Several weeks had gone past since my first rejection letter, I was still deeply unhappy but somehow through a process of osmosis, I think it had finally dawned on you that I wanted to escape the confines and tensions of the farm.
All credit to you, there were even times when you would come in, armed with an ad. out of the paper and suggest this job or that, as being something I might be interested in.
Possibly the worst job on a stud cattle property, where bulls are kept in sheds for much of the time, is the necessity to trim their hoofs on a regular basis.
This was not a very technical process at our place; you had engineered a chisel and foot pedal on the end of an extended shaft. One person would use the chisel, chipping away at the hoof, while another would stand at the head of the bull with a cloth covering its eyes, so it did not know where to lash out.
You and I were doing this one morning, when slackness or laziness overcame me; my hand dropped slightly, allowing the bull to see exactly where you were.
It was one hell of a kick!
One moment, you were standing at the side of the Bulls arse; the next, you were flying across the pen, finishing up laying in a pile of shitty straw in the corner of the pen.
Your face was a picture of rage; straw and vitriol spat out in almost equal measure.
“You are so fucking useless, not even the fucking Public Service will have you!” I still remember those words being flung across the shed, as if it were yesterday.
Slowly you untangled yourself, brushing straw and shit from your clothes. The trimming process continued, with hardly another word being spoken, but; my diligence was considerably enhanced.
Despite the gravity of the situation, I was finding it hard not to laugh about what had just happened.
In one split second, both our dignities had been destroyed.
Timing is everything, things had just settled into a cold and hostile attitude of “let’s just get this job done” when, something quite strange happened.
Mum walked into the Bull shed, it was totally unusual for her to venture into the men’s domain.
I don’t know how much she had heard, but there was a mysterious smile playing across her lips; Mum had not smiled much in the past couple of months.
“Bruce, the Department of Main Roads has just been on the phone, the girl who had been selected for the job has had to turn it down, they want to know if you are still interested? you have to call them back straight away”
I did not hesitate, I was out of the shed and marching deliberately towards the house, with you and Mum, standing outside the shed, looking up the hill at my rapidly receding arse.
“Come back here, boy, we have not finished”
“Stick your bulls up your arse” I muttered, perhaps not loudly enough to have been heard, as I continued my trek up the hill to the house and my future.
I made the phone call to the Department and my start date was set for the following Monday.
Mum had not come back as yet and I did not know what to do. I could not go back to the shed and I had four days to find somewhere to live in Wagga and prepare myself for my new job.
How was I going to get there? We were over twenty kilometres from the nearest railway station and then it was an hour’s journey on an irregular train to get to Wagga
Having just told you to stick your job and knowing full well, that back chatting you never ended well, I needed to get out quickly.
I hatched a plan to pack a bag, then hitchhike into town to catch the train, which probably would not come through before tonight at the earliest.
I had friends from school going to College in Wagga, and I thought I would bunk on their lounge while I found my bearings.
To be honest, clear thinking was not my forte that morning.
Packing did not take long, and soon; I was walking the one kilometre drive to the front gate, it was still warm and the only thing that kept me going forward, was that I feared going back more than the uncertainty of the future.
The ute pulled up beside me and I could see you out of the corner of my eye, I saw you lean over to wind the passenger window down but I did not stop.
I was not to know it at the time, but you and I were just about to have the first equal conversation we had ever had.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I am going to hitchhike to town and then get the train to Wagga”
“There are no cars on the road”
“There are some, I will just sit and wait till one comes along”
“What are you going to tell people who stop?”
“I will tell them; I am leaving home”
“You can’t do that, what will people think?”
“I will just tell them you were too busy and I need to get to Wagga”
“Where are you going to stay in Wagga?”
“I will stay with Colin till I find something”
“Why don’t you get into the car and come home, we will sort something out and then we will drive you up over the weekend”
I pondered this for a moment before sense and the tone of your voice, convinced me of the merits of your plan.
Besides that; Colin did not have a phone!
The anger had gone and this was a father I had never seen before.
I started to love my father that day.