Saturday, 4 April 2009

Final of 'Paternity' Episode 19 - Pip's story, an Original Australian Mystery Novel

It's what we've been waiting for - the long Final Episode of 'Paternity', the story of a young Australian woman's journey to discover her mother's best kept secret - the name of her daughter's father. Here we discover whether Pip's birth was the result of a vicious pack rape.

The present availablility of Pip's story is a gift to my bloggy friends. There is but one condition - I ask that those many readers who have been 'peeking' anonymously for the past eighteen episodes simply make a feedback comment so I'll know how you feel about it - very important to every writer.

To those many who have become Pip's fans and my friends through regular comments - please let's know whether you're happy or not with end of the story.

And if any of you know a publisher who may be interested in Pip - please let me know!

Remember too that there are many of my short stories and poems on this blog. Links for 'Paternity' and all short stories and poems are on the sidebar.

June Saville

image of Pip by Vikki North of Redchair Gallery - thanks Vikki

Pip was the first to slide into one of the cubicles at the Greek café, with its long thin laminated table and pseudo-leather seats, and Joe, and then Frank, sat opposite her.

The aroma of slow cooking baked lamb wafted from the kitchen.

‘I could eat a horse,’ said Frank, breathing deeply.

‘Not here you won’t. Beef and lamb, but no horse … What’s the bad news? Come on.’

‘It’s not all that dramatic really. Just wanted to get you interested.’

‘You bugger Frank. I had you with a dreaded disease or something …’

‘Nice that you care …’ Frank was grinning, enjoying egging the others on.

‘Well?’ Joe was getting impatient …

‘Denzy rang …’


‘The test has been delayed. The Macquarie Street doctor is on holidays and his staff needed his go ahead before they could release my test to the Institute. And so we won’t have a result of the comparison between my test and yours for at least another few weeks.’

‘Everything takes time mate. This has been hanging in the air for years. What’s another week or two?’

Pip knew Frank was disappointed, so she leaned across the plastic tabletop and patted his hand.

‘Good things come to those who wait Frank,’ Joe was signalling Cosmo who wandered towards them from the kitchen.

‘Maybe,’ murmured Frank. ‘Hey Cosmo, take these bottles. Open them both and bring one down as soon as it suits will you?’

‘Sure. Three glasses?’

‘That’s unless you want a small riot on your hands …’

‘This is a mate of mine Cosmo. Joe Black.’

‘From the city?’

‘Yep, and I’m hanging out for some of your great food. Pip’s been telling me about your prowess.’

Pip ordered stuffed egg plant, Frank baked lamb and green beans and Joe’s was a cheese pie and asparagus.

The wine was a rich cabernet with a lingering scent of grape.

Again Pip found that she was really enjoying herself. She felt comfortable with these men, and seemed as relaxed as she had been for a long time. Even though the answer to the biggest question was still unknown …

They were into the second bottle of wine and Cosmo had taken away the plates of the main meal when new customers came into the café.

It was Harold Staunch, the football club president and his comfortable wife.
The couple stopped as they passed, Harold wheezing a little as usual.

‘It seems as though you were right about Con Robson Miss Holmes.’

‘And so the news is out already Mr Staunch …’

‘Yes, charges of rape and murder. Con’s been a quiet worker through the years. He had the glitch with the fraud, but in the main you’d think he was the model of propriety, in public anyway.’

‘That’s the way things go Harold. It’s often the ones we least expect who are the villains,' said Pip.

She mentioned that Joe was the News Editor of the Daily, the paper which had run Pip’s story about the town’s health needs.

Harold Staunch beamed.
‘Now Miss Holmes that is most fortuitous. I’m sure you’ve also heard the news that our town will have its own heliport soon. The Minister rang me this morning … Altogether, a very happy day.

‘So much is down to you Miss Holmes, and Mr Black. And you Frank. You and the Guardian have been such supporters.’

‘That’s what a local rag is all about Harold. Or should be. The advancement of its town.’

Harold Staunch was so happy he was moving from one leg to another, in a little dance.

‘As a matter of fact Mrs Staunch and I are here to have dinner with Irene and Jesse Rouse, the parents of the young footballer who died. They’re helping the football club organise a gala dance to celebrate the heliport decision.

‘I wished to see you before you left town. I hope that the three of you will be our honoured guests on the night. Agreed? Will you accept our invitation?’

Next morning was sparkling and bright, with a little edge of fresh cool air to it.
The tiny police station in town was manned only spasmodically, and the pointy end of crime fighting in the area centred at the district station and courthouse complex in the bigger commercial centre a few kilometres away.

Pip and Joe drove over there early, hoping to get advice on DNA testing of Con Robson. They walked up the worn steps of the police station with its wide shady verandah and wooden benches which had been rubbed shiny by generations of bottoms belonging to law breakers and their victims, all awaiting justice.

The burly sergeant came to the counter on the request of a young female constable, and Pip and Joe introduced themselves.

‘So you’re Selene O’Rourke’s daughter … I can see a resemblance.’ The man’s barrel chest magnified his voice to a boom.

‘I heard you were in town. Actually, I’m pleased you dropped in.’

‘You knew of my connection?’

‘Our mutual friend Dwight Garry Bullfinck has been talking. And Frank Rolls mentioned you as well. You know we’ve charged another man in connection with the rape and the murder?’

‘Yes, I hear you’ve had a long term interest in the case.’

‘I don’t want to talk too much out of school, but I’ve been certain another man was involved. I believed there was a cover-up …’

‘And it looks as though justice may be done soon eh?’

‘We can hope so. Gazza has put a man in the frame, and he’s told us enough to enable me to place the charge with a fair amount of confidence.’

Pip told the sergeant of her quest to find her origins, and he suggested that it might very well become appropriate for DNA tests to be done as investigations continued.

‘Will you cooperate with us? It could be valuable to discover if you and Con have genes in common. And we could kill two birds with the one stone and help you rule him in or out as your father. That result would come out in evidence at the trial.’

To date, Joe had been an enthusiastic bystander to the conversation.

‘That result might even become known in a very private conversation beforehand?’ he asked.
‘This search has meant a lot to Pip and she really wants to get rid of all of her doubts …’

Pip looked fixedly at the polished surface of the old cedar counter.

‘Look I know where you’re both coming from, but I can’t risk jeopardising the legality of the trial. Sorry.’

Pip knew the sergeant was right. He couldn’t let her in on any secrets.

‘Fair enough,’ she said, and beamed at the big policeman. ‘You’ve done quite enough to help already.’

Pip agreed to make her DNA test results available to the police, when the time came. At the end of the interview both she and Joe felt that the futures of Con and Gazza were in very good hands.

Pip and Joe had a counter lunch with Frank at the pub once they got back to town and, over a quiet beer, decided to begin rolling back to the city that afternoon.

'We’ll take it easy and become tourists for a few days,’ Pip told Frank.

Joe would give back the car he’d earlier rented at the district airport and cash in the return air ticket, joining Pip in her car for the mini-holiday.
For his part Frank said he’d be in the city in ten days or so and promised to make contact.

‘Denzy might even have some news for me by then,’ he said.

Pip and Joe found the most scenic route to the coast. It was good to see the trees and paddocks becoming more lush as they moved east.

They stopped their car in some of those old towns that boast little museums which trace the history of their communities. They wandered through the displays of carefully preserved 1900s hand stitched fashion and the bone china afternoon tea sets, and then out to the obligatory displays of butter churns and farm machinery in a shed or two out the back.

As the road stretched on, they could not ignore signs announcing ‘Devonshire Teas’. More than once Pip and Joe sat up to a plate of country baked scones and piles of thick cream and home made jam, along with a pot of tea each. Both of them had a sweet tooth, and both were giving it free rein.

Come evening time the car edged down a little dirt track that led from a wide gate labelled with a sign boasting ‘Farm Home Stay – A Rural Experience You Won’t Forget’. Joe had heard of this place from a mate who’d spent a holiday there once, so they decided to give it a go.

Their room turned to be all starched sheets and shining floor boards, softened with cushions wherever there was a horizontal surface.

Dinner was caramelised onion tart and a bowl of crisp salad with citrus dressing followed by huge pieces of lemon meringue pie, all served in the homestead kitchen by the couple who owned the place.

Neil and Beth Rogers were keen environmentalists, hoping to carve out for themselves a little organic corner of the world where they could keep in touch with the outside via paying visitors. They were in their early forties with two young children who shared the meal with Pip and Joe, along with their parents. It was one big happy family.

Their son Toby was a confident seven years-old with athletic limbs and a giant smile who helped his Dad and Mum in the veggie patch and fed the chickens. He’d already taken a shine to Joe and had shown him the chook pen while Pip was having a shower.
Samantha, the five years-old was part of the team and collected the plates in between courses.

‘They’re very used to strangers,’ Beth Rogers watched with pride as the small girl climbed on a chair to rinse the dishes. ‘The farm attracts people who like nature and yet they come from all walks of life. We’ve had merchant bankers, school teachers, backpackers from overseas and artists – the whole gamut really.’

‘Yes, it’s really good for the kids and we have made some great friends ourselves,’ said Neil, ‘They know that milk and eggs don’t really come from plastic bottles and cardboard cartons. Toby and Sam appreciate that things don’t come easily, but know that life can be full of fun as well.’

Pip licked her fingers to remove the last vestige of a home made chocolate that Beth served with the coffee.

‘I used to run a mile if someone new talked to me when I was her age.’

‘And you still shy away from washing up,’ grinned Joe.

‘That’s okay mate. You don’t mind doing the dishes, so we’re a team.’

Pip suddenly heard what she’d said. What was she thinking? The slip didn’t go past Joe who winked at her when she stole a glance in his direction, in order to gauge his reaction.

‘Come and look at this Magee.’

Pip and Joe were back in their room after dinner, and Joe was standing at the second exit to the room – double glass doors that led to a verandah wreathed in grape vines. His lithe frame was bathed in light from a soft lamp in the room, and silhouetted against the sky outside.

Joe scooped her to him as she approached and guided her into the evening beyond.

Here was a little magic place lit by a generous full moon: a private enclosed rose garden, the familiar perfume wafting in the autumn air.

Joe took Pip’s hand, and led her towards a feathery poinsiana tree in one corner, and beneath its branches the moon shadows played over a swinging double seat, plump with floral cushions. Joe drew her down and kissed her tenderly.

The garden aroma mingled with Joe’s familiar scent as they snuggled together, dreamily taking in the moon, a single wispy cloud scudding briefly across its face.

‘In my mind she’s Selene you know – my Mum. I’ve always thought of the moon as watching over me, a familiar friend.’

‘Mmmm – that’s nice,’ murmured Joe.

‘I feel happiest and safest when the moon is around.’

The wispy cloud disappeared into the velvet blue of the sky before Pip spoke again.

‘Grandma called her Violet Selene and Mum asked everyone to call her Selene instead. Selene was the moon goddess of Greek mythology. She’s said to carry the moon over the night sky in a chariot. I’ve always loved stories of the old gods.’

‘The moon goddess is supposed to have fallen in love with a shepherd, a mortal called Endymion,’ Joe mused.

‘Yes. And they had fifty daughters …’

‘Fifty! That doesn’t sound like what I know of your Mum. Although so far as I’m concerned you’re worth fifty other women …’

Pip looked sideways at Joe. He was sitting with an earnest smile on his face, and it seemed as though he meant what he had said.

She leaned over and brushed a lock of hair that had strayed low over his forehead and let her hand wander down the side of his face; gently.

Pip smiled: ‘I feel sure that Selene was not a promiscuous type. No. It’s the bit about the shepherd that I’m interested in. Really Joe could you think of any of the rapists as ‘shepherds’?’

‘Hardly. Let’s see. I think George Wimpole would come the closest. He was a school teacher and had a flock of kids in his classes. And Gazza. Hell no …’

‘The boxing promoter guy?’

‘Pug Raven? Can’t see it.’

‘And then there’s Con Robson. I reckon the closest he’d come to being a shepherd would be cheating on a football field. Even that would be far fetched because shepherding means protecting another player from attack while he makes a move for the good of the team. Hardly Con …’

‘No not Con. I cannot see Con being your Dad. He’s a sneak thief who works only for himself. He’s cruel and calculating and secretive. I can’t see him in you Magee …’

A tear was quietly coursing down Pip’s cheek.

‘Even when I am being harsh on myself I can’t see that either. It’s a horrifying prospect.’

She looked again towards the moon.

‘The myth of Selene and Endymion is a lovely story. Selene is supposed to have seduced him while he lay asleep in a cave and the fifty daughters were the result of this one seduction. Or so it goes.

‘Endymyion chose his own fate – never to grow old and to sleep eternally. Selene visits him every night and kisses him with a ray of light.’

‘You know Magee Gazza reminds me of another myth – the one in European folklore about werewolves.’

Pip laughed. ‘Yeah – you’re so right there. I can picture Gaz as a man who turns into a wolf at night to devour people and corpses, returning to human form during the day. One story says they transform under the influence of the full moon. Fits doesn’t it?’

‘You know a werewolf is a vampire in the making? After death they become blood suckers…’

‘Mmmm. Be thankful he’s not dead eh? The first time I ever met Gaz was a shock to the system. He’s got a terrible aura. Frank told me Gazza has hair on his palms and shaves them. He’s got the werewolf eyebrows too – slanty and meeting at the bridge of his nose.’

They both dissolved into laughter – a release for them sitting, bathed by the moon’s light.

Once they returned to the city life became a flurry of activity. Joe went back to work and Pip realised that she too had better put her nose down and make some money. In the weeks to follow she saw Joe only occasionally.

Pip rearranged the inevitable dust that had settled in her unit and then rang a friend who had a contract to produce dreaded ‘advertorials’ for the local newspapers that were thrown over the fences in suburban streets. These were the ‘freebie’ stories that businesses were given as a part of advertising deals and put in the back pages of the paper in the ‘feature section’.

To a serious journalist, writing these was a bit like prostituting yourself. They went against the grain of quality investigative reporting, but Pip found occasionally that a bout of this writing was a quick way of making a dollar, allowing her to retain a freelance status. She was a quick wordsmith and could roll out such rubbish at the speed of a train, and without compromising too much.

Her friend Kathy Jefferies had a business in which she employed a dozen or so writers on a casual basis, and sent a cheque at the end of the month. The writing was done at home and sent into the office by email so there was no need to admit publicly that you did this, and reputations remained intact. It was a bit like piece work in the rag trade, although better paid.

So for the next month Pip rose at dawn each day and went for a run. She sat down at the computer after a good breakfast and the mass production began.
Her penance in the cause of freedom was relentless but for breaks for coffee, and a sandwich for lunch.

Most nights she ordered in a Chinese meal or made a speedy salad for dinner and continued the work until 11pm, thinking of the cheque when things seemed tough.

Payment for the story about the death of young Jim Rouse arrived from Joe’s Daily, as did one for some research and writing she had done some time ago for a prominent television documentary series. They all paid her mortgage instalments and grocery bills …

Pip cheered inwardly at the end of the month when the last of her advertorial assignments was wrapped up and safely emailed to Kathy. It was now just a matter of waiting for the money to come in.

She made herself a cappuccino coffee with the idea of settling down to watch a bit of television when the phone rang.

It was Frank.

‘All good news Pippin. All good.’

‘I could do with some of that.’

‘You know of course that Con and Gazza are on remand. The thing is, I’ve had a yarn with the sergeant and he’s generally very pleased with the way things are going with the investigations. I reckon the evidence from Gazza has Con tied up in knots.

‘He’s been able to implicate him in George’s murder for sure.’

‘That’s great! What about the rape?’

‘That’s not quite so straightforward … But the sergeant does think there are a couple of ways of getting a result.’

‘You mean … Have they done the comparison between my DNA and Con’s? Is that what you mean?’

‘Well, yeah. Are you ready for this Pippin?’

‘Of course …’ ‘The scientific boffins got a negative result. Con Robson is not your dad.’

The buzz of the television in the background faded, and the spoon in Pip’s hand froze, poised above the froth on the coffee. The froth bubbled and expanded, filling the room. She felt she was drowning in a haze of white.

Con Robson is not your dad. The words thumped in Pip’s head. Con Robson was not her dad. She was not the fruit of an act of horrific violence. The seed which became Pip Holmes was not planted at the time of the vicious rape on her mother Selene.

‘Pippin! Are you still there?’

Frank’s voice spilled anxiously from the phone.

Pip’s mind came back into the room.
‘Sorry mate. Wow. That is good news … such a relief.’

‘It certainly is Pippin. I thought you’d gone walkabout on me … You still don’t know everything, but at least you know the rape wasn’t involved eh? That’s really something eh?’

There were so many implications to this news. She needed some quiet time to take it all in.

Frank was still talking: ‘The sergeant was prepared to tell me the results just because they were negative. They wouldn’t have been introduced into evidence, so letting you know wouldn’t prejudice the case. It does open up other cans of worms though …’

‘Sure Frank. Sure. Do you mind if I digest this news? I’ll talk to you later …’

‘Certainly. Certainly. It’s a big one for you.

‘I’ll be in touch.’
And Frank was gone.

Pip had some thinking and feeling to do ..

Next day Pip rang Joe and organised a date to take in a matinee performance of a play for which the Belvoir B Company was receiving rave reviews. She loved the little playhouse in inner Sydney for its great character and the sterling work it did for grass roots theatre in Australia. The company regularly provided space for plays that may not have been given a chance otherwise.

After the show the crowd spilled out onto the seedy little streets that were a source of charm in this area, and Pip and Joe followed those people heading towards Central Railway. Here they caught a bus that carried them along George Street to the Circular Quay area.

By the time the waiter showed them to a table overlooking the Sydney Opera House across the water, lights had begun to wink, reflecting on the surface and turning the place into a fairyland.

It was a balmy evening with a light breeze riffling the menus on the tables of the outdoor balcony.
They ordered a meal and the waiter disappeared into the kitchen.

Pip had been waiting for this moment to tell Joe Frank’s news. It was momentous and she wanted to choose her time.

Joe sat opposite at the little table and he stretched his hand with its long fingers towards her small one, covering it and bringing a feeling of security.
The tear in her eye was a symptom of relief and release.

‘Joe baby, Con is not my father.’

Joe’s eyes glinted with happiness.

‘That’s wonderful! Wonderful that you know at last. I didn’t think he was. Ever. Not for a moment.’

Pip looked towards the gleaming cutlery on the table, not noticing.

‘Thanks Joe. But you were more confident than I was. You know the nature or nurture argument. How much of us is due to our genes and how much to our environment. That’s all still up in the air. It was a very real possibility. ’

‘You are a living argument for a balance between both nature and nurture Magee, and so my hypothesis was a sure thing. You could not have been spawned by that bag of sleaze.’

Joe squeezed her hand.

‘And so who is my dad? That’s the question that’s been hanging around for just so long …’

‘How do you feel about Frank? He seems to be next in the line, and he’s pretty sure that he was around at the right time.’

‘We’ll soon know. I really don’t have any evidence that Selene was promiscuous. Her heart would have been very much a part of any physical relationship I reckon. On the other hand there may be someone else we don’t know about.’

‘But how would it be for you? If it was Frank …?’

Pip’s gaze was far away. ‘I’ve had since last night to think about that. Frank is a little rough around the edges sometimes, but then so am I.

‘In many ways he was adversely affected by the rape just as much as I was. His entire life turned upside down because of Selene’s emotional reaction to the attack. She suddenly changed and disappeared without any obvious reason. Frank was in the dark about the why of the situation just as I was. His life became second best after that and he turned to grog for comfort. That’s not a good decision, but we human beings aren’t rational at times like that. We’re swept along by uncertain breezes.

‘I prefer to remember the good times with Frank – the good times you knew as well. He was an impressive professional journalist, with a damned soft heart. He’s honest and cares about little people. He was fun and a good friend. We don’t have much say in it once life takes a serious turn and addiction takes a hold.’

‘I agree mate. He’s certainly a solid citizen,’ Joe grinned suddenly ‘I can’t help thinking your assessment of Frank’s fundamental character is pretty much as I would describe you. Maybe you’re a chip off that old block after all…’

Two weeks later Pip and Joe were seated at the same table bathed again in the shimmering atmosphere of Sydney Habour on a fine evening. This time Frank was there as well, strangely querulous and fingering an unaccustomed tie.

Pip’s smile embraced him in a motherly sort of way.

Joe took hold of the good bottle of Australian white waiting in the ice bucket, half filled her glass, then leaned towards Frank’s.

Frank gently placed his hand over the glass.
‘I’m on the wagon,’ he said.

Joe and Pip exchanged a surprised glance.

‘Really?’ said Pip ‘How come?’

‘I reckon I’ve destroyed too many of my liver cells already. Look I’ve got some news.

‘I leaned on Denzy last week and she found the results of our DNA comparison tangled up in some Institute inbox. Been there for weeks.’

Pip felt herself swallow deeply. ‘And …?’

‘It’s a positive Pippin. A positive. How do you feel about that?’ Frank looked even more anxious.

‘That’s wonderful Frank. Really wonderful. It makes me so happy.’

Pip rose from her chair and moved around to Frank’s, inviting him to his feet. She looked deeply into those green eyes.

‘I am so very happy …. Dad!’

They engulfed each other in an embrace, and stood there, rocking and quietly sobbing.

Joe joined them to make it a three way hug.

Much later that evening Pip sat quietly on the little balcony outside her unit.

It was amazing how often the moon was full at turning points in her life. There she was again, Selene the Moon Goddess – comforting and familiar.

Pip now knew how much this discovery would have meant to her mother. She was quite certain in her heart that Frank and Selene had been the closest of lovers, and that the pack rape had destroyed the future for each of them.

Selene had coped by disappearing inside herself, her self confidence destroyed. She made the mistake that so many others had made before her, and refused the help of the man she loved.

Why? Because she couldn’t face hurting Frank? Or did she feel unclean and unworthy of him?
The result had been the same.

Frank? Poor Frank was thrown into a vortex of confusion, and had mistakenly sought the help of another god – Bacchus. Hopefully that influence was fading.

For herself, Pip needed time to adjust, but so far so good, she thought.

It was now a month since Frank told Pip the news that he was her father, and she and Joe were driving west again on the invitation of Dr. Harold Staunch. The Department of Health had come good with its promise to provide a heliport in town for use in emergencies, following Pip’s story about the death of young Joe Rouse.

It seemed that Harold and the entire town would be eternally grateful to Pip and included Joe and Frank for their share of praise as the result of support they had given. The three of them were to be guests at a special dance and supper to mark the official opening of the heliport.

By late afternoon the day before the dance, Pip and Joe pulled in at the district police station in the next town to chat with the police sergeant in charge of the cases against Con and Gazza. He was extremely optimistic that all charges would stick and that both men would face long gaol sentences for the murder. He believed Con’s would be lengthened still more because of his part as mastermind in the pack rape of Selene. Of course, Gazza had already paid for his part in that crime.

‘I think you can relax about those two now. They’ll both be very old men before they see the light of day again. You’re safe mate.’ And Joe planted a kiss on Pip’s forehead before taking the luggage from the boot.

They’d decided to stay for the night in a motel just down the road from the district court, and spend a leisurely day before meandering over to the dance the next evening.

In preparation for the dance, Pip ditched her customary jeans and shirt in favour of a deep blue-green dress the colour of gum leaves. It complemented the perfectly cut large and sparkling aquamarine solitaire Joe had presented to her on bended knee just a week before.

‘It’s your birth stone and mythology says it’s for a person of courage, and brings safety and security in marriage,’ Joe had explained.

‘I’m into safety and security so long as it’s not boring,’ said Pip ‘I promise never to be boring.’

She really loved the ring, and the symbolism.

They drove past the soldier memorial guarding the main street almost half an hour after the dance was set to begin, not meaning to make an ‘entrance’, but that turned out to be their lot.

They’d forgotten that country people tended to be there at the beginning of social events.

Pip had spoken to Frank on the phone during the afternoon and he’d warned them that townsfolk had been preparing for days. ‘Don’t eat lunch or dinner for god’s sake. There’ll be a mountain of home made food.’

As they rounded into the street proper Joe drew her attention to a small boy running at full pelt towards the Memorial Hall where the dance was being held. Pip realised it was the youngest Rouse child and wondered about the reason for his haste. They soon found out.

The boy had been a ‘cockatoo’, set to watch out for their arrival. Pip and Joe mounted the steps and walked into the little foyer of the hall, to be met immediately by the rotund, smiling Harold Staunch.

Behind him was the beginning of two hastily formed rows of residents forming a guard of honour that stretched all the way to the stage. It seems as though the entire town was there, dressed in their very best.

The old hall was dripping with streamers and flags, and signs hand drawn on cardboard declared ‘Thank you Pip and Frank and Joe’.

The show was for them!

There was music … a bush band of three players struck up a familiar folk song just as Harold led them through the first of the guard of honour. A girl was playing a piano accordion, a guy wielded a wild violin and another the largaphone – a very Australian invention.

Made of beer bottle tops attached loosely to a 1.5 metre pole, the largaphone created a rattling percussive beat when bounced in time against the floor.

Pip looked sideways at Joe and decided not to be embarrassed, but to enjoy the occasion to the full. She squeezed Joe’s hand and laughed, and he did the same. From then on all of the attention seemed great fun.

Pip noticed that Frank was standing at the end of the lines near the stage, looking very pleased with himself. Anyone watching may have noticed Pip’s jaw drop momentarily because Frank was holding a woman’s hand. She looked again and realised it was his friend Flo, from the old days.

Pip recalled that the two had an on again off again relationship for years. They’d been together here, but the situation was in the ‘off again’ range when Pip saw him at the time of her first visit to the town. Judging by the body language Frank and Flo were now very much ‘on again’.

Harold ushered Pip and Joe onto the stage, and collected Frank on the way.

Pip leaned over to her father and whispered: ‘You old dog. You’ve snared Flo again.’

Frank whispered back: ‘It’s amazing what happens when you find out you have a lovely daughter. You can even give up the grog and catch and keep a lady.’

Joe and Frank greeted each other fondly.

Pip thought her heart would burst.

Mercifully, Harold Staunch’s speech was short. He thanked Pip Joe and Frank for the part they had played in obtaining the heliport, and forecast a long and healthy future for the town because of its presence. He then invited everyone to eat supper.

The band struck up ‘Waltzing Matilda’ while the town tucked into steak sandwiches, sponge cakes, home made trifles and pavlova. There was a sea of food.

Everyone there seemed to know Pip’s name and many of them personally wished her well. Some even made oblique references to her mother, and talked about the incarceration of Gazza and Con. There was no love lost in that direction.

As usual the barn dance was the most popular of the evening. The entire hall was dancing, kids included.

Pip got to dance with every man in town as she moved from partner to partner to the beat of an Irish inspired jig.
She was having a hoot. When it was Frank's turn, she discovered he was a mean dancer. It was a strange feeling to know that this man was truly her Dad.

Finally they all completed the circle, returning to their original partners, and there was Joe awaiting her, with his deep blue eyes.

The band slowed its pace to a romantic waltz, and Pip and Joe set off into a swirl of happiness.

It’s done.

This raking around
in the past.

Secrets now tumble

from their closets.
Locked there
they had
the power
to hurt and destroy.

secrets decay,
become secrets no more —
Unruly influences vanish
in the first puff of breeze.


© The foregoing is excerpted from Paternity by June Saville. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.

The availablility of Pip's story has been a gift to my bloggy friends. There is but one condition - I ask that those many readers who have been 'peeking' anonymously for the past eighteen episodes simply make a feedback comment so I'll know how you feel about it - very important to every writer.

To those many who have become Pip's fans and my friends through regular comments - please let's know whether you're happy OR NOT with end of the story.

And if any of you know a publisher who may be interested in Pip - please let me know!

Remember too that there are many of my short stories and poems on this blog. Links for 'Paternity' and all short stories and poems are on the sidebar.

And thanks to my very many regular Paternity mates - it's been good to have you along on the ride!

June Saville


  1. Hi again June - God knows what happened to my last part comment - it just disappeared ! Anyhow, let me be the first to congratulate you on the ending - It was BRILLIANT! In fact the whole story as it unfolded was great story telling.

    I could almost hear the echoes of the music and see Pip and Joe dancing ... Always have been a right sucker for a romantic and happy ending and Pip certainly deserved to be happy - It was just right!! Congratulations June! How fantastic if you could get it published .....

    Now I'll have to get back to normality in this rainy and miserable grey day, get dressed and organized, get my bills paid and go collect Dorien for our usual Saturday wander to the market.

    Cheers for now, Love Kate x.

  2. Hi June, Thanks for the tip this was complete.
    I think it is a very satisfactory ending, & everyone loves a happy ending!
    All the villains are dealt with, all the good guys rewarded. Just what a good novel needs.
    Thankyou for sharing it all with us.

  3. It was the ending I suspected (and wanted!)..great job, June!
    My only wish was to be there for the proposal of Joe's to Pip...but you can't have it all!!
    Now, when is the next story coming????

  4. Very endearing conclusion, June. I’m glad that Frank was her father. I think one of things that I loved most about Paternity is that you wrote it in the Aussie dialect. Reading the segment each character spoke to me in with this wonderful accent and familiarized me with their local terminology.

    I will miss Pip, Joe, Frank and the little outback town but I can let the story go because all is well and as it should be. Thank you so much for sharing this online with us. Paternity has been quite a pleasure to be a part of.

    And I agree with 'Retired One'. When does our next story begin?


  5. Wooooooooo hooooooooooo! I'm happy for the lot of them, Pip, Joe and Frank. I've really enjoyed this story June. You write with such flow creating very believable characters and scenes. Thank you so much for sharing Pip with us. Cheers! Cheryl

  6. A personal note from JUNE:
    It seems Paternity has hit the right note for my bloggy mates and I am so very happy. I think Pip deserved a happy ending and I'm pleased you did too.
    I'm going to have a little holiday now but there are plenty of other stories to dip into on this site so I know you are looked after until I get back ...
    Thanks for being such faithful friends and fans - it is certainly good for the writer's ego and keeps me going.
    One thing - if anyone has some constructive comments about style, mistakes in plot line, typos, characterisation - anything - please let me know. I'm a big girl who learns from criticism.
    Cheers and thanks

  7. KATE
    You say the ending was 'just right'. How wonderful! I had a warm fuzzy feeling as I was writing it so I thought it might be okay. There had been enough awful things happening before then!
    Look after Dorien.

    High praise indeed thanks. I'm pleased you feel that everyone got their just deserts (good and bad). Hey - don't tell your mates what happened until they've read it too - deal?

  9. June,
    This had to be the perfect ending. I withdraw my earlier comment.
    And as for Publishers, you could try Penguin, or Harper Collins, or East/ West Publishers. Or even my own one : Genesis Publishing, New Delhi.

  10. YES, YES, YES! June, You know I always thought Frank was her father and I am such a romantic. I love the great ending and the fact that she is getting together with the man in her life. The entire story has kept me captivated from the very beginning and I could not wait to get over here and see how it ended. You are a remarkable writer in my eyes. You gave us just enough in every episode to keep us coming back and wanting more, more, more and not knowing what to expect from you in the next chapter. Paternity deserves to be in print!

  11. As ever VIKKI, a valuable post.

    Yes, I think it's important that we try to be ourselves, as writers and artists. Many Australians tend to imitate the American accent and sayings and I say why do that when we have perfectly good ones of our own? It would be so boring if we were all the same - and the way the world is going today this is a real danger. Writing can make a contribution to the maintenance of our various precious cultures.

    Australians use the vernacular to a greater or lesser degree, but we all use it sometimes.
    I am particularly pleased that you, a Californian gal, did not find the language distracting, but a plus for the story.

    Of course, you made a great contribution to Pip's story on this blog with your great portrait, included again above. You really picked Pip so far as I am concerned. I would have recognised her anywhere.

    I'm also chuffed with your observation that you can now 'let the story go'. It is always a conundrum for a writer. We wouldn't wish to do our readers psychological damager by leaving anything hanging (!)

    I will return with more writing before long, but right now a little quiet time is in order, with no pressing deadlines. You understand, I'm sure - with your wonderful arty blog.

    Thanks for your support Vikki. Our mutual friend is reading the final episode as well and I'll be most interested to hear read her comments.
    Thanks for everything

  12. Good to hear from you CHERYL/PONDERER.
    It's fine that I was able to draw my characters clearly for you. They are interesting people who deserved that (!)
    You never know, Pip may rear her head again - in some story or other.
    Thanks for your support.

  13. I'm pleased I 'converted' you to my ending SMITA. I do think it would have been disastrous for Pip (and all of us) if one of the rapists turned out to be her father.

    I thought about your suggestions seriously and thank you for them. Do you have a contact at Genesis? You might email me if you have any suggestions ...

    I do have quite a few Pip fans in India. In fact in the past month I have had visitors from 29 different countries, so it shows that Pip crosses cultural boundaries quite well.

    Yesterday with the final episode posted I had an all time daily high in the rate of visitors to Journeys - and that's a real buzz.

  14. JUDY you little romantic you!

    If Pip's story has satisfied your needs I am a happy writer! Thank you for being such a loyal and supportive fan.

    One day someone will read Paternity and print it - I feel it in my bones.

    They say delay delay delay is important in tension building in writing. I think everyone was very patient and (apparently) tense as well in between episodes. I do hope it was a nice form of tension though ... I don't wish anyone harm.

    Another satisfied customer Wow!
    So far as the proposal is concerned - I'm one who doesn't like 'too soppy'. Perhaps I should have had a go but we know that he did it on bended knee ...

    Generally however, I think suggestions carry much more impact than underlines and bold fonts (so to speak).

    I'd be really interested to know other people's thoughts on that. Thanks again Retired One.

  16. June. You opted for the ‘safe’ ending but although it was the expected/desired ending for most of your readers, I think you’ve developed it in such a way that is not predictable which makes it a very satisfactory ending indeed. A sterling effort and work – and I think the story/novel definitely deserves a look in with publishers. Well done & congratulations on completing this project. You inspire the rest of us. It’s been an enjoyable journey. Good luck Pip, Joe & Frank :)

  17. CATHM
    Thank you for the feedback - I do appreciate it very much.

    My first ending - the one I discarded - drew on the unexpected and I felt empty about it. I got the feeling that my readers (and I) had somehow taken Pip to our hearts and we didn't want her to come to any sort of harm, psychologically or otherwise.

    That's one of the main reasons I re-wrote quite a few of the last chapters and why I kept so many people waiting. Although I must say it seemed to help with the 'delay delay delay' maxim.

    Thanks for your patience everyone.

    Cath, thanks for the kind words too, and I'm pleased you enjoyed the journey of Pip Joe and Frank.

  18. I would like to offer my thanks for sharing your precious gift with us June. Pips was a fantastic story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Enjoy your well earned break. You so deserve it. All the very best,

    Thanks so much for your words. It's nice to be appreciated, and I'm pleased you approved of Pip's story.
    It's nice that the blokes have joined in for the ride with a feisty young Ozzie girl.
    A little holiday - yes - but only a short one.

  20. Read the episode. Great ending and brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Pleased you like it NSIYER As I said to Rogue - it's good to know that males have enjoyed my writing. Thanks for the feedback.

  22. I'm so sorry that I've not read your blog(s) until this evening. Very interesting and very good!

  23. Great JOB June. Well, the end, after you had spilled the beans about Frank's closeness to Selene was needed this way. The more important thing than the revelation was the journey to the revelation. Was really worth all the time we spent on the novel. And the last episode sure is worth the wait.
    Congratulations on this creation.

  24. Hi WILDWOODS - Welcome!
    Did you realise you can catch up with Pip's story (right from the beginning)via the links on the sidebar? Also many short stories and poems there as well.

  25. Thanks for the feedback MAMPI.
    I tried to create a conclusion that tied up happiness for Pip and the reader, as they both deserved it. I like stories that surprise as well, but this didn't turn out to be one of them.

  26. June, the book is terrific! I finally got to get back to reading a couple of days ago. It's exciting, the characters are vivid and well portrayed. It's moving, it has warmth and it has suspense and I love how it all comes together at the end. Congrats!

    I'm so pleased you liked it. Yours is wonderful rounded feedback. I am particularly happy that you liked the way the end came together as I was wondering if it was a bit twee?
    Please let me know of any negatives?
    Take care.

  28. Hi June,
    I thoroughly enjoyed "Paternity" and was so engrossed in the reading that I didn't pay much attention to thinking of any suggestions. In retrospect, I would have been hard pressed to make more than the odd remark about a possible word missed or question about punctuation.

    The story was well-told from beginning to end, a real anticipation. I usually read word for word but found myself racing ahead at times to see what would happen.

    The ending was particularly satisfying. You explained it so clearly - not rushed, not BANG over, not some "out of nowhere" dad the reader could not have anticipated.

    Thanks for days of great reading. I look forward to your other work - or play, as I trust it is.


    What wonderful feedback on Pip! It looks as though your journey with 'Paternity' is a win win situation for both of us. Thanks so much.


Thanks for leaving a comment. Its good to know who is having a peek! I will certainly send a comment in reply.

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Also, you may like to have a look at my other blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.

Cheers June