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TWO SPARROWS IN A HURRICANE


This is what I really wanted! Incomplete sentences, machine gun emotions spattered and scattered. The story is not meant to abide by rules of grammar… it is an emotional tirade!)

TWO SPARROWS IN A HURRICANE (Original form)

(experimental. Incomplete sentences. Staccato writing.)
It was raining. Had been for three weeks now. Ever since the thunderstorms brought to a close the worst drought in recorded history.
60,000 cattle shot. 150,000 sheep. And a few farmers.
12,000 primary producers, market gardeners, and graziers ruined.

At first there was elation. The rain started on a Sunday. Just in time for the pious to give thanks to God. Flocked in their masses. Proud and preening. Pleased with their power to reach right there into heaven with their prayers. And make God listen.Thank you God! Thank you Jesus!

The first furious drops smashed fledgling Swallows to the ground. October hatchlings. November casualties.
And then it came. Great roaring waves. It breathed. At first torrential. Then receding to thin drizzle. Before becoming a wind driven drowning pool. Elation turned to trepidation. Shopkeepers began removing stock. Householders their carpets, t.v’s. Lotto coupons.
Even with a little rain Max was ruined. Crops failed. Livestock gone. $250,000 owed to the bank.

That Sunday Max had contemplated suicide. In the event, he did not do it.
It rained.
Had he been a little less depressed, he might have seen the rock. He might have taken more notice of the storm before it broke.He might have done many things. He didn’t The tractor hit the rock. Slewed. Toppled .
Max died.
Unconscious, face down in a pool of mud.
He didn’t mind. Or, had he known anything about it, wouldn’t have minded.
Grubby  existence anyway. Bushfire. Drought. Flood. Bank managers. One natural disaster after another. Margaret had been his only reason.
After the business of burial, Margaret went home to the farm. She cleaned the house. Washed rain-streaming windows. Ironed Maxs’ clothes. Functioned in a quietly  irrational, demented way.
Laid Max out on the kitchen table. Birth certificate. Insurances. Death certificate. Medals .
Proof of once having existed.

She hummed. A sad little tune. It was a song he used to sing. About two sparrows in
a Hurricane.
She stared through storm swept windows. At nothing particular.
Max had never recovered from Vietnam.
Margaret had never recovered from being born.

There was a night out on the rocks. He stumbled on her. Wedged into her secret crevice high above a black, rolling sea. With a bottle of Beam, and a sputtering candle stub.
Lonely. Drunk. Stoned little hippy chick. And quite beautiful. Blonde hair. Long. In
natural ringlets.

It was a hot, humid summer night. Only a stirring of air.
He sat down. Drew up his knees and hugged them.
She didn’t look up. They didn’t speak. He watched her. Sandstone reflected the candlelight. She was beautiful. Tears coursing her cheeks. She brought the bottle to her lips in regular fluid motion.
Max reached out. Gently placing his hand over hers. But with no force.
Margaret let go the bottle, and Max lifted it to his lips. He could smell her on it.
Jasmine? Some oil? Sandalwood perhaps? One of those essences.
They took turn and turn about. He swigged. She swigged.
Nothing said.
Max pulled out his pouch, and rolled a number. Lit it. Toked. Offered. She took it.
A seed burst showering her with hot ash. She flicked at her blouse. Toked. Gave it back .

An hour.
Then Margaret stood up,. blew out the flame. She was sure footed in the dark.
Scrambling upwards to the narrow walking track.
Max stayed. He said nothing.
But Margaret did.
She was thirty feet away when she said “Tomorrow” and kept walking.
Max sat awhile watching the big tankers. Their lights a long line on the horizon.
Two and a half million people. Dead.
Seven and a half million tons of bombs. Statistics.Technological madness unleashed on a third world country. By the most powerful nation on earth.
Max drowned in their blood. And the enormity of his own crimes against humanity. With no hope of atonement. He did his best. His best was never enough.
At twenty, they sent him to hell. Condemned his soul. Oil tankers in a line.
A reminder.
That every car runs on blood.
That every man, woman, and child stands responsible.
Tomorrow.
And tomorrow, and tomorrow
Lights on the horizon. Max rolled another. And ached. For the chance to save one living soul. And in so doing, his own.
Max was the devil incarnate. Margaret his acolyte. Her mother said so. The pastor told her mother. Her mother told the town.
Lynch mobs grow like weeds.
Religion and economics. Gatherers of souls, both.
Margaret fell in hove with the bush. Up in the hills. Feral land where she could go naked and free. And tend her horses.

Max bought it. With his savings. A few hundred wild and beautiful acres. God! They were a pair!
She flipped idly at the edges of the documents on the table.
“GOD!… Let these memories go away!”
But they kept crowding. Fragments of their lives together. She thought that pushing them out aloud would shift them.
But it was just a voice echoing back in an empty house.
“Two sparrows in a hurricane.. ”
She shrugged. Her face crumpled in sobs.
Every day like this? Will it be every day? And every day? And every day?

The rain still came.
Persisting down, he used to say. “It’s persisting down!”
Max had terrible depressions. Black. Brooding things. Nightmares. About ‘The Man’. The man who offered him barbecued babies. Childrens’ internal organs.
A charming, suave, smiling son of a bitch!

Terror. Crippling; wailing terror. Margaret would lean over. Quick, confident, soothing. Hushing him. Her lips on his. Gentle. Soft.
“Hush! Max! hush baby! Sparrow’s here! It’s alright. Sparrow’s here”. Cradled, and safe, he could sleep.
The town would be flooded. Even when the streets had dried, the creek crossings would still be up.
“Oh Max! Why? Damn you! BASTARD! BASTARD!” The house absorbed her scream.
And the rain punched the tin roof.
“He died. He died. He died. He died. He died. He died    ” The litany of grief.
A curious thing. Margaret found herself watching. Watching herself. Her ‘self’ in grief. As someone else. Watching memories. Jostling things. Crowding for space. Watching her reaction to them.
She viewed it all with detached fascination.
So this is what it feels like! Will I be strong enough? Will SHE be strong enough?
“You’ll do. Max once  said. “You’ll get there sparrer! You’re a toughy!”
The end of their first year. Margaret was happy. And proud. The end of the hardest year she ever expected to experience. Ever. Ever. Ever.
To come out here! All the way to this beautiful place. With nothing. Just a little old caravan!And rusty  old Suzuki. She was dirty. Calloused. And smelt of summer sweat.
Max couldn’t have cared. He lifted her. Stepped over the threshold of her own homebuilt utterly gorgeous house! Just rocks, and mud. And poles cut from the bush. And a palace! A castle! A cathedral! Max dropped her onto the bed. She bounced. Giggled. HUGE! A pole four poster. Drapes of brown velvet.
She felt like a queen. She squealed with the sheer joy of being she. What a lucky girl 1 am I am I am I am!
Max too, in his quiet, gentle way, expressed his delight.
The rain eased. Suddenly. A snappy breeze bustled in from nowhere.
A fat brown leaf smacked the broken window pane and toppled through.
She’d broken the glass whilst hammering nails into little pieces of quad border. So upset! But Max just grinned. He’d get around to fixing it sometime.
He didn’t.

It was a good year that first one. Good rain, and good soil. Max worked long hours. Silently determined. Capsicums and Chillis. He liked growing them. And they liked it too. They responded.
The house garden too was lush. Herbs, vegetables, berry fruits.
And the house was done. Not finished…done. Bare. Empty of furniture or cladding. Oh but the potential! Her own house!

Max was neither vain, nor stupid.  It was his age. He’d been no angel. Lived it hard. Chances of a heart attack? Stroke? Or when the Black Dog came calling. He had to bear THAT in mind just in case.
He put everything he could into insurance. Life. He planned and plotted for Margarets future. So that if when he was no longer around        “I DON’T CARE! DAMN YOUUUUU!”
Insurance policies surfed the carpet.
Why do I feel so angry? Angry and cheated?
“SO Max! Is there a God! HUH?? Is there?” Damn him! Damn him to hell!! NO! No no no no no no! I’m sorry! Don’t damn him!
Perhaps……… she thought….. there’s nothing! Nothing at all! Poor Max!
Max had a theory. It made him feel better about God. He believed that every creature is of the earth. That one rises from it, returns to it. That ‘soul’ is energy of all that IS. Death he believed released that soul energy to its source. To the allness of everything he called it.
Margaret loved to hear him tell it. He was a man in love with his earth. And his earth mother. And his last chance little sparrow.
He could have been content. But for Vietnam. The victims. His debt. His sentence.
His face! So beautiful when we made love! So tender’…….. Allness of everything!
Margaret began to sing softly.
“Two sparrows in a hurricane ” Paused. Spoke aloud. Barely audible. And still the tears would not stop coming. And coming, and coming.
“We were, weren’t we Max? Just two sparrows in a Hurricane.”
The sky had cleared. Hot sun,. amid steam. Bringing that clean-laundered smell to the air. One of those special times after long rains. When everything in the bush.. .even the rocks…sighs in unison.
Roosters crow and strut. Bragging their beauty in wing flapping. Things hidden venture forth. And always for just moments, all is at peace. In harmony.
That puffy brown leaf…the breezes’ blow-in,. chirped. Flapped.
Little more than a nestling!. It shuddered, and lay still. Margaret stared.
Well? You can’t just leave it there poor thing!
No. No, she’s not crazy that girl. They say so. Not me.
That bird’s with her all the time. A little cock sparrow it is. Flies around her head. Lands in her hair and sits there chirrupping. Leans over and whistles when she sings. That song you know? About them two sparrows in a hurricane or something.
She loves that place of hers out in the bush  She doesn’t work it  He set her up nicely with the insurance. Just lives there. In the bush. Her and the bird
Think what you want. She’s not potty. And neither am I.
She calls it Max you know. Talks to it. And it chirps back.
“Now tell me this”. The taxi driver began to whistle a tune. I’d heard. it before.
“What bird could learn to whistle that eh?” He said.

END

 

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