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WHERE THE PENNY FALLS



WHERE THE PENNY FALLS COVER

At nine years of age, Luke Harris is led to believe his father died while fighting the Japanese in Papua New Guinea and his mother takes him and his sister, Kathy, to live with his grandfather on his property at Glen Innes. The old man is such a tyrant that Luke makes the decision to leave the boarding school he was sent to and make his own way to the Queensland outback when he learns a dark truth.

While working for a drover, a bond is formed with the old man who becomes his mentor, as Luke makes his journey, searching for answers. His torment only deepens when the people closest to him are the ones that suffer the most from the disturbing things that occurred in his father’s past.

Luke’s character is moulded and strengthened by the relationships of those that care for him. The tragedies that fall on him simply strengthen his resolve as the enigma about his father is defined.

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ISBN: 978-0-6482230-1-6
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 230
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins


Author
-
Barry Townsend
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2018
Language: English


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

The author was born in Brisbane in 1948. From age 16, for three years he worked on cattle and sheep properties in Central Queensland as a jackaroo. He returned to Brisbane and competed as an amateur boxer, winning a Queensland Golden Gloves Championship and went on to fight 21 professional bouts. 

Prior to semi-retirement at the end of 2015 he was employed by DeLaval, a world leader in dairy technology as a project manager working across Australia, overseeing key installations of robotic milking equipment. 

Where the Penny Falls is his second manuscript and the main locations are where he spent his early working life. 

He lives with his wife, Debra, in Stockleigh, 40 minutes south of Brisbane.

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR 

Werna Creek (Zeus, 2017)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

The author would like to thank his wife, Debra, who took on the challenge of the preliminary editing. Debra’s patience and resilience were truly tested. Also his daughter, Annalese Jack, sisters-in-law, Lee Kemp and Kath Wilson, and good friends, Tatiana Dorofeeff and Tara Fahy, all avid readers who read Where the Penny Falls in its infancy and passed on their comments, which helped in the presentation of the finished manuscript.

 

I should give a special mention to my grandson Chase for standing in for the cover photo. A grandfather couldn’t be prouder.

 

Finally, I want to thank Rick and Jody Ruhland for allowing us to use their property as the backdrop for the cover of Where the Penny Falls.

     

DEDICATION 

To my wife, Debra, whose unwavering love and support has inspired me to be the best I can be.

 

Prologue 

At nine years of age, Luke Harris had no understanding of what was happening. Kathy, his elder sister by 18 months, knew but didn’t have the heart to tell him. The two men in uniform had arrived an hour earlier and the children were ushered up the stairs by Mrs Gibson, an elderly neighbour, to the small bedroom they shared. His mother was wailing and Kathy put both her arms around Luke, pulling him to her chest in an attempt to console him. He reciprocated and held her as tightly as he possibly could, not only because he was terrified about what was distressing their mother, but because his big sister was trembling all over and sobbing like she’d never done before.

Luke never received a proper explanation of what had occurred from his mother, Barbara, but Mrs Gibson had taken it upon herself to reveal to Kathy that their father had been killed and it would be up to Kathy to help look after her younger sibling. Barbara avoided all mention of her husband and when either of them asked she simply broke down and wept.

The following day, with the help of a young friend of their father, she had them pack all their belongings in the few suitcases they had. Without saying goodbye to anybody, not even Mrs Gibson, they simply left, without leaving a trace of where they were going. Luke, at that innocent age, could never have foreseen how the tragic events leading to that night would impact on him and the people close to him throughout the rest of his life.

 

Chapter 1 

Luke Harris locked the calf in the pen, away from its mother, and removed the saddle from the back of the old mare. He tossed a slice of hay to the horse and another to the jersey cow sniffing its young through the rails. He took a deep breath.

‘The old man isn’t going to be happy,’ he thought to himself as he trudged back towards the house.

The old man was his paternal grandfather. Luke’s father had been a soldier and died fighting the Japanese in New Guinea five years earlier. Luke, just 14, his sister, Kathy, 15 going on 16, and his mother, Barbara, lived on the family property with the old tyrant, Frank Harris, under sufferance. They were reasonably well provided for but the old man took every opportunity to let them know it was he who put a roof over their heads and demanded that they show their appreciation and do their fair share.

Luke’s mother said part of the reason for her father-in-law’s hostility was due to losing his son, her husband and their father, Bob. The old man had worshipped her deceased husband and the similarity Luke bore to his father seemed to inflame him to a point beyond reason.

As tough as he was, Frank Harris recognised the importance of a good education. In his mind, Luke was going to take over from him sometime in the future, and the boy needed firm discipline and strong direction to improve his attitude. He had him enrolled to start the coming year at Toowoomba Grammar. That afternoon, Luke had brought home the results of his final year at primary school. They were only just good enough to get him through and nowhere near what was expected of him. He cursed at the thought of facing his grandfather.

To make matters worse, without permission Luke had taken the farm truck, a Bedford, to bring in the milking cow. He’d got it bogged in the paddock and was forced to walk back and catch the horse to finish the job. The truck was still where he had left it.

Luke entered the yard and saw his mother talking to the old man at the kitchen door. Kathy was unpegging the washing from the line and she was clearly distressed, her face showing the concern she had for her younger brother. Even though he was clearly a head taller and two stone heavier than her, she took her role as the elder sibling very seriously.

Frank turned away from Barbara and saw Luke walking across the yard. His mother reached out and put her hand on the old man’s shoulder. Ignoring her, he reached out for his stockwhip that was hanging by the door and stepped into the yard. The rage was so great that his weathered old face had turned scarlet.

“Luke, you ungrateful, lazy good-for-nothing, get over here and explain this,” he demanded, holding up the report card in his free hand.

Luke walked to within a yard of his grandfather and said quietly, “It was the best I could do. I haven’t got the time to study.” He didn’t think it would help to mention that apart from attending school, he worked until after dark every day and was up at six each morning, putting in two hours before breakfast.

“Always you have excuses, boy. I’ve just invested a lot of money in your education and the best you can do is this.” He shoved the report card under Luke’s nose. “What about my truck? Apart from being too lazy to saddle the bloody horse, what other reason do you have for doing what I told you not to?”

As was Luke’s nature, he remained silent. There was no value in mentioning he had unloaded 40 x 120-pound bags of corn from the back of the Bedford, stacking them in the feed shed by himself. It was true he’d gone against his grandfather’s wishes, but it wasn’t out of laziness, it was more to be expedient – a trait the old man hammered into him at every opportunity. There was no sense in arguing; Frank despised him and the feeling was mutual.

Luke consciously made the decision to stand, cocksure, in front of his grandfather and didn’t offer any sort of justification. The arrogance as Frank saw it only infuriated him further. He began flogging his grandson on the shoulders, back and forearms with the coiled whip. Luke clenched his fists, stood still and took all the old man could dish out until finally the coiled kangaroo hide slipped from his grandfather’s hand.

Luke held the old man’s angry glare for several seconds then bent down, retrieved the lash and, maintaining full eye contact, he saw the doubt in Frank’s face as it dawned on him that his grandson may retaliate and strike him back. This gave Luke additional fortitude; he simply handed the weapon back and stood with his hands by his sides.

 

After dinner Barbara found Luke in his room, being consoled by Kathy. Luke knew what she would say. He understood the fear of being alone terrified her more than staying here and she would find sound reasons to support her argument. This time it had some merit.

“Luke, I know it all seems unfair, but in six weeks you’ll be going away to boarding school for four years. Kathy and I are treated well enough and your grandfather has never beaten us. He provides a place to live, food on the table and helps financially with clothing and incidentals. For the two of us, it’s not all bad.

“For our sake, go to Toowoomba and get an education at his expense. You’ve earned it. Remember, this place is your birthright; the old bastard won’t live forever and you can decide for yourself at the end of four years whether or not you want to come back.”

Luke did as he always did and hugged his mother, telling her he would do as she asked. He loved her unconditionally, even knowing that when the time came and Luke decided he didn’t want to return, she would present a number of good reasons to convince him otherwise.

 

 

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