Bull Meets Mr. B
[While three of the T-Team faced the perils of climbing Mt. Liebig, a drama of a different, yet equally challenging kind unfolded for Mr. B and his son, Matt as they stayed back at camp.
Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]
Mr B and his son, Matt napped under the shade of a bean tree. A southerly breeze ferried through the dry creek bed, spiriting away the father’s snorts. Matt tossed and turned on his inflatable mattress that was exhausted of air resulting from a small, elusive puncture. He imagined the three others of the T-Team, beating a path through the sweltering heat and stinging spinifex in their quest to the summit of Mt. Liebig.
Matt chuckled. “Suckers!”
In a nearby tributary, a bull spied the T-Team’s father, son and daughter trekking in the distance, and stamped its massive hooves in the loose dry sand. Once the family had vanished, the bull trotted towards his stamping ground which possessed a gigantic bean tree as a feature in an otherwise dull bed of dust. His quest was to reclaim his territory that the humans had invaded.
“Matt, ma boy, do be careful. Don’t go too far from camp. A bull might get you.” Mr. B squinted in the direction of distant thumping, then rolled over and resumed snoring.
A monstrous brown hulk loomed through a cloud of dust.
Matt bolted upright “Dad! Dad! Th-there’s a big- ugly- brown – ugly- big – brown – ugly – b-b-bull!”
“Aw, Matt, stop kidding me.” Mr. B blinked and rubbed his eyes. “That’s enough of the jokes.” A short rumble from behind sent him scrambling to his feet. He flailed his arms while galloping. “Quick! Into the Rover. Now!”
“But Dad!” In the sweltering heat and moment, the boy froze, glued to his air mattress under the bean tree. Terrified, he witnessed his Dad bound over the dirt and fly into the empty Rover parking space and onto a thicket of spinifex. Matt winced. The massif of angry brown trod closer. It paused, pawing the ground, taunting its human prey.
After rubbing his punctured behind, Mr. B scrambled for the tarpaulin and rummaged through the baggage. “Er, d-don’t worry Matt. I-I’ll charge this bull before it s-sh-shoots — er — us.”
“But, Dad, the bull doesn’t have a gun.”
“Well, neither do we, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this boomerang and spear, till I find the damn gun.”
The bull stalked, narrowing the gap. The son clambered up the tree and gasped as his father fought with a rucksack that had entangled his legs, while he waved the pathetic weapons above his head.
“But Dad, they’re only souvenirs.”
“Why Matt, how can you say such a thing? Where do you think these genuine Australian artefacts are made?” With all his effort, Mr. B thrust the spear at the beast.
“Yes, Dad, sold in Australia, but made in China.” Matt watched as the menacing bulk of fury stomped the ground, dust billowing into a cloud around it. “Too bad the bull doesn’t know the difference.”
“Don’t be sarcastic at a time of crisis, son.” Mr. B flung the boomerang at the charging bull and ducked behind the tucker box. The projectile bounced off the bull’s hide, provoking it into a tumult of frenzy. Grunting like an eight-cylinder engine, he stormed towards its human attacker, screeching to a halt at the edge of the tarpaulin. As the bull glared down at him, Mr. B could smell its leathery breath.
With a nervous smile fixed on his face, the father edged his way to the bean tree and climbed aboard. The bull stomped and snorted around the sacred bean tree while its victims trembled in the lofty branches amongst the beans.
From this vantage point, Mr. B spotted the rifle leaning up against the tucker box. Unfortunately, the bull sat between him in the tree and the tucker box.
Father and son sat in the tree.
“Dad my bottom hurts,” Matt whined.
Mr. B sighed, “The others’ll be back soon. They have a rifle.”
“But Dad! I have to go!”
“Hold on,” Mr. B snapped.
The sun edged to the horizon.
Mr. B bit his lip wondering if he’d be stuck up this tree forever.
“Dad! I really have to!”
Mr. B turned to his son who was now rocking.
The distant hum rang through the golden landscape. Mr. B adjusted his grip on the branch.
The hum became louder. An engine.
The bull rose and sauntered out of the campsite, then disappeared into the bush.
“Just wait, Matt,” Mr. B said. He scrambled down the tree and grabbed the rifle.
Matt’s voice floated down. “Dad, it’s too late.”
As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the rest of the T-Team returned to find Mr. B clutching a rifle and pacing the clearing. Matt had lodged himself high up in the bean tree.
“As you can see, while you’ve been climbing your mountain, we’ve had a not-so-welcome visitor,” Mr. B remarked.
“Somehow, I think the B-family will be taking a guided bus tour next time they go for a holiday,” I muttered to Rick.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Painting: Mt. Liebig in watercolour © L.M. Kling 2017
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