Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover Read Free Book Online

Book: Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover Read Free Book Online
Authors: Janet Gover
Tags: Fiction, Contemporary, Western, Coorah Creek
unusual on a week day. Both the civvies and the beer. Trish raised an eyebrow when she saw him, but she didn’t say anything. That was unusual for any day.
    Max wasn’t the only person in the bar. There were a couple of regulars sitting down at the other end of the expanse of polished timber. He had exchanged friendly greetings with them when he entered, but he sat alone as he usually did. He wanted to avoid the awkwardness of drinking with someone on one night, and perhaps arresting them for drink driving the next. He was part of the town, yet not part of it, and he was happy to keep it that way.
    He heard steps on the wooden veranda. He glanced up, trying not to notice the anticipation he felt and then trying to hide his disappointment when Ed Collins, owner of the town’s service station, walked in. They exchanged a greeting then Ed settled himself further down the bar. Ed had become a more frequent visitor to the pub since his reconciliation with his son last Christmas. Ed had a new laptop with him and was soon making use of the pub’s much vaunted Wi-Fi. Max knew he was planning a trip to England to visit his son Steve and his fiancée. Max knew a lot about most people in the town. Perhaps not quite as much as Trish Warren and her gossip grapevine, but more than most. After all, that was his job. He told himself he was just here at the pub to keep up his casual contact with the town. He really wasn’t waiting for anyone in particular.
    And if he wasn’t, he was therefore not at all disappointed when the next person to walk in through the pub’s front doors was one of the teachers from the school.
    Max ordered a second beer. It would be his last for the evening. A few minutes later, Trish delivered a burger to one of the other patrons. It smelled good. Max suddenly realised he was hungry. For a few seconds he contemplated ordering a burger for himself, but stopped. In a moment of honesty he admitted to himself that he had really come to the pub in the hope of seeing a redhead in motorcycle leathers. To stay here still hoping she would appear was a bit sad. He stood up and left the last of his beer.
    He paused on the top step long enough to glance up and down the road. He listened but heard nothing but normal night sounds. With a sigh he set off home.
    It wasn’t a long walk. He crossed the Mount Isa road and entered the tiny town square that fronted the road. The town hall, Coorah Creek’s only brick building, was at the back of the square. The post office and police station formed the other two sides. Town square was perhaps too grand a name for the tiny patch of grass, bordered by a flower bed. But, thanks to the mine manager, Chris Powell, it was green and the flowers added a touch of colour. Not for long though. Come the soaring heat of mid-summer, not even the automatic watering system installed by mine engineers would save the square from the blistering midday sun.
    Max walked along the side of the station to the house behind it. Once in his home, he headed for the kitchen. He was a reasonable cook, but cooking for one wasn’t much fun. Once a week he’d make a big pot of something which would keep him fed for several days. At the moment it was spaghetti with a meat sauce. It wasn’t grand enough to be called bolognese, but it was tasty none the less. He spooned a helping into a dish and set it in the microwave. While it heated, he ripped the top off a can of Coke.
    He carried his dinner through the kitchen door into the garage he’d turned into a workshop. He perched on a chair and ate, all the time studying the pile of old timber in front of him. It had come from one of the old houses by the railway station. Those houses were now owned by the mine, and he’d done a deal with Chris to take whatever timber he wanted. The boards were weathered by years of outback sun; any paint they had once known was long gone. There was something about this old wood that spoke to him. This was part of a house. It had

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