Problems and Solutions
Chapter 32

Michiko offered to come to Sydney for the last weeks of Rachel’s pregnancy. After a few minutes’ discussion, Rachel declined the offer. She countered it with Michiko coming from Canberra for the baby’s first week at home. Patrick promised to phone from the hospital.

“What will you call him?” she asked.

“We haven’t decided. Something ordinary, but not John or George...”

Rachel told Patrick about the call when he returned home. “What will we call him?”

“That which seems appropriate. One of the serpents may tell us. Remember what Debbie Meyers told the PM of Israel: ‘fighting the combined wills of Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, and the Druid Gods and Goddesses’ is futile. You are carrying the combined will of Jehovah, the Great Serpent and Benzaiten. The name will come to us.”

“Joseph and Benjamin were Rachel’s two sons.”

“True. I rather like Benjamin. But let us wait.”

“Will you tell him stories?”

“Of course. Just as Gordy did. And Gordy will tell many to his grandson. And I will repeat the most important one of all.”

“Which is?”

“‘Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others. Never disgrace the generations of your fathers.’ It’s nearly 3000 years old.”

“Right. From The Iliad.”

“Yes. A father telling his son to never commit a shameful act.”

“Which is why you can’t become a politician!”

“Yes. Even the best are constrained to be deceitful. Ed Biggers said he hated politicians.”

“Are you sure you’re not a druid?”

“Yes. I’m sure.”

The next evening, Rachel returned to names. “I don’t think it should be Japanese.”

“No. Nor Aboriginal. He will have a totem name. That will be either Japanese or Australian.”

“Perhaps a name from one of the Testaments.”

“Even the Apocrypha.”

“You said not Benjamin.”

“Nor Jonathan, the son of Saul.”

“Jacob was Rachel’s husband and Benjamin’s father.” She paused. “How about Samuel? Oof! There was a kick.”

“Interesting. The last of the Judges and the first major Prophet. He’s even alluded to in the Koran. That’s a good name. Samuel anointed both Saul and Daniel. Samuel Hollister would be recognized by the three Abrahamic Powers, the Japanese and the Serpent. Let us sleep on it and see whether either snake has anything to say.”

When Rachel woke, Patrick had been out. There were fresh rolls and strawberries. “Thank you,” she said.

“No bother. My python said Samuel was a good name, beginning with an ‘ess’ and that it would fit well with Bunjil.”

“The eagle?”

“Yes. Bunjil is a creator deity and ancestral being, often seen as a wedge-tailed eagle. It’s the largest Australian raptor. But Bunjil is also a trickster, like crow or raven.” Patrick sighed. “There’s a story that links Bunjil with the great flood.

The story tells of a time of conflict among the nations, when people argued and fought with one another, neglecting their families and the land. The mounting chaos and disunity angered the sea, which began to rise until it had covered the plains and threatened to flood the entire country. The people went to Bunjil and asked him to help them stop the sea from rising; Bunjil agreed to do so, but only if the people would change their ways and respect the laws and each other. He then walked out to the sea, raised his spear and ordered the water to stop rising.”

“Do you think Samuel will be involved in halting global warming?”

“I hesitate to interpret what the Python means. I only know what it says.”

“What about a middle name?”


“Seriously? My dad would be so happy!”

“So. There you are: Samuel Eyre Hollister.”

“And he just kicked his agreement.”

“With a hyphen?”

“No. Far too affected.”

“Do you have my list?”

“Of course.”

“How am I doing?”

“Well, I haven’t purchased a waterproof sheet for when your water bursts. But we’ve a rear-facing car seat, a crib, a diapering table, more unattractive clothing that I would have imagined packed into a four-drawer chest, and a small overnight bag with two nightgowns, some underwear, slippers and some toiletries. And another bag with infant stuff.”

“Did you call a diaper service?”

“Last week. I’m to call when you’re in the Hospital.”

“Well, Sam missed the Melbourne Cup.”

“So did we.”


“Are you OK?”

“Another Braxton-Hicks. We should have two more weeks.”

“Keep telling me. I’ll keep track.”

“Sam’s not moving much.”

“It’s a small, damp, dark space, where’s he going to go?”


“That’s under 30 seconds. Should I time things?”

“Yes, please.”

Patrick felt quite calm. They were only a five-minute drive from King George V Memorial Hospital. And if something was forgotten, it was but a ten minute walk.

“Now!” Was a few weeks early meaningful, he wondered. “Again!”

“Three minutes.”

“That was my back. [pause] I’m hungry.”

“If it’s real, anything will make you nauseous.”

“Right. Another!”

“Just on two minutes.

“It moved.”

“I’ll call the hospital.”

“But it’s two more weeks.”

Patrick had his phone in his hand. “Tell Sam. This is Patrick Hollister. We should be there in under 15 minutes. Right.”

“Another. It’s quite strong.”

“Can you walk down the stairs?”

“I think so. Oof!”

The made it down the stairs and into the Lexus. Patrick drove down Soudan, over and back a bit on King and left on Missenden Lane to the new George V building. He parked near the entry doors, where there was a sister with a wheelchair. Rachel plopped into it and was pushed into the hospital. Patrick followed, stopping to fill out the appropriate forms.

“Just follow the signs, luv,” said the woman at the desk. “There’s plenty of room, we’re not busy yet today.” It was 1600.

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