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When tragic circumstances force Johno Masterton to care for his unwed sister and family farm in the harsh Australian outback, he fights despair and frustration.
Johno stood on the veranda of his homestead and stared listlessly out at the vast, desolate plains his father had left him in this dried and sun burnt country. The stifling heat enveloped him as he shut his eyes and listened to the sounds of the outback.
Above the lonely whisper of the wind, flies mercilessly buzzed around him, attracted by the human sweat that was unavoidable in this heat. Johno waved his hand to stop them from landing; an automatic action used by everyone and deemed the Aussie wave.
Opening his eyes, he looked at the cracked, red ground. It screamed for water. Every so often a small spiral of red dust gathered in a foot high twister as the hot wind assaulted the sun-baked ground. Now it was nothing more than a haven for ants and insects scurrying to seek shelter from the burning sun. Even the dead grass had dissipated in the hot winds.
A distant, deep rumbling sound aroused his curiosity, and he turned to see dark clouds billowing on the horizon. The contrasted sharply with the vivid blue sky and blazing sun and were charged with electricity, swirling dangerously as they gained momentum. He wondered if these clouds would bring rain or the usual teasing, waterless thunderstorm.
A remorseful sigh escaped him as he threw his Bible onto the swinging chair, totally disillusioned. “God, why do you leave us like this? Give us rain! I have prayed, and you haven’t answered.” Maybe there isn’t a God after all. With a heavy heart and feeling very isolated, he pushed his Bible aside and sat on the swinging chair to put his work boots on, his feet already feeling hot and swollen. But he knew from experience, his boots were needed to protect him, not only from the elements, but also from the biting ants and various other insects. Not to mention snakes that lurked, sunning themselves in unsuspecting places.
Walking towards his trail bike, he pushed his Akubra up off his forehead, remembering his father’s words when he asked what an Akubra was. His father had told him Akubra was an Aboriginal name for head covering. Looks like a cowboy hat to me. After trying to start his bike three times, he hit the handlebars in frustration. I hate this life! The silence was broken by the sound of the engine finally crackling through the air, scaring off the numerous birds seeking refuge in the scant gum trees. Johno, seeing a movement out the corner of his eye, turned. Janey, waddling toward him looking very pregnant, called his name.
“Johno! Wait. You forgot your cold water. A man can die of thirst in this heat.”
Taking the bottle, he nodded thanks and noticed Janey stood lingering. He paused before revving the bike. He knew what was coming, and he felt his temper rising.
“I thought I might take the truck, get some supplies from town and pick up the mail. Is that okay?”
“Janey, I said rest! No, don’t go gallivanting out in the truck alone. What if something happens?"
“Johno, I need some company! I’m going stir crazy out here alone!”
“You are almost nine months pregnant for goodness sake! Stay home, please! I have enough on my plate without having to worry about you driving out here alone.” He revved the bike, drowning out her whines of protest.
The wheels of the bike flew into motion and stirred the red dust as he traveled down the pothole-ridden road.
Book Publisher: Class Act Books
No. of Pages: 329
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