Outback Despatch

Swept across a sapphire skyline, the small plane floated like a speck of dust. Amidst rising heat waves, it magnetised towards the red dirt runway and parked beside
a tin shed where a work-ute reversed alongside the plane’s underbelly.

Cargo unloaded. Doors slammed. And the pilot was now a passenger inside the vehicle that created a red-powdered plume to continue the Outback mail run.

Inside the cattle station’s homestead, Jack’s boots echoed across the floorboards. His chair scraped as he groaned at the assortment of envelopes and last months’ newspapers waited spread across the table. When he spied a small, simple box. “What’s this?”

The cook by the stove shrugged and said, “it came in the mail.”

With pocket-knife, Jack sliced open the tape. Unfolded the lid and extracted a bubble-wrapped vase.  “Smells burnt. Is this one of your cookin’ powders?”

“Nope.”

“Not another herbal tonic or miracle face-powder?”

“No.”

Jack read from the box lid. “Please refer to the attached letter for instructions.” So he shuffled through the pile of post. “They’re not here. Jimmmmmyyyyyyy.”

Jimmy poked his head around the corner by the screen door. “Yeah?”

“This all the mail?”

“Yeah.”

“We’re missin’ a letter for this.” Jack pointed to the ceramic jar. “Where’s the pilot?”

“He’s nappin.”

Jack’s sun-hardened face scowled. “Tell that overpaid postman he hasn’t finished workin’, not until he’s delivered me the instructions for this box.”

Jimmy ran to the work-ute and before the dust settled he returned with the pilot. “We found it amongst a pile of crap under one of the plane’s seats.”

The pilot dropped the crumpled letter onto the table. “I’m paid to fly, not clean.”

“You’re paid to deliver mail too,” mumbled Jack, opening the envelope.

The pilot yawned. “Why the bother when it’s addressed the same as junk mail, for the Station Manager.”

“It’s for this fancy grey powder,” said the cook showing them the vase’s floury contents.

Jack held up his large workman’s palm. “Stop. You’ll wanna wash ya hands now.”

“Why,” asked the trio with fingers in the jar?

“That’s the ashes of a Heston Tipperary.”

“Who,” they chorused?

“It says he was one of the station’s original stockman and was 92 when he passed.”

“Ewww.” The cook’s nose screwed up, stepping away from the offending jar.

The pilot cringed as he replaced the lid. “How come they mailed you an urn of some stranger’s ashes?”

“Lawyer sent ‘em. Says Heston’s dying wish is to have his ashes scattered across the station.”

“We could have a ceremony,” said the cook, leading the charge to the kitchen’s taps.

Jack grabbed the urn and his sweat-stained Akubra and left before they’d finished washing their hands. “If he was an ol’ Bushman they don’t like ceremonies and fuss.”

On the escarpment showcasing the cattle station’s vista, Jack opened the urn’s lid. He released the contents in a large sweeping arc that was carried with the wind and disappeared among the streaks of pink and blues that crossed the darkening skyline. And he whispered, “Welcome home, mate. Welcome home.”

(500 words)

 

from the flash fiction collection, HOME SWEET-not!

HSN TW2

#HomeSweetNot #R&Rramblings #RuralRomanticRamblings

It came in the mail

“Tommyyyyyyy,” hollered the housekeeper from the front door.

“Stop ya bellowin’,” his boots echoed on the wooden floorboards. “What, woman?”

“This came in the mail, got proper paperwork  everythin’.” She passed the envelope and pointed outside.

Tommy opened the packet, his eyes darted across the pages, then flicked to the open doorway. His frown deepened as his jaw locked tight.

“What’s it say?”

He cleared his throat, licked his lips, and stepped forwards, mumbling, “It’s time to stop being the villain of this tale.”

“What does that mean?”

“What do you have to say for yourself, boy?”

“Hello, father.”

 

(100 words)

 

from the flash fiction collection HOME SWEET ~ NOT!

HSN TW2

#HomeSweetNot #R&Rramblings #RuralRomanticRamblings

Postie’s Pause

With helmet visor lowered, I thought of my pet goldfish and her delicate feathered finned graceful water dance, while I’m as graceful as a horse walking in flippers across a pond of porridge.

It’s a far cry from becoming a Sushi chef–when I’m allergic to fish and kept one as a pet. I can relate to my pet goldfish, watching the world through my helmet’s visor delivering mail to the masses. There are the postcards from travellers already home, and the bills no one wanted. The odd grandparent birthday card, where you try and guess its cash contents. All while the scooter caused a canine Mexican barking wave–in stereo.

But back to my goldfish window theory…

We live behind windows.

Every day.

Houses have windows.

Cars are mobile fish tanks.

Office windowed towers are full of people floating around.

Isn’t Earth, wrapped in her sea of gravity, just a bigger fishbowl?

“Shiiiiiiit – they’re open!” My scooter screeches to a halt as the adrenalin spike of fear squirrels up my spine. My heart tries to escape its rib cage and the helmet’s visor began fogging up, as sweat gathered inside my gloves, and I waited with a shallow breath.

I gunned the engine with one hand as the other slid beneath my seat for The Equaliser’. Not recommended, not advertised, not condoned, but sadly a necessity.

Because there stood the duo of canine severity.

They stared at me. I stared back.

They lowered their heads, squared off their shoulders, hackles raised.

I raised my foggy visor and flicked the switch on The Equaliser and noted the time for the report about to be committed.

It was the wrong gate to be open, on the wrong street, with the wrong duo of dogs.

And me.

Stuck in a side-street duel, in the middle of a Mexican standoff an hour before lunch.

“INSIDE,” shouted the owner, chasing her dogs back into the yard. “I’m so sorry. They won’t hurt you.”

Not from what I’ve endured when the pampered pooches’ poop-scooping owners aren’t around.

With the equaliser re-hidden, grateful I didn’t need to file my already mentally written report, I gunned the scooter and went back to my fishbowl view delivering the word to the masses. Except for that house – they’re mail’s gonna be late for a bit.

(387 words)

from HOME SWEET ~NOT!

Home Sweet Not - by Mel A Rowe

#HomeSweetNot #R&Rramblings #RuralRomanticRamblings