The Necklace

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

I don't wanna work on Monty's farm no more.

The Necklace

There’s a sad, beautiful woman In this one-horse town.

I don’t remember when I first met Monty the farmer; he went to school with my landlord years ago, out here in Hopelesstown. I’ve always got on well with my landlord and I prefer living in this shack in the ‘outlands’ than living in the centre of the parochial, loveless town. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought Monty was OK, although our political opinions are poles apart. I’ve always tried to be tolerant of small-minded bigots and quasi-fascists, with their predictable racist, reactionary, homophobic misogyny, because out here in the boondocks they are the norm and after many years I have come to realise the futility of arguing with red-necks. It’d only get me bashed or killed.

Anyway, back to Monty the farmer; as mentioned above, he’d always seemed friendly and had helped me out on a few occasions and taken me out to his farm when he needed a hand or when it was either appallingly hot or ridiculously cold. The last resident, the landlord’s father, suffered hyperthermia whilst living in the shack and died not long after. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Monty who was concerned about my welfare, as he has no compassion or kindness, like most of Hopelesstown’s residents. I suspect it was his lovely wife, Diana, who asked him to save me from oblivion and a miserable death, as she is an angel of mercy.

Sometimes Monty would ride around the farm with me on the quadbike or driving around recklessly in his four-wheel drive trying to scare the bejesus out of me and call me a ‘nervous pervous’, due to my fear of being killed in a preventable on-farm accident, which are so common out here. Monty himself has come to grief a few times through his reckless adventurism and bears the scars of his misfortune with pride. I am, however, not impressed by mindless recklessness. Life is too short to tempt fate.

I once complained to Diana that as I didn’t have a will and if I died intestate, all my money would go to my ‘ex’, to which she replied: “You don’t have any money, Craig.” I love her droll, dead-pan, gallows sense of humour. I suppose she needs it to cope with living with Monty. But I digress; I have not mentioned the fact that Monty is a mad Heavy Metal fan who loves AC/DC and other leather-clad ensembles, more than Pope Francis loves Jesus. His sixteen-year old daughter, Metal Girl, is a proficient heavy metal guitarist who despises my musical non-metal tastes. She hates the Blues, despises Dylan and has probably never listened to J.S. Bach…the list goes on. She is Daddy’s girl.

Some time back I was summoned over to the farm for a jam, as my musical landlord was visiting from Melbourne and it seemed reasonable to play drums along with some fellow musicians. However, what transpired was far from reasonable – once I was behind the drums in the ‘music room’ I was trapped in a small area crowded with bourbon-swilling bong-toking bogans, whilst Metal Girl played Back in Black and other compositions that made me wish I’d been struck deaf by syphilis like Ludwig van. I got out of there eventually, but they followed me into the ‘pool room’ and began boganning, if that’s the correct noun to verb conversion; “A bunch of boganning bogans.” It sounds grammatically feasible to me, but I’m not a grammarian.

An acutely boganistic bogan (neologisms fall like the tears of poets), whom I’ll refer to a Skull, wanted to get his gear off and rub Monty’s bearded face onto his naked chest. I swear I was ready to spew! ‘Why don’t these guys get a room?’, I thought. Sooooo blatantly latent; but what would I know – I’m not a psychologist. Anyway, I escaped again, into the lounge room this time and told Diana and her daughter, Kali, about my horrific experience.

“Oh, that’s just Skull,” Diana explained. “He’s always stripping off.”

“What? Disrobing in front of children! I’d call the police,” to which she gave a short chuckle.

“I agree with Craig,” uttered Kali. At least someone is on my side. I left the house, found my dodgy car and drove home promising myself never to return. Fate, however, had planned future ordeals and humiliations; fate cannot be taken from us; it is a gift, according to Dante, the miserable bastard. Devine Comedy, my arse. There’s not a laugh in it.

***

I recall another time when I was on the farm helping Monty with some minor jobs whilst he supplied me with bourbon and cokes, or Bogan Cocktails as I refer to them as, (yes, I am an unmitigated snob – so what!), when Monty presented Diana with a collection of assorted junk he’d scavenged from the local tip, thinking she’d be impressed with the ‘treasures’ he’d discovered.

“You know I only want jewellery, Monty,” she uttered facetiously upon seeing it. Game, set and match, I thought. She always has the perfect line for a situation, which made me think of the Pet Shop Boys song that goes ‘I’ve got the looks, You’ve got the brains…’, etc. She has both and he has neither. Perhaps I am being overly critical, but I doubt it.

Monty and I didn’t see much of one another after the ‘incident’ in the dining room of the Bottom Pub when Monty disclosed his devoted admiration for former Prime Minister, John Howard, in front of my landlord’s widowed mother, a lovely ‘old lefty’. I thought his comments were a bit tactless and as I’d consumed a few glasses of Shiraz, I launched into a strenuous censure of the former member for Bennelong, which, even I admit, went a little too far. However, the landlord’s mother agreed with me wholeheartedly, but the landlord and Monty looked rather aggrieved. Oh, well; serves them right. It’s downright impolite to bring politics up at the dinner table, and I was convinced he was trying to intimidate me. He seems to relish putting me down, which I put down to emotional insecurity, and although I’ve read some Freud and Jung, I’m not, however, claiming to be a psychotherapist. Besides, it’d take a professional shrink years to fathom Monty’s psychological maladies.

I was taken aback when he turned up at the shack one day claiming I needed some more fire wood. I agreed to go to the farm to help him collect some for him, and a little for myself, as I was becoming acclimatised to the bitter winter chill. He told me he was organising a birthday party for Diana in few weeks’ time and that I should come out and play that night. I couldn’t really grasp his logic, as Diana usually steers clear of the poolroom and music-room and from most of his bogan cronies. He said that my landlord was coming up with his musical colleague, Tom, which made it sound a little more plausible and slightly more palatable and I reluctantly agreed.

I thought I should get Diana something for her birthday, as she’d always been kind and generous to me. When she’d recently updated her kitchen appliances she gave me her old electric jug and toaster, and when her year-old posh washing machine went on the blink, I lent her my old one, which still worked after a fashion. I thought about getting her a book or a DVD, but that sounded rather inane and impersonal. I recalled her earlier comment to Monty about ‘only wanting jewellery’ and remembered I had a small pendant somewhere that I’d bought years ago and had never really worn. I found it one of my many storage boxes I hadn’t got around to unpacking. It was a small silver triangle with a polished blue stone mounted in its centre. It had only cost me about twenty dollars and could not, therefore, be classed as precious jewellery; just cheap bling.

As the trinket didn’t have a chain, I went up to Vinnies to see what they had that might suffice. The women directed me to a rack of ornaments and there was a slightly battered looking silver chain that I thought would be perfect. They were only going to charge me a dollar for it. ‘Bargain!’, I thought. They suggested a small crimson pouch in which to present it for another dollar, to which I agreed. They asked me if I’d ever been to the Hopelesstown Fire Museum to which I replied: “God yes! In search of old flames,” which they found amusing and as my quest was probably the most ridiculously romantic they’d probably ever witnessed in their opportunity shop, they gave them both to me gratis.

‘Unbelievable!’, I thought. It hadn’t really cost me a thing. The pendent had been sitting around in a box for years gathering dust and besides, men can’t wear bling out here in Hopelesstown; it’d only provoke the violent homophobes. It was win-win as far as I could see. I showed it my friend Emma, who thought it was lovely. She also thought Monty would be justifiably peeved; she positively loathes him, along with the other homophobic philandering misogynists in this one-horse town. Or is that misogynistic philandering homophobes? Whatever.

I took it home and put the pouch on my bookshelf and began to ponder the ramifications. What were you thinking, Craig? Giving a beautiful married woman jewellery! Monty has firearms and no sense of humour whatsoever, unless one considers the denigration and humiliation of vertically challenged, aging poets amusing, which I certainly do not; but perhaps I am biased. ‘I can’t go through with it,’ I told myself. It’s going too far. No good will come of it. No-one will find it even slightly amusing. I’ll just have to make excuses and not show up at her ‘party’. It would not be worth the torment.

However, fate has a way of challenging logic. A week out from the proposed get-together, Monty arrived unexpectedly with the same pretext of collecting some fire wood. It was 11.30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the worst time to go out there, as I hadn’t had any lunch and he’d be trying to prime me with bogan cocktails again, and being the pisshead I am, I’d be unable to refuse. I didn’t want Diana cooking for me as she has enough to cope with already. She often packs me some roast lamb and vegies to take home with me, as I’m sure she worries that I might become malnourished. I felt sick just thinking about going out there.

He finally managed to persuade me, but before we left I pocketed the pouch, just to tempt fate. One never knows. We drove out to collect firewood, after which he showed me his enormous BBQ area he’d designed and constructed to roast a piglet upon a spit, which appalled me. So that’s why he wanted to bring me over. To show me where next week’s carnivorous spectacle would take place. I managed to break away from him briefly while he was contemplating his macabre edifice. Jesus!

Diana and Kali were on the veranda trying to decide which plants and flowers they were going to plant in the beds. I summoned up whatever courage I was able summon and spoke to her.

“So, Monty tells me that it was your birthday last week.”

“No,” she replied. “That was Zoe’s,” which is Metal Girl’s real name. Honestly, what kind of insensitive brute doesn’t remember his wife’s birthday? I still remember my first girlfriend’s birthday and that was nearly forty years ago. ‘She definitely deserves better,’ I thought.

“Was it? When is yours?” I managed to enquire timidly.

“Tomorrow,” she answered.

“Really?” I replied. “I got something for you,” I told her, retrieving the pouch out of my pocket, trying to explain that it was inspired by her statement to Monty vis a vis the junk he’d brought home from the tip, which now seemed so long ago.

“I had it lying around gathering dust and as I can’t wear bling out here, I thought it’d look better on you than me.” I was uttering absolute tommyrot, nervously and inarticulately, as she extracted the gift from the pouch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a delightful, beaming smile and then she lurched over at me and hugged me, to my discomfort. ‘Take it easy, Lady. I’m rather fragile,’ I felt like uttering. But I didn’t. Kali gave an approving sigh and thought it was beautiful. Of course, all this commotion aroused Monty’s curiosity and he dashed over to uncover the source of excitement.

She showed him the necklace and said, “Look what Craig gave me.” She always comes up with the perfect line and it immediately shut him up. He barely spoke to me as he drove me back to the shack, other than something about pump action shot guns and dumping my body in the septic tank. But I didn’t care. That’ll teach him to try to intimidate me. Game, set and match, I thought.

*  **

I reverted to my reclusive, hermitic, anti-social existence, which has always suited me. “Hell is other people,” and all that; friends are just people who haven’t let you down yet. I had no friends when I was on Facebook, so why should it be any different in the real world. I still look back on that day with militaristic pride. The timing could not have been better; 2.30 pm on a Saturday afternoon, the day before her birthday. There wouldn’t have been a jeweller open within driving distance, even if he somehow acquired a skerrick of decency. He has no decency at all and I don’t miss him at all. I still miss Diana, though. I always will. She’s so funny. I miss her smile and I miss her kindness.


Submitted: June 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Craig Davison. All rights reserved.

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hullabaloo22

They all sound like real characters, Craig. And Diana, well she seemed to be kind. Right at the start you had a lesson I need to learn - stop arguing with rednecks and just ignore them.

Wed, June 10th, 2020 6:19pm

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Yeah, Monty is my landlord's best friend. I called the character Artemis originally, but I think I went too far and changed it to Diana, who is a sort of Roman equivalent. I've got stop naming my female characters after Goddesses. Freya became Emma, a name I got from the prose fiction course and decided it was better, and its literary - Jane Austen's character and Emma Bovary.
Yeah, Monty's wife is really lovely and kind, and has a dead pan gallows humour. "I can bear a grudge indefinitely," I once stated, to which she replied, "Is that your super-power,Craig?"
Yes, I know I should learn to stop arguing with rednecks, but as I've explained, I am eristic. I don't go to the pub anymore or visit anyone. Paul 'Red' Leary drops over occasionally, but he is a bit too right wing for me and tries to wind me up with outrageous discourse he know's will annoy me, but hey, he gave me a lift into Wagga Wagga so I could buy a new radio. It was very quiet without one and I didn't hear any news. And he dropped off some firewood the other day.
It's very murky outside this morning, so I wont get much sun today, which means less electricity and no hot water.
One must continue to argue with rednecks if only to reveal their lies and inaccuracies. My most cutting line was back in March when I was 'discussing' a point at the top pub - "Coming from a bloke who's never read a book."

Wed, June 10th, 2020 2:33pm

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