“So what happened next?”
Cold, sleety rain stung my face as I rode to my possum line on Bob's farm. I caught a battle-scarred buck on the 10th trap. He was none too pleased to see me and let me know about it in no uncertain terms. Possums are curious creatures. Some, like this old warrior, are real fighters and eager to get their teeth and claws into you, (who can blame them)? Others are half asleep when you get to the trap, and look up as if to say “Thank heavens you’ve arrived, can you get me out of this thing” My conscience prefers the warriors.
Seeing neither hide nor hair of Bob, I felt slightly disappointed as we were leaving in the morning. Apart from being chased by a Jersey bull on a testosterone high, it was an uneventful day.
We had just finished tea when a couple of dogs turned up. While they were busy leaving their signatures on the tires of the Surf, Bob rode up on his horse. He had a cheeky grin on his face.
“You owe me a brew, so thought I better drop in before you snuck off.”
“Come in, but the horse will have to stay outside, Sue’s just cleaned the floor.”
Bob is one of the happiest people I've ever met; I’m not sure what causes it, but I wouldn't mind catching a dose.
After we talked about how the possuming went, I not so discreetly swung the conversation back to Lou & Len.
“So what happened next?”
“What do you mean?” He couldn’t help grinning.
“To Lou, Len and the rest of the family?”
Bob glanced at his watch, looking disappointed “I’ll have to make it quick, as the good woman wants me to pick her up at 6:30.”
The morning after the vet left, Len bailed Lou up at the cowshed and vented his spleen. Henry heard the commotion from up at the house, and thinking murder was about to be done sprinted down to try and break things up. By the time he arrived, it was all over. The boys were ashen-faced and shaking, and from that day on, never spoke another word to each other.
Only Lou and Len know what was said, but it certainly puts to bed the lie about sticks and stones.
Poor old Henry was beside himself. He pled with the boys to let bygones be bygones, but as we now know, they are as stubborn as mules.
With the boys not talking and point blank refusing to work together, life became very complicated on the farm. It was Henry that came up with the idea of the blackboard, hoping it would only be a temporary measure. Jobs that needed doing on the farm were written up and ticked off as they were completed, that way they could communicate without speaking to each other. Even though they were not talking they still found a way to argue. One afternoon, Len came into the shed to check the board. Lou had underlined all the tasks that he had completed that week and had written the total down, it was 14. He circled all the jobs that Len had completed and put a question mark beside the total, which was 11. And it just got more and more petty after that. The boys refused to eat together, work together or even sleep in the same house. Lou ended up boarding at the neighbor's house, and not to be outdone; Len moved into an abandoned cottage over at the Jackson's.
And then one morning over breakfast, Maude said she was leaving. And she did. In those days separation and divorce were a terrible scandal, as was the strange behavior of the boys. Soon there were more tongues wagging than tails at a dog trial. It was the final straw for Henry, driving him to the bottle. It proved to be a one-way trip; he was buried 11 years later.
Checking his watch, Bob said his goodbyes and rushed off to pick up his wife.
We headed away the next morning, and to be honest I was glad to be leaving, the Lou and Len saga had left me feeling quite flat.
We returned a year later to do some possum monitoring on some neighboring farms, and believe it or not there is a silver lining in the lives of Len and Lou.