VENTURING OFF TRACK-went the Vagabond Godfrey

Godfrey oft took the slow roads, the back tracks, the unpaved. He rode the remote stretches, saw the small towns on his pink bike.

He wrote-I like to roll slow, to see the  seas, to smell the smells. The wind and rain a part of me. (though this day I sought shelter from a rather nasty storm) From a weed grown yard an old man called out.’Oy, you Vagabond, come join me here up on my verrandah and get warm.

His name was Sim Gibb, and his teeth were in a jar on his wood chopping block. Godfrey sensed he had not had company for some time, as they sat on a saggy old chesterfield to talk.

He gave Godfrey billy-tea in the same type of jar where soaked his teeth.” I introduced my self as Godfrey, Hello I told him. I do not like beets.”

I offered Sim a biscuit, he wrote, and he ate the whole pack.He said he’d been a shearer, a good one all his life until a fall from a horse had broke his back. ..

Do you remember Summer?, when the rain drummed on tin roof, poured down eaves, soaked the tall grass on the pathway to the dunny, where wild raspberries hung ripe and sodden mid the dock leaves.

All would be still by evensong. dark clouds give way to warm breeze, promise of tomorrow hot and sunny.Such as it was for Godfrey. looking out at dripping damp, eating raspberries in the old man’s outhouse doorway.

He would soon say his farewell, ride off to find a sheltered spot to camp. But before he left the bent old shearer on his own, he was shown around his tumbledown home.

It smelled of Tom cat, old man, dirty frying fat, ancient papers were heaped, dust and soot covered all. Sim Gibb showed Godfrey his photos on each wall, a Rugby Team, a sweating racehorse, a grinning shearer, young and proud. There was one of a newly-wed couple by an old car, they look over their shoulders, waving to a crowd.

And there was also a birthday card, that made Godfrey feel a bit sad, it was 40 years old, tattered, scrawled writing in it Happy Britsday Dad. He set it back amid the clutter on it’s shelf, went out to the porch where the teeth sat in there jar, he shook the  worn old hand and said goodbye, Sim Gibb, take care of yourself..

..Godfrey took the low road, the offbeat path, the slow lane. He meandered along highway, and country town main street. He was an odd young man on a pink bicycle. He avoided confrontation, he avoided  the beet, but he never forgot the joy of venturing off track, he said,’It’s all about the wonderful characters that you meet’…


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