Monday, February 20, 2017

The Seal Wife *12


It took fifteen minutes to arrive at the area where local fishermen had seen the so-called illegals the previous day. This was granite country again and the stone peppered mountain rose into the sky ahead of them, the nippled breast pointing back towards town.

“Why didn’t you go out in the patrol boat and apprehend them?” Asked Trappey.
“It’s in Perth, of course,” said Stuart. “Nobody knew what to do when they realised how far south these guys were. It’s never happened before.”
“What about those toothfish poachers?”
“The whole north is ready for boats,” said Cowie, ignoring Trappey. “They’d get shipped straight offshore for processing if they landed up there. What gets me is how they managed to get this far south without being spotted.”
“It’s a vast area,” Arkie said. “Europe is so dense with traffic and yet customs still miss a lot of boats.”
“Take us out a bit, Trappey,” said Stuart. “Then if we can head east again and ...”
“I’ll do a grid that will cover some ground, you happy with that?”
“Sounds good.”

The last time he’d been out this way, it was the break up weekend. Two years ago now. They camped at the spot around the mountain from the inlet, where parking bays were neatly laid out with gravel and there were no fires allowed. Of course, they hadn’t realised that until the ranger arrived to take their camping fees and told them to put out the little brush wood fire they were just about to cook dinner on. It was a cold afternoon and they ate muesli and some apples and sat up late into the night, trying to communicate. In the camp beside them a bunch of city ferals thumped away on drums, communing with the nature spirits. “Give them a break,” Hazel said. “They probably live in squats in the city. They must be so happy to be out here.”
He told her that once they got their degrees, they’d all be ‘out here’ with their dreadlocks cut off, selling real estate to sea changers or implementing ‘coastal control’ programs. She hated his cynicism but he’d seen it all before. She was so much younger; she could have listened to him. Instead she melted away from his life – no she didn’t melt at all. She did not melt. She got sadder and sadder and thinner too.
Then one day and too late, he noticed that her skin was clearing again and her eyes looked brighter. When he came home from the spotting flights, she was waiting with dinner, smoothing her shirt down over her jeans. It happened quickly after that. He wasn’t ready for it. They went camping together, for what he thought would be a revival of their dirty weekends along the coast. He wasn’t ready at all when she told him that she’d been sleeping with Andrew for the last three months.

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