"She looked a bloody good sort to me,
Blue Donavan nodded in agreement and took a long pull from the
schooner in front of him. The cold beer was welcoming after the week's
hard graft and he intended to sink more than a few.
"I reckon I might take her dancing again at that. She scrubbed up all
right and for a sheila could tell a good yarn.
"That just about did it!"
Both the men swung around in astonishment. When they had entered the
"Beyonya" hotel, the darkened bar had been quiet. They hadn't noticed
the figure nursing a drink in one corner for their attention was set
on the lanky barman and his beer. Beyonya's hotel was kept company by
only one other building - a single bowser garage that sold, or rather
could procure, almost anything, that is, if one had the patience to
wait. Beyonya was isolated from the nearest town by eighty-seven
kilometres and that urban place was no more than a gathering of
shanties. The nearest city was two thousand plus kilometres away,
which according to local folk was still too close for comfort. The
last woman to enter Beyonya's hotel was 'ole man Duffy's wife who had
cut her hand off while cutting wood for her stove. By all accounts
Duffy himself had taken her to meet the Flying Doctor, that was, after
he'd finished two more beers to complete the going "shout".
Blue Donovan and his mate, Lindsay Keaton, shuffled off their stools
and more hastily removed their hats in deference towards the fairer
"I beg your pardon, miss?" said Blue.
'Don't patronise me, you sexist lout.'
` "Eh?" said Lindsay. She'd lost him, and then some.
"Just hold on there, lady." Blue had the temper associated with his
titian hair and his manners often complemented his disposition.
The lady in question was not to be put off by this outback bumpkin. "I
might remind you that this is nineteen ninety-eight and not the early
"It is?" Lindsay shook his head in amazement.
"So what if it is?" returned Blue.
"So what.......?" Carol King was beginning to choke on the anger that
welled up inside her chest. Her editor's discriminatory comments had
ended abruptly within three short days after she'd joined the tabloid.
The newspaper still employed her and she had gained respect not only
for her stand on women's rights but also for her work. Carol changed
tack. "Haven't you heard of a little thing called equality?"
"Can't say I have," said Blue. Subdued now by the question, he turned
to the barman who had moved to a better position to watch the play.
"What about you, Tiny? 'Ave you heard about equality?"
"Me neither," put in Lindsay. He was not about to be left out of the
"Oh, for God's sake".
"'Ere, watch your words, miss. Folks around here have respect for the
Good Book and particularly the Lord's good name."
"Dead right, mate." said Blue.
"You're putting me on?" Carol found her confidence waning.
"Where d'you come from, miss?" Lindsay asked. He always was handy with
the oil for troubled waters.
Blue wasn't going to let her off that quick. "Don't they have manners
down that way then?"
"My manners aren't in question. Yours, however, are. Wasn't it you
making sexist remarks about women in general?"
"I haven't a clue what you're talking about. I was having a private
chat with my mate 'ere - until you butted in."
"Now who's being rude?"
"She's right, Blue," agreed Tiny.
"Yeah, mate." Not to be left out was Lindsay.
"Beers all round, I reckon?" Blue looked enquiringly at the young
"Yes, that would be nice. Thankyou." The journalist's change in mood
was prompted more by her reason for being in Beyonya and not by the
charm of her new comrades. Lindsay did the necessary introductions
before cross-examining Carol further about her life past, present and
future. Amazingly the first hour saw only three more arguments start
between Blue and the city journalist. Drinks were bought and sunk in
rapid succession and Carol did her best to match the men schooner for
schooner. Her attempts to lay money on the bar were refused gallantly
by her companions which only increased her determination to be
recognised as an equal. A group of stockmen arrived at the hotel and
with them a truck driver who was transporting their cattle. None the
wiser with the local custom he threw his smokes on the bar and
straddled a stool.
"Not that one, mate," said Tiny. "That's for 'ole Reggie."
"Sorry, mate." Carol watched, amazed that the truckie didn't get dirty
with the bar attendant. More determined now to make a stand she fixed
her eye on a corner stool to her right. "Ah, ah", she thought.
"I wouldn't sit on that one, Miss Carol," said Blue.
"No way," said Lindsay.
"Oh, wouldn't you?" Carol fairly threw herself at the stool only to
land breathless on her back.
"I must fix that leg," said Tiny. "Somebody will hurt themself one
"An' that's a fact, mate," mused Lindsay.
Refusing Blue's outstretched hand, Carol retired hurt in the direction
of the ladies' toilet. This meant leaving the bar and circumnavigating
the hotel. To the rear stood a rickety old convenience which offered
the desperate relief. Shared by both the hotel and garage patrons, the
outhouse was less than pristine. Clouds of flies bothered the fleeting
visitors, hurrying them on their way. On her return to the bar, as she
passed an open window, Carol heard the men inside swearing and cursing
with fervour. Finally, she thought, they are acting like normal folk.
"Woman in the bar, lads," shouted Tiny. Immediately, voices lowered
and the strong language ceased. Woman in the bar! Carol couldn’t
believe her ears. Not only that but she had nearly landed on the floor
again. As she had reached for the door, two men had spontaneously
helped her entrance - albeit in perfect politeness. No story was worth
this outrage. Five minutes later she was heading out of town.
Back in the pub Tiny was putting the old stool back in the cupboard.
"Thank God, she's gone", he said.
"Too bloody right, mate," agreed Lindsay.
"Rubber-necks. Who needs them?" said Blue.