We got up just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. Sue got breakfast ready while I mucked around outside, getting our gear ready. Charlie was sitting on the bonnet of the Toyota dragging on a cigarette. To this day I have no idea when or where Charlie ate or drank, all he ever seemed to do was smoke.
“What do I bring?” he asked, stubbing out his smoke.
“Might be an idea to bring some water, Sue’s made lunch.”
Saying nothing, he opened the boot and started rummaging around. Finding an empty beer bottle, he made his way down to the creek and filled it with water. He used an old plastic bag as a stopper.
Sue offered Charlie a feed for breakfast, but he just shook his head.
We headed off just as the sun started to get a bit of heat in it. Charlie, dressed in black jeans, tee-shirt and denim jacket, was soon soaked in sweat.
The first trap line was on top of a steep spur, Charlie was struggling, but he kept it to himself.
Just before we got to our first line, we stopped for a breather. Charlie started rolling a smoke, but changed his mind, putting the tobacco back in his pocket.
After we caught our breath, we started bush crashing to the first line.
“How come you didn’t put the traps out on the track?” asked Charlie, attempting to untangle himself from some bush-lawyer.
“They give us a thing called a waypoint, we have to make our trap line start from there and run the line magnetic north”.
Charlie grunted and swore under his breath, he was badly hung up in the lawyer, but I thought it better not to give him a hand,
Finally untangling himself, he asked, “What’s a waypoint?”.
“It’s a point on a map. I can show you when we get back to the truck”.
As we walked along the line he asked several questions, it was the most he’d talked since we met him”.
We caught a couple of possums, both of which Charlie killed before resetting the traps. It was evident he knew a bit about possum trapping.
We checked another 2 lines before stopping for lunch. Nothing much was said as we munched on our grilled spuds.
While Sue poured the tea, Charlie rolled a smoke, looking thoughtfully at his boots.
“So, this is possum monitoring.” He said it more to himself than anyone else.
“Yeah”, he said, “I could do this.”
The tone of his voice was slightly different. I looked up at him, he seemed to be standing a little straighter, normally he had quite a slouch.
After lunch, we checked the rest of the lines. Even the way Charlie walked had changed. I looked at him, trying to work out what it was. Though he didn’t say much, It finally dawned on me.
Charlie looked happy.