The Raw Deal
The Goat of Good Intentions
Geog swung open the hotel door and stumbled.
‘Maa-maa-maa!’ A goat butted him as he lay sprawled on the slate floor.
‘Vera!’ some fish-wife yelled from behind the bar. ‘Vera! Get outa here! Sorry mate, she likes to eat strangers.’
Jonah helped Georg to his feet and then offered his personal hip-flask to the goat.
Georg’s eyes bulged as he watched the goat gulp down the liquor from Jacob’s flask.
‘What is it you do?’ he asked.
‘No worries, mate, Vera’s part of the family, ‘ere.’ The owner of the fish-wife voice waddled over to the men. ‘Welcome! Good to see some real people. Vera gets excited seeing real people.’
The rotund woman with grey curly hair, turned from Georg and Jonah and peered into the amber glow of the hotel’s interior. Georg’s gaze followed.
Holographic avatars, shimmering in the dim light, slouched on their stools at the bar motionless. A couple of robots marched around the pool-table. In a dark corner of the dining area, a couple slumped on a couch.
The woman of the establishment pointed at the couple. ‘Oh, wouldn’t worry about them—’aven’t moved in months.’
Georg rubbed his eyes. ‘Really?’
‘Some sort of drug—puts them in stasis.’ She shrugged. ‘S’pose it’s better than the alternative.’
‘You don’t wanna know,’ Jonah muttered.
The goat butted Georg’s leg.
‘Vera! Stop it!’ The woman offered Georg a packet of chips. ‘Give ‘er these…Vera, come ‘ere!’
Georg frowned. ‘Is it good for her?’
‘Sure, it’s what she wants. She’s part of the family. As long as I keep ‘er ‘appy, the Animal Police don’t bother me.’
‘But it is not healthy.’ Georg gasped. Australia was so restrained, more than he expected.
‘Who cares, keeps the police off me back.’
‘But if Vera gets sick?’
‘Don’t want to end up like Eric, the previous owner of this place.’ She wiped her hands on her apron and then held out her hand. ‘Fifi—sorry, should’ve introduced meself.’
Georg took her hand, warm and soft. ‘Georg, from Germany.’
Fifi leaned back. ‘Ooh, from Germany. How do you like Australia?’
Georg took a breath. He dared not tell his true thoughts. ‘It is good, but different than I thought it would be.’
‘Yeah, I know. Hotter, I reckon. You’ll get used to it. Anyway, welcome.’
‘So, what happened to this Eric?’
Jonah nudged Georg. ‘You don’t wanna know.’
Fifi glared at Jonah. ‘Trust you, Jonah!’
‘What I do want to know,’ Georg raised his hand, ‘is why, in Australia, in the middle of the twenty-first century, and so advanced in so many ways, you have no real food?’
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature photo: Willunga Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
***Read from the beginning: The Raw Deal, Part 1, Good Intentions in Monday Missive: Destiny.
A story fresh from my mind and onto the computer screen. A study of the no-so-distant-future where the food is all replicated and people used their holographic avatars to socialise in pubs. And a German man called Georg wants to bring change for the good of the people.