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“Ambs are you up there,” Roxy called out from the bottom of the stairs.
“Oh shit was I meant to pick you up,” Amber bolted out of her chair and turned.
“Nah I walked home.” Roxy stuck her head into the attic. “The priestly people left a note downstairs to state that the memorial will be in three days.” Roxy waived the note at her.
“They also want to know if you could get a temporary wall around the toilet and take the fridge upstairs, other than that, they are pretty cool. Did you light the candles downstairs?” Roxy asked.
Amber shook her head alarmed.
“Don’t sweat it, they are all on bases that won’t catch fire and if they get blown over, they are nowhere near anything that will burn easily. Milly’s kids have almost finished the deck. It looks really cool. If you have time, you should probably come down and see it. I reckon we could eat dinner out there, maybe find a bbq somewhere.”
“Not in the budget, I have to build a kitchen, laundry and toilet down there.”
“Aren’t you going to put a bathroom in,” Roxy asked.
“I don’t know, I mean the bedrooms are all upstairs now,” Amber replied. She switched her phone to silent and followed Roxy down the stairs.
“We thought you’d died up there,” Milly’s oldest boy said. His sister wacked him in the arms.
“We made everyone put their candles on some metal so that if they fell they wouldn’t burn. You want us to shift the fridge upstairs?”
“Do you think you could handle it?” Amber asked.
“Sure, we have a stair trolley at home, we’ll get the Twits up to help us, that’s if Bradles will get off the computer. That coding website you put him onto, he’s hooked. Recons he could write an app to help out builders with their ordering.”
“Great idea, especially if you could convince the suppliers to hook into the app so that the entire process was automatic.”
The kids gave her a weird look.
“Did you study computers as well as languages,” Roxy asked her. Amber shrugged.
“Answer with words,” Roxy prompted her.
“I might have done a Graduate diploma in software engineering after uni because I couldn’t find anyone who understood what I needed in a program. Call your brothers.” Amber instructed. The advantage of having a large hole in her wall was that the scent of the candles simply wafted through the house. Another car pulled up and this time Tom got out. He had his young children with him.
“Hi Amber,” he called through the doorway. The kids all went running into the house.
“Hi Tom, can I help you with something,” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, I was hoping your sister would be able to help us.”
Roxy grinned from ear to ear. “Sure,” she piped up.
“The wife and I want to go out for dinner to Wangaratta. It’s been such a long time since she had a night off that we just want to get out of town. Could Roxy here babysit for the evening, tomorrow.”
“Oh,” Roxy’s face fell, “Oh absolutely,” she recovered.
“But aren’t we going to Maverick’s for dinner,”
“Sorry sis, got to earn some money to pay for that course.”
“Oh yeah,” Amber responded, her stomach fluttering.
The twins from down the road approached with the stair trolley.
“I hear you’re having a memorial here. That’s a good thing to do, lots of the older folks are feeling a damn sight awful that all those people died here.”
“They didn’t all die here,” Amber protested. Tom shrugged.
“Anyway, I’d best get going and get these kids home for some sort of afternoon nap.” He loaded his three kids into the car.
“Jeez, those kids are hellions Roxy,” The girl said. Amber struggled with her name. Shay, that was it. “I won’t babysit them anymore.”
“I mainline Hellion,” Roxy came back confidently. The fridge made it’s way upstairs.
“We could make a wall around your toilet and sink,” Shay suggested. “It wouldn’t be too hard, and it only needs to last for a couple of weeks until Dad can fix you up a proper one. We’ve got all the timber framing and tools here. Come on,” and the five teenagers proceeded to make a couple of false walls and a door for the toilet and sink.
Thus Amber found herself back at Colin’s hardware without the aid of Colin. She entered the dark shop. No one greeted her. Amber wandered around until she found the plasterboard resting flat out the back.
“How many sheets,” she rang and asked Shay. “Probably about four, but if you get too much it’s not like you don’t have a house left to line,” then Shay hung up.
“Can I help you,” Amber spun to see a man of middle eastern decent. He had a small, well cared for beard and had spoken in quite stilted English.
“Thanks, do you know anything about plasterboard,” she asked him slowly.
He looked at her. “You need glue and screws. Come, we find.” They wandered around the shops.
“Do you work here,” Amber asked him.
“No, I new to town, I here to ask for work but no one here.”
“Well, I can fix that soon enough,” she said under her breath, Amber picked up her phone and called Annabell.
“Hello dear, what a pleasant surprise.”
“Is Colin there,” Amber didn’t waste time on pleasantries.
“Oh he’s just gone for a bit of a lie in, he’s getting a bit old for the shop, but don’t tell him I said so, it’s just as well Roxy is there now, she was such a help. What’s the problem?”
“I’m at the shop with another man and there is no one here. Roxy left at two. She wouldn’t have left Colin’s shop if the other man wasn’t here.”
“Oh no dear, Mick starts at 12. I don’t know what to do.”
“I’ll get Roxy to come back she must know how to use the till now,” Amber stated firmly.
“Oh dear, that would be wonderful. If she can hold the fort until I can get one of the grandkids down, Maverick should be finishing work soon.” Annabel hung up. She dialled Roxy.
“Get down to the hardware ASAP.”
“Is it Colin?”
“No he’s at home but there is no one in the shop.”
“I’ll see if Milly can drive me,” Roxy hung up.
“Someone will be here soon,” Amber said in Arabic. The man’s eyes widened in surprise.
“I try to speak English now. I have Citizenship.”
“Great, so do you know how to put plasterboard up,” she asked in Arabic and he gave her instructions in stilted English.
Roxy rushed into the shop.
“I know Maverick said I needed to be non-judgemental but that Mick he’s just no good.”
“Perhaps something happened and he had to deal with an emergency,” Amber offered.
Roxy muttered something under her breath that sounded like “Fucking don’t think so,” then she smiled and her demeanour changed.
“Welcome to the hardware store is there anything I can do for you today.”
“I have 4 sheets of” she looked at the man. “What am I buying,” she asked him.
“4 sheets of 2400mm gyprock, a 1-litre bucket of gyrock glue, 500 g of plasterboard screws.”
Roxy rang it up on the till. “Do you even have a drill, Ambs because I am not screwing all those screws in by hand.”
“No” Amber responded. Roxy shook her head.
“You have to excuse my sister, she speaks multiple languages but doesn’t even know what a drill is.”
Amber opened her mouth to say something but closed it. Roxy’s phone rang. She looked at the dial. “It’s my case manager.”
“I’ll speak to her for a moment.” Amber offered.
Roxy threw her the phone and disappeared to find Amber a drill. The middle eastern man went with her.
“Hi, Roxy’s phone, Amber speaking,” Amber said politely.
“Hi, I’m after Rosy.”
“Her name is Roxy,” Amber pronounced clearly. “You’re her case manager, get her name right.” Amber was cold now. She hated that, just one of many people that the case manager was meant to check in on.
“Oh right, I just wanted to check that everything is okay with her.”
“It’s fine, she’s just started a holiday job at the moment and can’t answer her phone as she’s at work.”
“Oh right then, when will she be finishing,” the woman asked.
“Not sure, but the shop closes at 6pm so probably not until then.”
“Right, well if she has any issues, tell her to call me during office hours.”
“Will do,” Amber hung up. Some case managers would let you call them at any time of the day or night, others restricted their hours. This one was one of them. In her defence, she probably had 50 odd children in care to look after. It wasn’t that she didn’t care, it’s that the woman had too much to do.
“This is what you need.” Roxy plonked a cordless drill and a spare battery. “Baram here is quite knowledgeable about all things hardware. He used to own a hardware store back in Syria.”
Roxy added that to the Amber’s total and Amber paid for the equipment.
“Thanks, Baram, I’ll put in a good word with the owner for you about a job,” Amber promised. “You right here holding the fort, Annabel said that she’d give some grandkids the call and see who could look after the shop until closing.”
“I’m good, I’ll give her a callback and tell her to send someone at closing, I don’t know how to close yet. Is that case manager going to ring back?” Roxy asked.
“Nope, you’re off her list of phone calls for this week.”
“Oh, she’s a shocker that one, always some disaster to attend to. Mind you, I pretty much got my money’s worth before Stan and Merry.”
Amber laughed. “You and me both.” Then she headed back to her place as Maverick walked into the hardware in his uniform.
She winked at him and he gave her a slow grin.
“One of these days that Mick is,” but he stopped as Mick walked in the door.
“Where have you been,” Maverick asked him. Amber drove home and didn’t hear the response.