Chapter Six

“I can’t.” wailed Worzel, “Me brain won’t let me

The front had been hanging over Te Urewera for several days, turning my tent into a dripping prison. My traps were shut  and I was bored out of my tree, I’d even given up cheating at patience.

Chucking the dog-eared cards under my bed, I was getting up to make a brew when Worzel burst into my tent, looking like someone out of a Dicken novel. He was clutching his left cheek and seemed to be in a fair amount of pain.

“You gotta do something Bryan; I’m dying.” His words were mumbled, and his breath almost made me lose my lunch.

“What’s wrong with you?”

He took his hand away, revealing a badly swollen cheek. Worzel wasn’t too flash to look at on the best of days, and today wasn’t a good day.

“It’s me tooth; you gotta help me.”

“You need a dentist, not a possumer.”

He shook his head, which made him yelp with pain.

“Whiskey, you got any?” The look of pleading in his eyes almost made me feel sorry for him. It was my turn to do the head shaking.

“Come on, I’ll take you to Whakatane, you need a dentist.”

Worzel wasn’t keen; he had no money and even if he did, he wasn’t going to waste it on a dentist.

I had a rummage around in my first aid kit and gave him a couple of Panadol; he wolfed them down like lollies.

Leaving him to his misery, I made a brew while we waited for the Panadol to kick in.

Half an hour later Worzel’s eyes started to look a little less haunted, though he was obviously still in a fair amount of discomfort.

“I want you to pull it out for me; I can’t bear another night of this.”

“Me? you got to be kidding.”

“You have to, I can’t do it, I tried.”

“No, I’m not putting my hand anywhere near your mouth, and besides, what if it goes pear shaped?”

“You’ll have to shoot me then.”

“Nah, I don’t want the SPCA breathing down my neck.”

I probably deserved the look he gave me.

If Worzel were a little more dishonest he would make a fantastic politician, his powers of persuasion are impressive. Soon I was hunting for a pair of pliers with a note in my pocket absolving me from all responsibility if my dentistry went wrong.

They say the suicide rate amongst dentists is the highest of any profession. After gazing into Worzels gaping maw, I’m not surprised.

Holding my breath, I tapped several of his remaining teeth with the handle of my pliers until a blood-curdling scream told me I was on the money.

Once he’d calmed down a bit, I grabbed the offending molar with my pliers only to find myself flat on my back, ears ringing.

“What you do that for?” I said, getting up off the deck.

“It hurts.”sobbed Worzel, “I couldn’t help it.”

I now had a dirty boot mark on my shirt, a few inches above where it really hurts.

“That’s it then; you’ll just have to suffer it.”

“No,” he howled,”you can’t leave me like this.”

I had another sip of tea ; Worzels was still untouched.

“Tie me up, that’ll do it.”

“Get real; I’m not tying you up.”

“Worzel for Prime Minster I say. Soon he was securely trussed to the large Rimu outside my tent.

After taking several deep breaths (I stood well clear) Worzel nodded his head and opened his mouth. He looked a bit like one of those clowns heads you drop balls in at the fair. As soon a the pliers came anywhere near the offending tooth, he twisted his head away.

“Keep still!”

“I can’t.” wailed Worzel, “Me brain won’t let me.”

“I’ll just have to untie you then.”

“No, don’t do that. Tie me head up.”

I had a hunt around and found a ratcheted tie down. I over tightened it at first, I’ll leave what he said to your imagination.

I once put a ring in a pig’s snout to stop it rooting up our paddocks, the noise it made as the wire went through was incredible; my ears still haven’t fully recovered. Pulling Worzels tooth was fairly similar.

He made me promise not to stop, regardless of what he said or did. I’m pretty sure he regretted his words, I’m just glad I’d stuffed my ears with cotton wool.

Somewhere along the line, Worzel passed out, which made the job a little less unpleasant.

The offending molar came out along with some foul looking pus. I stood well clear, waiting for Worzel to come round. He was breathing pretty good, but I was a bit concerned the foul ooze might get into his lungs. I’ve seen people on the movies chuck a bucket of water on someone to bring them round. It actually works, but I guess I should have untied him first.

The whole experience had knocked Worzel around quite a bit and he was a bit too weak to head back to his camp, so I made a space for him in the tent and tramped to his camp and back to fetch his sleeping bag. I managed to get the smell of thousands of possum skins out of my pack, but not the smell of Worzels sleeping bag.

After a couple of days he started coming right, and as a reward for all my trouble, he regaled me with stories about Arty. It was a fair trade.

More on Arty in the next blog.

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