I was on the phone to my sister when Brownie and Doogs arrived from the bush camp, their dingo-looking hound Flex in tow. 'So yes, I've found a $1500 shitbox with no windscreen wipers or muffler.' I said to my sister, waving for the men to take a seat, 'It drives great and looks like sin apparently ... and Queen Ben is probably bound for the wreckers. What a fucking day.'
'It's about to get even better,' said Brownie after I'd ended the call. 'Have you heard about the Bay of Pigs?'
'Drives great, look like sin.' Doogs nodded. 'Sounds like me.'
The oil light in Queen Ben came on yesterday on my way home to the inlet and then flickered out. This morning, with my dog Selkie still not home from her pre-dawn date with Flex, I headed out for another tower day, and the oil light came on again. In the mistaken belief that the oil light works like a fuel light, giving me a few more kilometres, I continued for another two or three hundred metres. (Yes I know, shut up. I've been self flagellating all day okay?) A terrible knocking sound. I stopped. Under the bonnet and off with the oil cap. Smoke curled out of the sump.I poured in some oil and heard it sizzling against the heat.
Queen Ben turned twenty last year. The five years that I've had her have been about replacement and good husbandry. A new head, replacing the turbo, ironing out dented panels, gearbox issues, idler arms and wheel alignments. My philosophy is that a diesel four wheel drive can last forever if you treat her right.
Yes, I'm a terrible husband.
I walked for a while until I came into range and texted my boss that I couldn't make it to the firetower today, with some brief details of my poor car's demise. Cicadas chanted in the forest and parrots flitted around me, colours of karri leaves and bottle-brush flowers. Then I turned and walked home, patting Queen Ben's bonnet as I passed. It was surreal, walking through the forest that I drive through every day. Walking is when you notice things.
Smoky red dust rose up on the gravel as a car approached and I found a welcome ride home. Selkie was back, soaking wet, smelling of the inlet and limping badly. 'So that was quite the excursion,' I said to her. She looked at me in that way dogs look when they've done some bad things. I turned on the wifi. 'Oh no! Are you okay, do you need a lift?' My boss had replied. I told him I was okay and then I rang my sister.
I managed to borrow a car for the day and make it to the firetower eventually. I'll leave out the bits about the missing firetower key, the long drive to retrieve it, the firetower nerd I met up there today who was really cool, and that snake. But I have to have a car and the Queen
Ben is dead. So I got busy on my phone, bought a car ('drives fine, looks like sin'). I live 35 kilometres from the nearest town and the
firetower is an 78 kilometre round trip. There's no public transport and getting on a bicycle is a bullshit option, dammit.
I made it home close to dark and asked a mate to help me tow Queen Ben home from her unhappy perch on the gravel shoulder.. My reasoning was that the RAC will be badly stretched over the next few days of New Year's Eve chaos in our little seaside holiday town.
I was just having a self-congratulatory glass of wine on the back veranda and updating my sister on the phone about the new car I was buying, when Brownie and Doogs turned up. They growled at Flex as he dawdled innocently towards Selkie's food bowl. Selkie looked up and didn't even complain or harry Flex. She was still limping. She looked very, very sore. 'So, the Bay of Pigs,' said Brownie.
Flex and Selkie took off before dawn this morning. They often do this when Brownie and Flex are staying in the bush camp. Selkie and Flex go off for hours and I never know where they go. Sometimes they'll come back streaked with charcoal and I'll know they've been into the firegrounds. Sometimes, while looking for them, I've followed their tracks along the beach for miles. Selkie always comes home exhausted and she's sore for days. There are few roads and no fences around here. It's dog heaven but I always worry about them taking baits.
This morning, Doogs went down to the boat ramp and heard the two dogs barking. It was an early easterly and so he could hear them, their voices calling along the inlet shore. I was mourning the knocking piston death of Queen Ben and beginning my dejected walk home, by the time Brownie and Doogs walked east along the beaches and rocky outcrops to find Selkie and Flex bailing up a huge black boar. Apparently, the pig was standing in the water facing off the two dogs. He was in the inlet, water around his shoulders and nose to nose with Selkie and Flex.
'This pig was huge, Sarah!' Doogs said. I put my head into my arms. Oh. My God. 'Much bigger than these two,' he motioned to Flex and Selkie. 'They were crying and barking like babies though.'
'What a fucking day.'
'We're calling that place Pig Bay,' Brownie nodded over his beer. 'It's something that's happened here and that place needs a name. Never seen that before. Never. A pig facing down some dogs in the water. Never seen it.'
So Pig Bay it is.
This stuff all happened here on New Year's Eve 2023. It's been another mad year yes? Happy New Year Bloggers xxx