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A Respected Enemy.

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Author Topic: A Respected Enemy.  (Read 204 times)
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« on: October 28, 2008, 11:03:31 am »

His name was Charlie Sinclair He was a sergeant in the Victorian Police Force and attached to the Country Roads Board. He was middle aged, quietly spoken and a gentleman.

His main job was to police all interstate trucks and follow up with the collection of all outstanding fines, either accepting money on the spot or escorting the delinquent to jail.

The speed limit in Victoria was lower than N.S.W. and it was very frustrating to have to plod along the flat country side after the up and down of the N.S.W. mountains, waiting for policeman to jump out of the bushes to book us for a couple of miles an hour over the limit.

We were caught many times and being always on the move, very seldom able to appear in court. The fines were posted to our interstate addresses and naturally we forgot about them, being half way across the Nullarbor Plain or up in the New England Range.

That meant a warrant was issued for your arrest and imprisonment on sight.

On being stopped the only way out was to have the ready money in your pocket. They preferred your money not your body.

So one day a month or two later driving through Victoria there would be Charlie Sinfield on the side of the road checking on a truck for a permit or what ever.

It was no good thinking he didn’t know you .. he did,

He knew every truck he was looking for a mile away.

You then pulled up and waited for Charlie to finish and over he would stroll.

"G day Ray, I think you owe me some money."

He would then open the boot of his car where he kept a one draw filing cabinet of outstanding fines.

He would rifle through them and all of a sudden

"Well, well, well .. look what I’ve found."..

While the busy fingers were clicking the files over I would be shuffling around from one foot to another hoping like hell that he would find nothing…knowing all along that there were warrants out for my arrest.

Hoping against hope that Head Office in town, had not sent them yet.

No such luck with super efficient Charlie.

That is when unbreakable agreements were made..

"Got any money on you?’

"Not enough"

"OK pay into the Melbourne office tomorrow without fail….right?""

This was if you were on the way into Melbourne.

"Yep no problem"

"If you don’t pay in tomorrow, the next time we meet ..its in the hoosgow for you and every time after that. No more favors., no more Mr. Nice guy…understand?"

Done Charlie no problem… and you did if you knew what was good for you.

If you were traveling north then as soon as you reached home you sent the money to head office and Charlie kept an eye out for it.

For a time there the country Roads Board were repacking the highway with fill and putting empty 44 gallon drums down the centre of the road to force the traffic back and forth to bed it down solid .out to the edges of the road. These sections could be a mile or two long.

Now this made for a delightful game of snooker for us.

Our big heavy steel bumper bars curled slightly around on the ends.

So leaning out the window taking careful aim we could clip the drums lightly and away they would fly end over end out into the bush. Great fun when bored.

Then the gangers woke up why so many drums were missing each morning or somebody snitched on us…because.

Near Benalla one night I decided to bounce a couple. I lined up one and just grazed it, there was a slight jolt and the drum wobbled a bit…. that’s all.

I was puzzled.

‘Funny’ I thought.’ Ill have another one".

The next one rocked on its base, moved sideways a little and gushed water from its top filler hole.

The air turbulence managed to spray my face as if it was raining.

As I wiped my face with my hand I smiled,… they are filling them with water to stop them getting bowled over. Bloody Cheats.

It was dry weather and as I wandered into Wangarratta very slow minding my own business, there was Charlie.

Damn … was there any warrants out for me, was my first thought. Don’t think so was the next.

To him I was just another set of headlights till I rolled up to a stop.

"What have I done" I called out with a guilty conscience thinking of the drums as Charley loomed closer out of the headlights.

"Oh its you " he said, looking up and seeing me adding

" For once I don’t think you owe me any money"

" No I don’t’

"Well what are you worried about"

"Nothing .I ‘ve been good .I havn’t done nothing wrong"

Charley just looked at me, then glanced down at the drivers door and along to the fuel tank.

"Where did you get all this mud from, the roads are dry?"

My heart skipped "Maybe out of the back of Winton Service Station" I said.

I knew he didn’t believe me but at that moment the sound of motors could be heard and headlights seen coming the other way, definitely heavy trucks.

"Ok get going and behave yourself" said Charlie with a smile on his face.

It wasn’t long after that I met him on the top of Pretty Sally a hill just out of Melbourne. It was midnight and freezing. As I climbed to the top I looked out and it was snowing.

Snow in the middle of an Australian summer… unbelievable.

Yes snowing and it was between Xmas and New Year’s Day. I stopped at the top and climbed out to convince myself it was snow… it was.

Just then Charlie pulled up in his patrol car going the other way.

We shook hands smiling at each other through the snow flakes and wished each other the best. Both of us wondering, what the other had done wrong to be working at this time of the year.

I asked Charlie was the road quiet, he said yes any sensible person would be home on a night like this and he was on the way home himself. I asked him was he sure he was going home and not going to follow me.

He laughed and said " Ray the roads all yours to night, I’ve got all year to catch you."

With that he took off down "Sally" and I took off for the border.

This is for you Charlie, you were a gentleman…. A fond memory.
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