Donna spoke. “And what if I wanted to ride in the back?”
Jo snarled, “Get in the bloody front. “
“Blow your orders up a gum tree.”
Donna climbed in the back with everyone else.
Jo took deep breaths. She hadn’t fully recovered from that magnetic look Donna had shot her. The woman was gay. Straight women don’t look at you that way. It was a good twenty minute drive to the station and she longed for female company.
“Donna, I’m sorry, mate. If you ride up front, you could give me some valuable information so that the Missus knows what to cook.”
Donna entered the cab. She stared straight ahead.
“How can you bear working with Harry the jackass?” Jo asked.
“Yeah, doin’ the tour guide thing.”
Jo received a cold and scathing response.
“So, you see an Aborigine and perceive she’s working for the white man?”
“Well, it looked that way to me. I apologize….”
Donna cut her short.
“Not all aborigines live in the bush; I’m from, heard of it?”
Jo bristled. “Yeah, we have books out here, and some of them have words with the pictures.”
The woman looked away. “I’m a teacher on Sabbatical.”
Jo retorted, “Well, I’m on bloody Aspirin.
Donna replied in a calm voice. “I use words like ‘sabbatical’ its part of my job.”
“I know what it means. I’ve met educated Aboriginals before and so many of them seem to say, ‘hey, look at me, I’m as good as the white man.”
Donna exploded. “Don’t you fucking tell me that we are inferior, educated or not! I’m not riding in a car with a racist. Stop now!”
Jo slammed on the brakes as Donna tried to open the door. Shouts came from the back of the truck. Harry was banging on the driver’s window. Jo had her arm across Donna to prevent her escape.
Jo shouted, “I’m not a bloody racist. I saved an aboriginal woman on walkabout. She became a grandmother to me. She’s dead now, but she still comes in dreams. She told me she’d be a spirit watching over me!”
Jo removed her arm from across and Donna did not try to open the door. The stockwoman realized that part of her arm was touching the woman’s soft breasts. Jo slid down the automatic window and received a volley of cursing and threats from Harry.
“Get back in the truck. There’s a bleedin’ storm comin. You can stay here and stick it out, or walk the next bloody fiteen miles to the Station.”
Harry swore but obeyed.
Jo drove on.
“Tell me about the Aboriginal woman.”
“Her name was Dalmali. She was sick when I found her. I laid her over my horse. It took about a week but she rallied. The Missus welcomed her help and she stayed around. When I wasn’t droving, she’d take me for walks and show me the herbs. At night, she’d show me the constellation and tell stories. She slept outside my cabin. ‘The only roof I want above me are the stars of the Southern Cross.
Donna put a hand on Jo’s shoulders.
“I apologize, Jo.”
“I like your touch. Does that mean you’ll sleep with me tonight?”
“I can’t believe you said that!”
“This ain’t Brisbane where I’d come around with champagne and roses, luv.”
“You wouldn’t get in the front door, luv!”
“Look, I need a woman’s body now and again. It seems its the NOW and here you are!”
“If this was a bar, and you were bloody drunk, I might excuse you, but your invitation esembles someone buying a slab of meat. You need to lose the crude and rude.”
Jo was hurt and lashed out. She seldom got refusals from the local women.
“All I want from you is breast and thigh, but you’re too snotty. You’d be using big words for every part of your body that I’d touch.”
Donna fell silent and Jo realized that she had gone too far.