Because I Hear the Voices

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Batty

“Who’s getting married?” asked Giles when he walked into the kitchen for another beer and overheard Devlin’s and my conversation.

“Gwyn and the infamous white powdered poet,” Devlin said, throwing a warning glance at Giles to stop him saying anything else.

“Shit, that didn’t take long,” Giles stated, clearly unaware that his opinion was neither asked for, nor wanted.

“Three weeks,” I mumbled over my beer, wallowing in self-pity since I had seen the two of them together just that afternoon. “And it was all thanks to you, Sean. You’ll come to the wedding won’t you,” her voice still echoed in my reeling head.

Corey burst into the room with a jovial greeting, obviously unaware how ill timed her appearance was. I had found out just the day before that Corey was not just some girl from Uni, but Giles’ sister, his twin sister, and the knowledge of this made me feel uneasy and tense.

The first thing that you notice about Corey is her beautiful hair, which falls down her back to end below her waist. It is glorious, thick and wavy and always makes me think of woodland nymphs. Of course if you asked Corey, the first thing about her that anyone notices is her weight, which is although quite substantial for her 5’7 height, fails in comparison to those delightful locks.

Corey has light blue eyes that twinkle outrageously, as if she is always up to the most amazing mischief and she moves and talks so slowly and with such care that many people think that she is either stupid, or mentally challenged, which helps to make her the biggest eavesdropper and secret stealer that you’ve ever met. She once told me that in a previous life she must have been a servant in a Lord’s home and was so good at her job that she carried her extraordinary talent for fading into the background into her present life today.

Giles on the other hand is as thin as Corey is overweight. His fair hair is constantly dyed different bright colours to match his ever changing shoelaces, and although he is a computer nerd, he always has to be around people, because he literally thrives on others conversations.

You see, one of the biggest problems I have about this pair is that I just have to see them together to be reminded of my own brother and sister, and I think the uneasiness comes because they are twins, who are opposite in every way, just like my elder siblings were.

“What?” Corey asked innocently when she was met by three pairs of eyes filled with disdain at her unfortunate arrival.

“Sean,” Devlin interrupted in a bright voice, “you know how we decided to get a dog when we saved up enough dough after we purchased our text books for the semester? Well it has been almost six months now since uni started, so I’d say it’s about time we found you a cure for your loneliness and misery.”

“Oh god, here we go again, Dr Love and his advice to the downtrodden and depressed. You know Dev, I think you have to actually begin to study psychology before you can dish out advice to the depressed members of society,” Giles snorted with disgust.

“And so says the IT nerd,” Corey retorted, “If anyone thinks they are above others they wouldn’t have to look further than you, brother dear.”

“Just because you only got into TAFE, doesn’t mean you should take it out on me! Perhaps if you had actually studied you wouldn’t be the embarrassment to the family that you are,” Giles whipped back.

“SHUT UP!” I screamed, as I thumped the table with my fist and jumped to my feet. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP, SHUT UP!”

“Hey cool it Sean,” Corey began after all three of them backed away from me.

I turned and stormed off into my room, slamming the door behind me and trying to control the rage that threatened to consume me.

“What’s with him?” I heard Giles say through the thin walls of the house.

“Sean hates fighting, especially with families, especially with siblings and I imagine especially with twins,” came Devlin’s reply.

“Why?” they replied in unison.

“Because Sean found out only last year that he had three older siblings which his parents had kept secret. He had a sister and a brother who were twins and another sister who came a few years later. Apparently the brother was insane, really warped and one day, when he was only eight years old, he just killed his baby sister and his twin. He was sent to an institution and when he was let out he stopped taking his medication and killed another two young women before committing suicide. Sean only found out about this after his brother committed suicide and he has not exactly come to grips with it. He doesn’t like to say so, but he is afraid of his family and from what he said once, I think he is afraid that he could be like his older brother. So maybe you guys should just chill when he’s around and save up your petty arguments for when he isn’t, ok?”

Obviously I hadn’t been as cunning hiding my worry and personal fears as I thought I had been. I heard Devlin moving through the house and he gave a cursory knock on my door before he entered my room, clearly not giving me time to bar his entry.

“You knew,” I stated baldly and watched faint colour race up his neck and spread over his face as he realised I had overheard everything.

“Yeah,” he shrugged uncomfortably.

“Well shit.”

He sat down on my desk chair and a moment of uncomfortable silence passed. I knew that for the first time in his life Devlin was worried and unsure what to say or do, and that alone gave me the strength to reassure him that everything between us was still ok.

“So Dr Love, what type of dog are we going to get?”

Relief spread over his face and he grinned at me.

“Anything you want,” he said as he took out his wallet and searched the contents, “for 50 bucks.”

While both Dev and I have licenses, only Dev has a car, but be that as it may, Dev is all too willing to allow me the driver side, especially when I need to feel the burst of speed and a machine vibrating beneath my hands to clear the cobwebs from my mind. We drove to the local supermarket, and after picking up food for the dog, a collar and 3 chew toys, that we put on Devlin’s parents bankcard, we headed off to the pound.

Devlin strode up to the front counter and asked the pretty red-haired girl with hazel eyes and a cleft in her chin, behind the desk his most important question of the day.

“Will you marry me?”

“I beg your pardon?” she said backing away in alarm.

“Don’t mind my friend,” I said coming to the rescue, “He is a bit strange. Once when he was 15 he dreamt that he was married to a girl with red hair. He has been obsessed ever since.” I choked back a smile, because the sad fact was that it was completely true, and he often asked complete strangers with red hair to marry him.

“Ah yes, well,” she stumbled over her words as her face turned the colour of her hair.

“So anyway, we are looking for a dog, what do you recommend?”

She did not answer, but left the desk and opened the door to the kennels and led the way down the aisle. “Are you looking for a puppy or a fully mature animal?” she inquired primly.

“Actually we are looking at saving a life,” Devlin intervened seeming to have gotten over his temporarily stupor, “something that has been here a while and is in desperate need of a loving family.”

The girl stopped suddenly, and a smiled spread over her face as she surveyed Devlin in a whole new light. “Actually there is this one dog, he is almost blind you see, but he has the most charming personality, I would have taken him myself but they don’t allow pets in the place I’m renting.”

“Lead on, fair beauty,” Devlin said as he took her hand, winked at me and walked off with her.

I smiled and followed them slowly at a distance.

“Here he is.”

I looked at where the girl was pointing and instantly I knew he was ours. He was a medium sized dog, with a blue-black colouring that covered most of his body and a longhaired coat. He sat there almost grinning up at us.

“I called him Batty,” confided the girl, “because he is as blind as a bat.”

Dev looked at me and I grinned.

“We’ll take him,” we stated in unison.

While we had been out, Giles and Corey had decided to do us a favour and cut the grass in the backyard. We took the newest family member home and let him run freely around our freshly mowed back yard.

“Kaeli said that Batty was abandoned when he was about a year old, and because he is almost blind, we’ll have to make sure that there isn’t anything left lying around that could hurt him and stuff.” Devlin said dropping to the lawn.

“I take it Kaeli is the redhead?” I inquired.

“Yep,” Devlin stated as he stretched out his legs and leant back against his elbows.

“So when are you taking her out?” Giles asked eagerly from the kitchen, desperate for stories to which he could live vicariously through.

“Saturday night after she gets off work,” I responded in awe, still amazed with the speed at which my friend could move.

Laughing I leaned back against the stairs and rested my elbows on the step above and watched Batty bounding around the yard, yapping at the flies that we were pretty sure he couldn’t even see. Just then Giles and Corey came out to our back patio with a six-pack each.

“So I see you got a baby,” Corey said as she passed over a beer to me and made herself at home on the step beside me. “So did you find out when his birthday is?”

“Well um no…” I replied perplexed at the idea that dogs too had birthdays.

“We got him today, so I’d say that next year on the 26th May we celebrate his first birthday,” Devlin declared happily.

“Only one? Don’t you think he’d be a bit older than that?” Corey snorted.

“It’s symbolic Corey,” Devlin retorted, sneering at her.

“Have you decided who the mother is and who’s the father?” Giles inquired as he handed Dev a drink and sat down next to him on the lawn.

“Well,” said Devlin before I got a chance to answer, “As the bread winner of this family I suppose I should be considered the father.”

“What makes you the breadwinner?” I asked horrified at the notion of becoming a mother.

“Well, the car that we drove to pick up our baby in is mine, the credit card we used to purchase his creature comforts with was mine, and the $50 to pay and register him was mine, so I think that clearly makes me the breadwinner and thus the father. Add to that we only got him today because you are going through an emotional time poor baby. Just like a woman really,” Devlin stated which earned him a swift well aimed kick in the ribs.

“Well then,” Corey interjected swinging her gaze towards me, “if you’re the female, then you’re the mother, which means shouldn’t you be getting us dinner?”

Devlin, clearly horrified by such an idea, jumped to his feet and made a dash to his precious kitchen in an attempt to save it from me. The three of us laughed and followed him inside, closing the glass door behind us. We found him arms akimbo, firmly planted before our fridge in an attitude of fierce protection.

“Obviously we live in a modern household, where the woman is the breadwinner and the cook, while the man cleans the house and looks after the children. So mum,” I asked innocently as I grinned and lent against the bench top, “what’s for dinner?”

Corey and Giles howled with laughter while Devlin glared at me from behind the now opened fridge door. Before he had a chance to answer there was a thump that came from the living room, followed by a whimper. We rushed over to see what had happened and there was Batty, who having clearly run into the glass door was now howling with pain or displeasure at having been left outside.

And so began our life as a family.

Having Batty around was rather difficult at first. It was hard to remember not to leave your book bag on the floor where he could fall over it, or to kick off your shoes and not put them away, so that when you finally found them again, they’d be filled with slobber. He was like a puppy, he obeyed no orders and in truth, neither Devlin nor I had the heart to discipline him harshly. All this changed however the day I got home from uni and found the living room littered with bean balls because he had managed to attack and tear one bag to pieces. I had spent half an hour chasing him around the room with the vacuum cleaner trying stuck all the beans out of his coat and up from the floor.

Unfortunately the vacuum cleaner scared him so much whenever I came near him that he took off and sent beans flying in all directions as he tried to get away from it.

“All right that’s it, I’ve had it!” I declared heatedly when Devlin finally came home.

“Sean it’s ok, I’ll help you clean it up,” Devlin assured me.

“That’s not the bloody point, Dev! He’s a lunatic! He needs to go to that training school! I don’t care how much it costs, I’ll take double shifts at the bowling alley to pay for the bloody thing, but he’s going!” I declared my mind made up. And then we watched in horror as Batty added insult to injury by lifting up his back leg.

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