School became a place that Jamie and Kim had to go to each day but really didn’t want to, The adoption issue had put a damper on school and neither had dreams of staying there long. Kim ended up school captain at the primary school and Jamie was still receiving top marks in his studies at high school. However they really didn’t want to be there and had their life ambitions mapped out. Kim dreamed of being a hairdresser and was hoping for an apprenticeship , so she could leave as soon as she could and Jamie had lost interest in school and just wanted to go home and run the family farm. He openly shared with his teachers and it disappointed many, who thought he had more academic potential than being a farmer.
Although he never talked about his adoption with friends or teachers at school, it was eating at him inside like a cancer. Questions rolled through his minds. What were his friends thinking about him? What were people, that walked past him down the street, thinking about him? It was like he was now very different from all the other kids. This couldn’t be further from the truth but feelings like this would surface from time to time throughout his life.
Jamie attached himself even more to his Nanna and Pa. Jamie spent all his spare time helping Fred with his greyhounds , or playing cards with Sylvia till late at night. Sylvia always had visitors at her place, as she was one of ten children and Fred was one of Five. There would always be a brother or sister visiting and cards were an activity that they always would take part in every evening after dinner, and Jamie was always there playing with them. Sometimes he would play till midnight or till when June came and got him to come home to bed.
Jamie loved to sit a chat with them and listen to their stories from times gone by. Every one of them was an auntie or uncle to him, as they all said they were too young to be anything else. This he really didn’t understand that well, as all the aunties were from the blue hair rinse contingent, they had many a wrinkle on their faces and sagging necks like the turkeys in the chook pens, and the uncles would always be pulling their teeth out, because of the caramel lollies, they loved to eat, getting stuck to their dentures.
Jamie had great experiences with all of them. Uncle Jim, who had lost a leg in the war and Uncle Ken taught him to catch fish and fillet them as well .Ken was there the day Jamie landed a twenty eight pound cod in the Murrumbidgee River. His fishing story grew quickly and by the time he got home, he told June that it was that big it had one eye each side of the boat. Uncle Bill showed him how to catch salt water lobster and the odd shark, when they would go to Robe in South Australia. Bill being a bit of a prankster and with the help of Jamie, placed the shark, whose skin was like sandpaper, on the outdoor dunny for June to sit on later that night. Uncle Neville developed Jamie’s interest in Rugby League, betting him a dollar that the Dragons would beat the Magpies in a final. To Jamie’s disappointment, it was a dollar he had to pay. Aunty Tip, to Junes disgust, taught him how to read a form guide and gave him tips on how to be a good punter. Uncle Stan taught him how to trap rabbits. A skill that would give Jamie a few surprises and scars over the years, finding animals like wild cats and foxes sometimes trapped in them, and one day even a six foot Goanna, although it had a broken foot, he would see around the farm from time to time. Auntie Linda taught him how to shoot. Soon he could knock a matchbox off a post from 50 yards away. Auntie Betty taught him how pick mulberries and make them into a very tasty pies. However, June was never impressed with this as Jamie always came back looking like a large Mullberry, stained from the purple juice. They all had an input into Jamie’s life, teaching him to love life and respect others. But it was stiil Sylvia that he adored the most.
Every Friday night, till he was sixteen, Jamie would pack his bag, along with his homework and a form guide and head with Fred and Sylvia to the race track. Homework rarely got looked at, as Jamie would rather study the form guide in the back of the car as they travelled to the meeting, than study for school . Between him and his Nanna they would pick many a winner.
Jamie was very attached to all the greyhounds in his Pa’s kennel, but he had a soft spot for a special dog , who he asked Fred keep as a pup. A white dog he called Bill. He was a very fast dog and had won races in Sydney. One Summer night Bill was in a race at Richmond . Fred ,Sylvia and Jamie had travelled 400 miles to compete in the country cup final. Little did Jamie know, his birth mother only lived a few blocks away and could hear the races from her place. It wouldn’t have mattered if he knew anyway, because that night Jamie was totally focused on his dog Bill, and winning the final. It was a night Jamie would remember for the rest of his life , not for good but for the tragedy that was about unfold.
Bill jumped out of the box well and was running neck and neck with another dog to the first turn, when disaster happened. Bill fell and was hit by a runner behind him, forcing him into the running rail. Back then the mechanical rabbit was driven by a steel cable running on the inside of the track. Bill had slid into the cable, which almost severed his leg off. Jamie was on the home turn and swiftly jumped the fence, crying and screaming for Bill to be ok. Bill didn’t move, lying bleeding under the rail. Jamie had almost ran around to Bill, when an official grabbed him. “No kid, it best you don’t” said the man. “He’s gone mate, he’s gone.”Jamie fell in a heap in the middle of the track crying intensely. He saw Bill looking at him still alive then as the vet injected with a needle, Bills eyes glazed just like the white toy dog he had at home. Bill was dead and something in Jamie died along with Bill that night, the emotion that should be shown from death.
© Copyright 2017 Jamie Gawne. All rights reserved.
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