Prologue by Patrick

Approximately 15% of patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) die before reaching the hospital.

The median age when aneurysmal hemorrhagic stroke occurs is 50 years old and there are typically no warning signs.

Women, more than men, suffer from brain aneurysms at a ratio of 3:2.

Weena was 52, en route the Pennant Hills train station, when she died. A witness said that she paused in mid-step, put a hand to her head, and collapsed. By the time she got to her, she was no longer breathing.

The police phoned Dad at the Museum. His PA phoned me. I phoned Rachel. There was no way to reach Sarah. She and Henry were somewhere in the Northern Marianas.

Dad took it very badly, going into mechanical response mode. Winnie was helpful, but I did most of the funeral arrangements and responded to the cards and letters. And the various legal complexities. But it got done. I think Dad would have just remained at home, static. But I got him to shower and shave and dress. Rachel did his laundry for several weeks. Then I put him into the car and drove north to Gosford and then to The Coast, a bar and restaurant at the base of Point Frederick, where we could sit for a while and where we could eat good fresh seafood.

At first, Dad was quite impassive. Then he asked: “Where are we going?”

“Up to Gosford.”

“Why?”

“I want to talk to you. I want to be away from Sydney. And I’ve turned my phone off.”

“And?”

“And we’ll have some good food and a father-and-son chat.”

“OK.” And he fell silent.

We got to The Coast and I parked. After we were seated I ordered for both of us.

“I could have done that.”

“I wasn’t sure. You haven’t done much at home recently.”

“No. I guess not. It’s very hard. I haven’t been alone in over 25 years.”

“I’m well aware. But what are your intentions?”

“I’m not sure. I don’t want to go back to the Museum. I don’t really want to stay in the house.”

“I’m sure you don’t want to go back to Mitchell nor Brisbane nor Canberra.”

“Nor Perth.” We ate our firsts silently for a few minutes.

“Walkabout?” I asked.

“Maybe. Maybe ‘rideabout’ – if that means anything.”

“Where would you go?”

“Simpson Desert? Lake Eyre? Track the Finke upstream?”

“You’re a bit old to become a sundowner.”

“And I’m too old to be a shearer or a fence rider.” Dad laughed. “I’m nearly sixty. I could live on my pension.”

Our mains came and we fell quiet.

“Would you like the house?”

“What?”

“I’d rather not have to pack and store. I could just designate you and Rachel as my designees. If someone points the bone at me, you’d take over.”

I shook my head. “The Python wouldn’t permit the bone to be pointed. You’re too important.”

“Your mother was nungungi.”

“And I had no inkling.”

“Machiavelli wrote: ‘God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.’”

“So you want us to be caretakers and you’ll just drive off with a vehicle and a bank card.”

“Perhaps a bit more. Some clothes. Some books. Some maps.”

“Sounds like it might be fun.”

“It might be. But I’ll need to prepare. There are banking and legal things. The house. The Museum. Your legacy. Sarah’s.”

“It’ll take time.”

“A fortnight. No more than that.”

We chatted a bit more and had coffee. I paid and drove back to Pennant Hills. I had a lot to tell Rachel and a lot to do. Dad had yet more, but at least he was spurred to some sort of action.

Chapter 1 »

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