Pete was a paddock-basher. Now in case you don't know, a
paddock-basher is an old vehicle that's used on a farm to smash and crash
about the place. It can be a utility or a small truck, or just a car, which
is what Pete was. But whatever it is, it's always old and worn-out, which is
also what Pete was.
Once, a long time ago, Pete had been a brand new car with
flash black tyres, sparkling chrome, and more shine than the Sun. He'd lived
in a town, with heaps of houses and smart new streets and lots of other cars
that beeped at each other. At night he lived in a garage, and on weekends he
was washed and polished and taken for a drive by the people who owned him.
But that was a long time ago. These days Pete didn't have
any shine left, all the chrome bits had fallen off, and his tyres were as
bald as Uncle Fred's head. He lived out under the sky, next to the machinery
shed, usually parked on a bit of a hill because he wasn't too good at
starting. The only wash he got was when it rained. And the only drive was
when the kids hopped in him.
Pete loved the kids. Every school morning they'd jump in,
laughing and talking, rev him up and bash off across the paddocks to the
front gate, where they left him and got on the school bus. All day he'd wait
there for them, parked under the tree on the little hill. He'd watch the
cars and trucks and buses buzz back and forth along the smart black road
with the white stripes on its back. And he'd wonder if the day would ever
come when he'd get to go to town again.
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course you'll never go to
town again." These cruel words were spoken by Stella Sedan to Pete
Paddock-Basher one day. "No one in their right mind would want to be
seen driving you around town. To be honest, I'm surprised they haven't
thrown you on the scrap heap long ago, you silly old rust bucket."
Stella was the bright new car on the farm. She was very
young, not much more than a year old, and thought she was just stunning. She
was stunning, Pete thought, glossy and smooth, with such sleek lines. And
she always started first time. "Computers, darling" she explained
to Pete once. "All cars have computers these days. So much more
reliable." Pete had no idea what computers were, and didn't really
care. Hills were plenty good enough for getting started as far as he was
Still, Stella's cruel words rang in Pete's mind as he
waited under the tree at the front gate and watched all the cars and trucks
and buses buzz back and forth along the smart black road. Of course she was
right, Pete had to admit. No one would want to drive him to town. But it
would be nice. Just once more. As Pete day-dreamed he slowly drifted off to
sleep in the warm afternoon sun.
But Pete didn't doze for long. He was jolted awake by a
car spluttering down the smart black road. It pulled over near the front
gate and stopped. Two men got out, one tall and very thin, the other small
"Damn!" yelled the tall man. "What'll we
do now? The police will catch us for sure."
"We just need another car, Ned," said the small
"Oh brilliant!" screamed the tall man.
"And where might we get one of those, drainbrain?"
"What's wrong with that one?" The small fat man
pointed across the paddock to where Pete was parked.
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