“Yes Matthew. We!”

No I’m not toilet training my bother, and yes I realise that joke would probably be funnier in spoken form were you couldn’t see me spell the word ‘we’ with a single ‘e’. Not to worry if you don’t think the joke worked that well I can pull it out in the final edit before my autobiography goes to the publisher.

So what was I talking about? In short form:

Rescued chauvinistic numpty from the sand, but couldn’t save him from himself, charged the guy an extra fee for his attitude and Matthew and I were discussing that fee. His almost toilet response (relax I’ll get it in the edit) was in response to my comment about it being a good thing “we” were around to help such dickheads pay for their attitudes.

Ok, you’re all caught up now, I shall carry on.

“Yes Matthew. We!” Have I said that already?

“Yes Matthew. We!”

“We are the world?” Matthew responded from the passenger seat, completely out of tune and with no resemblance to the song of the same name from a long, long time ago.

“No, not at all. We are only a very small town in the outback of Australia.” I said remaining on topic and not picking on his poor attempt at singing.

“And the rest of the world don’t know how lucky they are!”

“Yeah, but we know how lucky we are!”

We bounced across a rough section of red dirt about a hundred metres from where our unmarked tracked met the end of the Tanami Road. We still had quite a bit of dirt before we got back to the bitumen just outside of town which meant that we had plenty of time to play more word games but I decided against it and opted to get back on topic.

“The ‘we’ I was referring to dear bother,” I could see Matthew shaking his head as I turned and glanced toward him, “was all of us. Well all of us in town anyway.”

“What were we talking about again?” he asked.

“You really need to work on that memory of yours.” I said turning the Beast onto the Tanami Road. “I was suggesting that it was lucky we, us in town, are around to help people like Mr.Beckham pay their attitude fee.”

“Oh that.” Matthew replied.

“Yes that.”

“So the whole town charges people like that double for everything based on what you tell them about their attitudes?”

“No, not me alone, although I do meet quite a few people before they make it to town.” I started. “Even without me you might be surprised how fast news travels in the outback. We have phones put here these days you know!”

“You have phones? And you know how to use them?”

“Honestly Matthew sometimes I think you are just inviting me to kick your arse!”

My dearest brother then decided to steer the conversation back in the direction it started. “So you go back to town now and tell everyone what happened and they all wait for him to arrive an put their prices up?”

“Yeah, it’s not mandatory but we are a tight knit little area. Out here we have to look after ourselves.”

“I can understand how spare parts or labour could be jacked up with an ‘attitude fee’, but how does Barry charge more for meals, or Stephen for fuel when the fuel boards are up out the front of the servo?”

We’d been able to pick up a bit of speed since rejoining the Tanami Road, it still wasn’t a road suitable for anything much over about sixty kilometres per hour but that’s about forty kilometres per hour faster then we were doing before the Tanami.

“Not everyone can do it at the same time, but you’d be surprised how it can be done when it needs to be.”

“Don’t suppose it’s that much difference to the chef who spits in the meal when a diner pisses him off.” Matthew said.

“Yeah, pretty much. Although most people don’t realise their food has been spat in, they actually expect outback towns to charge more for things. Whether they like it or not they know it costs money to get things to us and that city prices just aren’t possible.”

“Still, your biggest advantage in such a situation is that in most cases they have no choice, especially with parts to get them back on the road.”

“Yep, same goes from being rescued. Most people are smart enough to realise that I wouldn’t leave them out there to fend for themselves but at the same time they call me for a reason.”

“Obviously not for your wit and charm!” Matthew said a little quieter than his previous words.

“Have you gotten slower and lost brain cells with all those trips and visits to the big city?”

“So is that your charm and wit showing through, is it dear sister?”

“I think you need too be shown a bit of outback hospitality, Halls’ style.” I said in response to Matthew’s doubting words.

“What are you going to do, give me over priced beer and parma at the pub?”

I thought about reminding him that we only charge those who have an attitude but instead I said nothing in response. We were only ten minutes out of Halls and I decided that any response I could offer Matthew would just see him get sillier.

When we arrived in town I pulled up out the front of the police station, kind of my usual parking spot in town, and the two of us went in to see Nick.

“How’s it going Mr. Plod?” I called as I entered the cop shop.

“Evening Dean. Matthew.” Nick said not biting but acknowledging us both.

I stepped behind Matthew, grabbed his hand and twisted it up behind his back. Despite his protest I started to walk him towards the cell. “Lock this city dwelling low life up for me will you please Mr. Policeman!”

Previous Desert Rescue story here.