Stanley asked once more "Do we have to take him?" It was bad enough he thought
having a little brother, but oh boy, to cart him everywhere, that was something altogether
different. Stanley looked at his mother, a pleading hang dog expression on his face. This
look he remembered had worked before and Reggie had been left behind. Now his
mother was adamant. He didn’t press the point. He knew when he was beaten. Reggie
was the fly in the ointment as far as Stan was concerned. He didn’t want to look at his
brother, thinking this might give him ideas. Ideas in Reggie’s head always turned to
whinging. Stan turned to walk out the door still not looking in Reggie’s direction. His
mind was racing now. How to loose his little brother, or how to buy him off. He was
walking quickly down the stairs his mother’s voice following him. "Don’t forget to look
after him Stanley" Then he heard the door slam and Reggie bounded down after him, like
a little dog.
Stan rounded the corner of the house at a trot and made a bee-line for his bike. He was
planning to ride away fast and then Reggie would be close enough to home to go back,
tail between his legs. As he swung his leg over the saddle he heard his mother. "And
Stanley, here’s $2.00 for an ice block" Looking up, his mother was leaning over the front
balcony getting ready to throw the money. Reggie started up almost at once. " I want a
pink one Stan, a pink one" Stanley caught the money, he never missed, and deposited it
in his pocket. He had to go to Gutso’s house first, then they would pick up Spike and all
go to Brewer’s corner store. Gutso always had money, and if he could just off load
Reggie at the shop, with the ice block, they would be free for the arvo.
As he rode up Gutso’s drive he saw his friend coming out from the side gate. The look of
‘oh no not him’ was written all over Gutso’s face. All Stan could do was roll his eyes in
silence. Gutso knew they had been lumbered again. He fell into place between Stanley
and Reggie and they rode off to collect Spike.
They weren’t going too fast but Reggie was yelling for them to slow down. Stan and
Gutso exchanged looks and on a silent count of 3 they loosened up their muscles and
started to race. The plaintiff cry of Reggie could be heard in the distance. "I’ll tell mum,
you just wait and see if I don’t" Stan knew that if his mum found out he had left him, he
would be grounded. He looked back to see Reggie peddling like the clappers to catch up,
and he took the slower pace to tell Gutso of the $2.00 in his pocket. Gutso whipped out a
$5.00 note from his pocket and waved it about like he had just won a million. He kissed it
and smelt it, running it under his nose. Stan uttered the one word they all knew to be
sheer heaven "Sweet"
Reggie caught up to them and they peddled off at a slower pace to Spike’s house. They
rode up to spike’s front yard. Stan flicked his stand down on the back wheel and parked
his bike next to the letter box. Gutso and Reggie leaned their bikes against the tree on the
footpath and sat down on the gutter.
Stanley walked up the steep drive way looking left and right. He picked up the rolled up
newspaper as he stepped cautiously on the front step. One more look around and then he
pressed the bell. From the other side of the door there erupted the full fury of 2 pit bull
terriers. As Spike opened the front wooden door they snarled and thrashed themselves at
the screen door.
"Get out of it you mongrels" Spike said, and he pulled on their collars. From inside Mrs.
Jenkins, Spike’s mum could be heard whistling the dogs to the back of the house. They
trotted away feeling their duty had been done. Spike grabbed his camelback and hat from
the hall stand and slid out the door. "Don’t be late," Mrs. Jenkins yelled and Stan and
Spike gave each other the knowing look as if to say ‘mothers!’
Spike told Stan he managed to get $3.50 from his mother and Stan told him of the $5.00
Gutso had, plus his change from Reggie’s ice block.
"Reggie" Spike said with the sound of despondency in his voice.
"I know" said Stan "But I think I can off load him at Brodies with his block if we go that
way after Brewer’s corner store"
They reached the footpath to see Gutso and Reggie standing up and dusting themselves
down. "How much?" said Gutso "$3.50," Spike replied and they all said, "Sweet"
The ride to Brewer’s was a mess of turns and short cuts and off road dirt tracks. They
rode the tracks like 4 wheel drives skidding and whooping until they all stopped at the
edge of the highway. To get across they lifted their bikes over the railing and stood on the
hard shoulder. The wind of the trucks made their clothes tug at their bodies like a
demented hip hop dancer. They stood in a line waiting for a space in the traffic. Stan took
a sideways glance at Reggie and made a quick decision. He’d be ok between spike and
Gutso. They turned their heads to watch the oncoming traffic, legs bent, hands held tight
onto handlebars, bodies like taut springs, ready to explode when the moment came.
"Now" shouted Spike and they ran, propelled into action by one word.
In the second lane Stan tripped. The others didn’t see him go down at first. Horror spread
to their faces as the situation became serious. Stan was trying to get up with the traffic
looming at what seemed like 100mph. His shoe lace was caught in the chain and he was
all messed up. Gutso and Spike reached the island and could only turn back and look. In a
second Reggie dropped his bike and pulled stan’s shoe off. He dragged his brother to his
feet and they ran like they had never run in their lives to the safety of the island. They
rolled onto the grass and turned in time to see a big semi-trailer, the driver furiously
honking his horn, swerve and narrowly miss their bikes.
Stan bent over and spewed his breakfast. Gutso and Spike looked at the road, then at
Stan, and then the road again. "Shit," Gutso said. They could say no more.
Spike took control then, and he rescued their bikes one at a time, to the sound of honking
and swearing from the drivers. Stan sat up and looked at the spew on the grass. "Oh look,
weetbix" he said and they all laughed.
Getting to the other side was easier because it was a slip road and had less traffic. Once
over, they rode on to Brewer’s corner store. The money was divided up into 4 and they
all came out with bags of lollies the size of one of Gutso’s big fists.
When they finally got home after a day of riding around and mucking about, Reggie was
asked by his mother what he had been up to. A shooting glance from Stanley made him
swallow his first word and he replied "oh nothing". Reggie, had arrived.