Acid and Guns

13 Dec

In the Kimberley region of northwest Australia, the summer nights remain oppressive as the heat of the day is slow to fade from the baked earth. My ‘wattoo’, or brother-in-law, Doodie Lawford had gone to bed leaving me sitting in the darkness with a gang of screw faced youths from Fitzroy Crossing, smoking yarndy from a stinking Orchy bottle bong and drinking greencan. They were unsuccessfully trying to freak me out with tales of the Featherfoot and the ghostly Min Min light.
” I jus’ seen this one light eh… One light…..moobing… ” crooned one, shaking his head.
They all shuddered at the unspeakable horror of it. I could think of scarier things than a moving light but they were used to credulous white fella tourists, eager to believe whatever half-baked bullshit they could come up with.
” You got yarndy in Melbourne?” one roughneck in a Tupac shirt and cowboy boots demanded.
” Yeah we got yarndy ” I scoffed ” we got yarndy, speed, trips…ecstasy ” raising my eyebrows and giving a look to suggest that was just the beginning.
” What’s speed?” one asked.
” Speed’s a white powder, it makes you very..energetic and you stay up all night. You sniff it up your nose ”
They shot each other quick, sceptical looks as though I’d suggested beer got you drunker if you poured it in your ear. I went on:
” Ecstasy’s a little pill that makes you love everybody and trips make you see things differently ”
I left them to ponder what that might mean as I coughed my guts up on the coarse Log Cabin tobacco and the rough bush leaf, eventually passing the half-smoked pipe back to the young fellow packing the cones and taking a nauseating swig of the blood-warm beer.
It was then I remembered the small flap pocket in my wallet.
” I gotta couple a trips on me as it happens ” I whispered, scanning each stony face and pouring on the menace. ” You wanna try something scary? This shit’ll really put the wind up ya ” I assured them as I leaned back into the darkness and let THAT fucking sink in.

I was up there for a couple of weeks with my girlfriend Ningali visiting her family at Kupatiya Station, a small cattle property that had been annexed from the larger concern her father had previously run as head stockman. A young relative of hers had kindly elected himself as my sponsor and guide to the byzantine intricacies of Aboriginal society. His name was Claudie Carter and the next morning, Claudie came around to wake me up.
” You got that speed ” he asked, looking at the ground.
” Not speed, trips ”
” You got that trips? ”

I’d been there for two weeks and my initial appreciation of the desert’s arid beauty and the star-filled skies had faded and I was getting the shits with the isolation and the in-laws’ petty jealousies and family politics. It’d become a week-long piss-up enlivened only by the occasional fistfight staged with wide showy roundhouses, rare contact and a good deal of yelling and falling over by the fighters and their audience. I’d had a gutful and a change of scene felt overdue. Claudie, however, concerned me. He lived a life of traditional laws and a good share of trans-dimensional badness and commonplace dealings with the supernatural. We were way out in the bush, on the home ground of malign spirits and bad voodoo, on the edge of the desert. Debil-Debil country. Was it a good idea for either of us to drop speed lab acid out here?

Fuck it, I thought and clipped the corners off a couple of squares of blotter acid and gave the sacrament to my young black acolyte. I told him it’d take a while to come on so as we sat in the relative cool of the morning shooting the breeze, I felt good. So good, in fact, that I thought why the fuck not and we divided up the rest.

I sat wickedly enjoying myself. Loving the knowledge that today would be another kind of day, sensing the delicious feeling of oncoming risk and promise.
Claudie flicked his hands out away from himself as if his skin was too tight.
” Shit ” he said.
” It’s cool ” I said.
Claudie stood and walked to the left, then changed his mind and shook his whole lanky frame like a wet dog. He stopped a moment, then having made what seemed an important decision, he went over to the saddle shed, returning with a rifle and a butcher knife.
He pointed with his lips at the Toyota. ” Let’s go get a killer “.

Banging and bucking over the spinifex hillocks, we laughed our guts out singing along as the tape deck played Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it ” at distorted top volume, a roiling cloud of red dirt billowing in our wake. It was a big tune up there.
” Eh brother! ” Claudie shouted ” you reckon I’m trippin? ”
” Well I’m mighty fucked up myself Cuz! ‘ I yelled back.
” Eeeee!! I’m trippin!! Truegod!!
Suddenly he wrenched the wheel to the left and braked hard and as we waggled on the shocks and the thick cloud of red dust dissipated I could see three young bulls eyeing us warily from the fence line about 80 metres away. Claudie killed the engine and it was immediately perfectly silent.
” Which one you gonna kill? ” I whispered.
” The white one ” he replied.

Claudie reached over the back and got the rifle, his eyes constantly on the three bulls, then stepped out of the truck. He moved weightlessly forward, the rifle hanging loosely at his side, his long frame shimmering in the heat haze. He stood still for a long time then raised the gun to his shoulder, took his aim then there was a loud crack and the white bull dropped to one knee then toppled over as his mates lazily trotted away.

We gently rolled over to where the dead beast lay, its lolling tongue already thickly covered in dirt. In a swarm of flies, he began skinning the bull in long, sure strokes. Soon he had the legs off and the guts remained neatly encased in a swollen wet veined balloon. I helped him load the meat into the tray of the truck and the coarse white hair and the blood and flies were all over me. He neatly severed the spine and threw it in, the huge vertebrae banging on the sheet metal.

He gunned the engine and swung the Toyota in a tight circle to head us back to camp. I laughed in pure horror.
” Fuck me dead Claudie that is some fucked up shit ” I screamed ” YAAAAH!!! Fucking bloody murderous motherfuckers, boy! Yeehaaaah!!! ,”
Claudie let out a baboon shriek of mad joy as the truck leapt over another spinifex bush and my head hit the ceiling. ” We proper MAD cunts!!! ” he agreed, leering like a lunatic. On the horizon, the twisted arms of the Baobab trees coiled horrifically in the reddening sky.

Back at Kupatiya, the meat was divided up. One old granny took the spine and draped it over her shoulder, shuffling off to her filthy blackened earth oven to cook it. The most prestigious members of the family got the rib bones, the legs went off to the freezer, the lowliest scraps to the dogs. Ningali, seemingly unaware just how wasted I was, offered a run into town, a hotel room for the night and a few games of pool in the air con at the Fitzroy Crossing Inn. I quickly cleaned up and gratefully got into the car. Claudie seemed fine, I knew he wouldn’t blab and we could compare notes in the morning.

The next day, back at Kupatiya, my drug buddy was nowhere to be found. I asked Doodie and he spoke like he’d never seen anything like it.
” That Claudie! Poo! He’s a hard worker! He fix up that old man fence, he bin get that truck started nobody bin able a start for two year, he clean up that whole yard, he was jus’ goin’ for it, no shit”
Doodie seemed sure a bit of whatever had got in to Claudie might do a bit of good around here.
Finally, I found him crashed out in a “donger”, a pre-fabricated box used for sleeping quarters on stations or out on the mines. I entered the oven-like darkness and there he lay in his filthy jeans and boots, a sweating toddler in a disposable nappy asleep beside him.
We looked at each other and grinned.
” How’d you go, Claudie? Doodie reckon you bigges’ one handyman. ”
Claudie ruefully laughed as if he’d rather not be reminded then sat up on the bed, his hand on my arm
” That thing ” he said, searching for the right words, “that thing make you walk eh “.


4 Responses to “Acid and Guns”

  1. Ingrid Vaughan December 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Loving your words, Pump. I felt like I was there with you.
    Kinda reminded me of nights after Weds’ gigs when PT had a pocket full of acid and the desire to par-tay. All of a sudden Darling Harbour at midnight became an adult’s playground.
    Keep the words coming.

    • pumpolito December 14, 2012 at 3:43 am #

      Thanks so much Ing, love to you x

  2. Jo Collings December 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Read this on Mush’s fb – fricken loved it – hunter S T eat your heart out! Jo xx

  3. vanessa March 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    fuck me dead!

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