|Beautiful Bateau Bay|
I was sitting back one lazy Sunday afternoon, feeling good about the sun on my face and the icy cold lager working its way down my insides, when the phone rang.
"Who is it", I asked after it was answered, but not really giving two hoots either way.
"Some strange bastard", was the reply. "He calls himself..... Wild Man".
"Dear God", I exclaimed. "Tell him it's the wrong number. That we've moved on. Anything.".
"Too late. I've told him you're here".
I quickly remembered what I could about this "Wild Man". I'd met him on my trip down south to Tassie. He was as mad as a cut snake, and liked living in the bush.
That was about all that came to mind.
Shit. I sat up, and took the call. It was Wild Man all right. But he seemed... different. "Mate", he said. "The bastards gave me the sack - it was those bloody greenies. What are the Japanese going to do for woodchips now?". It sounded grim.
"I've had to move to Bateau Bay in the New South Wales central coast". he continued. "I'm fishing for a crust".
I considered this for a moment.
"Yeah that's really interesting mate", I said. "But the truth is I'm really busy here this arvie. You know how it is".
There was a pause, and then Wild Man spoke hesitantly: "Mate, I wouldn't have called unless you had to be here, I can't talk about it on the phone.".
I snapped to attention. There was something about his voice. Beer sloshed out of my tallie.
"Well mate, if you put it like that", I said. "I can't let a mate down. I'm on me way".
And some 14 hours and one flight later, I was there - drinking boots and all. In particular, I found myself greeting an old friend at the bar of the Avoca Beach hotel.
|Wild Man off to work with his favourite Tassie hat|
"Mate", I said, "you've got me all the way down here. Most Aussie blokes would sooner cark it than ask for help."
"What's the story?"
Wild Man was silent. But not in his normal pondering way. Something was obviously wrong.
"I do have a story to tell", he said. "It involves a snake, a sheila and about a dozen schooners."
"Well don't they all!", I exclaimed, quickly.
"No not like that", he said, eyes lowered. "I had just come back from fishing and had stopped for a few quiet ones at the local. A dozen schooners later I finally made my way home. The misses wasn't too pleased, and she sent me straight to bed while she watched Kath and Kim. It was there, when I was lying in bed, that I noticed that that roof was spinning."
"Well that's normal", I offered.
"No, as I watched it spin I thought I could see a snake in the rafters. I couldn't be sure so I focused really hard, and eventually I could see the bastard's beadie eyes."
"What did you do?", I asked.
"Nothing - till I worked out it was a tiger snake. As you'd know mate if you're bitten by a tiger snake then you have a 50% chance of dying without treatment. It is a terrible death you wouldn't wish your worst enemy. I was as pissed as a fart. I didn't know what to do".
|Tiger Snake in the rafters...|
"So what did you do?", I said, as I looked around the wooden floorboards for snakes.
"I started squealing like a pig", Wild Man said, his face buried in his beer with shame.
"Oh dear", I said, as I sipped mine with some glee.
"So what happened then?"
"Well, the misses came running in thinking I had a bad case of the horrors. It was only when I pointed to the snake and squealed in an even higher pitch that she understood".
"What did she do?"
"She started laughing at me".
"That's not very nice", I said, indignant. "What happened then?"
"The bloody thing obviously didn't like the sound of her laughing and my squealing. It lunged at us!"
|The Tiger Snake's lunge!|
"Crikey!", I said, lifting my feet from the floor. "What did you do??"
"Well, I squealed even louder, and hid under the doona", Wild Man said, tears welling in his eyes.
"Ah shit mate", I said, uncomfortably.
"It gets worse", he said. "As I squealed under me doona the misses ran away to get a shovel."
"She grew up in outback Queensland you see".
"So what did she do?"
"She chopped the bastard's head off!", he said, with some pride.
|The Tiger Snake's head getting the chop|
|The terrible deed is done...|
"Bloody hell!", I said - "That's a bit drastic. Did you have any choice??"
"No mate", he said, wiping away his emotion as he took another sip.
"It was us or him. The bastard would have killed us all if he'd had the chance".
"So did she get it off?"
"Bloody oath she did. She chopped off his head and flicked the body into the back yard."
|The danger has passed... or has it?|
I gulped down some more of my beer. "Was that it?".
"No", said Wild Man. "While the body was gone, the head had fallen on my doona, and my squealing quickly changed to hysterical screaming".
"Shit mate, a bloody head can't hurt you".
"That's what you bloody think.", he replied. "I flicked the head off the bed using my doona. It sailed through the air and landed next to its body".
"Then, horror upon horrors, the bloody head BIT ITS OWN BODY!"
"Jesus Christ!", I said, my eyes wide.
"Yep I wouldn't have believed it unless I'd seen it with me own eyes. It bit itself, and the body started flaying around as though, well, it had just been bitten by a snake".
"It poisoned itself?", I said, disbelieving.
"Yep, in the end it wasn't the shovel that killed it. It killed itself."
|The headless snake biting itself!|
"Amazing story mate", I said, shaking my head.
"Makes you look as weak as piss though. What are you going to do?'
Wild Man swirled his beer with his finger. "Well mate, I'm not going to tell a soul mate. Not a bloody soul. How could I?".
"Fair enough mate", I said. "Fair enough. I wouldn't want anyone knowing about it either."
And with that, we finished our beers and I headed back to the airport, leaving Wild Man, for the moment, alone with his shame.
At least he was able to bring himself to tell a mate what happened. That always helps.