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

The Visit

‘Doctor, can you explain how to commit the perfect murder?’

Clearing his throat, pushing his glasses along his nose, he frowned at the young woman opposite. ‘Why do you insist discussing this every week?’

She glanced around the room of couches and wandering lost souls. ‘Here’s the best place to talk about characters and do my research.’

‘You’re a … writer this month,’ he said, referring to the notebook cradled in his lap. ‘Writing about the perfect murder?’

She shrugged. ‘Sure, why not. You nearly succeeded didn’t you, Doctor?’

‘Excuse me?’ 

‘Your wife–’

‘Young lady…’ Lifting his pen in the air, he halted mid-thought then crossed his legs and leaned back. ‘I’ll allow you to indulge with this illusion. So tell me then, how did I commit this near perfect murder?’

She leaned forward and explained. ‘Start with a hallucinogenic, slipped into your wife’s cup of coffee, then let her drive you to work.’

‘Wouldn’t I be risking my life being contained within the same vehicle?’

‘You were safe at work when you sent her on an errand all the way across town. That’s when the drug took hold, resulting in your wife’s fatal accident and killing two others.’

‘Why would I kill my wife?’

‘For the insurance claim. The type of drug used, normally, would’ve gone undetected. They should have assumed it was her diagnosed phobia of driving on the freeway, driving an unfamiliar larger car, yours, while her smaller car was conveniently at the garage.’ Hands clasped in her lap, she sat back, asking, ‘Where did you get that hallucinogenic and how long does it take to work? Is there some specific weight ratio–’

‘Why would you want to know?’

She looked around as she leaned forwards. ‘I want to commit the perfect murder by learning from your mistakes.’

‘What mistakes,’ he scoffed, shaking his head, frowning.

‘At the coffee shop, the Barista spotted you adding white powder into a takeaway coffee cup, rambling about your wife’s preference to a certain type of artificial sweetener–captured on camera. And you purposely sent your phobic wife onto a busy highway?’

‘I can assure you, young lady, my wife is alive and well. Remember, I’m the Doctor here, and I want to know why you’d want to commit a murder?’

Leaning back in her chair, smoothing out her skirt, she faced him. ‘I don’t love my husband anymore and this way I’ll get a nice insurance payout. I’ll sell everything to go lie on some beach, drinking cocktails out of coconuts in Thailand, living like a pampered queen for the rest of my life.’

‘What about your family, Julie, what would they think?’ He glanced at his notes. ‘There’s your Father to consider?’

‘My dad wouldn’t care.’

‘Why not?’

‘He’s got memory issues and currently serving a life sentence for murdering his wife.’ She stood up, placed her hand on his shoulder and giving a gentle squeeze. ‘I’ll see ya next week, Dad.’

(500 words)

from HOME SWEET ~ NOT.

Home Sweet Not - by Mel A Rowe

#HomeSweetNot #RuralromanticRamblings

Functioning at a Dysfunctional Function

‘Eating meat this year, Jen?’

‘Your sister’s name is Jenny,’ Mum said, wiping palms down her apron, following Dad’s swagger from the kitchen carrying the prize turkey.

Jenny’s fingertips traced the delicate outline of the crocheted threads in Grandma’s lacework spread across the food-laden table. A silent witness to another annual passing parade of corrupt cousins, divorced aunts, and derelict uncles.

 ‘I’ll answer to both, even bitch,’ Jenny said with a grin.

Dad’s exaggerated knife blade to steel swipes stopped. ‘No swearing, young lady.’

‘Talking about age, Jenny, I’m not seeing any grandchildren or husband seated beside you. Not like your brother with his family.’

Jenny side-glanced at her bully brother, the suppressed sister-in-law and their puppet perfect children. Yes, TV lands happy families existed – and they were PC, paper-cut-out, boring. ‘I’ll eat white meat, thanks. Looks great.’

‘You’re always avoiding my question.’

‘Didn’t I answer the food question?’

‘She did,’ said Dad, dishing out slabs of hacked turkey. ‘Still with Charlie?’

Mum’s head swivelled like an owl. ‘Is this the same Charlie you mentioned last year?’

Jenny nodded, forking her food, avoiding eye contact.

‘That’s a year,’ Mum’s said with eyelids narrowing. ‘Do you think Charlie will marry you?’

Another nod. A shrug. ‘We’d like to.’ Shovelling another mouthful.

‘Slow down – don’t you get fed upstate? Or you’re going for the plate clearing record, sis.’

‘Who’s Charlie,’ demanded Mum, ‘and when will we meet him?’

‘You won’t meet him.’ Jenny sipped her water because wine for women was disallowed at her mother’s table.

‘Why not?’

‘Because Charlie’s a female.’ Jenny stood up as cutlery dropped onto everyone else’s plates. She wiped her chin on the napkin, folded it up and grinned. ‘Thanks for dinner, might see ya next year.’ And left them all to digest.