Chapter Eleven

“If I were you Worzel, I’d burn that collar. I suppose you’ve digested the rest of the evidence by now?”

It took me the rest of the day to move my camp, and I was not in the best of moods as I grabbed my sleeping bag and headed over to Worzels.

The walk did me good and I was feeling a bit chirpier by the time I made it to his camp.

“Anyone home?” I yelled, warning Worzel I was in the neighbourhood. I did this more for my benefit than his, who knows what kinds of deviousness he might be up too.

“That you China?”

“Yeah, put the billy on, I brought my cup.”

Worzel looked genuinely pleased to see me. He had something simmering away on his fire and offered me a feed.

“No thanks Worzel, had something to eat before I headed over.”

I think we were both relieved. Me because I didn’t have to sample whatever it was in the pot, and Worzel because he didn’t have to share it.

“Glad you’re still alive Worzel, looks like you’ve made a miraculous recovery.”

He gave me a pathetic look.

“I’ve only just recovered, been laid low for days and days. It was only by the grace of God that I made it back to me camp.”

Worzel couldn’t lie straight in bed. It was time to change the subject.

“I had a visitor this morning.”

“Someone I know?”

“Not sure, but I’ve got a fair idea you know his mate.”

“What’s his mate’s name?”

“He didn’t tell me, but you may recognise her from the description he gave.”

“Her?” Worzel looked interested.

“Yeah, a brindle bitch wearing a rip collar.”

Worzel swallowed, but not hard enough to hide his sheepishness.

“Well how was I to know she belonged to someone, I thought they’d abandoned her. Happens all the time up here.”

“Wearing a rip collar?”

I could see the collar hanging up in the rimu, that tree was an ongoing crime scene.

“If I were you Worzel, I’d burn that collar. I suppose you’ve digested the rest of the evidence by now?”

“Look, a man can only eat so many possums; that bitch was no good anyway. It couldn’t catch a pig at a country fair. I did the bloke a favour.

“Not sure he’d see it that way.”

After I described my visitor, Worzel went three shades of pale.

“You didn’t tell him did you China?”

“No, I didn’t, your just lucky he asked me the right question.”

He gave me a puzzled look, but I didn’t enlighten him.

It was a fine night, so I unrolled my sleeping bag by the fire. I told Worzel a joke about two cannibals eating a missionary. In the current circumstances, he said he didn’t find it that funny.

“Anyway,” he said, “the Tuhoe gave up eating people years ago.”

“Not so sure about that bloke Worzel, you should have seen him.”

He gave me a filthy look.

“There’re no cannibals in New Zealand; you’re just yanking me chain.”

“I didn’t think anyone still ate dog either. Just shows you how wrong we can be.”

I slept well that night, but I don’t think Worzel did.

I never asked him what was in the pot.

We’ll get back to Arty in the next blog.

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