Fiction

Red Dirt

By: Domonique

I awakened in the Bush after riding back with Romey after the footy.

     With some English holiday giving us the day off school, Romey and his cousin, Credence, took me with them turtle hunting. I had only been hunting once before, deer hunting in Georgia, but didn’t shoot, let alone see any deer. Credence, a man who looked to have never exhaled a cowardice breath, had long curly hair, gilded skin, a wide nose, and lips fuller than an overflowing dam. Credence was running the point, and Romey and I followed him into the esoteric arms of the Bush.

     The Bush was an incredible landscape to my eyes, but to Romey and Credence, I sensed the dirt our bare feet ran atop was much, much more. Once we came upon a near-limpid stream, Credence motioned with two fingers like a platoon commander, telling us to keep eyes on the water. Across the pond of nature’s tears reposed a curious clan of Kangaroos. The roos eyed our movements as I studied Credence traverse gracefully within his environment, stroking affectionately each of the trees he passed like they were the tombs of his forefathers.

     With his eyes, Credence told us: “Turtles up ahead.”

     Our movements shifted from slow to slower than the laziest of eyes. I lagged back to observe as Romey and Credence commenced their pursuit in utter silence as their muted movements swallowed whole the wonted tune of Western footsteps. The kin understood the land they traversed – to the eye, it seemed they knew how particular sticks would react to their foot’s presence. They were aware of scents I could not smell, and they caught sight of densely camouflaged life I couldn’t hone in on even with their patient guidance.

     Once Romey and Credence came upon that evening’s dinner, they halted their invisible approach with the stirring of a Nordic still-life upon unsheathing two spears sharper than Ole Kirk Christiansen’s chisel I had not even noticed on their person. With the camaraderie of diving partners, Romey and Credence both shifted their weight onto one foot, birthing an Aboriginal arabesque before javelining their spears as if the weapon was an extension of their limbs into the stream. I watched on as the spears pierced strainlessly through Adam’s ale, crushing carapace like a Frat Star beer cans upon gliding through two throbbing hearts never to rise and fall again.

     Once back at Romey’s humble abode, I had the pleasure of acquainting some of his other kin. I met two of his cousins, charming twins wearing the names Gideon and Jordan Gela, and his drunk uncle, Lamos. The features of the Gela twins shared the resplendent, aureate glow to Credence, making me feel like I’d agreed upon visiting some reverse-vampire colony. The uncle, Lamos, already an overly top-heavy fellow, boasted iridescent mirrors for eyes, sparkling every hue of green possibly discernible by the polished vision of the mantis shrimp. When they looked at you, even behind a drunken fog, they read you bedtime stories impossible to fall asleep to.

     While the turtles were blistering above a healthy fire, we cozied up around the ring of warmth, telling stories to pass the time, letting our appetites cultivate into that of a poor man’s.

     Romey turned to me, “What’s the craziest story you’ve heard in Aussie so far, bala?”

     “There have been many.”

     “There’s always a chief to every tribe, bunj.”

     “Got me there. I have heard some wild tales from–”

     “Old mate?”

     I nodded – everyone’s ears perked up, telling me they knew Sir Legs also.

     “He told me about the two times he’s been punched by a woman… Have you heard the stories?”

     “I think so… Is one of them about when he had to punch-on with the husband?”

     “I don’t believe so.”

     “I haven’t heard them then.”

     “Should I tell them?”

     My listenership reacted as I knew they would.

     “I think the stories will be better if I tell them as he narrated them to me – or at least try to.”

     “That man can tell a story.”

     He can. “Well, here goes… I was up at schoolies with Bubba Veli, and a storm had blown in, calling off the beach party. All was well because the hotel parties were pumping. Veli and I chucked on a pair of dickies under our boardies and went on a little Magic Mike tour around the hotel with my trusty boombox. Veli’s stripper name was Turkish Delight, and they called me Chocolate Dream on their own accord. We knocked on a neighboring door of young women to be let in, then I asked the top dog of their crew, aka the hottest, if they had watched Magic Mike. ‘Yeah, Channing is so hot! Did you know he can dance like that in real life?’ she replied. Then I asked if she liked his style of dancing. ‘Male stripping?’ she replied. I said yes, employing the husks of all husks before asking if she liked male strippers. ‘Why we love them – are you silly?’”

     The Indigenous crowd was on the edges of their “eskies”.

     “Then Veli pumped that tune from the soundtrack – before they knew it, Turkish Delight and Chocolate Dream were center stage, sending humps into the atmosphere with hips fed milk all winter. Bubba jolted his pelvis, lacquered with a small, crafty tattoo of his national flag, at the birds with the confidence of a size-fourteen-footed man being asked by a comely young lady his shoe size… They were all larrving the show, and, to be fair, once I was down to my budgies, I almost thought I was Chocolate Channing for a moment there only to be king hit from the side by the hotty’s hefty friend that would’ve dropped me flat if a wall didn’t catch me, mate. My head felt like I’d gone ten rounds with bloody Mundine by the time Veli dragged me out of there…”

     A tsunami of boisterous laughter flooded the Bush. After five minutes of the same irrepressible laughter bored school kids get removed from class for, we retrieved Lamos’s drunken foot that had laughed its way into the fire pit. Then the audience requested politely for the second tale. Orating like an Australian felt as good as darting across an open prairie, chasing down a perfectly-thrown, freewheeling Frisbee from the delicate hand of a long-lost camarade.

     “…The other time I was struck by a woman was during one of my many romantic endeavors with an older woman…” Fireflies burgeoned in the autochthonous mouths around me. “She had some fantasy about Aussies… It was as if she thought Thor got his powers from drinking from the bloody Currumbin Rock Pools. Here I am, giving her my best, when suddenly, out of dissatisfaction, she plants one on my chin, telling me to ‘fire up horsey’ like she was cheering on bloody Black Caviar down the home stretch with her mortgage depending on a first place finish. She wanted a brumby – what she received was a Falabella… I then darted into the dunny, locking the door behind me. Then she bloody comes banging on the door, screaming: ‘You’re not finished yetttt!’ Then the doorknob started rattling like I was on the set of a bloody Jordan Peele horror flick, mate. I opened the door, dusted her with a goosey of doom, sending ol’ love snatching at the air, then I ran for home like Kathy Freeman. Sayonara, mate!”

    Another tidal wave of hysterics nearly led to a Bush fire.

     The turtle meat made for a mean barbecue, then after dinner, Romey and I went for a walkabout beneath the multitudes of stars playing hide-and-seek, peaking through the crowning of Eucalyptus trees.

     “Can I ask you somewhat of a personal question, Romey?”

     “Anything, bala.”

     “Do you believe in God?”

     “Mate, look around ya… This earth, these trees–” He put his hand upon the tree abreast. “I don’t know much about God, bunji, but this is what I pray to…”

     …It was, no matter how earnestly I strived, impossible for my mind to grasp that God really could be stolen from a man.

     Upon our return to the fire, Lamos, drunk with drunkenness I had never before beheld, was singing in verse quite alluringly.

     Romey, once seeing his uncle, “Every day, mate… Look at his boot.” It was crispy. “Stop all that rambling and let the bala hear your poem.”

     “I would love to hear it.”

     “Well, seeing you gave us a treat…”

     His breath was warmer than the fire.

     “I have lost–”

     “Tell him the title before you start, bunj.”

     “Adrift.”

     He took a sip of something dark.

            “…I have lost something important to me

            And I don’t know where on earth to look

            I heard a Great Ayton had taken it

            A naval man by the name of Cook.

            Hope forgotten for despair

            The former passing from my mind

            I wish to die and be born again

            But in a forgotten time.

A generation stolen :

I wish to die and be born again

when the great ocean of red sand

was still home of mine.”

Categories: Fiction

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