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Jenny's Justice..

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Chapter 2

Jenny rose early, the way she did every day. Being Saturday was no reason to be lazy. Little did she know that this day’s events were about to shake up her neat life. Gully stirred at the foot of the bed as Jenny dressed, threw back the curtains and drank in the warm morning air.

Thousands of kilometres away at Broken Hill, the events that would force Jenny into a situation not unlike the one she was trying to forget were unfolding.

Garrick Rowe, an American was helping the pilot load a single engine Cessna with his photographic equipment. After a trek through New South Wales he was headed to Queensland. Garrick with his fair hair, dark eyes, strikingly tall but slim build was a vast contrast to the barren airport that surrounded him. He stood out like a polished stone among the locals. His hands did not show the signs of hard labour, they were soft and smooth. His face, although tanned from months under the Australian sun, still looked fresh and soft. He had city written all over him.

Strapped into the plane he happily took aerial shots as the land rushed below them. The pilot flew disinterested; he had seen it all before.

The station was quiet with the men gone for the weekend. This was a time Jenny cherished. A time to tend to her grandmothers garden, a time to unwind and let down the wall that protected her just a little.

As she tended to the roses, Gully barked and bounded towards the gate and a young boy on a pinto mare. The dog’s barks were one of greeting not warning and Jenny smiled watching the boy let himself through the gate. He waved to her as she went to sit on the steps of the front verandah to wait. Having dismounted and giving Gully a greeting the child marched up to Jenny and gave her the biggest hug a boy of nine could manage. In return she hugged the child tightly, running her fingers through his short sandy hair.

“Miss Jenny.” The child gasped excitedly. “Do you have a story for me today?”

“Sure do Bobby.” Jenny’s voice was sweet and warm. Her love and tenderness carried in every word. “What story did you give your mother this time?”

Bobby replied with a chuckle in his voice. “Told her I was staying over at Darren’s, she never checks. He’ll be here soon.”

“Would you like to help me in the kitchen until he does?”

“Oh would I just.” Bobby nearly fell over Gully in his rush to get to the other end of the house.

Jenny smiled and her eyes came alive when she heard the excited yells from a boy who had just found the gift she had left for him in the middle of the kitchen table.

Jenny halted at the kitchen door so the boy could savour the moment. Among the freshly baked biscuits was a brand new pair of riding boots. Bobby squealed with excitement when he saw Jenny standing at the door. “Miss Jenny how did you know?”

“Darren told me you had been saving since your birthday for them. Hope you like them?”

“Like them!” Bobby dropped the boots and ran around the table hugging Jenny around the waist. “You’re the best.”

“Well a guy who can save and work as hard as you have deserves a little help.”

Jenny patted him on the head and pulled his arms from around her looking seriously into his eyes. “But.”

“Yes Miss Jenny.” Bobby stepped closer to his new boots to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

“You can keep them provided you leave your own money in the bank and keep saving.”

“No worries Miss Jenny.”

While Bobby frantically changed into his new boots, Darren’s voice could be heard in the front yard. Gully had darted from the house and the dog was running around the boy as he bounded up the stairs. He was just about to place one very dirty shoe on the floor when he heard Jenny’s voice from the kitchen.

“Darren Bradley you put one dirty hoof mark on my clean floor and I’ll tan you till you are raw!”

Darren immediately backtracked, stamping and rubbing his shoes on the mat. At the same time Bobby ran down the hall to greet him. He knew that Jenny would probably shout at him for doing so but he was so excited he could not contain himself.

Darren’s eyes fell to the boots. Not a word was spoken but the youngsters performed some kind of dance ritual. Hands clasped on each other’s shoulders; they jumped and yelled into the front yard with Gully bouncing around on his hind legs trying to get in on the act.

Jenny smiled, watching from the verandah, allowing them to dance a few moments longer before letting loose with a high-pitched whistle that brought all three to a standstill. “Darren put your bike in the barn. Bobby put your horse in the holding pen and we will take a ride out to the west end and I will finish the story from last week.”

Each boy ran in a different direction to collect their respective charges. Their actions natural, routine and in a way it was. The boys had been coming to see Jenny and listen to her wonderful stories for as long as they both could remember. Darren’s father, the local doctor would drop his son off on a Saturday morning before doing his rounds of the region. Bobby’s mother used to drive him from town on her weekly visit to her sisters some three hundred kilometres away. Just over two years ago, it had all stopped and the boys had been given strict instructions not to return to the Norman Station. The boys had been offered no explanation but they knew it had to do with Jenny’s family. Since then both boys had found ways to sneak back every Saturday. Dr Bradley had given in to his son only a few months after the curfew hoping that the visits would help Jenny. Neither boy asked Jenny for an explanation though they sensed she had changed in some way. They knew the crosses on the hill had grown in number but it was her stories and the piles of freshly baked biscuits and cakes that kept then coming back. They also knew they were learning but Jenny made it so much fun it never felt like it. Thanks to Jenny, Darren had learnt to ride a horse and Bobby had taken a keen interest in cooking of all things. For a nine year old, he was very good. Both wanted to show off their new talents to their parents but as their visits were shrouded in secrecy, especially where Bobby’s mother was concerned they had to be content to keep them a secret.

As they waited for Jenny to lead three horses out of the barn they understood the relationship they had with her was very special.

“Well boys mount up.”

The trio covered a large distance of the property lazily and happily with the boys laughing and listening to stories of past times and of people that wandered the land before their own ancestors had arrived. They stopped under a large gum tree, a special spot the boys had picked out a few years back. As Jenny took a deep breath and looked out over the land from speckled hilltop to sandy bottom dried riverbed the boys unpacked the picnic basket.

Jenny could sense their anticipation as they fidgeted behind her. Turning she smiled and began to take the food out of the basket. These were the days she liked the best. They brought back happy memories.

With her permission, the boys devoured the food eagerly and without complaint. As they did Jenny listened while they gave her an account of their week. Stories of school, family and friends and a few confessions neither one would have dared tell anyone else. Jenny laughed along with the boys as they relived their glory.

The boys so loved their weekends because in Jenny they had found and ally, she listened to them as intently as they listened to her. She never chastised them for their antics but kept a motherly hold on their exuberance making sure they knew where their boundaries were.

Nestled in the shade under the old gum they listened as Jenny weaved her magical adventures until the sun began to sink beyond the hills. Jenny looked into the sky with a little sorrow knowing the day was coming to an end. The boys knew it too and in silence began to pack up the remains of their picnic.

Just as they mounted their horses they all heard an unusual sound coming from the darkening sky. All three looked in the same direction seeing a small plane. Jenny sat rigid in her saddle watching and listening to the increasingly erratic sound. Her face pale and shadowed in fear and her body trembled as the plane got closer. The boys looked from the plane to Jenny. They began to realise with horror themselves that something was terribly wrong.

Jenny’s heart pounded as she watched the crippled plane streaking for the ground much too fast. All of a sudden, the world fell silent as the plane plummeted lifelessly.

Jenny’s voice quaked as she spoke more to herself than to the boys. “Dear God, not again, please not again.”

The boys, like Jenny had not taken their eyes off the crippled aircraft as it tried desperately to regain some hold over its destiny. They gasped and jumped in their saddles as it hit the ground, running recklessly through the scrub until a wing clipped a tree. Jenny screamed in horror, putting her horse into a full gallop. “Noooooo!!”

The cry she made was shrilling, bringing the boys out of their own numbed trance. Seeing how far Jenny had travelled, they too kicked their horses into action. By the time they reached Jenny’s horse she had dismounted and was running to the now smouldering plane. Pulling back the door she found two men bleeding and unconscious. Looking into the pilot’s eyes it was obvious he was dead; a piece of broken windshield piercing his chest. She hesitated before checking the other man.

Garrick was bleeding badly from a gash on his forehead, his left arm was at such an angle there was no doubt that it was broken and he had another serious gash on his side. Jenny pulled a large piece of glass away seeing the blood seeping through the rip in his shirt. Nervously she placed her fingers on the side of his neck to check for a pulse – Life. Her relief was only momentary as she scrambled to release him from his seatbelt. Smelling the leaking fuel she had no desire to become another victim.

All this time Gully stood by Jenny’s horse watching and waiting. The boys on the other hand rushed to try to help Jenny. They stopped and watched amazed as she carried Garrick from the plane unaided. Her knees buckled under the weight but Jenny was a strong woman. She placed Garrick at the boy’s feet before running back to the plane. Gully pawed at Garrick’s limp body. Back for the second time Jenny had retrieved two metal boxes from the cockpit. One was instantly recognisable as the first aid kit, the other just a plain metal case. One more time Jenny ran back to the plane when there was an earth-shattering explosion sending her reeling back with such force she hit the ground hard winding her momentarily. The boys screamed even before Jenny hit the ground and Gully went to the aid of his mistress.

“Miss Jenny you okay?” Darren was trying to be very grown up and in other circumstances Jenny may have acknowledged his eagerness to enter the adult world but she had other matters on her mind. Kneeling down next to Garrick, Jenny systematically called orders and requests to the boys as she checked his injuries.

“Darren, can you drive as well as you ride that bike of yours?”

Darren pulled his body to its full height and stood at attention as he answered. “Better.”

Jenny’s hands raced over Garrick’s wounds as she attempted to stop the bleeding. “Then ride back to the house and get the Ute. Put your foot down! Go!”

Darren turned on his heels and dashed away without another word as Jenny turned her attention to Bobby.

“Bobby head back into town and tell the Doc you saw the plane go down. This guy is going to need more help than I can give him.”

Bobby was already mounting his horse as he answered. “Yes Miss Jenny.”

Jenny rummaged in the first aid kit until she found a suture set. Threading the needle, she looked into Garrick’s face. “Just as well you can’t feel this.”

Placing the needle into the gash above his right eye Jenny winced from the pain that shot though her own arm. The stitches were small and neat. So were the ones she placed in the wound on his side once she had cleaned it. Next, she placed his broken arm in a splint made from the supplies in the kit and a few branches. A few broken ribs were apparent but not so easily detected would be any internal bleeding. She was about to clean the rest of Garrick when Darren came charging over the horizon, sliding to a halt in the dust. Jumping from the Ute, he flashed a look at the still burning wreck and with adrenalin pumping, he bounded towards Jenny. She handed him the first aid kit and the metal case. Darren tried valiantly to stop his shoulders from sagging under the weight, feeling a little embarrassed as he watched Jenny carry Garrick to the back of the Ute. He sheepishly struggled to put the cases in the cabin.

“He going to die ?”

Jenny flashed a look of terror at the boy whose surprise and shock showed in his eyes.

“Not if I have anything to do with it.”

Jenny covered Garrick with a blanket and cushioned his head against a rolled up swag. Kneeling next to him it was the first time she had really looked at his face. Even through the caked on blood and dust his features were soft, different. He was not a local. Taking his hands to place them under the blanket she held them for a little while. They were soft, un-calloused. Jumping from the back of the Ute she spoke to Darren. “Take my horse back to the house and then you better get on back into town.”

Darren was about to protest. “But Miss Jenny!”

Jenny looked at Garrick as she placed a loving hand on the boys shoulder. “It will be a slow ride but I think he will make it. Once your Dad takes a look at him we will know for sure. You and Bobby try and come back tomorrow.”

Darren’s eyes lit up knowing that Jenny had not forgotten them. “If I see Dad I’ll let him know you are headed to the house.”

He gave Jenny a small, soft kiss on the cheek before he left.

As Jenny watched the boy disappear into the dusk a hard expression changed the contour of her face, clicking her fingers the dog jumped into the back of the Ute resting its head on Garrick’s stomach.

The drive back to the house was indeed slow and as she approached the boundary gate Jenny could see the lights of foreign cars and the shadows of people she knew to be the doctor and his assistants and the town’s only police officer. She was not impressed at the fact that they had left the boundary gate open, annoyance darkening her eyes even further.

As the Ute passed over the grate, Gully jumped from his resting place and ran feverishly towards the men barking aggressively making them all step back. Gully treated strangers to his domain the same way he treated the cattle. The dogs barking intensified as the doctor moved forward just a little. Dr Bradley was a rugged man, standing just over six foot. Only in his late thirties, his eyes were already tired and old. He looked from the dog to Jenny as she drove up to the house. Rather than risk injury to himself or those that had retreated behind him, they waited for her to call off the dog.

Jenny alighted from the Ute seemingly not paying any attention to the commotion that Gully was making. Rather, she checked on her charge in the back. Garrick had not stirred and only after she had checked him did she acknowledge the gathering that Gully had so neatly corralled. Dr Bradley put on his bravest face and smiled as he met Jenny’s gaze. She did not, her expression remained hard and unemotional. She clicked her fingers and Gully ceased his devilish barking coming to rest at her side. None of the men moved until Jenny looked the Doctor square in the eyes and spoke abruptly.

“He’s in the back.”

Dr Bradley and his two assistants rushed to the back of the Ute leaving Jenny staring at Sergeant Russell. The Sergeant had dealt with Jenny before but like others, he felt inadequate around her. He stuttered just a little trying to regain his composure and block out Jenny’s intimidation. He was a good cop and in his thirty years had come across most types of people but Jenny was different. He had known the family most of his life but the last two years had seemed like a never-ending battle. Jenny had changed, no longer the sweet, compassionate girl he had watched grow up. It hurt and saddened him to see what she had become.

“What happened Jen?”

Her eyes seemed to burn right through him. “The plane crashed, pilot’s dead, he’s alive” She pointed to the Ute. “Plane exploded out in the west section.”

The Sergeant stepped a little closer to Jenny and was about to put his hands on her shoulders when she not so much backed away from his gesture but side stepped it. He gave up on this tactic and with friendly authority tried again. “I know this must be hard for.”

Jenny cut him off with a remark of her own that was as aggressive as his had been soft. “I’m f- i -n -e” With that she walked passed him, Gully by her side and retreated into the house. All Sergeant Russell could do was stare after her.

Dr Bradley and his staff had placed Garrick on a stretcher and shuffled hurriedly across the dusty yard but stopped short of the house. Dr Bradley looked passed the Sergeant to Jenny who was just visible in the shadows, her eyes as intense as ever. The Doctor said nothing as everyone waited. It was Jenny’s commanding voice they all heard. “You can use a room upstairs.”

“Come on Doc before she changes her mind.” The Sergeant quipped.

They all followed Jenny up the stairs and into a bedroom. She allowed them to go in and left but not before giving Gully a silent command that made the dog plant himself at the door to the room.

“Guess she doesn’t trust anyone.” The Doctor’s remark had been general but it got everyone’s attention.

Jenny made a pot of tea and placed four cups with a plate of biscuits on the kitchen table. She was standing at the sink looking through the darkness at the crosses upon the hill when Gully brushed up against her leg. She looked tired and dusty, her clothes were splattered with blood, her hair hung down in thick sweat mattered strands. Jenny ignored the large gash on her left arm, just below the shoulder. Her blood seeping out to mingle with that already covering her sleeve. She just continued to stare; fighting the anger she could feel birthing inside.

Sergeant Russell entered the kitchen first followed by the Doctor and his two male nurses. They were quiet and sombre. Jenny turned but did not look at them as she poured tea, handing each man a cup.

Dr Bradley embarked on a conversation he hoped would bring some insight as to what had happened. “Did you stitch him up Jenny?”

“Yes.” She stated, not wasting words in her reply.

Dr Bradley was about to reply when one of his nurses pipped up with what amounted to a misguided show of enthusiasm for her work. “It was a great job Miss Norman. Even the Doc said so.”

Both nurses coward behind the Doctor as Jenny flashed them a look of disdain. The friction in the room was suffocating but the Doctor continued. “I’d like to know who taught you.”

Not even a flicker of happiness or relief showed in Jenny’s face. No answer was forthcoming either.

“Jen. I know having him here will be hard but I would prefer not to move him until he regains consciousness.”

“Fine.” Jenny took the Doctors cup as she spoke. That was when he noticed her arm. Without thinking he grabbed hold of her arm quickly to examine it. Saved from a swift punch by the fact that Jenny had hold of his cup. As she tried to pull away, Jenny grimaced as she felt the pain for the first time.

Gully began barking madly at the Doctors feet until Jenny stamped her foot.

Sergeant Russell decided it was time for him to leave. “Well if you have things under control here Doc I’ll be off. Got plenty to do before the sun comes up.” He looked to Jenny. “I’ll be back tomorrow okay Jenny?”

There was silence; he was not going to get any response from her.

“I’ll be off then.”

He nodded and began to leave, the nurses followed him.

Dr Bradley still had hold of Jenny’s arm, Gully watching him intently as he sat by her feet. “You know you will need stitches in this Jenny.”

Dr Bradley moved to the opposite side of the table and dug around in his bag. Jenny silently placed his cup into the sink and waited. Only when he produced a small vile and a needle did she react. “No! No drugs.”

The Doctor was astonished, looking at her waiting for an explanation. None was forthcoming. He put the vial and needle back in his bag and took out the suture set. “This will hurt. I wish you would let me give you something.”

Again no reply, the Doctor sighed cleaning the wound and sewing the torn flesh expecting a cry or a flinch. Jenny did neither, standing motionless until he had finished.

The Doctor looked into her eyes, no tears. All he saw was anger and pain. Not a physical pain, the pain he saw had a hold much, much deeper with in her. Placing his instruments back into his bag he spoke softly and tenderly to her, not sure what to say. “Are you sure you don’t want something for the pain. It could be worse in the morning.”

Jenny shook her head silently.

“Okay I’ll check back tomorrow.”

He was a little sad at her toneless reply. “Send Darren, he can let you know if you are needed.”

Dr Bradley knew better than to argue with her. “You did a great job on him Jen. His arm is set and I have taped up his ribs. Just keep an eye on him, his temperature could spike.” The Doctor pulled a small bottle from his bag and handed them to her. “In case either of you need them.”

When Jenny did not take bottle he placed it on the table and began to leave only stopping when he heard her voice. Still toneless but seeming softer. Her gratitude took him by surprise.

“Doctor Bradley….”

“Yes Jenny.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you Jenny, I think you may have saved his life.” Jenny’s exterior may have appeared hard and brutal but Dr Bradley knew that the girl he had once known was still there, hiding, protected. He stepped a little closer. “Jenny you know if there is anything I can do. Anything.”

Jenny did not answer, turning to look out the window. Dr Bradley smiled as Gully escorted him to the front door.

The Doctor and his entourage could be heard driving away. When Jenny heard the gate close tears slowly cut a path down her still red-dusted face. Gully scampered back to her side and rested his head on her foot. His affection seemed to seep into her. Jenny sighed, washed her face and then made her way up the flight of stairs to the first floor,

standing quietly next to the bed she looked down on Garrick. Although he had been cleaned up a little by the nurses he was still a mess. Dried blood and dust clung to the remainder of his clothes and blood matted his hair. Jenny sighed leaving him to sleep as she walked along the hall, her bloodstone boots echoing on the hardwood floor to the closet to retrieve an enamel bowl, disinfectant and a flannel. Walking back she passed Garrick’s room and headed to the bathroom where she filled the bowl with warm water adding disinfectant and soaking the flannel. Slowly and quietly she placed the bowl on the beside table and watched only by Gully she began to undress Garrick, taking a quick glance at his body but just as quickly dismissing it. Any other woman would have found the temptation to linger in their gaze more than tempting but Jenny was not like any other woman. Over the past two years she had changed, harder, less trusting. However, looking down at Garrick something moved ever so slightly, a small stirring with in, nothing visible, just a flicker of feeling. Maybe in his unconscious state this stranger had found the place in her that she saved for her two young friends.

Jenny washed away the blood and dirt and Garrick began to appear human. Jenny was thorough, like a well-trained nurse she worked methodically, turning Garrick to clean his back, laying him back down again to do his legs and feet. Once satisfied that his body was clean she began on his hair. The task was taking a lot out of her, her arm ached, but Jenny continued until the job was finished. She gathered the bowl and dirty flannel and stepping over Gully, rinsed them in the bathroom and left them to dry while she collected fresh, crisp sheets returning to Garrick to change the bloodied sheets that had covered him since his arrival.

With the blood cleaned up and Garrick dressed in a pair of her fathers pyjamas, Jenny took a seat on the chair next to the window watching him for a few minutes before the pain in her own arm broke her trance. Sighing at herself in disgust, looking worse than Garrick did Jenny stood, gathered Garrick’s discarded clothing, bundled them with the dirty sheets, stepped over Gully and made her way down the corridor at which time the dog rose to follow her. Jenny stopped; her voice soft, sweet and gentle as she looked affectionately at the Gully. “Stay and watch him boy.”

Without another word, Jenny continued and Gully wandered back into the bedroom placing himself strategically so he could see Garrick’s face from his resting place.

Down the hall, Jenny ran the rejuvenating water for a long soak in the bath. Peeling off her clothes and sinking into the steaming bathwater her body seemed to give in all at once. Tears streaming down her face, her heart weighted with painful memories. Images flashed through her mind of that day, the day she had watched helpless as her father’s plane had plummeted to the ground. The day she lost four generations of her family, the day Jenny changed.

She had wept long and hard that day, as she did now, the vibrations of her weeping sending ripples shimmering across the water. No tears had washed her face since that day and although her heart ached, she was angry with herself for letting them run now.

Jenny thought she managed her life well. Keeping out all the emotions that had betrayed her all too often in the past. She had always been good at managing the station, so she began to change, running her life like she ran the station. No nonsense, efficient, diligent with no room for frivolity or love. The only hint of the Jenny she was trying to hide; to protect, was the love and affection she showed to her ever-faithful companion Gully and her two young friends.

From an early age Jenny had reasoned it was adults that caused her the most pain and apart from family she had always treated strangers coolly. To those who knew her it was different, she was different, compassionate, loving, caring. Until that day. That day the change in her had been instant and dramatic.

Now standing looking through the steamy mirror at her red tinged eyes Jenny once again buried her feelings, her very soul behind a cold, hard, unyielding wall.

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