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Undergoing Re-edit 2019

Jessie and Johnny were but children when they first met as neighbours.  By the time Johnny had reached 21 he and Jessie had fallen in love and had a song and an album topping the charts.   But an attack on Jessie, and the subsequent trial, would have an impact on their future they would never have expected, and it changed everything in their world in a way nobody could have predicted.


(a Journey to love)




Tony Stewart








We are but insignificant little things

Flecks of dust lying on a desert’s floor

A tiny bubble in a layer of foam on the crest of an ocean wave

A mere ninety years we live in a world that has survived for millions without us


Do we not bleed within when we are wounded in love?

Do we not cry when we feel pain in our heart?

Do we not feel hurt?

Do we not suffer heartache when we lose the one that we love?

Then maybe we are something special after all

Ts 1996




Chapter One




I look lovingly at my beautiful young daughter, Charlene, smiling inwardly at her constant giggling as the swing momentarily takes her high, high up into the air … before rocketing back in the opposite direction at what, to her, feels like a hunDoctored miles per hour.  She is a child, in the most delightful sense of the word.  And at the moment she is in her element; here in the garden; playing; her family by her side: she asks for nothing more.   And for the moment I can’t help but be Doctorawn into that world. 

    Her long legs stretched fully forward, her head bent backwards almost to breaking point, she again screams excitedly as the aDoctorenalin rushes through her small, beautiful body, completely unaware each piercing output from her lungs installs a new shaft of fear into my heart as her long, dark hair caresses the soft green grass growing lushly beneath the swing; her feet coming to within a metre of the brick fence that divides the neighbour's house from ours ... and then she passes back again in the wink of an eye … and I breathe a sigh of relief once again.

   Charlene looked so much like her mother at times it was almost eerie: The same perky nose, the same dark hair, the same elfin look… so beautiful, so innocent … so vulnerable.  When I saw Charlene like this I could not help but think of what happened to her mother.  The incident that could so easily have changed our lives forever had it not been for the intervention of God, or whoever, or whatever, it is that protects us and I could not help but pray that Charlene never has to go through what her mother did.

   A sudden movement at the corner of my eye distracted my attention from Charlene and I turned to find Jessica walking towards us juggling a pitcher of iced cola, plastic tumblers and some cookies.

   “Thought you guys might be a bit thirsty.” She smiled.

   Accepting a Doctorink I looked closely at my wife, the love of my life, and smiled; after all these years I still found myself mesmerized by the radiance of the smile that emitted from Jessie's face.  It was so very hard sometimes to understand how it had all threatened to go so horribly wrong for us; how easily we could have been separated forever. I still felt bitter that so much of our love and life together was lost due to an arrogant, overbearing and totally unpleasant person who was hell-bent on doing what he wanted to do – regardless of the consequences that befell his intended victims.

   “Are you alright, Johnny?  You aren't delving back into that period again are you?  Jessie asked, a frown threatening to replace the smile as she spoke.

   “No.”  I lied, hoping my words wore a lot softer than the bitterness that threatened to change my own mood.

   “That is good, my darling.”  Jessie’s face had resumed the smile it had been offering and inwardly, silently I gave a sigh of relief.  “The past is gone,” Jessie continued, “The future is now … our future …yours, mine and Charlene’s.”

   My Doctorink still in my hand, I placed my free arm around her back, my fingers moving quickly upwards until they reached her neck and I pulled her gently forward until our lips met and for a moment I was completely unaware where I was – until a loud, attention demanding voice brought us back out of our Doctoreamlike world.

   “Daddy - put Mummy back where you found her and push me.”

   Charlene's giggling chide caused us both to break up in laughter; I released my hold on Jessie and did what I was told.  “This is it, young lady.  I am going to have to push you so hard … you might just end up in the moon.”

   “That's alright, Daddy, I am hungry enough to eat some two craters of cheese.  But you can toss me some bread and ham to take with me, if you like.”

   Charlene's sense of humour was so like her mother's it was more like she had been cloned, rather than born.  Actually Charlene is not that much older than Jesse had been when we first met.

   Jesse was three and I was but a few months older when my family moved to Springtown from interstate and the Jensens became our new next- door neighbours.   From the moment they met, both our parents took to each other like wildfire.  After only a few months one would have thought they had known each other all of their life, so I guess that it was pre-ordained that Jesse and I would become close friends, and as the years went on we became closer and closer.

   We played together all day, every day when we were very young; we attended kindergarten and pre-school together; we played together in the back yard, the front yard and the local park.  We both played in the same junior soccer team, the same t-ball team and later, when we were forced by age to play in single gender teams, we would always be there for every game that the other was involved in.

   When I was about fourteen, around the same time that my voice was breaking, I discovered that I could sing quiet well, and if I could sing it was only natural for Jesse to try and join me.  To our mutual, and our parents, surprise and pleasure, there was a unique blending with our voices and over the next few years we developed a special style with our harmonies that allowed us to win quite a few talent quests; in fact we won so many competitions we decided to go professional once we finished high school, or at least give it a good shot.

   We weren't interested becoming super-stars; we just wanted to be good enough to earn a decent wage while being engaged in a profession that both appealed to us and one that we could do together.

    We practiced our music for two or three hours a day, combining our education with our anticipated future; we were learning to play guitar, piano and other instruments and undertaking professional singing lessons along with the basics of accountancy and other enforced school studies: We were readying ourselves for every eventuality in our preferred musical orientated future and we had already decided on the basics of our repertoire ... music from the fifties and sixties with a splattering of newer material as it arrived on the scene. 

   We both loved the rhythm, the beat, the romance of the music from that period.  We loved the harmonies of The Bee Gees, The Everleys and The Hollies, the romance of Dean Martin, the soul of Ray Charles, the humour of Roger Miller and the rocking sounds of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Elvis.

    But our musical appreciation was only a small part of our growing up years. We just loved being in each other's company; we traveled to and from school together, to the movies, dancing and skating.  Our families even holidayed together ... and such fun times they were. 

   I remember on one occasion our parents booked us in for a week at a dude ranch.  Jessie and I looked forward to the trip for weeks on end.  We got out a pile of western D.V.Ds and books from the library to hone up on western lore and hassled our parents for weeks to buy us clothing that would be appropriate for such an adventure.  We figured by the time we arrived at the ranch we would make the locals think we had been raised in the west and were returning back to our roots.

   We were so keyed up the night before, it still amazes our parents to this day how we ever got any sleep, but sleep we did and the next day we were beside ourselves with anticipation as we set off in the hired mini-bus.   Our spirits were high, our faces permanently locked in a grin, our tongues in danger of collapsing from wagging as we talked, giggled and sung … but we were destined for initial disappointment   

   When we set off from home, the sun had been shining, the sky had been blue:  an incredibly perfect day.  But as the miles ticked away the sky became darker and darker until five miles from the ranch we hit the rain and it did not ease; possibly increasing in its intensity as we ran the gauntlet between the car and the cabin, though we may as well have walked at a slow pace we got so saturated.  Thank goodness the rooms had fireplaces inside and they were quickly put to good use, Doctorying both us and our clothes.   According to the receptionist, it had been raining for the three days prior to our arrival and it wasn’t about to change just for us.   We were forced to remain indoors for the rest of the day, playing some games we found in a cupboard and watching repeats of Gilligan and the Brady Bunch on the Television.   Jessie and I didn’t complain, but we were disappointed and ended up going to bed early that night and Doctoreaming about what might have been.  


   But the next day was much better.  In fact it looked perfect.  The clouds were all gone, the ground was already starting to Doctory out and we were going out for our first ride.  Jessie, looking resplendent in her red cowboy hat and silk shirt, white bandana, tight blue jeans and genuine leather riding boots, could have been the epitome of the Hollywood cowgirls of the forties and fifties.  She looked gorgeous.  She was a cowgirl from the old school.

   The sky was a dark shade of blue and the sun was shining brightly as she cockily strolled into the corral.  I could imagine some old cowboy singer singing “Happy Trails” in the background as she mounted that beautiful golden palomino named Geronimo as easily as if she was Calamity Jane.  

   Sitting tall in the saddle she called out “Yahoo!   I’m the Queen of the west!  Watch out Dodge City.” Then taking the reins in her hands she jerked the horse’s head back, dug in with her boots and yelled, “Giddy up, Geronimo!”

   Well, the horse either became jealous of her cool outfit, or it resented her cockiness.  In either case Geronimo decided to teach Jesse who was boss.   Instead of responding to her enthusiastic tugging on the reins, Geronimo began walking at the slowest pace possible and continued munching away at tufts of grass that were scattered across the corral, totally ignoring her repeated requests for some action.                             

   Jessie smiled bravely, but you could see she was getting a little bit upset   “Come on, Geronimo,” she called encouragingly, “we don’t have all day.
 She tried pulling the horse’s head up to stop him from eating, but it was all to no avail.  The horse, being the stronger of the two, simply pulled its head back down and resumed it;s wandering and grazing.

   Jessie was starting to become a little agitated.  Partly because she also was of a stubborn nature, and partly because of all of the giggles she could hear emitting from our little group, who, by now were all outside the enclosure and starting to head up the trail.

   “Shucks, Ma’am,” I called out in my best western voice, “this here’s no time to be horsing around.  We’ve got to start moseying up that there trail before sunset.  There are some pretty wild critters around these here parts just waiting for young stragglers to wander off from the herd.”

   But Jesse was not the least bit amused with me or Geronimo; she jerked hard on the reins and gave him the meanest slap on the rump you have ever seen.  Well it worked. Geronimo lifted its front legs off the ground, rolled his eyes and then, with a loud snort, he was off.   Geronimo didn’t wait to reach the open gate; instead he jumped the fence, with Jessie hanging on for dear life.

  Jessie’s mount was off in a canter, flying up the hill at a rate of knots, going so fast a racehorse would have been proud of his efforts.   Within seconds he and Jesse were passing the rest of our small group and disappearing into the dark shadows of the woods ahead.  Nobody said a word, we were too dumfounded to talk, but slowly a realization dawned on us … Jesse didn’t know how to ride a horse, never mind how to stop one.  And, we also suddenly realized, neither could any of us.  Actually, this was the first horse ride any of us had ever taken and our lack of experience in such matters was quickly coming to the fore.

   Now, what nobody in our little group knew, other than the trail rider, was that a landslide, following all the rain the area had received in the previous days, had blocked off the way Jesse was heading and because the horse would be unable to go any further it would automatically come to a to a stop without any help from us. 

  But because he decided in his wisdom not to share that information with us, there we all were, every single one of us, wishing so badly to chase after Jesse as fast as we could, but, at the same time, hesitant to do so, lest our charges decided to follow the same pattern of misbehavior and take off without us being in control.  

   In a classic Catch 22 situation, we gave a half-hearted urge to our mounts to move faster, with a lump in the throat and panic thumping in our hearts in case they did.

   Finally, our guide decided to assure us that Geronimo would stop shortly and everything would be alright, but we were beside ourselves in anticipation of Jessie's impending date with disaster and were becoming more and more agitated at the heart stopping slowness of the progress we were making ... but fear for our own safety helped make our worry about Jesse just a tad more tolerable.

   But we needn’t have worried.  As soon as we entered the trees we saw Jesse walking back towards us – Geronimo grazing in the grass a short distance away.  Perhaps staggering may have been a better description of Jesse's movements. Her hands were hanging down, low, swinging from side to side like an orangutan - her legs crossing in front of each other, while her glazed eyes were fixated on the ground, her head too was swinging from side to side, reminding me of our last visit to the zoo. 

   I don’t think that at first Jessie realized that we were there and when, finally, she raised her head up to face us, I don’t think that she really saw us, never mind recognize us.  Somehow I don’t think that she was really in focus; in fact she was so busy seething I am sure that I saw smoke emitting from her ears.

   When Jesse had first looked at us we all froze in horror at the glaring, snarling, snorting creature that confronted us.   Covered in shining, smeared blood and wet grass, this was not the beautiful young princess of the silver screen that had bedazzled us only minutes earlier.  This was more like a swamp creature out on the loose.  A sweat broke over every one of us at the very moment our eyes made contact with her.

   Then, as we all simultaneously dismounted and began our individual attempts to try and console this poor child who was obviously is such disarray as a result of her horrendous trauma after her fall from the horse, it suddenly hit us ... Jesse was not covered in blood ... she was covered in mud.  The horse had come upon the landslide, summed up the situation and instantly came to a stop.  Jesse had not been so lucky; failing to have a proper grip and stance on the horse she had lost her seating and flew over the top of Geronimo, her fall softened by a pile of soft, slimy, water oozing mud. 

   There was no damage to Jessie's body, only to her pride ... and our laughing didn’t help matters either.  Still, by lunchtime, following a long hot shower and a massage from her mum, she was laughing with us, and later that day, in a new outfit and with a new horse, Jesse hit the trail once again.

    For myself, though, I wasn’t game to say one word in front of my new mount.  I had learnt a new respect for horses after the morning’s outing and I was quite happy to move at a snail's pace if that was what the horse wanted - especially when it was a golden Palomino named Geronimo.

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