Maude’s depression got progressively worse over the short space of a couple of weeks. She had told her psychologist that she felt as if one of her legs had been torn off below the knee, when compared to the grief the loss of Brooke had caused her.
Keith had been taking her to see their local GP at the South Perth Clinic once a week, and a psychologist once a fortnight at Hollywood Hospital, in Nedlands, just off Monash Avenue. Yet, nothing seemed to make any difference to her.
With Maude’s GP at her wit’s end, and after a lengthy telephone call with Maude’s psychologist, hatched a plan for her to start seeing a psychiatrist. As it turned out, a psychiatrist who came highly recommended, was able to take her on for an initial consult, and then, if needed, as one of her permanent patients. Thankful for the private health cover Maude had insisted they needed over the years, and that their private health fund had said psychiatrist on their books, rendered the associated bills within the Smith’s budget.
After the first meeting with Maude’s psychiatrist, a lady with a practice in the Hollywood Private Hospital Specialist Centre, with family origins in Hong Kong, and was of the appearance of a Hahn Chinese somewhere between forty and seventy years of age, Maude was admitted directly into the Hollywood Clinic. Not wanting to be put into care, Maude did all she could to avoid admission. Sadly, for Maude at least, her psychiatrist, one Dr. Miui, not unkindly told her she could carry on until she was blue in the face, but for the time being, the very best place she could be was in the clinic where she could be observed; her medications fine tuned; she would be able to remove some of the burden of darkness that seemed to hang above her through group therapy and various contact sessions. It was the first time she had been admitted into any hospital since the birth of Brooke. This was not unnoticed by either Keith or Dr. Miui.
Having to wait a day or two for a bed to be made available, Keith helped Maude pack her things for a medium length stay. Her small’s, nighties, and more personal items were placed into the bottom of Maude’s leather, wheeled, overnight case. From there, clothes of a more comfortable, less formal nature were added, as were a toilet bag, and any other odd’s and end’s Keith thought she might benefit from whilst she was an in-patient.
Into a second, ‘over the shoulder’ style of bag, Keith inserted novels, a couple of blocks of chocolate, and a crossword book, plus Maude’s knitting bag. Taking her loaded bags to the front door, in preparation for the trip to Hollywood, whenever that may be, Keith, for no obvious good reason, glanced at the front passageway bookcase. There, midway along the second shelf, the spine of a book caught his eye. No larger than a paperback novel, the red leather, gold embossed spine stopped him in his tracks. It was a copy of a series of short stories Brooke had collected via oral histories of the Shires of Victoria Plains, Dandaragan, and Moora. The collection was the result of an exercise she had to undertake in fulfilling a unit for her degree. She had chosen those Shires as a result of a close friend living in the region. Free accommodation holding appeal specific to her student lifestyle and budget. As such, she had spent one of her Uni breaks staying with her girlfriend, her mother owned and ran the Western Wildflower Farm at Coomberdale. Subsequently Brooke interviewed anyone who would talk to her with a story to tell. She hadn’t turned it into a research exercise, from the point of view of immersing herself within the realms of newspaper archives, nor the resources available at Moora’s local library or heritage centre, nor the J.S. Battye Library, Western Australia’s State Library. It was just the story she chased. Putting them onto paper had started out as a chronological undertaking, from the point of view of the time of the story actually happening, be it 1897 through to the current day. This method lasted for two days. Without substantial evidence of the occurrence, it proved impossible. Her next step was to tackle it from a cultural perspective, which left to her feeling somewhat at a loss, as she was essentially dividing her book into a recitation that would could easily be misinterpreted as a study in perceived racism, as opposed to the tragedy of the times. Specifically as the majority of Australians considered ‘Australia’ to be just that, ‘Australia’; one country under one flag, where everybody over the age of 18 could vote, and were equally educated. Unfortunately, Brooke was to learn the hard way, there was a minority of Australians that viewed Australia as ‘black Australia’, and ‘white Australia’. Unable to locate either place on regional, state, or federal maps, she felt that if there was ever going to be an excuse for someone to racially abuse her for her skin tone, this would be all the ammunition anyone would need. So that notion was scrapped.
Finally, in the inimitable words of Nick Cave, she thought ‘fuck it’, and threw all of her collected yarns together in no discernible order, and had them edited by a dodgy uni student cohort for the price of a large ‘supreme’ pizza with extra chilli’s and anchovies, plus two bottles of Houghton’s white wine.
Two weeks later, editing complete, five copies of her manuscript were made. Brooke printed the collected works. The first pile, her assignment, she delivered to her misanthropic lecturer, the remainder was thrust into various Australia Post bags, and a copy sent to every local publisher in and around Perth. Job done, Brooke promptly forgot all about the book as anything more than an assignment, specifically as it takes many, many, months to receive a reply from any publisher, be it positive or negative, or even at all. A few weeks later she received a Distinction for her efforts.
Three months and two days after sending out her manuscript, Brooke, on checking the mailbox at her parents house in passing, found a letter addressed to herself. The logo and address of a fantastic local publisher, ‘Fremantle Press’, which was located on Quarry Street, Fremantle, graced the upper left front of the envelope. As with every other letter sent to her by a publisher, she had long given up any hope of the publisher’s interest in any of her submissions. Moreso, that she had forwarded a collection of short stories, which as a general rule don’t sell, are avoided by publishing houses like the plague, especially if the author was not one of some formidable success.
To her immense surprise, Fremantle Publishing found that the content, being of a local nature, with the added advantage that the tales were within reasonable driving time of Perth. Moreso, the yarns held a variety of stories in tangible, visitable, places, might well be worth pursuing. And then there was the added bonus, that anyone making the trip to any of the localities within the book, could quite easily talk to nearly any local about them, and add a few more snippets of information not included in the book. Most importantly though, her work was very good, and had impressed those at Fremantle Press.
Meeting and greeting after telephone calls, and numerous coffee’s at a variety of places in and around Fremantle, the wheels finally turned, the manuscript was re-edited, the order of the stories reconfigured, and the wee book went off to print. All she needed was a name for the book, and whose name did she want on the front cover? Her own, or a nom de plume?
Settling for calling herself Maggie Trout, as the author. The ‘Maggie’ had come from her middle name ‘Margaret’, and the ‘Trout’ had come from a primary school taunt, where upon some nameless, dull-witted, crayon eating, cousin dating, child had heard a song with the line ‘a fish is an animal that lives in a brook. You catch it with a worm on a hook’. She was firstly known as ‘Fish’, ‘Trout’ being the evolution of her now better known nickname; a name she hated with a fiery passion. As with kids the world over, her outward expression of distaste did no more than encourage all around her to keep the name alive, as an ongoing taunt. Sadly, the following years of primary school, undertaken at Williams District High School, Brooke lost her name and identity. Until the day she left WDHS, she was called ‘Trout’ by all. It was to become the immovable albatross that had figuratively hung around her neck forever more whilst at that school. Even teachers had come to call her it, as with all things unwanted in life, it became a nickname that stuck like mud to a blanket. She had revelled in the day she had started at Penrhos College, ‘Strive For The Highest’. It was the day ‘Trout Smith’ perished like mist in the sun, and Brooke came into her own.
Brooke had named the book ‘Misanthrope’. Neither of her parents, nor her siblings truly knew why. Maude had thought it was specific to some horrid rogue from within the pages. Keith, on the other hand had just liked the sound of it, it’s true meaning he completely ignored. In reality, she had named it after the lecturer that had assigned her and her classmates to the task of collecting oral histories, be they fictitious or not. He had appeared to one and all as ‘a bastard that hated every other bastard’ therefore reducing him to nothing more than a ‘misanthrope’.
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