The Middle of Nowhere
Going on an adventure in the Australian Outback is a shock to the system. God, just the colour of the sky can bring you to your knees. Then there’s the relentless heat and the landscape’s unforgiving beauty.
Candice and I met in Sydney. In a strip club.
It was a spontaneous thing; I was loaded—with booze, drugs and money—and she, well, scantily clad and keen on an adventure. Come to think of it now, Candice was keen on anything.
An adventure not without incident, as it so happens:
At our second stop at a petrol station called Fill ‘er Up, Mate just outside Innamincka, the petrol pump attendant, a man in his mid-seventies that stuttered like a Massy Ferguson 35X on a cold winter’s morning, forgot to check the water in the radiator.
We drove for about sixty kilometres when the Land Cruiser’s temperature gauge told us to pull over.
Although we had enough drinking water, the crack in the radiator didn’t look too good.
“Things don’t look so good, Bruce,” Candice said. “If we get stuck here in the middle of nowhere, we are in trouble.”
“Maybe someone will drive by and help us out.”
“Maybe, mate. Perhaps.”
“No need to panic, Candice. I’m sure we won’t be here long. One night at the most.”
“Hmph. And my name isn’t Candice.”
“What?! But, I’ve been calling you Ca…”
“My name is Minerva. Candice is my strip name.”
“No, just Minerva, thank you.”
If you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in the Australian Outback with a stripper named Minerva, you’re fuckies, I thought.
We managed to gather some firewood. It was freezing after the sun went down. The cold came uninvited and took our breaths away.
And so did the silence.
We finished two cans of sweet corn, some stale bread and a couple of room-temperature beers.
And then we took each others breaths away.
As I climaxed, I could swear I heard a Dingo cry. Maybe it was me; perhaps it was Minerva.
I got up and put one of those luminous orange cones in the road, about ten meters behind where I parked the Landie on the shoulder of the road.
We woke up early the next morning, still in the dark and freezing.
I made another fire, and crept in next to Cand—Minerva. I placed the balls of my knees into the hollows of hers. “Spooning it, mate?” she asked.
Just as I was starting to get warm and comfy, she got up and walked towards the Land Cruiser.
“Where are you going, Candice?”
“Female business, Bruce.”
“Right.” I turned over on my back and looked up at the stars. “And my name’s not Bruce,” I shouted after her.
“You call me Candice. Do you want me to call you Lostman-in-the-Outback?”
“Piss off, Candice,” I whispered.
“Okey-dokey, Mister Lostman.”
She came back with what looked like a tampon. I became uncomfortable and pretended to snooze. She ’spooned’ me, and a familiar smell tickled my nostrils; something sweet.
“Are you smoking a joint?”
“Yes. Yes, I am-” (cough-cough) “-what a beaut of a morning! Look at all those stars.”
“Give me a drag.”
I don’t know how long we lied there. It felt like an eternity. There was a moment when I thought the Milky Way was moving closer towards us, and we counted twenty-nine shooting stars.
The sun came up and we danced around the fire.
To this day (I swear on the Bible) I saw Minerva turn into a vampire. She chased me around the fire with a burning stick she had snatched from the fire. She was laughing her head off, screaming and shouting, peeling off her ‘Roxy’ surfer’s top. She had fangs, man. I ran and ran, hysterical with laughter and fear and tears.
“Stop it, you crazy motherfucker! Stop, stop, stop!”
We were both out of breath. I tripped over a rock and fell in the soft red sand Candice jumped on my back and pinned me down. I was expecting her to shove the burning stick up my arse at that point, but she’d dropped it when.
I turned over and we made love again.
“What was that we smoked?” I asked, still out of breath.
“Where the hell did you get that?”
“Favours for favours”
A ‘Shiela’ was standing with one foot on the Landie’s rear left wheel. She took a stride back as we approached. Couldn’t blame her. We were so happy to see her, we started sprinting towards her. I was covered in red dust, eyes bloodshot (I only saw this later in her rear-view mirror), and I had a 5cm gash above my eyebrow, compliments of Ms Minerva Vampire Columbian Blonde.
Candice was topless, just as filthy, and her hands looked like a coal miner’s.
“Rough night then, fellas?” She was dressed in typical Outback attire. Khaki cargo trousers, faded denim shirt, and crocodile leather boots. I don’t have to mention the wide-rimmed hat with a kangaroo embroidered on the front.
“Yes, indeed. Radiator’s bust. Could you give us a hand?”
“Nearest town’s thirty-one kilos from here.”
“Could you give us a ride? We’ll get back on our own.”
“Clean up and get in.”
Candice and I used the last of our drinking water. We washed our faces and brushed our teeth. I changed into a fresh t-shirt, and Candice wrapped a sarong around herself.
We drove. And drove and drove.
Candice was whistling to the tune of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.
Shiela tapped on the steering wheel and winked at me in the rear-view mirror. I looked away and squinted at the oncoming sign: Middle of Nowhere 2km.
“Get out,” Shiela ordered and lit a cigarette.
“What do you mean?” asked Candice.
“But, there’s nothing here. It looks exactly the same as where you picked us up, except for the missing Land Cruiser, which is way back there,” I protested.
‘Shiela’ reached for something under the driver’s seat and pulled out a revolver. Now, I’m not a gun expert, but this thing was big; big enough to shoot a kangaroo’s bollocks clean off.
Candice and I got out.
In the Middle of Nowhere.