Chapter Eight

“I’ll never make it, you’ll find me dead on the track, I’m not a well man.”

Five days after our dentistry session, Worzel was still moaning and complaining about how crook he was. Despite being on death’s door, he managed to eat his way through three weeks worth of MY supplies. It was time for Worzel to go home.

“I don’t care how crook you are, you need to get back to your camp.”

“I’ll never make it, you’ll find me dead on the track, I’m not a well man.”

“You look healthy enough to me.”

“I only look healthy on the outside, me insides hurt something terrible.”

“Your insides can’t hurt that much, look at all the tucker you’ve eaten!”

“I had to force it down to  make myself healthy again, just a few more days and I should be right as rain.”

I gingerly picked up Worzels sleeping bag and passed it to him.

“Bye Worzel, send me a postcard.”

The look he gave me was pitiful.

“If you find me corpse, I forgive you.”

“I’ll bring a shovel.”

After he left I pulled all my gear out of the tent to try and get rid of the Worzel smell. It was a useless exercise.

That evening as I lay in my sleeping bag listening to the moreporks serenade the night I felt like something was missing. Eventually, I worked out what it was, Worzels good night stories.”

Once I was a heavy smoker, and on the odd occasion was so desperate for a cigarette I was reduced to rolling a smoke from some old butts. They tasted awful but still hit the spot. That night I did a similar thing, recycling Worzels stories in my mind, not as good as the originals, but they still hit the spot, and before I knew it I was sound asleep.

Arty woke up in a good mood and was ready to bite the bullet and do his best to get on with Mac. Over breakfast, he kept his mouth shut as Mac wolfed down enough food to feed a sounder of pigs. He bit his tongue while Mac raved on about what a fantastic hunter he was. He never said a word when Mac ranted on about how much money he’d made. But he slipped up a bit when Mac boasted about what a crack shot he was.

“Crack shot are you?”

The bacon fat glistened on Mac’s chin as he smugly nodded his head.

I’m a fair shot myself, reckon I might give you a bit of a run for your money.

Mac leered at him.

“A camp cook who can shoot, now there’s a bit of a novelty.”

Ernie was quickly on his feet, ready to break up a fight.

Arty sat tight, keeping it together.

“Well let’s see what you can do then.”

Despite Ernies protests (he could only see the shooting match ending up in unpleasantness), a target was set up and a healthy wager made.

Arty borrowed Ernies 308 as he hadn’t brought any firearms with him, just his home made bow.

Mac looked the picture of confidence as he emerged from his tent, rifle case in hand. He opened it to reveal a deluxe model 70 Winchester chambered to 300 H&H Magnum. On it he had a 2.5 power Weaver Power Scope. It was a beautiful piece of weaponry and it was obvious that Mac enjoyed showing it off.

The rules were three sighter shots each then five prone and five offhand.

Mac objected to the five offhand shots saying they weren’t necessary. Arty said any fool could shoot prone with no wind (it was a very still morning), and that if Mac wasn’t up to shooting offhand then he couldn’t really shoot.

Mac did hid beetroot impersonation and probably regretted his choice of weapon, but the man’s pride had him in it’s grip.

“Well, now, we’ll see about that, kiwi.” He spat the words out with contempt.

After the three sighter shots it was obvious that Mac was a very good shot. The sum they had agreed on for the wager was a fair chunk of change, and Arty genuinely had a contest on his hands. He was thrilled.

Poor old Ernie wasn’t having a good day. As much as he liked Arty and would secretly enjoy seeing Mac knocked down a peg or two, he knew it wouldn’t go down well. He’d learned long ago that many of his rich clients had ego’s that needed to be stroked, not kicked.

After the five prone shots, Mac was slightly ahead.

“Well done Mac,” said Arty, genuinely impressed.

“Your not bad for a camp cook either” he gloated, “you must be having a lucky day, but not lucky enough.”

“Early days yet, mate.”

As they prepared for the next round, the wind got up. Arty welcomed it, Mac looked slightly nervous.

Mac shot first and it didn’t go well. The man obviously did most of his shooting from a rest and the calibre he was using didn’t do him any favours.

Arty didn’t say a word, he just grinned. He was on form and by his third shot it was clear he was going to clean up. He caught a glimpse of Mac sloping back to camp as he squeezed off his fifth round.

Arty returned the rifle to Ernie and got stuck into he dishes, He was just wiping the last pot when Mac emerged from his tent and silently thrust a cheque at him.

“I don’t want your money mate, keep it.”

Mac gave him a withering look.

“Take it, you won’t be so lucky next time.”

Ernie suddenly appeared, looking a bit anxious.

“Let’s get cracking and check for fresh bear sign.”

“He’s not coming,” Mac hissed,

“Come on, he’s part of the deal, lets just go for a hunt.”

“I’m paying the bills, and the cooks not coming, that’s final.”

Arty has a short fuse and Ernie could see it was about to go off. He looked pleadingly at him.

To his credit, Arty nodded and went for a long walk to cool off.

As it turns out he was very glad he did, but more on that in the next blog.

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