The Yobbos

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

The two yobbos had worked in the bush together for the whole year. Both were big men and strong, but pretty young, in fact young enough to still have that streak of the devil in them; they were mischievous. Their pranks were never mean or malicious however, so they were well liked by the older bushmen who always laughed their escapades. Even their victims tolerated them.

Now it was the last working day of the year, and the yobbos had planned their Christmas holiday with military precision. Today, booze it up at the breakup party with their workmates, tonight, the party they were invited to down in the village – they had even bought a sponge cake to give to their hostess of the evening.

Tomorrow was Saturday when the Rotorua shops would be closed, but they had arranged to meet the owner of a sports shop, to pick up the outboard motor they were hiring – then they were off for a quiet two weeks at Lake Waikarernoana, eatin’ , fishin’ , drinkin’ , huntin’.

For the two yobbos, the breakup party went according to plan, but then things got a bit out of hand. They got hungry, so ate the sponge cake before they went to the evening party. Well, no way would they go empty handed with only a dozen beer, so they snuck into Alf’s back yard, and stole his prized rooster. That would go good for supper they would not arrive empty handed.

Their hostess graciously declined the present – she didn’t feel inclined to kill and pluck the bird, which she recognised – and Alf was drinking up large in the next room! The yobbos weren’t going to go all the way back to the hen house so chucked the indignant rooster into the boot of their car and forgot it.

Next morning the yobbos, somewhat red of eye and jaded looking, set off to Rotorua to meet the shopkeeper and pick up the outboard. The shopkeeper, full of enthusiasm was awaiting their arrival on the deserted street, opened up his premises, so the yobbos entered and paid the outboard rental. The businessman then, with great vigour, picked up the motor, rushed to the yobbos’ car and opened the boot to load it in.

The rooster, highly indignant and disgruntled at the cavalier manner in which he had been abducted, his scarlet wattles quivering in discontent, leapt out of the boot to begin a slow dignified strut up the pavement. In unison, the two yobbos immediately began a lament of woe and accusation.

They were poultry farmers, they had just picked up their new pedigree cock, a bird of incalculable value, and he, yes, he, the clumsy shopkeeper had just let it escape!

The three men began a slow stalk up the pavement, the disdainful quarry strutting fifteen feet in the van. Eventually the party came to an undeveloped section, the frontage of which was enclosed by a six foot link netting fence with a locked double gate in the centre. This yard was full of new heavy truck chassis.

The rooster saw his chance, ducked under the fence and disappeared into that maze of truck bodies and wheels. The shopkeeper never hesitated. He clambered over that high netted fence, and crouching down in search of the fugitive also disappeared into the yard.

The two yobbos stood outside the fence watching the activity. There was no sign of the rooster, and only brief glimpses of the shopkeeper. They were soon joined by a lone patrolling policeman, who enquired as to what they were up to.

“We are watching that suspicious looking joker in there,.he seems to be hiding behind those trucks!’ The policeman watched the distant fleeting glimpses of the shop keeper, then he too climb the fence and crouching down disappeared among the trucks. Time to move on – the quiet and tranquillity of Waikaremoana beckoned – so the two yobbos returned to their car in some haste, closed the boot on the outboard, and drove out of town.