The Three friends returned from Middleton having spent an exciting night at the race meet. They were high on the adrenalin packed first night for the season of the Stock Car Championships. Wattie knew one of the drivers and was able to wangle a pit pass for himself his two friends and his 18 year old sister. The talk was ecstatic in the car about the night’s events as they rattled along in Henriek Dewar’s old beaten up Entrogenious Vehicle. It served its purpose, got them from A – B, and that was the main thing.
Middleton was the Capital City of Gambolina. The capital had a population of 3.5 million people. Gambolina was a land locked country boarded by emerging 3rd world countries dependant on an income from raw mineral deposits and agriculture. Gambolina had been fortunate in the respect that it had large Coal Mines of good quality Lignite coal. The neighboring lands had snaveled up this resource to fuel there power producing plants. Now these countries were developing Power Plants that no longer required fossil fuels as the Universal Bank was offering finance to develop other means for production in a bid to stem pollution. This left Gambolina in an insidious position of having a depleted Gross Domestic income. Warambunda the town of 6000 people, where the boys came from was in an enviable position of offering full employment to its residents who either worked at the processing plant which was over in the valley just a stones throw from the place, or else they were involved in administration in the township. Others serviced the local agricultural industry where a variety of fruit and vegetables were grown.
Watties’ father was the local government representative. He was also in charge of the agriculture portfolio in the Citizens Party, a conservative centre right administration. Times were changing and the country was becoming more dependant on its primary produce production where the Government was attempting to encourage value added foodstuffs.
All three boys and Watties’ sister worked at the ‘Good Harvest’ food producing plant which had been in the area for 15 years now. The boys used to play in the rafters and attic of the building when they were 8/9 year olds. Making huts and bunks out of the old sacks and surplus building materials stored up there, over the back end of the warehouse area. Nobody knew of their shenanigans up in the rafters where they spent long hours talking about their futures as well as school gossip. Once they tried to get Sally-Marie Tutucney to come up there with them. She was shy of them and lead them on a bit but reneged at the last minute. Sally had grown up into an attractive girl with an effervescence personality. She had a very pleasant face, slim build and very curly black hair.
“Why don’t you come and play with us over at the Factory?” said Toby.
He was always the forward one. Never took anything seriously. Great sense of humor had a joke for every situation.
“Play what?” enquired Sally.
“Doctors and Nurses; Mothers and Fathers. I don’t know you choose. What do you want to be?”
The boys obtained access to the Plant by leaning some planks of wood against the perimeter fence and then on to the roof. From there they opened a Sky Light and climbed down on to a large empty packing case which they had previously, laboriously shoved into position underneath, which happened to be on the mezzanine floor.
A warm breeze wafted over the land as the young men disembarked from the old EV. Firstly at Watties’ home and lastly at Toby’s abode. The Fog grass rustled airily in the late evening. It sent a shiver up Toby’s spine as he stepped out of the car at his place.
“Great. Thanks; catch you later.”
With the Taxi job finished Henriek speed off to his house where he knew his Mother would be waiting up for him. At 21 he had become the mainstay of the family. His Dad had long since disappeared leaving, Rosemary, to bring up their boy single handed. Rosemary was fond of her son and he had turned out to be one in a million. He meticulously took care of his Mother by supplying an income for them both to live on.
Henrieks’ grand parents, on his Mothers’ side lived in Warambunda too. At one time his grandfather was head shirang at the Factory but that was some time ago. In fact now in his old age he was losing his memory and probably had Alzheimer’s. He took a lot of caring for, and most days Rosemary went to the aid of her failing Mother who was often at a loss with regards to coping with her husband.
On Breakdag it was back to work as usual. Henriek picked up the other two boys and Jessie in his car and took them over the hill to the Factory. He had a responsible job in quality control. He wasn’t in charge but never the less he was an integral part of the team. Wattie worked in the administration area and Toby had a position in the processing of tinned fruit department. Toby’s job was very sweaty and often smelly depending on what produce was being canned. Jessie well she had only started there and was learning the ropes on the floor in the screening area where the raw materials first came into the Factory. On meal breaks they all met together sharing their lunches and generally chatting small talk and when Jessie wasn’t there they talked about girls. The growing economic situation of the country was beginning to have a bearing on everybody’s conversation. The austerity plan was biting into everyone’s back pocket. Petrol prices were climbing and welfare was being cut. All the things that helped make the general population’s life and lifestyle bearable and a little more comfortable was slowly but surely slipping away. The older men at the Factory reminisced about better times in the past, and it was hard for them to make adjustments and accept a lower standard of living. Wages hadn’t kept place with inflation. How could they after all, necessary imports had to be brought and the State income was growing smaller. Supply and demand was a leveler of the prosperity of the country.
Elections were looming and Gerard Mconikie, Watties’ Father was gearing up for a hard fight with the rising Socialist Party. The T.P.C. (The Peoples Collective). What made it worse was the Right wing party was becoming more popular than the Citizens Party of Gerard’s. It was an ambiguous situation with the Single Credit Party and The Peoples Collective dividing the constituency and locking out the ruling centre right Government. Fortunately for Gerard he had the backing of his family and in general the support of the township of Warambunda. They were indebted to him for raising the capital for the development of the industrial unit over the hill. This election there wasn’t the money around to run a flamboyant campaign. One of the things Mr. Mconikie needed to insure was that he had the Directors and Owners of ‘Good Harvest’ on his side. He scheduled a meeting with them the following Taurudag before he went into Middleton to attend the Senate there.
After work Wattie cyclostyled off 5000 pamphlets on the benefits of returning the Citizens Party to power for a third term. His Dad had set out the paper and made a list of the achievements and benefits that had been accomplished over the last eight years. It read well. It didn’t look flash but times were tight and each candidate had to make do with what they had. Last election the pamphlets were all glossy and colorful, they exhibited a sense of success as well as positivism. Come Feastdag Wattie and his friends would walk the streets of the town and deposit the advertisements in the local’s letter boxes. The next day they would go over to neighboring Babaloora, a coal mining town and do a letter box drop there too.
The Directors at ‘Good Harvest’ gave Gerard their backing and promised to help finance his Campaign. The meeting with the Boyens brothers, Geoff and Greg was productive also reassuring. Another Director was there as well but remained quiet and conservative. Thomas Tutanakye the other Director present was an enigma to most people he had only been in the district a short while but had considerable money to invest. He had got his wealth from the Coal mines to the North near the Suotsuy Nation. It was said he had exploited their poverty by using cheap labor to mine the black gold. Nobody entered into any research as to his history; in fact most people didn’t care. There were other things more important to be concerned about. He invested his money in the Company and the Boyens brothers were grateful for that. It allowed them to expand the plant until it covered a 12 hectare area including parking. As well as this ‘Good Harvest’ was able to finance development into exporting its products overseas.
The Suotsuy’s on the boarder were a religious crowd. Goamo was their Religion. It was based on the Worship of inanimate objects that were half man, half reptile. Often you would see these Idols sculptured with the Sun shining behind them. Few ventured south and it was rare to see a Suotsuy out of their native land. For the most part they were a reclusive, suspicious group of people who had little dealings with the outside world. A few had become educated and proved to be great organizers. Their requirements were simple. The warm climate they lived in enabled them to require basic clothing, they grew most of there own food and seemed to be self sufficient. Politically they had no aspirations other than to be left alone to determine there own law and outcomes.
The boys hurried themselves to finish delivering the last remaining pamphlets so they could get into Middleton to catch the finale meeting for the season at the Raceway.
“Com’on you jokers we will be late,” cried Toby. “You’re as slow as reptile eating a saygwar.”
“We’ll be there. It’s good of your Dad to give us five Shukas a piece for delivering this junk,” said Henriek to Wattie.
“OK, finished. Let’s go.”
With the job completed everybody clambered into the EV and headed for the Capital. The night’s events were again another spectacle but sadly it was the end of the season and the boys would have to wait to next year for the Races to recommence. Wattie got home to a worried Father that evening. He was grateful that the boys had delivered the Flyers however it wasn’t looking good for his parties’ reelection. Polling was depressed and swinging away from the present administration. Gerard would be out of a job at this rate and it worried him as to how he could support his family. Their small 3 bedroom house had a gloomy atmosphere. The house was fully paid off and had all the mod cons, ever how simple they were. Some folks were worse off with owing the State for their housing needs. So you could say the Mconikie family was better off than some.
Day by day the present administration was becoming more and more unpopular. Then it was time for prospective candidates to register their nominations for the up and coming election. The Citizens Party met and there were two nominations and to Gerard’s surprise Greg Boyens had put his name forward. The committee convened and debated over who they preferred to put forward. Gerard waited with anticipation at the Town Hall that muggy warm evening in Cheeata. Sweat exuded from his brow. He new that his position was on the line, Greg was a formidable candidate and highly thought of, as well as respected in the Subsure. Gerard’s family stood with him. Wattie to the right of his Father and Fran his wife with Jessie to the left as the panel filed back into the main auditorium. A crowd of about 200 had gathered to hear the outcome. The president rose to his feet.
“It’s not a unanimous outcome but I am sure a popular one for the Towns folk. It is with great pleasure that we announce Greg Boyens as the new candidate for the Citizens Party to stand for the election of representative for this area. Thank you for attendance---------------------------”
The Mconikie family’s faces dropped into a sad expression. Henriek and his Mother came over to comfort them. The committee had got the mood of the populace right. The people wanted change, but was this the kind of change people wanted. Gerard good naturedly went over and shook Greg Boyens’ hand and congratulated him.
“Well done my friend. I guess I will have to come knocking on your door for a job. Any help you need for the Campaign I am willing to assist. You have my full cooperation and support.”
Greg knew he would need all the votes he could get so he didn’t alienate his defeated nominee in front of the crowd. He graciously accepted the offer and returned the handshake.
The Mconikie family along with Henriek and his mother slipped out of the hall and quietly went home. Greg Boyens never came for help. He preferred to be independent of the need to ask Gerard for assistance. The townsfolk soon got wind of the rift between the old candidate and the new and were reluctant to get involved. The candidates for the other party’s were selected and to the amazement of everybody Thomas Tutanakye was selected as the Single Credit contender. Christine Stubbs from Babaloora was the T.P.C. aspirant for the electorate.
Mr. Mconikie had a lonely trip back to Government buildings on the following Breakdag. Many thoughts raced through his mind. Thoughts of what his immediate future would hold with regards to providing for his family. Overwhelmingly though he was concerned about the out come of the election if one or the other parties got into power. They were offering unrealistic promises of big spending on expensive welfare programs. Tutanakye was espousing the benefits of centralization of services and Human Resources. What ever that meant he wasn’t exactly explaining. He said this was the only way to minimize administration costs. Gerard had a favorite saying which was; offer a socialist 6 Shukas for their 1 and they wouldn’t take it unless they knew all about you; and then only if they had control over your life and wellbeing.
The following Sanctadag Toby attended Church with his Mum, Dad and little 7 year old sister. This was their habit since they had become Christians when Toby’s parents had marital problems when he was a teenager. Then along came Alice which seemed to seal their commitment to their new found faith. Toby went along because he didn’t want to upset the status quo. This was twice on Sanctadag as well as Taurudag nights. They were lively meetings but predictable. The passion had gone out of the services with the monotony of the format. The next week would see the townsfolk voting for their representative for the area who would be in the Government for a four year term. The Preacher hammered on about not being lead into compromising your Christian beliefs.
“We are from above, not of this world. We have a leader and the Government rests on his shoulders. Don’t become divided on your commitment to one another.”
This sermon confused Toby he couldn’t get his head around who the preacher was talking about. Did he support Mr.Boyens, Tutanakye or Stubbs? Perhaps he was saying we did wrong in not supporting Wattie’s father. Toby shook the parsons’ hand as his family and the congregation filed out of the hall. He smiled a gentle smile as he exchange pleasantries with the man, still bewildered about what the message was supposed to convey to him personally. His mother had prepared dinner early in the morning and it just required cooking. The family gathered around the table. Toby’s Dad said thanks and they all tucked in.
That afternoon many of the townsfolk gathered at Hobson’s Park to hear addresses from the prospective contenders. Tutanakye was very charismatic. It seemed that if this was a debate he would have won. Greg’s input was very measured and gave the same old story of belt tightening and frugalness. Nobody wanted to hear this. Mrs. Stubbs told how she was brought up in the area and had lived her whole life here in the district. She said she was looking forward to representing the people of Warambunda in the big Wampoon. Everybody laugh as they identified with her neighborliness. She was clearly the most popular runner.
Zambindi the country to the north was keenly watching the outcome of the elections of their neighbor. Most of the population was made up of Suotsuys and the last thing they wanted was an administration that destabilizes the region. To the east, a long strip of a country which was settled by people of a Teutonic background, didn’t care so much about the politics of surrounding countries as they were better off. With their deep water ports Whambunga was self-sufficient as other countries were dependant upon them for shipping their trade. Needless to say the transport industry flourished here in Whambunga.
To the south a large country of mixed races got on with its creeping slow pace of life oblivious and carefree as to how the rest of the world viewed them. Limondo was a mountainous country and was hugely undeveloped with a primitive administration. One of their problems with getting a consensus was the many languages that were spoken. Being a large country meant the population could become segregated. Any power seeking individual could easily play the divide and rule game. Corruption and graft were prevalent in Limondo.
Wattie stood there with his hands on his hips wondering when his fellow compatriots were going to contest him for the possession of the ball. It was a mid afternoon soccer match between the miners of Babaloora and the factory workers. Toby played left back and Henriek was a striker. His athletic build and 1.6 metre height leant to his ability with the ball. He dashed through the ranks of the opposing side as his shock of black curly hair thrashed around on his head when Wattie centered a kick just to the left of him.
“Goal!” Yelled the locals as they supported their team.
The score was now at 3 – 2 in favor of the miners. It was going to have to be something of a bush walk to get out of the predicament they were in. Wattie at center forward had a quick word to Henriek as they regained their positions for the recommencement of the game.
“It may work,” was the only commitment Henriek gave.
There was only three and a half minutes left in the game. The opposing side kicked long down the inside of the field. Wattie picked it up and passed it back to the strong legs of Toby who in turn took his time to return the ball down to Wattie who was now at full speed. He took it as far as he could to a bamboozled Babaloora team where upon he passed it to the wing. Henriek was now in the right place. The game continued on while the ball was in play. It was only a matter of moments and a goal was imminent. The ball went out Henriek; he kicked it, the ball went straight. Straight passed the Goal Keeper into the net. The whistle blew.
“Off side,” cried the referee.
The whistle blew twice more.
Everybody gathered under the Leanto after the game and had a few glasses of Warberg Beer. It was a very convivial time and good natured ribbing and sledging took place until it was time for the miners to board their bus and head off home. The three boys helped tidy up. Picking up empty bottles and leftover meat hunkers still half eaten on their paper plates. It had been a great day of entertainment. Just unlucky not to at least of drawn the contest.
“Next year,” was the parting words most had to each other as they packed up and went home.