There's a hut in the bush close to my place. It's called Old Smoky because the fireplace doesn't work that well. Old Smoky is on the same property as mine. It's clad in blue asbestos and corrugated iron and the floorboards are made of jarrah timbers. The windows are not glass but plastic blinds. There is no toilet and only the remains of a gas shower.
The whole while I've lived here, a man by the name of Wally stays in Old Smoky on occasion. He always comes over to say hi and let me know that he's in the vicinity. After that, we leave each other alone. He walks out a mullet net in the evenings and sometimes brings me some fillets. He'll bring a load of split jarrah for firewood and stash it in the old rainwater tank, set sideways, like another hut or shelter but to keep warmth and cooking fuel dry, not people..
The commercial fishermen came one year and moved into Old Smoky. Chicky and Brownie found Old Smoky a welcome refuge from camping on beaches in tents. The hut is on private property but they just moved in anyway. I go visit them and sometimes partake in their moonshine. It's rough liquor and the air in the hut is always smoky and close. Brownie chainsmokes tailormades and Chicky is the one who makes the liquor. Chicky and Brownie sleep on swags laid across iron bedstands.
Last year, another man came to stay in Old Smoky. He was confused and alone, a dislocated product of divorce, a lack of meds and the pandemic. I know he'll hate me for saying this, but that is what I saw. He gave me some soap and incense which was a nice gist and told me he was moving into the hut.
So while I was used to Wally and his respectful ways around Old smoky and while I was used to the fishermen turning up when the inlet opened for netting seaon, this Bear Grylls character was a new one. He was trying to do a Broke Inlet version of the TV series Alone except that it also involved asking me to charge his mobile phone on my solar system's inverter and lend him twenty bucks when he ran out of wine.
So. That was a bit weird and I expressed as much to Wally next time he turned up. He was kind of incensed. Not about me having an odd neighbour but that someone was moving into his hut. It's not Wally's hut but Wally was still pissed. After three weeks Bear Grylls gave up on his plan of living off the land and moved back to Albany. On my trips to the city I still occasionally see him walking up the main street in his camo gear and DriZaBone..
Then the fishermen moved in again. They burnt all of Wally's split jarrah, that load of wood Wally had so covetously collected and stashed. They burnt it in the dodgey fireplace Old Smoky is famous for, over the whole netting season. Wally came back in the spring to find all his firewood gone. So now was he doubly pissed. Not only have people been using his hut (which he does not own) but they've taken all of his fucking firewood! (Fair call)
Wally fortifies the door and puts a padlock on Old Smoky. He plants some tomatos, chillies and a lemon tree over the mullet frames he's buried. This is a territorial war,verified by vegetables. I know I've gone from past tense to present tense but shit is getting real now folks. Bear with me.
Today, the fishermen returned and Wally was waiting for them. He knew they'd be here on the first of May and he moved his whole famility into Old Smoky for two weeks. Brownie and Chicky came up from the beach to see me, after they'd launched the boat and moored it in the inlet. 'Wally's in Old Smoky?' Chicky asked me.
'Yes,' I said. 'Would you like to borrow my tent?'