It hasn’t rained in Carnarvon for 2 years. The Gascoyne river now a huge dust bowl and all the farms growing bananas, zucchini, mangoes, tomatoes and grapes say ‘NO WORK’. We picked up some farm-made pickles and a banana split. I caught my first fish today off One Mile Jetty, a Tailor. We took Bodes on the train down the pier, Jake left me to fish while he entertained the boy. I went to a spot where an old guy Stan was sitting on a bucket with no lid, the flat footed sailor, eyes like Blind Fury said “Hello”, told me I had no idea what I was doing, rigged me up and taught me some tricks for catching tailor. Five minutes later I was in a brawl with a glimmering beauty, we brought our fresh catch back to the Caravan park where we were staying, so nice to have a shower after a week at Point Quobba sharing a long drop with a bi-polar ranger and Spaz Kaz from Taz (her introduction).
We lay the fish on the kitchen bench ready to cut and cook up for a family feed, when old BJ walks in with a false tooth grin. An 83 year old pantomime with more stories than years, he starts hacking up my fish which he called filleting. He sang deep baritone followed by french falsetto, read us some of his memoirs, showed us photos of his time in the Navy in the 50’s on the way to the Korean War. He was from New Zealand traveling by himself for a few weeks in a campervan with 4 cases of beer and too much food. He’s been married for 56 years and not a day goes by when they don’t have a fight. His voice boomed louder than Orson Welles reading War of the Worlds. We sat like girl scouts, heads on hands grinning at the grey matter scrambling and unfolding in front of us. Until Bodhi, hours out of the spotlight couldn’t handle it anymore and had to pots and pans rattle, steal the scene.
In the morning we were leaving Carnarvon, Jacob woke to find BJ and Sailor Stan (who happened to live in the caravan park) at the back of our van arguing over the configuration of the main street of Darwin in the 50’s. They were like Tom and Jerry fighting over chalk and cheese. The two had aged so differently, one with a boisterous bellow, the other bitter and willowed. After leaving the bookends, back to back, duelling in the wind, we headed off for Bush Bay, down more windy corrugated roads, Oscar feeling every tired bump, new noises started to creak from all sides so we decided to turn around and head back to Carnarvon, to the crazy characters, and see about our car. A couple of days later we were fixed and ready to run him ragged again.
Bodhi’s learning so many new words, everyday a new one to the list. Lately his favourite is ‘No’, all in a row, a chorus line of can’t can’t dancers kicking me in the face.