Down on the FarmbyStarlight©
The light aircraft had bumped and reared all the way from "The Hill." Now, as it touched down on the runway of the family cattle station, I felt a tremendous weariness engulf me.
I had begun with the flight from Paris to London to say goodbye to a few old friends. From there, I had taken the interminable flight to Sydney. An internal flight had taken me to "The Hill," and a light aircraft had taken me home.
I had been in Paris for the past two years studying at an art school, and had soaked up the life of that sophisticated city. I was returning to an outback cattle station that was in danger of financial collapse. My father had become a hopeless alcoholic, and it was my mother who had struggled to keep things going.
Mother, or Leah, is a well educated and a cultured lady. She had married the tall, handsome man that had been my father, who seemed to embody the romance of the outback. The clear skies at night, hot dry days, wide-open spaces and the freedom.
When she married, cattle had been an important part of the national economy, but not long after their importance began to decline. In addition, mother had not taken into account the loneliness, the isolation and lack of contact with other women. Her love of music and literature were not common features of the pastoralist's life, and even the radio and television were subject to poor reception, or none at all.
No one told mother that the "romance of the outback" included long droughts, dry dams and dust storms.
Mother could have chosen from a large number of men who desired her. She elected to marry the dashing boy from the bush. All went well for as long as the "in love" sexual attraction remained, but once she became pregnant with me, my father's interest declined. In the following years he took to drinking increasingly, and nearly brought the business to financial ruin. It was mother's efforts that had kept things going.
It had been mother who had persuaded, or perhaps bullied is a better term, my father into letting me pursue my interest in art. His attitude had been, "I couldn't care less what the bloody poofta does."
There was still some money in the family at that time, so I was allowed to go in pursuit of my longed for career as an artist. Now, with collapse imminent and no more money, I had been called back to help salvage the situation.
I clambered out of the aircraft and looked around. Almost as far as the eye could see there was nothing but salt and blue bush, but in the far distance, seeming to hang on the horizon, there was a line of blue-grey hills. Our cattle station extended to those hills and beyond.
Citizens of the U.S.A. boast about the size of things in Texas. What most of them don't know is, that one cattle station here can be as big, even bigger, than Texas, and that we have many such cattle stations.
Mother was there to meet me in the station pick-up. She looked tired, and was dressed in jeans and a shirt. She almost fell into my arms, saying, "Darling, I'm so glad you've come home," and then burst into tears, burying her self against me.
Holding her, I was nonplussed. My strong mother, who had always been my support, seemed suddenly to be the dependent child.
We went, or rather, I led her, to the pickup. She was still crying, so I took the wheel and drove the three or four kilometres to the station house.
The station house is a large, five-bedroom place, and as if it were a small hamlet, there were a dozen other, not as big houses, once used by the senior and permanent station hands. This had included the station accountant and foreman. With the decline of the business most of these people had now gone.
Little was said on the brief drive to the home, but looking at the passing scene, it was obvious that things were run down. Cattle gates were sagging on their hinges, fences were in a poor state of repair, and if this were the case so close to home, what was it like further out in the bush?
The station itself had a dilapidated appearance. Where once the houses had been tidy and painted, they now looked disreputable and peeling. It was as if nobody cared any longer.
We pulled up in front of the station house in a cloud of dust. Amos, the Aboriginal foreman and his wife Bathsheba were there to greet us.
I kissed Bathsheba on the cheek and as Amos and I shook hands, and he said, "Thank the Good lord you've come back. The place is in a terrible state."
"I'll settle in, Amos, and we can talk tomorrow," I replied, and followed mother into the house.
I wanted something to eat and a rest, but she said, "You'd better see your father."
I had wondered why he had not appeared so far. I was about to find out.
Mother went on, "He spends his time in the family room now. I think you'd better prepare yourself for a shock."
She was right about the shock. When I had last seen my father two years ago, he had been drinking heavily. When the door opened on the family room the scene was one I could hardly believe.
In the midst of filth and chaos sat what I took to be an old man. There were spirit bottles all over the place, some empty, other partially filled and a crate of full bottles. The room stank and not a single item of furniture seemed to be in one piece.
Blood shot eyes stared at me blankly from a ravaged face, but without recognition. "Hello dad," I said. There was no response. I extended my hand to him, but there was no reaction.
Mother touched my arm. "Come away, darling. He doesn't know you."
The door closed on the wretched scene, and I turned to mother, "What the hell's been going on? How did he get in this state?"
"After you left," mother replied, "he drank more and more. We tried to keep him and the room clean, but he became violent, so we gave up trying. After a time, he stopped the violence, but his memory seemed to go. He didn't recognise Amos or Bathsheba, and in the end he failed to recognise me."
"But shouldn't he be in hospital or a nursing home?" I asked.
"He's been in hospital at The Hill three times. After the last time, the doctor said that if he didn't stop drinking the next time would be the last. Sorry you had to see him as soon as you got here, but I thought it best to get it over with."
I ate the meal that Bathsheba had prepared, then announced that I would like to go to bed for a couple of hours and catch up on lost sleep.
My old room was ready for me, but sleep was hard to come by. The whole wretched situation was going round and round in my head. Eventually I dropped off, and I must have slept for nearly three hours.
I woke wondering where I was for a few seconds, then rose, showered, dressed and went in search of mother. She was preparing the evening meal. She began to talk about the situation, and this went on through the meal and into the evening. I had yet to look at the station accounts, but what I heard from mother gave me no comfort.
We were heavily in debt to the bank that was threatening to foreclose. Amos had been trying to keep things going, but with a dwindling work force, machinery and equipment running down, a drought that had reduced feed and water for the cattle and poor market prices, he had been unable to cope. Even if all other aspects improved, we would still be hamstrung for money to pay the wages of the workers we would need.
At the end of her recitation of all these woes, mother cried again. I hugged her, trying to comfort, and said optimistic things I did not really believe, and she knew I didn't.
"Its all so hopeless, Roger. I've tried, I've really tried, but I don't think I'm really a bush woman. Amos has been wonderful, but he'll have to move on soon because we won't be able to pay him."
"Look," I said, "Give me a few days to look at the accounts and the general condition of the place, then we'll decide what to do. We might still make a go of it, after all, it was prosperous place once, before father… or if not, we walk away and let the bank have it."
With that it was decided it was time for bed, so saying good night I went to my room and lay wakeful for the next two hours worrying about things, until finally sleeping.
The following day was one of unrelieved gloom until a single little ray of hope appeared. The accounts showed without doubt we were without funds, but I was unable to determine how many head of cattle we still had. It was Amos who brought in the spark of hope.
I had outlined to him the situation, and had suggested he look around for other employment, when he said, "Look, boss, lets give it one more go. I've not been able to tackle the whole place, but I have kept the north west paddock going. I've been keeping my ears open about beef prices, and they're on the up again. Not much, but its better than it was. If I could muster in the north west paddock and bring them in, then we might make enough to get things on the go again."
"But you can't do it on your own, Amos," I said gloomily, " and there's no money to pay hands."
"I got an idea about that, boss," he said, "I reckon I can get enough blokes to do the job on spec."
"What do you mean."
"Well, offer a bit more than the going rate if they'll wait for their money until after you've sold."
"Do you think they would?"
"I reckon I can work it."
I didn't need to think long about it. It was that or leave the place, so I said, "Have a go, Amos."
"Right. It'd be a months work to muster the whole lot and get them in, but if I don't get too fussy, I can get a decent muster in here in a couple of weeks. I'll leave the breeders anyway, and we can clean up the others later. What you need is something to get you going quickly. The only thing is, the stockyard needs some repairs, and you'll have to get the buyers up here. If you can work on the yards and the buyers, leave the rest to me."
So we got to work on this last ditch attempt. How Amos recruited his men I'll never know, but within days they were off, with Amos and Bathsheba (the cook) going ahead in the Land Rover to set up a base camp, and the rest following on with the horses for the mustering. That left mother and I alone, except for father.
In the following week I worked on the stockyard and contacted buyers. There was a big order for low-grade beef in from overseas, so I got quite a number of interested takers.
One hot afternoon I took a break from the stockyard repairs, and was trying to tidy and organise the office. I was dressed only in shorts and was bare footed. I had a question to ask mother about one of the accounts, so I went in search of her.
Anticipating that she would be in the kitchen I started in that direction, and then became aware of a strange intense human squealing sound. It sounded like a reiterated "Eha, eha, eha…," very high pitched.
I set about tracing where the noise was coming from, and it led to mother's bedroom. The door was ajar, and thinking she might be in pain, I started to open the door, then stopped, staring in astonishment.
My barefooted approach had obviously not been heard by mother. What I saw through the narrow opening of the door was mother lying on her back in bed, naked. With one hand, she was fondling a plump breast, and the other hand was moving in the area of her genitals. I did not immediately understand what was happening, and then I saw that in her hand was an implement that she was thrusting in and out of her vagina. I had never seen a dildo before this, but I knew what it was.
At the moment of my realisation the sounds mother was making changed. In a deeper, more contralto voice she was crying out, "Oh, oh, oh," Then there was a long drawn out "Aaaah," and she began to sob.
All this must have taken only a matter of half a minute, but at the time, it felt longer. I seemed to see it as if I was suspended in time as I stared, bewildered yet fascinated.
Suddenly snapping to, I realised I was looking at an intensely private activity. I quietly pulled the door closed and fled back to the office.
It had never occurred to me that seeing a person engaged in masturbating could change your perspective of them quite dramatically. Obviously I knew that mother had engaged in sexual intercourse. How else would I have appeared on earth? Yet, somehow I had never thought of mother as a sexual being. To see her engaged, not in sexual intercourse, but relieving her sexual tensions with a dildo, was quite shocking, even though I had to masturbate from time to time.
The woman whom I had seen, as a sexless, passionless being – almost a goddess – now had to be accounted as a normal human being, having the same needs and desires, the same passions and torments as the rest of us.
As we pass through the stages of our lives, there are many events that seem to mark turning points. This brief sighting of mother in the act of masturbating meant that I now had to see her not only as "The Mother," but also as "The Woman." Looking back, I think this was the moment when I finally became an adult.
If matters had rested at my seeing mother, I would not have been so disconcerted as I was. You see, the sight of mother had given me an erection. Even more unsettling was the fact that this arousal had a definite objective in view. It was not one of my Parisian girl friends, but mother.
The sight of her hand on the breast, its fullness and the light brown nipple, the rapid sliding of the dildo in and out of her tunnel, had in the instant of seeing burned itself into my brain. It now remained there, branded into my sensual memory. I wanted it to be my hand fondling her breast, my lips on hers, my tongue in her vagina, my penis penetrating her, my sperm fertilising her. I wanted to breath in her sweet female fragrance, to feel her body pressed to mine, to speak and hear the words of love and passion lovers communicate in the act of sex.
The suddenness of the transformation in my perception of mother was breathtaking. In a matter of minutes, she had become the object of my sexual desire, where previously I had never consciously had such a thought.
I was trying to mentally process this change. Why now? Was it simply the fact that I had seen her naked and performing a sexual act? Looked at objectively, mother was and is a very attractive woman. At forty four, and even given the hard time she had been having in recent years, she still retained charm, and what I can only describe as allure. I am tempted to use the word "seductiveness," but that was present for me only after my sight of her in the bedroom.
In the midst of all this reflection, I had hoped that my sexual agitation might cool down, but it didn't, it got worse. My penis was hard and dripping pre-cum. I had to slip off to my bedroom and relieve myself by hand.
The temporary relaxation the ejaculation gave me brought more sobering thoughts to mind. I was contemplating incest. The dark tide of the ancient taboo swept over me. Mother is the forbidden woman. And however much I might desire her; it did not follow that mother would allow me to have her. There had never been any indication from her that suggested a sexual attachment to me.
Even if she had not been my mother – had she been simply a woman I desired – the age difference might make the whole thing ridiculous. Twenty years is a wide gap, even if the older person has retained their looks and the younger is very mature.
Even with these sombre thoughts, within half an hour I had another mother inspired erection. I retired once more the relieve myself, knowing that these new feelings were going to be a problem with their desired object being so close.
A further change in the direction of things took place when my mother came bursting into the office a few days later saying, "Your father, he's vomiting blood."
We called in the Flying Doctor Service, and father was flown to hospital at The Hill, accompanied by mother. From there, he was taken by helicopter to the Royal Hospital in the capital. Mother returned to the station, and our finances were such that she had to borrow money from friends in The Hill to get a flight home.
On arrival, she was exhausted. She had wanted to go on with father to the city hospital, but given the crisis at home she thought it better to return here until we had found out how we stood after the sale.
"I must get back to him as soon as we know what going to happen she said." Despite everything, it seemed that something of the old love for him still remained, or was it just her honouring the vows she had taken, "in sickness and in health"? I have never asked her about this, but felt a twinge of envy that my father could still retain at least her care.
In fact, she never did see my father again. As the doctor had predicted, his next visit to the hospital would be his last. He died the day after we had the cattle sale. Our only remaining act for him was to attend his funeral.
In the meantime, Amos was as good as his word. He brought a mob in by the end of a fortnight. I had done what I could to repair the stockyards, and the buyers arrived two days later.
Amos was full of optimism. "There's a whole heap more cattle out there than I thought," he crowed. "I haven't been able to keep up with the numbers, but there's still good water draining down from the hills and the feed's pretty good. If we can keep going after this lot, we could start to get things straight. I reckon some of the other paddocks might be doing better than I hoped, as well."
With that hope in our hearts, we went out on the sale day to listen to the auctioneer and note the prices paid. We did better than I hoped. We sold the lot, and very quickly the stock transports were loading up and on their way.
We paid off the auctioneer and the hands that had worked in the muster. I took the pick-up on the long drive to The Hill and paid something off what we owed the bank. The bank manager suddenly became very affable.
We had by then received news of father's death, and now having some ready money it was decided that mother and I, together with Amos and Bathsheba, would fly south to the capital for the funeral.
Mother did not weep in my presence, but was very silent. Once she began a sentence, "When I think what could have been…," but her words trailed off.
Returning to the station we began preparing for another sale, when, as if to add to our returning fortunes, it rained. It rained solidly for three days, holding up our preparations, but it brought with it one of the miracles of the outback.
Sweeping over the vast arid plain like sunlight when a cloud passes over it, a mass of flowers. Like a huge carpet it stretched as far as the eye could see and beyond. Seeds that had lain dormant throughout the time of drought sprang into life, presenting us with a riot of colour.
As the earth began to dry Amos and his men set off for another muster and I began preparations for the next sale.
Mother had kept her virtual silence but one evening, as we sat listening to some of her recorded music, she began to speak.
She spoke of meeting my father, of her fascination with him. Of the joy, they had in each other at first, then his gradual moving away from her emotionally. She talked of what she called her "deprivation," which I took as a euphemism for lack of sexual activity. I had of course long known that they slept in separate rooms.
She spoke of the hopes and the "might have been things." The love she had for him and its erosion until all that was left was pity and a sense of loyalty.
She cried quietly that evening, I think for her lost love and hopes. I held her, giving what comfort I could. I fear that this close contact roused in me again desire for her, but I managed to hold it at bay, and I think her own concerns at that time prevented her from seeing the erection that pushed against the cloth of my shorts.
As I had predicted to myself when I first became aware of mother as a sexual being, our living in close proximity caused me great frustration. At night, if a left my bedroom door open, I could here her cries of "Eha" followed by the deep toned "Oh," ending with the long drawn out "Aaah."