Dad’s firm had a Christmas picnic at a park in Canterbury where all the families came and ate sausages in bread and iceberg and tomato salads. There were eskis full of beer, white wine and soft drinks. The younger kids had egg and spoon races and sack races. The older kids like me stood round trying to talk to each other, frightened of wrong footing with the opposite sex. Joey went at Dad’s insistence, despite protesting he was too old to go. Dad wanted him there to show off the family. Joey spent most of the picnic behind the sports stands, smoking.
Everyone oo-ed and ahh-ed when Fred Harvey drove his gleaming Bentley on to the grass oval, where cars weren’t meant to park. It was steel grey, with polished wood interior and white walled wheels.
He milled about the staff and their families, greeting wives and family members and clamping his massive paws on the shoulders of those who worked for him. As he approached Dad, Mum, Rodney and me, Dad stood up straight and said, ‘This is Mr Harvey.’
The man was massive, and towered over Dad, and Dad was not small. He had a full head of hair slicked back to reveal a weathered face.
‘F’goodness’ sake, call me Fred,’ he said. ‘We’re all equals here. This is Australia,’ and he laughed out loud.
Mum shook his hand and said, ‘Well, Fred, we’re all very grateful for your sponsoring the Vagabond Art Group.’
‘Blame this bugger here,’ said Fred and pointed at Rodney. ‘He’s the arty one. The stuff he comes up with, Jesus. I like a good painting of the harbour or the bush, like the McCubbins and Streetons my wife made me buy, but Rodney here’s got us all abstract and shit.’
Rodney was impassive. Fred slapped my Dad’s shoulder and said, ‘Keep those figures up, Dennis. You too Rodney.’ Then he moved on to another family.
Later that day there was a father and son cricket match. Joey came out from beind the stands to have a bat. He hit a six and two fours. People clapped, but he was caught out on the next attempt. When he walked off the field he stood with me as we watched Mum and Rodney up in the bleaches. They waved at us. Rodney filled Mum’s wine glass with a bottle of red. She was laughing and had a leg over the seat in front of her with the sandal dangling from her foot. I turned to see if Dad was watching them, but he was walking back to prepare a run up to bowl to one of his colleagues. Joey said, ‘Fuck it,’ and left.
* * * * *
Dad couldn’t attend the opening of the Vanguard Gallery, so he said, ‘You go, Mickey, and keep an eye on your mother.’
The gallery was tucked between two large terraces. I counted about fifty people crammed into the white walled space, with many spilling out on to the foot path. There was a table outside with waiters in white shirts and black pants pouring drinks. One handed me a beer without me even asking, and I wandered into the small space of the gallery.
Rodney was there with Mum, chatting to a number of other people as they moved about the gallery. Mum wore a flowing drop dress in eucalypt colours with almost no back to it, and matching high heels. You could see her backbone and the smoothness of her skin. Rodney had a gold suit on. Every now and then he placed a hand on Mum’s spine and led her to a painting. When I say painting, it wasn’t what I was expecting, but with a head full of beer I wasn’t going to quibble. Besides this was art, and who was to say what art was. There were photos of very black things, and a few all white canvasses that looked like they hadn’t even been started. Many were collages of newspaper articles, often smudged with paint and covered in images of erect penises or red vaginas, or people in suits or bathing costumes.
I saw Rodney with Mum looking at a large painting of a very buff and topless man having sex with a robot in high heels; it was littered with the names of other artists and an alligator was crossed out in the bottom corner. Mum turned and said, ‘Here you are, darling, enjoying yourself?’ The figures in the painting didn’t look like they were.
‘Yeah,’ I said. I’d had three beers by then and was enjoying the whole event. I’d even met someone who’d handed me a joint. I acted cool when I inhaled, and spent the next half hour spinning about the melee of bodies and chatter in the cramped gallery. There were some great looking women there, who seemed well at ease with their bodies and the people they were with. For a curious and hormonal fifteen year old boy it was pretty damned exciting; full of possibility.
Later in the evening, she called me over and gave me a hug. ‘Did you like the show?’
I grinned at her through drunken eyes and gave her a kiss. Rodney laughed. ‘A son’s kiss for his mother. What a pleasing thought!’
Mum said she and Rodney were joining the crowd going to a place called the Manzil Room, so she called me a cab and sent me home. Dad was watching TV when I got home. He asked me how the show was. I focussed as best I could and said it was interesting, but Mum and Rodney were staying a bit longer with the rest of the people who attended. He didn’t look up from the TV, so I’m pretty sure I got away with it.
* * * * *
The next morning Mum was up still dressed in last night’s outfit when I came down for breakfast.
‘Hello, Mikey!’ she said and hugged me. Her breath stank and she was hot. ‘Dad’s gone early this morning, so it’s just you and me. Joey didn’t come home last night either.’ Then she giggled and winked at me. She was frying eggs and bacon, not something she often did on a school day morning. She flung the food on to two plates. One egg skidded off the plate and on to the floor, where Toddy, our Labrador gobbled it up.
‘Oops,’ she said and sat down next to me. ‘Last night was fun, hey?’ she said and then wolfed down the single egg and bacon.
‘What time did you get home last night?’ I said.
‘You’re just like your father,’ she said. She leaned in close to me and whispered, ‘Let’s just say it began with a five.’
She smiled. ‘I haven’t done that for ages. It was such fun.’ As I ate my breakfast she said she’d take me to school, have a little nap and then she was going into town to do the Christmas shopping. ‘Do I have your list?’ she said.
She did – A Star Wars Tie Fighter or a Land Speeder. Plus some cool clothing of the kind I’d seen Rodney and his friends wearing. A big shouldered jacket and two tone shoes.
* * * * *
Christmas 1978 was on a Monday. I remember the weekend before that – the seventeenth – Joey was home showing off his new girlfriend. Her name was Sandy, which he told us was short for Alexandra. She had long auburn hair and blue eyes, and wore a pink mini skirt and a puffy blouse. Joey couldn’t keep his hands off her, and she didn’t resist. He wore a tank top so he could flex his muscles for her to stroke. She giggled when she did. He said he’d been working out, doing kung fu like in the movies, to get fit. ‘In case I get into a fight and need to defend you,’ he said. She laughed and hugged him close.
Mum and Dad were in their room with the door closed again. The three of us were in the living room playing records. Or I was, as they were mainly kissing on the couch and ignoring me. So I played The Jam just to piss them off: Sandy said she thought the Bee Gees were sexy.
The A side of All Mod Cons had just finished when Mum and Dad’s bedroom door burst open and Mum screamed,
‘I was buying them for you!’
Dad’s voice said, ‘Joan Kerrigan saw you with him in David Jones, buying lingerie.’ Dad was using his aggressively rational voice, as if his viewpoint was the only logical one.
Mum wasn’t having it. ‘It’s Christmas, you dolt, I was buying a present for you. For us!’
Dad said, ‘Why should I believe that? You go shopping for lingerie with him. You’re out all night at parties with him, you come home in the same clothes.’ He was building his case.
‘What do you want me to do, come home in different clothes?’
Then Dad lost it.
‘He’s all over you, woman. I’ve seen him touching you, kissing you, hugging you, brazenly in front of everyone. And all that talk about free sex. The man has no shame, and nor, it seems do you.’
Mum was in tears now, but it didn’t diminish her wrath. She looked up at him with an expression I’ll never forget: it was strained, her face seemed shrivelled, and focussed, sticky with tears like she was she’d just been told she had cancer but knew she’d fight it.
‘We’re not having an affair, you stupid man, ’ she said, and collected her bag and car keys and stormed out of the house.
Dad emerged after the sound of the car exiting the driveway had gone. He stood stiffly in the living room. We were quiet. Joey and Sandy sat at opposite ends of the settee. The needle on the record player crackled and bumped at the middle of the vinyl with the rhythm of a slow flat tyre turning on gravel.
‘I’m sorry you had to see that,’ said Dad, and added after a pause, ‘Things have come to a head.’
Joey spread himself wide on the settee, legs spread and arms along the back like extended wings.
‘You think Mum’s porking Rodney?’ he said.
Dad turned slowly to look down at him. I thought he was going to belt him. But instead, he started to cry. A small lachrymose seepage escaped his tautened eyes. He rubbed them with the back of his wrist. He nodded, and stood there, his shoulders slumped with pain.
‘Ha!’ Joey snorted and rocked his head back on to the cushions. ‘He’s not,’ he said.
Dad looked at him with his mouth ajar. ‘How would you know? You don’t know the facts.’
‘I know one fact,’ said Joey.
‘And what’s that?’ Dad’s voice was part annoyance, part hope that there might be a way out of this for him.
‘It’s easy,’ said Joey. ‘Rodney’s a homo. He has no interest in Mum, or any woman. He’s a pillow biter, a shirt lifter. He only does it with men.’ He smiled and at the end of his long arms his hands popped up like stunted feathers.
Dad scowled. ‘Don’t be preposterous. We’d never hire a guy like that. Fred wouldn’t tolerate it. He’d be out on his ear.’
Joey pulled his arms into his lap and said, ‘You did.’
‘Did what?’ said Dad.
‘Hire a man like that. A poofter.’
Dad took a deep breath, as a demonstration of his patience. I’d seen schoolteachers do the same thing when they were about to correct a student.
‘Joey, lad, I know you’re growing up, but take a lesson from one who’s seen the world. You can tell a man like that when you see one, and Rodney is not one. He’s a cuckold prick, but he’s not one of them. I’m going to have to get him sacked anyway, for what he’s done to me, to us, but he’s not a … not a … homosexual.’
‘If you say so,’ said Joey.
‘I do say so,’ said Dad, his voice louder, ‘and I’ll hear no more from you on the subject.’ He drew himself up as high as he could, and leaned towards Joey. Joey stared right back, and said in a slow, calm voice,
‘Well, what do you want – he’s a homo, or he’s tapping your wife?’
‘How dare you!’ Dad was beetroot with ire. I thought he’d clock Joey but he didn’t. He just stood over Joey with a stretched and anguished face. Joey stretched his arms out in front of him, with his hands linked backwards, displaying his muscles. He said,
‘I’ll prove it to you, old man. He’s coming for dinner on Wednesday, yeah?’ Dad gave the slightest of nods. ‘Then I’ll prove if to you on Wednesday night.’ He turned to Sandy who was sitting at the very far edge of the settee. ‘C’mon hon, let’s go to your place.’ He put his hand out and pulled her up. He winked at me as he left.
* * * * *
As would be expected, the three days before Wednesday dinner were extremely tense. Mum and Dad didn’t speak to each other. He left early for work and stayed late. She cooked and cleaned as normal, but hardly said a word to me; Joey didn’t come home after leaving on Sunday.
I didn’t know what to think. I’d never seen my parents like this. Friends of mine had parents who were divorced; one kid I knew said his father used to hit his wife a lot, which made him cry. But I had never seen my parents this bad. They’d had arguments before over small stuff, like house cleaning or a mixed appointment, but that usually ended up with her hugging me and complaining about him and when he came in the room she’d smile and tell me to go and whack him for her. And Dad would raise his fists at me like a boxer and say, ‘Come at me, Mickey,’ and we’d all laugh and I’d hear one of them, or both, say sorry.
But this was different. The air was heavy. No one was speaking, let alone laughing. Not even the regular sounds of Christmas got through. Mum didn’t play her usual records of the Kings College Choir singing carols or other painful Christmas music. Dad was scarcely home. I decorated the Christmas tree by myself.
On Tuesday night while she was peeling carrots, Mum said to me, ‘I should have been more careful, I never thought your father would be the jealous type.’
I couldn’t ask what that meant, whether or not it was a confession. We were silent over dinner, but as she was cleaning up she said, ‘You try to live the life you want and it goes belly up.’ She didn’t get changed at all on Monday. ‘Look, I’m wearing the same clothes,’ she muttered. She didn’t tell me to go to bed, but stayed up and watched reruns of The Box.
I had no idea why Rodney was still invited. If it made dad so upset you’d think he’d call the dinner off. Maybe he wanted to confront Rodney. I didn’t know if that was the sort of thing my dad would do. He wasn’t normally confrontational, but I’d never seen him in this sort of state. Maybe he would act out of character. It made me anxious.
Looking back at the Wednesday, it all happened like a series of short scenes in a play. One person did something then the next person and so on, til the end.
I got home and saw the table had been set with full crystal ware, silver cutlery on a cloud white tablecloth. I suspected Mum was making a point. The house smelled of roasting meat and the fridge was stocked with alcohol. I peeked in the oven to see a large turkey surrounded by an array of vegetables.
Mum came down the stairs from her bedroom as I was raiding the cupboards for biscuits. I leapt back at the sight of her. She’d cut her hair. It was very short and made her scalp look round. She had dark make up on, and almost black lipstick. She wore a pair of baggy black pants and a matching jacket, but her satin shirt was cut wide open and I could see almost all of her boobs.
‘What do you think?’ she said.
I didn’t think anything, I was so startled.
‘Stunning, isn’t it,’ she said. ‘If someone has to wear pants around here it may as well be me.’
She didn’t ask me to get changed. So I hung around the kitchen.
Dad arrived without Rodney. He took one look at Mum and said, ‘My god, woman, what have you done? I don’t think – ’
‘You don’t think what?’ said Mum, and eyed him fiercely.
He went to the cupboard and poured himself a whisky which he downed in one go. Fortified, he said, ‘I don’t know the game you’re playing but I’m telling Rodney tonight. He’ll be out of the company by Christmas.’
Then he stormed upstairs in the steam of Mum’s laughter. ‘No one’s perfect, but I never thought I’d married a fool,’ she said.
It was getting close to the time for Rodney to arrive when Joey came in hurriedly. He slammed the door behind him and raced up the stairs. He kept his hands in his pockets as he went past. He said ‘Hello,’ to anyone who heard.
Dad emerged after a while. He had a casual suit on with a bow tie. He took a bottle of wine into the living room. Mum leant on the kitchen bench, waiting for our guest.
She seemed nervous when he didn’t show at seven-thirty. She was even more agitated at eight o’clock. She had taken the turkey and vegetables out of the oven. ‘They’ll be cold,’ she said. ‘This is not like him.’
Joey came down in jeans and t-shirt and went straight to the fridge for a beer. I noticed the knuckles on his hand were red and swollen. He kept his other hand in his jeans pocket.
‘Where’s Bozo?’ he said.
‘Do you mean Rodney?’ said Mum.
‘Have some respect, he’s a guest in the house, even if you don’t like him.’
Joey went into the living room. He stood staring at Dad. Dad was seated drinking a glass of red wine. He did not look at Joey. Joey returned to the kitchen.
‘He’s a no show,’ he said, and took another beer from the fridge. ‘No reason why we can’t eat though.’
He had picked up the carving knife and sliced off a piece of meat.
‘Joey!’ said Mum, ‘don’t be so rude.’
He sucked the piece of meat off the end of the carving knife and said, ‘What’s the prob? Bozo’s a no show, so let’s eat.’
‘Leave it, Joey, while I answer the door.’
When she opened it, she shrieked and Rodney staggered in. His face was swollen and bloody, his clothes were dishevelled and he held one arm in close to him as Mum helped him walk to the living room. A number of times he stopped and leant against the wall, leaving a smear of blood on the wallpaper each time. He collapsed into an armchair and groaned.
‘My god, what’s happened?’ said Mum and she leant in to give him a big hug, but he shrank from her. ‘Dennis,’ she said, ‘do something. Get a face washer and a towel and hot water, the poor man’s been attacked. Michael, get the Dettol from the bathroom cupboard.’
When I got back from the bathroom, Mum was on her knees inspecting Rodney. Dad was standing, looking on. Mum looked at Rodney’s facial injuries and dabbed them with a damp washer, and applied the Dettol I gave her. He flinched each time she touched him but she insisted. I thought of the times when I was kid and she’d cover me with salves and comfort after I’d got knocked about at sport or fallen off a bike.
I saw Joey enter from the kitchen. He stood watching us all, his hands folded in front of him. His outer fist was clenched.
Mum had me get a pack of frozen peas from the freezer and applied it to Rodney’s face. One eye was almost closed, and was rimmed with puffy green and black bruising. His lip was cut in two places. She attended to all these, and inspected him for more. She asked if he could hold the peas to his eye while she looked at his arm. His free arm shook as he held the packet to his face.
He went to speak, but Mum said ‘Ssshh, baby, not now. Let’s get you looked after first.’ She caressed Rodney’s forehead. ‘My poor man,’ she said. He flinched when she touched his arm, but she slowly removed his jacket and rolled up the shirt sleeve. Rodney groaned when she did, but she was a practised mother and knew how to minimise the disturbance. Years ago, when Joey had broken his arm in a scrum, Mum had undressed him and bathed him and put him in a sling before he knew what pain was.
‘I don’t think it’s broken,’ she said. ‘Probably sprained the wrist, but there’s a godawful bruise on the forearm. Dennis, don’t just stand there, get a sling from the first aid kit in the laundry.’
Dad left and then returned waving the white sling in front of him. Mum had it on in no time. She placed a rug over Rodney’s shoulders and said ‘Dennis, go boil the kettle. Rodney’s in shock and we need to keep him warm. In the meantime, I’m going to ring the ambulance and police.’
Rodney shook his head. ‘No,’ he said.
Mum turned to him. ‘You’ve been attacked,’ she said. ‘The police need to know. You need medical help.’
‘No police,’ said Rodney and waived meagrely with his free hand.
‘Joey, go and make the tea, the kettle’s boiled,’ Mum said and pulled a chair up next to Rodney. Joey didn’t move. ‘Joey!’
‘I’ll get it,’ said Dad. He sort of jumped as he left.
Mum stroked Rodney’s hair and dabbed at some of the clotted blood that was still there. ‘You poor dear,’ she said.
Rodney turned to look at her and regarded her closely through his one good eye. A stiff smile cracked his lips. Mum sat back and grinned.
‘I knew you’d approve,’ she said. ‘I went elegant punk boho for you, my darling.’
‘Very Liza with a Zee,” Rodney whispered, but his laugh became a guttural cough, and blood spoiled phlegm spilled on to his chin. Mum cleaned it up.
‘You need the hospital,’ she said, ‘and you need to tell the police what’s happened.’
Rodney shut his eyes and raised his hand amid rasping breaths. ‘The police don’t care for people like me,’ he said. ‘They’d say I got what I deserved.’
Mum stepped back. ‘Whatever do you mean, people like you?’ she said. ‘Who are people like you?’
Rodney emitted a bitter, guttural chuckle. ‘‘They’d say I got what I deserved.’
‘I don’t understand,’ said Mum. ‘How can anyone deserve this?’
Rodney lifted his gaze to Joey. I could see it was painful for him to move.
‘Joey?’ Mum said.
He didn’t respond but held Rodney’s stare. I looked at him. This was my brother. He’d beaten a man senseless. We were kids growing up together. I never thought he’d do anything like that.
‘Joey!’ said Mum.
But it was Rodney who replied.
‘Phoebe, dear, some people can’t accept difference. People like me offend them.’ He coughed up another glob of reddish phlegm but kept his eyes on Joey.
‘I don’t understand this people like you,’ said Mum.
‘They resort to violence to prove a point, but all they prove is their cowardice.’ He collapsed back on to the chair, but did not remove his gaze from Joey.
Joey responded equally, and the two men stared at each other.
‘What’s going on?’ said Mum. ‘Joey, what’s going on here?’
Without shifting his gaze, Joey said, ‘You heard the man. I’m a fuckin’ coward and he’s the one lying in his blood.’ He smiled. It was a callous smile, I remember, uncaring and arrogant. This was not the brother I knew.
Mum stood and leant into Joey’s chest. He was a full head higher than she, but she was ferocious.
‘Did you do this?’ she demanded, and pointed at Rodney.
‘The point needed proving,’ said Joey. He still held Rodney’s stare.
‘Is my son a thug now? Is that what you are, a criminal?’
He didn’t answer.
‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!’
Joey turned slowly to Mum and looked at her briefly then squinted.
‘Dennis,’ said Mum, ‘get this boy out of my house.’
‘Dennis, don’t,’ said Joey. He was rubbing a fist in the palm of his other hand. I wondered when he got so cocky.
But Mum clocked him. It was open handed, right across the face, and Joey stepped back, stunned.
‘Get out,’ she said, and her voice was low and sharp and white with ire.
‘Do as your mother says,’ said Dad.
‘Yeah, right,’ said Joey, ‘like you’d know. Prancing around with an arty butt grifter and accusing your wife of screwing him. You are so fucking blind.’
Dad stepped forward and I was sure he was going to thump Joey. This was a man whose preferred method of discipline was to bore us to death with reason and discussion, who’d never raised a hand against any of us. Joey put his fists up.
But Rodney raised his hand and said, ‘Please.’
The room stopped.
Rodney said, ‘There’s been too much damage tonight.’
Dad was glaring at Joey, and I thought I detected a tear at the side of one eye. I figured he felt really stupid as well as really angry. And disappointed, in Joey, and probably in himself. After all, he’d wrongly accused Mum of having an affair, hadn’t realised Rodney was a homosexual, and had a son who’d just beaten a man rotten, all on his watch.
Joey said to Rodney, ‘What, are you a fucking angel now?’ and then strode to the front door. He didn’t slam it shut though. Whether that was arrogance or shame, I don’t know.
Dad looked at Mum, who just put her hand up.
‘Let’s settle our guest first,’ she said.
Rodney was lying back on the couch with his eyes closed. He was breathing regularly and looked a bit more relaxed. Dad left the room and returned with a box of pills and water. ‘I’ve got some Panadol,’ he said. ‘This might help.’ He touched Mum’s arm as he bent over to Rodney but she brushed him away. Rodney pulled his head forward and smiled at Dad. He put two pills into his mouth and Mum helped him drink. Then she stood up and glared at Dad.
She was just about to speak when Rodney said, ‘Ssshh, ssshh. Please. You’ve got to be brave, for yourselves, for Mikey.’
I never felt more appreciated than at this moment. Telling Mum and Dad to be brave, to control their anger, for me. I could have hugged him right there, but I knew it’d hurt.
Dad looked at Mum briefly; I saw the tears in her eyes. He motioned to touch her but she held up a hand and sobbed.
Dad said, ‘Mikey, help me get a bed sorted for our guest here. Rodney, you can rest up here, for as long as you need. Can’t he Phoebe? I’ll sort out your work. Mikey, give me a hand.’
Dad held Rodney closely as we ascended the stairs to the spare room. I carried a towel up for him and the boxes of pills Dad had received.
When Rodney was settled, Dad said, ‘We’ll look after you, mate, it’s the least we can do.’
Rodney grabbed Dad’s forearm and the two men looked at each other. Their faces were taut but soft, fraught with compassion and remorse. More than the events that I had just witnessed, this look revealed to me something that has stayed with me for my whole life. I was having trouble comprehending it all, but in that moment I saw two grown men fighting to cope and console.
‘Thanks,’ said Rodney. ‘Go look after your queen.’
Then he signalled for me to come to him.
He leant forward and whispered, ‘Michael, your mum and dad need looking after. Go and help them. This is not the first time I’ve had this.’ And he winked. The goddam hero with his one good eye, winked at me, as if it was all just grist for the mill.
I smacked Dad’s backside as we left the room. I didn’t know why, but I was not ashamed of it.
Mum and Dad talked long into the night. I tried to fulfil my charge of looking after them by staying up, but in the end had to go to bed. When I woke, Dad and Mum were still talking, and they were still wearing the same clothes they had the night before. But when I entered the living room she was sitting on Dad’s lap. He had his lips pressed against her cropped head and his arms about her. She had been crying, but seemed at peace.
When they saw me, Mum unravelled herself and gave me a hug. She didn’t say anything.
Rodney stayed until Boxing Day. Mum nursed him and fussed over him and when she wasn’t, spent time with Dad, stroking his hair and making him tea. She was working hard, but it was hard, as Joey had not responded to any of our calls. We did Christmas around the tree. It was sombre, as Joey didn’t show up. Rodney had bought Mum a fabulous dress. Dad bought her jewellery. She did a fashion show for us. Happily, the jewellery and dress complemented each other and Dad said,
‘Look at your mum, Mikey, she is gorgeous.’
We gave Rodney a maroon velvet smoking jacket that Mum had come across in a boutique somewhere. She danced with Rodney over a Sinatra Christmas album. Then she danced with Dad. When they finished she poured a mug of eggnog over his head and kissed him. She didn’t join our laughter though.
When Rodney departed the next day we had no idea it’d be the last time we saw him. He resigned from the company in January. He sent Mum and Dad a thank you card for looking after him. In a way I can understand why he left. He needed a safer place, a new start.
Joey came home on New Year’s Day. Boy that was tough, but Dad was great. He didn’t say anything, but strode up to him and flung his arms about him in a big bear hug. Mum did the same, but added ‘Welcome home.’
Things were quiet for the next few days. He left home at the end of the month, to travel overseas.
Dad continued at the company. Mum continued being Mum and held her parties and took art courses and started painting. She made good sales at local galleries. She kept her hair short for a while and then experimented with a range of styles, each of which Dad said made her look even more lovely. I continued at school. So, basically, we all continued, which is kind of what life does, continue.
The very last time I saw Rodney was on TV, about ten years later, at the mardi gras parade, when the parade had become as much a celebration as a protest. He was in a dance troupe doing a routine with a bunch of much younger men. So at least we knew he was in good company.