The Lonely Cocky
By Daniel Norrish
Terry finishes his bowl of wheet-bix and wipes the milk out of his grey beard. He drinks coffee out of mug labelled “his”, looks at a photograph of his long dead wife and sighs. Then he glances up at the clock, pulls on his boots and struts out of the farm’s main house. He walks over the orange gravel, startling the small thin lizards as they lay like cracks on a car windshield beside nearby stones. Terry gets in the rusted ute and watches the brown dog skip up into the tray. He hears the claws scrape and rattle on the iron with urgency as he starts the engine. Then he drives the vehicle straight into the dam beside the house.
The water fills the cab much faster than Terry had expected. All of a sudden he’s swimming.
He’s wet on the bank, looking down at his morning’s mischief. The dog snuffles Terry’s leg and he takes a moment to kneel, stroking the rampant beast.
“It’s alright boy, are you O.K?”
The dog doesn’t answer, but its eyes are alight with excitement.
Terry walks a little gingerly to the second house on the property as the dog charges ahead, leaping fences and spinning in circles to try and inspire a little more urgency in its master.
Terry knocks three times on the wooden frame around the flywire screen door. A big man in a faded high school footy jersey lumbers into view.
“Everything alright mate? I thought we were meeting by the shed this morning?” The giant asks.
“Nah, everything’s not alright. Sorry Chris, but I’ve had an accident.”
Some moments later, the pair of them stands on the dam bank, looking down at Terry’s escapade.
“How’d you manage that?” Chris asks.
“The bloody dog jumped out in front of me, I woulda hit it.”
“You shoulda hit it,” Chris replies as he turns his stare to the smiling beast. The dog’s gaze flicks between the rigid image of the half sunken vehicle and Chris, unable to comprehend innocence, let alone feign it.
“Right-o,” Terry begins, “ get your truck and the chain and we’ll pull her out.”
The chain is drawn taught between the ute in distress and the ute assigned to rescue.
“Come on! Pull the bloody thing!” Terry shouts over the noise of the diesel engine. The tyres slip and weave over the earth, throwing back long plumes of gravel. The sunken thing ignores the efforts and remains resting, peacefully, in the murky water.
“Bugger.” both men agree.
They reconvene above the issue once again to discuss options and search for some simple solution to the problem.
“Mate, you need something more serious to get that outta there,” Chris announces.
“What are you suggesting?”
“You need a tractor. A big one. You need to go see if James will help.”
Terry is silent for a second.
Chris laughs, swats a few flies from his brow and says, “What else can you do? We’ll never dig that out and I’m not getting my truck stuck in there with yours. No bloody way.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll get James. Why don’t you go in the house and have a feed? I’ll be back before long.”
“Nah I just ate. I’ll wait here, just be quick.”
Terry drives Chris’s vehicle out of the front gate and down the long, lonely road. The lanes are thin out here and travellers don’t often see another car for hours. Sometimes days. A man has to talk to himself, or his dog, to stay alert.
Terry slows and turns as he sees the mailbox reading “Amy James.” He parks in a well-groomed front yard and steps out onto the short lawn. The door to a small house opens as he moves towards it and Terry can see the shape of a woman silhouetted in the space behind the fly screen. Hips and breasts and long hair. Gorgeous.
“Morning Miss James.” Terry calls out.
“Morning Terry?” Amy replies in a question.
“I’ve had a little blue down at my place, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me a hand?”
“Oh no, what’s happened?” Amy steps out into her yard and lets the door “fwap” shut behind her. Terry pretends the sun’s in his eyes and averts his gaze to the ground to save himself from staring. His heart beats quickly now, he can’t help but smile. He explains his predicament.
“That’s no good, of course I’ll help. You’ve caught me at a bad time though. I was just about to have my eggs.” Amy says.
“Oh really? I’m sorry, I can come back-”
“No no, why don’t you join me? Are you in a rush to get home?”
“Nah, no rush,” Terry grins, “Some eggs would be lovely.”