Authors: Scot Gardner
has been a counsellor, masseur and hypnotherapist but currently works in schools with young people who'd rather be somewhere else. He lives near the Victorian town of Yinnar in a solar-powered barn with his wife and three sweet little fairies (HA!). He likes hippie music and thunderstorms.
White Ute Dreaming
is his second novel.
Also by Scot Gardner
One Dead Seagull
Teacher's notes for
White Ute Dreaming
First published 2002 in Pan by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
St Martins Tower, 31 Market Street, Sydney
Copyright Â© Karijan Enterprises 2002
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrievel system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
National Library of Australia
White ute dreaming.
For young adults.
ISBN 0 330 36337 9.
1. Teenagers â Conduct of life â Juvenile fiction. I. Title.
Typeset in 11/14 pt New Baskerville by Midland Typesetters
Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group
All characters and events in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
These electronic editions published in 2002 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
1 Market Street, Sydney 2000
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
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White ute dreaming.
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For David âDozo' Alldridge
The following people made this book possible through their yarns, their laughter and their big hearts:
Robyn, Liam, Shaun, Jim, Joan, Belle, Jennie, and Bryce Gardner, Darren Pilcher, Jason and Andrew Curry, John and Faye Warren, Pauleigh Gardiner, Peter Little, John Marsden, Pam Reynolds, Pete Counsell, Godwin Bugeja, Lance Gilbert, Rod Mayman, Darren Smith, the Gippsland Men and all the young fellas.
Oh, and Anna McFarlaneâyou rock!
OGS DO SOME WEIRD SHIT.
AYBE IT WAS JUST
prop his bum on the grass and drag himself along with his front paws like a little kid on a skateboard. He loved to sniff the odd crotch and he wasn't shy about it either; just waltz right up to you and bury his nose in your bits and you'd have to drag him off with a pair of dentist's pliers. He didn't do it to me but he did give a few of my mates a cheap thrill. And Kerry. She'd come around every other day and instead of vanishing into my room for some flushed cheeks she'd pick her way around the backyard with a little shovel and collect all the eggs that Ernie had laid, and put them in our wheelie bin. A good service in such a small yard. She asked me why I didn't do it myself and I made some limp excuse about not being able to with one hand. She didn't question that. I felt sorry for the bloke at the tip who scabbed through our rubbish. Surprise!
Kerry was trying to extract a particularly unfriendly number from the shaggy grass one day, not long before the end of the summer school holidays and I saw Ernie line
her up. I mean, her dress was a tasteful length but seeing her bent over was too much of a temptation for a red-blooded dog like Ernie. You go, fella. Boom. Should have heard her squeal.
Ernie didn't bark. Funny, but I hadn't noticed until Ted from the flat next door pointed it out. He stuck his head over the back fence one arvo. His grey moustache is curled at the ends so he always seems to be smiling. He was watching Ernie and me tear around the yard.
âHe doesn't make much noise,' Ted said.
I stopped in my tracks. He was right. I'd never heard him bark and Ted was saying it as a compliment. Who wants to live next door to a yapping mongrel? âYeah,' I said. âHe's good like that.'
âWhat breed is he? Looks a bit like a dingo.'
âYeah? I wouldn't have a clue.'
âDingoes don't bark. Ivy and I went to a dingo farm near Bendigo or Ballarat last year. The bloke who ran the show was a bit of a dingo himself but he knew what he was on about. Said that dingoes are too flat-out surviving to worry about barking.'
I grunted. Ernie was the right golden colour. I'd noticed that his tail had started to curl like the dingoes in the newspaperâthe dogs they shot on that island because they mauled a kid. That'd be right, I thought. I bet Ernie's ancestors lived with my ancestors in the bush somewhere, chomping on roo bones and goanna guts.
âMaybe he has a bit of dingo in him. I doubt he'd be purebred,' I said.
Like me, I thought. Bit of a mongrel. I got Ernie from Griz and there's nothing purebred about Griz.
He nodded. âMongrels are probably the best pets
anyway. Do you feed him bones? We've got a few chop bones from dinner. Do you want them?'
âYeah, he loves bones.'
He handed me an aluminium foil-wrapped package.
âTa,' I said, and unwrapped them without touching them. Them bones, them bones, them doggy bones with old people's spit on them. Ernie jumped up and scratched my leg.
The first few nights when we shut him in the laundry he howled his squeaky puppy howl until I thought about kitchen knives. It was Mum who eventually lost it with him, grabbed him so suddenly that he yelped and threw him on the end of my bed. That's where he was every night after that and he never made a whimper. He bailed up the Velos' tabby once, not like he was going to bite its head off or anything, just growled at it so it puffed itself up like a pompom. He tilted his head to the side and poked it with his paw. The cat sunk its claws in and hissed. Ernieâthe big brave guard dogâyelped and ran into the mower shed.
He'd grown heaps in the few weeks I'd had him. Griz reckoned he was seven weeks old when he gave him to me just after New Year so he would have been about ten weeks old when I went back to school at the end of January. I thought about getting a double bed. That was mostly why I wanted a double bed. Nah, if I'm honest Kerry was the reason I wanted a double bed. Big fantasy of mine, testing mattress springs with her. I told Mum that Ernie kept falling asleep uncomfortably on my stump. She didn't question that. She told me one morning while she was tying my shoelaces that she didn't have enough money for a new bed. Besides, where would it fit? I don't know. I'd take my desk out. I'd make it fit.
Kerry and I'd never had sexâwith each other or anyone elseâbut we'd talked about it often enough. Kez loves to talk about sex. We'd spent almost every waking minute together since Christmasâexcept the time when she thought I was hot for Mandyâand sometimes it was a real struggle to keep it in my pants, you know. I wished she'd grab hold of me like when we were at the beach. Mate, that was hot. And wet. She said we'd know when the time was right. Yeah, any day with a ây' in it, I reckoned. Nah, that's not true. Pashing with Kez was bliss but I could wait. There wasn't much risk of me bursting. That's why God invented hands. If I'm totally honest, the idea of going the Big One with Kez scared me a bit. A little bit. Condoms and pregnancy and blowing my load too soon, that sort of stuff. When she wasn't around then I'd want it something shocking but if she was there, it wasn't as bad. Just hanging out together took the edge off it. That and not having a place where we both felt comfortable.
Mum made a rule that whenever we were in my room at the flat we had to leave the door open. And when Mum wasn't home, we weren't allowed in the bedroom at all. She told us to our faces. Kez got embarrassed. I got pissed off. How stupid was that? We could heat up in the lounge when Mum was at work. In theory, anyway, but Kez couldn't get comfortable at the flat.
âWhat? Reckon I'm going to take advantage of you while Mum's not around?' I asked her as we stood on the porch wondering if we should go in.
âI wish . . .' she said, and I grabbed her hand.
âC'mon. Let's go!'
She screwed up her face. âYou know the rules.'
As if Mum'd know. I suppose she could have done spot
checks of my undies. Or random sniff tests. That's a bit gross. Mum was all smiles and that while Kerry was around but when Kez left, I felt like I was at sea. Mum'd storm around the flat like a low-pressure system on a weather map, letting off bolts of lightning and sending Ernie and me scurrying off to the bedroom or Game Zone. She was like a bear with a sore bum. Something was bothering her and the easiest thing to do was to steer clear of her. I'd ride with Kez to the flat and grab Ernie's lead so he didn't wag his tail off, then we'd go up to the Humes' or just walk. There were no rules at the Humes' place but there were always others there and they didn't think twice about just barging into Kez's room. Den wouldn't leave us alone. Gracie kept stuffing us full of food. We spent a lot of time walking.
Mum went out one Thursday night just before the end of the holidays and it was like I had dumped a backpack full of bricks I'd been carrying for weeks; I was all light on my feet. She was dressed up to the max but she reckoned she was just going out with the girls from work. Never been out with them before. Never heard her come home. I thought she'd better start leaving her bedroom door open.
I really wasted that night. I did three hours of nothing. Well, one hour of nothing and two hours on this survey sort of competition thingy about Internet pornography that Hendo had pulled out of a
magazine. Fill in all the answers and you could win a massive computer. Jeez, they asked some sick stuff. I've only seen Internet porn onceâwhen Den and I were at Hendo's placeâand only for a few minutes before Hendo's mum came home. Hendo reckons it's brilliant and he talks all the time about the warped stuff he's found so I guess I was writing about
his experience when I filled in the form. It ended up a whole lot more colourful than if I'd have filled it in honestly.
I could have spent the whole night raving on the phone with Kez. Could have, but it didn't happen that way. I could have spent the night watching TV but that didn't happen either. I jumped into bed early and scratched my balls until I had made a little tent out of my boxers. Ernie started licking his bum. It sounded disgusting and I almost kicked him off the bed before he got the message. I didn't finish the job.
Dennis and I didn't do much in the holidays. I saw him nearly every day but I was with his sister, and when I saw him on the first day of school, I thought that I'd wasted the whole break. Didn't get up to anything wild. Missed out on all my mates' get-togethers and madness. The cool thing about Den is he didn't give a shit, you know. Just dropped down next to me in homeroom and picked up where we'd left off. He told me that Otto had been put on probation for belting the crap out of him and that Griz had bought him a Coke. He thanked me for making up the numbers in his armyâwhich was a bit stupid really. If Otto was beating the intestines out of me, Den'd be the first one in and the last one down. I know that for certain. He's that kind of mate.
Going back to school was a bit spooky for Kez and me. She hung out with Rebecca and that during the day and I hung out with my mates, catching up on all the goss. I went looking for her at the end of lunchtime, just to let her know that I was still alive but I couldn't find her. By the end
of the day, I was feeling like my summer with Kez had all been a dream. But I grabbed my bike and she was waiting at the front gate. She kissed me and I held her hand while she walked beside me. Steered my bike with my stump. We saw the bus go past and Den waved with a pointer finger from the front window. Mandy and Carly looked over their shoulders out the back. Kerry squeezed my hand.
We crept up on Ernie. It was the first day he'd spent by himself and I'd missed him so he must have missed me. I peeked around the corner of the flat and he was already standing against the wire fence that Dad and I had made, his tail spinning so fast he was almost airborne. Maybe he'd been standing there all day? How would I know? Still, nothing and nobody had ever been so excited to see me. The play fight we had cracked Kez up. He was a strong pup with needle teeth. After that first day of school, he totally stuffed the sleeve of one of my school shirts.