We would travel from home to the harbour, the three of us, intent on some fishing or spearfishing. Just boys, all of us about thirteen.
There was a small pier at the eastern end of the beach, a boathouse, a stretch of sun-blasted wood, pylons dug deep and ringed with kelp. Down there were leather-jackets and wobbegon sharks. We were all Tom Sawyers on Sydney Harbour.
Who was there? Who was with you ? Why are you so late ?
We were with Roly. Though it was never said. He was our friend, our adult, not theirs.
Roly came by towards the beginning of one summer, he just wandered up the pier with his own spear fishing gear one day and did what we did. He dived and fished and after a while we got used to him being there and he began to talk to us. All we knew until then were fathers and uncles, teachers – and now we knew Roly. There was an immediate trust, he liked to be with us, because he was always with us, always for just the one summer.
Sometimes he would bring us lunch, something special, and we all began to spearfish together – paddling across the bay with him always leading. He dealt with the small dramas of oyster cuts and sunburn, he sat with us as we talked of whatever boys talked about – we looked forward to him coming down on the weekends, weekdays. He showed us that a slingshot spear was best for spearing leather- jackets and he coaxed us to go a little deeper for the bigger fish. How to stay down a little longer. All of this he gave us.
I remember a soft voiced man. Patient.
He promised us much, next year he would have a boat with an outboard and we would all fish the harbour – next year he would show us his place at Palm Beach and we would fish and swim up there. There was much to come he said – later – this is only the start.
We never questioned amongst ourselves why a man would want to spend to much time with boys. This was in 1957. The long summer holidays seemed eternal, days without end. The days he did not come were incomplete and we spent the better part of them just waiting for him to walk down the pier.
Two boys went up to Palm Beach with him for a weekend.
– and in the darkness of night he invaded one of their beds, the first night.
He was hard- breathing, and strong.
No patience in lust is there.