    Nicole gave a gasp of surprise but also having noted Jerry’s inebriation plus the direction and intensity of his stare had to concede that Samira’s choice of having nothing to do with her boyfriend’s pal wasn’t unreasonable.
    “Fine by me,” said Jerry as he suddenly got up and angrily weaving towards the staircase leaving a threesome at the table hurled a derisive comment over his shoulder as he began to descend: “Plenty of friendly (i)white(/i) girls in better places than here I can go to.”
    His parting comment, with its stress on (i)white(/i), was an obviously racial slur in intent but whilst Samira seemed to be totally unfazed it was obviously an acute embarrassment to both Nicole and Barry. She gave the pair a lop-sided smile and after telling them not to worry about her suggested that they should go off and have a romantic evening together as she had gone right off the idea of a night out and would rather just go back to the flat. Nicole thought that leaving her friend alone right now might possibly be the best thing to do as she’d learned that whilst Samira appeared to be quite strong she could also be quite sensitive at times, and that any signs of well meant comfort or sympathy might result in her breaking down in tears.
    After a few minutes of “Are you sure?” and similar comments they departed, leaving Samira the sole occupant of a table for four and Liam decided to seize the opportunity to grab the vacant seats.
    “Excuse me for the intrusion,” he said to Samira as he approached the table, “but I noticed that your friends have left and I was wondering if these chairs are available.”
    “Oh, sure. I was going to leave when I finished this drink anyway,” Samira replied as she began to rise from her chair.
    “Oh no… Please, there’s no hurry. In fact you’d be doing me a big favour if you could sit there for a few minutes more at least: I have a couple of friends arriving very shortly but it wouldn’t look good for a man to be hogging a table for four by himself, even if people knew he was waiting for others.”
    “That would be good actually because otherwise I’d probably drink this too quickly,” she replied.
    Liam placed his briefcase on one of the vacant chairs, slid into another and after introducing himself told her he worked as a computer analyst/programmer at Sun Alliance Insurance across the street, and the two friends he was meeting also worked there though in a different section. Samira in turn told him that she had come to Australia from England about six months before and was currently employed in the home-wares section of the big David Jones’ Department Store on George Street. She also shared a flat with the girl and her boyfriend who had just left, however she felt a bit like an intruder there so was currently looking for a place of her own.
    They’d been chatting companionably for ten minutes or so when a tap on his shoulder made him look around to see his friend Sue standing beside him. His attempt to rise was forestalled when she pushed him back down onto his seat though Samira saw his intention as being that of a man who would naturally and politely stand for a lady when she arrived. Probably take his hat off or remove his sunglasses if wearing either when meeting or talking to a woman too, she thought.
    After lifting Liam’s briefcase from the chair beside him and placing it on the floor between their seats Sue sat down beside him and was introduced to Samira.
    Greg was at the bar ordering drinks for himself and Sue – and would no doubt also add a Scotch and Dry for Liam – and when he looked towards the table Sue stood and after pointing at herself and Samira indicated with two fingers that he should order an extra drink. With no way to know what type of drink the girl might want Greg simply ordered a second (i)Grasshopper(/i), which had been Sue’s choice on this occasion.
    Because the bar was now packed Liam thought it best to go to the bar and carry two of the drinks Greg had ordered, and as he stood he whispered very softly into Sue’s ear “I only just met her but I think she’s rather nice… try to not let her leave.” A very slight bob of her head had been the only indication that Sue had heard him however when he and Greg finally got the drinks and pushed through the crowded bar to the table he was happy to see that Samira hadn’t gathered her belongings in order to leave and the two girls were happily chatting away like old friends.
    The girls were only distracted from whatever they were talking about when the cocktails were placed in front of them, with Samira being very surprised with the appearance of a drink that she hadn’t ordered. She was given no time to protest when Sue declared that the (i)Brandy Alexander(/i) that she’d been drinking was considered rather passé now, and that she should try the (i)Grasshopper(/i) that Greg had delivered.
    “This is Liam’s friend Samira,” Sue told Greg when he sat down, “Though her friends call her Sam. She’s coming to (i)Bevy’s Place(/i) with us when we’ve finished here.”
    “What? Bevy’s Place? Who’s Bevy?” chirruped Sam, completely surprised that Sue had apparently included her in the trio’s plans for the night.
    “It’s a wine bar in Mosman,” put in Greg, unaware that until then Samira had no idea she’d been invited. We’re meeting a few more friends there and will be having a meal. The food’s really good… well, for that type of place anyway, and there’s live music on a Friday night. You’re going to like it.”
    Once again Sue forestalled any protest by telling her that because she’d said she had nothing planned for the night, or in fact for the whole weekend, she would be going with them. (i)“And you’re going to enjoy yourself,”(/i) emphasised Sue, (i)“whether you like it or not!”(/i) Hesitant at first as she didn’t know the people she’d just met, Sam was finally persuaded to accompany them, and by the time she’d finished her cocktail was in the mood to have a good time.
    With drinks finished they surrendered their table to another waiting group and after exiting the hotel and crossing George St hailed a cab to take them to Hickson Road, where Sue had managed to find a space to park her car early that morning. The cab driver wasn’t too thrilled with the shortness of the trip but was consoled when he picked up a couple who wanted to go to The Rocks, where he’d have a good chance of finding a longer fare. From there Sue drove them across the Harbour Bridge, then on to (i)Bevy’s Place(/i) where they found that an upstairs table had been reserved by the friends Greg had said they were meeting. Said friends, Pete, Carol, Garry and Margaret were already there and all made Sam welcome, and rearranged their seats so that she and Sue sat side by side with Liam and Greg opposite them.
    Meals were ordered from a menu that seemed to be based mostly on steaks with different sauces though it did include a couple of chicken, seafood and pasta dishes, and it being (i)Bevy’s Place(/i) the drink of choice was Apple Cider. Sam had never tried cider before and whilst to her it seemed to taste like slightly fizzy apple juice she was quite unprepared for the effect its alcohol content would have, especially as the three mugs she drank followed the two cocktails she’d had earlier. She didn’t became overly intoxicated however it was obvious to her new-found friends that she wasn’t accustomed to drinking, and Liam made sure that after her third mug she drank only non-alcoholic cider. Not that she noticed because to her the taste was the same and she’d already had enough alcohol to make her feel good for the rest of the evening anyway. In fact she turned out that she had a quick wit and was able to keep up a repartee that the company found quite amusing.
    The topics of conversation around the table were varied but included a short discussion about a trip they would be taking next day to a place up north where they would help Liam work on a small cabin he was building on a small piece of riverside land that he’d recently purchased. They’d camp overnight and do a few hours work on the cabin in the morning before returning sometime around midday as a Wild-West themed birthday barbeque/party had been planned for late Sunday afternoon.
    “You weren’t expecting to have such a fun weekend, were you?” Sue asked after informing Sam that she’d be staying overnight and going with them.
    “But I’ve never been camping before, and I don’t own a sleeping bag or have any clothes to wear or anything,” Sam protested.
    “Don’t worry about that: We’re near enough the same size so I can lend you a pair of jeans and a T-shirt or two, and Liam told me he has an extra sleeping bag you can use. We’re going to do a little bit of early shopping before we head off so you can buy a toothbrush and whatever else you think you need, and as tonight you’ll be staying at our place there’s no problem.”
    Sam hadn’t been fully persuaded about sleeping over but after they’d all left the bar and gone to Sue and Greg’s for a slice of cheesecake and a nightcap of Bailey’s Irish Cream she finally accepted the invitation. There didn’t seem to be much option to her staying overnight anyway as, probably due to the drinks she’d had, she fell asleep in an arm-chair whilst they were all talking. Greg and Sue pulled their fold-out lounge into its double bed form and after Liam gently lifted Sam from the chair and laid her out on it Sue placed a pillow under her head then covered her with a light blanket.
    Liam was also given a blanket and pillow and he lay down beside her and slept until six in the morning when, without disturbing the still sleeping girl, Pete and Carol, who had also stayed the night, woke him with a mug of freshly brewed coffee. He then had Pete drop him off at his own place to pick up his Toyota Land-cruiser, saying that he’d be going to collect his trailer then go to the hardware store to get a few odds and ends before meeting up with the others.
    He first drove to a friend’s property in Terry Hills where he had the use of a workshop, and once there hitched up the trailer which had been heavily loaded with some of the building material for the cabin they’d be working on. A short time later found him at the hardware store where he spent fifteen minutes locating and purchasing the several items he needed before proceeding to the meeting point via a McDonald’s drive-thru where he picked up a big breakfast.
    Sue, Greg and Sam arrived twenty minutes later, which was fifteen minutes later than the previously arranged time because the girls had had to do some shopping for (i)essential items(/i) for Sam. (Buying toiletries and a couple of T-shirts that weren’t as tight as those Sue had lent her hadn’t taken much time however Liam learned later that the girls had also spent fifteen minutes in a Lifeline charity store looking for something to wear for Sunday’s dress-up barbeque.)
    No one was put out by the delay however, and a few minutes after meeting up they were all on their way. Sue having decided that Sam would be travelling with her and Greg, Pete transferred from Garry’s car to Liam’s Toyota so that he would have company for the three hour drive up the coast, which meant the two cars travelling with them would each have two girls and a driver who unless invited to wasn’t usually meant to participate in any conversation the girls might be having. Fortunately for both drivers on this occasion they were invited and by the time everybody arrived at the building site all were in high spirits.
    The drive north was uneventful and done at a reasonably fast clip that had them on site in time for lunch, which the girls had already organised by having made up individual meals that were in containers packed into an esky. Sam had helped them with the preparation of the meals and the way they went about putting everything together made it obvious to her that they were pretty well experienced campers. With their welcoming her into their group and taking the time to show her how they organised things she had no regrets about having agreed to come on the trip and was now looking forward to it.
    The girls had decided that it would be nice to have lunch down by the river which flowed along the bottom end of the block and whilst they were laying out picnic rugs and setting out the eats the men put up the tents; a well-practiced task that took them all of ten minutes to complete. Liam’s extensive camping gear included a large tent divided into two parts; the main being the overall tent itself and the second being an enclosed sleeping compartment with mesh panels that allowed a free flow of air through it. The compartment’s waterproof floor was completely taken up by a Queen-sized air-mattress and Sam was given the use of it along with a large down-filled sleeping bag, with Liam warning that as it could become overly warm at times she could either open the zipper at the bottom of the bag or open it up completely. Two single bags could be zippered together to form a double however he didn’t mention the fact in case she thought he might be suggesting they do that.
    When asked where he would be sleeping he showed her the foam pad which he would lay on the ground inside the tent and on top of which he would roll out his own sleeping bag. Sam thought he was being overly generous by giving her exclusive use of his mattress and suggested that as they each had a sleeping bag they could at least share that. When Liam tried to protest she told him that she definitely wasn’t being promiscuous and if he was to try anything untoward she could scream loud enough to be heard back in Sydney, so there was no need for him to feel that her offer to share the mattress was unbecoming in any way.
    Because he regularly visited the site Liam had previously set up a five by eight foot garden shed which he’d fitted out with a composting toilet and a hand basin supplied with water from a 200 litre blue plastic barrel mounted on a stand behind. He’d gotten the idea from his friend Dirk but had decided not to install a shower in the shed as his friend had done because his solar shower bags were sufficient for overnight stays, though for the most part he simply waited until he got home anyway.
    In lieu of a shower he’d installed shelving to hold his camping gear so that he wouldn’t need to load and unload his Landcruiser with it every time he came to the site, and for this reason he’d not only fitted the shed with two solid hasps and staples with strong padlocks but had replaced the screws provided for the walls and roof with more than three times the number of pop rivets.
    With lunch finished, work commenced on the cabin build with laying out and securing pre-cut bearers, joists and perimeter beams on piers that Liam had installed over a couple of previous weekends. Four men doing the job would have had that done quickly enough however after the girls decided to pitch in and help they were also able to lay most of the floorboards before calling it a day. One of the reasons the job went so quickly was because Liam, having faithfully copied the design of his friend Dirk’s cottage had precisely measured, carefully cut and clearly marked each piece of timber before bringing it to the site so that they all went together like a kit home.
    In the group’s opinion the design was rather unique in that it would feature a lofted sleeping area, something not commonly found in Australian cabins, and each couple was looking forward to accepting Liam’s invitation to stay there occasionally after the cabin was finished. Of course the deal included having to spend a bit of time helping him with the vegetable garden he was planning to put in, but nobody minded having to do that. Sam was both surprised and delighted when she was also included in the invitation and thought it might be a good idea for her to purchase a book about vegetable gardening as she knew absolutely nothing about the subject.
    Sam was basically a city girl who hadn’t really seen any of the countryside since arriving in Australia but once tools were put down she was moved by the peace of the surrounding bush, its silence broken only by the rustle of breeze-blown leaves in the surrounding trees and the calls of numerous birds. The contrast between the city and this place was as different as she could imagine, unless perhaps she was to go to a desert she thought, and it brought about a feeling inside her that she couldn’t quite explain.
    Later the group sat around a campfire, ate sausages and beans, foil-wrapped potatoes and corn-on-the-cob baked in the fire, and drank a few stubbies of beer or plastic cups of wine from a cask. Liam explained to Sam how a friend and former workmate of his had introduced him to camping and to a way of life that was far removed from the life he led now but one for which he was aiming to emulate. As he described in some detail his plans for the acreage, pointing to where this, that or the other was going to be built or placed, and how he wanted to be able to live the self-reliant life-style and have the freedom that his friends enjoyed she was able to envisage a place that would be a refuge from the blind direction and overly fast pace of city life. The inexplicable feeling she’d felt inside earlier began to grow and take on a more solid form as he talked and by the time everyone was ready to head for their sleeping bags she had all but decided that she also wanted to be free of the hustle and bustle of city life.
    A few hours into the night Sam was woken by the sound of the tent’s zipper as Liam opened the flap to exit and head for the bushes where he had to relieve himself. When he returned she asked him what the temperature was like outside as she’d felt a cold breeze blow through the flap of the tent as he came in.
    “It’s not exactly what you’d call hot,” he replied but when he lay back down she reached out a hand and after feeling his arm exclaimed “You’re freezing!”
    “Nah, it’s just that you’re very warm.”
    After he’d climbed back into his sleeping bag she tried to extend some of hers over him but despite that it was large found it wasn’t nearly large enough to do that. Remembering that he’d told her that it could be opened completely she slid its side zipper all the way down, opened the bag and tried to use more of it to cover him.
    “What are you doing Sam? You’ll freeze to death if you leave the bag open.”
    “I once read a story about some people who were lost in the snow and when they were found each was put into a sleeping bag with one of the searchers. Shared body heat was apparently what saved them from severe hypothermia and while I know you’re not (i)that(/i) cold I thought it might help you get warm quickly.”
    “I read a similar story, although in the book I read the searchers and the people they found were stripped naked before getting into the bags.”
    Sam giggled and admitted that whilst that fact was also in the book she’d read she had no such intention of going to that extreme, however during the time they were talking Liam had warmed up again so it wasn’t necessary for her to share her bedding anyway and they both went back to sleep.

    * * *


    I see that I cannot edit anything I’ve written, which is a real pain as I often find mistakes that need correcting.
    BTW, does anybody know of a similar site where I might be able to post my stories? The Air-Force has retired me on medical grounds (trumped up reason I reckon, but that’s another story,) and I’ll have a lot of time to write.
    Shin (AKA Bid)

    The raucous laughter of kookaburras woke everyone just after sunrise and when a still sleepy but smiling Sam scrambled out of her sleeping bag and stuck her head out of the tent it was to find that five young kangaroos were quietly munching on grass less than ten metres away. Her eyes and smile widened as she withdrew her head into the tent and beckoned to Liam who was opening up his bag to air it before stuffing it into its sack. The ‘roos were regular visitors to the site, he told her, and he was always delighted when they showed up.
    All having risen early the girls began preparing breakfast whilst the boys continued laying the rest of the floor boards, and they managed to nail down the last one just as the call went out to “come and get it.” Sam was surprised to see that even though it was only a single overnight camp-out, rather than just have a simple breakfast of cereal such as Corn Flakes or Weet-Bix the girls had gone to the trouble of cooking sausages and eggs and making toast, though of course coffee was on the menu regardless.
    Following breakfast the following three hours were spent assembling the pre-cut stud frames for the walls as sections that could easily be handled by two people and these were stacked at one end of the cabin’s floor ready to be erected on the next weekend… If Liam was able to find someone to help him, which was doubtful as it would be the Easter weekend and just about everybody had plans that did not include work of any kind, let alone work on a cabin that was thought of by most as being out in the sticks. Of course Liam was grateful for the help his friends had given him this weekend and considered that even if he couldn’t get much done on the next he was still well ahead.
    Sam swapped places with Pete, riding in Liam’s pick-up for their return to the city and during the trip she pumped him for more information regarding his Journey to Freedom as he’d called it when first describing his ultimate goal.
    “I find it rather difficult to explain exactly how I feel really,” he said. “You’d probably get a better understanding if you were able to see how my friends enjoy the freedom of the lifestyle they’ve chosen. In a nutshell though, I think that breaking away from the rat-race of people who believe everything that the government and Main Stream Media tells them and accept that they’ll forever be chained to a life of virtual servitude is the path to freedom. Hermits and Hippies are for the most part merely escapists but a Homesteader, which is what I want to be, is ready to put in the effort to make him or herself as self-reliant as possible. They’re not actually my own words by the way, but that’s roughly how my friends put it when I first visited their farm nearly eighteen months ago.”
    “Seeing how you’re flinging yourself into it I think they must have been very persuasive.”
    “Yeah, they were. They’re also the people who first taught me about camping and as you can see, I’ve taken to that like a duck to water. You seemed to enjoy how peaceful it was where we were camped but you’d be surprised at the number of people who can’t bear being away from a city and would hate it.”
    “That’s hard to believe. Do you always go there with friends? It’d probably be a bit different if you were by yourself wouldn’t it?”
    “No to the first and yes to the second. I often come here just to get away from the big smoke but I also took the time to put in the stumps that support the floor we laid this weekend, and I did that without any help. As for it being different if I was by myself, just imagine the quiet you experienced in the early morning extending throughout the day. Most times I don’t even bother to turn on a radio.”
    “I don’t think I’d find that too hard to take,” Sam admitted with a grin. “You said your cabin was on three acres. How’d you manage to get a relatively small block of land out here? All the places I’ve seen so far appear to be large farms.”
    “Mostly good luck: I actually bought twenty five acres cheaply from a cash-strapped farmer but I’m leasing all but the three the cabin’s on to another farmer who wanted the land but at the time didn’t know it had been put on the market. His lease payments cover the mortgage payments but I’m hopeful that someday he’ll want to buy the land and leave me with the three acres… and no mortgage.”
    After dropping off the trailer at his friend’s house he took Sam to his small bed-sit apartment in Neutral Bay where they showered before changing into clean clothes for the barbeque. Liam wore jeans and a check shirt, the Jaccaru brand leather hat that he usually wore on weekends anyway, plus a toy six-shooter in a holster and a sheriff’s badge which he’d somehow managed to keep since he was a kid.
    Sam took the items she’d purchased at the Lifeline store the morning before and going to the bathroom reappeared wearing a nicely-fitted brown suede skirt and matching short-sleeved top. She was hoping that it looked something like an outfit a cowgirl might wear, although as she wore the top over a light tan V- neck T-shirt that was almost the same colour as her skin Liam told her that any man with more than an ounce of imagination who looked at her rather generous cleavage would probably envisage a lot more than was covered. She grinned at that and looking at his outfit said it was lucky that she was going with a man with a six-gun who’d protect her. The brown flat-heeled shoes that she’d also purchased and worn all weekend didn’t look out of place but she wasn’t going to put on the final accessories, which Liam hadn’t yet seen but thought may have included a hat and which she was now carrying in a brown paper bag.
    When they arrived at Sue and Greg’s place Sam stood behind Liam as he rang the front doorbell and quickly donned the last piece of her outfit behind his back. It was Sue who came to the door and after Liam had introduced himself as the local Sheriff then stepped aside Sam introduced herself as Pocahontas. Sue took one look at her outfit and when seeing that she was wearing beaded arm-bands and a headband with two upright feathers stuck in it collapsed against the door frame in a fit of laughter.
    “My God, an Indian!” she finally squealed with delight through her laughter. “Sam, you are so my new best friend! Wait’ll everyone sees you in that get-up. Come on through,” she said as grabbing Sam’s hand and hauling her through the doorway towed her to the backyard where steaks, chops and sausages piled on the barbeque were already cooking. Sam got a good laugh when she made a pretence of looking and sounding disappointed when finding that there was no buffalo meat on the grill.
    Everyone was impressed by Sam’s outfit and her sense of humour, and it appeared that they all seemed to be accepting her as being Liam’s rather cute new girlfriend – with some of the men jokingly asking her if she was his squaw – and after a few beers Liam gave up explaining that they were just friends who’d only very recently met.
    Sam, now being referred to by all as Pocahontas and having had a couple of glasses of wine also gave up on the denials and although not exactly true, by the end of the evening it seemed to have become an established fact. Not that either of them worried much less thought about it at all, though it did seem to have the effect of making them smile when from time to time they caught each other’s eye.
    She wasn’t a non-drinker but it was only the third time that Sam had ever had more than three glasses of wine at any one time and it showed. Greg joked when the barbeque was over that it was lucky she wasn’t driving because she was barely capable of being a passenger. Whilst that huge exaggeration made Sam laugh it was enough for Sue to suggest that rather than return to the reservation she had better stay over for the night again; Sue could lend her some pyjamas and she still had the clothes with her from the Friday so tomorrow morning she could go straight to work from there.
    “I suppose that’d be OK but I’d have to go to Liam’s place first because I left my hand-bag and clothes there,” said Sam. “I’d better call my flat-mates too and tell them what I’m doing; they might be worried something’s happened to me.”
    “Would you like me to go and get your things now?” Liam asked.
    “Umm… I saw that your flat overlooked the ferry wharf so would it be OK if I stayed at your place and caught the ferry to the city in the morning? I know I can trust you and I don’t mind having to sleep on your lounge.”
    “Ahh… I guess so. If Sue’s OK with that. What do you reckon Sue?”
    “Well, I know you can be trusted so I’ve got no objection,” Sue replied. “Sam, Liam doesn’t have the ‘phone on so you’d better call your flat-mates from here before you go. You can take the pyjamas with you and Liam can bring them back to me later,” she added as she went off to get a pair for her.
    After Sam had used the ‘phone she and Liam headed for his flat, stopping on the way to get a carton of milk from a convenience store, and at Sam’s behest a box of muesli and a tub of vanilla flavoured yoghurt.
    The sun had long set when they got to Liam’s flat but rather than turn on the lights he asked her to first go and take a look from the kitchen/dining area, the large windows of which looked down the bay and across part of the harbour. The myriad lights from buildings on the shores and reflecting off the water plus the appearance of a ferry coming towards the wharf enthralled her, so much so that she asked Liam to not turn on the lights as she wanted to just sit and watch for a while.
    As she sat Liam made them both a mug of cocoa then joined her at the table where she encouraged him to tell her more about his plans for his property, not that there was a lot to add to what he’d already told her on the trip back to the city, however she was so interested she didn’t mind hearing everything again.
    “You said next weekend you wanted to put up those wall frames we helped you assemble: Can I help you? I don’t have any plans for Easter and I have to admit I’m keen to see what your little cabin will look like when it’s finished. I also found it rather fun camping too and I think I’d like to get into that.”
    “Would you really? That’s fantastic, but before you get carried away with the idea I recommend you go camping a few times to see if you really like it. Next weekend would be a good start and as I’ve got enough gear to share there’s no point in buying anything for yourself. And while I would appreciate your help with putting up the frames I think we could also spend some time having a look around the countryside.”
    Sam grinned and thought to herself that Sue had been right: She certainly hadn’t expected that she would have so much fun this weekend! And should have the same if not more fun next weekend.
    “Is there anything I should take, apart from clothes?” she asked. “And what about food?”
    “Well, any clothes you think you’ll need for working in of course, like those that Sue lent you for example, but I really hadn’t given much thought to food at the moment. I get pretty busy so I usually just throw a container of milk for my coffee, a loaf of bread, and a few things for filling sandwiches into my esky.”
    “Just sandwiches? You don’t bother cooking anything? That’s not good.”
    “You’re probably right. I do have a picnic stove and all the cookware I need but it’s mostly just weekends when I go and there’s only me after all. I guess that it being a four-day stay and with you coming it might be a good idea to have a few proper meals this time though.
    “How about you let me organise the food? I’m a pretty good cook so that wouldn’t be a problem at all… Especially if you like curries,” she laughed.
    “Really? I happen to like them a lot actually, though I’ve never tried making one myself. Be a bit difficult out in the bush though, wouldn’t it?”
    “Only because of all the spices I’d need to take, but don’t worry; I can cook lots of other dishes too. Maybe I could make you one of my curries sometime when you’re not going camping?”
    Liam turned on the light and as they were both going to work early the next day suggested they get a good night’s sleep, however Sam was so excited about going camping again that she sat and wrote out a menu for the next weekend, plus a list of other things she thought she needed to get.
    When she’d finished Liam told her to use the shower first and as she headed to the bathroom he went out and retrieved his sleeping bag from the pick-up and rolled it out on the lounge: He wasn’t going to let her sleep there as the damned thing was barely comfortable enough to sit on let alone lie down and try and sleep on. Sam found that out by lying down on it when Liam went to have his shower, and when he came out found that she’d stuffed his sleeping bag back into its sack and was lying on one side of his bed with the bedding opened up for him on the opposite side.
    “Sue said and I believe that you can be trusted so I don’t think you need to sacrifice your comfort for me by not sleeping in your own bed. This double bed isn’t quite as wide as your Queen-sized air mattress but I promise I won’t be using that as an excuse to assault you.”
    “Just as well: I’d have to throw you out on the street if you tried anything like that,” he said as he lay down and pulled the covers over himself. “When you think about it,” he added, “sleeping together isn’t really a problem is it? It’s going to bed together and not sleeping where things could get a bit… umm… boisterous, so to speak.”
    Sam’s reply was to make loud snoring sounds but she spoiled the effect by then breaking into a fit of giggles in which Liam had to join. Despite each falling asleep on their own side of the bed, when they woke up in the morning it was to find that during the night they had somehow gravitated towards its centre and though back to back were now lying against each other, both comfortable almost to the point of not really wanting to get up and go to work.

    * * *


    Nice to see you back, Shin! Sucks that the AF has decided to medically retire you, but hopefully you’re at least getting some sort of pension out of the deal?

    As to similar sites, I’m on SurvivalistBoards ( as well as on here (but NOT as a Moderator over there – just a member). In fact, I’ve been on there longer than on here. There is also ReadyMom’s site that she started up


    Thanks IceFire. Unfortunately I’m only eligible for the Aged Pension though I do have a little in my Super Fund (401K type of thing down here in OZ) and will be able to pay out our mortgage. Perhaps not surprisingly, Vegetable Gardening is going to play a big part in my retirement years! Anyway – On with the story…

    Sitting on the upper deck of the ferry as it churned its way across the harbour from Neutral Bay Wharf to Circular Quay Sam marvelled at how it was such a pleasant way to travel to the city; far and away much better than having to take a crowded bus as she had to, and as she was looking for new accommodation anyway, thought it might be a good idea to try and find a place close by.
    “Why not enquire at the main office of the complex where I rent my flat?” Liam suggested. “They have several houses set up the same way as the one where I live and tenants seem to be changing all the time, so with any luck there might be either one available now, or at least one coming up soon. The office is open until eight p.m. Monday to Friday so you’d be able to go there one day after you finish work.”
    “Can you show me where the office is after work today?” Sam asked, having made up her mind almost as soon as Liam had finished making the suggestion. “That is, unless you’re going to be busy of course.”
    “Apart from taking some clothes to the Laundromat I’ve got nothing planned. If you are coming over, is there any chance you could stay long enough to cook one of those curries you were talking about last night?”
    “Oh, I’d be more than happy to do that. Of course, being the master sandwich chef you are, you probably wouldn’t have much in the way of the spices I’d need, so I’ll get those during my lunch break today.”
    “Salt, pepper and mustard, plus tomato and barbeque sauce and a jar each of mustard pickles and chutney is about the full extent of the condiments in my normally well stocked pantry at the moment,” Liam admitted. “Likewise the racks in my extensive wine cellar are similarly depleted: In fact I think I’m down to one bottle of a Rough Red and another of Blue Nun Liebfraumilch.
    “I heard that you’d also let the household staff go too: No cook, butler, maid, chauffeur or gardener. Are things really that bad?”
    “Not really. I’d have had to let the staff go sooner or later because there wouldn’t be enough room in my palatial cabin to accommodate them; however I’m confident that when I’m finally able to move to my country estate things will improve.”
    Their light-hearted banter continued until the ferry docked and after they’d disembarked and made their way towards George Street arranged to meet back at the Quay in time to catch the six o’clock ferry. They walked together as far as Bridge Street where Liam turned left towards his place of employment whilst Sam continued towards hers, which was about another fifteen minutes walk away. She could have caught a bus but it was a beautiful day and she was in an extremely happy mood so even the thought of taking one was anathema to her right now. Even so, she arrived early and had time to change into the spare clean fresh skirt and blouse she kept in her locker in the ladies’ change-room.
    As Liam had said he would be going to the Laundromat that evening she put the clothing she had worn on Friday and that morning into a bag and would take those plus the jeans and T-shirt that Sue had loaned her and go with him.
    Because he’d had to work back a bit Liam had to run to get to the ferry wharf in time to meet up with Sam as arranged and was quite disappointed to find that she didn’t appear to be there. That is, until a girl wearing a pair of denim jeans with a matching top and was carrying a large shopping bag called to him: Sam had purchased all the ingredients needed to make the curry she was going to make for him but had also found the time to outfit herself with some new clothes which she thought would suitable for both camping and helping work on the cabin.
    “Are you really going to wear that clobber for camping and working in?” he asked with surprise as he looked her up and down.
    “Why? What’s wrong with it?” she asked in reply, sounding a bit defensive.
    “Because in my honest opinion, it’s far too good for that: I mean, you do look gorgeous, but the weekend away could be a bit rough on new stuff like that.”
    “Do you really think so?”
    “Yes, I do.”
    “I don’t mean about the weekend being rough on my new clothes: I mean do you really think I look gorgeous?” she said, and then laughed when she saw his face reddening. “It’s OK: I’m only joking,” she added and after handing him the large shopping bag took his arm as they joined the commuters surging through the turnstiles and onto the ferry.
    An hour later found them at the main office of the company that rented out the one and two bedroom apartments and a number of bed-sits that several old large houses had been converted to. Collectively the somewhat dilapidated buildings were known as Wallaringa Mansions and apparently the lettings were a temporary measure intended to bring in some revenue whilst development applications were submitted in order to replace them with modern medium-rise apartment blocks. Not surprisingly they were not considered worth the trouble and expense of refurbishing however the plumbing and electrical services were all well maintained and above all the lettings were comparatively inexpensive, especially given the locale and access to both ferry and bus routes. Shops on the street leading to the wharf included a small convenience store and the Laundromat, and as they were no more than two hundred metres away Liam frequently walked to both.
    “You might be in luck,” Sam was told at the reception desk. “A lady renting on the floor above Liam’s has given notice and will be vacating on the fifteenth of April. Unfortunately you won’t be able to inspect the flat until after she’s left, and though there is a waiting list Liam’s a good tenant and if he can vouch for you I think we can let you jump the queue.”
    It turned out that Liam knew the lady, a single mum with a two year old son, and though he’d spoken to her frequently he hadn’t known that she was leaving. Having occasionally helped her by carrying heavy shopping bags up the stairs he was fairly sure she’d allow Sam to have a quick look at the flat if he asked.
    “Don’t worry if it looks a bit run down,” he said as they left the office. “My place looked rather seedy when I first moved in but a lick of paint fixed that.”
    Back at his flat Sam was about to get started on preparing the curry when Liam suggested that although she’d purchased all the makings there was still laundry to be done, but as it was already getting late and he was getting hungry perhaps they could eat out tonight and have the curry some other time. After looking at her watch Sam was inclined to agree but recommended that they have take-out rather than go to a restaurant: That way they could turn off the main light in the flat and use the bedside lamps so that with the reduced light she could look out at the harbour lights whilst they ate.
    “Sounds like plan. Let’s get the laundry started then go up to The Junction for the take-out. Chinese, Thai, Pizza… What do you fancy?”
    “Pizza is a Friday night thing with me, so heads it’s Chinese and tails it’ll be Thai. Have you got a coin?”
    Pulling a twenty cent piece from his pocket he flipped it so that it spun in the air towards her and after catching it she declared with a grin that they’d be having Thai, and he laughed when he saw that she hadn’t even bothered to look at the coin before tossing it back to him.
    “What time does the last ferry leave?” Sam asked as having done the laundry and finished their meal – and emptied the bottle of Blue Nun – they sat watching the harbour lights.
    “Eleven o’clock.”
    “If we hurry we might be just in time to see it leaving the wharf,” she said looking at her watch. “Looks like I’ll be staying over again.”
    “Well, if you are staying over there’s really no point in going down to the wharf then, is there? We can see the ferry leave from here.”
    “Good point. You know, I just might have to stay tomorrow night too: Good curries take time to prepare, and I make really good ones.”
    Liam was more than a bit surprised at this turn of events however he felt that Sam’s forwardness was more likely due to the wine she’d drunk rather than any attraction towards him she may have felt, and resolved not take advantage of her or make any untoward moves that might jeopardise any future relationship.
    Not that he was going to simply let her stay without having something to say about sharing a bed with him… again: After all, and despite the fact that he was quite attracted to her, they’d only known each other for four days! Then again, it probably wouldn’t be much good talking to her tonight if she was affected by the wine she’d had, so it would be better to wait until the morning.

    * * *
    “You know,” said Sam when they were having breakfast, “even though I went to work yesterday I feel like I’ve been on holidays for the past few days, and when I first woke up this morning I wished they’d go on forever. I really do want to make that curry for you, but now I’m worried you might think I was being a bit too familiar for suggesting I stay over again tonight. I mean, we’ve only known each other for a very short time so… ”
    Before she could continue Liam interrupted her: “No, it’s O.K. I admit that last night I was getting a bit concerned that we were getting too familiar too quickly, but I’m really happy you’re here. In fact, since you’ll be staying tonight and we’ll be going up to the cabin after work on Thursday, you might as well stay here tomorrow night too. Good Lord: Now look who’s being too familiar!”
    As they were leaving to catch the ferry Ingrid, the woman who was vacating her flat, was coming slowly down the stairs with her young son Toby in tow and after greeting her Liam introduced her to Sam who, he told her, was looking for a place to rent.
    “The girl at the office told us that you were leaving but that wouldn’t be until next month. Sam’s not desperate and doesn’t mind having to wait, but I was wondering if it might be possible for her to have a look at the place sometime before then and see if it’s what she wants.”
    “Oh I don’t mind showing you,” she said to Sam directly. “Have to warn you that it’s pretty run down though. I gave the required notice and that takes me up to the fifteenth but I’ll be moving out the weekend before that: I’ve managed to get a good job in Brisbane and start that on the eighteenth. I also found a nice apartment and want to get settled in before I start work, plus Toby will be going to day-care and I have to book him in for that too.”
    “Mummy said we’re going to a new house. I’ll have my own room,” put in Toby from his mother’s side.
    “Wow! Your own room,” said Sam. “That will be nice, won’t it?”
    Toby gave her a shy smile and nodded his head in agreement but didn’t say anything more.
    “I’ll be out most of the day today but I’ll be home late this afternoon if you’d like to come up then,” Ingrid said.
    “We’ll be catching the ferry after work and it should be docking around six so would that be O.K.?” Liam asked
    “That’d be fine. O.K. Got to go, but I’ll see you this evening,” she replied as she and Toby headed towards the main front door beyond which the driver of a waiting taxi had honked its horn.
    “Do you need to pick up anything from your place before the weekend?” Liam asked as they walked to the ferry wharf.
    “Not really, though maybe I should drop in and see my flat-mates. I feel like I’ve been gone for weeks rather than days and I’m beginning to wonder if they still remember me.”
    “How about I drive you over there tomorrow night?”
    “That’d be good. I can get my toiletries and my pillow, and see if I can hunt out some old clothes more suitable for camping and working in than those I just bought.”
    “I bet you’ll still look gorgeous though.”
    “Flattery will get you everywhere,” Sam laughed.
    “Not if you’re driving a car,” Liam joked.

    * * *


    Dude, I just want to first say good addition with this story. Second you must get your stuff on Amazon unlimited. You have some great stories and should be getting a pay check from this stuff. Love the work, keep it up.

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