Many of you may have read Loretta Hill’s blog post last week, where she shared our very first collaboration efforts. In celebration of being shelf-buddies with our January new releases we decided to introduce our hero and heroines to each other and see how they got along. We had so much fun doing this and it was surprisingly easier than we first imagined. Today I’m stoked to be sharing with you our heros’ meeting in The Majestic at Gibson’s Find.
Two Country Blokes
By Loretta Hill and Rachael Johns
With seeding over for another year, Gibson couldn’t wipe the grin off his face and he couldn’t think of one place he’d rather be than down at The Majestic celebrating with the other farmers and chatting to Charlie. As he drove down the open highway towards town he could already taste the cold bitter beer on his tongue. If you blinked while driving you might miss the small Western Australian town of Gibson’s Find and the old pub mightn’t be much to look at from the outside, but inside it was full of character and good will.
He parked across the street from the old girl, left his Akubra on the passenger seat, slammed the door of his ute and made his way across the dusty road. His stomach rumbled as he approached the open front door and got a whiff of one of Trevor’s famous hamburgers. Yes, that and a cold beer would hit the spot perfectly.
There wasn’t yet a crowd inside and he knew many of his mates were still hard at work on tractors, but he waved at a couple of locals playing pool in the corner and made his way towards the bar to his Granddad.
As usual, Charlie beamed when he laid sight on Gibson and immediately crossed the bar to him. “All done, sonny?” he asked.
“In that case you’ll be needing a cold one in celebration.”
“Damn straight,” Gibson replied and gestured to the specials blackboard. “Can you also order me a Majestic burger with the lot?”
While Charlie turned away to yell the order through to Trevor and fetch the beer, Gibson relaxed on the stool. It felt good to have no pressing chores for once.
A shadow appeared beside him and he looked up to see an unfamiliar face taking the bar stool behind him. He nodded at the bloke who smiled back.
“Do you know if there’s a pay phone in here?” The man looked around at the seen-better-days interior.
Gibson’s brow wrinkled. “Sorry mate, I don’t think there is.”
The stranger frowned, muttering, “Damn” under his breath. Gibson wouldn’t normally have made the offer but there seemed to be a kind of desperation in the other man’s eyes.
“Is it urgent? Do you want to borrow my mobile?”
The man looked up in surprise as Gibson fished it out of his jean’s pocket. “Er… okay. Thanks.”
He took the phone and typed in a number he obviously knew by heart. He sat down on the bar stool so Gibson couldn’t help but eavesdrop.
“Kate,” the stranger said as the recipient picked up. “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. False alarm. Nothing to be concerned about. Just thought you’d want to hear from me, that’s all. Yeah. Yeah. I know but I couldn’t call any sooner. “ He glanced at Gibson. “Look, can’t really talk for too long. I’m using someone else’s phone. Sure. Bye.” He rang off, handing the phone back to Gibson. “Thanks for that.” He held out his hand. “Gavin, by the way.”
They shook hands.
Gavin indicated the kitchens with a flick of his chin. “So what’s the food like here?”
“Looks can be deceiving,” Gibson told him. “You’ll be lucky to get a better meal anywhere. I recommend the burgers.”
“Really?” Gavin nodded at Charlie who came over. “ I’ll have what he’s having.” He pulled a few notes from his wallet and placed them on the counter. “And I’m paying for both of us.” He glanced at Gibson with a grin. “I owe you for the phone call.”
Gibson shrugged. “Thanks.” In the absence of anyone he knew to talk to, he might as well show a bit of kindness to an out of towner. “You just passing through?” he asked.
Gavin scratched his stubble and drawled. “Something like that. I’m heading back to work.”
“Where do you work?”
Gavin hesitated. “Er…up north.”
“So the wife tugging you back then?”
“The wife?” Gavin repeated.
“The woman you were talking to on the phone.”
“Oh no, she’s not my wife.”
“Nah,” Gavin grinned. “I don’t do commitment if you what I mean. Speaking of which,” he added glancing around. “Not much talent in here.”
Gibson chuckled. “If you’re looking for eye candy you’ve come to the wrong place. This town has very few female residents.” Personally, he thought that part of its appeal.
“How few is few?” Gavin asked.
A mysterious smile curved Gavin’s mouth. “Must make things very… quiet.”
Gibson wasn’t concerned. “Just how I like it.”
Their burgers and beers arrived but just as they were both about to tuck in somebody’s phone started ringing. Gibson looked around the pub and then to his surprise, Gavin reached into his pocket and pulled out a mobile.
“Think I’ll take this one outside.” Gavin said quietly as he glanced at the caller ID. “Hi Janet.” Gibson heard him say into the phone on the way to the door.
Gibson shook his head quietly as he refocused on his meal.
He’d heard about guys who used different phones to keep all their girlfriends from knowing about each other but he never thought he’d be involved in aiding and abetting one. After half an hour the man from out of town had not come back in and having finished his meal, Gibson stepped outside. He wasn’t surprised to see no one in sight.
One was trouble enough. To juggle two or three, you’d have to be bloody crazy.
And that, thank God, he was definitely not.
The Girl in the Hard Hat By Loretta Hill and Man Drought By Rachael Johns.