Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Seal Wife * 16

 Pearl and Finn

“I have a present for you,” he grinned. The teeth behind his upper canines were missing. She liked his gappy smile. It made quite the ruffian of him.
He dropped some ice cubes into two tumblers and they went outside to the muscular old karri tree. They sat at the wooden picnic table. She watched the light dapple across the grass as he poured the drinks.

She was a queer creature, he thought as he glanced at her. A strange combination of genetics; tall and strong with dark skin. If he didn’t know her parents were Scottish immigrants, he could think she was ... something else. But then there were the freckles across her nose and that voluminous hair. And those eyes. He willed her to look at him. She turned up her gaze from the ground and he spilled Drambuie all over the table. It seeped between the boards and onto his crotch.
She laughed, not unkindly. “Where have you been?”
“What? Oh. I’ve been up the coast.”
“For the whole week?”
“The wedgies look after my fruit while I’m away.”

Finn had devised a protection racket with guinea pigs to save his fruit from the birds. He fenced the guinea pigs into the orchard and let them breed to their heart’s content. The parrots stayed away because the Wedgetail eagles and hawks circled the orchard, eyeing off the furry fodder.
“Do they ever get a feed?”
“Occasionally. I give the guinea pigs drain pipes and stuff to hide in. That’s just good sportsmanship, don’t you think?”
“A fair chance for all,” she agreed. “So where did you go?”
“Well, I have a story for you now,” he handed her a glass. “Cheers.”
“Cheers. Tell me a story.”

“I went up the coast, like I said, to this inlet I found years ago. It’s about eighty kilometres away. Remember the sealer’s camp I told you about? It’s on the far side. You have to swim or row a boat over there, there’s no track and it’s on the opposite side to the camping ground where all the bloody signs and rangers are. So I took the tinny down this time. Last time, I swam over and found the foundations of the old stone hut and some terraces. There was some really old wood there too, like ships timbers, just lying about. It’s a strange spot.” He stopped and stared at her black eyes. “I was there, the first time and I got all kinda sad, like I didn’t want to leave, you know?”
“You belong there?”

He wished he could articulate what he meant but sometimes her direct gaze threw him and while she was waiting for words, he’d lost them to the foggy reaches of his mind. “So I went back, this time for a bit longer than a day. I took the tinny over with some beef jerky and two minute noodles and I did the wild man thing.” He laughed. “Get this. I took the metal detector too because I wanted to have a hunt around for stuff. I mean, whoever lived there once would have left ... I dunno, tobacco tins or an axe or knives or something. But you know what? When I got over there and unloaded my gear, I got the metal detector out and it was bloody useless!”
“Flat battery?”
“No!” Finn shook his head. “Remember the Trappe brothers went down in that plane, about six months ago?”
“Yeah. It was full of government men or coppers or something, wasn’t it? Crashed up the coast from here.” She nodded as she started to realise what he was saying. "The Trappe boys ... they were good men, in their own way."


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