Graffiti and the shining light
Despite Harvey’s close new friendship with Rose, he was often ridiculed and teased; simply for being a teacher’s pet. Through all of this, he remained refreshingly happy and positive. His pearls of wisdom amused most, but seldom did teachers or students stop to think of the deeper, sometimes cryptic intention or meanings.
With a strong desire for social acceptance, Harvey tried extra hard to be one of the boys. So much so, that one day after school he followed a young gang of vandals to the railway yards, intending to observe and admire their graffiti. Keeping his distance and hiding behind a rail-yard carriage, he was mesmerised at how organised they were. The speed and skill of their painting impressed him. Aerosol cans were spraying brilliant reds and blues with dramatic swirls of white and black. The old grain train carriage they were vandalising quickly transformed into a billboard within half an hour. Suddenly one of the gang members spotted him spying on them. Gooch and three of his mates walked over to a very nervous Harvey. The remainder of the gang vanished, fearful of a police arrival. Harvey did not run; instead, he tried to explain to the thugs that he was only interested in their artwork and not in reporting them to the police. Gooch a street fighter, flanked by three very ugly friends, growled and thumped his fist into his own left hand palm.
“How can I be sure, Mr Harvey smart-arse Stewart, that you won’t dob us in to the cops? . . . Eh! . . . I need a lifetime guarantee.”
Harvey became very nervous and started to stutter.
“Err, well, because I wouldn’t tell anyone, I just wanted to see your brilliant art work. I promise, I wont tell anyone! I really won’t.”
The gang slowly surrounded him and moved in towards Harvey.
“Sorry teacher’s pet; this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you.” The other gang members laughed in a sick and sinister way.
“Unfortunately for you, there is only one way to be sure that you won’t tell anyone about our artwork, ever! And that is to stop you from ever talking again!”
Gooch and his gang began punching and kicking him; with almost no retaliation from a defenceless Harvey. The ‘Rail gang’ continued until he started coughing up blood, passed out, and fell with a thud onto the railway line. Gooch and his mates looked at each other, and then ran off, leaving Harvey unconscious and lying in his own pool of blood, on the railway track.
Each time Harvey regained consciousness he tried to move off the track but the intense pain made him black out again.
The 7.00pm freight train was quickly approaching, when suddenly Harvey tried to get up. The Train driver noticed movement on the rails ahead, lit up by the powerful light from his train. Fearing the worst he slammed on the brakes, which began a procession of steel wheels grinding & skidding to a halt; just short of Harvey’s body. The driver got out and approached the crumpled body, lying semi-conscious and groaning in agony. Harvey looked up,
“No! . . Not the bright light! Please it’s not time for me to go yet!”
He was delirious, drifting in and out of consciousness whilst the driver carried him back to the station. They waited for nearly twenty minutes, until the ambulance arrived.
It was 1977, at 4am in near freezing winter conditions, when ambos finally admitted him into St James’ Hospital, at Point Menningee. Dazed, in bed and waiting for the doctor to return, Harvey endeavoured to recall the attack; mostly remembering the 35-minute trip to Hospital, for its bumpy bitumen road, which jarred his broken ribs and his cold throbbing head.
Following several hours in emergency surgery, the district surgeon was able to save Harvey, repairing life threatening damage to his lungs and kidneys, both severely split from badly fractured ribs.
Two days later, battered and bruised and struggling to breathe from his ribs and a broken nose, the local Police Sergeant interviewed him, asking how he received the injuries.
“I just tripped as I was running across the rails.” Harvey knew his life was worth more than dobbing in his classmates, even though he thought of them as anything but mates. His pain and anger was outweighed only by his pity for Gooch and his ‘Rail gang’.
“I can assure you, I accidently fell onto the rail lines that evening, and I’m sorry for any trouble I may have caused.”
The officer frowned in disbelief, jotted down some notes and left.
Over the next two days in hospital, a young blue eyed, blonde-haired nurse named Anne Menzies became a regular visitor. Harvey was in awe of her gentle caring nature. Jan and Rodney gave Harvey a surprise visit, bringing chocolates & chatted for hours before they had to leave for winter School holidays. They explained how school had finished for the term and rumour had spread, that he left early on a walk-about adventure. Harvey laughed until the unbearable pain replaced his smile with a frown.
Meanwhile a very puzzled Rose visited Harvey’s mother.
“Mrs Stewart, I am very concerned about Harvey, I hoped to catch up with him today, but I have not seen him for days.”
Having just returned from visiting Harvey, Mrs Stewart told Rose not to worry. “I’m sorry lassie, you canna see him yet, he had a careless accident and will be bedridden for days. Rest assured, my mischief-maker will soon be back oot exploring that wilderness he loves so much..”
“Ok Mrs Stewart, I get the picture; but I’m still very worried!” Rose walked slowly home; she could not stop thinking about her new friend. She had good reason to believe Harvey was not ok. She heard Rumours about a bashing down at the rail yards and a boy in hospital. Rose hoped it was not Harvey. She mumbled to herself,
“As his closest classmate, he would tell me if he was leaving school early. So if he didn’t, then it must be Harvey in hospital!”
Increasingly concerned, Rose made enquiries at the Police station. The Officer on duty had also heard about a mysterious beating, down at the rail yards, so while Rose anxiously stood there; the young Officer checked reports and contacted both Hospitals; each 50km away. He returned the phone, then looked at Rose,
“Well Miss, it appears this friend of yours is in hospital, The Sister on duty at St James said he is recovering from a clumsy accident, and does not want visitors.’ They suspect a gang may have beaten him within inches of his life. The Sister said Harvey didn’t want to press any charges.” An angry Rose turned red…
“So that’s that then, is it? A gutless lot you are, not protecting our community.” Rose was fuming as she stormed out.
“A clumsy accident! Not likely! . . . How dare they ignore this?”
Unable to get to the Hospital, Rose approached Harvey’s Mother again to explain the vicious attack. Mr Stewart answered the door,
“That trouble attracting son of mine! I’m nae surprised if he got into a skirmish, if he’s hangin aboot wee alcohol fuelled druggies. Nae misguided Stewart will ever find a skerrick of sympathy from me, only a dose of reality. That scallywag needs to grow up quick, or he may end up working on the lines that nearly took his life.”
Mrs Stewart started closing the door, and spoke in a softer voice,
“And since you are besotted by my boy, please take good care of him; I still love him very much.” Speechless and surprised Rose walked off as the door clicked shut behind her.
Back at the Hospital, Nurse Anne Menzies paid close attention to Harvey; his injuries brought him close to death. Anne stayed a little longer after her shift and read to Harvey until he went to sleep.
The following morning, with the pain so unbearable, the Doctor increased the level of morphine. Some patients hallucinated from the morphine or became agitated, but not Harvey. He shifted into an enlightened state, openly telling bizarre stories. He created rhyming poetry from the most unusual subjects. Nurse Menzies increasing grew captivated by his reactions, often just sitting and listening to his ramblings. She loved listening to his Philosophy and somewhat offbeat pearls of wisdom, especially when he was slightly more coherent. She became increasingly excited about her shift work, even looking forward to discussing topics on life with Harvey. A close friendship soon developed which assisted Anne to escape from her own pain and anguish. The Morphine helped Harvey to express his overactive mind, without any inhibitions; his subconscious finally was free to rant and rave without fear of ridicule. It became a distraction from discomfort, a way for him to control his pain and explore a new creative world.
Over the next two days, a gathering of Nurses visited to hear Harvey’s poetic ramblings. One day he reached out, took Nurse Menzies’ hand and thanked her for constantly caring. Nurse Menzies felt that Harvey seemed to understand her like no one had before. Increasingly, Harvey observed intricacies in Nurse Menzies that suggested she might suffer from anxieties. He intuitively desired to assist her in finding peace in her own life. He sensed and analysed her irritations, through passing conversations, and noticed her intense feelings, body language and dour expressions.
One evening, Nurse Menzies sat on the end of Harvey’s bed gazing out the window at the beautiful sunset. Rays of sunshine radiated into the room, illuminating Nurse Menzies hair. Harvey struggled to sit up, reaching out to touch her hand. As Anne turned to him, Harvey looked into her captivating sun-filled blue eyes, and whispered,
“My broken bones will heal soon, thanks to your kind heart and healing hands. But I wish for nothing more than to heal your pain.” Harvey then opened his journal and pointed to a poem.
“I have written this for you, with a bit of a spiritual twist to it.” Harvey certainly caught Nurse Menzies attention, as she began reading,
Never fear what you cannot see
The night light shimmers, louvers rattle I see,
a bedside vigil much more than prattle to me.
We must now say a prayer, that is so divine,
the lord spirit’s love will become sublime.
We know that too often, when we are weak,
intense pain, from stress and anxiety creep.
You should never fear, what you cannot see,
confront your fears, and its pain will flee.
Your heart is strong, your smile so bright,
let my faith in God be your guiding light.
I understand the many tears you weep,
A promise for you, I will forever keep;
I make this pact, that each time we hug,
love and hope transfer to you from above.
Through my arms will flow into your heart,
a divine delivery with a brand new start.
You will feel more strength, love and calm,
I know this to be true; I read it in a psalm.
Nurse Menzies could not hold back her tears, she leaned over to Harvey, who was struggling to sit up; she kissed him gently, and then embraced him for what seemed to Harvey, an eternity of pleasure. Nurse Anne felt that Harvey had done much more for her in three days than any psychiatrist or Doctor could possibly prescribe. She found his caring and understanding was the best remedy for her pain. Her feelings of hopelessness from years of alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression seemed to diminish as she gracefully accepted Harvey’s gift of hope and faith.
“Thank you Harvey, thank you for believing in me. What you have done for me in a few days, is what no doctor or psychologist could do in three years. I will never forget you!”
Harvey sat up on the edge of his bed, grimacing with pain from coughing. Comforted by Anne, he eventually stopped. He turned to her and again looked into her eyes as he reached down to touch her hand. With a strained deep breath, he whispered;
“Remember, Nurse Menzies. . .”
“It’s Anne!” she interrupted, Anne Menzies. Please call me Anne.”
“Ok then, remember this Miss Anne Menzies, you, of all people have been given a great gift of healing the ill. You need not be a doctor or a surgeon to heal the sick. These dying patients need you more than you could ever imagine. As a nurse, you must first heal yourself before you can heal many, many more. Then from your healed heart, will gain great personal strength, more powerful that any steroid or drug; or any physician could ever administer. Cleanse yourself first and you will live in a much happier, healthier environment!”
Anne nodded her head in acknowledgement. Tears began rolling down her face.
“To err is human, and to forgive one’s self is alien. To affirm your self-love and accept that what is done is done, will be the beginning of moving on and having fun”
“But what is this disease I carry? It makes me so angry and depressed. How can I be rid of this torment for ever?”
Harvey took out his journal and began writing, whilst Anne sat alongside him on the bed, anxiously looking over his shoulder with her left hand affectionately placed on his shoulder. Thoughtfully and patiently, Harvey completed each paragraph; and as he did, Anne began reading to herself.
Save yourself first
What is the disease that torments you so?
It destroys your highs, and instils the low.
No matter where you run and hide,
anger follows you like a raging tide.
You seem so helpless when it takes control,
a nice girl smashed; no one close to console.
How does this temper break out of its cage?
Its aim is to cripple, with its persistent rage.
Do not blame the world, for despising you,
look at your body’s cocktail of deadly brew.
Drugs or drink and smoking will kill,
for this no cure or Doctor with a pill.
Save yourself now, so you surely will be,
a saviour to hundreds more, just like me.
Anne leant over and kissed Harvey on the cheek. Harvey smiled, caressed her teary cheek with his finger and then gently kissed her on the lips.
“Oh! . . I do like your prescription, Doctor Stewart! You can practice your theories on me anytime you like! You may well have just saved me from my worst enemy, myself. I know I have abused my body and I promise you I will take better care of myself in the future. My only concern for now, is your enemy and welfare once you leave here? I know it was Gooch’s gang who left you for dead, so aren’t you afraid of what may confront you on your return? They may fear you will talk to the police; shouldn’t you get some sort of protection?” Harvey gave Anne a reassuring smile,
“Please Anne; don't worry, there is more good than evil in every man. I just need to cultivate the good. For now, I am just thankful for being alive and appreciative of your caring; so much so, it inspired me to write of those moments in my weakest hour; when I thought it was my time to move on to the next world.”
“Wow, what were you thinking about Harvey? It must have been very painful and distressing!”
“From the deathbed of my darkest moment, a much greater good was born! I saw the light, Nurse Anne, I saw the light!”
Anne started reading Harvey’s poem hoping to make sense of what he was rambling about.
A white light in the distance
My rational thought just disappeared,
Heart rate high, confrontation is weird.
No fast talking words can assist my escape,
to stand here and fight, is emotional rape.
Innocent bystander, I watched vandals deface;
outnumbered, if I live, tis surely God’s grace!
Forced to the ground, mouth covered by tape,
I must try to forgive, their intolerable state.
Agonizing pain, kicks and punches aim to slay,
my head thuds into a rail, painful memories today,
Unbearable beating, as I hear ribs crack or break;
final thoughts of rescue, I fear are much too late.
Train engine approaching? Laden with freight?
Unconscious, left bleeding, such a terrible fate!
I stir from this nightmare, am I still on the rails?
Will I die on the track, near rusty sleeper nails?
Bright light is not Heaven, nor a train that runs late,
Instead, a white lamp… on my Hospital bed’s gate.
Anne sat quietly on the end of Harvey’s bed for minutes, silently looking at his bedside light that featured in his poem.
“What were you thinking Nurse Anne?”
Anne sat her head into her hands, as Harvey tried to console her.
“Is everything ok?” Harvey asked quietly, trying not to upset her more. She nodded and turned off the bedside lamp for the evening.
“Yes Harvey, you taught me in two short days that abusing my own body is worse than words of abuse from others. Through forgiving others’ ill words that fester my thoughts, I will begin to look for good in those people and feel much better about myself!”
“You catch on pretty quick for a pretty slick chick, if you don’t mind me saying so, Anne.”
“I don’t mind, but I’m not sure what you’re thinking about now Harvey Stewart? Perhaps it’s best if I don’t; so good night.”
Both giggled uncontrollably until Anne eventually left the room. . .
Later that day Harvey signed himself out of hospital, against Doctors’ orders. He believed he was fine, although groggy and still in pain, he hoped his broken ribs would eventually heal at home. As he approached the main exit doors of the hospital he stopped and looked at the imposing timber framed, glass-inlaid doors. Harvey muttered to himself in a confused state of mind, as he stood staring at the exit of the Hospital. He was still a little dazed as his mind began to wander…
“Do I push or do I pull?” He asked himself. . .
Push or Pull?
My Exit doors to life are facing me,
as I anxiously stare out in a trance.
Eyes transfixed upon these words,
gold letters bouncing like a dance.
This one or that one, push or pull?
Which of these handles do I seize?
One moment of confusion reigns,
it should’ve been done with ease!
My eyes sway both from left to right,
my brain distorts the message sent.
Directions go right through my nerves,
to create a movement with no intent.
Will my left hand push or right hand pull?
Do I keep to the left, or give way to the right?
Does right pull or push or am I just a fool?
My mind is confused; will I give up this fight?
Abort this confounded mission,
I must now bend all these rules.
I have a half chance on decision,
before using my wrecking tools.
PUSH harder on this handle; all my power I need!
Who locked this damn door, how can I be freed?
My eyes begin drifting, looking down for a sign,
PULL is on the label! A reminder, for next time!
The next day, when Harvey was recovering in his own bed, he heard a knock on the front door. He thought it may have been Rose, but then recognised the familiar angelic voice speaking with his mother. It was Nurse Anne. She had found a bunch of beautiful protea flowers, together with a get-well card; unclaimed and sitting at the nurses’ station. Anne decided to hand-deliver them herself, hoping to say goodbye to Harvey and have a proper farewell chat.
“Mrs Stewart, could you please pass these flowers on to Harvey, a friend of his had them delivered today to the hospital, just after he discharged himself.”
Mrs Stewart gave the flowers back to Anne, much to her astonishment.
“I think its best that you give them to him personally, he has spoken fondly of you since his return; I know he would love to see you again.” Harvey was indeed very pleased to see Nurse Anne.
“It’s great to see you again my Florence Nightingale, and thankyou for these beautiful red roses.”
“It’s great to see you too Harvey, but these are not from me, they are from a friend of yours named Rose, I believe she may be someone very close to you!” As she examined the card,
Harvey detected a little jealousy in her voice; it was a new feeling he felt strangely excited about. He smelt the petals, looked up then smiled.
“Yes, Rose is very close.” He paused for several seconds, as Anne looked away with disappointment before continuing,
“In fact Rose lives right next door; she is my closest neighbour.”
Both laughed, then looked at each other affectionately, paused then embraced, not knowing if they would ever meet again.
“Well I must go Harvey, my new friend; my shift starts soon. I do hope you recover fully and we meet again one day soon.”
“With your blessing, I am sure to recover better than ever. And thanks again for delivering these roses from my Rose next door.”
“It’s my pleasure Harvey; I have so much more to thank you for, like filling my future with hope and meaning. If I can ever help you in any way, at any time, you know where to find me.”
“I look forward to it, I am sure we will meet again Nurse Menzies. You will always be my shining light, and please remember this,
“Those hands which aim to heal another’s heart,
will make depression and anxiety depart”
With that, Harvey gave Anne a big kiss on the cheek and a parting hug, and following a few teary moments, she was gone. Soon afterwards, he read the get-well card from Rose;
Just for a slice of glory
Where on this earth, is Master Stewart, I asked?
A mother saw you leave, with her thermos flask.
Off to the rail yards, but we know not why,
beatings you endured; made me sad and cry.
Next time you think, you should think thrice,
I prefer my mate not to be a human sacrifice.
Heroes seldom live too long, to tell a friend their story;
a sacrifice of blood and guts; just for a slice of glory.
We believed you lost, but thankfully, you were found,
welcome back to a safe haven, here on sacred ground.
I look forward to rekindling, our warmest of embrace;
to see your slightly battle scarred, happy smiling face.
I miss you more than these words can say.
Your closest friend, Rose X X
The first few weeks back at school were memorable for all the wrong reasons, due mainly to the torment from the Rail Gang. Gooch would not listen to Harvey’s explanation on why he was there at the rail yards, nor did he want to hear any more of his philosophy on life, or annoying words of encouragement. Everyone suspected Gooch had bashed Harvey, yet Harvey refused to press any charges. The gang, continued to show no remorse for their actions, often tormenting Harvey in the schoolyard out of sight of teachers, who seemed powerless to do anything about the situation. Harvey felt he understood Gooch’s insecurities and the grudge he bore against society. The stubborn gang and especially Gooch, tried hard to show no weakness. Harvey felt he was all front, like a facade disguising a very fragile and insecure personality. Harvey studied Gooch’s personality traits, but grew frustrated by his inability to steer these boys away from a life of crime and social isolation. His friend Miss Spencer was powerless to intervene, as she too was scared of the gang and the possible repercussions. Harvey became more determined to reform Gooch. Knowing that his words had little impact, Harvey wondered if through the power of prose he could encourage Gooch to change his ways for the better. Harvey sat down and wrote a poem about Gooch’s potential and talent, if he was able to rid himself of hatred.
Revenge is never sweet, just a bitter pill
A spirit harnessed, within thy walls,
it has no grounds, yet its temper crawls.
Enraged by hatred and internal fear,
this energy, is your life's lonely spear.
Direct your talents back through your paws,
a world hesitates, as you grow out your claws.
Let creativity erupt from mind and heart,
discovered skills, provides the perfect start.
Best now we forget your infamous deed,
or your life and heart could forever bleed.
Revenge is never sweet, its just a bitter pill,
to swallow your pride may be harder still.
You will be stronger and your temper tamed,
we know you shall survive, if you can refrain.
Harvey placed the poem through the narrow vent of Gooch’s grey metal locker. A weird feeling overcame him that very moment he pushed the poem through the slot.
“What have I done? If he hates it, he might kill me. If he hates poetry, he will beat me. If he doesn’t understand it, he will still beat me. . . Bugger! . . . I think I’m done for!”
The next day nothing happened, no beatings, no eye contact, no rude words, nothing. Harvey looked at Miss Spencer. She shrugged her shoulders. She knew something unusual was going on.
Over the next week, Harvey retreated further into his shell, questioning his own mind and decision making ability. In the schoolyard, Gooch’s gang-members began acting in a slightly different manner; they still walked out of their way to tease Harvey or Miss Spencer, and in return, Harvey always had a clever come-back line or a pearl of wisdom for them, but curiously, since the locker poem incident, Gooch never instigated anything. Harvey felt that Gooch may have softened, although he made it perfectly clear, that he still thought of Harvey as the Teacher’s pet.
“That’s ok!” Harvey thought; “If that’s the worst, then I may be getting through to him.”
One day during English class, Miss Spencer asked everyone to form pairs and prepare for a major end of year assignment.
“The topic for your presentation is a new fictitious breed of super-plant or wildflower living in a harsh environment surrounded by drought and eroding windswept plains. One of you will paint a picture and the other writes and presents a 700-word essay.”
The usual school friends formed pairs, quickly, whilst Gooch was left sitting in the back corner by himself, with little or no interest in the task. Miss Spencer looked at Harvey then nodded; he walked over to Gooch with intentions of offering to be his project partner.
“Gooch, I know you don’t like me, but I have an idea of a futuristic plant, but I need someone who can paint a wild, way-out-there picture of it; I need someone with a slightly offbeat artistic flair. My story will be about a most unusual but strikingly beautiful flower that consumes a Wilder beast.”
This got his attention; with a smug surprised look, Gooch sat back in his chair with his arms folded.
“You mean you and me working together! . . What on earth were you thinking Stewart when you thought of that? This should be a real laugh. . . Ok, I will be your partner! . . . But not in crime”
Relieved, Harvey wrote and spoke of his imaginary flower to Gooch with such detail that soon Gooch was captivated by the graphic descriptions, so much so, that he could paint the picture.
When Beauty consumed the beast
It is summer 2200, we live in a quickly deteriorating world, where we have come to expect mutant plant formations and cross breeding. Transforming and surviving over the hundreds of weaker and now extinct delicate varieties.
An enormous environmental cost is borne by humanity for the survival of just a few remaining adaptable plants.
Decades of degradation and deforestation through the nineteen forties, to the seventies resulted in extreme weather conditions, dramatic climate change and excessive soil contaminants, exacerbated by blistering temperatures, for hundreds of years to follow. Not surprising therefore, that nature’s most stunningly beautiful flower has transformed into a super survivor, becoming infamous, not for its beauty, but rather the calculated carnivorous qualities.
Natural culling occurred as the weaker plants fought for chemical free nutrients reducing in size and resistance as moisture levels decreased year by year. Hundreds of species of flora became extinct, jeopardising life itself.
Meanwhile evolution has fed on adversity, creating this breed of mutant super flowering plants. Known as the ‘Queen of the wilderness’, it extended its roots upwards, away from the hardening contaminated soils and into the dry dusty air, discovering a new pathway to survival in this plants lifecycle.
A canopy develops consisting of tiny root fibres, forming a cool protective shield, effecting a self-shading process against the harmful sun’s rays and dust.
The canopy of fibrous roots became crystallised from the hot drying sun, and during this process develop a shiny stippled amour coating, thus giving the plant a new colourful dimension of crimson reds and light refracting pinks and silver.
Instead of gathering water and nutrients from the soil, this root system deliberately gathers deadly chemicals from the atmosphere and stores the poisonous cocktail, within its own syringe-like fibrous hairs upon the airborne roots. The hungry beast is attracted to the oasis-like plant, approaches slowly, when suddenly jets of microscopic sucrose spray into the air from the pulsating flesh of the roots. The sweet scent attracts the hungry, tired Wilder beast into a web of sensory frenzy. It begins eating the roots of the super plant, tricked into thinking the sweet aroma belongs to the tasty root fibres. However, something is wrong, the wilder beast’s muscles in its throat begin constricting from the poison consumed. The Wilder beast soon becomes docile, falling to the ground, totally paralysed and unconscious. It is a slow and unpainful death. The weeks of decay ensure vital nutrients absorb intermittently by the plants underground reservoir. This process ensures survival for many months ahead. During this period the flower’s petals have emerged, exhibiting a hardened, glossy, Perspex like texture. The morning sun illuminates a prism of rainbow colours, all refracting through the translucent petals. By midday, small droplets begin to form under the leaf, a result of condensation. These droplets provide a life-giving source of moisture, slowly channelling down into the Queen’s bulb. As the baking sun reaches unbearable temperatures, the flowers now retract back down below the network of roots and fibres to its most shaded retreat.
Its soft fragile outer roots and branches shed daily, regrowing from inside out. This discarded skin provides valuable nutritional mulch around its base, for maximum microbial activity.
As moisture no longer penetrates the hard crust of the earth’s surface, the petals develop small microscopic sucking hairs that both hold the plant stable onto the desert surface during sandstorms and extract surface dews directly into the flower’s reproductive network.
The harsh windswept plains of this cruel environment will cut through the toughest of plant stems decimating a plant in seconds. As time evolved, a super stem, with a triangular faceted trunk developed a multi directional twisting base. This enables the plant to rotate its trunk and face its leading edge into a sandstorm, thus enabling deflection with minimal erosion.
Prior to the big winter freeze and hibernation period, the plant blossoms, exposing its soft inner petals and tissue towards the season ending windstorm. Constant hours of sand-blasting eventually aids in flower’s pollination.
Once the final storm has past, hard marble like pods propel onto the dry dusty plains. Soon, passing vultures squabble over this delicacy. Their toughened beaks fracture the pods, before devouring the tasty seed; which in turn passes through the birds manure and germinates up to dozens of miles away. Thus continues the cycle of this ever-evolving Wilder beast devourer. It truly is, The Queen of the Wilderness.
Gooch sat motionless, captivated by Harvey’s story.
“Stewart, I’m amazed; but convinced you are weird! I like it and I can see it! I mean, I can really imagine what it looks like, as if it were on a photo,” said Gooch as his hands became more animated.
“It’s like I can see every colour of each hair follicle and every bizarre petal on this Wilder-beastie eating flower.” Both boys paused, as they noticed Miss Spencer smiling proudly at them.
“That’s great Gooch! Now can you paint the picture?”
“Yes Harvey, I believe I can. Painting is like poetry for my imagination”
“I agree Gooch, it’s like when I look deep into a photograph and imagine a poem.
A pixel is at the heart of every poem
Show me a picture, so I can write you fresh prose,
capture thoughts with poetry, creates a perfect pose.
My single aim is to merge words or pixels to freeze,
ensuring verse and pictures forge a union to please.
“Yeah whatever Stewart, let’s get on with it eh?” Slightly puzzled, Gooch extended his hand to Harvey who hesitantly shook it. It was a very rewarding moment for Harvey and Miss Spencer.
After several more lessons, Gooch had finished painting his impression of this magnificent flower. Gooch hung the enormous painting on the main blackboard for all to see, it blossomed into full view of an astonished and impressed class. Together with Harvey’s story, they both received special commendation certificates at the school presentation night that month. Harvey and Gooch walked up, side by side onto the stage, collecting their certificate from Miss Spencer. A standing ovation followed, both for Gooch’s new found talents on display and the major obstacles both had overcome to succeed in the face of adversity. It was a proud moment for Miss Spencer, who could not hold back her emotions, wiping away tears as she hugged and congratulated them both.
Harvey was beginning to understand who Gooch was, knowing he had been concealing his insecurities behind the mask of a school bully in search of attention and acceptance. This week’s artistic revelation was surely a turning point in Gooch’s life.
Over the following weeks after school, Gooch regularly visited Harvey, usually near the old Lemon scented gum tree, adjacent to the park. Gooch had changed; he asked questions and listened to Harvey in order to learn from his ideals on life.
One day, Harvey handed Gooch a page from his journal to read.
“Gooch, I can help you to help yourself if you remove your mask”
“What do you mean?”
“Just read it and consider Gooch”
Remove your Mask
What lies beneath your hardened mask?
Is it secrets, hidden from a darkened past?
Slowly evolving throughout the night,
your crimson coat so rich and bright.
Fold away your armour, not just for me,
it camouflages your loving, for all to see.
Renewed strength and creativity shine,
as a facade discards, for the final time.
Reveal your heart, with sensitivity,
then your mask shall fade into eternity.
It pleases one; it pleasures all,
once renewed, you stand up tall.
Give back to those from whom you take,
Make good your life, for your own sake.
Gooch read the message from Harvey, then looked him in the eyes,
“What on earth were you thinking Harvey? Or should I say smoking?”
“Gooch; do you really want to live all of your life in fear?”
“What are you talking about Stewart? . . . I fear nothing!” Gooch flexed the biceps of his crossed arms, although he was unable to hide his inquisitive expression.
“It’s about the fear of the unknown. Charlton Heston reportedly said that he always keeps a loaded gun in his home; perhaps he is afraid of someone or something! Seems rather unlikely for someone like him don’t you think Gooch!. . .You see, I have no need for guns; as I have no one to fear. Words are more powerful than bullets. People only keep guns because they are afraid of not knowing what to say in a moment of anger. They live in fear of retribution.”
Retribute or solute
He who deliberately throws the first stone,
lives in fear of retribution,
unlike he who leaves no stones unturned,
in search of a solution.
This time Gooch neither teased nor ridiculed Harvey; he simply placed his left hand gently on Harvey’s left shoulder, and then gave his right shoulder a gentle punch, saying,
“Ouch!. . .For what?” Harvey replied with a grimace,
“For being the only person who ever tried to understand me. Or at least who tried to look for the good within me.”
They both smiled respectfully at each other, without saying another word and then Gooch turned and walked away.
Harvey knew at that very moment, Gooch would never again bully him and possibly no one else for that matter. More importantly to Harvey, he felt that in some way he may have helped save Gooch from a life of vandalism, crime, violence and drugs.
As Gooch proudly walked away that day, he considered the bizarre events that turned his victim at the hand of his bullying into a lifetime friend and mentor. Gooch had also discovered a newfound purpose for his artistic talents.
“Now I really do have a future!” he thought to himself.
Continued: Find chapter 6