Now, the information available to me regarding the following yarn is sketchy at best; not through the fault of the lass that told me incidentally, as she was relaying a told told to her by a long deceased grandparent; even then she suspected it may have been something that said grandparent had heard, rather than been a part of. As such, I am doing the best with what I have, the exact place is still a mystery to me, however I have narrowed it down to somewhere east of Ballidu, in the 1920’s. As with locality, the exact number of people involved in not known, however, as a semi-educated guess, and also from what I was told, I would put it at three in the cab, and two on the back. Because of these vague factors, I have not been able to be specific enough in my research to add further to this. That said, however, this is a bloody good yarn, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it occurred.
100 odd miles from anywhere, on a track that appeared unused since the last rains four months prior, three of the four fairly narrow gauge tyres, wooden spokes imitating roulette wheels, spun languidly, coming to a halt at roughly the same time; all three, a first time experience, were above the body of the now upturned light Chev truck they carried. The fourth wheel, laid in ruin some forty yards off to the north. Dust brown and white dust coated everything as it settled, not a breathe of wind for it to escape into. Clunking and coughing, the engine finally gave up the ghost, and for the first time since the grey cabbed, wooden trayed, vehicle had run off the road, with exception to the ‘pink’ing of the hot motor cooling, and the steady dripping of the now destroyed radiator, there was absolute silence. Off in the distance an old crow let out a mournful ‘caaaw’, and the first sign of life came as coughing from the inside of the cab, from approximately the same area of the vehicle came a moan and then swearing. Eventually came a bang, as the door got kicked open from the inside; one, two, then three men crawled their way from within the near flattened cab. Dragging themselves away and upright, in his own way, each man slowly checked themselves for injury. Nought bar bruising was found as they stood in the 40 something ℃ sun, over 100℉ in the old money.
As one, concern creased each individual’s features, all started calling for the two blokes, mates to all, that had been sitting in the back a’top tools, wire, camp gear, and dried kangaroo skins. After a moment, silence reigned, ominous amidst the carnage beside the barely visible rough dirt track. Skirting around the mess of gear that had been thrown from the tray, one, then the other man was found. The former, Dick McKenzie, had been crushed beneath the heavily laden vehicle, was very obviously dead. His head, now deformed and grotesque, had been squashed very nearly flat, and his right eye hung from his optic nerve against his cheek; blood and brain had escaped a large split across his right temple; flies had already begun to gather.
The second chap, Jock McGregor, had suffered a far worse fate. Both legs broken, bent out at opposing angles at the thigh, bright blood streamed from a wound, now pooling beneath him. The lip of the tray crushing them on impact, this the cause of the fractures. Standing proud from the upper left of the red head’s malnourished back, was a narrow shaft of dried dead wood, pointed at the tip, and common to the area, having pierced his chest, front to back. Jack Bridgeman, standing and watching his mate begin to scream and cough blood, ran back around to the open door of the cab, leaned inside, and withdrew a .22 rifle; cocking it in the same motion, he purposefully walked back to his still screaming mate. Placing the barrel of the little .22 against the back of his head, above the spot at the top of his neck, he pulled the trigger, and his broken mate was released from further pain and suffering. All five in the accident being veterans of the trenches, where saving a man from pain, rated much higher than saving the life of the suffering and the terminal, especially if there was no hope of rescue anytime soon.
With the sun shifting slowly from the forenoon to the aft, the three remaining, Albert Smart, Harry Smart, and Jack Bridgeman examined the area around the irreparably broken vehicle, and drew the same conclusion; of the five water bag’s, four had been burst or punctured, and the fifth was no more than half full; the mercury still very much on the rise…………………………….To be continued.
Click the picture above, Slim Dusty – How Will I Go With Him Mate.
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