TROUT   [ 3

The  Secret
 [ 1, 2 , 3 , 4 ] 

  Jason and Tatua came to the shop and paused. The road was dusty even though there had been some rain earlier that morning. The sun was beating down,brightly, reflecting on the white stone war memorial opposite the shop with its peelingweatherboard, coke and winfield signs and long wooden bench on the verandah in front of it.Ruatangi was a small town - just small enough so that everybody knew each other, even if only slightly.  
  Tatua marched up to the counter.  
  "Hey, I want some glue."  
   "What sort of glue." The lady of the shop looked at Tatua and Jason closely and frowned.  
   "Yeh - just some glue - y'know?"  
   "We've got all sorts of glue."  
   Tatua glanced at Jason and shrugged. "Just glue," he said to the lady.  
   "We've got some elephant glue...."  
   "Hey whaddya think I am, an elephant?" Tatua looked at the woman indignantly, thrust his hands deep into his shortened denims, torn off at the knees.  
   "Let's go, man." said Jason, tugging at Tatua's bright red shirtsleeve. They went out into the  bright sunlight again. There was a kid they didn't know standing on the footpath - pointing at them wildly.  
   "Hee He He he hee he he he....." the kid went, nose jammed deep into his paper bag, eyes wide, stumbling and stepping back involuntarily.  
   "HEE HEE HEE HE HE he he.................."  
   "Piss off....." Tatua looked at Jason, "Let's go, Jace." The two boys went on down the road, kicking up the dust on the road, taking turns kicking stones across the surface of the road metal and hearing them clunk into the fence, or anything else, opposite.  
   "Hey, we'll have to score some hooter." said Jason.  
   "Where? We'll need some bread, man."  
   Rounding the corner, they came within sight of a group of houses - broken down villas, shimmering in the sun.  
   "Hey, isn't that John Stilton on the roof?" asked Tatua. It was. John was partly lying down right near where the chimney joined the top of the roof, holding a camera with one hand, holding on to the ridge with the other, his big boots scrakking and clumping against the warm tin of the roof.  
   "Let's move over here." Tatua dragged Jason over to the fence where they could get a view of what was happening on the roof, unseen .  
   John Stilton lived alone now. He treated himself as a victim of the seven year itch - now at the old age of 32 - or so it seemed to him. Genny, his wife had shoved off with their kid, Shane, taking the Mitsubishi and precisely half of whatever wasn't bolted to the floor or walls. He'd kept the '74 Holden ute though - needed that so's he could get to and from his crop. Just as he'd done just that morning, harvesting some really nice plants with good heads.  
   Genny Stilton had left Ruatangi, as well she should. Everybody knew everybody. Well, almost everybody. There could only be trouble of one sort or another if she had  stayed. Today was the day to fix the dammed antennae. It was an inverted di-pole. There were wires all over the place and it was a matter of getting the right ones off the pole to  connect up with the right ones from the coaxial cable jammed up between the spouting and  roofing iron. He daren't cut any more off the cable otherwise it would stuff up his transmissions, causing feedback into his ham rig from the untuned length.  
   Genny didn't leave much behind, but what she had, included his ham radio rig.  Maybe, John fancified, that's why she had gone away, and it wasn't the Rastafarians after all. Who cared? She'd taken the damn ladder though. He'd got up on to the roof by parking the Holden ute close to the house wall, down the driveway, and had clambered up from the roof of the cab.

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Trevor Reeves     © 1997