Out of Time (12.3)

Time In-Between for the Queen

[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia…In this episode (12.3) While flat-sitting in Melbourne, this most unexpected and frustrating visitor wears out her welcome…]

Part 3

A Time to Rest?

Letitia revisited the radiogram. Still hissing. Twiddled the knob and watched the needle swing from left to right while the hissing, though louder then softer, remained infernal hissing. ‘Maybe it’s not on,’ she said. Her finger searched for the control panel, but was at a loss to find the on-off switch. ‘How did I switch it on? Did I switch it on?’ Her hand waved over the knob-challenged panel in search of a switch or knob. After removing the tapestry cover (German looking), and folk-art decorated box, she lifted the lid of the radiogram. Well, look at that, a record player. She lifted the arm and watched the table spin. ‘At least I can listen to some music. It must be on if the table spins.’ Next, before getting down to the business of cleaning, she resolved to put on some music. ‘Now, where would a Walter Wenke put records?’ she muttered.

Peace reigned for only a few seconds. While Letitia hunted for unscratched records, scratching started in the laundry. She ran there only to discover, Monica adding to the pile in the way she obviously knew best. And it stank! The baked beans had done their magic and the putrid mess was running down the sides of the litter tray as if the mountain had suffered a virtual volcanic eruption.

Letitia scrambled to the kitchen and grabbed some paper bags, and a wad of newspaper, before entering the room of suffocating stenches. She raked the rank rubble onto the newspapers, wrapped it briskly and crammed it into the paper bag. The bag, being paper, and for the purpose of carrying dry groceries, rent the inevitable hole at the bottom and Monica’s muck excreted through the gap oozing all over Letitia’s hands. Letitia dumped the useless bag on the fruit and vege section of the newspaper advertisements and with disgust ran her hands under the tap in the laundry basin. Monica joined in the excitement, trying to butt her head in above Letitia’s hands and take licks at the running water.

Even when Letitia had turned off the tap, Monica continued to catch the drips with her little pink tongue. She left the moggy to her amusement and wrapped the putrid disaster in more wads of The Sun News Pictorial. Then with resignation, and washed hands, and remembering that the backdoor was deadlocked, Letitia walked to the front door, and turned the handle. The door refused to budge. Also deadlocked. ‘Just my luck the keys are on the other side and Monica will decide to start a fire,’ she said.

Letitia was contemplating climbing out of the kitchen window when she trod on something cold and hard. She lifted her foot and found the clutch of keys on the green and white tiled floor. She plucked them up with renewed enthusiasm and began jabbing them, one by one into the deadlock. None obliged to work. She tried them repeatedly with no success. Attempted the lock on the back door. That lock too would not budge. With a sense of doom, she lifted the cat door open and squeezed the ball of putrid paper through and into the porch of darkness.

No sooner had she stood up from this almighty effort, than the mass of white fur vanished through the hole and into the night. She detected a faint rustle and squelch as paws landed briefly on the mess that she had created. Letitia gazed at the swinging door flap. Even after all Monica’s antics, she did not have the heart or fortitude to lock the cat out. So, left the door swinging, open to allow Monica to freely come and go as she pleased.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Oshin © L.M. Kling circa 1995

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Series–Base of Mt. Liebig

[While three of the T-Team faced the perils of climbing Mt. Liebig, a drama of a different, yet equally challenging kind unfolded for Mr. B and his son, Matt as they stayed back at camp.

Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]

Bull Meets Mr. B

Mr B and his son, Matt napped under the shade of a bean tree. A southerly breeze ferried through the dry creek bed, spiriting away the father’s snorts. Matt tossed and turned on his inflatable mattress that was exhausted of air resulting from a small, elusive puncture. He imagined the three others of the T-Team, beating a path through the sweltering heat and stinging spinifex in their quest to the summit of Mt. Liebig. Matt chuckled to himself. “Suckers!”

[Photo 1: Mt Liebig at sunrise with bean tree © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

In a nearby tributary, a bull spied the T-Team’s father, son and daughter trekking in the distance, and stamped its massive hooves in the loose dry sand. Once the family had vanished, the bull trotted towards his stamping ground which possessed a gigantic bean tree as a feature in an otherwise dull bed of dust. His quest was to reclaim his territory that the humans had invaded.

“Matt, ma boy, do be careful. Don’t go too far from camp. A bull might get you.” Mr. B squinted in the direction of distant thumping, then rolled over and resumed snoring.

A monstrous brown hulk loomed through a cloud of dust.

[Photo 2: Resident cattle © L.M. Kling 2013]

Matt bolted upright “Dad! Dad! Th-there’s a big- ugly- brown – ugly- big – brown – ugly – b-b-bull!”

“Aw, Matt, stop kidding me.” Mr. B blinked and rubbed his eyes. “That’s enough of the jokes.” A short rumble from behind sent him scrambling to his feet. He flailed his arms while galloping. “Quick! Into the Rover. Now!”

“But Dad!” In the sweltering heat and moment, the boy froze, glued to his air mattress under the bean tree. Terrified, he witnessed his Dad bound over the dirt and fly into the empty Rover parking space and onto a thicket of spinifex. Matt winced. The massif of angry brown trod closer. It paused, pawing the ground, taunting its human prey.

[Photo 3: Cattle Yard © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

After rubbing his punctured behind, Mr. B scrambled for the tarpaulin and rummaged through the baggage. “Er, d-don’t worry Matt. I-I’ll charge this bull before it s-sh-shoots — er — us.”

“But, Dad, the bull doesn’t have a gun.”

“Well, neither do we, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this boomerang and spear, till I find the damn gun.”

The bull stalked, narrowing the gap. The son clambered up the tree and gasped as his father fought with a rucksack that had entangled his legs, while he waved the pathetic weapons above his head.

[Photo 4: The bull that didn’t get away © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

“But Dad, they’re only souvenirs.”

“Why Matt, how can you say such a thing? Where do you think these genuine Australian artefacts are made?” With all his effort, Mr. B thrust the spear at the beast.

“Yes, Dad, sold in Australia, but made in Japan.” Matt watched as the menacing bulk of fury stomped the ground, dust billowing into a cloud around it. “Too bad the bull doesn’t know the difference.”

“Don’t be sarcastic at a time of crisis, son.” Mr. B flung the boomerang at the charging bull and ducked behind the tucker box. The projectile bounced off the bull’s hide, provoking it into a tumult of frenzy. Grunting like an eight-cylinder engine, he stormed towards its human attacker, screeching to a halt at the edge of the tarpaulin. As the bull glared down at him, Mr. B could smell its leathery breath.

[Photo 5: Meanwhile, Mt. Liebig in afternoon and more generous ghost gum © S.O. Gross circa 1946]

With a nervous smile fixed on his face, the father edged his way to the bean tree and climbed aboard. The bull stomped and snorted around the sacred bean tree while its victims trembled in the lofty branches amongst the beans.

From this vantage point, Mr. B spotted the rifle leaning up against the tucker box. Unfortunately, the bull sat between him in the tree and the tucker box.

Hours passed.

Father and son sat in the tree.

“Dad my bottom hurts,” Matt whined.

Mr. B sighed, “The others’ll be back soon. They have a rifle.”

“But Dad! I have to go!”

“Hold on,” Mr. B snapped. Then, he spotted the missing rifle, its metal shining on the churned sand.

The sun edged to the horizon.

Mr. B bit his lip wondering if he’d be stuck up this tree forever.

“Dad! I really have to!”

Mr. B turned to his son who was now rocking.

The distant hum rang through the golden landscape. Mr. B adjusted his grip on the branch.

The hum became louder. An engine.

The bull rose and sauntered out of the campsite, then disappeared into the bush.

“Just wait, Matt,” Mr. B said. He scrambled down the tree and grabbed the rifle.

Matt’s voice floated down. “Dad, it’s too late.”

As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the rest of the T-Team returned to find Mr. B clutching a rifle and pacing the clearing. Matt remained lodged high up in the bean tree.

“As you can see, while you’ve been climbing your mountain, we’ve had a not-so-welcome visitor,” Mr. B remarked.

[Photo 6: Mt. Liebig at sunset © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

“Somehow, I think the B-family will be taking a guided bus tour next time they go for a holiday,” I muttered to Rick.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019

Feature Painting: Mt. Liebig in watercolour © L.M. Kling 2017

***

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Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981,

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