Monday, February 9, 2009

Cockroaches and Crustaceans.

Last night I was kicking back watching a show about Aussie crime gangs and thinking about stuff in general. Stuff I'd done as a kid, like the time we went on a prawn trawler on the Hawkesbury River. That got me thinking about prawns and crayfish. I grew up close to bushland and there was a creek which ran down to the Berowra catchment. It included this nice waterfall where we'd jump from the top into the billabong below. Daredevil stuff, probably stupid but a lot of fun. One time I was hanging around the billabong with my brother and other kids and saw a yabbie (freshwater crayfish). After a quick conference I wrapped my half-eaten Mintie in a bit of foil for later, grabbed the yabbie and an hour later I was hoeing into fresh yabbie on bread and butter, in the kitchen at home.
Damn, I'd left my half-Mintie on the rock back at the billabong and there were no more left. Oh well. At least i'd had delicious yabbie.
While I was thinking about this I noticed a few cockroaches zapping about the loungeroom. These are locally called "Bondi Butterflies". Damn, my roach baits must need renewing. These things were acting like they were in some sort of rutting frenzy, wildly launching themselves around the place on darting, strafing missions. I waited until they came to a stop and whacked them with a sandal. Got two in one blow. Problem is there were more of them. I've never had this problem as bad before and was getting rattled. Eventually I'd sprayed and bashed them into submission with the same murderous intent and ferocity as displayed on the TV re-enactment of gangland killings in Sydney's south-western suburbs. Very puzzling where the roaches came from and why, all of a sudden this invasion. Getting new baits and spray today.
Crustacean Crime Scene (A Yabbie's Tale)
Yeah, that's me in one of my photo shoots. That McCormack guy really nailed my good side in this one. But let's step back a while. Back before the media got hold of me, when I was just a regular working bloke trying to do his best in a world of con men, killers and saucy females.

It was a lazy summer afternoon, one of those days which send even the sleep cells to bed. I was half dozing in my rock den when my junior assistant clattered up, waking me with his clumsy, youthful noise. The kid could never be quiet. He was nervous but managed to speak.

"H-Hey boss. Gotta sheila outside wants to see you. Says its a cold case going back generations."

He scuttled away and in walked the femalest yabbie a bloke's ever clapped peepers on. I played it cool, keeping a rogue feeler in check;

"So you got an old shell needs scraping? What's the story?"

She sidled closer and I got a full broadside of her body. Man, her shell was tighter and shinier than a clean opal and had bumps in all the right places. She didn't waste time in bringing me back to ground.

"Mind on the case, not the carapace."
I looked up.
She went on, "Goes back over twenty generations. Its a Wild Killer." The way she swung her tail showed she wasn't to be clawed with, but what she said next set my feelers flying around like those Crazy Stalks kids get in the joke emporiums.

"I have an artifact. Original evidence. Here!"

She flung down a piece of foil.

"We've been preserving it for decades. Open it!"

I excitedly clawed it over and unwrapped the thing. It was a soldified mass, some sort of human food. I was vibrating and it wasn't just the babe running my engine. I was eager, maybe too eager;

"The Killer's? You have to be kidding me. That's unheard of!" She just blinked back,

"It's true enough matey. I'll leave you with it. Don't waste time on this one handsome." She swayed her way out of my den, maybe out of my life forever. Didn't even let me tell her my rates. That didn't matter, I had to get to work. It was a rare chance and I wasn't going to let a rock roll over this one.

"Hey junior, get in here." The young bloke scrambled in, kicking up a few pebbles in his haste. "Get this down to the lab and take good care of it. Its an original. Tell 'em to pull out all the stops. We're after a Killer!"

He jetted out and down the creek beed, Down to The Cave where we sent all of our hard stuff. They have blokes down there in the Crustacean Crime Lab can tell you what tree a leaf came from fifty years ago. They can pick out a speck of sand from a creek bed and send it back to the coast where it started out as a piece of cliff. Yeah, they're good. The best.
It would be silly to say that I'd forgotten her but a month later I was resting back at the den after a tough couple of weeks sorting out what ended up as a suicide case. Some teenager had decided to ride a Yabbie Pump and landed as dinner for a whiting, out near Lion Island. You couldn't pick these ones and I was flicking a few thoughts across my mind on the temptations, wildness and occasional stupidity of youth. Something a bit tastier flicked across my vision and set off all sorts of lust alarms. It was Her. You couldn't miss that sexy slide of hers.

I reached down and pulled out a package. It was stamped "CCL". Below it in big red claw marks was "Confidential." I casually flicked a stray rock across my desk. It clattered to the floor just as the young bloke clattered into the den, all legs and feelers still not under control. He took one look at the sheila and almost boiled himself into a stew as he stammered,

"B-B-Boss, she's b-back. Ya know the one ...", then he gasped. She was looking extra shiny and her bumps had taken on a life of their own. What a sort! She just had to be ready to roe. Her voice was huskier than I recalled and there was a tough set to her peepers.

"That it?" she asked, jabbing a claw at the parcel.

"All yours, sweetness." She jagged it open and there sat a file. It had a picture, a name and an address. Attached was a hundred sheets which listed places been, crustaceans killed and current haunts. The boys down at CCL had done a bloody good job, one of their best yet. Problem was it definitely was Human and this was going to be tough. Very tough. Humans were impossible to kill but we could still make trouble.

"A dirty Human! Just as I thought." she started to sniffle. Then the blubbering started. I motioned for Junior to go grab some water. I handed her a tissue box. This happened a lot with clients.

I slid around and put a claw on her shoulder, giving her a gentle stroke at the same time.

"Don't worry. We're gonna nail this guy if it takes the last claw standing. He won't know what hit him."

She looked up, shrugged and drew her features back into resolve.
"Sorry, but this is pretty big for our family. We've been waiting for justice for generations. I just, just, you know ...". She shuddered but quickly regained composure.

"We'll fix this. Starting now!" I emphasised my determination by hooking up the blower and asking the switch for a direct line I'd used before, "Get me Bondi Roaches."
An hour later I found out just how much gratitude she felt. She sure was ready to roe!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tactics of the Ice Cream War - (from the front line).

I was really hanging out for an ice-cream. It was hot. Very bloody hot. I was certain the tar on the road surface was bubbling. I had the hunger-thirst and was squirming, wriggling like those silkworms I'd nurtured in late Spring.
There were six of us in the family station wagon and I was hoping that the holiday budget still had a dollar or two left for frozen treats. I looked around and got the silent command from older brother and sisters. Once again I was to launch the assault, just like Sergeant Saunders in 'Combat'.

The 'Sarge'

The difference was that he had a sub-machine gun and a shield of invincibility . All I had was a child's voice and eight years of life. Bugger. This was the last time I was going to be the youngest child in a family. I'd have to get myself either a fake moustache or a machine gun. Nevertheless the order had been given. Form up and get on with it.

"Can we stop for an ice-cream?" My opening ploy was always reasonable and to the point.

"You just had lunch!" Mum was always the first to repel the first advance.

"That was hours and hours ago!" Never leave exaggeration in the ammo bunker.

"Stop complaining!" Shit. That was middle sister blindsiding me. She was the one usually masterminding our assault tactics but here she was, leaving me on the wire with parental machine guns swinging around, ready to open up their horrific, great maws. At me. Shit!

"Yeah, you're always doing this." older brother came in like one of those really nasty Kraut half-tracks which always threatened to ambush Sergeant Saunders and the squad.

Man, something was wrong. Terribly, horribly, desparately wrong. I shut up, the equivalent of ducking behind a hedge so the Nazis couldn't see me. But what had happened to the squad? And our objective of liberating the Land Of Ice-cream? So my siblings were now Nazi Synthesisers (as my brother called the traitors)? A bit late for that! The war was already well progressed and we'd made significant ground over the past couple of years. My sisters had bicycles, I had a toy guitar and older brother had a cricket bat. Man, I was shell shocked. I gazed out the rear window. The thousand yard stare. I was trying to figure out the song line I'd missed as we motored down the Pacific Highway. Pacific? Hardly.

Here I was looking at where we'd been, picking out white horses and trying to figure out how the squad had been turned by The Enemy. Sarge would have known. He would have spotted the traitors. War was hell. After a few minutes of this and I was almost asleep. Catching a soldier's nap between battles.

Then it came:

"I guess its not that bad of an idea" eldest sister opened up from a flanking position, startling me back to weapons-ready status.
"It is pretty hot and we've still another two hours to go." she added with teenaged wisdom. God bless her hockey socks!

"Oh, s'pose so." older brother from the other flank. The squad was in action at last!

"Yeah, okay then." Middle sister, tactical genius, bordering Machiavelli, confirmed the order in the form of a fait accomplit. Would it work? Was The Enemy ready to haul up the white flag?

The tension was now roping us kids into a tight, nervous bundle. Would we become prisoners or victors? Would They concede the battle? Now I knew how Corporal Kirby felt as he waited for the half-track to pass by.

Dirty krauts

"Okay, we'll stop at the next shop. Who wants what?" Victory! Yeah! Fireworks went off and The Dancing Man cut his jig down the highway.

Yip yip yip yahoo! Victory!

I reckon Mum secretly loved this. She gave in a lot of the time. Dad gave in e-v-e-r-y time but only when he was alone in battle. He really really loved ice creams. Four decades later I'd bust him out of his dementia nursing home to go on ice-cream sorties.

Siss had really figured this one out well. I could see her consulting with the Sarge. I'm sure that I saw him sauntering back behind a distant copse as we pulled over at the next shop. He gave a casual tip to his helmet as we all piled out yelling our victory song.