His feet kick up clouds of dust and grit as he runs down the track, swings round on the gate post and barrels in through the front door.
“Dad, Dad, Dad!” he calls out breathlessly.
“What’s the matter boy, who’s died?”
“The fairs coming Dad, we saw it on the road and now it’s setting up in one of Sanders paddocks”.
“Jesus Billy, is that all? You’re a bit old to get this excited about a travelling circus”
“Can we go Dad, I saw them building the boxing ring. I want to watch the fights again”
“You want to watch someone knock out bums and drunks in a field for loose change”
“You won ten bucks last time”
“I know, but that was then. Anyway, your Mother won’t like it, you know that. We’ll go along after supper but we’ve no money for the stalls so I can’t see it being much fun for anyone.”
The sisters stay at home with their Mother. Father and Son walk together down the track in near darkness. The boy has grown in the last year and a passing stranger could easily mistake his silhouette for that of his Father. They reach the town’s only metalled road and continue on down past the wooden buildings containing all the small town can offer. They pass the butchers, a small tailors and cobblers, and the general store where the shopkeeper is just finishing off sweeping the narrow wooden veranda.
“Evenin’ William, young Billy. Off to the fair are you?”
“Thought we might take a look, it will make a nice change from watching the oil lamp flicker”
“That it will Bill. I’m glad I saw you though, I’ve a favour to ask of you.”
“Oh, what might that be John?”
“The back door, well it needs looking at really”
“No problem, will it wait till the morning?”
“Oh yes the morning will be fine, thing is Bill…”
“Don’t worry John, we’ll square it all away tomorrow”
“Thank you Billy, you’re a real gentleman, enjoy the fair, I’ll see you in the morning.”
Billy waits a few minutes before posing the question that had been forming in his head. He checks behind to make sure the shopkeep is out of earshot.
“He ain’t going to pay you is he Dad?”
“That man doesn’t have to pay me son, he does enough for this town to be paying me to rehang a door. How do you think you eat on a Thursday when I don’t get my wage till Friday?”
They continue down the street and join a small group of about three families heading in the same direction. The smaller children are skipping in anticipation and you don’t need to see their faces to know they’re smiling. William looks to his son who, while not joining in with the skipping, can’t contain his own excitement.