The Local Driver

She parked in front of the local Police Station. Jumped out the driver’s seat with a skip in her step, and smiled at the intermittent shine amongst the dented rusted panels that made up most of the farm ute.

Today was the day.

She wiped sweaty palms on her skirt. Her stomach churned as she pulled the heavy glass door open and stepped inside.  Bleach, urine, and stale air bit at her sinuses forced her to wince. She jumped at the thwack from the closing door behind her.

On the other side of the front counter, the Sergeant arched his eyebrow at her, with his glasses balanced on the end of his nose. ‘You’re wearing a dress.’

With wide smile, chin up, she smoothed out the cotton floral. ‘I know. And it’s not even Sunday.’

‘You here to pay for your parking tickets?’

Her mouth twisted the side, screwing up her nose. ‘I’ve got none.’ She hoped.

‘Well, the neighbours have been silent on that front. Your school hasn’t called me, and there’s none of your family asleep in the drunk-tank for you to drive ’em home. So, why are you here annoying me? What did you do?’ He asked, lowering his head as his frown deepened.

She gulped air. ‘Nothing—’

Yet.’

‘I ah, um…’ She frowned, teething on her bottom lip.

‘Young lady, I’m a busy man, spit it out.’

She smiled wide and said, ‘it’s my birthday today, and I’m now of the legal age to apply for my Driver’s license.’

(250 words)

 

FROM MOVING MOMENTS

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The Classic Above Her Class

Below searing sunsets, she’d settle to watch endless galaxies of unblemished, shimmering starlight. She’ll rise to meet the creeping sunlight, to dance across red dusty trails, skipping the skirts of billabongs, as feathered flocks flee from her sight.

She’s flown herself, fleeing smoke filled savannahs with bushfires kissing at her heels. Only to cool beneath the shade of blackened gumtrees, while lightening sizzled across infinite hazy horizons. And, like the rest of us, she too helped pray for rain.

Wide horned buffalo, hogging the back-tracks, were no match in their head to head battles with her. She’d send them scurrying, as well as scattering crowds of lazy wallabies through the scrub. She’s been a safe fishing platform while nudging at cunning crocodiles as she cruised beside creek beds, and steered millions of cranky cattle refusing to give up their taste of the wild.

As a matriarch, she conveyed the hopes of many. Has carted endless supplies to feed her army, trekking across a country she’d seen change with the days.  She’d rescued the injured, guided the visiting, carried the newborn, and even transported the newlywed.

She’d never known what the black tarmac felt under her toes.  Not once had she been surrounded by concrete, or got lost amongst a cacophony of cars that collectively crept along congested highways. She’s never had to stop at a set of traffic lights. Nor seen the extravagant coloured night glow of a city gone to slumber.

Glassless. Roofless. Rust covers her where chrome and straight painted panels used to shine. Now, a body of lumps and bumps, wearing patch-ups reminiscent of a front line survivor of WWII. Her engine was perfectly adaptable to the simple skills of the bush mechanics, reacting well to roadside repairs, using whatever layabout. Be it a cattleman’s sweat laden leather belt, or strips of denim jeans to cinch up a pipe, it was always just enough to help her to limp us all back home.

There’s no comparison to the shiny new tin toys of today that dare to compete with this grand ol’ beast, unbothered about her beauty. They didn’t have her heart or her unstopping stamina. They lack her toughness to handle intense paint-blistering heat, the thick red dust, or sideways walls of flooding rains.

She was the cause of spreading smiles, a part of tall-tales sessions where many shared her adventurous travels. And she was always that stable grounding for plenty of the Brewers’ Best consumed, rested, and spilled across her dust covered bonnet.

She was reliable. Rugged. Territory tough.

Until now…

So let’s raise a beer to this grand ol’ girl, may she follow that never-ending fence line in the land of ‘Landcruiser Dreaming’. Always remembered as a truly heroic, kickass, classic country car.

(460 words)

 

FROM MOVING MOMENTS.

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Road Rogue

Road Rogue

‘We gotta do it.’

‘Don’t want to.’

‘Have to,’ he said, holding out the lifejacket. ‘Coppa’s already onto us.’

‘But, not like this?’ Her unlaced boots tapped on the dirt as she snatched up the yellow life preserver and slipped it over her ponytail.

‘I don’t wanna do this either.’ He passed her a motorbike helmet.

‘Can’t we do it another way?’ Slapping the helmet on her head, he secured the strap beneath her chin.

‘Sure, we could sell tickets? Recoup our costs? Maybe fetch a profit to go towards our next one.’

‘But the Coppa might show up.’ She screwed up her nose. ‘Or worse—grown-ups.’

‘Reckon they’d ruin it.’ He held out some swimming goggles, a pair of flippers, and a snorkel. ‘D’ya want it?’

‘Why not.’ She slipped on the hard-plastic swimming accessories. Through her goggles, she peeked at the drought-riddled farmlands where a crowd had gathered on bicycles, motorbikes, and saddled horses. ‘I’m ready,’ she said, taking a large flipper-flapping step over dry cracked earth.

‘We got top-shelf.’ He pulled her upwards and her bare knees shimmied onto the hot tin roof where they both gripped onto the metal tripod.

‘Only coz of your welding lesson’s.’

‘That’s about to be tested. Ready?’

Goggles and snorkel adjusted as plastic flippers tried to grip onto the hot metal and their small hands clasped onto the steel tripod. ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’

His foot stamped on the roof. ‘Let ‘er rip, Blu.’

The engine inside the dented, door-less, Datsun roared into life. Black smoke vomited from a missing exhaust pipe blanketing its bullet-hole riddled exterior. The wetsuit-cladded driver and co-pilot, lifted their helmet’s visors, gagging for air.

‘GO. GO. GO.’ She shouted from the roof with her knuckles whitening and her heart raced.

Beneath bald tyres, red dirt showered upwards like an inverted waterfall. Clang-attee-clang-clang the matchbox-rubber-banded engine rattled in its unsecured bedding. It Kangaroo-hopped with a crunch of gears. The chassis rattled rust free while groaning and shuddering onwards.

The crowd screamed with their arms waving in the air like whip-wielding jockey’s, urging the mashed-up mini-monster to move.

Down the dirt track, faster, and faster, they headed for the small rise. Black exhaust thickened like rope disintegrating skywards. The rat-a-tat-tat of the egg-beater’s-engine mixed with excited screams of chasing children.

‘Here we gooooooooo.’ His hand covered hers gripping the welded spotlight’s tripod. Both fought the urge to close their eyes behind fog-encroaching goggles. Smiles widened in the dusty hot wind that whipped against their exposed skin.

The engine screamed along with its passengers and with an almighty roaring rush, wheels left the rubbly rise, and as if on invisible wings, the hunk of junk flew.

Over the sun-soaking railroad track.

Over the sparkling, scattered white pebbles shining amongst the struggling weeds.

Over the shadows of the squat scrubby hill, and…

SPLASH!

Into the dam.

Brown bore water washed over the car like a tsunami chasing a surfer.

The internal passengers exited door-less gaps and splashed for the screaming spectator covered, clay banks.

A simple pirate flag, painted on Nana’s sheets, waved from the tripod. Like captains on their sinking ship, the diving-clad-duo saluted the crowd from the roof of the vehicle they’d gone road-rouge in and escorted their toy to its watery grave. ‘That Coppa aint gonna find it now.’

First published 17/08/2015

(557 words)

from   ‘MOVING MOMENTS’

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