Norma Smith held the first washed plate out to Jack and said, “Well, don’t just stand there, Collie and Rosie should be here any minute now.”
“I thought Collie said she wasn’t going?” asked Jack, wiping the plate dry, and then placing it in the cupboard above the sink.
“That’s what she said originally,” agreed Chris.“But mum and I ... Norma and I went around to see her, and with Rosie’s help we managed to make her change her
There was a knock at the front door and Norma turned to ask, “Will you get that, Chris?”
“Sure,” said Chris standing and walking up to the front door.He returned a few moments later followed by Colleen and Rosemary Bennett his half-sisters.
“Let me give you a hand, Auntie Norma,” said Rosemary, taking up a tea towel to help with the drying up.
“Is anyone reading this?” asked Colleen, picking up the newspaper from the kitchen table.
Jack looked back toward Chris who said, “No, I’ve just finished with it.”
“Would you girls like a cup of tea before we go?” asked Norma.
“Yes, please,” said Rosemary.“Coffee if you’ve got it.”
“Would you mind making it, Collie?” asked Norma.
Colleen stopped in the doorway, on her way to the lounge room, and sighed heavily.
“Never mind, sis,” said Rosemary.“I’ll make it once we finish with the dishes.”
“Thanks,” muttered Colleen, walking through to the lounge room.Sitting upon the sofa, she turned the newspaper to the television page and called out, “We’ll be missing a great
movie tonight, one I’ve always wanted to see.”
“You can watch it another time, love,” said Norma.“I’m sure Beth would be upset if you didn’t go to see her.”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” said Colleen reluctantly.
They finished the dishes, and then Rosemary made the tea and coffee, and took a cup of tea in to Colleen.
“Just put it on the coffee table,” said Colleen, reading through the fashion pages,
“We don’t have a lot of time,” said Norma.“So don’t let it sit for too long.”
“Most of these things are straight out of a Bogart movie,” said Colleen, referring to the fashion pages.“Except they looked a lot better on Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable,
than on the stick figure women that they call models these days.”
“Did you hear what I said about the tea?” asked Norma.
“Yes, Auntie Norma,” said Colleen.She picked up the cup, took a tiny sip of tea, and then pantomimed receiving a third-degree burn.
“Blow on it if it’s a little hot,” advised Norma.“Don’t think you can make the one cup last long enough to get out of going with us.”
“Ready to go, Auntie Norma?” asked Rosemary enthusiastically.“Uncle Jack and Chris are still in the bathroom, shaving.And they talk about women taking a long time
to get ready to go out.”
“Christ, there’s no need to sound so happy!” said Colleen.“It’s not as though we’re going to the pictures or anything.”
“We’re going to see mum,” said Rosemary.“That’s something to be happy about.”
“Not necessarily,” said Colleen.“We don’t know what she’s like.”
“Even so,” begin Rosemary.
“Girls, girls,” said Norma, “don’t argue about it, we’re all going to see Beth in a little while, and that’s final.”She stopped for a moment, and then looked toward the
hallway and, seeing there was still no sign of Chris or Jack, she said, “While I’ve got you both together, girls, there is something I wanted to talk to you about.Jack asked me ...
that is Jack and I both thought perhaps you might like to move in with us for a while.We can shift Chris into the lounge room, and put up your beds in Chris’s room.”
“Well, I’m living with the Bernsteins, next door to our house,” said Rosemary, “and I don’t want....”
“She doesn’t want to move out,” explained Colleen, “because she has a crush on their son, Brian.”
“That isn’t true!” insisted Rosemary,
“Then why do you follow him around everywhere, like a little lost lamb?”
“I do not!”
“Do too,” said Colleen.“It’s a wonder you didn’t invite him along tonight.You could have brought along some pop corn and Jaffas, and you could sit around staring
at her, and it’d be just like being at the pictures.”
“You shut up!” shouted Rosemary.“That’s a nasty thing to say!”
“Yes, you should be ashamed of yourself,” said Norma.
“I’m sorry,” said Colleen, but it sounded like a bad actress reading from a cue card.
As Chris and Jack walked into the lounge room, Norma, asked, “Then how would you like to move in with us for a while, Collie?”
“No, thanks,” said Colleen.“I’ve recently started work as a typist, and I’m renting a room in a house a couple of streets away from where I work.”
“That’s convenient,” said Chris.
“Yeah,” agreed Colleen.“And the couple I’m boarding with have a young daughter for me to play with.”
As the white robed matron led them down the long hallway, Chris was reminded of all the long-walk films he had seen on the television.The convicts were always led down a
seemingly endless corridor to the electric chair, or perhaps the gas chamber.
When they finally stopped before the last door at the end of the corridor, Chris, lost in thought, almost collided into the back of Jack.
“I think it would be best if you were to see her one or two at a time,” said the grey-haired matron.“When she first came here it was necessary to keep her sedated most of the
time.Gradually we were able to reduce the amount of sedation in accord with an increased amount of therapy.But even so, she is far from well, and too much excitement at
once could reverse all of the good work we have done, in one fell swoop.”
The matron unlocked the door, which she only opened a few centimetres.
“You can...” began Colleen.At the same time Norma said:
“I think the girls should go first.”
Colleen sighed in exasperation, and gave Norma, a pleading look.Norma gave Colleen a return glance, which seemed to say, “The sooner you go in there, the sooner you can get it
“Is there anywhere we can buy magazines or something for her?” asked Norma.
“Well, she isn’t able to read yet,” said the matron, “but I suppose you can take her some chocolates, or ice-cream.There’s a canteen in the foyer.If you’d like to
come with me, I’ll show you the way,” she said, heading down the corridor at a brisk pace.
“Jack?” asked Norma.
“Why not?” asked Jack, following Norma and the matron back down the hallway.“The girls will be in there for some time yet, I suppose.”
But Jack was wrong, it was only a few minutes later that the two girls came out of the room, Rosemary looking as though she was about to cry, and Colleen with cheeks flushed red from
“Is anything wrong?” asked Chris.
“Only everything,” said Colleen, as Rosemary began walking down the corridor.“Why don’t they lock her away in a dark vault somewhere, and throw away the key?”
As Rosemary began to cry into her hands, Colleen ran after her and put a comforting arm around Rosemary’s shoulders.
“Just tell your mum and dad that we had to leave,” said Colleen to Chris, as she led Rosemary toward the visitors’ elevators.
Colleen paid off the taxi and led her sister to the front door of the house.Rosemary had stopped crying but she still seemed upset by the visit to her mother, “Are you sure
you don’t want me to come inside with you?” asked Colleen.
“No, I’ll be all right now,” assured Rosemary.“It was stupid of me to allow myself to get upset at what she said.She isn’t herself, she’s....”
“She’s a bitch, the same as always!” said Colleen, shocking her sister.“Some things never change!It was stupid to even go there after what the Mayrons told us she
“I guess we just didn’t ... None of us could believe she was really that bad.”
“Mum’s always been worse than anything you could imagine,” said Colleen, “sane or crazy.No matter what your wildest fantasies about the world’s worst bitch are, mum can always
find a way to be worse.”
“Oh Collie, that isn’t fair!”
“I’m sorry,” said Colleen kissing her sister on the cheek.“Sometimes I forget you still see the world through rose-coloured glasses.”
“I do not,” said Rosemary.
“Do too,” said Colleen.She laughed, then said, as Brian Bernstein opened the front door, “I’ll see you later.”
“Are you all right?” asked Brian, standing back to allow Rosemary to walk past him into the house.“You look a little upset.”
“It’s my mother,” she said walking up to the centre of the hallway.She clicked a switch, which illuminated a large aquarium, which was set into the wall along one side of the
“I really don’t know when she’ll ever be well enough to come home again.”
Rosemary watched the fifteen or so brightly coloured fish swimming around in the tank.There was shale and a plastic castle upon the bottom of the aquarium.
“It only goes back about twenty-five centimetres,” said Brian, referring to the fish tank.“But there’s a lot of height and length,” He paused for a moment and placed his hands
upon Rosemary’s shoulders.“You know you’re welcome to stay here for as long as you like.Mum and dad always wanted daughter, after the four sons they’ve raised, and you
know I think of you as at least a sister.”
“At least?” asked Rosemary, blushing.
Rosemary lay beside Brian upon his bed.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked.
“No, there was only a little blood,” said Rosemary.
Brian ran his right hand slowly through Rosemary’s hair.To Brian’s surprise, Rosemary bent down to cup his penis in one hand, and then lightly kiss it.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“Just a little thank you,” she explained.
“How about one up here?” he said.
“Fine,” said Rosemary, straightening up to kiss Brian on the lips, then lightly prod her tongue into his mouth,
“Brian!We’re home!” called out Ruth Bernstein from the front door.
“Oops,” said Rosemary as they both started scrambling for their clothing which lay about the bedroom floor,
“Yes, mother, I’ll be right down!” called out Brian, pulling his trousers and underpants on together,
“There’s no need for you to come downstairs,” called out Ruth Bernstein.“I just wondered if Rosemary is home yet?”
“She’s up here with me,” called back Brian, as Rosemary pulled on her frock over top of her underwear, and Brian struggled into his T-shirt, which suddenly seemed two sizes too
small.“We were talking about how Rosemary’s mother is coming along.”
“How is she, dear?” called out Ruth,
“No better yet,” called out Rosemary, hurrying into her pantyhose, and brushing down her frock with her hands to try to brush away any creases.
“Oh, well, in that case I won’t come up there,” said Ruth.Brian and Rosemary, both slipping on their shoes, stopped to exchange glances.“You’re probably pretty
upsets and I know you prefer Brian to me at a time like this.”
Brian and Rosemary exchanged looks again, then Brian whispered, “I think she meant my company.”
Norma kissed Chris upon the cheek, and then asked, “How is Rosie getting on with the Bernsteins?”
“Great, from what I can see.There’s already talk of Rosie becoming converted to the true faith, so she and Brian can tie the knot in a couple of years' time.”
“Which true faith is that?” asked Norma.
“How many are there?” asked Chris.
“It depends upon which one you follow,” said Norma.“The Christian true faith, the Moslem true faith, the Jewish true faith, the Zen Buddhist true faith, and on it
“Well, it’s the Jewish true faith in this case,” said Chris.
“I hope she knows what she’s getting herself into,” said Norma.“Religion can be a funny business at times; swapping religions can cause all sorts of problems.”
“I don’t think religion means very much to Rosie,” said Chris.“She’s never been one of the born-again, so I guess it’s all the same to here whether she’s a Sunday morning
Christian, or a Saturday morning Jew.”
© Copyright 2011
© Copyright 2016 Philip Roberts. All rights reserved.