The first thing he saw was the dust cloud beside the distant line of river gums. Dean put the kettle on. By the time Hattie eased down through ten gears and rumbled to a stop he had her coffee made the way she liked it, milky instant with three sugars.

‘Good run?’

Hattie jumped down. ‘Easy. Bit of rain outside Dubbo.’

‘They fixed up the road yet?’ He’d driven that same pot-holed two-lane a thousand times before his back went.

The injury could have been the end for them. Everything they had was in that truck. That’s when Hattie said, ‘teach me.’

‘You mean it? It’s no picnic.’

‘You want us to chuck it all in instead? Nah, I reckon I’m up for it.’

Now she was known in every roadhouse on the East Coast and the loan on the rig had been paid. Hattie acquired a cowboy hat and her own line in truckstop small talk along with the girth of a long distance driver. She rolled across the continent while Dean waited, the way she’d once done for him.

With the sun setting across the dam Dean and Hattie settled into yarning.

‘Like a couple of old sheilas,’ said Dean, chuckling. Crickets struck up nearby. Stars flecked the darkening sky.

 

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

 

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