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    Written by: Ray Kolle   Produced by: John Holmes   Directed by: Mark Piper

Barbara is on the 'phone in the lounge room at Dural, and she thanks the caller for letting them know. She then adds that she hopes he's alright, too. She hangs up and tells Wayne, who's sitting reading the newspaper, that Kevin Palmer is in the Middle East where all the trouble has broken out. Wayne retorts that there's always trouble breaking out in the Middle East. Barbara ignores this and goes on that David and Beryl don't even know if he's been hurt or killed; it's awful for them. Wayne, though, snaps that they've got enough problems of their own without worrying about Kevin Palmer: money - they can't keep on selling things-- Barbara interrupts and points out that she can't keep selling things. Wayne curtly continues that it doesn't matter who's doing the selling - sooner or later, Gordy is going to notice bits and pieces going missing. Barbara asks if there's nothing in the paper. Wayne tells her that trying to find a part-time job when you haven't got any experience isn't easy. Barbara mentions that there's a part-time job at the golf club and adds that she thinks she'll apply for it. Wayne quickly tells her that she can't, and Barbara asks why not. Wayne points out that she knows most of the people at the golf club; if they see her working there, they'll know they're in trouble; they'll look ridiculous. Barbara snaps that they're hardly in a position to look grand; they need the money - it's an honest job and if people want to stare down their nose, that's too bad. Wayne asks what they'll do if word gets back to Gordy. Barbara replies that she'll make sure it doesn't - she'll ask people who know Gordon not to say anything; she's sure they'll understand - and the job is in the office, so she'll be out of sight most of the time. Suddenly appearing to make a decision, she goes on that she thinks she'll go and change and apply for it now. As she goes to walk out, Wayne asks her if she's got any bright ideas about a job for him. Barbara replies that, as a matter of fact, she has: it doesn't pay anything but it does need doing: the stream under the little bridge is clogged. Wayne mutters, "Oh yuck." Barbara points out that, if they don't want Gordon to find out that they had to let the gardener go, they're going to have to maintain the garden. Wayne tells her that Gordon is going to notice that the gardener is gone eventually. Barbara agrees that that's true, but there's no need to let him know sooner than necessary; she'll do her share, but she thinks the least Wayne can do is go and unblock the stream.

A short time later, Wayne is down at the stream, digging out the mud and weeds that are blocking it. A car suddenly toots its horn and pulls up next to him. Liz calls out that she bets he smells as good as he looks! Wayne just growls that someone has to do it. Liz tells him that she has a treat for him when he's finished. She holds up a bottle of whiskey and explains that she noticed that they're nearly out - and it's Gordon favourite. Wayne growls at her that they're not at the stage where they need handouts. Liz, though, points out that she put away her fair share of it, so it's only fair that she comes up with a refill; Scrabble is a thirsty game! Wayne, calming down, tells her that he's sorry he snapped - by the time he gets out of the stream, he'll need some of that! Liz says she hopes Barbara isn't going to be offended by her bringing it - she's been really friendly towards her, lately; she doesn't want to spoil things. Wayne tells her that he doesn't think she will - Barbara is just glad that she's willing to keep Gordon occupied. Liz assures him that it's no trouble - she enjoys it. She tells him that she'll see him later, and she then drives off towards the house, leaving Wayne with a smile on his face.

In Melbourne, Beryl opens the front door of the Palmer house to Victor Hardy. She tells him that she won't be a moment - she just has to freshen up. Victor curtly tells her that Muriel is waiting in the car, but Beryl retorts that she said she won't be long. Victor goes to wait for her in the living room, where David tells him that Beryl is a bit upset about Kevin. Victor asks him if he's not coming to the airport with them to pick up Lynn. David explains that he's staying there in case there's any more news. Victor tells him that he must say he's pleased to see him back where he belongs. David curtly retorts that he hasn't moved back in. Victor comments that it's a pity - he thought David had come to his sense. David retorts that he'll give Beryl all the support she needs. Victor tells him that he won't be giving her much support by traipsing off again; why not just sort things out? - that other woman has gone; what's stopping David from coming back? David replies that it's not as simple as that. Victor says he thinks David is being plain selfish - at his age, it's time he settled down to his responsibilities. David angrily snaps that it's none of Victor's business. Victor, though, points out that he's Davey's other grandfather and he thinks it is: David's place his by his wife - it's time he faced up to that fact. David snaps that he's going to start-- He quickly breaks off as the door to Beryl's bedroom opens and she comes back in and says she's ready. Victor suggests that they go, then. As they head out, he turns back to David and tells him to think about what he said.

Liz is with Gordon in the lounge room at Dural, and she tells him that she really loved the book - she always thought Dickens was stuffy, but it was a terrific story. Gordon tells her that he'll lend her the others. He then asks what the whiskey's for, and Liz replies that it's a little present. Barbara comes into the room and asks Gordon if he minds if she goes and plays golf, now that Liz is there. Gordon replies that of course he doesn't. He adds that she can take her time, as he's just about to beat Liz at Scrabble! Barbara wishes him a good game and goes. Liz goes and sits down on the settee with Gordon and tells him that she loves looking through junk shops, and she found this yesterday; she thought he might like it. She hands him a framed picture and points out the characters featured: Marley's Ghost and Scrooge. Gordon admires it and remarks that it's beautiful - a real find. He asks Liz if she's sure she doesn't mind giving it away. Liz explains that she bought it for him. Gordon tells her that he's glad she liked the book. Liz replies that she went through a pack of tissues reading it; parts of it were so sad - although she found the Cratchitt family a bit hard to believe at times. Gordon asks why. Liz explains that it was all that 'poor but happy' bit - it wasn't like that where she came from: her mum and dad fought like cat and dog. Gordon comments that she hasn't told him much about her background. Liz replies that there's not much to tell, really - her dad was a wharfy - on strike half the time, and he drank like a fish; sometimes, her mum didn't know where the next dollar was coming from. Looking surprised, Gordon comments that that's odd, as Wayne told him that her family was quite well off. Caught off-guard, Liz quickly tells him that her father died when she was twelve and her mother remarried; things were much better after that - her stepfather had money. Gordon realises that that's what Wayne must have been referring to. He then continues that he's glad to hear her early years weren't all bad. Liz tells him that the happiest part of her life is right now. Gordon replies that, if she keeps thinking that way, she won't go wrong. Liz explains that it depends on the people you're with, really - that's what really makes the difference: people you know. Gordon says he supposes it does. Changing the subject, he asks Liz if she's going to get the Scrabble board out. Liz gets up and goes to fetch it. As she does so, she looks round at Gordon and smiles, happily.

At the O'Briens', Heather anxiously asks if there isn't any sign of Jeff. Katie, who has just arrived home, tells her that she and Luke went up and down the streets and talked to the neighbours, but no one's seen him; Luke is still out looking and he thought he might try some hotels in case Jeff booked into one. Heather points out that he wouldn't have the money. A look of anxiety on her face, she asks how he can be managing, as he's on crutches and he can hardly move - and he's got a dog with him. Katie tells her that Jeff is pretty good at looking after himself; he'll be alright. Heather replies that he won't this time. She then goes on that she rang Mike and he's going down to the school to talk to Jeff's mates to see if they've any idea where he's gone - and he's also going to talk to that coach of his. Katie growls that she wouldn't trust her an inch, and she reminds her mother of the way Tanya got round Jim. Heather tells her that Tanya didn't get round him - Jim didn't approve of what Jeff was doing; he just didn't feel it was up to him to say anything. Katie sadly comments that he always tries to do the right thing, but it just seems to go wrong. Heather tells her that, when Jim rang, she told him that Jeff was gone and he was very upset - he's blaming himself for it. Katie points out that Mike will blame him, too. Heather says she just hopes he doesn't row with Jim about it - it won't help them find Jeff. Katie asks if it would help to go through his room, as there might be a clue in there - an address, or he might even have a girlfriend that he hasn't told them about. Heather explains that she's already thought of that and she didn't find anything - only his scrapbook. She sadly goes on that running was so important to him; she doesn't think they realised how important. She adds that Mike should have been gentler with him and she should have been more understanding. Katie tells her not to blame herself - it won't get them anywhere, either.

At the Palmers', David is in the lounge room, and he looks towards the front door as he hears it bang. Beryl comes in, carrying Davey, and asks if there's any more news. David replies, "Not a thing." He then starts fussing over Davey. Beryl tells him that the child is a bit restless; she told Lynn that she'd look after him for this afternoon and tonight - it'll give her a break. David asks how Lynn is. Beryl replies that she's taking it pretty badly - Victor insisted that she lie down for a while. David comments that that's the most sensible thing he's said today. He then explains about how Victor had a go about them this afternoon. Beryl says she thought something was going on. She then adds that it's hardly the time for him to stick his nose in. She goes to head to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, but as she does so, David says he thought it might be a good idea if stayed there tonight - just in case there's more news; he doesn't think she should be there by herself. Beryl tells him that that's very thoughtful of him. David explains that he just thinks family should stick together at a time like this. Beryl tells him that she'll make up Kevin's bedroom. She then goes to put the kettle on.

At Dural, Gordon comes out of the study as Barbara comes in the front door, carrying her golfing bag. She tells him that she's sorry she took so long, but Gordon replies that he hadn't realised she had. He asks if she had a good game, and Barbara replies that it was very good. Noticing that he's holding something, she asks what it is. He explains that it's a print that Liz gave him - of a scene from A Christmas Carol. He adds that it's good, isn't it! Barbara replies that it's very nice. Gordon calls to Liz, who joins him from the lounge room. He then explains to Barbara that he told Liz that he thought he had a better frame in the storeroom. He asks Liz what she thinks of the new frame, and she replies that it's lovely. He then tells her that he's going to hang it in the study, and he asks her to help him decide where. They walk off, and Barbara heads into the lounge room. She comments to Wayne, who's standing by the bar, that Gordon didn't even notice that she'd been gone so long. Wayne asks her if she got the job. Barbara replies that she did - and they asked her to start straight away. Wayne tells her that he just hopes word doesn't get back to Gordy. Barbara asks him if there's nothing for him in the paper. Wayne snaps, "Not a damn thing." Barbara then says she thinks she'll have a toast to her job. She walks behind the bar and suddenly notices the bottle of whiskey sitting there. She asks where it came from and Wayne explains that Liz brought it. Barbara sourly comments that she really is making herself indispensable, isn't she. She then quickly slaps her hand mockingly and chides herself that she must stop saying that - Liz has been very kind. Wayne agrees that, yes, she has. At that moment, Liz comes into the room and announces that Gordon would like a mineral water. Barbara, looking worried, says he's not over-exerting himself, is he? Liz explains that she took down the old picture and now Gordon is putting up the print. She tells Barbara not to worry - she'll look after him. Barbara replies that she was just going to say how kind Liz has been. Wayne puts down the paper and sighs that there's nothing in there; he'll look again tomorrow. Liz asks him what sort of job he's looking for. Wayne explains that he wants something he can do at night - something that's not too demanding, so that he can concentrate on the business during the day. Liz asks him if he means something where he won't get his hands dirty. Wayne replies, "Definitely." Barbara curtly comments that that's a tall order. Liz, though, says she knows a job that would be perfect for him - and she can even help him get it: working as a male escort. Wayne, looking shocked, sharply says, "What?!" Liz tells him that he'd be great at it - and she's sure she can get the agency to take him on. Barbara suddenly bursts out laughing! She sniggers, "Wayne, the all-Australian gigolo. I can just see it!"

A few moments later, Wayne snorts that Liz must be crazy to think he'd even consider a job like that. Liz tells him that it's not a bad job; she does it. Barbara, still with a smile on her face, tells Wayne that he's a snob - that's always been his trouble. Liz tells him that it's just the sort of work he's looking for - and the agency she works for is looking for guys; he's got what it takes: he's good-looking and can be charming as hell when he wants to be. Barbara bursts out laughing again! Wayne thanks Liz, but adds that he doesn't think he could cope with the old frumps he'd have to take out to dinner. Liz tells him that some are very attractive businesswomen. Wayne asks why they'd need to hire an escort, then. Liz explains that they could be from interstate or overseas on a business conference or whatever; they don't like to dine alone and don't know anyone to go out with. She goes on that he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to - he just has to be good company - and the money's terrific. Wayne, looking more interested, asks her if she reckons he could do this. Liz replies that he could if she recommended him. Suddenly looking aghast, Barbara comments that surely he's not considering a job like that? Wayne, though, asks who's being a snob now. Liz assures Barbara that it's an honest enough job. Barbara retorts that it's just selling yourself. Taking offence, Liz says she'll take Gordon his drink, and she leaves the room. Wayne snaps at Barbara that she didn't have to say that. Barbara agrees that, no she didn't - but it's true: if he hires himself out as a companion, there are going to be some people who want more than companionship. Wayne tells her that Liz makes it clear that she's not giving them any more. Barbara retorts that she doesn't care - there's no way he can get involved in a job like that. Wayne asks her if she's got any better suggestions.

It's nighttime, and Jim arrives back at the O'Briens' after work. He asks if there's any news, but Heather tells him that there isn't. Katie chips in that she and Luke have been out looking all afternoon. Jim comments that he wouldn't have thought Jeff could get far on crutches. Mike suddenly arrives home and announces that no one has seen hide nor hair of him-- He breaks off as he sees Jim standing there. Heather quietly tells him that tea is ready, but she's ignored. Instead, Jim tells Mike that he doesn't have to say anything - he'll be gone first thing in the morning. Mike agrees that he thinks it might be a good idea. Jim tells him that he can't blame him for being upset - he should have told him about Jeff straight away; he just didn't want to tell on the kid. He adds that he didn't know what was going to happen. Mike retorts that he never does. Jim goes on that he thinks he might make himself scarce for the evening. Katie, looking worried, says, "Uncle Jim..." She then runs and hugs him. She asks him if he'll let them know where he goes. Jim assures her that he'll send them an address - and they can let him know when they find Jeff. Katie asks him if he'll come back and visit them. Jim tells her that he will when things have settled down a bit. He turns and heads out. When he's gone, Katie tells her father that it wasn't Jim's fault. Mike, though, replies that it may be best if he goes for a while; he doesn't want to argue with him anymore - and if he stays on, he'll-- Katie doesn't stay to hear the rest, but storms off. Heather gives Mike a comforting hug. Mike tells her that they'll see what happens when they've found Jeff.

At the Palmers', Beryl puts two plates of food down on the living room table. She then tells David that it's ready. David, who's sitting on the couch, watching TV, gets up and turns the set off. He then walks over to the table. The two of them stand there awkwardly, not knowing whether Beryl should sit down before David. They eventually both sit down together. David politely tells Beryl that the meal is very nice. Beryl thanks him. The put napkins on their laps and Beryl then comments that Davey must have been tired out, as he's already asleep. David tells her to give him a hoy if she wants some help with him. There's silence while they pour salt and pepper over their meals. Beryl breaks it by telling David that there's wine in the 'fridge if he'd like. David tells her that it's alright. Beryl offers him a beer instead, but David assures her that he's fine - really. Beryl tells him that she hopes he likes what she's cooked, as she hasn't tried this recipe before. David replies that it smells good - but she shouldn't have gone to all this trouble for him; he's used to eating in the kitchen. Beryl explains that she likes to eat in the living room when she has visitors. David, without thinking, replies, "But I'm not--" He then realises what he was about to say, and he breaks off. Beryl goes on that she's even eaten in there quite a lot herself - she can watch television at the same time. David remarks that she must get kind of lonely. Beryl assures him that she manages. She looks at him eating, and he tells her that the food is great. Beryl says, "Good." David then says that the television show he was watching gave him a bit of a laugh. Beryl asks if it's finished. David replies that, no it hasn't - it was only halfway through. Beryl asks him if he'd like to turn it on again. David asks her if she minds. Beryl tells him that of course she doesn't - she could do with a bit of a laugh herself. David stands up and goes and turns the TV on. Laughter immediately emanates from the set. David looks at the screen as he heads back to the table. He then picks up his plate, takes it over to the couch and sits down. Beryl looks at him in astonishment.

Later that evening, the 'phone rings and David turns the television off and goes and answers it. A male voice comes on and says he must have the wrong number. David asks who it is calling. Andy explains that it's him - he wanted to speak to Mrs. Palmer. David, looking annoyed, says he supposes Andy means Lynn. He then tells him that he can forget it: Kevin is going to be alright, so he can stay right away from them. He hangs up, leaving Andy looking surprised. At the Palmers', Beryl asks David what that was all about. David explains that it was Andy Green - he'd obviously heard about Kevin on the news. Beryl points out that they didn't mention Kevin on the news. David tells her that Andy knew where Kevin worked, and they did say some Australians were trapped. Beryl snaps, "Some Australians - not Kevin." David tells her that he's not having Andy upset Lynn again. Beryl retorts that he couldn't even know Lynn is back in Melbourne; he would have wanted to talk to her. She adds that David knows nothing happened between Andy and Lynn. David snaps that it's only because Lynn wouldn't let it. He reminds Beryl what Andy did at Woombai, and goes on that they don't need him there right now. Beryl asks who Andy asked for. David admits, "You." Beryl snaps that that's right: he asked for her in her house; David had no right to hang up on him. She goes on that if David is going to stay there, he's to remember that he's not head of the house anymore, so he shouldn't act like it. David says he's sorry. He then suggests that it might be best if he goes to bed. Beryl says she agrees. David walks off and goes to open the door of Beryl's room. He then remembers that that's not right, and he turns to head to Kevin's room.

At the O'Briens', Katie is in the lounge room with her parents. She asks if anyone wants to watch tele, but there's no response. She then says she wonders where Uncle Jim is. Mike retorts that he's probably at the pub. Heather says she can't understand why Jeff hasn't 'phoned by now. Katie suggests that maybe he can't get to a 'phone. Heather points out that there are public 'phones everywhere. Katie suggests that maybe something has happened to him, then. Seeing the look of horror on her parents' faces, she quickly adds that she didn't mean that. Heather, though, tells her that it's what they've all been thinking. Mike chips in that they shouldn't think the worst. Heather cries that there must be something they can do. Mike suggests that they could call the police, but Katie points out that they won't be able to do much, as Jeff is over 16. Mike tells her that, even if Jeff won't come home, they'll know where he is. Heather comments that they should have 'phoned them straight away. Katie tells her that he'll be alright.

Beryl opens the front door at the Palmer house to find Jim standing there, obviously drunk. He tells her that he's got to talk to her. Beryl tells him to be quiet, as her little grandson is there. She invites him in and they head into the lounge room, where Beryl asks him what he's doing in his drunken condition. Jim asks her if she's heard about Jeff. Beryl replies that Heather told her. Jim explains that it was his fault. Beryl tells him that Heather didn't seem to think so. Jim tells her that Mike does. Beryl offers him some coffee, adding that, when he's had it, he can go home. Jim, though, tells her that he's not going back there until the lights are out, otherwise Mike will have a go at him about trying to drown his sorrows, and he'd rather leave without another row. Beryl, looking surprised, says, "Leave?" Jim explains that he's off in the morning - he just wanted to say 'goodbye' and tell her how sorry he is about everything; they had something good going and he mucked it up because of Patricia. Beryl tells him that that's all over and done with, now. Jim replies that it might not have been if he hadn't let Patricia get her hooks into him. Changing the subject, he asks Beryl if she's heard any more about Kevin, but she replies that she hasn't. Jim tells her that he's going to be OK. Beryl says she hopes so. She then tells Jim to sit down and she'll make the coffee. Jim tells her that she's a good woman - a really good woman. Beryl helps him to sit down on the couch, but as he does so, it collapses underneath him! The two of them burst out laughing, prompting David to storm in in his pyjamas and snap, "Don't forget Davey's asleep." He goes again. Jim says to Beryl that he didn't know David was there; he's sorry - he always mucks things up for her. Beryl, though, assures him that he hasn't: David is staying the night in Kevin's room - and it's none of his business anymore, anyway. She tells him to sit down gently. Jim, though, says he'd better get home. Beryl tells him that he's not going anywhere without the coffee. She helps him onto one of the armchairs, which takes his weight. Jim tells her that he's wanted to talk things out with her for a long time; he's going to miss her. Beryl smiles and replies that she'll miss him, too. She suggests that he write to her, and he tells her that he will - he promises.

Barbara is sitting in the lounge room at Dural, reading, when the front door opens noisily and Wayne comes in. He joins her, dressed smartly in a suit. Barbara sourly comments that he's late enough. Wayne explains that he took a client out to dinner - a really good looking businesswoman. Barbara incredulously says, "You didn't actually join the escort agency, did you?" Wayne smiles and tells her that he sure did. He then takes out a wad of notes and adds that it's money for jam; all he had to do was be charming, and that comes easy. Barbara snaps, "If you can live with yourself afterwards." Wayne retorts that the money he's holding is what he earned for tonight; how much did she earn for her little stint this afternoon? Barbara angrily snaps that, alright, not as much as him, granted - but at least she has some self-respect. Wayne tells her that he'll do what he has to to bring money in - but he can do without her moralising. Barbara snaps that he's not to expect her to run the house on what he has - he can have that as pocket money. Wayne growls that he thought they were going to pull together to get through their money problems. Barbara snaps that, God knows, she's tried - she's tried to ignore what he did to Amanda, and she's made herself sick doing it; she's tried to turn a blind eye to everything else he's done and to see how much he cares for his father; but she will not close her eyes while he drags the family down into the mud with him; what he's doing would hurt his father far more than the business crashing down around their ears, and if Wayne ends up hurting him again, she'll never never forgive him. She angrily tells him, "You've just about come down to your own level, haven't you: in the gutter."


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