“I think you should pay me for all the hard work and effort I put in to make your job easier!” Matthew said in response to my comment about washing the Beast as payment for me putting up with him.

“But I’m not getting paid for today.” I said defiantly. It’s true I wasn’t going to get anything for helping Nick rescue the Franklin family, it was his job and I was just helping. As a police officer being called to help out he could charge for his services given that it wasn’t an emergency but it was unlikely he would.

“You got paid for the first job!” Matthew said as if he actually had a case to argue by bringing up the removalist truck retrieval.

“And I gave you a drink of water, so quit ya bitchin’ and wash me truck boyo!” I said hoping to end the conversation.

“The last of the big hearted women!” Matthew said as he climbed out of the Beast.

We both knew I was joking about Matthew washing the Beast as any sort of payment, however that didn’t mean I was joking about giving the old girl a wash. I figured Matthew would help me out just because he was there but I was neither going to force him or make out it was some kind of repayment.

“I can’t really be bothered finding something for dinner yet.” I said to him as the two of us leant on the tray of Beast. “I’m going to give the old girl a wash and then think about dinner.”

Dinner was going to be late by the time I gave the Beast a decent wash, as opposed to the hose down and clean out it got a few weeks before. There would no doubt have been enough hours of daylight left after dinner to wash the thing, but I was fairly sure if I sat down for dinner I wasn’t going to get back up with enough energy to give it the wash it needed.

Matthew didn’t automatically agree to helping but as I made my way to the shed door he followed me so I didn’t ask any questions. Inside the shed I started getting the washing gear together. The pressure washer was mounted permanently near the door with the hose wound in big loops on the wall, all I had to do to make it work was switch on the power and turn the tap on. The other incidentals such as the soapy stuff, the soft spongy thing and the bucket were on the shelf within easy reach.

Although Matthew hadn’t specifically said he was going to help he didn’t need any encouragement to get the incidentals off the shelf and by the time I had the pressure washer ready the hose unwound he was filling the bucket, with the soapy stuff in it, with water.

I started off hosing down the Beast with the pressure washer, getting all the loose dust and dirt off and then focussing the hard needle like spray on those stubborn areas like the wheel arches, the suspension and under the tray. The dirty orange and brown water that ran off the Beast hit the ground and ran quickly towards the plastic drains, unable to penetrate the hard crust that had formed after years of sunshine and little rain.

“Hey,” Matthew called out over the noise of the pressure cleaner. “Instead of wasting all that water you should sit in it and have a wash!” Then with a stupid smile he added, “Stinky!”

“You want me to give you a shower?” I asked looking up and pointing the nozzle of the pressure washer at him. I didn’t hear what he had to say before I turned back to the Beast but it was no doubt something cheeky.

Before the greenies threaten to hunt me down and punish me severely for even threatening to waste such a precious resource, especially in an area that gets so little to begin with let me just say this. The water run off from the area at the front of the shed went directly into a drain that ran around the shed to a set of tanks with a filter on them, the filter removes the chunky bits and some of the minute particles, but it is more about saving water not making quality water and the tanks out the back of the shed are used only for watering, keeping dust down, washing the Beast and for emergencies like fires. Occasionally I have dropped a tablet in the tanks which clean it up enough to be drinkable, but in all the years I have been here I have been lucky enough never to need to drink it.

“You wouldn’t dare hit me with that thing.” replied Mr. Confidence. He was standing in front of the open shed door so he probably had some right to be confident I wouldn’t hit him with the needle like spray, but confidence can only get a person so far.

“I wouldn’t hit you because I couldn’t stand to hear you cry for the rest of the night!” I said with a smirk. Matthew didn’t say anything in return to my comment but I figured I hadn’t heard the last of his brotherly love.

I returned to washing the hardened crud and red dirt off the bottom of the Beast. The crap that sticks under the wheel arches of vehicles driven in the outback is amazing, you could be excused for thinking that one needs water to harden the dust and dirt to make it stick to the underside like it does, but it really doesn’t.

I was crouched down under the rear of the tray with the nozzle of the pressure cleaner working at spraying the dirt and crud off the rear diff and running gear when the worst possible thing happened.

Previous Outback Rescue story here.