The phone rings!

January 14, 2009 at 11:01 pm (Short Story) ()

The phone rang at four in the morning and I thought to myself, ‘who the hell is that? Maybe it will stop ringing and I can go back to sleep.’ But it didn’t and I had to answer it:

Hello and a vaguely familiar voice answered: James here, I thought I’d better get in touch. I’ve been away for a while and I want to catch up. In my still sleepy half conscious state it came to me that I’d not heard James’s voice for years. Well he went on: I’ve been about quite a bit since I left and I’ve run into some interesting people. Dad and Mum are fine. Joan said that if I meet you to say she is thinking about you.


By this time I was wide-awake and I was starting to think that the voice sounds just like James or Fells as we used to call him; but could it be? Fells, where are you now? He answered: I’m half way to Canberra from Melbourne; Uncle and Auntie asked me to check on something they left in Merton. Which I’ve done and I now want to get to Canberra and fill Geraldine in about a few things. What was it you had to check on in Merton? I asked him. Oh, it was just a pigskin sidesaddle that Em was worried about.


Em was our great-aunt and the toast of Melbourne as a horsewoman but when was this, I wondered. Merton, the family house in Brighton had long since gone. So I said: Fells, you’re not making any sense. Oh, yes, I am, it’s all in the poetry of essence, which you’ll know about eventually.


By this time the conversation with my brother, James, was taking on a surreal character and I didn’t know why. I said to him: Where exactly have you been and how is it that you saw Mum and Dad? He answered: Well, I’ll tell you. When you are completely free you can see and meet whom you like. You know our great grandfather, Thomas Mason, the one who lost his finger, he wasn’t too pleased when he heard about the photo of him being burnt. Mum’s brother, Reg, is still into growth and he told me he has more money than he knows what to do with.


You can’t tell me, James, that you have spoken to all these people. The next thing you’ll be telling me is that you have spoken to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Without any hesitation he answered: Yes, I have. You can’t avoid them! To which I said: So, there are three of them? No, he said. But I can’t expect you to understand that. To help you, I can tell you that the power is as one.


By this time I was inclined to agree that the moon was made of cheese and that pigs can fly, but then James came out with a long dissertation-like flow of rhetoric:

David, imagine you are in a state where you don’t need to know anything. Every question you may care to ask has been answered. You know that almost everything you have been told before is at  best incomplete. You remember my book? What do we know, what can we believe? Well I can now tell you, sweet bugger all. It’s not that everything is wrong but all people with their closed minds can’t see the forest for the trees and they can’t see the trees for the woods. You’re not on the red? I asked. No way! There’s no time. I’ve met hundreds of people who have come into their own. Like poor little kids from the slums of the world, the aborted and the mistreated, and many others.

Was Fells some sort of an oracle? Before he left I always thought that he was the most intelligent one in the family and his years away could have only improved his mind, or that is what I figured. I asked him had he spoken to our father lately. Oh, yes, I saw him speaking to Hilaire Belloc recently. Belloc seems more than ever convinced that he was right many years ago when he wrote:”The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith.” The Faith is, of course, the Catholic Church. And Europe must return to it or “perish” You can imagine that Dad would have been in complete agreement with this though their ideas on the Faith are not so defined these days. Oh, I almost forgot to tell that your houseboy, Kami, from Papua New Guinea wondered how you were. He was telling me he had received a lot of credit for the thousands of cups of tea he had made for you. Anyhow, he’s doing well now. But he is a bit worried about his family in Torembi, a village in the Sepik. While talking about the Sepik; our brother-in-law, Kevin was telling me about those Indian prisoners of the Japanese that he rescued in 1945. He has run into most of them around here and they were very pleased to see him.

James, what do you mean by around here’? He answered: Here is here and there is there and around here is something of little importance.

He might think that but to me it was very important as I was trying to focus on a context of persons and places in the drift of our conversation. I left this as it were and went on talking: I suppose you’ve heard about Caitilin getting a PhD. Caitilin is James’s daughter. You don’t say, David. I knew she always had it in her to do well. Talking about degrees; Reg Morrison, you know the brother of Morrison of Peking, told me that he was most upset when he heard in the twenties that Melbourne University had not granted Dad an MD. Fortune does not always favour the deserved.


James asked me about his sons, Dominic and Jamie and I was able to tell him that they are doing well. I then mentioned that, Geraldine, his wife had been missing him over the past years. He then said: We’ll all be together eventually.  I then went on to tell him that at least he could have made a greater effort to keep contact but I suppose he had his reasons:

I certainly have my reasons. You be interested to hear what our sister Madie’s husband, Knut, had to say about the family situation. According to him he didn’t want any split in the family but for him things were so hard to handle s0 he more or less left it to Madie. The truth of the matter or otherwise no longer seemed to count. And it seemed easier not to talk about it. Sufficient to say on the matter is that he now regrets many things and is very sorry.


I told James about my family, sons, Andrei and David Augustus. Andrei teaching in Kuwait and Augustus writing a fancy story that has great promise. Deborah, my wife, is still very interested in social research into race and identify, especially of Aboriginal and Filipino people. James then told me that he had recently spoken to Charlie Perkins and exchanged stories about the old days in Canberra. Charlie said that he knows that a lot more work needs to be done for his brothers and sisters and by them but some good things had happened. He was heartened by the election of a black president in the USA.

Do you have any regrets about leaving, James? He answered: I didn’t have much choice about it, if you will recall. But as things have worked out it was all for the best. That film, “The Passion”, we saw together, you know Mel Gibson’s, in a funny way prepared me to leave. John Henry Newman and Augustine were quite complimentary about it. The Lord just smiled when it was mentioned.


Now I knew that James must have lost it. One does not just run into Newman, Augustine and the Lord. Fells, if you’re not on the red, you must be stoned. He came back and said: In a funny way you are right if stoned explains a heightened sense of awareness. You are limited by time and space, so all that has been is out of your reach. Why do you think it strange for me to meet people? I let this pass and just went on listening and talking.

I have to tell you about something great. Joan, our sister, Kevin, her husband and Adrienne are so happy together. They no longer get headaches. They want to be remembered to all their loved ones: Sarah, Becky, and Elaine’s family. Thienette de Berigny,our great grandfather, has a homoeopathic remedy for Sarah’s medical problem. He hopes to visit her soon and dispense some sort of mixture. Mum and all of us around here know that ‘The price of wisdom is above rubies.” Even Aunt Connie agrees with this.


 By this time the Bard’s thoughts came to me: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” By the way, James, while you’ve been away I wrote a novel: “Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk”. Not much really but I enjoyed writing it. Some expats from PNG like it. Well, that’s good, David. You always liked PNG.


 I looked at the clock, it was 4:30. We had been speaking for half an hour. I was reluctant to put the phone down. James when can we meet up? You say you are on your way to Canberra. Sydney isn’t far from from Canberra. And then he said a strange thing: Distance has nothing to do with time and space. It’s really important to give your heart to others. By helping others, you help yourself. We’ll meet up soon enough, maybe sooner than you think. A lot of my friends regret not living better lives while they had the chance.


James, you’ve been away for over four years; have you given your heart away and have you seen any women you fancy? David, life begins in your seventies but the answer is no. But I did recently talk with Margaret More, you know Thomas More’s daughter.

Now wait a minute, James, what are you on about? Do you mean Henry VIII and all that? Yes, yes, yes, that’s what I mean. All right, I suppose the next thing you’ll tell is that she gave her father’s side of the story. He than went on to say what Margaret had said. Her father really had no choice in the matter. He understood the dictates of his conscience. But his conscience was formed by considering the whole of Christendom; The King’s good servant, but God’s first. We don’t see much of Henry or Rich around here. He said.


I thought to myself; let him go on there is a bit of sense here but he is the first person I know who has spoken the Thomas More’s daughter.

Suddenly I became aware that I was watching television; someone was talking about Hillary Clinton and a new diplomacy on the Middle East. I realized that I must have been sleeping and on the table near me I noticed some writing in a journal: “James de Berigny Wall (1929-2004) The editor wishes to apologise that this important obituary was overlooked in 2004.”


  1. David Wall Jnr said,

    Dad that dream was absolutely amazing. Remember the dream I had with James telling me some things too? – But nothing like the above. I love the phrase: “the poetry of essence” anyway, I’ll know whether my child will be boy or a girl on Friday – I’ll let you know.


  2. The choices we make while we’re here « Corporate Happiness said,

    […] Thanks Dad for sharing this. […]

  3. onacloV said,

    Dear David,

    A very interesting account of life in the spiritual domain. I am left wondering if you really had the dream or whether you invented it for the purpose of a good story! I’m not sure! So indeed it has made an impact on me!



    • Anonymous said,

      Volcano spelt backwards… What a joke!

  4. David Wall Jnr said,

    I think what Dad wrote is authentic – it’s not like him to make this sort of stuff up.

    This is what I remember of the dream I had, it was one of those lucid dreams as though I was thinking as normal in my day to day life (was a while back so don’t remember too much)

    I was hanging up some laundry on the hills host in Como (something I never did!) and your Dad said something to the effect that he wanted to tell me something important.

    I realized he was no longer living but asked him anyway whether this was right or not. He confirmed what I thought. He told me something like he was feeling well but my Dad needed to see another Doctor as something might be wrong, otherwise there could be some problems.

    He also said that I should just tell him “gnu” and he would know what this means.

    ( – might be relevant)

    I asked if he wanted to say anything to you, he said something like he knows you will be alright as you can always look after yourself.

    I talked about some more things but this dream was about 2 years ago and I can’t remember much more. Not near as profound as the one Dad had.

  5. deberigny said,

    David, yes, I remember you telling me about your dream. There are a lot of hidden meanings in it. Dad

  6. Anonymous said,

    Since the time this was written I have had direct contact with James! I can now believe every word! A truly beautiful dream. I love the way James continues to look after us!

    James words; “It’s really important to give your heart to others. By helping others, you help yourself” are beautiful, profound and poetic just like him!

  7. deberigny said,

    Reblogged this on Stories by David Wall and commented:

    There many interesting things written here that seems even more relevant now. It’s good to think that dad and his brother James would be seeing much more of each other and having these conversations. – David Jnr

  8. Andrei said,

    Nice dream dad. We are all still thinking of you. Wish you were here right now. Hope things are going well for you up there. Maybe I will have a dream from you time. I hope I will be able to incorporate some of the messages from your dream.

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