He overheard the sound of shoveling and noted a nestle of houses not far from the gate. Wondering closer, he saw two men hard at work with mattock and shovel digging out a series of holes along side stringlines strung along the ground. Both men looked in their early 30s wearing the grimy threadbare attire of men belonging to a building site before the war.
The taller of the two waited with the shovel as the other man chopped out the clay. Looking up, shovel man displayed a comical mop of blond curly hair. He winked a deep blue eye.
“Here he is now,” he said. “Brad, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” he answered meekly.
“I’m Scot Builder; not my real name,” he said, putting out his hand.
Brad winced as the man shook his hand, jarring his shoulder.
“Still a bit sore; are ya?” He nodded aside. “This is Bret Labourer.”
“G’day,” said the other man.
Bret seemed stockier, with thinning, straight brown hair. His face suggested someone permanently smiling.
“Anything we can do for you?” asked Builder.
“I was wondering if I could help.”
Builder shrugged. “Why not; it’s your house.”
Brad collected materials as directed, as the men continued to dig. He made trips with a wheelbarrow to the main shed where Haven housed its building supplies. Builder and Labourer also took with them a wheelbarrow to cart bricks and cement for the foundations. Although full grown men, Brad attempted to fill his barrow, matching their efforts brick for brick. After a few loads, the strain took its toll, sapping his arms of the last of their strength. He attempted to lift his mound of bricks, barely able to lift his load. The wheelbarrow supports scraped along the concrete floor.
Builder appeared beside him and abruptly swept half of the load onto the floor.
“That’ll do you,” he said sternly. “Everyone knows you’re no bludger.”
He nodded his head aside, sending Brad out of the entrance. They toiled on for a few hours. Although Brad rarely spoke, he appreciated the company of the two men, finding comradery in the work. His assumption of Labourer proved correct. The man endlessly made cleverly witty remarks out of virtually nothing. Builder’s humour seemed staid in comparison. He rarely broke composure no matter how funny Labourer got and managed to retort on almost the same comical level.
Between the two of them, Brad yielded to laughter; at one time, losing composure enough to lose hold of his wheelbarrow. It felt good to laugh. He never thought he would again after his ordeal.
Thank you, Lord.
In time, he could see himself healing in Haven.
“Lunch time,” said Builder, breaking Brad from his thoughts.
Two women walked along the path with baskets under their arms. A trail of children followed, carrying other food items as the women chatted. Labourer kissed one of the women and veered off to a settle under a shady tree with his family.