Dylan's arrival at the O'Sullivan farm was multipurpose. Firstly, Kyle O'Sullivan, son of the patriarch, was a longstanding mate of his. Secondly, Kyle needed a particular air filter for one of their elderly tractors and Dylan had managed to source it for him via work. Thirdly, the O'Sullivan's put on Sunday lunch for anyone who interested, and as a single man, Dylan was always interested in eating a meal that he himself did not have to cook.
'Dylan,' Kyle greeted.
Dylan often felt Kyle was his complete physical antithesis. Short, slim, darkly tanned with well cut hair and eyes so dark they were almost black, Kyle was one of those men who never seemed to smell bad, and who always looked neat and tidy. Dylan, who was nearly six foot, thirty kilos overweight, and sweated like the proverbial pig, felt like a slob alongside him.
'Hey mate, how are you going?' Dylan asked, walking over. His border collie, Ben, trotted alongside him.
'Yeah, good mate, good. You got the filter?'
Dylan nodded and held up a plastic bag. 'Came in Friday arvo.'
They went to the big shed to fit it. Kyle knew what he was doing, so Dylan took a seat on the tractor and put his feet up. He yawned tiredly.
'Big week?' Kyle asked from the bowels of the machine.
'Kinda. Cyril had me over a few times to help out. I didn't have the time, but I couldn't say no,' he explained. Dylan could never say 'no'. He was a sucker and he, and everyone else in the community, knew it. 'Hopefully he won't need me much longer. He niece arrived in town yesterday. She's come to look after him.'
'Have you met her yet?'
'Nah, not yet. Poor woman. She has no idea what she's in for.'
The both laughed at the thought. Cyril would be a difficult man to care for.
'What about you?' Dylan asked. 'Been up to much?'
'I've started seeing someone,' Kyle replied. 'Cora. My Mum set me up with her.'
Kyle was roughly forty, and even Dylan had to admit he looked good for his age, but there was a reason he was single. Dylan knew it, as did everyone else.
It wasn't because Kyle had fathered three kids in his teens, and it wasn't because he was still living on the family farm. When Ed O'Sullivan died, Kyle would inherit the farm, and the money he'd be worth would more than compensate for a few adult stepsons and a decade or so of living with the in-laws. No, Kyle was single because he had the kind of sexual fetishes that made Dylan both want to laugh and flinch.
It made for a lot of good gossip, because irrespective of his dirty side, Kyle drew women like the proverbial flames drew moths, and the women always talked. Dylan was excruciatingly jealous, yet also quietly impressed. As someone who struggled to ask a woman if she'd like him to buy her a drink, it flummoxed him that his friend could ask them to… well, do some of the things he was rumoured to have requested of women.
There was a knock on the door. Alan, the Farm Manager, stuck his head in.
'Dylan,' he said.
'Alan,' Dylan replied, waving.
Alan wandered in and inspected Kyle's handiwork. Alan was the brain behind the O'Sullivan's success. The same age as Kyle - in fact, the two had gone to school together - he'd come to the farm the day after graduating high school. In the ensuing years, he'd worked his way up from labourer to Manager.
He was a fucking good farmer. He was one of those men with a sixth sense about him, but despite other farm owners offering him higher wages and better conditions, he continued to work for the O'Sullivan's. Nobody quite understood why, because his fights with Kyle were legendary. Maybe it was because leaving would be tantamount to admitting defeat, and Alan would seemingly rather burn in hell than surrender.
'Is Kyle telling you about the woman his Mummy found for him?' Alan asked Dylan.
Dylan ignored the snideness in Alan's voice. Away from Kyle, Alan was a good bloke. Likewise, when Alan wasn't around, Kyle was one of his best mates. Put the two men together, though, and shit rapidly went downhill.
'He was,' Dylan agreed. 'What's she like, Kyle?'
'Great. She's great,' Kyle said. 'I was thinking about asking Mum to find Alan a girlfriend. Maybe if his balls were empty he'd be less of a miserable cunt.'
Dylan winced. 'Can you ask her to find me a woman while she's at it?' he asked, before Alan could respond. 'I wouldn't mind throwing a leg over something cute with nice tits.'
Kyle finished fitting the air filter. Both Alan and Dylan inspected his work. There were no complaints to be had. It was a simple task and Kyle had completed it faultlessly.
Kyle washed his hands they went up to the big house for lunch. The big house was the moniker given to Kyle's parent's rambling Queenslander. It stood imposingly at the front of the property, immaculately maintained and with views over the farm.
The O'Sullivan's had a lot of money, and Alan was in the process of making them a lot more, all of which Kyle would one day inherit. It was probably little wonder Alan and Kyle fought. One had the brains, one had the right parents. Farm workers, even Manager's, were poorly paid. Life wasn't fair.
'I saw Cyril's niece out jogging this morning,' Alan remarked as they walked up the veranda.
'What's she like?' Dylan asked curiously.
'Red hair, lots of tatts, great boobs,' Alan replied.
'Too good for Alan, then,' Kyle interjected.
Alan rolled his eyes. 'I've heard she's a drinker, so she's probably just right for you, Kyle.'
'I've already got a woman, mate,' Kyle corrected. 'The one who, as you put it, my Mummy found for me. Maybe you should ask your Mum to find you a woman. Only, wait, I forgot, your family moved down South and left you here the moment they legally could. Can't say I blame them.'
If ever you wanted to hear either Alan or Kyle's dirty little secrets, all you had to do was spend a little time in the company of the two men. They were both more than willing to use every snippet of information against one another. No wonder people gossiped.
Dylan saw one of his cousins arrive and made his way over. His cousin took one look at Alan and Kyle and asked Dylan if they'd been arguing.
'What do you reckon?' Dylan asked darkly.
His cousin laughed. Some things never changed.