Competing - Chapter 1
In the Research Station reception Kath Williams is setting up, ready to start her day. It’s 7.25am.
She looks cool and fresh in a tailored skirt and striped blouse. Her hair is neat and her jewelry and make-up understated – a complete contrast to the track-suited, wellie-wearing receptionists the Station had previously employed.
Corporate-minded Kath acted as she would in any city office, even if it was a bit isolated, right down to fresh flowers arranged on the reception desk. Compliments had been received from visiting officials. She was very proud of her professionalism.
As she switched on the air-conditioning and flicked off the telephone system’s night button, the phone rang. Her voice was well modulated and friendly. She answered her first call of the day.
“Intensive Industries Research Centre, Good Morning.”
Colin crashed against the outer door then pushed it open, huffing and puffing he literally fell through the entry door. Kathy frowned at her inability to hear the voice on the other end of the phone and his totally unprofessional entry. The frown was not lost on Colin. He stood in front of Kathy, catching his breath and feeling ten years old again until Brown casually appeared not even breathing hard.
As she finished the call, Peter made his way past Colin, looking unruffled and casually removed his headphones. He smiled at Kath and leaned on the desk to quietly greet her as he checked his message book.
“Good morning My Love. You’re looking very nice.”
How could she help but respond to that sort of consideration?
Colin pushed past Peter, knocking his Walkman to the ground. Colin slammed straight through to the change rooms in disgust, banging locker doors and shouting behind him.
“You’re such a wanker, Brown!”
Peter Watts-Brown just smiled again, picked up the disc player and placed his mail onto the spare desk before pulling a chair up, ready to read through them.
How could she help also comparing Peter to her husband? Colin could definitely learn a thing or two from Peter about how to treat a woman.
Why was it, Kath asked herself that she never actually heard about Peter’s conquests? She was sure he would be successful in the love stakes – he had charm, good humor, and sensitivity. He oozed debonair sensuality.
Perhaps the rumors were true and he was batting on the other side. Although, he was the first man she’d met since her marriage that she was actually attracted to.
She smiled to herself as she watched Peter go through the usual routine of methodically clearing his In tray, checking the clock, then greeting the boss as he passed his door on the way to the showers.
Rod Evans couldn’t stand Brown, the smarmy bastard, but he grunted in reply. “Meeting, here – now!” …a futile attempt to stop Brown going toward the change rooms.
“- won’t be a moment - ablutions call!”
This happened with monotonous regularity.
Brown ignores Evans, goes through to the change rooms and keeps everyone waiting while he showers and puts on fresh overalls, even though he never gets a single pair dirty.
The games annoyed the shit out of Rod but kept his little community amused. Brown was good for something, bloody useless at everything else!
As Colin returned un-showered, dressed in gray overalls and blue boots, Rod spoke to him. “Two of Kazue’s sows died for no apparent reason last week. I want to know why. It’s bloody awkward trying to get a vet out here, so I want you to take a look today. We’ll discuss it further in the meeting.”
“Top priority Williams, you may have to look back through the cards and map the number of unexplained over the last year or two.”
Colin glanced at Kath seated smartly at her desk, sorting her pens and papers.
“Kath can do that – give her something to do. I’ll just check out the sheds and their feeds.”
Kath frowned at the derogatory remark but kept silent.
“Do what you have to. Either way, I want that report on my desk by four.”
Ron ran an efficient Research Centre. Whenever they had a problem, the staff usually took care of it themselves. Colin was pretty good, he should have been a vet, usually knew what was wrong. But he hadn’t known this time.
Normally pigs were sold at the abattoir or the staff bought them back for their own consumption. Strange that Brown hadn’t ordered one for a while. Maybe he couldn’t find anyone else to sell his meat to. He probably charged too much anyway.
Bugger the probable waste of time and money, Ron decided to request an autopsy if it happened again. Breeding sows are valuable animals.
* * * * *
Jack Reynolds, the Maintenance Man, Geoff Waters the other technician and the two women who helped with the feeding, Marion and Liz were waiting in the large kitchen, to be called for the morning meeting. Kazue - the only female Techo, sat quietly in the corner.
“Who won this morning?” asked Jack just as Mary breezed in.
“Colin - of course! Doesn’t he always?” Mary considered Colin her possession – she was proud of him. Proud that he was having an affair with her and didn’t try to hide it from the others. Kazue wished she would.
Colin’s ten years older than Mary. She doesn’t have the equipment to compete with women her own age. Very overweight, small boobs and an ordinary face didn’t make men fall over themselves to win her.
Mary couldn’t be bothered trying to be feminine – wearing skirts or make-up; she was more comfortable mucking around in a tracksuit, her pet bird and mongrel constant companions.
Now of course, she had Colin.
He whispered he loved her every time they had sex. She just wished they had more privacy. If he played around, his marriage was obviously not good. Maybe one day he’d kick his wife out. Then they could have the house on the station.
As far as she was concerned, most of the men thought he was lucky to get away with it, so good on him. The women thought Kath was a snob because of her accent and Colin was a prize she should treat with more respect.
Only Jack and Kazue judged them.
“I reckon it’s going to be a close race.” Jack said thoughtfully.
Geoff got out ten dollars and slammed it on the table. “Well, my money says that they won’t even finish the course. What’d ya reckon, ladies?” He looked at Marion and Liz.
Rod could be heard roaring from his office that it was time they started their meeting.
The staff filed into Rod’s office, some bringing chairs from Reception. Colin entered with the others and perched himself on Rod’s desk next to Mary.
Geoff nodded his head in Rod’s direction. “Just taking bets, Boss. Who’d ya reckon'll win the Marathon: Brown’s Toy Soldiers or Col’s Marauders?”
“I don’t give a stuff who bloody wins - it’s taking up far too much departmental time. Where the hell is our Prima Donna anyway?”
Colin stood with both arms raised, blowing delicately into alternate armpits.
“Maybe he’s waiting for his deodorant to dry….” His accurate imitation made even Rod chuckle.
During the meeting, most of the discussion was aimed at the Techos so Marion and Liz glance at the morning newspaper.
Marion points to a small article at the bottom of the page and whispers to Liz. “Didn’t she work here last Christmas?”
Liz frowned trying to remember. “Ann Gillies?”
Geoff was sitting nearby and leant over. He leered up at Colin.
“Come on, Col, what did you do with her?”
Colin tried many times but his raw sex hadn’t appealed.
Marion read: “Her parents are asking for any information which would help the investigation into her disappearance. They think she’s been murdered.”
Peter Watts-Brown finally walks into the meeting just as Colin’s muses aloud.
“She was the one with the endless legs. I never got near her – ask Lover Boy here.”
Everyone except Rod laughs at the unlikely thought.
After a moment of silence, Rod slams his hand on the desk, “Right that’s it – Colin will fill you in Brown – now get to the sheds the lot of you!”