'Two pots thanks, mate.' Ned turns and leans on the bar, looks across the dark room. Outside the yelling continues.

'He'll never come out. He's an idiot but he's not a complete fuckwit.' Ned raises his glass towards yours, 'Cheers.'

You drink.

'Know much about politics?'

You shake your head.

'No. Me neither. Fucking waste of time. Like this'll make a difference.'

'You cynical bastard.'

You both turn towards the voice.

'Rick, mate. I thought you'd be here somewhere.' Ned smiles widely and gestures towards you. 'Jess' cousin.'

'Really?' Rick stares at you then raises his glass, 'Well pleased to meet you Jess' cousin. And how appropriate that we meet in a pub.' Rick drains his glass. 'Another one.'

Ned frowns and sculls his first, puts it down and picks up his second. He and Rick have lost many hours together in pubs just drinking and talking shit. 'Rick here's my best mate. Isn't that right?'

'Whatever you say, Neddy boy.' Rick winks at you.

Ned salutes a toast, 'Here's to a mighty fine rally.'

'Yeh,' says Ed and drinks, 'A damned fine rally. And to meeting cousin of Jess.'

'Leave it alone, mate.' Ned frowns again.

You look from one to the another, 'What? Leave what alone?'

'Nothin'. It doesn't matter.'

You turn to Rick, 'What?'

Rick looks into his beer and then around the pub, 'Look I just carry on a bit sometimes okay. Nothing meant by it. I'm just shit stirring, that's all.'

'Yeh, well quit now, I say.' Ned thumps his empty glass down on the counter, 'And enough said about it I reckon.'

You realise the subject is closed and stare moodily around the pub.

'Polly not with you?'

'She's gone to work. Sylvia's still here somewhere though.'

'Ah, Sylvia. She might be out for me today.'

'I think she was on a mission to find you.'

'Shit.'

'It's your own dumb fault, ya bastard.'

'Hey, what did I do? Anyway, it takes two.'

'Yeh, right.'

'Thanks for the support, mate. Another?'

Ned nods.

'Cheers.' Rick picks up the pot, 'Paul and Marty are meant to be here any second.'

'I thought Marty was in Sydney.'

'Got back last night. God knows what he's been doing up there, came back without even the bag he left with.'

'Probably had to do a runner.'

'Yeh. Dumb bastard.' Rick glances at you and you scowl back. He looks away, towards the windows, 'What's going on now?'

Outside the noise increases to a din and you move over to the windows to look out. On the steps of Parliament House the head of the union movement has a microphone and his voice becomes audible. At the top of the steps a few Labour politicians stand around watching the crowd, showing their support.

'... is not here. The Premier is in Sydney for the day.' He stopped as his voice is drowned out by jeering. He holds up a hand and opens his mouth to speak again. 'I thank you all for coming. We've obviously got them scared. So scared that Jeff took off out of the state when he heard we were coming...'

A cheer rises as hundreds of thousands of voices yelled. Drums and trumpets and whistled join in.

'...now I suggest we head down to the Gardens for a celebration. Enjoy the rest of the day and thank you all for turning out. We can make a difference.'

Amongst clapping and cheering, he gets down from the steps and the crowd slowly begins to move away to the Treasury Gardens.

'That's one fuck of a lot of people.' Rick stares out the window.

'Isn't it?' Ned feels the little shiver run up his spine, 'One fuck of a lot.'

For a while, you watch the crowd mill around.

'Might as well get going then,' Ned drains his beer. 'Comin?'

'Nah. I'll see you at the party tonight.'

'Yeh,' Ned holds the door open for you, 'We'll be at the house if you wanna come by.'


Philippa J Burne 1996

e-mail pburne@peg.apc.org