Sheltering

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
The pair sheltered from the storm and chewed the fat.

Submitted: April 03, 2017

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Submitted: April 03, 2017

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They saw it coming from over the hill, a huge bank of cumulus turrets, the tops glaring white and jet black beneath. A Southerly front was going to bring wind and rain, probably thunder too!

‘You reckon we can get back to the truck before she hits?’ Hooks already knew the answer. ‘Looks like we’re in for a wet arse!’

‘Nah, we’d better head up to the cave on the ridge and wait it out.’ Henry replied. They had found the cave a week ago and spent an hour looking for past history, but only found a couple of white cave wetas.

‘I’ll pick up our tucker bags and the gear,’ suggested Hooks, ‘while you gather some firewood while it’s dry. We don’t need to freeze.’

They had to rush because the storm was galloping over the ridge, it was becoming darker and a biting wind was picking up.

Boom went the thunder!

‘You’ve got the matches,’ Henry said, ‘I’ll get some more firewood while you crank up the fire.’

There were plenty of broken branches around, so he dragged them into mouth of the cave. Meanwhile Hooks had found an ideal place for the fire, there was a sort of vent in the ceiling that could extract most of the smoke. Anyway, Manuka burns hot and pretty much smokeless when it’s dry.

Boom went the thunder!

They each made a nest near the fire and settled down to wait out the storm. They each carried a Thermos and luckily they only had morning smoko, so there was plenty left. Hooks always put half a cup of honey in his tea. Henry reckoned it would rot his teeth, which were false anyway, but he just liked his black and strong.

In the reflection of the fire, Hooks reckoned he could make out some Maori art on the wall of the cave, but it turned out to be just the way the lichen was in the flickering firelight.

‘Be great to see cave art like those horses in France.’ Muttered Hooks.

Henry knew what he was talking about, the Chauvet Cave. Hooks had a subscription for the National Geographic magazine and he had brought it to work a month or so ago.

‘Yeah,’ replied Henry, ‘those prehistoric buggers. What? Thirty odd thousand years ago, could draw as good, no, better than a lot of people today. How the hell can that be?’

‘You might be able to draw,’ Hooks countered, ‘but the best I can do is draw is those bloody stick-men! Even when I do, nobody can make out what they are!’

The rain was bucketing down, driven by a fierce wind!

Henry laughed. ‘Probably they were sheltering from the weather like us and had nothing better to do. But maybe they were living there, so they were beautifying a dreary old cave.’

‘But how come they wanted to beautify while at the same time, they could only grunt. “Ugh, oog!” like that?’

‘Well,’ Henry shifted his bum off a protruding stone, ‘We were told they couldn’t speak, but you don’t necessarily have to believe what you were taught or told.’

‘Right!’ Hooks replied going off on his own tangent, which he was apt to do. ‘I reckon when you tip up, you just go rotten. I don’t know about the “hereafter” business they used to preach. Doesn’t seem logical to me.’

‘Didn’t you go to Sunday School?’ Henry grinned.

The rain was easing up, but it was still blowing.

‘Oh yeah,’ Hooks affirmed, ‘we all had to line up in our Sunday best. Boring though, they prattled on and I day dreamed most of the time.’

‘I’m not much into talking religion,’ Henry confided, ‘it’s sort of personal, but I’ve read a lot about different beliefs, always been interested in anthropology actually.’

‘Yeah, me too,’ Hooks added, ‘religion and politics are a great way to fall out!’

‘But it’s a good thing to have belief, don’t you reckon?’ Henry said.

‘Y’ reckon?’

‘Well, take something like Stonehenge.’ Henry explained. ‘How could any boss get men to push and pull stone for half their lives without them believing in something, even if it was only Mother Nature or some other thing he made up?’

‘Suppose you’re right.’ Conceded Hooks as he poked the fire with a stick making sparks rise with the hot air. ‘A day doin’ that would be enough for me!’

‘Yeah, you have to give credit to religion, ant of them. They all built magnificent structures and monuments in the past. They don’t do that much anymore. I went to a Hindu temple in London, magnificent it is, and that gold reclining Buddha in Bangkok? He even had finger and toe prints! They wouldn’t be there without their belief in a religion.’

‘You bloody tourist you!’ Hooks chided.

The wind was dropping a little but there were odd snow flurries.

‘It’s when religious nutters get the bit between their teeth, they bugger things up.’ Henry muttered as he broke some sticks for the fire. ‘Went to Tintern Abbey in ’96, by where some of my ancestors lived. A huge, derelict and magnificent ruin it is. Old Henry the eighth in his wisdom, decided to form the Church of England and biff out the Catholics. So most of the Catholic buildings and treasures were flogged off. Or smashed like the Abbey.’

‘Yeah but did they believe the new religion or were the King’s cronies just raping and pillaging?’

‘Good question.’ Henry mused, ‘Changing your belief overnight is either miraculous or sucking up to the big noise.’

‘The latter!’ Hooks was sure. ‘Probably to make money, a lot of religions are good at that!’ He added.

‘It’s the same with anything though.’ Henry reckoned. ‘You only believe what you think you know. How many think they have seen the Loch Ness monster? If your father doesn’t like the cops, you don’t trust them either, eh? Or if you’re told white bread will kill you, you’ll eat brown. If someone looks a bit different, you don’t trust them.’

‘Yep, true enough. Even if the truth stares you in your face, you only believe what you want to believe. Or you follow some other silly bugger like sheep.’

‘Well,’ said Henry thoughtfully, ‘when everyone went to church, they were a bit scared of sinning in case a bolt of lightning struck them on the bum!’

‘Year, that’s right,’ added Hooks, ‘now bugger all go to church! They thieve, shag, lie and beat each other up, no bolts of lightning, just maybe a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket from some dumb-arse judge!’

‘Well we set that right, eh?’ Hooks muttered and they gathered their gear after the storm.

‘Tell you what, Hooks.’ Henry said. ‘I firmly believe the truck will be exactly where we left it!’

And it was.


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