Authors: Angela Verdenius
Copyright 2015 Angela Verdenius
All Rights Reserved
Cover images courtesy of © PeopleImages and istock.com
Cover by Angela Verdenius
ebook Edition License Notes
No part of this book may be reproduced, resold, copied or given away in any form without prior consent of the author & publisher.
All characters and towns are figments of the author’s imagination and bear no resemblance to any person living or deceased.
Table of Contents
I found that some overseas readers were having difficulty with the Australian slang, so I thought a list of the slang I’ve used will help while reading the following story. If I’ve forgotten any, I do apologise! Also, you’ll find some of our Aussie words have different spelling to the US. Interestingly enough, as I’ve grown (gracefully) older, I find a lot of our slang is bypassing the younger generation, so if a young Aussie says they have never heard a certain word, don’t be surprised! But trust me, I’ve used these words all my life growing up, and so have a lot of my family and friends. Does that make me an older Aussie? Heck yes! LOL
- beautiful, awesome, great, wonderful
- as in ‘awesome, great’
- biscuits. The same as cookies
- biker, person who rides motorcycles.
- a swear word ‘no bloody good’, in place of ‘no damned good’
- idiot, simpleton, etc. It’s an insult, though sometimes we use it as a term of affection. It depends on how it is said and meant.
Boot (of a car)
- currying favour, sucking up. Has a cruder description, but let’s not go into that here. Means the same thing!
- men’s bathers, small, brief and tight-fitting
- many Aussie use it as a slang word for ‘broken’ (it’s buggered), ‘tired (I’m buggered), and ‘no way’ (I’m buggered if I’m going to do that). Just some examples
- as in ‘bunging onto something’, putting on something (bung veggies on a plate, putting veggies on a plate), usually in a careless or ‘easy’ manner.
- die, died.
- in Australia we have cold crunchy chips form a packet, or hot chips known in some countries as French Fries
- resuscitation trolley in a hospital or medical setting - used for life threatening situations such as cardiac arrest
- silly, idiot
- (as in attached to a truck) - trailers, enclosed or not, that carry goods or are empty.
- like a padded quilt that fits inside a cover and lies on the bed. Can have the warmth of two, three or four blankets, etc.
- penis. Also another meaning is a place people sometimes sleep in, such as ‘dongers’ on mine sites.
- toilet. When used in the terms ‘built like a brick dunny’, it refers to something built solid, unmoveable.
- fire fighters
- the person/s who drive and/or load garbage onto the garbage truck.
- TV, television
Got his/her/their goat
– annoyed him/her/them
- person/people who indulge in antisocial behaviour. Great explanation in Wikipedia
- a milk drink flavoured with chocolate or coffee
Kick up a stink
- make a fuss, get angry
- local newspaper
- sweetie, candy
- chocolate malt drink. Can have it hot or cold. Yummy!
- slang for face/mouth
- cell phone
- No Abnormalities Detected
- four wheel drive police vehicle carries four police in the double cab and has a filled-in imprisonment section in the back to place prisoners.
- paracetamol, similar to Tylenol in the US
- Pavlova/Pavlovas - best dessert ever!
- Police and Citizens Youth Club
- three quarter pants/knickerbockers
- having sex
- sticky patch with a pad in it, a medical dressing
– derogatory term for a doctor
- Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia. Covers insurance, holidays, loans, etc
Red backs -
poisonous spider, black in colour with a red stripe on its back.
– Rottweiler breed of dog.
- bed - as ‘in the sack’ meaning ‘in bed’
- service station
– carton of beer.
- morning tea and afternoon tea break
- soda, fizzy drink
- erection, boner
- some people call the evening meal dinner. In my family, we’ve always called it tea, as in breaky, dinner and tea, or breaky, lunch and tea.
- worn on the feet, same as ‘flip flops’
- a brand of Arnott’s Biscuits. Yummy!
- Tender Loving Care
- bathers, swim suit
– a brand of cheese-flavoured snack food. Yummy!
- most Aussies find this spread yummy, many non-Aussies find it too salty. Here’s the hint - if you ever have Vegemite, use it spread thinly, never thickly!
- a lie
Yamaha & Suzuki
- ‘brands’ of motorcycles.
The lounge room was old fashioned, nothing looked liked it had been updated in years. The carpet was old, faded, the furniture heavy, crocheted doilies of some kind draped over the headrests of the bulky armchairs and sofa. In the corner of the room a grandfather clock ticked the seconds past. From the kitchen came the murmur of voices, one light and hesitant, the other gravely and steady.
His mother and his uncle were talking. Jason wished he was in there, knew he should have been backing up his mother, but it’d been her wish for him to wait here, his uncle’s silent gaze that had pinned him to the spot.
So here he sat with his fractured ribs so painful, the analgesia he’d taken earlier wearing off. His black eye was blossoming into a full-on shiner. The beaten he’d taken from his brother had been vicious, and on top of the beating he’d already had from him and his father both, it had given him a whole world of pain.
But that was over. His no-good father and brother were hundreds of kilometres away outside a small farming community. He sat now in a large old house filled with old furniture, the sound of traffic outside. City traffic. As far from the country as one could get.
Wincing a little, he drew in a shallow breath. Damn it, he should be in there with his Mum, not out here. But he’d wait for her. One thing he’d promised himself, he’d do right by her. He’d waited too long, almost lost himself, but he was here for her now. Would always be here for her now. So he’d wait even if he didn’t like it.
A young man about the same age as him entered, placing a mug of steaming coffee on the table in front of him along with two pills.
“Pain killers,” the man offered, his smile reaching his eyes even though wariness also lit them. “I’m Luke, your cousin.”
“Jason.” He picked up the pain killers. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, no worries.” Straightening, Luke looked towards the hallway.
Jason popped the pills in his mouth, chased them down with a gulp of coffee hot enough to burn his tongue. Grimacing, he lowered the mug.
Before Luke could say anything further there came the scrape of chairs, the sound of Jason’s mother nearing. Luke nodded to Jason and disappeared back down the hallway.
Jason stood slowly, carefully, watching Lora enter the room. Her face was pale but a small, tremulous smile curved her lips.
“Your uncle wants to see you now,” she said.
Jason glanced past her head. “Is everything all right? Can we stay the night?”
Looking up at him, Lora gently tugged his old, grease-stained t-shirt straight. “We can stay. Talk to him.”
“Okay.” Giving her shoulder an awkward pat, he stepped past, walked out into the dark hallway, followed the light into the brightly-lit kitchen where Uncle Harris sat with a thumping great Bible at his elbow.
Great, a Bible basher, no doubt going to start preaching hellfire and brimstone. Jason’s teeth clenched. For once he’d keep his big mouth shut for the sake of his Mum. He’d done enough damage in his life, he didn’t need to break fences that didn’t need mending.
Uncle Harris watched him steadily. “Take a seat.”
Pulling out the one directly opposite, Jason sat at the big, long table and waited.
“Tell me what happened,” Uncle Harris ordered quietly.
“I’m sure Mum told you-”
“I want your story.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“I want your words,” Uncle Harris insisted. “I want to see your face.”
Shit, the man was a fanatic or what? Was he looking for the devil’s forked tongue or something? Jason gritted his teeth, forced himself to speak civilly. “We travelled here to see you. Mum wanted to see you.”
“Tell me what happened to bring you here.”
Not for the first time, shame seeped through Jason. Shame because of what he’d been, what he’d done, what he’d allowed to happen before he stepped in and stopped it.
His uncle waited, gaze fastened on him. Jason studied him back, taking the in the big build, the muscle from hard work, the big hands resting on the table beside the Bible. Big hands, calloused, scarred, capable. Honest man’s hands.
Not like his hands.
He resisted the impulse to shove his hands under the table. He was a man, for God’s sake. Young, true, but still a man.
His uncle’s eyes were similar to his mother’s, hazel eyes like his own, dark brown hair like his only tinged with grey. His big shoulders stretched the shirt he wore, his face could have been hewn from rock, his features tough, carved almost, but quiet. In fact, his uncle exuded a quiet, steady presence that seemed to fill the kitchen.
The silence stretched on as he watched his uncle watching him, and he knew then that this older man could wait all night. Would, in fact, wait all night.
Might as well get the shit over with.
“Dad beat Mum,” Jason stated baldly. “Did it when I was growing up. I didn’t stop him when I was old enough to, when I was a bigger kid. Then when I was a teen, he beat Mum when I wasn’t home. I said something to him once, but he didn’t take it well.”
That was putting it mildly. His father had beaten Jason to within an inch of his life then refused to allow his mother to take him to hospital. Lora had begged Jason to never do it again, never face his father. Beaten, cowed, he’d obeyed. More fool him.
The other man’s eyes didn’t waver, didn’t shift, showed nothing but quiet intensity.
Jason inhaled, counting the pain from his ribs just punishment. “I grew up to be a shit. Is that what you want to hear?”
“I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear about you.”
“Before you’ll let Mum stay here? Is that the deal?” Jason leaned forward, resentment bubbling up inside him, his temper, never good, riding the choppy wave of defiance and humiliation. “I can go as long as she stays.”
“Tell me what happened.”
Jason would have gotten up and walked out, refusing to take charity, but the memory of his mother’s pale face, the bruises now almost gone from her face, rose into his minds eyes, so he sucked the anger back in, forced his reaction down, made himself sit still and meet his uncle’s gaze.
“I got into trouble. A lot.” When his uncle said nothing to this, Jason added tightly, “Fighting, drinking, screwing around. Nothing someone like you would approve of.” Hell, why had he said that?
Mildly, his uncle raised one eyebrow. “A Bible basher, you mean?”
Well, he’d said it.
Uncle Harris placed one hand gently on top of the big Bible, rested it there, not once taking his gaze from Jason. “We’ve all got a story, son.”
Jason watched him.
“More,” the man said with quiet authority.
Wanting to get it over with, find a soft bed and lay his aching head down, Jason finished swiftly. “My brother dared to raise his hand to Mum. I stopped him. We had a fight. Then he left and while he was away we packed the car. I was taking Mum away from it all, like I should have done a long time ago.” He could feel the lump rise in his throat, forced the bloody thing back down, gritted his teeth. “Met Brand again, we got into a scuffle, I had a night in hospital and then we came straight here.” He paused. “That’s it.” No need to say that he’d been in such a hurry to get his Mum out of Gully’s Fall before his father decided to come calling, that he’d signed himself out against doctor’s advice.
Uncle Harris studied him in thoughtful silence.
The clock on the wall ticked. What was it with this place, a clock in every room?
Jason waited, refusing to say more, to make excuses to this man who was obviously weighing up what he’d said, judging him, about to deliver a verdict. Probably about burning in hell.
Finally Uncle Harris spoke, his gravely voice breaking through the silence. “I got the full story from your mother. You saved her, and son, you saved yourself that very second.”
Jason didn’t think he had, he’d just known he had to get his mother out of that forsaken hovel before either his father or his brother again hurt her. He still found it hard to believe that his own
, her own
, had actually hit her. That had been when everything had changed, right in that split second.
He’d seen his brother’s hand raise, heard the crack of flesh on flesh, seen the shock and horror on his mother’s face, and he’d known, he’d known that if he didn’t act now he was heading down a pathway he didn’t want. A pathway that would lead to him either forever watching on like a coward, knowing his mother was being hit when he wasn’t there, or being an abuser like his father, like his brother. Like his best buddy, his brother.
He didn’t know when the tears came, didn’t know when he couldn’t actually see the man sitting across from him. All he knew was that the lump in his throat was choking him, the pain of his ribs slicing through him, the utter despair and loneliness crowding through him.
As he sat there trying to stop the bloody humiliating tears, unable to see a damn thing, unable to even get up because it was like his arse was stuck on that bloody seat, he heard a chair scrape back, felt a big hand settle firmly on his shoulder. That was it. A big hand on his shoulder, nothing said, no soothing talk, no sounds of comfort. Uncle Harris just stood behind him, one big hand on Jason’s shoulder, the warmth of his big body at Jason’s back.
By the time Jason finally had himself under control, had blinked back the stupid bloody tears and wiped his eyes on the back of his arm, Uncle Harris was sitting back in his own chair watching him.
He might have snottered like a bloody kid but he sure as hell wasn’t going to hide his face. Jason met his Uncle’s gaze defiantly, ready for the jeering, the sneers. Ready to take it for his Mum, it was the least he owed her.
“You started to turn your life around, son,” Uncle Harris announced without fanfare. “You want to continue turning it around?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“You do. You took your mother - my sister - away from an abusive family and you drove her back here, drove her with those busted ribs and bruises and cuts. You sit here telling me what I want to know instead of telling me to shove it. That means you know the value of your mother.”
“She’s always looked after us,” Jason growled.
“You want more from your life, son?”
Jason looked at him. Of course he wanted more, of course he-
“I’ve got a proposition for you.”
Oh, here it came. Jason leaned back, folded his arms carefully, a cynical sneer curling his lip before he could stop it. Looked like the big Bible might be just a door stop rather than a life rule book.
Uncle Harris continued calmly, “I see the path you’ve turned onto and I want to see you continue down it. You stay here with your Mum, you work for me and you learn my trade. You do right, you toe the line, you’ll make a life for yourself. Are you ready to make a life for yourself?”
“What do I have to do?” Jason asked. “Crack a few heads?”
For the first time, a smile crept across the older man’s face. “You’ll be living with a couple of your cousins. Trust me, you’ll be cracking some heads but it won’t be because of me.” The smile faded. “Son, you’re going to learn a trade.”
Still suspicious, Jason eyed him with distrust. Breaking and entering? Black market?
“You’re going to become a handyman.”
Didn’t see that one coming.