Chapter 54

the sound: Seals & Crofts – Hummingbird, SuperTramp – Fools Overture, Rory Gallagher – Secret Agent, the Beatles – Free as a Bird, Tom Waits – Waltzing Matilda, Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia

Round about the time I remember to close my yap I hear Greybeard chuckle and tell Robert that he should ‘pay his debts’ as opposed to trying to wiggle outta them.

There’s a couple of tense moments while the 2 groups of men glare at each other and then Barnyard pipes up and invites them to a bbq.

Robert looks perturbed but agrees, and Greybeard nods his head and allows as he and the boys may be hungry after the long ride.

“There’s enough goat for everyone” Robert answers.

As if by magic there’s a full relaxation that comes across the group and almost immediately the tension leaves and these people start to talk and laugh and joke amongst each other.

Again I find myself gawping.

“Two minutes ago I expected gunfire and now they are sitting side by side at the fire discussing bbq technique….” I muss.

As I begin to relax I spot Rosie walking from the garage towards the fire and I make a beeline to head her off and get some answers. She laughs as I approach and tells me that I look like a woman on a mission. I admit that I am and that I want more info. She sighs and agrees that maybe I do need some background then ushers me into the big barn like garage so that we won’t be overheard.

We settle onto a couple of shop stools and both of us light a smoke in silence, then I start with something eloquent…”what the fuck was that all about??”

“What?” she asks, playing stupid.

“that’s the second near shoot out between those two in two days…what the fuck is up with that?…And now they’re sitting there like brothers cos there’s food? Come on!”

Rosie shakes her head and smiles as she says…”They are sitting there like brothers because they are brothers….birth brothers not just blood or riding bro’s.”

I’m gawping again…I just know it. “Well what’s all this shit about debt? And what was in those saddle bags? And why does Robert keep referring to me as if I was a product? And how the hell did BarnYard get away with suggesting supper?”

Rosie laughs as she gets up and walks across the end of the garage to the an old “Coke” cooler…the kind that with the sliding doors on top and slots to hold the bottles by the neck…she reaches in and pulls out a beer “want one?” she asks before she continues.

“Sure…as long as you start talking…I’m like to have a cardiac trying to figure all this shit out” is my reply.

Rosie brings me a beer and settles down again. “Robert and Grey are brothers, hard to imagine considering how different they look, same mamas, different daddies. There’s someone else here that’s their family too…betcha can’t figure out who?”

“I don’t really care…except to say that it’s likely Barnyard cos he’s too stupid to get away with some o the shit he does and says.”

“Right on the money!” Rosie replies….”Grey….Barnyard and Robert…are 3 of 13 kids….7 boys, 6 girls, 3 fathers. Irish Catholic, and as tough as the day is long. Story has it that the first person to shoot Robert was Greybeard and that was over a fight they had over Barnyard…who’s the baby.” Grey’s the eldest and BY’s the baby and there’s 11 more of them in between….betcha also didn’t know that all 3 of them boys are my brothers?”

“Brothers? yours? waitafuckinminute! Didn’t you tell me yesterday that Robert owns the bar and alla you? What the fuck is up with this place? Can’t I get a straight answer outta anyone?”

Rosie laughs at me again…”yer quick on the uptake little girl. Robert does own us…he’s now the ‘father’ in our family…at least he is since Grey left us.”

“Ok…Grey’s yer oldest brother and Robert lands somewhere in between, and he gets to treat you like he does cos Grey left?”

“Right again” she says as she takes another pull on her beer. “Once our last daddy died and it became clear that Momma wasn’t gonna be able to keep us all together we started working towards makin the family some money…each in our own way.”

“Well,” I harrumphed, “if my brother tried to turn me out to flat back, he’d find himself sitting in a puddle of his own blood.”

“Be careful with your mouth little girl, don’t let it take you places that you have no knowledge of.” Rosie said as she set down her beer bottle, rose and walked out of the garage.

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