The bitter weather was matched by the bitterness at home this cold July morning.Terry and I set off on our bikes, ill-equipped to handle the cold.
The first hill was hard, with the cold wind biting through the thin layers of clothes and chilling our bare legs and hands. Terry had been riding to school with me for some months now but he still struggled with the hills.
I resented his intrusion into my time and I resented having to stop and wait for him to catch up at the top of every rise
I knew every bump and broken piece of bitumen on the road, I knew the first hill was the hardest because you did not get a run to it. After the first hill you could accelerate down, over the next small rise at the large horse paddock, past the lane and the momentum, on a good day; could take you almost to the top of the next steep hill.
At the top of this hill you drew breath, threw caution to the wind and peddled like fury to at least get you somewhere up the long slow grind of Fischer’s hill before you usually had to get off and walk the last steep rise. From there it was an easy ride down the hill, round the sweeping bend, along the flat and then the three small rises before you got to the small school house.
The Principal would light these heaters early in the morning, so; by the time the kids arrived, there was at least somewhere to thaw your hands before picking up your pen for the day.
I knew how to ride this trip but Terry did not and his timidness at the top of the second big hill annoyed the crap out of me, we argued almost every day about the extra time I would spend in the cold.
This morning was no different, just more intense; we had left home with hurriedly prepared lunches and the sound of you and Mum, still yelling at each other as we peddled up the drive.
It was as if Terry was taunting me as he slowly pushed his bike up the easy part of Fischer’s Hill and we screamed at each other over the distance from the top of the hill to the culvert at the bottom.
Our screams of abuse floated across the valley in the misty, dewy morning air, down to the sheds at the bottom of the valley where you were working.
Tony had almost joined me near the top of the hill when we heard the roar of the old International one tonner thundering over the hills behind us.
I knew what was coming and I tried to get Terry on his bike quickly so we could fly down the hill and get closer to the sanctuary of school. If we were lucky you may have forgotten about this morning by the time we got home.
Terry could be a shit at times and he looked at me with all the cunning a five-year-old can muster and stayed where he was; “you are in trouble; you are meant to look after me! Ha Ha you’re gunna get a hiding”
We were only minutes away from safety but Terry stood his ground
The truck screamed to a halt, you stumbled from the cabin already unleashing your belt, before grabbing me round the shoulders and delivering half a dozen vicious strokes to my icy arse in your frenzied rage.
“How dare you fucking embarrass this family with this screaming and shouting at your brother, the whole fucking district could hear you”
The words were delivered in a shower of spittle and red faced rage, it took me a while to realise you had grabbed the wrong end of the belt and the heavy buckle was slicing through the cold thinness of my skin. I could feel the blood or, perhaps; the piss dribble warmly down my leg and I struggled to get free.
The irony of you screaming at me for embarrassing the family, while your yells could probably be heard right across the district escaped me at the time, but do cause me some wry amusement with the benefit of distance.
As quickly as the onslaught had started, it finished, with you storming back to the truck, struggling to put the belt on and cursing the blood that made doing up the buckle more difficult in the cold.
“You pissed yourself, you weak little cunt!” were the last words I heard as the truck showered gravel, reversed across the road and in a roar of accelerated rage you sped off, back the way you had come.
The belting hurt like hell but your words hurt more
Even Terry was shocked at this outburst and tried to comfort me as I sat sobbing on the road, my wet blood stained shorts and my throbbing arse, the only evidence of what had just happened.
Luckily it was sports day at school, I had a spare pair of shorts in my pack and I rode standing up all the way to school. The bus had not yet arrived and I snuck into the toilets to change my pants, padding my arse with paper to absorb the blood.
I think this was the first day I ever went commando!!
We were all lost Dad; you took things out on me and I took things out on Terry, the chain continued and we all suffered.