The Crop (short story)
Alby had given up smoking dope a good couple of months ago but he still held onto a small, tin of marijuana seeds, hidden in the back of his dad’s shed.
No cash, in between jobs and stuck at home living with the oldies. At age 22 Alby was a gangly looking character, tall and thin, with arms and legs that looked like they were too long for his body. He wasn't particularly bad looking but he certainly wasn't pretty either especially with his dark brown greasy hair, scraped back into a pony tail.
Just for the heck of it he had planted one of his ‘seeds’ in his mum's garden, knowing full well that she would diligently water it every day along with the rest of her plants. The only problem was that when the marijuana plant had grown taller than his mother’s other plants, she recognised what it was, and pulled it out.
Alby vehemently denied that it was his or any knowledge of it, repeatedly telling his mum and dad that he wasn’t smoking any more. Since then his parents had been watching him like a hawk and when they weren’t hanging off him, they were constantly bombarding him with questions: Where have you been? What are you doing? Who are you seeing?
Subsequently his ex-girlfriend Amber had come and taken possession of her car that he’d been driving. Alby had decided that since he'd been fuelling the car up, that it was rightfully his, so he got the car back by black mailing Amber into believing that he had a video-tape of the two them having sex. Amber eventually realised the tape was non-existent and after an altercation in the middle of the main street in town, (helped by five of her girlfriend co-workers from the local supermarket), took back her car.
The image of Amber and her girlfriends spinning the car wheels and taking off yelling abuse was still playing over and over in his head.
One of the girls had screamed. “Yeah and the video would have been a comedy with the size of your prick!”
This comment had troubled Alby, not because it was a derogatory statement about the size of his penis but the abusive girl was possibly a root he’d forgotten he’d had.
To relieve the boredom of being stuck a home with the ‘olds’ Alby began a daily routine of going for a jog down the road that led to a boat ramp and back home again via a disused 4wd track. It was peaceful for the most part of it and Alby enjoyed a bit of freedom from his nagging parents.
Alby knew his dad was following him, no doubt sent by mum to keep an eye out. However Dad was no athlete and detoured to a mates place a short ways down the road for a coldie before reporting back to mother.
As luck would have it, Alby found a nice spot off the beaten track that was secluded enough to have a go at growing his ‘crop’.... Water was a problem.... However there was a fresh water creek running adjacent to the salt water gully where his crops would be growing. He decided that carrying buckets of water was too much hard work, so he stole a pump and a wheel barrow from a neighbouring property, an exercise that took him the better part of the day negotiating a way through the scrub along the creek bed to his mull patch. The effort had been worthwhile and now his ‘crop’ were looking good.
One afternoon as Alby set off for his jog he noticed plumes of smoke rising up into the sky coming from the direction of his beloved crop. He set off in a panic and was relieved to see the fire was a good distance away from his plantation.
It was a grass fire on the cattle property where he had stolen the wheel barrow and pump from. The Rural Fire Brigade made up of volunteers from neighbouring farms were out in full force belting out the flames with wet hessian bags. Alby got to close and was given a Knapp sack full of water and hessian bag and put to work. A bulldozer appeared and pushed a fire break and moved a stack of broken trees and logs out of the fires path. One hour quickly melted into two and no-one had noticed the storm clouds rolling in until a crack of thunder sounded and after a bewildered heart beat or two there was a collective roar of approval from every man and his dog. The heavens opened and a steady sheet of rain poured down from the sky. The scene quickly transformed as men began gathering up equipment, thanking God and going home.
Alby was given a lift home and for the first time in a very long time he felt completely worn out, but he also felt really, really good about himself. He smiled at his new found friends and himself as he was dropped off home.
He was met with a barrage of questions by his parents and happily told them of the afternoons events.
A day latter the rain let up, Alby was itching to get to his crop, concerned it may have been discovered during the excitement of the grass fire. He casually jogged to the boat ramp and cautiously began the trek through the tall grass until he reached the clearing were his patch was. Suddenly there in front of him was the biggest brown snake he'd ever seen. It stood up in front of him hissing. The snakes head was almost as large as Alby's hand, and with its neck partially flattened Alby thought it looked like a cobra. Alby stood stock still, momentarily mesmerised. Then he turned and ran screaming as he went, he didn't stop until he reached the main road heaving and panting looking over his shoulder to see if the snake was in pursuit. When he thought he was safe he stopped and put his hands on his knees and collapsed onto the road.
A Toyota Land Cruiser slowed to a stop and a familiar voice called out, "Are you right mate?"
It was one of the farmers he'd met whilst fighting the grass fire.
"Massive brown snake scared the shit out of me", Alby finally managed to say between breathes.
"Jump in you look like you need a lift home you bloody dickhead", the farmer said laughing.
"I'm Barry, you were at the fire the other day hey?", Barry 'the farmer' said.
"Yeah, I've been going for a run down here every day trying to stay fit until I can pick up work again", Alby answered.
"Come and work for me! I need to put someone else on ,we've got cane and cows there's always something different going on", Barry said hopefully.
Alby shrugged his shoulders and nodded, there was no-way in heck that he was going back to his marijuana patch now...maybe this was the opportunity he was looking for.