About the author
worked on the land all her adult life, as well as serving as a NSW Police
Officer. She draws on her own experiences, and the places and people she has
encountered during the course of her life when writing.
are based on places that she knows. She loves the bush and hopes to share some
of the bush ways with people who can’t be there.
‘Sometimes for the Good’ is the second in a trilogy; the first being ‘Blood and Fire’, also published by Zeus Publications.
wedged her hand tightly under the thickly-plaited girth strap. She punched her
grip with her free hand and felt her unbroken mount shift under her skittishly.
Tugging her wide-brimmed Akubra hat firmly into place and raising her free hand
to signal she was ready, she waited for the shoot to open.
announcer for the evening saw Michelle’s signal. ‘And our next rider,’ his
voice boomed over the loud speaker, ‘is a young lady all the way from Broken
Hill. She’s riding Storm Trooper who, as you all know, has never been sat for
the full six seconds, by a female rider that is. Let’s see if tonight’s the
night. How about a big Wangaratta welcome for Michelle McLean.’
two thousand-strong crowd of spectators roared their approval and the corners of
Michelle’s mouth turned up slightly in acknowledgement of their praise. The
minute movement was unnoticeable to those who watched her stern look of
was a loud mechanical clang as the gate swung open. The untamed gelding leapt
free from the confines of the shoot, bucking high into the air and landing some
five metres away. Michelle had ridden and broken horses all her life and she had
been in several rodeos before. She worked her legs and her free arm to act as
agents against the twisting, writhing mass of muscle beneath her. In a matter of
seconds however, her hand worked loose from the rope secured around the
animal’s chest and Michelle felt herself being propelled through the air.
landed on the soft, churned up dirt of the arena and felt instant pain. In the
back of her mind she knew she had broken her arm. Ignoring the hurt she rolled
and leapt to her feet. It was imperative she move away from the wild animal as
quickly as possible lest she be struck by flying hooves.
horse, now it had rid itself of the annoyance on its back, fled in search of the
exit gate he knew he would find.
bent, picked up her hat with her good arm and waved it high over her head in a
salute to the cheering crowd. The excitement and the adrenalin pumping through
her veins made the pain in her arm seem like a small price to pay.
she didn’t go the distance,’ boomed the announcer, ‘but what a ride.
Let’s hear it for Michelle McLean!’ The crowd roared anew, showing their
admiration by coming to their feet.
beamed. She jammed her hat back on her head, clutched her broken arm to her
stomach with a wince of pain, and then walked from the arena with a huge smile
on her face. She had always been reckless, and fortunately, she had developed a
high tolerance for pain.
Hoo!’ yelled Shane as he grabbed her in a bear hug and swung her around.
‘That was the best. You were excellent.’
Now put me the hell down,’ Michelle laughed. ‘You had better take me to the
are you talking about?’ Shane held her at arms’ length and looked for any
bleeding. That was when he noticed she was nursing her arm. He laughed. ‘What
have you done now?’
think I broke my arm.’ Michelle smiled. Only Shane would find humour in her
discomfort. He was her best friend. They had grown up together at
was tough and had been Shane’s bodyguard during the early days at secondary
school. Shane, who had been a shy Aboriginal boy, was ripe for teasing and
bullying. Once he hit puberty however, he had grown, both in body and
confidence. He quickly became taller than all the boys in school and the hard
work he did on the property caused him to fill out and have the ability to put
the biggest of bullies in their place.
role reversal for Shane and Michelle was most obvious once Michelle herself
started to ‘fill out’.
had been an extraordinarily pretty young girl with jet-black hair and ice-blue
eyes. Whenever she and Shane were home from school, they worked as hard as any
station hand, either with her father or his. Accordingly Michelle’s skin had a
constant golden tan and her body was toned. Her young tom-boyish physique had
developed womanly curves and soon she was turning heads everywhere she went.
Michelle was an exceptionally beautiful young woman and Shane continued to play
the role of protector. He was like a brother to her and that was how she usually
referred to him although as far as anyone outside their circle of friends knew,
they could have been an item. Every time a bloke got close, Shane would warn him
off and not too many blokes argued with Shane. Michelle didn’t mind though.
She was too wild and carefree to want the attachment of a boyfriend. When she
wasn’t in school or studying, she was partying. Like any good, young
Australian girl from the bush she was into having a good time. Usually this
involved ute musters, B and S Balls or a good old-fashioned night at the pub.
was no different. There was going to be a huge shindig after the rodeo was
finished. A live band was setting up on the back of a flat-bed truck and already
the cans of beer and rum were flowing freely. This was the last bash before
Shane and Michelle knuckled down to study for their final exams which commenced
in three weeks.
that Michelle didn’t know what would happen. She knew her father hoped she
would come home and manage one of the properties in the large family holding,
just as her brother, Paul, had done. Up until recently that was exactly what
Michelle had planned. She loved the outback and missed both it and her family
her heart longed for however, was the high country. She had visited the area on
several occasions over the last two years and each time her passion for that
part of the country had grown. It was the total opposite of what she loved about
home. Where the outback was hot, dry and dusty, the high country was green and
lush. Michelle dreamed of the rolling hills which gave rise to steep mountains
where the vegetation was so thick that at times it was almost impassable on
home they ran sheep and Michelle used to long for the day when she could return
to spending her days in the smelly shearing shed or mustering the wide open
paddocks. She used to see herself, sweat drenched and exhausted after a day of
shearing. Now she imagined herself mustering cattle from the high slopes of the
National Parks and bringing them close to home before the treacherous winter
storms rolled in.
dad’s gunna be pissed.’ Shane brought her wandering thoughts back to the
ya big fool,’ Michelle laughed as she punched Shane in the ribs. ‘Get me to
the hospital so we can get back here and party.’
good to me.’ Shane took her hand and they made their way through the crowd.
now their other friends were catching up. ‘Where are you two off to?’
turned and offered a charming smile. ‘Fluff’s busted her arm.’
groaned inwardly as Shane used her childhood nickname. He had bought the name
with him from home and now all her friends called her nothing else.
worry about it Shai. I’ll get her off to the hospital and we’ll be back in
no time. Don’t drink all the cans.’
looked horrified. Michelle laughed again, the anticipation of the evening to
come renewing her excitement.
Shai. It’s not my first broken bone and I’m damn sure it won’t be my last
and Michelle left Shailee to explain their hasty departure to their other
One - part sample
Stanhope had wandered in and out of the crowd at the rodeo. He was hot and
tired. Although the sun had set sometime ago, the sweltering heat still hung in
the air. It was unseasonably hot for the end of November, though the revellers
here didn’t seem to mind.
last of the bull dogging had just finished and one of the competitors was
limping from the arena. The calf, he deliberately slipped off his horse to
catch, had kicked him in the thigh. The crowd was dispersing, families heading
home with tired children, the younger generation moving towards the beer tents
and the make shift stage where the band was striking up.
the last two hours Jack had been searching the crowd for the illusive Ms McLean.
He was doing an article for his magazine on women in sports which were
traditionally male dominated. He had heard the
one and only reason Jack wanted to speak to Michelle McLean was because she was
a damn sight easier on the eyes than most of the girls he had been speaking to.
Not that he considered himself sexist or anything. His editor wanted pictures as
well as a great story however, and the simple fact was, readers liked to see
beautiful people in magazines, especially when it was a woman in a man’s
territory. They don’t want to see some cowgirl with close-cropped hair, a hard
weathered face and a broad backside. When Jack saw Michelle ride today, well
specifically when he had seen her fall, he knew she was the one he wanted to be
the face of his story.
recalled watching Michelle roll out of the way of the horse’s hooves and leap
to her feet with agility that surprised him. He took in the fact she was wearing
the ‘rodeo uniform’. Jeans, a shirt with the sleeves rolled half way up the
forearm and boots. ‘Yep, there’s the finishing touch,’ he had said to
himself when he saw her stoop, retrieve her fallen Akubra and squash it back on
had been some distance away from Michelle when she had competed but he could
definitely make out her almost boyish figure in her tight fitting jeans. He also
caught a glimpse of her tanned, smiling face before she replaced her hat. Her
hair was long and black and secured in a braid which hung half way down her
she’ll do nicely,’ Jack grumbled now. ‘If only I can find her.’
had tried the first aid tent; he hadn’t missed the fact that the girl had been
nursing her arm as she left the arena, though no one there had seen her. He
tried ringing the local hospital however, as soon as he said he was looking for
a rodeo competitor who he believed might have injured her arm, the nurse had
given him a dressing down about how she hated the damn rodeo and the several
injuries it sent their way every time it came round. She mentioned something
about too much testosterone and alcohol, then hung up.
here Jack was. Two hours later and no luck finding the girl. He had asked around
a bit but didn’t like his chances. If Michelle McLean was from Broken Hill he
didn’t figure on too many people knowing her.
more try and then he was calling it quits. ‘Excuse me mate.’ Jack tapped a
tall, well built young Aboriginal man on the shoulder.
Shane said in greeting as he spun around with a smile. ‘What can I do for you
was wondering if you know Michelle McLean, she rode Storm Trooper earlier?’
gave the man in front of him an assessing look. He was as tall as Shane and just
as well built. He looked a little out of place, he definitely wasn’t a
competitor and he didn’t appear to be a spectator either. He was carrying a
folder and had a camera bag slung over his shoulder.
God.’ Finally. ‘So you do know her. I’ve been looking for her for two
hours. She fell from that horse then just disappeared. Can you tell me where I
can find her?’
I said, who’s asking?’
didn’t miss the over protective manner of the young black man. ‘Listen
buddy, I’m not out to step on anyone’s toes. I’m a reporter with Sports
Australia and I’m doing an article on females in male dominated sports.’
Jack saw Shane was impressed as soon as he mentioned the name of his magazine.
‘So if you could just tell me where I could find Ms McLean … I swear I
won’t be making any moves on your girl.’
not his girl.’ Jack spun around to face the girl who had walked up behind him
and instantly noticed the fresh plaster cast on her left forearm. ‘That’s
just my stupid brother being too protective.’
didn’t bother to question the difference in their skin colour or the fact they
looked the same age, he’d seen stranger things. ‘You’re Michelle
McLean.’ It wasn’t a question.
am. So am I going to be famous or something?’ Obviously she had been standing
behind him for a little while. He was glad to see that she wasn’t giggly and
tittering with excitement as did most of the young women he spoke to.
depends.’ He looked her up and down.
who had moved to stand beside Michelle, scowled at Jack’s open appraisal.
eyes returned to Michelle’s face. She still wore her wide brimmed hat and her
features were almost completely blacked out in the dark of the night. ‘Take
your hat off.’
and forward as always, Michelle whipped off her hat.
was surprised. It was obvious that he wanted to see what she looked like before
he agreed to write about her, though she didn’t seem to take any offence at
all. Her long hair which had been loosed from its confines fell free from where
it had been tucked up under her hat. Jack’s confident smile of admiration was
not missed by Michelle or Shane. Michelle smiled back, just as confidently, and
Shane’s scowl deepened.
Ms McLean, maybe you won’t be famous, but if you will permit me, I’ll make
sure your face is seen by thousands of readers.’
whooped with excitement, hugged Shane and then hugged Jack. Her natural
exuberance almost knocked him over, and then she let go of him as quickly as she
had grabbed him.
go!’ she called to Shane as she ran off.
McLean, where are you going?’
stopped in her tracks. ‘I’m going to get a drink and tell my friends.’
thought we might get started tonight.’
you kidding? The B and S is starting,’ she replied incredulously.
B and S?’
the Bachelor and Spinsters’ Ball,’ she explained as though she thought Jack
might be a bit slow.
I know what a B and S is. Don’t people usually get cleaned up a bit, for the
first part of the evening anyway?’ He gave Michelle’s dusty attire a pointed
Sorry,’ she said with a smile as she passed her hat to Shane. Then she
promptly pulled off her brigalow shirt, stood in the middle of the crowd in her
jeans and bra, and shook the dust off her shirt. There were plenty of cheers
from the crowd as Michelle put her shirt back on and tucked it into her
waistband. ‘Better?’ She called to Jack with a laugh then spun on her heel
followed but turned back to speak to Jack. He had an indulgent smile on his face
as though he was perfectly used to Michelle’s antics. ‘Guess we’ll catch
you tomorrow buddy. Oh, and I wouldn’t call her ‘Ms McLean’ if I were you,
call her Fluff, everyone else does.’
Jack looked unconvinced.
she loves it, trust me,’ Shane called as he too ran off.
was left standing in the middle of the crowd wondering how he could have ever
thought of Michelle’s figure as boyish.
woke the next morning with a sore head. He had stayed at the rodeo for a couple
hours after his conversation with Michelle and had had entirely too much to
had watched Michelle once the band was in full swing. She moved from group to
group, exuding confidence and befriending everyone. He had watched her dance
with one partner after another. Unlike a lot of the young and not so young
females, Michelle had a way of being free with everyone but never giving the
hint that things would go any further. If a young buck became too amorous she
would toss her head and laugh in such a way that no offence could be taken from
her obvious knock-back. If her brush-off tactics didn’t work, Shane always
seemed to be close by. He would step up to the would-be candidate, usually
towering over them, drape his arm around Michelle’s shoulders and smile at her
pursuer. The possessiveness of such an action was accepted by most every male in
the country. Michelle and Shane usually received apologies for the
‘misunderstanding’ before the other party made a hasty retreat.
one time in the night Jack was again watching Michelle through the crowd when a
young cowboy approached her from behind and grabbed her around the waist. Unable
to turn around in his embrace, she laughed and asked, ‘Who’s that?’
an admirer. Been watchin’ you all night I have.’ The drunken slur of the
gangly young fellow’s voice was unmistakable.
mate, how about you step off and watch someone else from now on?’ Michelle
managed to keep a light humour in her voice but Jack noticed she was urgently
scanning the crowd. Jack knew she was looking for Shane while she tried to
disentangle herself from the man’s arms.
too looked for Shane but he was nowhere to be seen. He inched closer to Michelle
in order to offer his own assistance if it turned out he was needed. He was
close enough to hear the cowboy’s quiet comment.
on love. Surely a cute thing like you ain’t serious about that coon are ya?’
saw all the good temper leave Michelle’s face. If only the cowboy could have
seen the cold look that replaced it he might have backed away there and then,
saving himself a whole lot of hurt. Michelle drove her elbow back into the
man’s gut with a surprising amount of force. He was immediately winded and
released his grip on her. Jack stopped his advance to see what would happen
next. Several others turned from their conversations to watch the turn of
turned on the cowboy who was bent over, hands braced on knees, trying to catch
his breath. ‘I happen to be very serious about him,’ she said politely,
smiling once again.
turned to leave the suffering man. She had barely taken two steps when the man
decided to have another dig and heal his wounded pride a little. Still bent
over, his breathing laboured, he said, ‘I wouldn’t want nothin’ to do with
ya anyway, ya filthy nigger’s bitch.’
anyone could blink Michelle spun back in the direction of the bent over cowboy,
her foot flying through the air and connecting squarely with his jaw. The man
dropped to the ground immediately and spat blood. ‘You bitch,’ he sputtered.
‘Ya knocked out me tooff.’
turned and left.
was smiling his admiration. He watched the other onlookers help the man to his
feet and shove a can into his hand. They were all laughing, except the injured
man who drank deeply and spat again. ‘You know not to mess with that one,’
one of his friends said.
you sure as hell know not to insult blackfellas in front of her. She nearly put
Derek in hospital a few weeks back,’ another commented in between hoots of
laughter and lots of backslapping.
group of young men all laughed. ‘Ain’t no point chasin’ her anyhow,’ one
said. ‘She never puts out.’
smiled to himself and left the party to the younger crowd. At thirty-two years
of age he decided he was well beyond staying up all night on the grog.
in the morning sunshine, feeling like he did, he wished he had have left
earlier. Mind you, he was glad he hadn’t missed the show. Michelle McLean was
going to prove to be very interesting subject material for his article.
packed up his motel room and returned to the rodeo grounds. He didn’t have too
much trouble locating Michelle. He waited at the breakfast bar in the recovery
tent and soon enough she emerged. She looked even more beautiful in the morning
light and Jack felt half disgusted to see how happy and healthy she was after
the long night he was sure she had.
the interview Jack discovered that she would be twenty-one in January, that she
was from a property north of Broken Hill called
was drawn to the way she laughed so readily and was so keen to talk about any
topic he raised. When he mentioned the incident from the night before involving
her dropping a grown man to his knees, Michelle explained how Shane had
convinced her to take self-defence lessons which soon developed into full blown
martial arts training.
once did Michelle appear perturbed either about the assault on her or her fall
resulting in her broken arm. She talked of it all with genuine humour and good
grace. The only time Jack saw her demeanour change from what he assumed was her
usual vibrant hyper-activeness, was when he mentioned the comments about
Aboriginals that the cowboy had made the night before.
became serious and Jack decided the look didn’t suit her at all. ‘Don’t
get me wrong,’ she informed him. ‘I haven’t got two seconds for a
blackfella who wants to drink his life away and live on handouts. But then I
can’t abide a whitefella who would do that either. Most of all I can’t abide
anyone who lumps all the blacks together and assumes they’re all useless or
someone who feels the need to insult them just because of the colour of their
looked at Michelle for a minute with a look of intrigue on his face. ‘So
you’re no activist?’
not,’ she laughed, her serious face gone. ‘I think all Australians should
work for a living and pay for their land, blackfellas included. I suppose I’ve
just had a bit more insight into them than most white people get. I don’t
know, maybe I just understand them a bit more,’ she added with a shrug of her
shoulders. She hadn’t really thought about it that much before.
you still refer to the Aboriginals as ‘blackfellas’?’ Jack was amused by
this expression, given her revelations.
Michelle smiled as she went on to explain. ‘My uncle Troy, that’s Shane’s
dad, he says that the only time it’s wrong to call an Aboriginal a blackfella
is when it’s used as an insult.’ She laughed as she thought of
laughed too. ‘So Shane’s your half brother is he?’
Michelle drew her eyebrows together in confusion.
said before that Shane was your brother and you just mentioned that his father
was your uncle.’ Jack had assumed she meant honorary uncle, unless of course
they were really keeping things in the family.
no,’ Michelle explained. ‘
that really sheds light on the subject.’ They both laughed.
I’ll start again. Katie is my father’s second wife. There were three of us
kids, my older brother, Paul, and my younger sister, Annie. Katie married my dad
when I was about four. Now they have three more kids. The twins, Peter and
George, then Michael. They’re all in school in Broken Hill, except Paul,
he’s home on the farm. We don’t really know our real mother, we haven’t
seen her since Dad married Katie. Annie was only a baby when Dad and Katie
hooked up and she just started to call her mum. I guess I just got into the
habit of calling her mum most of the time as well. She was a mother to us and
that’s how we all think of her.’
I think I’ve got all that straight. Now about
Milly and Katie were best friends all their lives. After Katie hooked up with
Dad she found out
you’re studying together at Dookie.’
Three more weeks then final exams. This was the last bash before we have to
don’t know,’ Michelle admitted.
couldn’t help himself, he had to ask her about the men in her life. She
insisted, with a laugh, that she had just told him about all the men in her
life. When he probed for more information she said men were like alcohol, sure
they were fun for a while but when the feeling wore off all you had was a
headache. She assured him that, also like alcohol, she had too much fun without
a man. There had been the occasional beau but nothing serious.
had one final question. ‘Now what is this ‘Fluff’ business?’
Shane,’ Michelle mumbled and was forced to tell how Shane had told everyone at
college about her childhood nickname. Jack laughed and admired her good humour
about the issue.
interview wound up shortly after that and the two said goodbye. Jack promised to
send Michelle a set of magazines when her story came out in the January issue.
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