Machelle and Wayne didn’t want their photo taken because they were up to no good.
They pulled over near Pokolbin to pick me up. Machelle was already half cut when she told me with a voice that resonated emphysema to jump in the back, and she continued to sink beers the entire trip.
There was just enough room for my bag and me, crammed between boxes, buckets, empty beer cartons, an Esky and a greyhound. Yes, a greyhound. They raced dogs and were on their way home to Scone from Cessnock where they had just bought the latest addition to their stable.
They named him ‘Stranger’ after me.
Wayne didn’t say much. Probably because whenever he did, Machelle told him to "shut up your face". He had sleep apnoea and kept drifting off the road to sleep. He'd catch himself and suddenly swerve back into the middle of his lane and Machelle would yell out, "oiy fuck-face" if you do that one more time I'm driving".
She kept calling him 'Charlie'. When I asked why she said it was on account of his, erm, “third leg”. Massive, she rasped, like Charlie the horse. Although hearing wasn’t quite believing in that car.
His skin was prematurely wrinkled, hers too, because of their work - brick cleaners. They used hydrochloric acid and every job turned their skin to leather. But chain-smoking probably didn't help either.
Suddenly, Wayne swerved viciously from the kurb and Machelle yelled, "Right, that's it, I'm driving." He pulled over and they swapped seats. I thought about getting out but she could hardly drive worse than old Wayne, so I gave her a few minutes to see how she went. As it happened, I felt much safer with Machelle at the wheel, pissed as she was.
They would have taken me all the way to Scone, where they lived. They even offered me a bed for the night, but by the time we reached Aberdeen Charlie-or-Wayne-or-whatever-his-face was getting blind drunk too. The conversation was all wind-ups, smart remarks and comebacks.
So I was thankful for the lift but glad to get out.