Roma Writer's Group
The Works of David Bowden
The Muckadilla Fool (886 words) 13.4.2001
"Here comes the Fool!" said the young bloke leaning against the doorjamb of the Muckadilla pub. The object of his remark was a thin youth on a green, old-fashioned bicycle. He was standing full height on the pedals pushing as hard as he could. The front wheel was slightly bent and made a screeching sound that irritated each time it came around against the fork. With a slightly comical flourish the youth pulled up and awkwardly stepped off the bike.
In contrast to the lounging youth dressed in all black cowboy gear the new arrival looked like a joke God had played on a bad day when he dished out looks. His thin frame was dressed in a set of khaki overalls that only came to the top part of his wrists and the tops of his ankles. Big hands and big feet stuck out and seemed to be moving all the time.
Dasher Collins, the publican, reckoned it was probably because the fork of his overalls was up the crack of his bum and if he didn't keep moving he would split in two. Tufts of yellowish hair went every which way on his head and his eyes popped out of his head. (Obviously the fault of the too tight overalls if you listened to Dasher)
"Gidday Flash," he said as he slipped on the step into the bar.
"Gidday yerself and see how you like it Fool," Flash replied. "Yer goin' ter pick up a quick quid terday?" he continued.
"Maybe ..maybe not ..I brought me money," the kid said and pulled out a handful of notes from the pocket of his overalls.
Most of the blokes including Paddy, who owned the Muckadilla store, glanced at the roll and with knowing smirks went back to blowing the froth off a cold Fourex. They knew the kid had been working for about a year across the line at "Koonong", a property about six miles out of Muckadilla. It looked as though he had brought all his savings in this Saturday afternoon.
They also knew he had come in every Saturday to buy his things at the Mucka Store and then sat at the back of the bar drinking sarsaparilla while the weekly Saturday afternoon went on with townspeople and others from the surrounding properties.
There was nothing formal or structured about what game was played or how high the stakes went. One rule did apply however and that was that if you were loosing you could change the game if you also rose the limit on the first bet.
Dasher and Paddy mostly won the day with their ability to finance higher bets. However every now and then a cockie would challenge them.
To-day it looked as though the Fool had decided to try his luck. They sat at a round table and it happened that Dasher, Paddy and Flash sat down to relieve the kid of his hard earned wages.
They opened with euchre - each man playing on his own. The first three games went with the kid and the minimum pot rose to $2,000.
Paddy called for a change of game to "round the board" on darts with a minimum of $3,000. Flash dropped out. As Dasher stepped forward, Paddy stipulated that singles, doubles and triples counted. Dasher singularly reached 19 and missed 20. Under pressure, Paddy failed to score.
"Your turn Fool," Paddy said.
The first throw was double 1, the next double 3, then 7,8 and 9 were thrown singularly. Taking careful aim, the young fellow threw double 10 and finished off with a 25 and bullseye 50 to complete his "round the board" and win the game.
Paddy said, "That does me!" and quit.
Dasher looked at the kid and said, "My new Holden ute in the carport to your $10,000." He obviously thought the kid would fold and go home.
"I'll take it," he said. "What's the game?"
Standing at the quoit board, Dasher said, "Throw the quoits over the bar door knob."
A knowing look went around the bar - most knew that Dasher practised in the long periods between customers some week days in Muckadilla. It was his favourite trick on tourists to win bets or drinks.
Dasher threw two on the door knob and beamed around the bar.
"OK Fool - Do your best!" said Paddy as he handed the quoits to the young bloke. Contrary to expectation, he adopted a fixed stance and in a flow ringed four on the shiny door knob.
Flash drove the new ute with the old bike in the back to "Koonong" because the young bloke did not have a licence yet. On going to the station hand's cottage, Flash saw a well used darts board on the verandah and six quoits on the door knob.
Turning with a look of amazement on his face he said, "OK that explains the quoits and darts. What about the euchre?"
"My dad in Ipswich is a fireman and plays all sorts of cards during slack times at work. He taught us kids to count cards in a heap of games when we were really young."
"Yeah well your definitely no fool kid," Flash said as he turned to go to his mate's car to return to Muckadilla.