Roma Writer's Group

The Works of David Bowden

Just Maybe Temptation Can be Beaten

Alison turned over in her bed and clutched her head in her hands. " Oh My God!" she muttered to herself. Double temptation had come her way last night. Only just turned seventeen and her first job as a shoe sales assistant had seen her first money go into her bank just recently.

Her early childhood had been a constant battle of attending school at spasmodic times in between being hospitalised for chronic asthma or at home recuperating over prolonged periods.

At fifteen, a rather bad bout had developed shingles right across her back. The doctor thought that a change to a dryer climate was needed from the Industrial smoke and dust of the city.

Choices were given and Roma in South Western Queensland appeared to be the best choice. Her father, Kevin Smithfield, was a strong family man and a hard working miner. His concern for his daughter was genuine. The hacking cough of Alison in her bedroom had just become unbearable over the past few years. Now a thin body that appeared all knees and elbows fought hard to be a normal teenage girl. Practically impossible when Alison could not attend school and go giggling with school friends to sports and matinees at the local picture show. About the only concession appeared to be the portable radio her grandmother had given her.

His mother, Glad Smithfield, had kept home for his father (also a coal miner) and three sons and a daughter. All were self reliant and in peak physical condition. Her grand-daughter lying in bed and not enjoying life tugged at her heartstrings. The radio had brought a special shine to Alison's big round eyes captured is a sallow face surrounded by naturally blond hair that defied illness and shimmered in the sunlight. After inspection and an arrangement with a Roma Girl's Hostel it was decided that Alison and her mother, Lottie, would travel to Roma by train. The initial period was for six months with a review then between the Roma doctor and the family doctor in the city. Lottie was to board at the hostel and Kevin would continue to work at the mine and drive out from time to time to visit them both.

The first six months was a mixture of short periods in hospital and longer periods at high school. Gradually it became apparent that the country air was agreeing with Allison's condition and normal teenage activities were developing. School work other than domestic activities would always be difficult. However the country girls at the Hostel and at school soon took on the task of seeing that the walking skeleton was included in most activities.

Then as another year passed, boys started to notice a filling out of figure and a more vibrant personality as confidence came with Allison looking and feeling more confident.

Lottie decided that Allison was capable of looking after herself and returned to her neglected husband. Maybe because of strict curfews at the hostel or good old fashioned values Allison kept the advances of local boys in check. Other than Saturday afternoons spent giggling with other girls at the swimming pool imagining all types of amorous situations with the boys showing off in the pool all thoughts of dates were kept in check.

Just before her sixteenth birthday an offer to work in the "Suit-U-Shoe Store" was given and accepted. The shop's owner was strict and fair. If the work was done properly there were no problems with trips to the city to visit parents or to attend family weddings and the like.

The work in the shoe shop lent heaps of opportunities to meet boys. Another teenager, Hazel Cooper, worked with Allison. Allison's asthma was under control and all disfiguring aspects of the past affliction were cleverly hidden with a selective choice of modern clothes.

Roma was booming - the oil industry and meatworks coupled with high incomes from sheep and wheat to give young men and women the opportunity to live, work and play without too much concern for the future.

Dates started to come for Allison and Temptation came knocking. An astute father had declined permission for Allison to flat or share a house with other girls. The Hostel Matron still enforced strict curfews and Kevin had been telephoned twice about minor indiscretions that resulted in sharper watches put on Allison.

The only concession was that once a month Allison was allowed to go to a girl friend's home for a Saturday overnight stay. Normally this meant a trip to the movies or a local church dance with a time to be home set.

By chance a wedding out of town meant that the friends parents would be away. With this in mind Allison went about arranging a date for the Saturday afternoon with one of the oil riggers who came to the shoe shop and appeared to genuinely want to know her better. Because she had to work on Saturday morning Allison had packed a carry all with a change of clothing for the afternoon and night.

Dashing to her friends home and a quick shower Allison thought that just maybe she would be ready. A toot of a car horn outside came as both girls put finishing touches to quickly applied lipstick.

Climbing in the flashy Ford, they headed for Wallumbilla to watch a football game in the afternoon. A light shower of rain kept both couples in the car and only brief interest was shown in the game outside. A different game was being played inside the car with the windscreen and windows fogging up.

Fumblings on clothing and heavy necking had the boys aroused and the "will we or won't we" stage reached. Passion killers that thwart temptation comes in many ways.

An urgent knock at the door meant that Allison's friend lowered his window to find a worried looking workmate asking if he could take an injured footballer to Roma hospital.

In a matter of minutes the Ford was flying back to Roma with an ashen faced youth groaning in the front seat. After depositing the young man at the hospital, the girls were returned to the house with a loose ended arrangements to meet the boys later.

Neither girl was sure of what they felt or how the night would eventuate. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. The thought of possible sex was both acceptable and not to be considered. Moral and family values can get mixed up with natural urges and let temptation be considered or rejected.

Both showered and carefully dressed and applied make up for their evening date.

They were just ready when the Ford pulled up outside. The young men were changed and ready to head to the local cabaret. Their good humour was evident after a quick couple of beers before calling for the girls. This was reinforced by the back slapping congratulations they had received from members of the young footballers team. They had found out he was doing well in hospital and wanted everyone to know he owed them a great deal for their quick action.

Entering the cabaret, the boys had a decided swagger to their walk and took the good natured ribbing in their stride. Allison and her friend also glowed in the flow over as the girls with the men of the moment.

The local rock band moved through their routines and had the crowd pumped. Being under age neither Allison nor her friend could drink alcohol in a public place. One of the boys suggested they go to the car for a breather. Inside the car he produced a bottle of sweet sherry and anodised cups from the glove box. Temptation to have a sip of sherry was easily given in to by the girls. After the first two or three sips, Allison felt a warm feeling spread through her body that combined with the heightened sense of well being brought on by the recent hectic dancing.

Both girls declined another sherry and the couples returned to the dance floor.

Towards the end of the evening Allison and her partner won a dancing competition.

Everything appeared easy to Allison. Her partner was the most gorgeous creature alive and appeared genuinely interested in her.

To celebrate they returned to the car and sherry bottle was produced again. The boys fumbling advances were avoided by both girls. However each bout of face sucking went a little longer and a little further. A tortured groan from the pair brought Allison's partner to remark that maybe they had better go for a drive. Out on a local claypan he spun the souped up car into a doughnut sending up clouds of dust and bringing the girls clinging to their partners. Coming out of one last whirl around the car sped back towards the highway and town.

They swung into the local football ground and parked the car. The driver produced two plaid rugs from the boot and spread them out on the ground facing the full moon climbing over a line of trees near the oval. A second bottle of sherry followed the first and Allison had lost count of the number of tumblers she had drank. A warm glow and a feeling of the greatest affection for her champion dance partner made it easy for her to let temptation come in to their love making. The moon was just brilliant and the world was just a wonderful place.

Her panties were removed and it seemed so easy to let things happen and not fight for any reason. A little giggle escaped her as she thought how exciting it was to be deflowered under a full moon even.

Reality hit back as Allison caught up with her thoughts as she turned again in the bed.

"Oh my God! Oh my God! I'm going to die! I want to die!" she said.

"You all right Allison?" her friend asked from the doorway.

"No I'm not …….I'm going to die!" Allison snapped back.

"Hey steady on now - just because you can't handle a hangover doesn't mean you have to take it out on me you know," her friend whipped back.

" Oh I'm sorry. I really am you know. My head and stomach are just awful. I don't remember coming home or getting into bed or anything," Allison said.

Her friend replied, " Well the less said about all that the better. You turned a real beaut scene and I bet we don't see our mates for dust."

"I don't care. I wish I had never seen the rotten beggar in the first place," Allison whimpered back.

Returning to the Hostel was a return to a safe haven and her own room. Allison locked herself in and sobbed as each thought came back about the previous night.

"What if I'm pregnant? What will I tell Mum and Dad…and Grandma? Why did it seem so easy at the time? I just want to die!" Allison thought.

On the Monday Allison heard at work that the oil drilling company were pulling out of Roma and re-establishing in South Australia. Both men from Saturday night had already left with the first convoy of trucks and were not expected to come back. Partial relief came to Allison as she tried hard to concentrate on her work knowing she would probably never see them again.

The next few weeks passed and total relief came when it was obvious that being pregnant was not a concern.

Over the coming months time healed the experience. Allison was careful to keep temptation at bay by being sure to only go out in groups of people. She developed a genuine interest in badminton, tennis and church social dances. There was still skylarking with young men. However no one on one dates that could lead to unpleasant results.

One particular night a group from the church group attended a Highland Deb Ball. The night thrilled Allison with the squirreling of bagpipes and the flushed attractiveness of debutantes and their partners.

During the course of the evening two young men caught the eye of Allison and her group. One was tall and well built with a loping kind of walk as they crossed the hall. The other was slimly built and wore Buddy Holly style, black rimmed glasses. Both appeared self confident and sure of themselves among a crowd of unknown people.

During a progressive barn dance both danced with Allison. The tall one told her his name was Stephen Walker and he had come to Roma to play A Grade football. His club had found him a job driving Dozer tractors for a major earthmoving company. On the second round Allison noticed his slow meaningful smile and his "come to bed eyes". Warning bells sounded because just maybe temptation was on the horizon again.

The slightly built one introduced himself as Dennis Bowen and proved to have a quick wit and to be a really good dancer. On the second round he told Allison he was a shearer and sharefarmer at a small town near Roma.

As the next dance was announced both came to ask Allison for the dance. Although popular, Allison was not normally in the position of having to choose. The opportunity pleased her. She decided to have this dance with Dennis and the next with Stephen. Both asked to take her home and she declined. The safety of her group appeared better.

A couple of days later Stephen called into the shoe shop and made a big production out of buying work boots. His drawling sense of humour had Allison and her co-worker laughing. Even a quick smile flitted across the owner's face. As he paid, Stephen asked Allison to go to Injune to visit a property he was to work on. On impulse, Allison agreed and arranged to meet after work on the Saturday afternoon. There was an understanding they had to be back at the Hostel before 6pm.

The trip up to the property went well. Allison laughed at the smooth jokes and comments Stephen made about workmates. On the return journey he turned the car into a small plane airfield outside Injune. After getting out and making a pretence of inspecting the strip to see if his company's planes could land, Stephen led Allison to the small passenger shelter.

His conversation became more personal and his attempts to kiss and cuddle Allison more intense. Temptation did not really surface. In fact it was obvious that Stephen was a practised womaniser and probably had a master's degree in the W.H.S. - the Wandering Hands Society. After counter repelling his advances, Stephen turned in a huff to the car and slammed the door as he sat down inside.

Driving back to Roma, Stephen's tense mood quickly subsided. It was obvious that he was not used to being able to get his own way. After all he was the new football hero of Roma who had won the grand final with a last minute try right on full time.

As Stephen reverted back to his jocular, easy going self, Allison felt an inner pride at meeting temptation head on and winning.

Over the next few weeks Allison returned to being with her various groups. Stephen's work took him away from town more often at the end of the football season. It also became common Knowledge that he was keeping company with a rich grazier's widow. Allison was relieved to hear this and celebrated her eighteenth birthday at a Rural Youth dance.

Dennis had joined Rural Youth and over the past few months developed a reputation for being a hard worker on club projects. His quick wit and easy style made him popular with the young women in the club. This night Dennis appeared to be always surrounded by chattering girls who laughed at his jokes and various actions as he told some story or other.

Allison was in her own group and felt undecided about her interest or lack of interest in Dennis. Just before the announcement of a dance competition towards the end of the night Dennis hurried over to Allison and asked if he could be her partner. Caught a little off balance Allison agreed mindful of how his dancing had impressed her on their first meeting at the Highland Ball.

During the competition, it became obvious that he was a terrific modern dancer. He had put together a routine from watching American and British movies using the best steps to form an eye catching performance. As others were eliminated it became obvious that their main competition came from a husband and wife pair who moved in perfect unison.

After eliminations the judges called for Dennis and Allison to perform against the other couple. The perfect timing of the married couple overshadowed the youthful exuberance of the younger couple. Dennis was happy with the second placing and made a little speech thanking Allison. The attention made Allison's face glow and the highlights from her blond hair was caught brilliantly on the overhead lighting.

To her surprise Dennis returned to his corner and the girlish giggles from his group. Even more surprising Dennis paid no attention to her for the rest of the Ball. This made Allison just a little miffed and she was not sure of the real reason as she returned to the Hostel that night.

Dennis called into the shoe shop during the next week. He made a big deal out of buying dress shoes and even chided the owner because he thought the main lines were out of date. Normally she would have given a biting answer. However Dennis also bought a pair of elastic side riding boots. This overcame her chagrin and her business sense told her not to have a cheap win over a good customer.

As Dennis paid for his purchases, he spoke to Allison and asked, " How about going to a movie?"

"Maybe ……maybe not," Allison replied.

"C'mon now," he chided - "We should at least celebrate being the second best dancers in the whole of South Western Queensland."

"Well just maybe we could do that as long as you have me back at the Hostel for Midnight curfew," Allison said slowly.

" Leave over! What's this curfew business? Sounds like a boarding school," Dennis said with a pained look on his face.

"Well it is really. The Matron is very strict if we do not keep to the rules," Allison replied.

Knowing he was in a no win situation, Dennis gave a quick easy smile and promised to be on time to meet her.

They both enjoyed the modern story line of two movies and found there was only a half hour before midnight as they left the cinema. There was no time to drive to the Lovers Haunts near the town.

Allison was a little surprised as Dennis drove her straight home and only sat behind the steering wheel pleasantly chatting about his work as a shearer. He seemed keen to buy machinery and become a share farmer.

As midnight approached, Dennis went to Allison's door and opened it for her. The old world manner appealed to her. To her surprise no effort was made for a good-night kiss and with a casual wave of the hand he went back to the front seat, started the car. Then drove away with a light toot of the horn.

Lying in bed later, Allison had a quick smile to herself as she thought, "This was different……no obvious chance of temptation with this fellow."

Over the next few months Allison had the odd date with Dennis. All these were with a group and most of the girls from the Hostel were included. There seemed an unwritten law that everyone abided by the curfew rule and went home as a group.

Dennis fooled around and was popular with all the male and female members as he participated in all the sports and activities. He did not excel at anything in particular. However his willingness to be part of a team and work hard at setting up working bees and the like were noticed.

Another thing that was noticed and reported back to Allison was the closer involvement Dennis was having with the secretary of the Rural Youth Group.

Amanda was slightly older than Allison and worked in a local bank. Allison had to admit to herself that Amanda was perhaps a sharp contrast to herself. Dark, naturally wavy hair topped an athletic body that had an assurance when she moved with a distinctive walk.

"Just maybe," thought Allison "I do really like Dennis and just maybe my opportunity is slipping away."

Fate sometimes steps in when needed. Amanda was transferred on promotion to Brisbane with her bank. The result was that Dennis continued to meet Allison and various dates to shows and sporting events followed. Allison easily kept their physical cuddling and the like in check. This puzzled Allison until one night Dennis admitted to her that he was still going to Brisbane when he could to see Amanda. They were lovers and talking of becoming engaged.

That night in bed Allison's mind tumbled in all directions as she fought to make sense of her own emotions. Did she really want Dennis? Was she mad at him for having sex with Amanda? Why was she feeling out? Was it worth trying to win him with some concentrated effort?

A couple of nights later Dennis was driving Allison home and parked in the Woolworths carpark. He told her that Amanda was flying out the following Saturday to discuss their engagement. Different thoughts whirled through Allison's head. To keep Dennis appeared impossible.

In a rush of words Allison said, "Dennis ….I love you! I don't want you to marry Amanda!"

The words apparently triggered some doubts Dennis already had of his own. A troubled frown crossed the face of the normally self assured young man. Apparently their dates and meetings over the past months had made an impression. Maybe the strict curfew laws had meant it was difficult to spend quality time that allowed chemistry to run its course.

Allison felt temptation slip during the heat of the moment. Turning to Dennis on the carseat she took the initiative and pulled him to her. Their kisses were hot and fiery. Abandoning all reservations, they made love on the car seat.

Afterwards Allison felt a queer sense of peace and satisfaction. Giving in to temptation was not always bad apparently.

Dennis was unusually quiet and appeared confused. His thoughts galloped as his mind churned. "What the hell got into me? Why did I do that with Allison? How will I handle Amanda?"

The bitter sweet sense of after glow still lingered as they kissed good night at the Hostel. Neither had spoken about what had happened. It was obvious that each had enjoyed the other.

The following Saturday Amanda stepped down from the plane at the Roma Airport. The sun caught her shining dark hair as she turned briefly to thank the hostess. As she scanned the people waiting to meet passengers, she saw Dennis standing a little to one side. He was fairly rigid and not sky larking as she would have expected.

Their meeting was a complete disaster.

Firstly, Amanda could not work out the manner of the man she was supposed to be discussing her engagement with during the week-end.

Secondly, Amanda was surprised to see Allison sitting in Dennis's car.

"What's going on?" she asked.

A quick flush crossed Dennis' face. "Well I guess there's no easy way to say this. It's over Amanda. I feel a fool. Life is life and I've decided I'm keen on Allison" he said in a weak explanation.

A hurt expression crossed Allison's face. To her credit and self control she said, "Well Dennis I do love you and I hope you do not regret this."

Turning she walked back towards the taxi stand with a dignity that contrasted hugely with the shame faced display of Dennis and Allison.

During the next few weeks Dennis and Allison met and to all extent and purposes were happy and contented with their decision.

Things appeared normal until one evening Dennis met Allison after work. They drove to Campbell's Park overlooking Roma. "I've just heard some really bad news" Dennis said.

"Amanda has had an abortion and I knew nothing about the baby," he continued, "I feel like hell!"

Allison was stunned. Quick thoughts came to her. She thought she had missed her own period some days back. Just maybe she was also going to pay for her temptation.

A look of dismay came over his face as Dennis said, " Oh no! What should we do?"

"I'll see the doctor to-morrow," Allison replied.

The doctor confirmed that Allison was pregnant. All the old thoughts of explanations to her parents and grand mother returned to Allison. All the doubts and mixed feelings of self inflicted temptation returned.

Dennis spoke loosely of marriage and appeared undecided as to what was the correct course to take. To relieve some tension and to get out of the town environment, Allison and Dennis accepted the invitation of one of their group to go to his nearby property to help muster some sheep. The invitation was genuine and innocent because he did not know the couple's troubles. It came because he did need assistance to muster for shearing.

Allison had learnt to ride ponies as a young child in Ipswich. It was one of the few activities she could do with her father.

At the property Allison was given a quiet horse that appeared pleased to see her. During the mustering Allison was given the comparatively job of riding along the fence following the mob while the others mustered little mobs in the scrub into the main mob.

The country air and the sense of doing something different appealed to Allison. Her horse though quiet had always been a property animal and knew the little tricks sheep used to break away from the mob. After some time Allison settled into a rhythm of settling down in the saddle and letting the reins hang loosely.

Suddenly the horse sensed a sheep breaking away from the mob as they crossed a gully. Involuntarily Allison jammed her heels into the horse's flanks. The horse leaped forward over rocks in the gully. The sudden lurch caught Allison off guard and her body was thrown head first towards the rocks.

Her last thoughts were that just maybe temptation had a high price for the young.