extract from YA novel,
© Bill Condon (University Queensland Press, 2005)
over,’ said Dad.
lass with the horse – she gave you the eye.’
lightly touched the brake.
don’t think so, Dad.’
you young blokes are slow. She smiled at yer. Pull over. You don’t
have to worry about anything. I’ll do the talkin’.’
stopped the car, covering my face and cringing at the thought of him doing
don’t Dad. It’s not a good idea. Let’s go home.’
he was already out the door and walking unsteadily back to Emma. ‘Come
on, Bri,’ he yelled so all the world could hear. ‘This is
wanted to hide under the seat.
yer goin’, darlin’?’
Get over here, mate. Don’t be shy.
wanted to kill him but the damage was done. There was no escape.
I’m coming,’ I said, silently begging my face not to change
looked amused by it all; a drunken matchmaker and a woeful would-be Romeo
who’d just realised his shorts had a tomato sauce stain –
directly over the crotch.
I said. ‘This is my father. Dad – this is Emma Freeman. She
goes to my old school.’
a bit of a dark horse, this lad. Never mentioned you once, Emma. Me friends
call me an old bastard – but you can call me Mick.’
to meet you, Mick.’
only reply was an extremely stupid grin. He had a glazed look on his face
as if the grog was fast shutting down large sections of his brain.
silence roared around us. I had to say something.
is tomato sauce,’ I said pointing at my crotch.
it?’ she replied.
word ‘dumb’ entered my brain and tolled like a huge bell –
DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, and for the first time I knew what a girl could do to
me by not doing anything. But not just any girl.
I mean is – um, ah … ’
watched me squirm, the faintest hint of amusement in her eyes.
I spluttered, ‘Nice horse.’
rubbed its nose.
name is Zeb.’
zebra,’ said Dad, springing back to life.
Emma raised her eyebrows.
hated to think what she might have been thinking about us.
come on, Dad. We better be getting back.’
let the word run out so it sounded like a moaning cat.
two have a natter. Take yer time. I’ll have a snooze while I’m
waitin’. In fact, better still – I’ll drive Goldie home
and you can walk back when yer finished. Problem solved.’
screamed inwardly, ‘No! No!’ But all Dad heard was a vague
and mumbled protest. Then he was gone. And we were alone.
saved me by doing the talking. It was as if she’d looked into my
heart, and seeing how madly it was beating, had decided to help me out.
And I was more than willing to take all the help she could spare.
go over to the stable,’ she said, pointing across the road. ‘I’ve
had Zeb out for a pick – he likes new grass. I didn’t feel
like riding today, so he took me for a walk.’ She rested her head
against the horse’s massive side. ‘Didn’t you, Zebbie?’
was a grey. A humungous thing with a hulking belly that felt hard like
a wall. I was worried he might step on me – I’d never been
around horses before. He laid his ears back as I touched him, not a good
can sense if you’re scared,’ said Emma.
slapped him across the backside. Dust rose from his coat.
not scared,’ I mumbled, hoping I hadn’t slapped him too hard
and made him angry.
walked on in silence. I wasn’t about to say anything. If I opened
my mouth it might break the spell. Apart from a thousand very real fantasies,
this was the closest I’d been to a girl. For Emma it was probably
nothing. Just taking the horse to the stable with some dopey boy tagging
along. But for me it was huge. Emma was with me. Where was the paparazzi
when you wanted them? Take my photo! Take our photo! … I was walking
stable was nothing much. Green-painted strips of corrugated iron roofing
held up by four posts. Wooden palings that only went halfway to the dirt
floor made up the walls. And lots and lots of manure. Everywhere.
I felt that I had to say something. Anything.
stable,’ I told her. ‘You build it yourself?’
end. That was all the conversation I could manage, and it was over. It
was Dad’s fault. If I’d known beforehand I was seeing her
I could have memorised some jokes or read up on the Net about horses,
or manure even. But now, unprepared, I was wallowing in the deep end and
about to drown.
took a couple of steps back so she could see on top of the roof. ‘Oh
good, it’s there.’
stood on the tips of her toes and reached up to the roof, groping around.
‘I can’t quite get to the rake – do you think you could,
Yes! I could do that! That was my
one great skill. Hopeless at conversation but perfect for getting rakes.
I almost leapt on to the roof in my enthusiasm.
Dad puts it too far back sometimes and I can’t quite reach it.’
you ever want help with something like that’– I could hear
myself rambling but I couldn’t stop – ‘just let me know.
Mum says that’s all I’m good for, reaching things, ’cause
I’m tall. So any time I can help, I don’t care what it is
she said. ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’
she raked up manure Zeb cantered over and nudged her back with his head.
Zebbie, you want some attention, do you?’
the rake against a wall Emma leant forward and picked up one of his hoofs
to examine it. Leant forward right in front of me. The manure smell had
bothered me at first but now I didn’t notice it. Didn’t notice
anything except that she wasn’t wearing a bra.
want some manure for your garden?’ she asked. ‘We can bag
‘Um … no thanks.’
I knew I should look away but a chance
like that might never come again. I’d only ever seen boobs in books
and magazines, now they were in front of me, on the loose. It was like
watching my own personal wildlife documentary.
thing about old Zeb – he’s got good feet. Haven’t you,
boobs seemed on the small side, but the size didn’t matter. They
could have been Amazonian Giant Boobs and I wouldn’t have been any
more impressed. I felt like some primitive tribesman who’d seen
a plane for the first time. Who cared if it was a helicopter or a jumbo
jet? It was still a miracle. I edged a bit closer in case I was missing
She straightened up in a hurry. ‘You’re perving!’
mind screamed, Deny it! Deny it! Plead insanity! Run!
I wasn’t. Honest.’
come on – your eyes were almost popping out of your head.’
I lived to be a thousand I wasn’t going to own up.
I promise. I was looking at – at Zeb’s hoof.’
should walk around without a shirt on so you can have a real good look.’
she mean it? I would’ve gone home and got my camera.
don’t you just admit it?’
nothing to admit. Of course I wasn’t looking at you. Don’t
be paranoid. There’s hardly anything to see.’
no! Oh no!
MISS WOLF AND THE PORKERS
©Bill Condon (Aussie Bites, Penguin Books, 2001)
This is the tale of the Porker Kids and a nice librarian called Miss Wolf.
We’ll meet her soon, but first, the Porkers ...
kids names were Rails, Dan and Shorty. Rails was short for Raelene, Dan
was short for Dandruff, and Shorty was just short.
of the Porkers had curly red hair, happy smiles and more freckles than
you’d find on a freckle farm.
looked like any other kids, but they had a special talent. The Porkers
were World Champions when it came to sucking up to teachers.
carried their teachers’ books.
cleaned their car windscreens.
gave them apples (with hardly any worms in them).
they wrote sweet little poems for them, like this:
Our teachers are so cute and kind.
teach us very well.
might look a bit like zombies
they hardly ever smell.
teachers at Mount Barker School were certain that Rails, Dan and Shorty
were perfect angels.
perfectly wrong they were.
the Porkers’ syrupy smiles lay a dim, dark secret. Sucking up to
teachers was not their only talent. The Porkers were masterminds at Being
Bad – and getting away with it, every time.
some of the vile deeds they got up to in just one term:
crept into the assembly hall and put a whoopee cushion under the deputy
released a mob of mice that terrorised the tuck-shop ladies.
in the most daring, rude and crude crime of all, Shorty drew a coloured
picture of Principal Kidney’s naked pink bottom and hung it from
the school flagpole.
at Mount Barker, except the angelic Porkers, was questioned about that,
even Principal Kidney’s mother. (Who else would know his bottom
Mrs Kidney had a sound alibi. She was colour blind, and she couldn’t
could the villains be?’ asked the teachers. ‘Not the Porkers,
that’s for sure. They’re far too nice to be naughty.’
in!’ sniggered the Porkers.
© Bill Condon
mother was a ghost gum
really terrific tree-mum.
father was a noble oak
shining prince of tree-dom.
think with a family tree like that
offshoot would have to be a winner.
he was a toothpick
lived in fear of dinner.
on my bike down by the sea
just the waves,
sweep around a turn
then I’m gone
of this world -
down the hill
into the land of No Brakes,
wind a motor on my back
a smile as big as the sea –
NEED TO WALK
need to walk each morning
there’s a horse that waits for me to rubs its nose.
whether I stay five minutes or an hour,
can never rub away its loneliness.
need to walk
I can talk to a white dog that prowls in endless circles,
haunted by a chain
cuts us both.
balls of cuteness,
up sound asleep.
aren’t as sweet.
cats grow up to be
and bold and smug.
want my cat always to be,
bigger than a bug.
don’t want it to scratch and snarl,
chase a car and die.I
want my cat to be a kitten,
morning from your friendly robot...
you slept -
bath was taken for a walk,
dog was filled,
toast was cleaned,
dishes were buttered,
carpets were fried,
eggs were vacuumed,
pants were cut,
nails were ironed.
are now drinking coffee
has been greased and oiled.
not forget my birthday again.
AND ROLL ELEPHANTS
year at the Animal Ball
goose and the gander brawl
cow is ejected for stepping on toes
eagles and hawks are awful to crows
skunk and the skink create a great stink
bull goes bananas and charges at llamas
iguana and brolga decide that’s it’s vulgar
make a quick dash for the doors
before they can make it the elephants shake it -
goes the unbreakable floors.
nose was feeling ugly,
I knew just the ticket.
put it in a Beauty Contest…
judges didn’t pick it.
MIRACLE IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
hour before night.
dozen shades of pink and red.
canyons blue and purple,
wisp of yellow, a silver shaft.
off the TV.
clouds are calling -
at me! Look at me!’