CHAPTER THIRTY TWO
Australia is fucking hot. It’s late October and Kate says it’s spring here, but it feels like summer to me. While all the insane locals walk around in light sweaters, I’m in shorts and t-shirts and my balls are constantly covered in sweat. How do people live like this? They must sell a shit load of calamine lotion to deal with the constant chafing.
We’ve been here less than 24 hours, our flight having landed around 11pm Australian time, which is about 3 weeks and two days ahead of USA. We took a taxi to Kate’s quaint little house in the suburbs and was greeted by her brother. He was chill, the same as he was when he came to New York. I’m relieved that he seems to like me, and seems to be fine with me being married to his sister. Kate did say that I’m the first guy he’s met that he’s actually liked, so that’s something. Although it’s ironic that I was the one who trapped her in a marriage, you’d think he would be pissed at me for that. But fucked if I’m going to bring it up. Ethan’s important to Kate, so I need to stay on his good side.
Most of the day we spent at Kate’s small home, trying to recover from the long flight. The house is definitely Kate. Slightly feminine, but homely and not a bit of pink in sight. Seeing the clean and clutter free house makes me think of what she will do with the penthouse. I no longer wish for my cold and sterile bachelor pad, but something that feels like a home for me and Kate.
Sitting on the couch in their small lounge room, Kate tucked into my side, we watch some Australian TV show Kate says it will introduce me to true Australian culture. Having watched two episodes, I’m sure Kate’s pulling my leg. Having lived with Kate for almost six months, she’s nothing like the Kim character, or that Kath for that matter. But I will humour her, it’s amusing to say the least. And confusing as hell.
There’s a quick tap on the front door that leads directly into the lounge room before the door swings open and a little boy with a mop of brown hair runs in, launching himself at Kate.
“Tommy!” Kate giggles as she catches the boy with ease and hugs him tightly. Two people follow the boy through the door quickly, the man about my age with dark skin, dark hair and a relaxed demeanor. The woman would be the same age as Kate, with long brown hair and fine features. I recognize her through the many video calls Kate has had. Nicole, I believe her name was.
“He’s missed you.” Nicole states, watching Kate and Tommy with adoration in her eyes. Kate looks up and smiles towards the couple.
“I’ve missed him.” Kate states with a warm smile. The little boy wiggles out of Kate’s arms and stares at me, judgingly. I stare back, passing the same judgement. Kate stands and is engulfed in hugs from the couple, I take my eyes from the boy and greet them both.
“Chase, this is Nicole and Brad.” Kate introduces us with a massive smile on her face. I shake Brad’s hand, not reacting to his vice like grip and Nicole engulfs me in a hug.
“It’s nice to meet you.” I say. Our introductions are interrupted by more people coming into the house, failing to knock. Kate is attacked by two women, and a bunch of little kids and three other men stand to the side, waiting for their turn to greet my wife. I recognize the three men instantly, the two Sherman tanks and the third making up the rest of Ethan’s team. They nod towards me in acknowledgement.
The girls all settle on the couch and start talking about the wedding instantly. Despite not seeing Kate for half a year, it’s like they have never been apart.
“And, that’s my cue to leave.” Ethan states as he stands from his seat, the men all nod in agreement.
“I think I’ll join you.” I say as I follow Ethan out into their back yard.
It’s been a few hours of drinking beer and joking out the back yard. At some point, one of the insane Australian men, started a fire for us to sit around. I stayed as far away from that thing as possible, already sweating just from the temperature.
They started a barbecue, serving sausages in bread, or a “sausage sanga” as they called it. Music played through an old stereo, songs I wasn’t familiar with. The atmosphere was relaxed, and I found myself enjoying it more than the usual night life or high class parties I’m used to. It felt natural, and I understood why Kate felt like such a fish out of water at the balls I’ve dragged her too. If this is what she is used too, they are worlds apart.
A series of mobile phones go off at once, and each of the commando’s pull their phones out of their pockets, checking the messages.
“Heading out?” Brad asks, receiving a nod from Seb.
“Yeah, Mate.” Seb says, “Not sure how long we will be gone for, hopefully we will be back in time for the wedding.” Brad simply nods his head, used to these men disappearing. They down the rest of their beers and say goodbye, before heading in to tell the girls they are leaving.
Brad and I sit in silence, the fire crackling away from us and the hum of music in the background after the commando’s leave. Surprisingly, it’s comfortable. I usually feel the need to fill silence with conversation, especially around people I don’t really know. It’s Brad that speaks first.
“You nervous about the wedding?” he asks. I shrug my shoulders.
“Not really. We are already married, even if she runs, she’s still stuck with me.” I reply. Brad chuckles and sips his beer.
“True. I wish Nicole and I could just elope like you and Kate did.” He says, looking towards the fire.
“What get absolutely drunk and not remember it?” I say with a smirk making him laugh.
“Well no, I’d like to at least remember it.” He states.
“So why don’t you?” I ask, finishing the remaining beer in my bottle and placing it down beside me. Brad looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.
“You do know who Nicole’s family is don’t you? I don’t exactly want to face their wrath if I elope with their only daughter.” He says dryly. I laugh, remembering that Nicole is what’s considered a mafia princess, though she has nothing to do with that life.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to mess with them.” I say, remembering my cousin James. We go back to our comfortable silence. I don’t mind Brad, he’s relaxed a quick witted. It’s hard to imagine in this setting that he’s a doctor, though I imagine his demeanour at work is quite different. Even the commandos are laid back and quick with a laugh, if it wasn’t for their sheer size, you wouldn’t think of them as killing machines. But I guess that’s just the Australian thing.
The back door slams open, drawing me from my thoughts. Nicole rushes out, shocked excitement playing on her features.
“Jane’s awake!” she exclaims, making Brad jump to his feet.
“What? When?” he asks quickly as the girls all follow out the door.
“Julz just called me, she woke up an hour ago!” Nicole says. I watch the scene in confusion.
Who the fuck is Jane?
The next morning I wake up with a throbbing headache. My stomach turns as I sit up in the bed. I don’t know why I feel so hungover. I only drank beer. The bed it empty beside me, so I pull myself out of bed in search of Kate, and also water to get the fur out of my mouth. After Brad and Nicole dashed off to the hospital, Tammy and Lucy left with the kids in tow. Kate and I crashed out, jet lag finally catching up to us. I find Kate in the kitchen, sipping on a coffee. She looks me over as I walk in and smirks.
“You don’t look too good.” She says, not at all sympathetic. I sit down at the small island bench and put my head in my hands, groaning slightly.
“I only drank beer, I never get hungover on beer.” I complain. Kate just giggles and pats my shoulder.
“Australian beer is stronger than what you are used to.” She tells me. I wish she told me that last night. Kate slips a coffee in front of me and I take it gratefully.
“Have fun last night?” she asks. I nod my head.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever just sat around drinking before.” I tell her. Even in high school, the parties I went to were people all squashed into a house together, dancing and grinding up on each other, it was never just relaxed like that. “Hey, who’s Jane?” I ask, remembering last night. Kate sighs and sits up on the bench beside me.
“Jane is a coma patient at the hospital. She’s been in a coma since she was around 14 or 15. No one knows who she is.” She tells me. I look at her confused.
“If no one knows who she is, then how do they know she is named Jane?” I point out.
“Jane, as in Jane Doe.” Kate says with a grin, making my idiocy show through.
“Oh.” Is all I can say in reply. “How can no one know who she is if she was just a kid?” I ask after a while.
Kate shrugs her shoulders, a small frown playing on her lips.
“I don’t know…” she says quietly. “But now that she is awake, maybe she can tell us.”