Easter is the busiest time of the year to try book into a motel. Unless you’re some sort of hero.
Twenty minutes after Ranger Tom appeared a rescue party arrived with a stretcher to carry Bruiser out of the park. Bruiser’s parents came too and were visibly relieved their son was okay. Who would have thought someone as nasty as Bruiser might have caring parents? Maybe he just needs to cut back on his sugar intake or something.
Mum and Dad were waiting for Meg and I when we emerged near the BBQ’s an hour later. Ranger Tom had radioed ahead we were fine. Then the whole hero worship and media frenzy thing started.
But what did happen was Ranger Tom organised for our family to have a room at the nearby motel.
The room was one of two Bruiser’s family had rented for the Easter break.
While Bruiser’s mum went in the ambulance with her son, Mr Manger packed their stuff into his car before following them down the mountain to the hospital.
The room had one double bed that would have been nice for two people, but it was a tiny space for all five of us. That is, unless you’ve successfully managed to squeeze a family of five, plus all their gear, into a three-man tent, after which you can just about cope under any circumstances.
The truth is, it was pure luxury – the only way to camp.
Sure, I may have copped the odd elbow in the ribs, but that’s a whole lot better than a whole family rolling on top of me. Plus, the mattress was a hundred times softer than rocks and the toilet didn’t once back up and stench the place out.
And there was hot water in the shower!
I’ve decided hot water is really, really, really important. Plumbers who don’t install hot water taps in showers should have their plumber’s license taken off them.
The next morning we decided to pack up and go home early. It was another of Dad’s stand out suggestions.
Try as we might, though, we couldn’t get the tent to fit back in its pouch. In the end Dad tossed it into a bin, bent pegs and all. This earned him a kiss from Mum – if he kept this up we might be squeezing six people onto a double bed next Easter.
Still, even without the tent, the food we’d eaten, the wood for the fire and our weight loss from near starvation, we had a hell of a time getting the car packed. My legs were pushed up against Meg’s the entire trip home, but she didn’t complain once.
Bruiser was kept in hospital overnight for observation. He ended up with five stitches to the head and a bit of a cold, but otherwise he was very lucky. He’s never actually acknowledged I saved his life or anything, but he did stop bugging me at school for a while, so that was nice. It’s not like we could ever truly be friends – the big cats never mingle socially with the grass eaters.
I’m just waiting for him to ever give me curry again about sleeping on toilet water. If he tries I think I’ll spread it around school the first thing he did when he regained consciousness was cry for his mummy. It’s not factually accurate but he can’t remember anything between the accident and when I called him a stupid git, so my version will stand. Although obviously, when he catches up to me, I won’t be able to – probably for a long time.
As we drove home Dad raved all the way about what a fantastic weekend we’d had. All that mountain air must have messed up his brain.
“What if Grandma goes away again next Easter?” asked Meg. We’d finally arrived home and our car had once again given birth.
“I’ve been thinking,” Dad said, smiling as he started unpacking the boot. “What about a family fishing trip?”
I can’t be sure but I think Mum actually whimpered. I started to wonder if maybe Dad doesn’t like it when she kisses him. He seems to go out of his way to upset her.
Dad, however, didn’t look at all fazed.
“It’ll be great!” he insisted. “We’ll fish in the creeks for Mangrove Jacks and down near the mouth of the river for the bigger sea fish. We’ll put in crab pots and pump yabbies. We won’t even have to take as much food because we’ll catch our dinner.”
“But Dad,” I protested, “we don’t even own fishing rods, let alone a boat.” The only positive which came to mind was we might accidentally eat fish on Good Friday. Of course, it would probably be the bait.
“Never mind all that,” Dad said, smiling still. “I have a plan.”
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs”