The Missus welcomed George with a quick peck on the cheek. She was anxious to know the results of the harrowing tasks the men had placed before the young women. She waited for the results and placed a cuppa in front of her man.
George sat down, wiped his brow, and put sugar in the mug of strong black tea.
“Well?” asked the Missus.
“Blimey, she’s the real thing. I tested her on basic plumbing and electric stuff. She told me she bought that new ute by working beside tradesmen.”
“So you’ll take her on? I’d love to have another female around.”
George smiled and was silent for a moment.Ah well, she likes women.”
“I like women. What’s yer bloody point, George?”
“You don’t like women the way she likes women!”
They were silent for a while. Then the Missus said, “She’d hardly make a pass at me, would she? I mean, I’m almost fifty!”
“Nah. I’m more worried about all the blokes. She won this lot over, but the Grover boys and Murphy won’t get back until sunset. I want everyone to feel comfortable. We’ll give her a couple of day’s work and pay her. She’ll understand!”
Before the two days were over, Jo had won over all the lads, except Harry. He wasn’t exactly opposed to her, but Harry was not a man to make quick decisions. “Wait, until she’s been drovin’ for several days and her ass is as raw as a beef steak. Then, I’ll make my judgment known!”
Jo was jolted back from her mind voyage to Australia by the high volume of a Bruce Lee movie. The Mexican bus driver was bored or maybe one of his passengers had requested a movie. Anyway, here it was judo and karate moves and loud screams and yells. The volume was so high that Jo reached into her pocket and attached the ear phones from her ipod. She clicked to John Williamson’s songs of life in Australia. Helen, meanwhile, lay sleeping, a pleasant and kind look covering her face. Jo felt the need to continue her early story at the Cattle Ranch. She needed to write the details down. Photograpsh were needed to go with the story. The memories could not, would not, be forgotten. Life had really begun for her, just six months ago. ‘Funny,’ thought Jo, ‘how you can wake up one morning and your life changes forever!‘
Australia: Six months ago
There had been an eerie light in the copper sky, so unlike the perpetual daily blue sky of the Outback. The atmosphere had been controlling and intense.
The horses winnowed and jumped at the slightest noise. The head stockman was rounding up the men to bring home the nearest cattle. He yelled at two dogs, normally peaceful, snarling and biting each other in the red dust. He turned and waved at Jo.
“Those bloody dogs can smell the storm. ”
Jo recalled back, “Do yer reckon it might pass around and not hit us until night?”
Slim thought it was a good possibility. The older man was an aborigine and they had an uncanny knowledge of the sky and earth.
He led his horse out of the barn.
“Jo, I’m taking some of the boys and we’ll muster the mob out on Bluey’s ridge. Cattle shelter under trees and the lightning can’t distinguish between them.” He chuckled. ” Can’t be too safe!”
Jo asked, “Yer want me to fix the tractor or ride out with you?”
The stockman laughed, “Struth, we can’t have lightning hit our best mechano. Look, work on the tractor. When you see us comin’ put on the billy can.”
Jo went back to mending the tractor when a young voice startled her. It was the Station Manager’s grandson.
“Tourist bus has broken down about half an hour from town. Grandad wants you to go fix it. If not, bring the tourists back here.”
Jo glanced at the main house and Jack McMillan waved.
“Tell that boss man I ain’t goin’. Why don’t you go instead. You can drive my truck.”
The ten year old boy giggled. Jo climbed into her ute, her prized truck.
Utes are Australian trucks that come in all shapes and sizes.