Once I was a musician. I lived and worked in the Australian outback, where professional competition wasn’t fierce. There were less performing musicians than celebrity taxidermists, and so I received calls from near and far.
In 1996, my partner and I were driving home from a widely acclaimed gig in the town of Jundah (population 93 – half the town had turned up). The dirt road wasn’t in great condition; nor my 1976 Kingswood station wagon.
So, on this particular dark night, I lessened the Australian kangaroo population by one. It wasn’t the first time, or the last. This one however was a Western Red. The largest of the species, these can grow to 2 meters tall (about 6’8”), and this one was big.
Kangaroos are funny creatures. They’re not goofy and playful like in cartoons. They’re enormous bouncing rats and hitting a Western Red with your car offers slightly less resistance than a telegraph pole. I saw it standing ahead, in the middle of the road. I eased on the brakes, what with my four bald tires. The rule of thumb in the outback is to hit the brakes, hold your line, and if you hit it, you hit it… I hit it.
My girlfriend and I were fine of course, largely because when we crossed paths with the kangaroo we were surrounded by a tonne and a half of 1970’s metal.
Proof of the toughness of the giant Western Red kangaroo was the fact that it, unlike my wagon, wasn’t immediately killed. The monstrous marsupial had somehow taken out both headlights, smashed the radiator and basically destroyed my car, and yet took over an hour to pass away painfully. We sat there uncomfortably in the dark, listening to the creature screaming in agony and there was nothing we could do.
My girlfriend pleaded that I get out and beat the injured animal to death, which would have been the most humane thing to do (we didn’t have a gun).
Unfortunately I didn’t habitually carry instruments for beating things to death with… except the car, which was now dead.
In its death throes that kangaroo could have killed me, or at least broken all my ribs and we were still a hundred kilometers from home on an untrafficked road. We spent a sad silent night on that moonless track.
At dawn I stepped out, and found nothing. I walked around the car twice.
We were stranded in the outback with no food or water. This would become serous soon… we were almost out of cigarettes.
To be continued…