2019 by Karen Radford Treanor
Drawing (c) by Gerry Wild
is a slightly revamped and updated
version of a story from a book I wrote ten years ago, “A Tree
in Mundaring”, several chapters of which have already appeared
in Storyhouse. It was one of my less practical forays into
publishing—by the time I paid the artist, the paper supplier
for the snazzy 110 gsm paper and the faux parchment
and the printer, I just broke even. But it was a nice looking
book and very popular with my neighbour hills-dwellers, who could
relate to most of the stories.
I attach the original illustration
by the artist Gerry Wild, I am sure he would not mind it being used
if he is credited for it.
all the useful things people tell you about living in Australia, why
is it they forget to warn you about scorpions? When we lived in the
hot, dry hills of Western Australia it didn’t seem that odd
that we had scorpions—the climate and the critters went
together. However I didn’t expect to find the little stingers
in cool, damp Tasmania. Wrong again: if anything, we find even more
of them down here.
entirely possible that there is a scorpion nursery or play school
somewhere under my kitchen cupboards; I can't imagine where they all
come from otherwise. Every summer without fail there is a period
during which you can't put a foot to the floor without something
scuttling towards or away from you, depending on its mood that day. I
think it quite likely that scorpions, like the gentlemen of the
road of old, have marked our fence to tell all their friends where
the free eats are.
have been scorpions in the shower, behind the toilet, hiding in the
fringe of the rug, lurking in the fibres of the floor mop and
throwing parties in the bottom of the laundry hamper.
can lie awake on a summer's night and imagine the tiny giggles of
scorpions plotting where they are going to spring out of next.
Harry, you shin up the shower curtain and when she pulls it closed,
drop on her head."
Bill, I did that last week, can't I jump out of her bureau drawer
guys, I got it: let's hang onto the bottom of the kitchen sponge, and
when she scoops the crumbs into her hand, we'll pop out and yell
'Surprise!'." says Louie.
a yuck, let's tease the cat until he pounces on one of us and then
make him so sick she'll have to take him to the vet. That should be
good for $110 or so."
is the sort of conversation I imagine goes on after we're all asleep.
Last week I think Harry won with his idea.
ya what, I'll get into the kitchen sink and play dead. She'll scoop
me up with a spoon, assuming her husband has killed me. She'll
probably put me on the window sill to dry out so she can put me in a
jar for the kids to take to "Show and Tell". While she's
making breakfast, I'll move, just a little bit, and only when she's
not looking directly at me. I'll inch my way along the windowsill
until she begins to wonder what's going on. Then when she tries to
scrape me into the water glass I'll spring to life and snap my
pincers and thrash my tail and look really scary."
was only the fact that I had used the last of the good whisky glasses
to scoop up Harry that prevented my dropping it on the tile floor
once he went into his act. After the initial heart palpitations had
calmed and I realised that Harry couldn't get out of the wet glass, I
had a good look at him.
was a handsome beast in tones of tan and brown, with black points to
his pincers and a black tail tip. He was a real stud muffin among
scorpions, and I couldn't bring myself to kill him.
I walked across the road to the state forest and decanted him on the
gravelled edge. As I turned to go back to my house, the lady three
doors up came out to get her newspaper. She looked at me. I looked
at her. She looked at the empty whisky glass in my hand. She
grabbed her paper and hurried back to her own house.
sauntered home secure in the comfort of a good deed done. Somewhere
there was a little girl scorpion about to get the surprise of her
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