TRAVELLING WITH THE T-TEAM (17)

 

HE’S GOT THE TOUCH

 

The Parrot of Curtin Springs

 

Richard and I scrambled off the Rover’s roof-rack.

‘Race ya to the birds,’ I yelled and then ran down the side of the Curtin Springs store to the aviary.

Richard and Matt scrambled past me. ‘Beat ya!’ Richard called back.

The parrot squawked. ‘G’day mate!’

Matt laughed and said, ‘Hey, you got the bird to talk, Rick.’

‘Aren’t I clever,’ my brother said.

‘How did you do that?’ I approached the cage. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot cocked its head.

In a falsetto voice, I said, ‘Hello cocky.’

The bird bobbed its head.

The boys laughed.

I persisted in a high-pitched tone. ‘Polly wants a cracker?’

The bird ambled over to me and then bit the wire of the cage, its blue tongue thrusting out its beak.

‘Hello cocky,’ I sang.

The bird stopped nibbling the wire and then clawed its way along the cage away from me.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Richard said.

Matt sniggered.

Dad, his thumbs hooked in the belt loops of his trousers, strode up to us. ‘How about a soft drink? My shout.’

Richard shouted, ‘Soft drink!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ Mr. B who stood behind Dad, clapped. ‘Very funny!’

The parrot screeched. ‘G’day mate!’

I glared at Richard. ‘How did you do that?’

‘I have the touch,’ Richard said.

Dad marched into the store. A few minutes later, he emerged cradling five cans of lemon flavoured soft drink. ‘The petrol’s cheaper here than at Ayres Rock. And so is the steak. It’s from the cattle they have on the station.’

The parrot cocked its head and watched us guzzle our drinks.

Richard wiped the sticky drops from his chin and sighed. ‘Ah, a real man’s drink!’

Dad licked his lips and then held up his finger. ‘You wait here. I won’t be long.’

We watched Dad disappear through the store door.

Mr. B raised his hand to his mouth, then after a discreet burp, he muttered. ‘No chance of egg soup tonight, I hope.’

I turned to the parrot. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot squawked.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Richard said.

Matt giggled.

Dad returned, this time carrying a baby-sized packet wrapped in white butcher’s paper. ‘The Rover’s been fed, and we’ll have a feed tonight.’

‘That better not be eggs and soup,’ Mr. B snapped.

Dad pursed his lips as if some bird he’d swallowed was about to burst out. ‘Rabbit. I bought rabbit for stew. There’s lots of rabbits around these parts.’

‘What?’ Mr. B’s face flushed crimson. ‘I thought you were going to buy steak.’

Dad did that kissing motion with his lips and then in a level voice said, ‘Rabbit steak. It’s cheap.’

Richard turned away from Mr. B’s line of sight, and wheezed with suppressed giggles.

The parrot flared its crest and screeched. ‘G’day mate.’

‘You did it again!’ I cried.

Richard snorted and laughed.

‘What’s so funny?’ Mr. B asked.

Dad patted Mr. B’s back. ‘It’s steak, mate. Beef steak. The best you’ll get around these parts. Curtin Springs runs a cattle station, you know.’

‘You had me going there, for a while,’ Mr. B said.

‘Huh?’ I looked from Dad, to Mr. B, and then to Richard. ‘But you said, we’re having rabbit stew.’

‘Dad was joking, but we could shoot some rabbits or birds at Palmer River, if you don’t want steak,’ my brother said.

The parrot glared at Richard. ‘What?’

‘You did it again!’

 

 © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016

 

 Painting: Mustering Cattle © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014

 

[Curtin Springs, 100 km east of Uluru, still operates as a cattle station. Its owners, the Severin family, have been running the station since 1956.]

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “TRAVELLING WITH THE T-TEAM (17)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s