PAPERBACK BOOKS
GLOVE

GLOVE
 


The story Glove follows the tragic life of a country girl. Set in rural Victoria, it follows the romance, pain and emotional conflict that scar her mind for many years to come.

Glove
can best be described as a love story with adventures and heartbreak along the way.

The inclusion of terrible Australian bushfires brings a stark reality to the story.

This is an absorbing and heartfelt page-turning read from start to finish, which leaves the reader wanting more.

 

In Store Price: $AU25.95 
Online Price:   $AU24.95

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Buy as a Pdf  Epub or Mobi Ebook version - $AUD9.00
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ISBN:   978-1-921919-70-1
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 184
Genre: Fiction

Cover - Clive Dalkins

Author: Marie Tilley
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

Author Bio. 

 

Marie J. Tilley, born in Warracknabeal, country Victoria, Melbourne hairstylist, a wife and mother to Gianni. 

Since her teenage years she dreamed of writing a story that readers would fall in love with. In middle age she finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper.

Chapter one

 

The song of the cicadas rang out across the sweltering summer night as eight-year-old Darcy happily played with her new puppy, Red, a six-month-old Kelpie. Although she looked more like a boy, Darcy’s green eyes burned with an intensity of passion that anyone aware enough could readily see harboured all the normal desires of a girl who would one day blossom into a woman. Her mouse-brown hair was normally tied in a ponytail, both because it suited the image she chose to portray of being as rough and ready as any bloke, and because in the stinking heat of a Victorian outback summer it was simply more comfortable to wear this way.

Red bounded and bounced around with all the enthusiasm of a young bush dog, revelling in the company of his new mistress, an affection which was eagerly returned by Darcy, who felt starved of affection from any other source. Although she was more than capable of sharing great love for those she cared for, her mother was often too drunk to even notice her daughter, her father did whatever was necessary to earn a crust to put food on the table with just about every hour God sent, and her little brother Jonny was too young to sense the aching longing in his big sister’s heart for an occasional hug.

Both Jonny and Darcy were supposed to be at home that night, but it was too hot to sleep and they knew their father would be boxing in a short while, and that was something they couldn’t bear to miss. Their father, Jack, was a boxer with the Jimmy Sharman Boxing Troupe that came around to the country towns once every three weeks. Boxing wasn’t his day job; for that he worked with his old mate Russell on construction sites; but if he was able to win a match or two here or there it added valuable income to the family budget.

Jimmy Sharman was an Australian boxing troupe impresario who established his first boxing tent in 1911 and built the show up to a point where it visited around fifty shows a year. The tent formed part of the Australian landscape when regulations barred boxers fighting more than once a week. Many champion boxers began their careers in Jimmy’s tents, which always attracted great crowds to witness the spectacle.

Little Jonny, at only six years old, was already practising his boxing technique with his big sister on a regular basis, with dreams one day of becoming a champion himself. Of course, he would never admit to practising with a girl, even if she was two years older than him and more than competent in the boxing art … she was still a girl and if his friends found out the jibes would be intolerable. Unfortunately for Jonny, they did find out, and while Darcy was blissfully unaware of it, preoccupied by playing with Red before the fight commenced that night, the ribbing had commenced.

‘Look at you,’ cried one of the boys. ‘You fight like a girl because you’re trained by a girl!’

‘Stop it,’ Jonny snapped back. ‘I can take you!’

‘Oh really? Come on then! Show us what you’ve got.’

‘What do you mean – us?’ Jonny asked with a note of concern in his voice.

‘You reckon you’re so tough. Let’s see what you’ve got,’ the boy challenged again, more threateningly this time as his older brother and two of his mates closed ranks around him.

Jonny looked at the four boys horrified. He was quite large for his age, and the older brother was only one year older and not much bigger than Jonny, but still, four against one didn’t present him with much of an opportunity to defeat his collective opponents. ‘That’s not fair,’ he protested.

‘What’s the matter? Chicken?’ the older brother asked, throwing the first punch, which landed Jonny flat on his back.

The four boys couldn’t contain their laughter. ‘Oh yeah, you’re real tough, you are,’ the first boy sneered.

‘I’ll show you,’ Jonny shot back determinedly getting to his feet and taking a swing at the older brother’s stomach that almost winded him.

‘Hey! What do you think you’re doing?’ the first boy complained, grabbing Jonny and wrestling him to the ground.

As they rolled in the dusty dirt the first boy laid punch after punch into Jonny causing him to cry out – a cry which Darcy immediately recognised. She came flying in the direction of the brawl with Red hot on her heels, lifted the first boy off her brother and landed him with a punch that sent him flying.

‘You leave my kid brother alone, you big bullies! What’s the matter? Are none of you man enough to try and take him a fair fight, one on one?’

Beaten, bruised and crying, Jonny scrambled to his feet and tried to head back to the boys to show he wasn’t afraid, but Darcy grabbed his arm.

‘I’ll deal with you later,’ she said to the boys before turning to her brother. ‘Come on, Jonny, it’s time to go and see some real fighters. What do you say?’

He sniffed and nodded, noticing his big sister throw an accusatory scowl at the boys before turning away.

‘I could have taken them, Anne,’ he told his sister.

‘Oh, sure you could,’ she smiled down at her little brother. ‘And I’ve told you before, don’t call me Anne.’

‘But that’s your name.’

‘Not anymore. My name’s Darcy. That’s what Dad calls me.’

‘But your name’s Anne,’ Jonny insisted.

‘Okay, well, Darcy’s kind of a nickname then, I guess. But I prefer it. So please call me Darcy. Okay?’

‘Okay,’ he grumbled. ‘But who is Darcy anyway?’

‘Dad’s hero, Les Darcy.’

Although Les Darcy was a middleweight, he held the heavyweight champion title at the same time. He was widely considered to be one of the best boxers to ever come from Australia, and one of the greatest middleweights of all time. He started amateur boxing at the age of fifteen, but quickly turned professional. He had won his first sixteen fights before challenging the veteran, Bob Whitelaw, for the Australian welterweight title. Darcy lost the twenty-five round decision but in a rematch knocked Whitelaw out in five rounds. His opponents were said to admire his courage, stamina and punching power – qualities the young girl Darcy was keen to emulate.

As soon as they neared the boxing tent they could smell the pungent aroma of liniment and sense the excitement building inside. Peeping through a crack in the tent all she could see was the backs of the grownups; she had to pull a couple of fruit boxes over for her and Jonny to stand on if they were to be high enough to see past the broad shoulders inside through to the action in and around the ring. They could see the muscles of those about to box rippling as they were getting rubbed down. Russell was there helping Jack prepare and from their vantage point, Jonny and Darcy could easily hear the conversation.

‘You feel tense, mate,’ Russell told Jack.

‘Does that surprise you?’ Jack quipped back.

‘The old woman on the sauce again?’

‘Again? She’s never off it.’

‘You’ve been hitting it a bit hard yourself lately.’

‘Nothing I can’t handle … nothing I don’t need, mate.’

‘If you say so. I’m just saying …’

‘Saying what? Listen, Russ, you’re beginning to sound like my mother.’

‘Yeah, well, can’t have that, can we?’ Russell forced a grin.

‘Just get me in the ring – I’m about ready to punch someone’s lights out.’

‘If only all squabbles were dealt with this way.’

‘What do you mean?’ Jack asked.

‘What do you mean, what do I mean? Haven’t you been listening to the news?’

‘Oh that.’

‘Yes, oh that. Looks like Europe is soon gonna be at war again. So much for the last war to end all wars.’

‘That’s Europe, mate. It’s the other side of the world.’

‘Maybe. But the first European war escalated into a world war soon enough. What makes you think this one won’t too?’

‘Worried you’re gonna be conscripted?’

‘At my age? Nah.’

‘What then?’

‘Worried a lot of young people are gonna die senselessly again – that’s what.’

‘Thank God my boy’s too young for the call-up,’ Jack mused.

‘Thank God indeed,’ Russ agreed. ‘Hey, looks like you’re up.’

The boxing tents were an enormously popular source of entertainment in the rural country towns of Australia that had little else happening to keep their communities amused. Fruit growing was once the main industry in Jandamarra, the country town where Darcy and her family lived, about 200 miles north-west of the capital city, Melbourne. Jandamarra had formed a significant part of the fruit growing region where fruits were grown in large varieties, initially for the Melbourne market, and later for export. There had been significant new activity in the region following World War 1, much of it under the auspices of Closer Settlement schemes. The policy of Closer Settlement had been adopted by the Victorian government towards the end of the nineteenth century, with the aim of breaking up large estates and populating rural Victoria with small farmers. By this year, 1938, 1.4 million acres had been resumed from private ownership and subdivided for closer settlement, with special emphasis given to settling returned soldiers after 1917. The Closer Settlement Board was active in acquiring land during the 1920s and during the 1930s many orchardists supplemented horticulture with beef raising, wood carting, waged work, construction and wheat farming, giving up the struggle to make a living out of fruit growing altogether.

Jandamarra was first surveyed and settled in the late 1840s, although the first post office didn’t open until 1848. The main railway from Melbourne reached there in 1879, later extending to Adelaide, and in 1938 was still an arduous, bone-rattling seven-hour journey to the capital city (as opposed to approximately four hours by car). Although close to the spectacular Grampian Mountain Range and built near a major river, the river was restrained by a weir and subject to drought, which made the farming industry tough going for men of the land. To combat at least one of their perennial dilemmas, the recent discovery of the insecticidal properties of DDT had been warmly welcomed and widely deployed in the area to minimise the destructive forces of Australia’s more virulent crop-eating arthropods, which bred in frightening numbers in outback rural regions. All in all it was a harsh and unforgiving environment with no room for daydreams, glamour or etiquette. Hence boxing excursions were a highlight.

When Jonny and Darcy crept out of their rooms at night it was with hearts full of expectation and excitement. Seeing their dad pummel some opponent was as thrilling for them as if they’d won the lottery. Keeping a tight hand on her little brother, Darcy continued to listen to the conversation between Jack and Russ until something else caught her eye. In the far corner of the tent some of the local boys had gathered to watch the evening’s entertainment. Among them was Gary Taylor, a boy she’d admired from afar for as long as she could remember. She was quite certain, as Gary was three years her senior, that he had never even noticed her, but whenever she saw him, whether he was hanging out with his mates, or eating a sav (saveloy) and sauce, or kicking a footy around, she always found her heart lightened a little. She understood that Gary and his mates were allowed into the boxing tent, even though they were only eleven years old, because they were boys. Had she attempted to step inside, even if she did look and behave more like a boy than a girl, she knew she would have been smartly sent packing home to her drunken mother. It was far more prudent, not to mention effective, to remain just out of everyone’s sight but close enough to be able to watch the action through her vantage point of the crack in the tent wall.

These fights were typically organised with two or three boxers who were professional, inviting all the locals in town to come and try their luck. Anyone who could beat these blokes in the ring won prize money. Of course, most of it was rigged; for instance, a man would fight and his brother and the man would lose and then the brother would ask who wanted to fight the man because he’d lost. Prize money was twenty pounds but that money helped pay bills in a struggling town. It was tough yards to make twenty quid, but the men considered it was worth it – and fun – and good entertainment, mixed with a whole lot of drinking.

Jack entered the ring to face his opponent, Bruce Wilkins, a hulk of a man. The fight was ready to go. The men met, touch boxing gloves, returned to their corners, the bell chimed and the fight was on. It was hardly a classic championship fight, but Jack was not inexperienced, and Bruce looked like he could probably chew up the side of the tent and spit it out without breaking into a sweat. Jack was five foot eleven inches, while his opponent stood about two inches taller, and seemed to carry considerable extra meat on his bones than Jack did. One minute into round one and Jack had already been backed into the ring’s ropes more than once. Bruce would occasionally leap forward to lay one on Darcy’s father, causing Jack to gasp for breath as he moved back to the centre of the ring. And then there was the bell ending round one.

It wasn’t long into round two before Bruce was hammering Jack in the body, once again forcing him backwards to the ropes. Darcy gasped, only then realising she had been so focused on the fight that she’d forgotten she was supposed to be holding onto Jonny. She’d allowed her grasp to loosen and quick as a cricket he’d slipped away.

Spinning around frantically to see where her little brother might have escaped to she caught sight of him rough-housing with some of his little friends. They were just play-boxing, as normal kids were prone to do, but suddenly one of the boys hit Jonny hard enough to send him flying, not realising he was already weakened from his earlier brawl with the bad boys. Little Jonny fell down hard, hitting his head on one of the tent pegs.

‘Oh no,’ Darcy breathed, instinctively crossing herself as she’d often seen her mother do, before racing to Jonny’s side. Already blood was oozing rapidly from his skull. ‘Jonny? Jonny!’ she screamed. ‘Jonny, speak to me.’ She sank to her knees by his side and lifted his head onto her lap.

‘I didn’t mean to,’ the kid who’d struck him said numbly, joining Darcy’s side and looking down in horror at what he’d done to his friend.

‘Jonny, Jonny,’ Darcy wept. ‘Wake up. Wake up!’

‘Is he gunna be okay?’ the kid asked.

‘Stay with him,’ Darcy suddenly ordered, flying panic-stricken into the boxing tent without realising she was covered in her brother’s blood.

In the ring Jack had just scored with a left to Bruce’s body when he caught sight of Darcy running into the tent stained with a red that was unmistakably body fluid. Their eyes met, just for a split second, before Bruce grabbed the opportunity and hit Jack with a blow that sent him crashing to the floor out cold.

‘No!’ Darcy screamed, absolutely distraught. She was crying hysterically, trying to say something that was totally inaudible over the cheering and screaming inside the boxing tent.

Gary and his friends couldn’t help but notice the dishevelled little girl-boy in her denim overalls and checked shirt, all filthy from they knew not what, crying her eyes out and carrying on in an embarrassingly feminine display of emotion they could only assume meant she was upset that her father lost the boxing match. All but Gary turned to her, pointed and laughed. By contrast, Gary gazed at her, feeling her pain, although of course he could never permit such a sign of obvious weakness to be displayed in front of his mates. Nonetheless all he wanted to do in that moment, and he wanted it more than his next breath, was to run to Darcy’s side and take her in his arms and tell her that whatever it was it would be okay. But he didn’t do that. He stood there with his mates, who were all having a wonderful time at Darcy’s expense, as she became ever more hysterical in her desperate attempts for someone to hear and understand her cries for help.

‘It’s Jonny!’ she finally screamed.

‘What about him?’ a kindly voice said from behind.

She spun around. ‘Oh Russell, it’s you.’

‘What about Jonny?’

‘He’s been hurt. Come quickly,’ she urged, tugging at his sleeve and directing him out of the tent.

At this point Gary realised that whatever it was that was upsetting Darcy, it had nothing to do with Jack’s knockout, so he decided to follow and see what the problem was.

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