Chapter Three

Stu was in his element, he had a couple of suckers hooked on his yarn, and he was ready to set the hook.

There are no TV’s or movie theatres in the bush, so entertainment can be a bit thin on the ground at the best of time. Telling stories is how bush folk tend to entertain each other. I fear it is a dying art and the day will soon be upon us when people will be sitting around the campfire looking at cellphones instead of listening to a good yarn. Most of the stories told in the backcountry are about as truthful as a room full of politicians, but that was not the point. It was how the story was told that mattered, and Stu’s delivery was none to foul.

Stu sipped his beer, pretending to have nothing to say.

“Well?” said Worzel.

“Well, wot?”

“How’d you take them fella’s out with a chook?”

Stu was in his element, he had a couple of suckers hooked on his yarn, and he was ready to set the hook.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,”

Worzel stood up, trying to look threatening, but the rata beer had other ideas and crashed him into the side of his tent. By the time he’d untangled himself, Stu and I had laughed ourselves dry, and Worzel looked anything but intimidating.

Satisfied with our eagerness to hear his story, Stu set his can down, cleared his throat, and filled our ears with nonsense.

“Well, now, there was gang blokes and the law all over the place. Them cops was pretty slippery, they didn’t have no uniforms on, but I can spot a D at hundred paces, and they was the police alright, a copper can’t hide his swagger. I waited till it got dark and snuck back to the road end.Had a couple of close calls on the way, but I was too clever for them thugs, else I’d be six feet under.

My aunty lives down by the Matarangi causeway, so I shot down to her place to see if she would sell me one of her chooks. No one was home, so I borrowed a broody bantam, knocked its head off, and chucked it in the boot of me car.”

“Nicked it more like, squawked Worzel.”

“Pretty rich coming from you Worz. I gave her a dozen eggs a while back, fair trade if you ask me.”

“Where’d you get the eggs from?”

“None of your business.”

“Thought so, they don’t call you slippery Stu for nothing.”

“Come on Worzel, let the man finish his story.”

“It ain’t no story, hissed Stu, it’s the troof.

“So what did you do with the chicken?”

“Nuffing. Just left it in the boot of me car for two or free days until it was ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“You’ve got more questions in ya than a kindergarten, do ya want to hear what happened or not?”

I kept my mouth shut while Stu had yet another swig from his can.”

“After about three days, the bantam was starting to honk something terrible. Smelled worse than Worzels sleeping bag.”

It was my turn to giggle like a school girl, couldn’t help myself. Worzel gave the pair of us a filthy look, but managed to keep his trap shut.

“After dark, I chucked the chook in me pack and snuck back up to where the gang was staying. They was having a full on, knees up, party. The music was blaring and they were swilling booze like it was going out of fashion. You’d a been disgusted Bryan. By midnight they was in a fair old state, so I snuck up to their water tank, open the chicken up with me pocket knife and chucked her in.”

“And?” said Worzel.

Stu had a sly grin on face. “And wot?”

“What did you do next?”

“Nuffing. I just went home and waited for a couple of days for them to start working.”

“Them what?” said Worzel, looking both mystified and irritated. The penny hadn’t dropped with me yet either.”

“Them camel tobacca bugs wot’s in dead chickens.”

Then I clicked. “You mean campylobacter?”

“Yeah, wot I said. I waited for a few days and then headed back up to their camp. Smelt it before I saw it. Man wot a pong. Them camel tobacca bugs cleaned out both ends of them gang blokes so good I had to watch where I put me feet. There was jeans hanging in the breeze all over the show and they wasn’t very blue in places neither. Wasn’t a guard to be seen, they woz in the shed with the rest of them mongrels. If a man had a closed the door they would a gassed themselves to death.”

Stu drained his can and looked hopefully at Worzel.

“Well?” Said Worzel.

“Well?” replied Stu, holding up his empty can.

“Here.” said Worzel, throwing the empty fuel container at him. Despite his inebriated state, he managed to catch it and  did his best to squeeze the last few drops into his tin.

“Get on with it,” said Worzel,”I haven’t got all night.”

He did have the rest of the night and ended up telling a story that I reckon topped Stu’s, but we’ll finish Stu’s story in the next blog and then I might have a crack at telling Worzel’s. We’ll see how things go.

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