“What’s out at Gibb airport?” Matthew asked me after Barry disappeared into the kitchen.
I took a sip from the glass of beer in front of me and asked. “Am I going deaf?” Matthew looked at me with a puzzled look on his face, then just I spoke he realised what I was about to say and that look changed to one of stunned silence. “I figured I must have been going deaf because I swear Barry said he didn’t know what Nick was doing out at Gibb, yet you asked the same question ten seconds later.”
“Alight, alright, that was my bad. I should have known better.” Matthew said sounding slightly deflated.
“Yes you should have.” I replied.
The pub was definitely not well patroned as we sat at the bar and waited for our dinner. There was three other people whom I didn’t recognise and were no doubt tourists, and there was two truck drivers sitting in the corner having a quiet drink, but Matthew and I were the only locals, if you can call Matthew a local. We were about an hour earlier than most people’s dinner time but it was quiet for the pub on a Thursday evening nonetheless. Not that it worried us a great deal but the lack of people did mean our silly conversations would not be heard.
A few minutes after disappearing into the kitchen Barry came out, which was just as well given that my beer glass empty, he was carrying two reasonably sized boxes.
“Couple of parcels arrived for you this afternoon.” He said as he placed the large box on top of the bar next to me. I looked at the box, then at Barry, then pushed my empty glass towards him. “Anothery?” he asked taking my glass and putting it under the beer tap without waiting for me to answer.
I nodded to the question about the beer and looked at the box. “Thanks.” I replied.
“No worries, but I’ll start changing you secretary rates if I have to keep collecting your parcels for you.”
“If you wear a short cut denim skirt, high heels and a peep hole bra I’ll pay you secretary rates.” I replied with a smile.
“Damn, I don’t know where you get your ideas of what secretaries wear but I want to be part of the interview panel when you ask for applications!” Barry replied passing my newly filled glass back to me.
“I wouldn’t mind being there either.” Matthew added and passed his empty glass to Barry for a refill.
From there the conversation could literally have gone anywhere but rather than encourage the boys into something silly I decided to be the more mature one and end it right there.
“Sorry boys, no interviews yet.” I stated then added, “I guess Nick was out before the post arrived?”
The conversation had left a smile on Barry’s face and he nodded in response. I probably didn’t need to ask the question about Nick being absent when my parcels arrived because I had a long standing process in place with Blackie the parcel delivery bloke from Broome. He only came through once a week, well twice but the second trip he was heading home empty so therefore it was only one delivery day. When he was on time, which was pretty much every time, he’d drop by the house on the way into town, it was a bit of a bugger for him to turn the large truck around in my front yard but he was an exceptional driver and could near turn that beast on a dime if he needed to. However when I was not home he’d come into town and before dropping the rest of his parcels at the Post Office, cum newsagency, cum corner shop, cum nearly everything else, he drop in and see Nick leaving my parcel there.
It was a nice gesture by a nice guy who knew from our conversation that many of my trips ended at the police station giving Nick a run down of what I’d been up too. Besides what better place to put something you want kept safe than a police station! I’m not entirely sure how it happened but one day when Nick and I were both absent Blackie delivered my stuff to the pub and it’s been that way ever since.
Anyway back to the present!
I knew exactly what was inside the two boxes despite them being plain brown boxes. Inside one was a portable gas hot water service, inside the other was a twenty four volt MIG welder. Both items I had been looking at for a long time, they definitely weren’t the sort of items I needed every rescue but they were very handy items. The shower for obvious reasons but the welder I knew was one day going to mean the difference between fixing something and towing someone home, or worse fixing the Beast or leaving myself stranded.
Over dinner my parcels did make the conversation a few times but it was little more than passing conversation between mouthfuls.
By the time our dinner was finished the pub was really pumping, six other people, including Larz and Coby had come in! It appeared Halls Creek was having a bit of a tourist boom with so many people in town for dinner.
Matthew and I called it a night just after 8pm, although I let Larz buy me a beer I did stop drinking after my third for the night. When we walked out of the pub and crossed the road to where the Beast was parked I was surprised not to see Nick’s cop truck parked beside me. I’d actually expected him to be inside the station doing paperwork or something and I had every intention of dropping in to say hello. But apparently that wasn’t the case.
When we pulled into the driveway at home I yawned loudly and gave a little stretch, it had been a long day and my bed was looking more inviting as the seconds ticked over. As I stopped the Beast at the front door of the house my phone beeped to alert me a new message had been received. As much as rescues didn’t usually come in via text message I really hoped I wasn’t going to be leaving as quickly as I arrived.
Matthew looked at the screen before I got a chance, I hadn’t turned the engine off but I was in the process of pulling the Beast up and getting ready to turn it off.
“What’s that mean?” Matthew asked.
I looked at the screen and nearly froze. On the screen I saw the letters
Which obviously told me I’d received a message from Nick’s Sat phone but it was what was written on below that which had me nearly frozen.
Previous Outback story here.