“Hello…Yes that’s me…Yes you have…No worries.”

I was listening to Matthew’s side of a telephone conversation. After several minutes he hadn’t given away much information as to the rest of the discussion but it was my phone he was talking on so therefore it was only fair I listened in. Apart from anything I was sitting on the opposite side of the table finishing of my lunch before deciding what else to do for the day to stop myself from nodding off. So while I was listening in I wasn’t doing it just to annoy Matthew, that was just a pleasant reward.

“Sounds good…Thanks for letting me know…I’ll be in touch…Thanks.”

Matthew pulled the phone away from his ear, made sure it hung itself up then placed it on the table and slid it towards me.

“Good news?” I asked.

“Wrong number!” He replied.

Now bear in mind that I actually answered the phone, because it was my phone, and I also did my good secretary thing and asked who was calling and to what the call regarded. So I knew exactly who it was and why they were calling and therefore telling me it was the wrong number was both dishonest and not very nice. Although I suppose you also have to bear in mind that Matthew knew all that and he was obviously being a smart arse.

“You’re the only person I know that should have a wrong number…so other people can hang up on you!” I replied fighting fire with fire

“Wouldn’t make any difference to you, you never call me!”

“Says the guy who drove two days to get here without calling first to see if I was home.”

“You weren’t home when I got here.”

Ok even I knew the conversation was getting silly, I guess that’s just an indication of how tired the two of us really were because no matter how silly we got we could still compete with each other’s silliness.

“And if you’d have called before you left home I would have had time to prepare myself.”

“It would take more than two days to prepare that face!” Matthew said really cutting to the bone, much like a ten year old in the school play ground.

“If you’d given me two days notice I could have moved house!”

Ok I’ll drop the recount there because the conversation actually went on for more than twenty minutes. Matthew would fire an insult, I’d fire one back, he’d retort and I’d do the same. Seriously if I wasn’t as honest as the day in long you wouldn’t believe that the two of us could stoop so low, well maybe you would with Matthew, but not me!

“So is your truck ready to be picked up is it?” I asked once we’d settled down and he still hadn’t told me what the call was about.

“Gonna be ready tomorrow. They put the new computer in it today. Guy told me they had it on the dyno as we spoke and it seemed to be preforming well.”

“So what are you going to do, take back the rent-a-toy and then keep going, stay in Broome? What’s your plan.”

I asked what I thought was a reasonable question, especially given that Broome was about eight hours from Halls Creek and I didn’t know what his plans were.

“Why? Are you trying to get rid of me?” he asked.

Immediately I thought we were going to get caught up in another one of those silly conversations that we’d not long ago finished. Again it was up to me to be the mature one and not keep the silliness flowing.

“Of course I’m not trying to get rid of you, herpes is easier to get rid of that you are!”

“Eww, please what you and Nick share in the bedroom does not need to be shared with everyone!”

“You’re not everyone, you’re my brother!” I replied with a silly grin on my face.

“Where do I sign up to become someone else?”

I shook my head and rolled my eyes at him just to let him know that the conversation was over and that we were about to get serious.

“So if I can be serious for just a moment…”

“I don’t know, can you?” Matthew said with a grin before letting me continue.

As it turned out Matthew was planning on taking his rent-a-toy back to the rental mob in Broome the following day. He was also planning on picking up his truck and bringing it back to Halls so he could extend his visit with his dear sister.

Just like you I was a bit dubious as to why he wanted to spend time in such a small place out in the middle of nowhere, even if he had me for company. He wasn’t as ‘big-smoke’ as I make him out to be but at the same time Halls was a lot smaller than even the remote areas he’d worked. When he arrived he’d told me he was between jobs and looking to spend some time with me and while I didn’t mind that I had to wonder just how much time he had available ‘between’ jobs. He’d only spent just over a week and a half with me but I felt sure he’d want to be looking for work of some sort fairly quickly.

I wouldn’t say that I was getting concerned about Matthew, he was a big boy and could look after himself, but I was starting to wonder why he just didn’t seem keen on heading back home. Unless he had been lying to me he wasn’t running away from anything and that wasn’t his manner anyway, but he hadn’t expressed even the faintest hint of wanting to go home, he’d barely even seemed excited when he found out his truck was ready.

Despite my thoughts I just had to ask the question. “Are you running from something?”

He must have realised I was serious because he answered almost immediately. “Not really running away but I’m sick of working for the man. The last three jobs I’ve had shit bosses and shit conditions. I just don’t feel any compulsion to head back to those same jobs.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what to say, I knew he’d not been overly happy with some of his bosses but I thought he was still liking the work enough to stay. “Maybe you need to work for the woman?”

“Huh?” he replied.

“You’re sick of working for the man, try working for the woman!” It was a bit of a poor joke but I was running out of ideas.

“Is that an offer?”

It was my turn for the one word response. “Huh?”

“Are you inviting me to hang around and work with you?”

Previous Outback Rescue story here.