Donna decided to stay on the topic of the ute.
“When or where did you learn about mechanical parts of buses or utes?”
“That was back in Cober Pedy. When you don’t date fellas and you’re young, I was about sixteen, you’ve got to do something. I volunteered my time working in order to learn. Then, when I was good at it, I got good money. That’s how I can fix things about the station.”
“When did you find out that a woman’s body was competitive with a car body?”
“Ah, I got seduced by a Greek Opal dealer’s wife…..
The radio call came on.
“Missus here. How ya goin’ Jo? Over.
“Nine Japanese tourists, one grumpy old windbag and a lovely Aussie named Donna”. Over.
“Donna can kip with you, Jo, and the others will have to use the bunk beds. Got some local lads bunking down. No Japanese food, it’s Aussie grub or starve. Over.”
“See ya soon, Ma! Over.”
Jo asked why Donna left Alice Springs in the heart of desert country to go and live in Brisbane by the sea.
Donna was guarded. “Let’s say it was one of those stories that repeats itself, aborigines drink, often there’s wife abuse, children get neglected, teenagers run away. But, I never knew my dad, but that didn’t stop mom’s boyfriends from beating her up and chasing me around the bed.”
“Bloody hell.” Jo replied. “My mom ran away and my drunken dad kept comin’ into my room. I had a cricket bat and I used it once. I thought I’d killed him, but I hadn’t. Then I took off like a bullet and hitched to Cober Pedy.”
“That story would be worth hearing over a beer.” Donna smiled as Jo turned her way.
“But you’re going back, Donna. Why?”
“On my terms. I had some success teaching in an aboriginal school way up in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu live in a tropical landscape while my mob hunted in the dry desert, but we were aboriginals. It was there when my beloved grandmother died. I was unconsolable. I didn’t eat for days.”
“Then they brought an elder to my bedside. He told me that the Yolngu believe that when a person dies, their soul is taken in the talons of the Wedgetail Eagle. The eagle doesn’t stop until it deposits the soul on one of the Southern Cross stars.”
“She rescued me as a teenager and got one of her sons to raise me on a cattle station.
My mother lived for the next drink, my grandmother lived for me.”
They turned a bend and the fences conveyed they were getting close to the cattle station.