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lindsay from inverell.

There’s not much to show of Lindsay, he’s about seven stone in weight and his arms and legs look like double-jointed tomato stakes under his clothes.

He’s put together today in a new, twill-grid check royal blue shirt, wide leather belt and sharply-pressed dark blue duds. New loafers, knitted socks. Lindsay is hard of hearing in both ears but only bends his head to listen from the deaf one on his right side. Which means I have to lean across him and SPEAK VERY LOUDLY occasionally.

We are in the big room at Ballina RSL at about dinner time. Men and women of massive proportions pass by our table, heading for the food lines. Lindsay watches a lumbering family walk by, he turns to me and slowy raises an eyebrow.

‘I used to be a plumber.’

‘You don’t say.’

‘In Lane Cove, but I got out early and bought a sheep farm at Inverell.’

‘How’d that go?’

‘Had it forty years and it went backwards on every one.’

Lindsay’s wife is in the gaming room, being game with a dollar a play on the Oriental Mystic machine.

‘I never go in, ‘Lindsay says, ‘just stand in the door until she sees me.’

‘Then we go home.’

Two women walk past our table on their way out, one looks over at a white-haired woman sitting nearby and talking to a black-haired girl who could be her granddaughter. They’ve been talking and laughing head to head for the fifteen minutes I’ve been with Lindsay.

The woman in passing says to the white-haired woman,

‘Don’t pick up a mop or you’ll break it.’

Then they are gone.

The white-haired woman looks wonderingly at the backs of the two departing women, then turns to her young companion. Then she swivels around and looks at me.

I shrug.

She shrugs.

I turn to the woman sitting behind us, she too has heard what was said.

She shrugs.

Lindsay is in his solemn world of the deaf and hasn’t heard a word.

An attractive woman in a dress of autumnal colours stands in the doorway that leads to the gaming room. She smiles when Lindsay looks over and sees her, and lifts her right hand, pinky extended.

‘Bugger,’ says Lindsay softly, ‘she wants another drink, now I’ll miss M.A.S.H.’




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