Today Mike called in. Mike is an old guy with a somewhat lived-in face who has been around, a lot. He always takes us as he finds us and we likewise. Mike is a rough diamond, as honest at the day is long and he speaks his mind.
Mike is uneducated but not unknowledgeable, definitely not unwise. Education may make someone capable academically but doesn’t confer wisdom; only life itself can do that—and Mike has lived. He hasn’t called around in years and to be honest had fallen off our map, so his cheery bulk filling our doorway was as welcome as unusual; and in no time his gruff voice was bringing us up to date on all the things I’d allowed to slip by.
One of those things was a ‘timeslip’ experience he’d had as a young man whilst working as a shooter for the Rabbit Board (New Zealand has a perennial problem with rabbits—one of the early measures to counter the plague was hiring marksmen to pop them off. Mike was one of those marksmen). Timeslip? From anyone else I’d put that in the ‘tweak the other leg, it’s got bells on’ category but from Mike, no. Mike is as straight as the proverbial: if he says it happened—it happened. Either he’s deluded or it happened, but Mike doesn’t delude easily. I vote happened.
In a nutshell he went out one night into remote farmlands with a spotlight, his rifle, and a motorbike. On the way into his ‘block’ he’d crossed a wee bridge over a stream, near to a farmhouse where people were having a party—piano playing loudly, lights on, cars parked out front and all the usual Saturday nightness of the time and place. Shot his bunnies, ate his sandwiches, drank his coffee, bowled more bunnies, came out at sunrise and went home …
Boss asked him if he’d been out and where, and when Mike said where Boss expressed disbelief so a slightly piqued Mike suggested they go there right away in Boss’s car—the bunny bodies would be all over the place. They were, too, but the bridge wasn’t, and neither was the house …
“My bike tracks,” Mike said, “went up to the bank. They were there on the other side too—but no bridge.”
Boss got out and checked, but no bike tracks in the shallows where they later crossed in Boss’s car. Plenty of freshly deceased rabbits, just as Mike had said, but just an empty shell of a house, with the wreckage of an old banged-up piano in it.
I read widely and love timeslip stories. From almost anyone else I’d say tug the other, brother, it has bells—but with Mike: no way.
ANYWAY—this is digression. Mike takes an active interest in the root-causes of politics and has an excellent memory; his cheery cynicism and good humour have reignited my passion for making a change in the world. In short, I feel revitalised. Watch these spaces!