It Happened Completely by Surprise
It happened completely out of the blue, the yelp, the scream.
“Help me, help me”. It was a woman’s screech. I got out of the van fast as these old bones could respond to my wishful thinking.
“Hamish.” What had happened? I called him again.
“Hamish.” I was startled and my heart pounded faster than it needed to as he slowly limped towards me. But a woman was lying on the pebbled ground. There was no time for a cuddle. I scooped him up and with reassuring words held him whilst I got to the woman, by which time; she had several other people in attendance.
“Are you hurt?”
Someone asked stupidly. Blood was running down the fallen woman’s face where her head had hit the hard rocky ground.
“Are you right to get up, dear”. I asked her.
“If yeas give me a hand.” Which several people did. She was a rather large woman with plenty of bulk but little strength. Once we worked out that she was physically okay and I put some antiseptic cream and Band-Aids on her wounds, she also had two small cuts on her left hand; I asked her what had happened.
“That there little red dog of yours comes bounding up like we’ve known each other for ever. I’ve got Brutus on the lead but he’s big and strong and pulls all the time and like he’s real hard to control. So he sees this short ass dog coming all friendly like and he goes for it. But the big fella didn’t quite get ‘im right on his ear on account of the little fella being a bit too quick and savvy ‘cause the little fella gets ‘im on the front leg. And here’s me trying to pull Brutus back and break up the fight but he pulls me over on top of them on these here rocks and both them dogs took off”.
This must be where I came in.
“Well the main thing is you are okay other than being shaken up and no permanent damage. Hamish is fine just a little disorientated but maybe he needs to choose his new friend’s with a little more respect. And your dog when it is he?”
“Dunno, don’t care, the bloody mongrel. Ready?” addressing her travelling companion. As she got in the passenger seat of the land cruiser.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
“But your dog?” I asked. I was quite alarmed.
The 4wd was already started.
“We picked him up in Julia Creek wandering about with no collar on and he followed us around whilst we stopped for lunch so we figured he didn’t belong to no body so he’s been travelling with us for the last few days. But after this we don’t want him no more he can look after himself.” And off they went to W A.
Avon Downs has got nothing to attract anyone there other than a camping spot with lots of dry red dust. And for some reason that does not make any practical sense, a police station. The next town to the east, in Queensland is Camooweal and seems to be the only partial touch of civilisation and Berkeley Homestead some 200 km away and heading North West. I guess that’s why I’m not in government, my thinking is all wrong. Set in the flat and arid desert of the Northern Territory not far from the Queensland border. The days are beautiful but the wind is relentless. In winter it is bitter and powerful as it beats man and terrain into submission; then in summer so hot and dry that one’s skin turns to sandpaper and through it all the red dust penetrates everything leaving no doubt as to its claim to sovereignty.
I reported the missing dog to the police. But with a condescending smile the constable told me that he would watch out for him but it wasn’t worth the paperwork putting in a report as I didn’t know whose dog it was anyway. They probably said the same thing to the owners in Julia Creek.
“It happens all the time. Anyway the feral cats would be having a feed on him by now.”