Saturday 30 March 2024

Saturday Sample: Links by Dianne Stadhams, CROCODILES and CHICKENS, still water

To be or not to be?

Man it was sure not a snap decision to be a celebrity. It just sort of fell at my feet – fame was flung and postcards printed. Camera clicks … my enigmatic smile … my perfect jaw line … my glistening orthodontics … a skin to die for … a torso toned and triggered. Guess that makes this dude an icon … in water and on land.

The game begins. Decisions … decisions will have to be taken. Mine or yours? Backwards or forwards? Linear or profile? Who first? What’s best? When’s right?

I’ve heard it all in the last few months and then some. Facts and fantasies of the guide as she shepherds the tourists beside my vantage spot, their eyes agog.

“Do you know his descendents can be traced back 200 million years?”

Dudes the family resemblance is uncanny.

“Did you know his family have been worshipped?”

Fear and respect inspire legends.

“Can you guess his weight? His speed? His vital statistics?”

The banal assumes elevated status.

The golfers are more pragmatic.

“Does he return the golf balls?”

Beware, oh my voyeurs. Myths are rooted in fact. Wisdom has it that my family are guardians of knowledge. Remember to respect that wisdom lest it swallow you whole. Artists have immortalised my family as symbols of sunrise and fertility. My ancestors grabbed the foolish and ate the guilty without a trial.

Ignorance will not protect you from certainty.

Because that’s what we crocodiles do … and have always done … for the last 200 million years … and are likely to keep doing unless you dumb humans kill off the planet.

And just for the record – I’m called Atta Gatta, I’m four metres long, weigh 100 kilograms, and my best time on land is 17 kilometres an hour. Although I am prepared to admit the chance of my running for any longer than five minutes is extremely unlikely. Celebrity dudes like me prefer to pose. Especially as these marketing-savvy, politically-correct, flora-and-fauna-conscious kebabs on two legs at the golf course have constructed a palatial lake as my home away from home.

“Water hazard or what!” those golfers say as if it was an original joke.

Want to get into the water and say it direct?

Golfers and crocodiles have more in common than you might think. Focus is our motto, timing our creed. A golfer locates the target and fixes his gaze, all the while assessing distance, ground covered and potential obstacles to the flight of that ball. Crocodiles target their location and gaze upon their fix … obstacles can be opportunities. A water hazard to a golfer is but a portent to an Atta Gatta.

Golfers and crocodiles admire strength – the golfers to swing and hit their object of desire, crocodiles to grab theirs and run. Our tools of the trade may differ (golfers use clubs and crocs have teeth), but we both know that we have to be precise, measured and accurate to score. Both of us play against ourselves … to win.

Concentrate – one wrong move and it’s splash – but not a birdie!

I first noticed the little girl when she crawled into a clump of bushes beside the water hazard. Brave of the kid, tooth-pick scrappy, limbs with no flesh, tangled curls, big eyes with bigger questions. She carried a chicken with long golden feathers tucked under her scrawny shoulder, its staccato head pecking a 180 degree trail as the kid walked.

Hey feather–brain, the gods look after each other. You are not on my icon list.

But the kid didn’t offer me the bird. She stroked its crested crown and gently massaged its trembling wattle. She lifted its wing and nudged its head under before folding the wing over.  But the kid didn't offer me the bird. She stroked its crested crown, gently massaged its trembling wattle, lifted its wing and nudged its head under.

Is that a yoga approach to fowl calming?

A sort of bird-brain chicken that lost its head but saved its beak. I liked that. Showed respect … even if I wasn’t going to get a chicken wing bite … so to speak.

The girl rocked the chicken like a pendulum. It went silent. So did she. But her eyes stayed fixed on mine. I blinked. Let her know I was watching … and waiting. She blinked back. The chicken kept swinging.

Check, honey, your move.

Crocodile chess is not a game for an amateur. Humans boast that they have their memories. Human brains may be larger and more complex. But we crocs have patience evolved over megatime … DNA coded … watch and wait. We know if we wait long enough you humans become careless. Dangle a limb over the side of a boat to cool in the water. Take your eye of the ball. Forget to check behind you.

Patience is the patron saint of reptiles.

The girl moves closer. The chicken remains silent. I blink – fast.

Her move.

She winks – slowly.

My move.

I leave the starter block. The jaws are tight. I roll twice in the water. The kid tries to scream. The scream becomes a gurgle. Marinated chick-kid equals check-mate!

Uncertain certainty… a sure thing … dead right.

Crocodile tears you call them. Me Me, I put them down to indigestion. Feathers and femurs are an eclectic starter. What’s that adage?

A bird in the bush is worth two … chomp, chomp.

“Hey Graham, knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?” replies Graham, the golfer.

“Chicken,” says his partner.

“Chicken who?” says Graham.

The golfer has lost his ball. He’s convinced it’s not in the water. He heads towards the bushes.

New game started.

“Chick-en the bushes,” says the golfer. They laugh.

Pawn to king dude. Take-away to rook.

A celebrity croc won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Food parcel to check mate. Nothing but death is certain.

So agree crocodiles and golfers.

“You got Marguerite a present yet?” asks Graham.

His partner shakes his head and says, “I need to find something exotic for that arm candy of mine.”

“And expensive,” says Graham. “She’ll expect the unexpected – big time, big bucks.”

“Such as?”

“Diamond-studded handbag made from elephant-scrotum – perfect for your girlfriend.”

“Gross,” comes the reply. “Graham, you’ve got a seriously sick sense of humour!”

Candy is dandy when it don’t make you sick.

Children scream from behind the bushes … the golfers rush forward … a grand finale!

A hole in one you might say!

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