I didn’t smoke all the time; at least not anymore. But that day was different; this was beloved my Aunt’s funeral, Shirley. I became an orphan at the age of four, his parent were taking their usual evening walk around the canning river bridge when a drunk truck-driver hit them.

After been in the foster system for a few years, Aunt Shirley got a lawyer and was finally awarded full custody, her husband wasn’t thrilled with the idea they had two children of their own, money was not exactly in abundance but Shirley was not one to take no for an answer.

She was a teacher by day and cleaner by night; I adored her in every way; he was a great uncle to her kids too. When I turned eighteen, I got a job at the local deli; I couldn’t wait to help around the house, so when I got my first pay check; I raced home to give Shirley. The look on her face said it all.

Life was finally making sense, or so we thought. Shirley had a secret, that secret ultimately too her life. The very thought that i only got know after her demise crushed me. She did a very good job with concealing it. Shirley had stage three colon cancer.

I took her to the hospital a couple of times, but I thought it was a common flu. She smiled each time she got out and said the doctor gave her something for the pain. She worked two jobs never missed a day. A huge sense of pain, guilt and loss hit me.

I am not a crying man; I have twice in my entire life, but the sudden realisation that I would never see my aunt Shirley ever again finally became real. I looked across to her children…I cried uncontrollably, my confidant was gone forever. Gone with the winds, never to be seen again.

I calmed myself, took the last puff from my cigarette and walked to the car, the highway was almost empty, that was unusual for that time of the day barely evening. I parked at my usual spot and the Charlie’s Bar just beside the Fremantle hospital.

“There’s always another way Johnny” She always said with a smile every time I got stuck on something, or didn’t Know what my next move should be. When I got busted for shop lifting as a teenager, due to my previous minor offences, I was given a suspended sentence, but had to do mandatory community service for three hundred hours. She never missed a single day.

If there was something a mother did for a child, I think she did it and even more for me. I couldn’t stop smoking; I asked the bartender to another refill, he reluctantly obliged, the night was not looking good. How would I help her kids? I needed help myself, yet I couldn’t stand the thought of letting them get into the foster system. Over my dead body I thought.

I didn’t have a home, I lived with them. My job was quite new. And the rent was way more than my shit wage could afford. Even if I got another job, it would take a miracle to get by. Thoughts raced through my brain; there’s got be a way. But whatever it was…it couldn’t criminal, I don’t my use to them in jail.

Seven pints later, stumbling out of the bar with the help of a total stranger; I had one of those light-bulb moments; well that’s exactly what it looked like; but there was a large sound that followed it, then I had sirens and that’s all I could remember.



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