Castle Roland

The Odd One Out

by Gary Conder


Chapter 25

Published: 12 Sep 16

The Odd One Out

Copyright © 2015
by Gary Conder
All Rights Reserved

Odd Man Out Logo

There had been a slight shower of rain just before Colt stepped onto the platform and everything appeared green and fresh. The air washed cool and the light perfume from an unnamed bush alongside the station wall drifted towards him. Not a single hint of dust, or burning sun or scent of death was in the air. He was home, believing he could never live in such a remote place as his brother had chosen. Yet he could understand why Toby chose such a life style. His life had honesty without being pushed and pulled by product and people attempting to raid your pocket at every chance.

As Colt removed his luggage from the taxi's boot Max bounded down the stairs to greet him. Colt looked about all was as he left it. No calamity, Eric and Vail had obviously been good caretakers.

"Hi there boy, did you miss me?" Colt asked Max, who admitted so with a display of over joyous antics. "Come on I'll race you up the stairs."

There was no contest, three bounds and Max was on the landing waiting, with the tail wagging the dog. Colt dropped his bag onto his bed and commenced to survey the house. Nothing had changed. There was a note on the kitchen table from Eric. Colt read the inscription.

'Welcome home, gone to work see you tonight.' -Typical of Eric, simple and too the point.

Colt sat at the kitchen table his hands around a hot mug of coffee as he contemplated his trip. In his opinion it had been successful. He had finally met his brother and believed they were more than compatible. Even with the short time they had been together they had formed a bond. He visualised Toby's naked form at the water hole with humour and his final conversation with apprehension. Should he have been so forthright? He was sure his decision was sound as Toby discovering the truth when he came to visit, may have been a disaster.

Colt release a 'huh' and again smiled at the thought. Only a short time previous he would have shuddered at the word gay. He would have cringed at the very thought but Charlie had changed his world.

"Charlie, I must let him know I'm back." Colt spoke loudly bringing Max's ears to prick up. "Not you feller,"

It was an age before Charlie answered the telephone. His voice was rushed. "Hello,"

"It's me, I'm back." Colt spoke softly into the receiver.

"When did you get back?"

"Just a few minutes ago,"

"How was the trip? Tell me all."

"I'm somewhat bushed at the moment, I'll give you a call tonight."

"Sure, I've missed hearing your voice." Charlie answered bubbling with excitement.

"I've missed more than that," Colt admitted, "how is you mum?"

"She's much the same but stronger now, she can lift herself in and out of bed with ease and can even take a step or two."

"I have a proposition for you but it can wait. I should have my new car by the weekend, if so I'll come and visit you."

"Is that the same proposition you suggested before the trip?" Charlie asked.

"It is,"

"And you're not going to tell me, you know I hate surprises."

"I'll tell you when I come over."

Colt completed his call and thought of a dozen things he should have said. Once again he reached for the telephone to recall but decided to leave it until that night. As the thought passed Max pricked his ears and rushed towards the verandah, moments later the sound of tires bouncing across the bridge became apparent. It was Eric returning from work.

How was the trip?" Eric asked as he unbuttoned his overalls allowing the front to fall to his waste displaying a lightly hairy chest. "I'm going to take a shower." He sniffed at his armpits, "I pong."

"Great I loved Cairns."

"Did you meet Toby?" Eric called through the half opened bathroom door, above the sound of splashing water.

"I did, are you staying for tea?" Colt checked the refrigerator and changed his mind. It was almost empty. "Better still how about I take you and Vail to the Golf club for dinner?" He called.

"Sounds good to me, by the way Vail will be late he's doing extra tutoring." Eric arrived naked at the kitchen door drying his hair with a large blue towel.

"Oops sorry," He apologised and wrapped the towel around his midriff.

"Nothing I haven't seen before." Colt assured.

Eric gave a cheeky grin and helped himself to a beer. "Want one?" he offered.

"Na, how did it go with Vail, I hope he wasn't any trouble."

"No worries he's a good kid but can be a little direct at times." As Eric spoke Max gave a woof and rushed towards the verandah. "He's home." Eric assumed and continued. "Is he one of you lot?"

"What do you mean my lot?" Colt asked.

"You know gay."

"I don't think so, why do you ask?" Colt was a little annoyed at Eric's insinuation. It was true his friend didn't appear to be troubled with his sexuality but Colt wished he wouldn't keep reminding him.

"It's more his actions, you feel as if his hands are in your pants and he never keeps his on."

As Eric spoke Vail with Max by his side entered the kitchen.

"You're home!" Vail exclaimed his face beaming with joy.

"How have you been?" Colt asked.

"Great, I've been riding almost every day." Vail declared and took Max back outside.

Colt turned to Eric, "I don't think he is, as you say 'one of my lot'."

"It wouldn't worry me." Eric approved.

"Eric, stop reminding me every five minutes. I know you know and I appreciate your acceptance but I don't need approval."

"Sorry mate."

"By the way how did it go with you and Sandra living here together?" Colt asked directing the conversation away from his sexuality.

"Don't ask, she arrived the first night, complained about everything and dumped me the following night. It's all over mate and she's seeing someone else and has been doing so behind my back for some time." Eric explained without displaying the slightest regret.

"Suppose I should say I'm sorry." Colt sympathised.

Eric dropped his towel and pulled on a pair of jeans. "Suppose not, it was as well I didn't waste money on a flat with her. I'd be out on my ear and broke."

"You're as bad as Vail." Colt mused watching as Eric buttoned his jeans fly.

"By the way I saw Maddy the other day and you would never guess." Eric exclaimed eagerly.

"She's pregnant." Colt answered steeling Eric's surprise.

"How did you know that?"

"I had coffee with her the day before I left. Who's the lucky dad?" Colt asked innocently, remembering Maddy's warning not to accuse Eric.

"Dunno, she wouldn't say but I have my suspicions. I can do the mathematics."

"And what do your additions tell you." Colt asked.

"I'll leave it at that for now."

As the conversation on Maddy's pregnancy concluded, Vail returned wanting to know everything about the trip but before Colt could commence, he helped himself to an apple and related his riding experiences, with Eric bringing him to pause.

"Vail I thought you wanted to know about Colt's trip to Cairns?" "Doesn't matter, there's plenty of time for that," Colt assured, "by the way I have something for you." He continued and left the kitchen, moments later returning with a shopping bag adorned with palm trees and surf riders. "There you go," He said handing the bag to Vail, who immediately extracted the tropical motive shirt. His face lit as he pulled the garment on over his school shirt.

"I like it." Vail grinned while buttoning the front.

It was easy with Vail as he seemed to like everything. Once his excitement lessened, Colt produced the wallets. He passed one to Vail and the second to Eric. Vail was first to scrutinise and on opening found a hundred dollar bill tucked into the note department. Eric likewise discovered the same.

"I've never owned a wallet." Vail admitted.

"It's made of crocodile skin."

"Even better but I can't take the money." Vail refused.

"It came with the wallet." Colt explained.

"I don't believe that." Vail cheekily answered.

"Then Vail you prove it." Colt smiled and turning to Eric gave him a glance that warned him not to comment. Eric shook his head admitting he liked the wallet and accepted his friend's advice on commenting.

Two days after his return Colt visited Mavis to bring her up to date on Toby. Dennis was home at the time and somewhat hard to believe, he had found work; Jockeying for the local hard rubbish removalist. He was to be the brawn in the establishment. While his boss drove the truck it was Dennis' position to do the lifting. Somehow neither Mavis nor Colt expected him to last long, with his build and work ethic he would pick up a discarded microwave and do his back, or find it too difficult to rise from bed to go to work.

Mavis was most interested in hearing about Toby and again found it difficult to believe she had never known of his existence. She thought she had known her brother and sister in law well enough to be privy to Toby's birth but did have to admit Jillian was always somewhat guarded towards privacy and did rule Stan on almost all accounts.

"How's Vail settling in?" Mavis asked once conversation on Colt's trip had become exhausted.

"Good and he's back at school and has caught up, in fact he is topping his class in most subjects."

"It was kind of you taking him in like that and a risk." Mavis suggested.

"I didn't think it to be so; you could see he was a good kid right from the start." Colt assured.

"Did you know his father passed away while you were up north?" Mavis asked.


It was a surprise to Colt as Vail had said nothing on the death of his father.

"So you probably don't know Vail visited his father."

Again Colt lacked knowledge. "I was up at the hospital visiting Vera Holsworthy at the time and saw him sitting with his father and the nurse said he had been there most of the day."

"Interesting, that is the last thing I thought he would do."

"Not only that, Frank passed on while I was there and Vail sat with him holding his hand until the end. Eventually the nurse came by and told him so. Vail just took a deep breath and released his hold on his father's hand and left without a word or sign of emotion. I guess he had done his duty and that was that."

Mavis finished her story and called her son. "Dennis what time do you start work today?"

"None today," Dennis called back his eyes glued to the television.

"Then you can mow the lawn." Mavis demanded.

"Later mum."

"I should have named him later." Mavis complained, "Take him down the pub or something for a while so I can get some cleaning done." Mavis suggested.

"When's Frank Brown's funeral?" Colt asked while watching Dennis through the open doorway, his work boots resting on Mavis best couch.

"Get your dirty shoes of my couch!" Mavis shouted. Dennis immediately obeyed without once lifting his eyes from the television screen.

"The funeral's been; there wasn't a service only a grave side gathering of three according to Trish Standish."

"Was Vail there?"

"No only the Minister, the grave digger and Matt Worth, he's on the cemetery committee."

"Well I suppose you get what you deserve in this life." Colt concluded, watching Dennis' boots unconsciously rise once more to tuck under his arse on the couch.

"Shoes!" Mavis demanded.

"Sorry." Dennis apologised sheepishly as his boots once again hit the floor.

"You should see my shed." Mavis complained.

"What's the problem?" Colt asked.

"It's Dennis; he's filling it up with discarded junk from his work. You couldn't let him use one of your sheds could you?"

"I could not I had enough of junk when dad was alive." Colt replied as Mavis returned to her cleaning.

Colt turned to his cousin. "Come on mate I'll take you for a beer." he offered.

"Who's paying?"

"Suppose I am, come on before you mother strangles you."

"Gonna take me to the club?" Dennis suggested.

"I don't think so. It's the pub or nothing."

"Not the Railway, the barman has it in for me."

"Alright Dennis, will the Royal suit you?"

Dennis slowly lifted from the couch and without answering followed Colt out of the room, leaving the television on.

"Hey mate I think you should turn of the television." Colt suggested.

"Oh sorry, suppose so."

The telephone rang early while Colt was preparing breakfast. "You're the closest Vail would you answer the phone." Colt asked.

"Sure," Vail put down his backpack crammed with school books and answered the telephone, moments later he called back to Colt. "There's some bloke on the phone, said your car is ready for collection."

"Great, tell him I'll be in sometime this morning."

Vail related Colts message. "I'm late." he declared as he hurried to the breakfast table.

"I did call you on time."

"I know that but I like my bed, it's so comfy and private." Vail smirked. Colt knew exactly what the lad was insinuating.

"Can't you keep your hand off it?" Colt shook his head and served breakfast.

"I reckon you're not too old to have a go now and then." Vail crudely suggested.

"Eat your breakfast you cheeky little bugger." Colt pretended to be angry but it was difficult to be so with Vail, to him everything was a joke and all subjects fair game. Vail quickly finished his breakfast and stood from the table.

"Would you like me to do the dishes?" He asked, obviously desiring a negative response while taking his dishes to the sink.

"You said you were late."

"Yea but,"

"Go on I'll do them, by the way I have a few things I want to run by you tonight."

"See ya," Vail called, already on the landing and with Max at his heels, was down the stairs and across the yard in an instant. Max followed Vail to the bridge then slowly returned. Colt shook his head, allowing his chest to fill with pride. Just to watch the lad improve in bounds, no longer the skinny scared kid but a member of his family was enough reward for Colt. How could Mavis suggest Vail was a risk?

Colt checked the time, it was not yet eight and knowing Eric he would not have left for work. Making the telephone call he reached Eric's mother.

"Mrs. Chambers, has Eric left for work yet?" He asked.

"Is that you Russell?" She answered.


"He's just come down for breakfast."

"Could I have a quick word with him?"

Moments later Eric was on the line. "Matee, what's the prob?"

"Do you still have your old motor bike?" Colt enquired.

"Yea but I haven't used it since getting my car but I keep it running it's in the back shed –why?"

"I was wondering, any chance in lending it, I'd like to teach Vail to ride.

"Can you ride a motor bike?" Eric asked.

"Not really only what we did as kids across the paddocks."

"Then how in flaming hell can you teach him to ride?" Eric laughed. In the background Eric's mother clearly called him to the table as he was late for work.

"I didn't think of that."

"Tell you what I'll teach him; by the way what are you doing about getting Wysie to play with us, it's getting close to cricket season?" Eric added, remembering Colt's promise before he went to visit his brother.

"I'm working on it." Colt once again promised, then remembered Vail's visit to his father. "Did Vail tell you he was with his old man when he died?" He asked.

No, he didn't mention anything to me I didn't even know his father had died."

"I suppose he will say something when he's ready." Colt concluded.

It stood in front of the sales office, hosed down and shining in sunlight-silver, with its charcoal coloured cover behind, its windows tinted, new and pristine, without even a kilometre on the clock. Caldwell had attempted to entice having a metal cover but that meant a greater surface to clean and polish. Colt approached the vehicle and opened the driver's door.

"Good morning Mr. Blake." An over polite voice startled Colt from behind. He turned.

"Oh Mr. Caldwell, I didn't see you there."

"It's ready all I need you to do is check it over and sign for its delivery.

Colt quickly scrutinised the exterior and followed the salesman to his office. Once again he was offered coffee or tea by the snapping of fingers towards his receptionist and again, as on the day of purchase, Caldwell discourteously waved her away when Colt declined the offer.

"Yes you have a real nice unit there." Calwell offered as he retrieved the ownership documents. Placing the papers before Colt the salesman pointed to where signatures were necessary.

With the paperwork complete Caldwell extended a most insincere hand and Colt physically accepted it. To do so was easier than snubbing man's uninviting attitude. If there had been another dealer in the area he would have surely taken his business elsewhere. So while Caldwell gave him simulated service Colt honoured it with bogus amity.

Caldwell followed Colt to the utility, opened the door and gave the driver's seat a brush with the palm of his hand. Why he would do so was beyond reason. The leather seat was totally dust free. It could only be assumed Caldwell believed his action to be part of good quality service. Colt climbed in and placed the key in the ignition.

"I've filled the tank," Caldwell proudly admitted.

One turn and the six cylinders fired into life. Colt pressed a button and smiled as the automatic window descended.

"She sounds good; you've bought yourself a wonderful unit there son." Caldwell repeated. Colt nodded but didn't answer; he hated being referred to as son. He placed his foot on the accelerator and slowly advanced.

"Take care Mr. Blake and be sure to let your friends know about the friendly service at Caldwell Holden." Caldwell called as Colt left the yard. Projecting his arm out of the window, he gave the salesman an innocuous wave and was gone.

"In a pig's eye I will." Colt growled and drove along the main street towards the shops feeling most pleased with his purchase.

Firstly Colt parked outside Turner's Supermarket. Once on the footpath he turned clicked the button on the ignition key and listened as the vehicle answered with a double click, it was locked. He immediately pressed the second button and the lock sprung open. He locked the vehicle once more and once again opened it, then finally locked it again. "I wish the flaming houses were as responsive." He smiled and entered into the store.

"I see you have a new toy Russell." Mr. Turner supposed, watching Colt's antics from inside the shop doorway.

"Do you mean the ute or the electronic key?" Colt asked.

"I guess both but didn't you buy a red one a couple of months back?" Alf Turner appeared confused.

"That wasn't mine, it belongs to Charlie Wyse."

"Ah the bowler from Mt. Oakey, is he playing for us this season?" Alf enquired as he was called by the checkout chick on a pricing matter.

"I hope so Mr. Turner, I'm working on it."

With his shopping on board Colt realised it was almost time for school to be out, thinking it would be smart to show off his toy and collect Vail from school.

The town's high school and primary school were in the same street and on opposing sides of School Street, a most imaginative name for a street. Colt was a few minutes early and parked close by the yard gate but while waiting he couldn't resist proudly steeling a glance back at the vehicle's newness as he leant against the cyclone wire fence. Moments later the sound of a siren reverberated through the school buildings, then a measure of silence before the scrapping of chairs and slamming of desk tops and a most unruly evacuation.

First to the gate was Gayle Saunders with her following, three in all, Mary Thomas, Pinkie Dale and a foreign girl, most probably Chinese, who Colt didn't recognise but assumed she would be from the new Chinese Restaurant that had recently opened for business.

"Hello Mr. Colt." Gayle teased as her entourage broke into giggles.

"And how are you Gayle Saunders." Colt mocked in the best simulated girlish tone he could muster. The girls once again giggled, except for the Chinese girl who remained poker faced and a pace behind her friends, obviously not yet accustomed to the local humour or the town's idiosyncrasies.

As he spoke Vail arrived close behind.

"Maddy Ferguson is my cousin." Gayle Saunders offered.

"So I won't hold that against you." Colt answered.

"She told me all about you." With Gayle's admission the girls once again tittered. She then spotted Vail attempting to pass. Turning she spoke. "Vail Brown you're dad's come to pick you up in his nice new car." She announced somewhat sarcastically.

"That's right." Colt answered. "Want a lift Vail?"


"Will you take us for a ride Colt?" Gayle asked emphasising his name.

"I will if you get a letter from your mummy." Colt answered.

Gayle rejected Colt's suggestion and gave him the bird.

"Likewise Gayle," Colt called after the girls as they hurried along the footpath all in whispers and sniggers.

"Aren't they in your year?" Colt asked Vail, who replied they were but branded Gayle to be a slag.

"Gayle Saunders has a foul mouth." Vail admitted.

"Why what has she been saying?"

"She wanted to know if the rumour about your dick is true."

"So what did you say?" Colt asked.

"I just said I wouldn't know as I don't go around spying on blokes dicks."

"A good answer but she sure has got big knockers for her age." Colt observed.

"I thought you weren't into tits?" Vail spoke frankly as was his practice, his eyes trained on Colt's shiny new toy.

"Listen kiddo you would be surprised what I'm into. What do you think of the car?"

"I prefer Charlie's red one." Vail admitted. "Can I drive?" He quickly added.

"No you can't, it's only done," Colt checked the mileage; "three kilometre's and I don't want it wrapped around a tree before I even get it home."

"I still prefer Charlie's red one." Vail concluded.

After tea came the father and son discussion. Firstly Colt asked how Vail was going at school. He said fine. Then Colt asked if anything unusual occurred while he was away. Vail had nothing to report so it was obvious he did not wish to divulge his visit to his father, or his father's demise. At last Colt was ready to announce his real reason for the discussion.

"Do you still want to work on a cattle station?" Colt asked. This time Vail's answer was less positive than previously.

"So you can ride a horse?" Colt said.

"You know that and I'm getting better all the time."

"Can you ride a motor bike?" Colt asked. Vail said he could not but would love to.

"If you work on a station these days it isn't all horses, you have to be able to ride a motor bike."

"Oh," Was all Vail could answer.

"Do you still want to be a ringer?"

"I can't ride a bike." Vail answered despondently.

"We can fix that, Eric has an old bike and is prepared to teach you to ride."

"Are you trying to get rid of me?" Vail asked showing signs of distress.

"Nope you can stay as long as you wish. I'm only preparing you for the future so you can make your own decisions." Colt assured.

"I would like to learn to ride the bike." Vail agreed.

"Another thing, my brother Toby is coming to stay at Christmas and his boss is willing to take you on if you can ride a motor bike but its a long way, in fact you can't get much further up north. What do you think?"

"I don't know." Vail gave a gentle sigh and said it was his turn to do the dishes.

"It will be up to you, no one is going to pressure you into anything, besides once you finish school you may want to go to university. You like computers." Colt suggested.

"University - how?"

"Don't you worry about that, if you get the marks and want to, I will pay your fees." Colt offered.

"I don't know what to say, no one has ever done for me before." Vail bust into tears. It was the first time Colt had ever seen Vail cry, bringing him to almost join the lad but pulling himself together he responded. "You're worth it kiddo, now go and do your homework, I'll do the dishes and I have to make a telephone call."

Charlie was most pleased Colt had at last taken delivery of his utility, he was equally chuffed Colt was to visit him and wished to know what grand plan he had to disclose but would have to wait.

It was arranged to visit on the following Friday and for Colt to stay the weekend but firstly there were motor bike lessons for Vail that had been arranged with Eric to commence the following day.

Eric brought the machine over before Saturday's breakfast, revving its aging motor to full throttle in the yard close to the house. Colt came quickly to the verandah rail. "Hey keep it down you're spooking the horses." He called as a number of animals bolted to the far corner of the adjacent paddock.

"Sorry," Eric switched of the motor.

"Do you want breakfast?" Colt yawned.

"Ok, is the kid up yet?" He asked and mounted the stairs to be met by an excited Max.

"Get down mongrel!" Max accepted Eric's insult as he had been called worse. Besides secretly Eric liked the dog, only feigning his displeasure.

"Don't be silly he's eighteen and needs his bed." Colt answered, feeling their gap in age of a little more than four years to be an eternity.

"As I recollect, he needs wanking time," Eric laughed, "and he doesn't mind openly admitting it."

"Yes he is a little in your face when it comes to bodily functions." Colt agreed.

As Eric reached the landing Vail arrived dressed only in underpants.

"I see you've managed to get him to wear jocks." Eric commented, his eyes on Vail's hands buried within the thin material scratching at his balls.

"Sometimes, I reckon if you let him he'd go to school naked." Colt remarked.

"What was that about wanking?" Vail yawned and removed his hands to stretch high towards the verandah roof.

"Eric said you wank too much."

"Its fun Eric you should try it sometimes." Vail gave a cheeky, shit eating grin and marched off to the kitchen, "I'll get breakfast." He volunteered.

"Wash your hands first; we know where they've been." Colt shouted after him.

"He doesn't improve." Eric jovially criticized and followed.

Vail had breakfast on the table in no time. He had the toaster toasting, the kettle boiling and the pan frying, filling the kitchen with the scent of hunger.

"Come on you lot its ready." Vail called.

"He's not a bad cook." Eric commented taking his seat at the table.

"He's improving." Colt relented.

"He's not that keen on washing dishes." Eric followed.

"Hey you two what's this he business, I am in you room you know." Vail protested and placed Eric's meal down heavily onto the table.

"Did you hear something Eric?" Colt asked pretending to strain his ears for the sound.

"Some kind of bird wasn't it?" Eric suggested.

"A crow wasn't it? It's definitely not a magpie; no sweet song." Colt teased.

"Next time I'll burn your bloody breakfast." Vail protested but proudly accepted their attention.

After breakfast it was to the yard and the motor bike. Firstly Eric went through the controls and how to lean into corners and find his centre of gravity. "It's like riding a horse; if you don't sit correctly you will fall off." Eric added.

"Now hop on." Eric instructed.

"I have shown you how to start it so you start it," followed by more instructions.

Vail turned the key and powered the machine to half throttle. Again the horses bolted.

"How does that feel?" Eric asked.

"You don't get that from a horse." Vail stated grinning from ear to ear.

"What would that be?" Eric answered showing his serious side.

"The vibration's giving me a fat."

"It's not a bloody sex aid." Eric declared while Colt stood by shaking his head in wonder what the lad would say next.

Vail took the machine twice around the yard at a slow speed, then without instruction headed towards the bridge and the main road.

"Get back here." Eric shouted. Vail attempted to turn the bike but stalled it and fell to the side of the road, the bike across his leg. Fortunately he wasn't travelling fast enough to cause damage to himself or the bike. Climbing to his feet he lifted the bike and wheeled it back to where Eric and Colt were standing.

"Did I tell say you were ready for the road?" Eric demanded.

"No," Vail sheepishly acknowledged.

"It's not a bloody toy and if you aren't prepared to listen to me, I won't give you lessons." Eric barked but seeing his student was obviously repentant he calmed.

"Now get back on it, restart the motor and do what I say."

The lessons extended for most of the morning and Vail would have continued motoring up and down the drive all afternoon, if Eric hadn't called time, as he had to be back in town.

"I'll leave the bike here but no riding it when I've gone." Eric demanded.

"I'll give you a lift back into town." Colt offered.

"Can I drive?" Vail pleaded but received a most certain negative response from both Colt and Eric. Instead Colt tossed his keys to Eric, suggesting he should drive.

"What do you think?" Colt asked of Eric as they crossed the bridge into town.

"What about Vail's riding ability?"

"No what do you think of the new machine?" Colt repeated, referring to his new utility, as it was the first time Eric had driven it.

"It's alright but I prefer Charlie's red one." Eric admitted.

"I don't know you lot and the colour red. You, Charlie and Vail all like it, don't you know red is the colour of aggression?" Colt complained as Eric turned into his street. Grinning he continued. "Na I'm having you on, I heard Vail telling Charlie he liked his red ute more than your's. He was trying to convince Charlie to let him have a drive."

"I hope it didn't work, he's got enough on at the moment."

"Don't sweat mate, Charlie told him to talk to you." Eric parked the utility and turned off the motor. "Do you want to come in for a drink?" Colt agreed.

Eric's mother was home alone, mulling over a pile of ironing while watching television. She greeted the two as they entered, while Eric made a beeline to the drinks cabinet, "what would you like scotch or a beer?" He offered. Colt agreed to beer. "What about you mum?"

Liz Chambers paused from her work and placed the iron to one side. "I'll have a gin and tonic love." She answered.

"Eric tells me you have Frank Brown's boy staying at the farm." Liz announced while seating herself with her drink.

"Yes he's not a bad kid and horse mad." Colt answered proudly.

"I know one of his teachers Sylvia Jorgenson; she said he is going ahead in bounds, especially with computers."

"Yea he's a smart little bugger." Eric acknowledged.

"What does he want to do after school?" Liz asked.

Eric quickly supplied the answer. "He wants to be a ringer and you don't need a computer to follow the shitty end of a cow."


"It's true Mrs. Chambers he does want to work as a stockman that is why Eric is teaching him to ride a motor bike." Colt explained.

"Colt's offered to send him to University." Eric enlightened.

"That's nice of you Russell but you always were a good boy." Liz gave complement.

"I wouldn't go that far." Colt protested feeling his face colour with embarrassment.

"Crawler!" Eric hissed and offered Colt a second beer. Colt reclined.

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