Making the Team, page 1
As an educator I know how hard it can be to get young boys to read. Many young boys will be keen to read Deadly D: Making the Team, because it was co-written by one of rugby league's superstars, Scott Prince. This is the very reason my fourteen year old was keen to read it and I am certain many other boys will share his enthusiasm as they recognise parts of their own lives jumping off the pages. Deadly D is a fun and simple story embedded with some important messages for young boys.
Dr Chris Sarra
Executive Chairman, Stronger Smarter Institute
First published 2013 by Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation, Broome, Western Australia
Website: www.magabala.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Magabala Books receives financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts advisory body. The State of Western Australia has made an investment in this project through the Department of Culture and the Arts in association with Lotterywest.
This manuscript was developed through the support of the State Library of Queensland’s 2013 kuril dhagun Prize which is part of the State Library’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project.
Copyright © Text Scott Prince & Dave Hartley 2013
Copyright © Illustrations Dave Hartley 2013
All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this publication may be reproduced by any process whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher.
Designed by Mark Thacker
Printed in China at Everbest Printing Company
Prince, Scott, author
Deadly D and Justice Jones: Making the team/Scott Prince,
For primary school age
Other Authors/Contributors: Hartley, David, 1979, author/illustrator
To my lovely wife Kristy and two beautiful daughters Taliah and Kahlen — my ladies who have always been there. This one is for you!
Helen, I couldn’t achieve anything without your love and support. To my two gorgeous girls Kirra and Jaya, I am so proud of the way you are both growing up!
Chapter 1 The Big Shock
Chapter 2 The Mount Isa Miners
Chapter 3 Up and Away
Chapter 4 The New School
Chapter 5 Scary Man
Chapter 6 My Mob
Chapter 7 The New Teacher
Chapter 8 Scary Boy
Chapter 9 The Curse
Chapter 10 The Secret Comes Out
Chapter 11 Proper Introduction
Chapter 12 Top of the Class
Chapter 13 Best Mates
Chapter 14 Roast Pork and Fluffy
Chapter 15 Bus Ride from Hell
Chapter 16 The Return of the Bully
Chapter 17 No Control
Chapter 18 The Sack
Chapter 19 Justice to the Rescue
Chapter 20 Fish ‘n’ Toes
Chapter 21 Itchy Bottom
Chapter 22 Meet the Team
Chapter 23 Sharing Cultures
Chapter 24 Lucky Dip
Chapter 25 The Big Day
Chapter 26 Kick Off
Chapter 27 Time to Shine
Chapter 28 Welcome to First Grade
Chapter 29 Three-Person Piggyback
Chapter 30 Breakfast
Chapter 31 An Interesting Conversation
Chapter 32 Iron My Undies
A Few Deadly Notes
The Big Shock
The TV is really loud. I can’t take my eyes off it. North Queensland are winning by four points but The Bulldogs are about to score. Mum is saying something to me but I can’t hear her. The commentator is shouting, “Bulldogs have the ball with a minute to go!”
“Barba passes to Ennis, Ennis to Morris, Morris finds space out wide, he steps one, steps another, he’s in the open …” CLICK. Mum turns off the TV.
“Aye, why’d you do that? Mum! Bulldogs were about to score!” I say springing off the couch.
“We’re leaving, son,” Mum says.
“No way! Are you gammin’?” Morris scoring for the Bulldogs is now a distant memory.
“Dylan, the boss has given me a promotion,” she says. “What does promotion mean?”
“It means I’ll be getting a better paying job with the power company.” Mum makes it sound like a good thing. I’m not sure that it is.
“I like it where we live,” I say, my voice starting to shake. Mum comes over and gives me a hug.
“I know son, but I’ve been working hard for this promotion.” I can see Mum is about to cry, I try not to notice.
“Where is your new job?” I ask her. Townsville, Darwin, Cairns, Rockhampton … every city I know of goes flashing through my mind.
“We are going to Brisbane. I start in two weeks,” Mum replies.
The Mount Isa Miners
I’m going to miss Mount Isa. This is the only place I’ve ever lived. I was born here and all my mates live here. I’m really going to miss them. I get to see my cousins nearly every weekend, but now Mum says that I’ll only get to see them on the holidays. I’ll miss my footy boys, too. We’re called the Mount Isa Miners. Last year, we made the under 11s grand final. It was deadly, all my mob came to watch. We were all over them until the last minute. Their fullback intercepted one of my passes and ran the length of the field to score and win the game. I still have nightmares about that day. Maybe moving to Brisbane will help me forget. I doubt it. At least we get to bring Mongrel, our cat.
All the photos I’ve seen of Brisbane make it look like a pretty flash place. There are shopping malls, high-rises and heaps of people! I’ve never lived in a big city before.
I’m only allowed to pack one bag. The rest of our stuff is going to be delivered by the removalists. So I grab my football, some clothes, my fishing rod and my Cowboys doona and stuff them all into my Mt Isa Miners training bag. As we drive through town towards the airport, I realise that this is it. We’re really leaving and very soon we will be all alone in a city where nobody knows who I am.
Up and Away
The plane speeds down the runway, faster and faster. Finally I feel the aircraft’s wheels leave the tarmac and the jets thrust us high into the air. Below me the town of Mt Isa looks smaller than I’ve ever seen it. Before I can spot our old house, a thick cloud appears and blocks my view. In the reflection of the window, I can see Mum next to me dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. I don’t know what to do, so I keep looking out the window.
We don’t say anything, but finally I turn to Mum and ask, “Do we really have to leave Mt Isa?” she looks straight ahead at the movie that is showing. It’s the new Justin Bieber one. I can hear a kid down the back of the plane singing one of his songs. Shame!
“Of course we do,” answers Mum. “If we don’t go, they’ll give my promotion to somebody else. Plus, that hollow belly of yours is getting more expensive to fill. Now be quiet before I go wild.”
I decide to shut up. There’s not much to see out the window, only the dry brown land of western Queensland and the occasional patch of clouds. Sometimes I spot a river twisting through the flats like a rainbow serpent. You can tell it’s a river because there are trees along it, surviving off the riverbed. I feel my eyes starting to get heavy as I try to track the river into the distance. I sta
“You’ll like Brisbane son, it’s a nice place,” Mum says as she sees me waking up. “We took you there before your dad died …” then she goes silent. “You were only a baby then. We went to Sea World on that trip too,” she says softly. I can’t remember it, but I’ve seen a photo of Dad holding me next to a dolphin. I wish I could remember him.
“Deadly! Can we go there again?” I say. Mum smiles. I think she’s happy that I’m happy.
“Yes! Just let me get settled in my new job first,” she laughs.
The New School
I wake up in my new bedroom. My Cowboys doona is warm and pulled up under my chin. The only things in my room are my bag and fishing rod. The removalists haven’t arrived yet. I find Mum in the kitchen. She’s drinking a cup of tea and reading the paper. Mongrel is purring around her legs, waiting to be fed.
“Get your uniform on, Dylan. You’re going to school.” A red and black checked uniform is hanging near the door. She is serious.
“But Mum, I won’t know anyone! Do I have to?” She gives me the evil eye.
“You go to school, I go to work. I have to make a good impression at the power company,” she says. I step into our new kitchen and drop a few slices of bread into the toaster. My new uniform looks stupid. It is going to be a long day.
Mum drops me at the front gate. She catches sight of my Cowboys bag but says nothing. The sign next to the gate says “Welcome to Flatwater State School – We love to learn!” Mum gives me a hug then pushes me out the door.
“Aren’t you coming in?”
“No. The principal knows you’re coming. I spoke to him on the phone. I’ll pick you up at three,” she says and drives off down the road in the new company car. This sucks. I’m at a new school with no friends and no idea where anything is. I follow the signs to the front office.
“Ah, you must be the new grade-six boy, please come in!” says the lady behind the desk. “The principal, Mr Woolly, is with a parent at the moment. He will see you shortly.” When I sit down, I see Mr Woolly’s door is open. Inside someone is yelling and swearing his head off. I don’t think it’s Mr Woolly. The mirror on Mr Woolly’s half-open door allows me to see everything that’s happening inside.
I thought I was nervous, but Mr Woolly was shaking in his chair. The man opposite him is huge. He’s a bigger version of the boy sitting next to him and the boy has no tattoos. Well, none that I can see, anyway. The man is covered in them, down his neck and all over his muscled arms. A black leather vest covers the top half of his body and he wears grey jeans with heavy black boots that stick out from the bottom of his jeans. I wouldn’t want him to step on my toe with those things. His dark red hair is pulled back in a long ponytail, he has a beard and the gold chains around his wrist jangle as he thumps his fist on Mr Woolly’s desk.
The man is starting to go red in the face. I don’t know which is redder, his face or his beard. As the man gets up flecks of spit go flying across the desk. I bet poor Mr Woolly wishes he had windscreen wipers right now. The man’s son doesn’t say anything. He sits there next to his dad with a nasty smirk on his face.
“And if you get me up here again for such a stupid thing, I’ll be reporting you to the Education Department!” screams the father.
“Mr Knutz, Jared threw rocks at a teacher’s car. I don’t think it is a stupid thing,” replies Mr Woolly, his voice trembling.
Mr Knutz and his son Jared prance out of the office as if they own it. I hear Mr Knutz saying something about punching someone’s head in as they pass.
In the mirror, I can see Mr Woolly straightening his tie and taking a gulp of water from the glass on his desk. He looks flustered. I reckon he’s lucky it’s only the tie he’s fixing. If it was me I’d be changing my jocks. Shame job!
“Welcome to Flatwater State School,” smiles Mr Woolly, walking over to me. He’s a short man in a smart grey suit. He has bushy grey hair and dark eyebrows that look like tufts of steel wool. He doesn’t know I’ve seen the incident with Mr Knutz and his son. He shakes my hand and pulls me into his office. Mr Woolly makes me feel comfortable straight away.
“Nice to meet you Dylan, your uniform looks good,” he smiles. “Before I take you to class, I need to ask you some questions. It says here that you’re from Mount Isa,” he says, studying the enrolment form that Mum filled out.
“Yep,” I answer.
“It also says that you are Aboriginal,” he states. I nod my head. Mr Woolly continues, “Is your mob Kalkadoon?”
I can’t believe he knows about my mob!
“Yes,” I smile. Mr Woolly smiles too.
“I used to work in Mount Isa you know,” Mr Woolly says, laughing. “I bet you’re related to old Bullet Conlan.” He knows my family as well!
“Bullet Conlan is one of my uncles!” I say. “He’s my nanna’s brother.”
“I used to play football with him at the Mount Isa Miners,” explains Mr Woolly. “They called him Bullet because he was so fast.”
“I played for the Miners as well,” I tell him. But I don’t tell him how I lost the grand final.
The interview finishes and Mr Woolly says, “If you like footy, then you’re going to like your new teacher. He’s football mad!”
The New Teacher
When Mr Woolly knocks on the door, the class is watching a YouTube video on the whiteboard. There is a monkey smelling its own butt. It gets such a fright from the smell that it falls out of the tree. The class cracks up. The class teacher sees Mr Woolly at the door and quickly turns off the video.
“Mr Barwick, this is Dylan Conlan, your new student,” says Mr Woolly. The whole class turns and stares. Shame! Before Mr Barwick can say anything, Mr Woolly gets a call on his mobile and leaves.
“Come in Dylan,” says Mr Barwick. He’s about thirty years old and he’s wearing a Brisbane Broncos polo shirt tucked into a pair of jeans. He has a small brown moustache and I can smell his aftershave. Mr Barwick puts me at the front of the classroom next to a Kiwi kid. I think he’s a Kiwi. He looks at my Cowboys schoolbag. I jam it under the desk.
“Cowboys suck, man. You should go for the Warriors,” he says. I don’t say anything. I get out my maths book and do the mentals that are on the whiteboard. When I finish, I look around the room. Everyone is staring at me – the new kid. Everyone except for Mr Barwick, that is. He’s sitting at his desk playing a Nintendo DS. He’s concentrating really hard.
“He loves Super Mario Brothers,” whispers the kid next to me.
Mr Barwick catches me watching him and closes the DS. “OK, kids, let’s mark that maths!” Everyone stops looking at me and we swap books.
It’s half-past three. Mum hasn’t arrived to pick me up. She must still be at work. I try to remember the way we came in the car this morning. I walk down the street and turn left at the lights. Up ahead is a corner shop. There’s a sign in the window that says “Get your footy cards here”. I’m about to go inside when a group of kids comes running out and almost knocks me over. The kid at the front is the boy I sat next to in class. “Get him!” the gang yells. They’re all wearing the same red and black uniform as me. They look a bit older. They must be in grade seven. The kid in my class is running as fast as his skinny legs can take him. It looks like he’s going to get flogged so I decide to follow. I have to run fast to keep up.
They run down near the water and behind a jetty. One of the grade sevens is wrestling with the Kiwi kid. There’s a crowd around them, chanting “JA-RED, JA-RED, JA-RED!” It’s Jared Knutz, the boy I saw in Mr Woolly’s office with his dad. He looks as mean and scary as his dad did this morning. His fat fingers are wrapped around the kid’s collar. He lifts him so high into the air that his feet are off the ground. Then
“Did you get the smokes like I told you to?” Jared growls, his red fringe hangs over his menacing eyes. He’s wearing a New York Yankees cap sideways.
“Nah. Smokes are for dopes, bro!” the Kiwi kid replies. Jared pulls his fist back and smiles. I know what he’s about to do. He thrusts his fist forwards, punching the Kiwi kid in the guts. The Kiwi kid drops to his knees and gasps for air. The other kids laugh. I can feel my anger rising.
“Knock it off you moron and stop being a bully!” I say. Everyone turns around.
“What did you call me?” he says as he twists his Yankees cap around to the front.
“You heard me. Don’t pick on him. He’s smaller than you,” I shout. Sweat starts forming on my forehead. Jared walks up and grabs my shirt and throws me on some rocks. My knee stings. I look down and see blood. Heaps of it. My eyes flicker and my hands shake. The anger builds up inside me and I try to stop it. But I can’t hold back my secret any longer.
I am cursed. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember. I don’t like getting angry. If I do, something bad happens, something very bad. When I lose my temper, I turn into a man-creature. When I say man, I mean a massive, wild and hairy man with a body full of muscles.
Mum doesn’t like it when it happens. She thinks the army would take me away if anyone saw me and reported it. That’s what happens in those superhero movies. Then again, Mum doesn’t really watch those types of movies. She’s more into chick flicks and that.
The only other person to see me turn into the man-creature was Dad. The first time it happened I was just a baby. Dad was helping Mum dry me after my bath. He went to shake some talcum powder on me but accidentally dropped the plastic bottle on my head. I immediately started to howl and my face went wild. My tiny naked baby body started to shake and muscles rippled along my baby limbs. I reckon I must’ve looked like a mini baby body builder. Mum got such a fright she dropped me into the bath and instantly the water changed my body back to normal.