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.
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 concerned.
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 and fat.
“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 man.
“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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