by Anneke Haitsma
In the bedroom everything was closed down already. Geoff searched his way through the dark to the bed, in which, he assumed, Kate was already sleeping.
“Are you asleep?” he asked.
“Hmmm,” she answered.
He got into the bed and crawled against her back. Suddenly she turned around and said: “Geoff...”
“I had such a weird dream last night.”
‘Ah,’ Geoff thought, ‘maybe that was why she had acted so confused and upset today.’ He’d noticed it, but he hadn’t been able to find out what was bothering her.
“Tell me, Geoff,” Kate said, ”have you ever seen a person, who is already dead, walking around in your dreams, telling you he fooled you?”
Geoff couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“Yeah,” he said, “actually, it’s quite common. I went through it several times after my father died... He always came in with that big smile upon his face, walking to his chair...”
“Oh! That’s a relief, I almost thought I was seeing things,” Kate interrupted him with a sigh.
After a rather long silence, in which both of them were busy thinking, Geoff asked: ”Who was it? Walking around in your dreams?”
“Oh Geoff,” Kate gasped, “it was David... just the way he was... walking into the base, bag in his hand and a big smile upon his face... and I got angry with him, telling him what a stupid joke this was... It... it just seemed so real...”
Geoff put his arms around her and tried to comfort her. In the silence that fell next he stroked her arm and had flashbacks to that mournful day David died.
The next morning Guy entered the base. Except for his bag, he also carried a huge package. With a conceited expression on his face he said “good morning”, walked right into his office and closed the door behind him.
Clare, Jackie and Geoff looked at each other. Clare shrugged.
“He’s always late,” Jackie said, “and even then he dares to walk in like that! No sorry’s or anything ...”
“Yeah...” Geoff said and walked to the coffeemaker to get a cup.
At that same moment Guy put his head around the door asking: “Do you have one for me, too?”
“Now listen,” Geoff said irritated, “you came walking in here like a hurricane, hardly saying anything, vanishing in your office and... argh... leave it...”
“Whoa, whoa”, Guy replied immediately. “If it’s too much trouble for you I can get it myself... take it easy Geoff, don’t make a fuzz.”
He made himself a cup of coffee, took it into his office and closed the door again.
Jackie looked at Geoff. “Are you alright? This is not your normal way to react.”
“Yes,” Geoff said, “yes, I am... It’s just that sometimes...”
Clare looked at him with an understanding expression.
Inside his office Guy unwrapped his package. He looked satisfied. He had bought himself a hammock and saw himself lying in it, relaxing after work or on days off. There was a frame in the box as well, on which to hang the hammock but he decided not to use it. He planned to go to the store during lunchtime to get some strong ropes, so he could hang it between trees.
Far up north, in the Northern Territory near Malaranka, a dark-haired, rather skinny, young man named Joss was making up to leave. He had been hiding himself for several years, wandering the bush, leaving no trace. Some time ago he got the drive to go south again. He didn’t know what caused this drive but he was used to listen to his intuition. Right about the time he was about to leave however, he had caught the Ross River virus and he had been ill for over a month. The drive he felt grew more and more urgent during his illness and now he didn’t want to delay his leaving anymore.
He packed up his little belongings and left, searching for someone who was heading south.
After travelling for several days, in several cars and in several directions, he ended up walking along a dusty road. He wasn’t feeling well. All this travelling had cost him too much energy and he realized that, however right it had seemed at the moment, he had not yet been fit to travel when he left.
He sat down at a crossing, too tired to go on. In the distance he saw a dustcloud and he knew there was a car driving his way. By the time the car was near, Joss was not able to get up anymore so he tried to wave.
The driver saw him and jumped out of the car to look what was wrong.
“Can I help you?” the driver asked. “Do you want a lift from me?”
“Yes,” Joss sighed.” I have been travelling for days now,” he whispered. “I have been ill, you know, and now I’m completely spent.”
”Okay,” the driver said, “come on, I’ll help you get into the car.”
Even before the driver was seated Joss fell asleep. He was moaning almost every time the car hit a hole or a bump in the road. The man, who had no radio, didn’t know what to do. He drove him to the nearest property he could find, which was the Robson’s.
When Len Robson saw Joss sitting, sleeping in the car, his mouth fell wide open with astonishment and confusion, but he pulled himself together and helped the driver carry him into the house.
“I really have to go on,” the driver said. And after Len assured him he would take good care of the sleeping, moaning man, he left.
The moment the car left, Len’s wife Hannah entered the room. She looked at the man on the couch and stammered: ”No... this isn’t possible...”
Joss opened up his eyes a little and heard the woman say: ”David...?”
Half awake, Joss said: “You know my brother?” and fell asleep again.
At the base life was going on.
“Who’s joining me at the pub for lunch?” Jackie asked.
“I will meet Kate and Penny over there so I will come with you,” Geoff said.
“I’ll come, too” said Clare, and Guy, who was still acting a little mysterious said: ”No, I can’t come. I have something else to do”.
They all laughed at him. “Always important business, eh?” Clare teased him.
Guy just laughed and left with the package, which was much smaller than it had been that morning.
Jackie, Clare, Penny, Geoff and Kate were talking over lunch at the pub.
“Didn’t Guy want to come over, too?” Kate asked.
“Oh,” Jackie said, “he is in such an arrogant mood today. I’m glad he isn’t here.”
“Something very important to do probably,” Penny said.
When Hannah and Len had caught their breath again they were asking themselves what to do now.
“We don’t know anything about him, not even his name,” Hannah said.
“The man who brought him here mentioned that he told him he had been ill,” Len said.
They looked at Joss. He was so unaware of everything surrounding him, and when Hannah touched him, wiping some hair from his forehead, she noticed he probably had a fever.
”Shouldn’t we call the doctors?” Hannah asked Len.
“Well, we must call anyway to tell he is here. Then we can confer further,” Len said.
“Victor Charlie Charlie, this is Robson station, over.”
“Hello, Hannah”, Clare replied. “How are you? Is something wrong?”
“No, no, we are both fine, but someone brought in a man who...” She looked at Joss, lying there, looking so much like David... She couldn’t go on anymore.
“Hannah? Are you still there?”
“Yes, I am... This man, he slept from the moment he was picked up and I think he has a fever. The man who brought him in here told Len that he had said he had been ill for over a month and he was totally exhausted.”
“One moment, Hannah. I’ll ask dr. Standish.”
“Hello Hannah, dr. Standish here, did he not wake up at all? Not even when he was carried inside?”
“Yes, for a very short moment. We don’t think you need to come urgently, but maybe one of you is in the neighbourhood tomorrow?”
“Actually we are,” Geoff said, “we are going to Minobry. Let´s see... we can drop in at your place in the afternoon, is that okay with you?”
“Yes, it is. Thank you doctor, over and out.”
When she put down the microphone she turned to Len. “I couldn’t tell yet... you know...”
"It’s okay,” Len said. “Why should we? We know nothing yet; let’s just take good care of him.”
Since Guy was living at the Majestic, he didn’t have a garden, so he went looking for a quiet place with trees to fasten his hammock.
Every place he tried he couldn’t get it up. The trees were too far apart, or the ropes were too short, depending on how you looked at it. After a while he got rather sulky and concluded: ”That frame in the box must have been there for a reason. I will try that tomorrow.”
He went to the pub, using the back entrance, knowing some of his acquaintances would be there and ask questions he didn’t want to answer at this moment. There, he ran into Nancy who had to pick up something.
“What are you sneaking around?” she asked him.
“Oh, nothing,” he said.
The next morning when Hannah and Len came into the living-room, Joss was still asleep. But it didn’t look like a healthy sleep.
When they started to walk around he woke up. He tried to get up and find out where he was and what had happened, but he felt very miserable. He had a headache and his whole body felt like he had been run over by a roadtrain.
At that moment Hannah came in and saw that he was awake. “Good morning,” she said. “Please don’t try to get up. I’ll bring you something to drink first.”
He lay back down, not protesting.
When Hannah came in again she brought Len, too.
‘Can a glass be this heavy,’ Joss thought when she passed it to him. He emptied it slowly before asking: “Where am I and how come... you...” He fixed his eyes on Hannah. “I remember you calling me David. Or was it a dream?”
“No, it wasn’t. I did call you David.” Hannah swallowed.
His face brightened a little by a weak smile. “Well, I reacted to that name, too, you know, because people used to switch me and my twin brother all the time. But my name is Joss.”
Len and Hannah looked at each other, not knowing what to say.
“My name is Hannah and this is Len,” she introduced herself and Len. “Yesterday someone brought you in here. He told us you had slept since he picked you up and you slept all night, too.”
“You would think that after all that sleep I would feel better, but I still don’t feel well.” Joss sighed.
“We asked the doctors to come and see you. One of them will be here this afternoon,” Len said.
“But... since you called me David... I assume you know my brother then? When I left the city he was studying medicine, his last year,” he said with a smile on his face.
“Yes, we know him,” Len said, “He saved my life...”
“And mine, too,” Hannah interrupted him. And they started telling about Len´s leg and how David did a very difficult operation on Hannah...
”That was a day to remember,” Len said to end the talking. “But right now we have some work on the property to do. You take your rest, okay? By lunchtime we‘ll be back.” He motioned Hannah to come with him. And when they were outside, they looked at each other with a mutual sigh. “How are we going to tell him...?” they said simultaneously.
“When we told him about David he looked so proud... So... happy,” Hannah said.
“This is going to be very difficult,” Len sighed.
Geoff, Kate and Johnno were up in the air that same morning. They had to visit some patients, go to Minobry and after that they would go to the Robson´s.
“I’m a little worried about Hannah,” Geoff said. “Clare told me she suddenly stopped talking yesterday.”
Johnno and Kate looked at him; they knew Hannah had had heart problems some time ago.
“So we are not going there to see this stranger but we are going there for Hannah?” Kate asked.
“Just between the three of us,” Geoff said.
When Hannah and Len came in for lunch they found Joss still sleeping on the couch. However, there were signs of him getting up during the time they had been outside.
“Robson station, this is Mike Sierra Foxtrot.”
Len walked towards the radio. “Here Robson station, go ahead, Mike Sierra Foxtrot.”
“Len, our E.T.A. is 15.00h. Will you come and pick us up then?” Johnno said. “Oh, and hold on, the doc wants a word with you, too.”
“How is your patient doing, Len?” Geoff asked.
“He has been awake, but most of the time he’s asleep. But... we’ll talk about things when I pick you up...”
“And you? And Hannah?” Geoff asked because he noticed the hesitation.
“Never better,” Len answered. “See you at 15.00h, doc, over and out."
In the plane Geoff looked at Johnno and Kate with a enquiring face.
“We’ll see,” Kate said.
“But something is wrong, I can hear it in both their voices. Yesterday in Hannah’s voice, and now in Len’s!” Geoff worried.
Guy managed to put the frame and the hammock together and was lying lazily, reading a book. He was off duty this morning and enjoyed it. In the afternoon he planned to do some administration and see some patients at the hospital.
Jackie came by and asked laughing: “Was this what you were so secretive about?”
He looked annoyed at her, still a little sulky about not managing to hang the thing between trees and certainly not planning to tell her about that. “I wasn’t secretive...”
“Oh no, you weren’t ,” she said as an understatement, and walked away.
Johnno landed the plane at ten minutes to three, but Len was already there to pick them up.
“Before we go back to the house I really must talk to you all for a moment,” Len said.
‘Here it comes,’ Geoff thought. And Kate and Johnno looked at him with expressions that said: so you were right.
“That guy who is with us...”
Geoff sighed relieved; it was not Hannah he wanted to talk about.
”...turned out to be David’s twin brother.”
They all held their breath.
“You mean our David?” Geoff asked while looking at Kate. He clearly remembered the dream she had had. Kate looked back at him with a confused expression on her face.
Len nodded. “When I first saw him I almost fainted with astonishment. Like two peas in a pot! Hannah even called him David, that’s what made him ask about his brother.” Len sighed. “Although he slept most of the time, we told him about David saving our lives... And then... he looked so... happy... so... proud of his brother. We didn’t have the heart to tell him... We don’t know how ill he is; what if he can’t stand the shock?”
Geoff gave Len a little pat on the back. “Let’s go to the house first.”
Silently they climbed into the car, all trying to prepare for the sight they were going to see.
When they arrived at the property Hannah just came out. ”He woke up again,” Hannah said, and to Len: “Did you tell them?”
He put his arm around his wife and said: “Yes, love.”
Geoff, not losing his professionality, went into the house. Kate followed him with some hesitation, leaving Johnno, Hannah and Len by themselves on the veranda.
Geoff entered the living-room, trying hard to keep his composure at the too familiar sight of the young man on the couch. Still, he couldn’t quite stop his breath from catching in his throat as he shook hands with him. Oh my, Len was right... It was like looking into David’s eyes!
But Joss grimaced at the handshake. And fortunately that gave Geoff the opening he needed for a talk.
“Does shaking hands hurt you?” he asked.
“Hannah told us you have been ill,” Geoff mentioned.
“Yes, it was the Ross River virus and I have been ill for over a month. When I left up north, I thought I had completely recuperated, although I still felt a little flulike. It seems like this is still the same.”
After Geoff examined him he said: “I think you are right about that. You know we can’t do anything for you but give you some anti-inflammatories and painkillers?”
“I’ll just have to wait until the virus has done its job then, right?” Joss asked. “I try to refrain from taking medicines as much as possible, you see.”
“Okay. But remember the possibility,” Geoff said.
”So you are colleagues of my brother, I understood,” Joss said. ”Is there a chance to run into him here in the neighbourhood? I silently hoped it was he who would come here today.”
Geoff and Kate looked at each other.
“No chance,” Geoff sighed. “He is not working here with us anymore.”
“Oh?” Joss said, longing to know more.
“Joss,” Kate said, pulling Geoff aside a little. She took Joss’s hand in hers. ”Joss, David is not working here anymore, because he’s had an accident.”
Joss looked a little confused at Kate, and then at Geoff. “Accident? What accident?” Joss tried to sit up in his sudden distress, but Kate pushed him back. “Is he...?”
Kate and Geoff nodded.
“Tell me about it... what happened... Was someone with him...?” he inquired bewildered.
“He was sitting with some guy, who had broken a leg, somewhere halfway a cliff...” Geoff quietly started to tell him. ”We flew in there to get them out of there. Somehow, the stretcher we let down got stuck behind some rocks. David lowered himself with a rope and tried to loosen it.”
“We told him to be careful, but he said it was no problem because he was a climber,” Kate said.
Despite the situation, Joss smiled a little. “We were already doing that when we were only eight years old!”
They looked at him with compassion.
“He couldn’t get the stretcher to loosen right away...” Geoff continued the story, “...and trying to shake it loose he lost his grip and fell down the cliff... I went down there... but there was nothing I could do anymore.”
During the silence that fell afterward, Geoff asked the others to come in. But Johnno just came in, shook hands with Joss and immediately left the room again.
After another silence Hannah said: “I’ll make some tea.” And she left the room, too.
In the kitchen she saw Johnno sitting at the table, head in his hands.
“Are you okay?” Hannah asked compassionately.
He looked up. “Yeah... I´m alright... But... I was there... when... and this man really looks the same, it’s almost scary... Len prepared us, but still...”
She nodded. And they both sat down, waiting for the kettle to boil.
When Hannah came in again with the tea, Johnno had gathered his composure enough to come back in again with her. Hannah passed the tea around, and everyone drank in silence.
After a while Joss said softly: “Now I understand.”
Everybody looked at him for an explanation.
“I felt that drive to go south,” he said. “It must have been about the same time he died. Almost at the same time I fell ill. But that drive grew more and more urgent, so when I thought I had recovered enough to travel I left right away.”
“I think you left a little too early,” Geoff said.
“No,” Joss said, “just in time! If I hadn’t fallen ill again, I wouldn’t have met you, and who knows how long I would have gone on searching for what caused this drive!”
He closed his eyes saying with a deep sigh: “I must have known it.”
Geoff gestured at the others in the room to leave Joss alone for a moment and come to the kitchen to talk. And as Kate loosened her hand from Joss’s to follow them, a flash of pain crossed his face. She looked at him with compassion. Poor man...
“We will take him to hospital with us,” Geoff said when they all had gathered in the kitchen. “If he is just as pigheaded as his brother, he doesn’t go to bed when he needs to and jumps out of it without given permission.”
“Yes,” Johnno said with a faint grin, “except when we organize a party for him...”
“Even then,” Geoff replied smiling, “Guy told me he was running around the hospital all night.”
“Will he be alright?” Hannah asked going back to serious things.
“Yes, Hannah,” Geoff said. “He told us it´s the Ross River virus he’s got, and even though for some people it takes a lot of time to get over it, everybody recovers. But this is a healthy young man who just overstressed himself a little. I think he will be on his feet again in a few days.”
“Please keep us informed,” Hannah begged.
And Geoff nodded.
During the flight back to the Crossing, with Joss lying on the stretcher, Geoff and Kate couldn’t help remembering how they sat there with David that other day. It made them feel really bad.
“What happened to you three?” Guy asked Johnno, Geoff and Kate. “You all look like you have seen a ghost.”
“Actually we have”, Geoff said in a constraint manner, and all of a sudden he started yelling at him.
“Whoa...” Guy said, “this is the second time within two days...”
“Will you two stop it, please?” Kate yelled at the pair of them. She took Guy by his elbow and led him in the direction of the hospital room where Joss was.
“The man we just brought in turned out to be David’s twin brother,” Kate explained to him. This made Guy stand still and stop grumbling. He looked at her with a face on which she read understanding and compassion. He dropped his arm around her and said: “Oh!”
Kate sighed. ‘If you explain things to him, he is not that bad,’ she thought.
The story about the man in the hospital being David’s twin brother spread fast and caused a lot of guessing and gossip.
“Did you know he had a twin brother?” Nancy asked Clare.
“No, I didn’t. But the day he was planning to leave, I suddenly realized that hardly anybody around here really knew him,” Clare said.
“He must have been so lonely here, that poor boy,” Nancy said. “But we’ll make sure his brother will feel at home here.”
She was already taking action, but Clare laid her hand on Nancy’s arm saying: “Nancy, he needs rest now. He has been very ill.”
“Oh”, Nancy said, “well, I can wait.”
The days that followed Joss and David’s former colleagues talked a lot.
“What were you doing up north?” Kate asked.
“Nothing special,” Joss said. “I left the city three years ago and I’ve been wandering all over the country since; doing some work, travelling...”
“Want to tell me why you left the city?” Kate asked.
Joss sighed. “We were a very close family, always together, especially David and I. Even when we went to college we lived in the same house. I wanted to do something else, search for myself; I wanted to be all by myself. So I left. I regularly sent postcards or letters home, but I never left an address where someone could reach me.”
“You two don’t just look alike, but you think alike, too!” Kate exclaimed. “David wanted to leave here, too, you know. And before he left, he came to our house to explain his decision, using almost exactly the same words about wanting to do something else as you just did.”
Joss was ever so happy to hear them telling about David’s heroics. And when Geoff told him about David having had to go into a mine at least three times to save someone’s life, Joss interrupted him, saying: “He did?! I wouldn’t have done that; I’m claustrophobic.”
That made Kate and Geoff laugh.
“David was, too, but sometimes you don’t have a choice,” Geoff said.
“And once,” Kate told him, “he was stung by a couple of wasps and...”
Joss sucked in his breath. “That’s bad. He was allergic to them, just like me.”
“Yes, he was. But another doctor was there to help him. It was very thrilling because they were together in a plane and David was the pilot.”
Joss sighed. “I’m happy to hear that the people with whom David shared his last years are so positive about him,” he said to Geoff.
After five days in hospital there was still no change in Joss’s condition.
“How are you today?” Guy asked.
Joss shook his head: “Nothing better, and it’s worse this time. Last month I was at least able to take care of myself, but now...”
When Guy returned to the front desk, he found Geoff there looking through Joss’s file.
“I don’t understand why there is so little improvement,” Geoff said. “Most people don’t even get ill from this virus and here we have someone...”
“Are you sure it is rrv?” Guy asked.
“Yes,” Geoff said. ”When he fell ill, he went to see a doctor and the blood tests made clear it was rrv. It is likely, too, because there is an outbreak of it near Darwin.”
“Maybe he caught something else to it?” Guy suggested.
“Possibly,” Geoff said. ”But the symptoms are still the same as before, only more severe. He told us he was able to look after himself before. But now, even after all those days, he has trouble even going to the bathroom.”
“Yeah,” Guy said, “he just told me the same.”
“Maybe you should check his story with his doctor in, where was it, Katherine, Darwin or somewhere like that?”
“Yes, maybe”, Geoff said.
“I want to visit the spot,” Joss requested the following day.
“I can imagine that,” Kate said. “I think I’d like to go with you, and I think Geoff and Johnno would, too. But first you have to recover. I remember a man who thought he was fit enough to travel, too, and still found himself much worse only a few days later.”
Joss laughed but didn’t agree. “Is it far away?” he asked.
“It depends,” Kate replied.
“Kate... I know this sounds strange, but I think going there will help me to recover. A part of me died out there... I just need to close this chapter of my life.”
“But you are far too ill!” Kate protested. “We can’t take you there. Not now! I don’t think that would be very wise.”
“Look, I noticed I haven’t gotten any better since I got here, and I’m almost sure it’s due to this,” Joss said stubbornly.
Kate hesitated. “Okay, I’ll talk to Geoff. But I can’t make you any promises.”
Guy had put his hammock in the backyard of the hospital. Penny happened to him, and decided she’d want to try it out. So she climbed into it. However, when Jackie caught sight of her there, she warned her. “Don’t let Guy see this!”
“Why not?” Penny asked innocently.
“He said,” Jackie giggled, and continued in a Guy-like way: ”Make sure nobody’s going to use it.”
Penny got out with a sigh. And as she walked inside with Jackie, she said: ”Just wanted to try.”
“Yeah, well, you already know how he is. When he says nobody, he means nobody, not even you, or I.”
“Nobody, eh...” Penny said pensively. A mischievous smile appeared on her face. “Nobody... no... body.” She grinned, and pointed at the skeleton standing near the office. “That’s no body.”
Jackie started laughing, too, and giggling together they took the skeleton and put it in the hammock. Unfortunately, Guy wasn’t there to see it and both of them had to go back to work.
“Geoff?” Kate asked. “Joss wants to visit the spot.”
“What does he want?”
“Visit the spot... where David died...”
Geoff looked at Kate with a question-mark written all over his face.
She told him what they had discussed and Geoff began to understand. “We both know there are non-scientifically proved methods for healing, ” he nodded. “And we know how body and mind are related... And we both know that grief can make people ill...” He pondered a little; then nodded in the affirmative. “We can give it a try, although there is much to arrange.” He put his arm around her and said: “Maybe it won’t be so bad for us to go there, too”.
“And Johnno,” Kate said.
“Yes, and Johnno.”
“You are going to do what?” Guy asked Geoff. “You’re going to do something stupid and leave me here alone to do all the work? Like I’m not swamped in work already. David and Don are gone, Magda left and you want to spend our precious time on things like that? What happens if there is an emergency somewhere...? Don’t tell me you’re taking the Nomad...”
“Yes, we are,” Geoff said.
“Does that man look like you could make him happy with such a long trip?” Guy interrupted Geoff.
“First thing tomorrow”, Geoff said.
Guy shook his head and walked away.
He ran right into Jackie who had heard the discussion. Together they walked on.
“Don’t you think they know what they are doing, Guy?” Jackie asked.
“Well, I certainly hope so,” Guy replied.
“For once, just try to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, will you! Geoff, and Kate, and Johnno and David have been through a lot together; Joss is his brother; don’t you understand they have to deal with this? Maybe you felt left out but...”
“I couldn’t care less,” Guy interrupted her haughtily, knowing she hit the right spot.
Jackie boiled. “When I asked you the other day if they had humanized you... I shouldn’t have. They obviously didn’t...” she said, and then she walked out of the room and slammed the door.
“Oh!” Guy said to himself. ”Why do these things always happen?” He ran after Jackie. “Hey, we sort of promised Don not to fight anymore... Or didn’t we?”
Jackie stopped, turned around and looked at him. She realized she was not reacting fair either, so she walked back and said: “You are right, we are being stupid.”
“We...?” Guy asked in a funny tone with a grin on his face.
Jackie gave him a bump.
The next morning, Geoff and Kate went to pick up Joss at the hospital. Joss wanted to go out there more than ever, but he was even more ill than the day before. He was very tired and in so much pain that he couldn’t get up. But he still wanted to go ahead.
Geoff said to Kate: “Is this sensible? Won’t we put him in danger? I don’t like this!”
“Please,” Joss said, “I am almost sure it is the right thing to do.”
“Then why are you feeling worse today?” Geoff asked him. “Remember, I’m still your doctor! My decision is final.”
“Maybe it’s the stress of going there. I don’t know either, but my mind is clear. I can take responsibility for myself!”.
“Yes, but you need us to get there!” You could see Geoff was thinking very hard. He and Kate walked out for a moment.
“He can rest during the flight,” Kate pointed out.
“Why not wait a couple of days?” Geoff asked himself.
Kate answered: “Geoff, don’t you see he is just getting worse? This isn’t just rrv anymore. You said so yourself, yesterday”.
“You are right, maybe we just have to go on.”
Geoff went outside to get the car and Kate went to Joss, to tell him that they would go. He looked grateful. Kate helped him into a wheelchair and brought him to the car. At the airport, Johnno took the stretcher out of the Nomad, so they could lay Joss down on it and carry him inside. Johnno looked at Geoff and Kate and shook his head.
The whole flight was completed in total silence, except for the occasional message over the radio.
Johnno landed the plane. They took out the stretcher and put it on the back of the car they had arranged to be there. Geoff and Kate went to sit with Joss who was getting restless. Was it the moving car that caused him so much pain? Or...?
When they reached the spot, they lifted Joss off the car.
“I want to sit up”, he said.
They helped him sit up against a tree.
At the edge of the gorge they all sat down in complete silence. Geoff and Kate, holding each other’s hand, Johnno and Joss. Everyone was drinking in the sight of the beautiful, but dangerous nature, while trying to deal with his or her emotions.
After a long while, Joss tried to stand up. He staggered dangerously, and Geoff reached out to grab him, afraid that he would fall down the cliff, too, to the same lot that befell his brother. But Joss did manage to stand up. And he screamed. He shook his fists towards heaven, letting out his grief. Geoff got up; he wanted to check on him, but Kate held him back. Together they watched Joss falling on his knees and continuing to cry out loud. One by one they couldn’t hold back their tears either and together they cried out all emotions of the past two months. Even Johnno, who usually walked away from this sort of thing.
After a while, Joss felt like a whole burden had been taken away from him, and although it left him exhausted, he felt a lot better. The miracle did occur. On the way back to the plane he didn’t need the stretcher, and at the hospital he didn’t need a wheelchair.
Guy, who had seen them leave that morning with a patient who was almost disabled, saw that same patient walk in this afternoon. He now had to admit that the action indeed seemed to have been a success.
The next day, Guy was on duty at the hospital and he went to see Joss.
“What happened out there?” he asked him, while looking at his chart. “You look much better, and I even saw you walk in yesterday.”
“I put my grief where it belongs,” Joss answered.
Guy looked at him with nothing but incomprehension, but still he nodded. And putting back the chart on the bed he said: “Aha.”
He walked out of the room thinking about what he just heard. He decided to take a break. So he walked outside to go and lie down in the hammock for a few minutes. But when he got there, he discovered there was a skeleton in his hammock! He was not amused. So he went in again and asked Jackie: ”Why is there a skeleton in my hammock?”
Jackie looked at him, not knowing what he was talking about. But then she remembered the mischief she had been up to with Penny yesterday, and she started laughing. “You told us to make sure nobody used it; well... we thought this is nobody.”
Guy looked annoyed. “I don’t like this joke,” he said grumpy.
“No, of course you don’t. You don’t like any joke, do you?”
“Oh yes,” Guy said. “Sometimes I appreciate them, but not now.”
“Come on, Guy, what’s your problem?” Jackie said.
“I’m a busy man, I’ve got a lot to do and when I want to take a break I don’t like finding a skeleton in my hammock!”
Jackie looked at him with her mouth half open, shaking her head. “You’re impossible, you know that?” she said.
“Yes, so I’ve been told. But if only there were more people like me, we could make this world a better place! Now, pick up that skeleton and put it back!”
“Do it yourself.”
“I didn’t put it there!”
At last Jackie walked to the hammock and picked up the skeleton. She pushed it into Guy’s hands. “Here you are,” she said and turned her back at him.
Guy shook his head and went to put the skeleton back where it belonged. Unfortunately, he ran right into Kate, Geoff and Joss, who were taking a little walk and came looking what all the fuzz was about. They laughed heartily when they saw Guy carrying a skeleton around.
“Got a new friend?” Geoff casually enquired.
“Ha, ha,” Guy said displeased. He walked back to the hammock with indignant steps. He sat down in it, but before he had managed to lie down, the thing took a swing and he fell backwards out of it, legs up high. It was a very funny sight and Geoff, Kate, Joss, and Jackie and Penny who just came out, all laughed out loud when they saw his ungracious salto mortale.
“You did the right thing,” Guy said to Geoff the next morning. “Although, I must say I don’t understand it.”
“Don’t give me too much credit,” Geoff said. “Joss was the one who knew what to do, and he himself took responsibility for it.”
“I noticed you are much more at peace now, as well,” Guy said.
“Yes, I am. It was good for Johnno, Kate and me to be there, too.”
They walked to the room where Joss was.
“How are you today?” Geoff asked.
“Much better than two days ago,” Joss answered.
“I think we can almost dismiss you,” Geoff said. “But it might be better not to go wandering around in the bush right away.”
“I know and I agree. I already talked to Guy here about it. Since he lives at the hotel, he promised to ask the hotel owner if I can stay there for a while.”
“I don’t think that’s a problem,” Geoff smiled. “People are really looking forward to meet you.”
Joss smiled. “I think I can handle that now.”
In the bedroom everything was closed down already. Geoff and Kate lay down in each other’s arms talking about the past two weeks.
“Do you think David will come back walking in my dreams again?” Kate suddenly asked Geoff.
“Don’t know, but what are you going to do if he does?”
“I think I’m going to tell him that I loved him, that we loved him, but that his coming back this way will fade out the good memories and only cause us grief,” Kate said.
Geoff nodded. “I think he will listen to that. And then we, too, can close this chapter the right way.”
They kissed each other good night and went to sleep.
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