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Synopsis – James got lucky. 

He did not like the airport, no sir. The narrow alley leading out was loud, noisy, and crowded. Two announcements were clashing against one another. Just then, a cart behind him sounded its siren to move aside.  When he got to the concourse, he looked down the alley to the left. No one; he expected Aunt Julia and her dog. His heart sank a little. Then someone tapped him on the shoulder. We got here early.

She was beautiful. He blurted it out. You say that to all the girls, don’t you? Call me Julia, Aunt makes me feel prehistoric. This is your new best friend Ava, a black and white collie with a red bandana and “let’s have fun” grin. His mother was afraid of dogs, his father allergic to cats, so they said. He gave Ava a long hug. 

You can give me a kiss. James blushed. Sorry, I’m all out of practice at that; let’s shake hands for now. 

He reached to get out the teenage photo of dad and Julia to show her as proof of identity, but she pushed his hand away. You are the spitting image of your dad. He put his head down and gulped.

Tell me how I can help as we drive home. I need a guardian’s permission to change schools; my parents have split up, gone. Just a signature will do. Okay, I can arrange that but how did you find me? Yes, it was quite a project, but why the name Ava? 

She laughed; Ava Gardner was a big movie star. She thought this was a great place to end the world. By the way, can you teach me how to tumble turn? Yes. That needs practice.

Ancestor records did the trick, I was inspired when I saw the family history of a star from The Big Bang Theory. They traced his great grandfather right back to his capture in the Civil War. So, I calculated dad’s approximate date of birth, added two sisters within about four years and checked the State Births and Deaths Register. Got some help.  

Did you know your grandfather James migrated from Liverpool and opened a hotel? Now we have five hotels in the family business, each with a different flavour. 

Poolside. Oh, you didn’t mention you’ve got abs!  No, it’s not a subject that fits easily into polite conversation. Do you think I look hot in this? Absolutely delicious, hmm! And who’s the hottest model you know of?

Models now are cute but ugly as the French would say, skinny and sour. As if they just got a tax bill for one million dollars and a diagnosis of cancer. My favourite supermodel was Rachel Barr. When she walked down the catwalk, she smiled left and right. That blew guys away. Guys forgot where the car was parked, their pin numbers and the rest.

Do you have a girlfriend? No, girls at school want to be warriors, sports legends, or academic superstars. They want boys like a fish wants a bicycle; they like to scream too. And no girls work at Woolworths, where I work. Girls who are sugar and spice and all things nice are extinct, or just a myth.

You should come to university here; girls here would like a boyfriend or two. I want you to hold my hands and close your eyes. Imagine you are in a lift. Rachel gets in. She knows you like her and comes over. Kiss. Soft, warm, and surprising. Apple-scented hair. More.

Late that evening, James and Ava lie asleep on the couch. Julia peeps in wearing her blue Baby Doll nightie. Ava opens one eye; don’t worry I’m looking after him.



A man is a man, wrote Berthold Brecht. That covers it all for Peter Wright, now writer.


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