In 1993 when I moved to Maleny, Queensland, it was a sleepy little town. It was the place I met Brad, with his piercing blue eyes, his colourful character, and his wife Deb.
Not much went on after 5 p.m. in Maleny back in the 90s. There was one main grocery store, owned by Allison and John Frew. Everyone called it Frew’s Food Store. Even on a Saturday there was no sleeping in if I wanted to stock the pantry for the week. The store closed at 12 noon Saturday and did not open until Monday.
Still, we could always buy a pizza or cooked chicken from Nagy’s in the middle of town. It was a café style general store with a petrol pump out the front. Nagy’s was like an Aladdin’s Cave. Hidden away it had all types of treasures for home and hearth. If I wanted to replace a zipper in my skirt and needed a reel of cotton, I would find it at Nagy’s.
Few cars in the 90s moved around Maleny after dark. It was an unspoken rule that there was no driving at night. Everyone tucked themselves into their house, not appearing until first light. More than likely it was to do with a farming community, mostly dairying.
By the time I was on my way home from work other locals were at home ensconced in the comfort of their favourite chair. In the dark night of winter or even late on a summer’s evening driving home from work I would drive past Sue’s place. I would see her long lanky frame adorning her favourite resting place, her couch. But this was before the hedge grew. As time passed, Sue disappeared behind leafy green branches.
Sue Becker, a television aerobic fitness guru dating back to the 60s, was not any ordinary woman. Educated in London she was an outspoken feminist. She believed all woman had a place and a voice. Not that the tradies appreciated her candour when working on her house extension! Nor the letter she wrote to The Range News about their unreliability.
One evening, Sue made a panicked phone call to Brad, speaking with her refined British accent.
‘Brad, Brad darling, I am hiding in my bedroom from the reptilian creature in my lounge room. Darling can you help me, I almost peed my pants when I first saw it.’
‘Can you tell me what it looks like and what colour it is Sue?’ Brad asked.
‘Bloody hell darling I can’t see it from the bedroom and I’m not going out past the bedroom door, until you arrive. The back door is open. You will come won’t you darling?’
Brad had no hesitation in coming out into the darkness of the night, to help a damsel in distress. When Brad arrived, he eyed off the creature. It was brownish in colour with black-edged pale blotches enclosing pale yellow spots. Its belly was a creamy yellow. Now identified as a non-venomous carpet python.
Meanwhile, Sue is yelling out from her bedroom. ‘Brad darling, is it safe for me to come out?’
Once reassured Sue came out of the safe haven of her bedroom. From a distance she saw the carpet python, around four metres in length. The python, disturbed by the tradies working on Sue’s house extension, had found a new home. In Sue’s lounge room. It was now lounging across her mantlepiece, above the fireplace.
Sue looked on with bulging eyes, Brad knew what he was doing and picked up the python by the tail. He put it in a hessian bag. With a smile, and a ‘see you later’, while flashing his blue eyes, he took his new possession to his place.
Even though it was dark, Brad with torch in hand, took the bag for a long walk down his steep back yard. When he found a couple of rocks with a large enough crevice, he let the python go so he could settle into his new home.
Brad had a natural affinity for wildlife. He was an educated environmentalist. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with children in his teaching role. I admired his dedication to his work, noting that he would leave early in the morning.
But like so many things in life, what you see and what you hear does not always match the story in your head. The reason for Brad’s early departure was to work on mutual projects with another teacher. It was for the benefit of the children. Yet, despite both their good intentions one day they crossed the line. There was no longer a demarcation between them as married people, married to someone else! They were first attracted by one another’s interests of learning and teaching. Later, this became the magnet guiding them into a secret love affair.
It appeared to others, including me, that Brad had the perfect marriage. A beautiful home with his eagle’s nest lookout and his backyard garden of tropical plants. He had created a child’s fantasy, a fairy garden. But there were no children to enjoy it. But he did have his much-loved VW. Yet there was something missing. Deb, his wife, had two children from a previous marriage and did not want any more children. Brad agreed, but did he?
Brad’s secret love affair became neighbourhood news. Everyone knew after Julie, Brad’s teacher friend, became pregnant. Sue understood how Julie could have fallen for Brad.
While Sue was old enough to be his mother, she had a soft spot, an attraction for Brad. She would often say to me, ‘he is awe-fully good looking.’ She liked Brad, maybe secretly loved Brad, and would not say a bad word about him.
Yet when Brad made the decision to make a new life with Julie there were other truths that were exposed. Brad also had a 6-year-old child with Julie, unbeknown to her husband who thought it was his daughter.
All the lies and dishonest behaviour was now exposed. It is a shocking revelation of truth to those who did not know. And when honesty comes too late the truth is painful. Broken homes are the end result. Broken people, broken dreams, and confused children. This is the end result of dishonesty, lies, and deceit in a relationship.
Even in the midst of all this mayhem an innocent baby was born. It was Brad’s second child with his lover Julie. It is a boy and he has piercing blue eyes!