A short time later, Greg and Alison walk into the lounge room.
Alison exclaims, "Pamela? Here?" Greg
retorts, "I went and had a look at the boarding house; met
one of those people you were talking about: Fiona someone."
Alison murmurs, "Oh." Greg sighs, "Just tell me
why you've been lying to us." Alison hesitates before saying,
"Alright. If you want the truth... Your mum stayed with us
for about a month, I suppose. She'd been in jail for a very long
time; you have to remember that." Greg snaps, "Just
tell me what happened." Alison continues, "Alright.
Put bluntly, she was nasty, unthankful and headed straight for
the underworld again. Oh, I tried. I did everything to make her
comfortable; I tried to give her a chance to build something -
after all, she is my sister; I didn't want to
see her throw away her life a second time." She heads to
the drinks cabinet and pours herself a glass of scotch as she
goes on, "Nothing worked, though. I was at my wits' end.
Then she started talking about you and Sarah; it was like a light
at the end of the tunnel. I thought if anyone could help
her it would be you two. That's when I went down to Melbourne.
I didn't tell you anything then because I didn't know how she
was going to react when she found out what I was doing - which
was just as well, because when I came back to Sydney she accused
me of meddling, backstabbing; just about everything.
Oh, and her 'friend' was here, too. He was an absolute no-hoper;
that was obvious. Still, he was young and pretty... I
guess when you spend ten years in jail you take whatever's offered.
Didn't like any of us, though, because we could see right
through him. So, he started saying to Pamela: if she didn't like
it here, if she didn't want to hang around for her children to
arrive, they should split. They left a couple of hours later -
just before you arrived." Greg asks coldly, "Where did
they go?" Alison tells him, "Haven't got a clue."
She then carries on, "I wanted to tell you this earlier,
but you seemed happy with the move; I didn't want to
make you unhappy. I should've guessed you'd find out
from someone. I'm just sorry it wasn't me." Greg pauses.
He then murmurs, "Mum was that bad, was she?"
Alison replies, "I'm sorry." Greg then heads over to
the drinks cabinet and pours himself a scotch. As he does so,
he says, "We can't tell Sarah. She'd die."
Alison shrugs, "I won't." Greg downs his scotch.
He then marches out of the house. Alison stands there, looking
Charlie and Todd are standing behind the reception desk at the
gym. Todd asks, "Anyone still working out?" Charlie,
however, shakes her head and says flirtatiously, "Chased
everyone home. We have the place to ourselves: the sauna... the
massage tables... everything!" Todd turns to her and says
sincerely, "I love you." They start kissing passionately
- but become aware, suddenly, of someone standing in the entrance.
It's Greg, who's swaying drunkenly and holding a can of beer.
He slurs, "Geez, you must be blind, Charlie."
Charlie looks at him and exclaims, "I beg your pardon!"
Greg looks at Todd and slurs, "You've got her right where
you want her, haven't you, mate? I bet you couldn't believe your
luck." Todd, going and approaching him, warns, "I think
you've had one too many, Greg." Greg retorts, "Dozens,
mate, not one. I can still see, though." Charlie
demands, "Have you driven here?" She grabs
his can of beer. Greg slurs, "Came in a taxi. Thought I might
lift a few weights. But I come here and what do I find, eh?"
Charlie mutters, "We are closed for the night."
Todd puts his hand on Greg's shoulder and says, "Come on,
mate, I'll get you home." Greg, however, pushes his hand
away and retorts, "Nick off. No cheap stud's helping me."
Charlie glares at him and snaps, "That's it. Get out. I'm
not going to be insulted--" Todd interrupts her and assures
her, "It's alright." Greg slurs at him, "You've
got her right where you want her, haven't you, mate? You know
what I think of guys like you?" Charlie snaps, "Shut
up, you snotty-nosed little--" Todd interrupts again and
says, "Come on, let's just cool it." Greg, however,
lashes out, suddenly, and whacks Todd on the jaw. Todd lashes
back. He punches Greg in the stomach and then chops his hand down
on his shoulder. Greg collapses to the floor. Charlie stands there,
looking shocked and upset.
A while later, Alison is standing in the hallway at Charlie's
as Todd drags Greg in. Alison gasps, "My God! What happened?"
Charlie follows the men inside and retorts, "Well you may
ask, darling." Todd says, "I'll get him off to bed."
He heads off up the hallway. Alison says to Charlie, "He
was drunk, wasn't he?" Charlie retorts,
"And abusive and insulting and Todd knocked him out."
Alison gasps, "Todd what?" Charlie snaps, "I
don't feel the least bit sorry for him - he deserved
it." She marches into her lounge room and Alison follows.
Charlie goes on angrily, "He said that Todd was a cheap stud
and that I was stupid and, well, all-in-all I felt like thumping
him myself. Frankly, Alison, friend or no friend, I am
getting a little tired of throwing my doors open to every obnoxious
stray relative you feel like dragging home." Alison says
quickly, "Let me explain. He just found out Pamela was staying
with us - Fiona blew the whistle, as usual. He wanted to know
why I hadn't said anything sooner. I had to think of a reason."
Charlie mutters, "I suppose the truth was out of
the question. Why dispense with tradition?" Alison sighs,
"To cut a long story short, I told him Pamela had run away
when she heard he was coming up here. To add a bit of colour to
the story, I told him she was talked into it by a boyfriend whom
I described as 'a useless young gigolo' - which isn't too far
off the mark! Obviously he was upset, he left the house and I
suppose he thought getting drunk was a good idea; then he saw
you and Todd--" Charlie interrupts and retorts, "Alright,
I understand why he did it, but I still can't forgive
him." Alison insists, "Honestly, Charlie, he was intoxicated.
You're over-reacting a bit, aren't you?" Charlie, however,
retorts, "I don't think so." Alison suggests, "Maybe
Greg had a point?" Charlie glares at her and snaps,
"If you think that, you can pack your bags and go. Todd and
I are in love. He is a sweet, gentle man--" Alison
interrupts and retorts, "Who knocks people out." Charlie
snaps, "Who fights if he has to. Now, I suggest you have
a few strong words to young Gregory before--" Alison interrupts
and sighs, "The last thing he needs are a few strong words--"
Charlie retorts, "Tough. He's going to get them."
Alison tells her tersely, "No he's not." Charlie demands,
"Who's going to stop me: you?" Alison sighs, "Don't
be silly, Charlie. He's not attacking you and Todd; he's angry
with Pamela; can't you see that? And he's drunk; he's
not going to remember any of this in the morning. The
mature thing to do is forget it. And you have to back-up my story
about Pamela." Charlie gasps, "Why?" Alison tells
her, "Because we're friends and because - well, if you don't,
they'll both leave me: Greg and Sarah."
Charlie, looking surprised, says, "They really mean that
much to you?" Alison nods, "Yes." Charlie looks
at her and shakes her head.
Tick is playing with his marbles on the lounge room floor at
Dural. Wayne emerges from the kitchen and asks, "Who's winning?"
Tick replies, "Me. Do you want to play?" Wayne crouches
down and says, "You'll have to teach me the rules; it's been
a long time since I played marbles." Tick reminds him, "You
played last time I was here." Wayne tells him, "Since
then!" Tick explains the rules. He then tells Wayne,
"Pick your shooting marble. You can have any one except for
this." He indicates the marble he's holding, adding, "This
one's mine." Wayne says, "Special one, is it?"
Tick tells him, "More than special. It's the best
marble I've got. I wouldn't swap it for anything."
Wayne picks up a marble before then saying, "I'm sorry I
lost my temper yesterday - about the sleeping pills." Tick
just shrugs, "If you want to be dumb, I can't stop you."
Wayne insists, "It's not being dumb." Tick,
however, tells him, "I've seen what they do." Wayne
asks, "Your mum?" Tick nods sadly, "Yeah. Don't
know why she took them." Wayne explains, "Sometimes
you feel so bad that you just don't want to know what's going
on." Tick asks, "Why not?" Wayne hesitates before
saying, "Well... it's because... look, you've got a girlfriend,
right? What if she just walked out on you; left you for another
guy? How do you reckon you'd feel?" Tick, however, insists,
"It would never happen. I'm too good-looking!" Wayne
smiles before then saying, "You can see what I mean, though,
can't you? What if she was in a car accident or kidnapped or something?
If you love someone and you lose them - like I lost Susan - it
would tear you apart, mate." Tick asks in surprise, "If
you loved Susan, how come you used to yell at each other?"
Wayne pauses before saying, "Um... because she didn't love
me as much. I didn't want to lose her... A guy can get pretty
desperate when he's trying to hang on to someone he loves. Now
I have lost her, there's nothing - and nothing can be
damned hard to live with sometimes - and that's when I take a
pill; and only then. It's a way of coping - when 'nothing'
gets too lonely." Tick tells him, "What you need is
a friend, not pills - like my foster parents: they needed
someone and now they've got me!" Changing the subject,
he returns to his marbles and asks, "What do you want to
go for: clears or colours? I bags clear!" Wayne looks at
him fondly and says, "Tick... I really need you, mate."
Tick points out, "You've got me, haven't you!"
He then asks, "You want to make this for money?!"
It's the next morning. Wayne and Tick are eating breakfast at
the dining table and Wayne asks Tick, "How much did I end
up in debt to you last night?" Tick replies, "$28 -
which you were supposed to give me before nine o'clock this morning
- but I've been doing some thinking and I'm going to let you keep
it." Wayne muses, "Oh yes? In return for what."
Tick tells him, "I want to invite Sarah over for morning
tea - and I'll need some money to buy some stuff at the shops.
That OK?" Wayne shrugs, "Fine by me."
Tick smiles, "Great!" Wayne then comments, "She
must be some girl, this Sarah." Tick assures him, "She
Greg walks slowly into the lounge room at Charlie's, looking
the worse for wear. Charlie comments coolly, "Well, well,
well, look who's back in the land of the living!" Greg groans,
"I hope I didn't wake anyone when I got home last night."
Charlie, who's sitting on the couch, arm-in-arm with Todd, asks,
"Don't you remember how you got home?" Greg
sits down and nods, "Sure." He hesitates before then
admitting, "I don't know... I remember the pub; I got into
a huge row at the pub. Did I go to the gym after that?" Charlie
says curtly, "Ten out of ten." Greg asks cautiously,
"What happened there? I hate to think." Todd tells him,
"You got a bit out of hand. I had to deck you." Greg
murmurs, "That explains the crook neck." He then goes
on, "I hope I didn't say anything I... I did, didn't
I?" Todd tells him, "Forget it." Alison, who's
sitting on the other couch, asks, "Feel like some breakfast?"
At that moment, Sarah walks in and smiles brightly, "Morning
all!" She then looks at Greg and asks, "What happened
to you?" Greg tells her, "I'm in training to
be a footballer!" Sarah just sighs, "Why did you do
it? I presume that is a hangover I'm looking at. What's been going
on?" Alison says quickly, "Nothing, nothing. I, er,
I tried to offer him some more money last night but he refused
to take it, so I stuffed $50 in his pocket. He said if I left
it there, he'd only go out and drink it." Greg adds, "And,
er, she called my bluff." Sarah mutters, "Fifty
dollars?" Alison replies, "Yes. It was, er, $50
or $60, Charlie?" Charlie looks at her with a frown and mutters,
"I think it was $50." Sarah snaps at Greg, "And
you drank the lot?" Greg replies, "No - but
I almost died in the attempt." Sarah growls, "You're
disgusting sometimes." She then looks at Alison
and says, "I'm sorry." Alison, however, tells her, "I
wouldn't worry - it's just a phase he's going through." Sarah
adds, "He'll pay you back - I promise." Alison just
insists, "Don't worry about it - I asked for it." She
then indicates the coffee table and asks, "Feel like a croissant?"
Sarah picks one up and says, "I think I'll eat it out by
the pool." She heads out through the french windows.
Tick is walking along by the pool outside. As Sarah emerges from
the house, he calls to her and then runs and joins her. He tells
her, "Stop eating! I've got a surprise for you." He
takes a handkerchief out of his pocket and shows her a marble
concealed within it. He tells her, "It's a present - for
you." Sarah picks up the marble and asks, "What
is it?" Tick explains, "It's the marble of the decade:
it's a different-coloured oily!" Sarah looks at it, a puzzled
expression on her face, and shrugs, "Thanks!" Tick then
asks, "Like to come over to my place? Got some stuff;
better than that you're eating." Sarah asks, "When:
now?" Tick nods, "Yeah. What do you say? Like to come?"
Sarah smiles, "Sure."
A few minutes later, Tick and Sarah head in through the front
door at Dural. Tick calls, "Wayne?" Wayne emerges from
the lounge room and Tick says, "This is Sarah. Sarah, that's
Wayne." Wayne smiles at Sarah and says, "Wayne Hamilton.
How do you do?" Sarah smiles, "Nice to meet you."
Tick then takes Sarah's hand and leads her into the lounge room.
As he does so, he says, "I'm glad you came; I was a little
scared you might say no. Have a seat. What can I get you first?"
The coffee table is laden with doughnuts, cakes, pies and other
children's party food. Sarah stares at it, looking slightly awkward.
Tick suggests, "How about a pie? Might as well eat them before
they get cold." Sarah starts to say, "Um, look, Tick,
I don't want to sound--" Wayne interrupts quickly, though,
and says, "I'll have a pie, please."
Tick hands him one. Wayne then says to Sarah, "Would you
like a cup of tea or something, while you make up your mind?"
Sarah looks at Tick and asks, "Could I?" Tick replies,
"Tea? Sure. No worries! Stay here for a sec. Don't move,
OK? I'll be back before you know it!" With that, he dashes
off to the kitchen. Wayne and Sarah look at each other and chuckle
Charlie and Todd are standing behind the reception desk at the
gym. Charlie slams shut the drawer of the cash register and Todd
asks in concern, "Are you OK?" Charlie mutters, "Yes.
Why?" Todd tells her, "You just look a bit... brooding."
Charlie mutters, "Fine." She then sighs, "Oh, I'm
sorry, but putting the float in the till has never sent me into
fits of laughter." Todd puts his hands on her shoulders and
soothes, "If you're still worried about last night..."
Charlie retorts, "I'm not worried about last night."
She then pauses before admitting, "Oh, alright. Hasn't it
made you even a little bit angry?" Todd tells her,
"No. We know what we mean to each other; what does
it matter what anyone else thinks? I'm in love
with you, Mrs. Bartlett." He gives her a kiss on the top
of her forehead. As he does so, he hears someone clearing their
throat loudly and pointedly by the entrance. It's Fiona, who's
wearing dark glasses! She says, "Sorry to interrupt. Don't
mind me. I'll just pay my money and go on through." She hands
over some cash, adding, "As you were, troops. Pretend you
never saw me!" Todd and Charlie return to their kissing!
Greg is sipping from a fizzing glass of water in the lounge room
at Charlie's. He sighs, "Some of it's coming back to me now.
God, I feel stupid. Never again, Alison. Never again."
Alison smiles at him and he muses, "I guess you've heard
that one before, eh?" Alison tells him, "It
does sound vaguely like the second verse of the Alcoholic's Lament!"
Greg suggests, "Perhaps I should bring Charlie some flowers
or chocolates or something?" Alison asks in surprise, "Why?"
Greg retorts, "The things I said. No wonder she wanted to
strangle me!" Alison tells him, "It's only what everyone
else was thinking - including me. Todd's a gold-digger,
full of his own self-interest." Greg murmurs, "It's
just because seeing them reminded me of mum." Alison
sighs, "Charlie's completely blind to it, though. I tried
to warn her, but no." Greg says distantly, "If I got
a shot at mum's bloke, I'd certainly make that one count."
Alison tells him, "Actually, I think the time for warning
is past. What's needed now is action."
Greg points out grimly, "I tried that." Alison,
however, retorts, "No, there's action and 'action'. You drink
your water; what I have in mind is a little more adroit
than a left hook..."
Sometime later, Alison emerges from the main room at the gym,
wearing a skimpy bright pink leotard. Fiona is standing with Andy
at the reception desk. She looks at Alison and exclaims, "Oh
good lord! You looking for a catwalk or something?!" Alison
retorts, "You still jealous of my dress sense, are you?"
Fiona, however, exclaims, "Jealous? Oh, that's hardly
likely. But at least there's more to me than meets the eye."
Alison shrugs, "I won't argue with that!" She
then goes on, "I must admit, I'm surprised to see you out
and about. Found your old get-up-and-go again, have you?"
Fiona retorts, "I don't like letting people down." Alison
tells her, "Nor do I." Fiona rolls her eyes
before looking at Andy and saying, "Goodbye." With that,
she heads out. When she's gone, Andy says to Alison, "Tell
me something: have you and Fiona ever, ever been nice
to each other?" Alison muses, "Oh yes. For a couple
of hours in 1961 we were almost friendly!" Changing the subject,
she then says, "So, how are you enjoying yourself here?"
Andy shrugs, "Good. It's a job." Alison remarks, "Hardly
sounds enthusiastic." Andy tells her, "Given the choice,
of course, I'd rather be down the beach, but as it goes I can't
complain." Alison remarks, "Todd muscling his way in
would've put your nose out of joint, I suppose." Andy shrugs,
"He's a nice enough guy." Alison presses, "Still,
he didn't waste time jumping the queue: Charlie hauls him back
from the health farm one day and he's your boss the next. In fact,
he's organised quite a nice little life for himself here. Makes
you wonder, doesn't it?" Andy asks, "Does it?"
Alison goes on, "It makes me wonder. I would've
thought you'd have him picked from day one. After all, it takes
one to know one." Andy asks blankly, "One what?"
Alison replies, "Gold-digger." Andy exclaims in surprise,
"Todd? You reckon?" Alison nods, "I'm
positive." Andy muses, "Yeah, well, as you said: it
takes one to know one..." Ignoring this, Alison says, "The
question is: what are you going to do about it?"
Andy, however, replies, "Wait on - I'm only kidding: I don't
think that Todd is conning Charlie." Alison laughs, "If
you believe that, he's conning you as well. No, I would've
thought you were smarter, Andy; I really would. You can't say
it never crossed your mind." Andy starts to say, "At
first--" Alison interrupts and tells him, "Take my advice:
always trust your first instincts. I bet you could stay in this
place for the rest of your life and never rise above the job you're
in now. All the plum jobs... every spare cent... Todd's going
to grab it - unless, of course..." Andy asks, "What?"
Alison replies, "If you can show Charlie he's not quite the
devoted fiancé she thinks he is..." Andy
stands there, looking thoughtful.
Wayne, Tick and Sarah are sitting on the floor around the coffee
table in the lounge room at Dural. They're wearing party hats!
Wayne says to Sarah, "Tell me honestly: has this or has this
not been one of the most remarkable morning teas you've ever had?!"
Sarah replies, "It's been... extraordinary!" Wayne adds,
"He paid for it all, you know. We had a wager on a game of
marbles last night and Tinny, here, cleared me out. He has one
super, hot glass oily. It's the only reason why he won, of course;
it had nothing to do with skill!" Sarah looks at Tick and
asks in surprise, "Is that the one you gave me?"
Looking embarrassed, Tick admits, "Er, yeah..." Wayne
looks at him and says, "You gave it away?"
Tick explains, "It was a present." Wayne and
Sarah look at each other, smiles on their faces. Tick demands
indignantly, "What's so funny?" Looking at Sarah, he
adds, "They did teach you how to play marbles in
Melbourne, didn't they?" Sarah replies, "Of course.
I wasn't laughing; I just don't want you to start losing
now." Tick, however, indicates Wayne as he assures her, "Relax.
He's hopeless!" Changing the subject, Wayne then asks Sarah,
"How long you lived in Sydney?" Sarah tells him, "Oh,
a few days. My brother and I live next door." Wayne replies,
"So Tick was saying. Who do you know there: Charlie?"
Sarah replies, "No, Alison." Wayne says, "Oh yes?
How do you know her?" Sarah explains, "She's
our aunt." Wayne's face freezes and looks at her in surprise.
A few moments later, Wayne says, "She's your aunt?"
Sarah nods, "Greg and I are Pamela's children -
Alison's sister? Alison asked if we'd like to come up and live
with her." Wayne asks, "Why did you say yes? Unhappy
in Melbourne?" Sarah replies, "Partly - and we also
wanted to start looking for mum." Wayne comments in surprise,
"Looking for her?" Sarah explains, "No
one's seen her for years." A sly look crosses Wayne's
face. Sarah goes on, "What we do know is... well,
she was in jail, actually - up here - so it seemed like a good
place to start looking. Alison's doing all she can to find her."
Wayne mutters, "Sure..." Sarah goes on, "She hired
a private detective this week." Tick exclaims excitedly,
"A private detective?!" Sarah adds, "He
hasn't found anything yet." Wayne muses, "He
hasn't. Well I never. Still, I don't suppose it's easy."
Sarah points out, "With nothing to go on..." Wayne nods,
"Exactly. Where would you start?" He then says, "You
haven't met him?" Sarah replies, "The detective? No."
Wayne comments, "No. Well, they're a shadowy bunch, aren't
they?" Tick chips in, "I reckon it would be great.
I could be a private detective when I grow up!"
Wayne smiles at him. He then looks across at Sarah and asks, "Do
you want to stay for lunch?" Sarah, however, replies, "No.
Thanks all the same. I'd better get going." Tick sighs, "Do
you have to?" Sarah, standing up, tells him, "Don't
sound so sad." As the three of them head out to the hallway,
Tick cries, "We were just starting to have a good time."
Sarah says, "I know. I'm sorry. But I'll see you again soon,
won't I?" Tick beams, "You bet!" Sarah then turns
to Wayne and says, "Nice meeting you." Wayne replies,
"Likewise. It was, er, very interesting. I look forward to
seeing you again." Sarah smiles at him and says pointedly,
"Yes..." With that, she heads out. When she's gone,
Tick leaps into Wayne's arm and exclaims, "Isn't she terrific?!"
A short time later, Sarah is sitting on the couch in the lounge
room at Charlie's, telling Charlie - who's doing some dusting
- "We had party pies and hundreds-and-thousands sandwiches.
He did it all himself, too. In fact, I think he fancies
me! Can you believe that? I'm nine years older than he
is!" Charlie frowns, "So?" Sarah comments, "Well,
it's a bit ridiculous." Charlie growls, "I see nothing
ridiculous where the woman is nine years older than the man."
Sarah smiles quickly, "Of course not! Not normally
- but when the man happens to be ten, it is
a bit strange! It's very funny, actually!" Charlie, however,
retorts, "Is it? I doubt if it's very funny to Tick.
If he does feel that strongly about you, you'll have
to be very careful how you handle things." Sarah sighs, "Charlie,
he's a kid." Charlie just points out, "Rejection
hurts everyone, Sarah. It's one of the most democratic
emotions I know. Didn't you have a crush on someone when
you were young?" Sarah admits, "Yes." Charlie declares,
"There you go, then. Oh, I'm not saying go out with him -
of course you'll have to put him straight - but just
have the heart to do it gently."
Alison is lying on a bench in the main exercise area at the gym.
She's lifting some light weights as Todd stands over her, encouraging
her. As Alison completes the final repetition, Todd takes the
weights from her, smiling, "Good girl. Good one." At
that moment, Wayne walks in and says, "Todd Buckley?"
Alison sits up sharply. Todd nods at Wayne, "Yes." Wayne
tells him, "Wayne Hamilton. I own this place with Charlie."
Todd shakes his hand, exclaiming, "Right! Of course! Pleased
to meet you!" Wayne goes on, "I'm told you're the new
manager." Todd nods, "That's right." Wayne says,
"Good. Everything running smoothly?" Todd replies, "Fine.
It's a well set-up gym." Wayne then looks at Alison and smiles,
"Morning, Alison! Nice outfit. Nice biceps, too. All this
exercise must be paying off!" Todd walks away to put down
the weights. As he does so, Wayne says to Alison, "Aren't
you even going to say hello?" Looking annoyed, Alison snaps,
"I didn't expect to see you out and about for weeks."
Wayne replies lightly, "I'm sorry to disappoint you. All
I can say is I've suddenly got a new lease of life. I've found
something that interests me..."