Chapter Two

The thing I remember most about him is how sad he looked.

 

Valleys.

We’d been working in one over in Aria. The people were friendly, everyone waved. We were there for about 6 weeks, and I was sorry to leave.

This valley was different. After a few days I was ready to pack it in, but still had at least 2 weeks of work to complete. No one waved.

I met May’s brother up on the back of her farm, he was pruning pines. They’d been hammered by the wind. I doubt if they’d ever come to much.

The apathy of the place was getting to me, and I almost rode past, hoping he wouldn’t see me. But he did. I parked the quad and walked over to say hello.

He was a slightly built man with a straggly grey beard and prominent teeth. The thing I remember most about him is how sad he looked.

“Hello, my names Bryan, are you May’s brother?”

He looked at me with his sad eyes and nodded.

“I’m doing the possums.”

He managed another brief nod.

“My lines up in the native over there.”

He looked in the direction I was pointing at, then back at me.

“Right,” I said, best I get going.”

He picked up his saw and slowly climbed back up his pruning ladder.

I found out later that his name was George. He lived in a shepherds hut not far from where I met him. None of the locals had seen him for years, some even thought he’d left the district or worse. Apparently, I was very lucky to meet him. I’m not so sure.

And yes, your right, I did say May was an only child, so what’s this brother thing all about? Stick with me, and you’ll find out.

If you’ve had a poke around my blog, you’ll have noticed that I like collecting stories. Preferably ones that have a happy ending, though sometimes they don’t.

I knew that May and George had a story, and usually that would have excited me. This time it didn’t. I wasn’t that keen to find out how George and May ended up the way they were. Some stories are best left untold. It’s taken me a while to find that out.

I managed to complete the possum lines on May’s place without bumping into either of them again. Instead of giving May a call to tell her I’d finished, I left a note in her letter box. Yep, I’m a bit of a coward at times, and she wasn’t that keen to see me, anyway.

The wind blew for the entire time we worked there. After 3 weeks we were both sick of the place and eager to get away. We pulled our last line on a Saturday and packed the truck, ready to make our escape.

And then it rained. Hard.

We were parked up on a bit of high ground on the wrong side of a concrete ford. The stream transformed itself into a raging torrent. We weren’t going anywhere.

Henry turned up later that afternoon on his big red tractor. He shut it off, peering down at me with a superior grin.

“Should have moved before the rain.”

“Yep.”

“You’re not going anywhere for a couple of days.”

“Nope.”

“Hope you’ve got plenty of books in that tank of yours.”

“One or two.”

“Come up for a feed, the missus is cooking some mutton.”

“Will do.”

“See you about 6.”

“I’ll bring a pudding,” piped Sue.”

“No need, but you can if you like.”

He left with a friendly smile, in his big, red, shiny tractor.

I was learning.

The first time I met Henry, I did all the talking, and he was about as receptive as a radio with flat batteries. He left me feeling like a complete Wally.

There’s an old saying, which I am forever learning “Even a fool seems wise if his words are few.”

Two ears, one mouth, there’s a reason for it. Henry confirmed the lesson.

It kept raining until even the wind got sick of it and shot through. Huge logs were roaring down the creek, and the future of our truck was looking a bit dodgy. I tried not to think about it as we rode the Quad over to Henry’s place.

Everything Henry owned gleamed. His tractor, car, house, sheds, even his wife looked shiny. The man must spend a small fortune on paint and polish.

As we walked into their house, I reminded myself to let him do the talking.

And he did manage to get  get a few words in.

More on that in the next blog.

 

 

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