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Valverde Maclean

Life and love can take us to unexpected places

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  There are great cups of coffee, and there are some bad cups of coffee.

Little did I know where this particular cup of coffee would take me.

I was sitting in The Tea Room at the National Gallery of Victoria cursing the fact I had worn my new heels.  Style should always come second to comfort when it comes to shopping, and finding the present for my grandson’s birthday had required much more walking than I had expected.  Even worse I was in the wrong Gallery.

The NGV had a new exhibition on fashion, and I had decided that I would come into the city, buy Charles a present for his third birthday, and then visit the exhibition.  However, on entering the Gallery on St Kilda Road, I had remembered that all the exhibitions of Australian work were now held in the new branch of the Gallery in Federation Square.  I had walked close by that building on my walk from the city shops.  Before I started my return to the correct Gallery I needed a coffee and to rest my feet.  I wasn’t sure which of these needs was most important, but the aroma of the freshly ground and brewed coffee was certainly appealing.

Then I noticed the man sitting at a table across the room from me.  Nothing special, around sixty maybe, a touch of grey in the hair and a bit thin on top.  There was something about him but—mmm—something!  He seemed very interested in my chest.  Ok, I am not adverse to a bit of male ...................................


It was not like me to proposition a woman to come away with me on a holiday.  Yet it had seemed like the best solution to escape from the troubles in Melbourne.  I was surprised when she had said yes, even more when she had suggested one room.  I had surprised myself when I had asked her.  It was not like me.  Ever since I had married Claire there had never been another woman in my life.  Sure I knew some very attractive women but Claire was all I had wanted.

What would life have been like if Suzie had not disappeared?  Obviously there had been a connection, a bond, between us.  From the first day we had met we just wanted to be with each other.  It was fun to be together and we had quickly gravitated to sleeping together.  Then she had disappeared....................................


  The day had been unsettling.  The white van remained parked across the street from my house.  We had made no progress in deciding on a course of action.  Both of us were uneasy and tense.  I needed to buy food and Peter wanted to buy a newspaper, so we drove to the local shopping centre.  It was late in the afternoon when we returned from the supermarket.  As before, I left ‘Baby Blue’ parked in the driveway.  The white van had gone.  Further down the street a green car was parked under the shade of a tree.  I wondered whether we had lost our surveillance, or whether we had just had a change of shift and now had a new watcher.  When we entered the house Peter stopped and looked around the room.  I was puzzled by his behaviour.  He raised his finger to his lips and motioned me to be silent.  Then, strangely, he started to talk about the supermarket..................................................       

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