Wild Life 3
All the world’s a stage we pass through.
- R. Heru Ayana
He’d known it would be hard. For years he’d dwelt in a utopian nation of two, rejoicing in a life of perfectly meshing yin-yang synchrony, sharing every large and little thing with his beautiful young mate. They lived life to the full beneath the viridian pleasure dome of a slowly regenerating subtropical rainforest canopy, rejoicing in every melding moment of their intensely intimate paradisiacal idyll.
Theirs was a tender, passionate, familiar love, a kiss-met reincarnated reunion of old souls in a brave new postmodern world. The anachronistic hippy couple made joyful love at least three times each day, suffusing the bright daylight hours and every supersensual dreamy night with a blissful rush of alchemising union. They shared a tumultuous eternity of mutual rapture that lasted two erotically charged and loving years – excepting a handful of traumatic days that would forever alter their lives.
Throughout the many moons they dwelt in their isolated ramshackle wooden cabin at the bend of a serpentine rainforest river, the long-haired shaman thanked sun, moon, earth and stars for the blessing of his younger mate’s enduringly constant love; he revelled in the continual revelation of her joyful companionship and heartfelt enthusiasm. Seheal’s occasional startling bouts of incendiary emotion had proved to be relatively infrequent (compared with those of other lovers he’d known and cohabited with) and were easily offset by her wondrously loving disposition.
He’d been trained as a healer in earlier years and believed himself fully prepared to salve any wounds the world may have inflicted on the beautiful teenage girl in the streetwise time of her younger teens, before they’d been united. Ram’yana was more than a dozen years older than his young mate and had lived with many beautiful girls and women. He’d shared the lives of several ‘defacto’ wives over many years, day in and night out – but never so completely and intimately as with gorgeous young Seheal, and never in a paradise so wild or remotely isolated from the main stream of human civilization.
Despite her blissful demeanour and oft preternatural wisdom, even Ram’s diminutive red-haired lover could transform into a surprisingly despondent or frighteningly angry harridan when the mood came upon her. With alarming clockwork regularity, once in every three moons a frenzy of emotional turmoil would wrack the feral grrl’s pixyish frame and occlude her perceptive mind. A period of intense self-loathing and nihilistic torpor would steal upon her as she wrestled with old experiences anew, attempting to draw tenacious thorns that had lodged in the pliant plasm of her truly receptive nature.
Seheal’s task wasn’t as simple as dealing with the usual mental menstrual anguish of most every woman’s oft stressed and truculent youth, expressed alongside the imperative metronomic rush of each recurring moon cycle. Once in each season she’d scream and cry in unheralded rage, or smother her hopes with self-abnegating catastrophes of tearful, fearful insecurity. She struggled through dire efforts to free herself - not only from the ravaging memories of recent years but from the poisonous tendrils of partially recalled pasts, gleaned through millennia of recurrent situations in myriad times and lives.
Four times each year – ever since she’d been dosed with a foul pharmaceutical concoction at the age of fifteen, by primitive doctors who decided to curb the wilful grrl’s inconvenient fertility - Seheal had been helplessly afflicted with quasi-feline heat; she came into a season of madness once every three months, seemingly tied to the cyclically foundering imperative of an impaired biochemical clock. Her fits of melancholic frenzy had begun three years before the lovers had met, when an experimental long-term contraceptive had been injected into the wild young teen’s bloodstream, under the direction of her concerned and conservative Cathaholic parents.
The shaman had seen far worse - had endured far more terrifying fugues in his variegated pasts, from variously trammelled females with Electra complexes or androgynist tendencies, oft possessed of secret simmering hatreds of all things male or masculine beneath wondrously alluring and pleasantly confected receptive veneers. Most had easily identifiable reasons for their ingrained behaviours, having suffered horrendous torments at the hands of males they’d met, known or loved.
Over many long years the shaman had come to believe he’d somehow developed or earned a fatal attraction for subtly damaged females. From time to time he’d decided he was making penance for some unremembered act, and was subsequently riven by presentiments of unnameable guilt whenever he felt the poisonous lash of an angry lover’s tongue. During moments of deeper introspection he reminded himself that the entire human species was fundamentally damaged – slowly recovering from ancient impairments and ongoing interferences – and he relegated his experiences to the consequences of past catastrophes and resultant mass psychoses.
Yet even remembrances of the cataclysmic happenings in ancient (and not so far-flung) times failed to absolve the shaman of a certain sense of responsibility. After reviewing his various roles in a number of eras, Ram’yana was hardly assured of his innocence in shaping the current crop of hominids who stalked the enduringly patient Earth. He was reminded over and again: We all create our own reality… One way or another, he almost invariably came to blame his own karma for various lovers’ occasional madnesses, and hoped that leading an unremittingly honourable life would absolve him from the need to experience further heartbreak and disappointment.
Love conquers all, he’d decided at last, and all things must pass. He waited patiently for Seheal’s secret fracture to reveal itself, so that her wounds could be healed and revealed in the air and the light. She’ll speak of it when she’s ready… The experienced hippy shaman knew the score – yet for no reason that his self-blinding semi-Oedipal mind could fathom, his loving bride would turn on him (and herself) with infuriatingly regular spasms of inexplicable grief and anger, angst and fury.
Seheal’s occasional frantic outbursts were the only blemish on her beauteous being and compassionate soul - the sole scars which adhered the grrl’s impassionate spirit to the emotional vortex of a tumultuous bygone coming of age. Every three months Ram’s lovely young lover would transform into a wild berserker and become as abusively violent and frenzied as a Siamese cat on heat.
Even so, he considered himself the luckiest man alive. Seheal was startlingly, adorably, fatally attractive and preternaturally wise, a sweetly gifted singer and talented artist; a translucent redhead with phosphorescently white skin, perfectly formed firmly buoyant breasts, deliciously sinuous contours, an inviting warm smile ’neath alluring chameleonic eyes, a high-browed, hypersensitive awareness – and a knowing yet innocent yet wickedly adventurous sexuality that startled Ram’yana into glorious raptures as they melded through divine eternities of timeless bliss. An incarnate Daikini, he knew in his heart and soul, though the thought never reached his lips; the once-in-a-lifetime divine blessing and heavenly reward…
Mischief fairly brimmed from Seheal’s palely freckled heart-shaped heartthrob face. Her alluring petite body was commonly sheathed in skimpy handmade costumes that revealed shifting expanses of smooth-skinned titian flesh; her skin literally glowed with implausible phosphorescence. Hers was a pink-tipped bounty of freckled and unfettered grace – an uninhibited dream-girl come true, tender Tantric goddess and delightful Daikini, the paragon paramour most men only ever get to kiss, caress and mate with on the incorporeal astral plane of their most fervid night-time yearnings.
And again - it must be emphasised through repetition – the streetwise grrl who had once been a black-lipped and metal-pierced Goth, exotically accoutred bride to a succession of melodramatically theatrical urbane vampires, was whiter than white, white beyond pale. Of all the males who admired the captivating young woman - among their few rural neighbours and amongst those who paused to stare open-mouthed at Seheal during sojourns to nearby villages and towns - only her lover and a handful of others saw the light that literally shone through her glorious body from a limitless inner realm.
Ram’yana was awed and astounded by her luminous beauty. An uncanny fluorescence illumined her bliss when she writhed beneath and around him in their queen sized bed, or rode him through orgasmic waves of screaming, moaning, groaning abandon. An ineffable brilliance emerged from fey hidden realms, to beam from within the lambent lampshade of her phosphorescent skin as they made rapturous love; or when they cuddled together in the proverbial afterglow of time-defeating fugues, fused into one while the world dissolved through them.
Seheal literally glowed in the dark, lighting glorious hours of unending lovemaking through the longest and darkest of winter nights in their ramshackle hippy love shack. Whenever moonlight intensified the effect, shining down upon the virgin vellum of her skin, she became a living beacon. Whether dancing in their organic orchards or stalking the night in dappled moonshadow beneath primordial forest canopy, silently gliding through liquid crystal pools and steams, past platypus burrows and silvery schools of perch, or making love on the silken expanse of their big wooden bed in the cabin’s high loft, Seheal’s beautiful features were always visible and the glow of her eyeshine was brightest of all.
While they loved or wandered naked through the tenebrous realms of night-shrouded landscapes, fey nature spirits and gnarled emissaries from anciently interpenetrative planes of existence were attracted, moth-like, in cautious or brazen approaches to the magnetic locus of Seheal’s trans-etheric luminosity. The shaman’s trained supersenses revealed the earthy and unearthly tableaux she attracted and enacted in the isolate paradise of their hidden little valley. He was only mildly surprised each time she confirmed the details of his visions, while they pondered the meaning of a thought or the import of an act; he marvelled at the response his lover’s presence wrought in the Devas of the land, and in the suddenly burgeoning flowers and fruits of the rugged river valley’s trees, shrubs, vines and tiny fragile floral groundcovers.
Her luminous beauty drove the lovers’ rare male visitors to distraction. The rural lands that abutted their forest home were dotted with a few isolated families and a plethora of single males; a common demographic in milieus bereft of shopping centres or endless social distractions. Many bush-wise bearded outcasts, wandering troubadours seeking romance or well-heeled ganja growers in search of a mate made utter fools of themselves, often trying to seduce Ram’s witchy young wife while his attention was momentarily averted.
Seheal only had eyes for her entranced hippy man, just as no other woman could begin to distract him from the lunar brightness of her unsurpassable charms. She rebuffed other men’s approaches with a good-natured jollity that maintained the bucolic vibes in the happy little valley. In the privacy of their small bedchamber the lovers shared humorous observations of their neighbour’s clumsy seductions and hypnotically rapt fixations. They considered the envious dagger looks of jealous local females with slightly more serious attentiveness, commensurate with the greater danger that insidiously malign tongue-wagging posed to the lovers’ privacy, peace and equanimity.
Ram had found his soul-met bride while sojourning to his birthplace in the distant Emerald City of Oz. He’d briefly encountered Seheal some years earlier, when she’d accompanied her pretty young lover to his urban California-style bungalow (where Nexus New Times magazine had been recently birthed).
Despite the brevity of their momentary contact Seheal had made an indelible impression in Ram’s psyche and years later – when he faced the living vision of her blindingly brilliant loveliness again - he wasn’t slow to realise that rediscovering the wondrous pixie in a city of millions, among cites of many more millions, had been an exceptionally fortunate blessing.
She came to him during a break between acts in a weekly free and freeform hippy-run gig known as ‘Brackets and Jam’. He recognised her instantly after their single encounter years earlier – indeed, he’d never forgotten her. Seheal’s electrifying presence riveted Ram’s attention from the moment she faced him across the graffito-scarred surface of a drug-strewn wooden table in the ruins of an overgrown garden. “You know Ram, don’t you?” her girlfriend had asked while their eyes locked together over brimming cups of spicy honey mead. “We’ve met, but I haven’t had the pleasure,” Seheal replied, her face a shining lighthouse in a turgid sea of sameness, beaming presentiments of immanence in the direction of Ram’s heart.
“Happy Solstice,” he ventured in lieu of his wits as their cups bumped together, sweet contents mingling in a sudden splash, “and many happy solar returns.” His comment was all but drowned out amidst the waves of admires who jostled around the slightly built redhead in the enclosed exterior court of Saint Peter’s.
“Who told you it was my birthday?” Seheal’s cheeks dimpled. “Well – a couple of days ago; and the solstice isn’t due for a week. But thanks for the thought.” She ignored a proffered joint inserted between their interlocked gazes by an anonymous admirer in the crowd. “Let’s see if the break’s almost over,” she suggested, taking Ram’s hand and gently stealing him away into the cool winter night. “Are you still doing Nexus?” The softness and strength of her grip was astounding, their fingers entwining as they walked away from the intermission scrum.
“Aye, aye, mon Capitan.” She squeezed his hand. “But aren’t you living in the bush now?”
“Out in the rainforest.” He smiled down and squeezed back. They wandered through the darkened grounds of the deconsecrated inner city church that currently hosted the weekly open mike gig, talking with the ease of old friends and laughing with the expectancy of newfound lovers. Every bright beam and faint gleam of light in the unkempt
She led him into the shadows of a buttress and winked as she produced a slim cigarette; Ram fished through his pockets for a Zippo lighter as a screaming siren and stroboscopic rage of flashing lights tore past on the nearby street. “Hash,” she explained. Her face flamed into light and her eyes stayed on his through a pillar of smoke while she took the first drag. “Sacrament of the pharaohs,” he said.
As Seheal smiled into his soul and passed him the joint in the shadowy recesses of the churchyard, he could still recall her uptilting smile, her lilting voice and the glint in her mesmerising eyes, when she’d lain her blazing mane on her girlfriend’s lap in his long-gone lounge room in Delta House. He’d savoured the sight of her loosely dangling shirt’s piratical horizontal stripes, jostling into curvaceous lines around the surprisingly full globes of her surprisingly full breasts when he’d first espied the beautiful teen - when her unforgettable vivacity had been ineradicably embedded in his soul.
While the teenage girls had made small talk with Ram’s live-in love and business partner and joked with a handful of their friends, he’d basked in Seheal’s unattainable radiance; more primordial recollections had arisen from the canyons and crannies of Ram’s para-mortal memory when her eyes locked with his across the smoke-filled room.
She was even more beautiful when next they met, in the deconsecrated grounds of the sandstone Kirk. “Do you remember
“I remember you,” he answered at length, “from the French court; the latter two Louis. But the castle you refer to eludes me still…” Her eyes dropped in momentary disappointment. “Perhaps just a glimmer; grey walls, red pennants, black, black soil and a mountain range topped with snow.” The blazing lights of her eyes returned to sear through the smoke. “A saddle-shaped range, with forests clambering up the cliff faces,” he elaborated as her smile lit up the night. “And maybe you, a little older, wearing a veil that falls from a wide ribboned hat. And with a huge wolfhound…”
“Enough,” she said as his mind swam with imagery. Seheal was a dishy half-Welsh pixie and a semi-Germanic daughter of an anciently noble house, wise beyond her years and possessed of uncanny wit and grace. She was a glowing vision of nubile loveliness fringed with a rosy russet tinge that bespoke ancient Scandinavian roots, arising in turn from the long-forgotten glories of lost and battered Ares and primordially shattered Icthus; and like the shattered Pearl of Great Price, reborn a young Venus. A distant melodic note of nomadic Aboriginal ancestry further enriched the feminine feast which the hirsute older hippy surveyed, a famished lone werewolf in a melodramatically appropriate crumbling churchyard, named for the guardian of the heavenly gates.
Echoing tintinnabulations of trans-incarnational memories resounded down the corridors of time as he stared into Seheal’s illuminate eyes – and as they returned to the wooden bench the gorgeous hippy girl asked him if he could give her a lift home after the gig. Her breath bathed him in a blend of hashish and her sweetly addictive native fragrance when she leaned surprisingly close to make her request, lithe fingers dancing along his naked forearm while her smile kindled pyres in Ram’s heart, mind and loins.
How could he dream of refusing? She was an utterly alluring young feline female whose inestimable charms were fully outlined through a provocatively revealing lacy sequined top and matching skin-hugging miniskirt. How could she possibly be living alone? Ram wondered; he’d been living alone in the rainforest himself, for almost half a year. She must have a lover… and besides, I thought she was into other girls…
After they’d returned to the throng and Seheal stood to make farewells to a retinue of admirers, her wiggling hip and a smooth slender thigh had bumped against Ram’s arm. He was electrified by the moment of warm silken contact with the narrow bare strip of her soft white skin, exposed to the night above suspender-fastened fishnet stockings. His condensing cloud of steaming breath was stilled as her precious skin slid along the mound of his unsleeved bicep. He perceived an unmistakable invitation in the wide dimpled smile the wild redhead beamed down upon him; her interest was further confirmed when she turned towards a girlfriend and rubbed her fine derriere against the shoulder of Ram’s NEXUS t-shirt as she kissed the other girl goodnight.
Seheal’s magnetic gaze and thoroughly kissable lips, her half exposed full creamy breasts and alluring slender body, her ardent enthusiasm and jocular quicksilver mind ignited simultaneous fires in Ram’s aching loins, impassioned heart and mesmerised intellect. She was an incorrigibly brazen and (despite the spiky stilettos she currently wore) customarily barefoot feral Goth – one of the new breed of wild children spawned by the intermingling dream genes and culture memes of late-blooming baby boomers.
Her generation had been conceived in the bygone heyday of wild hippy festivals, anti-war, anti-nuclear and pro-freedom protests, cannabis-fogged reggae bands and alcohol-fuelled student radical rages, in grimy urban enclaves, palatial mansion squats, intentional suburban communities of counter-cultural change agents or rural landscapes studded with Mad Max survivalist dystopias and peaceable ashrams. The new breed was birthed by organic Earth mothers or solo feminists, homebody wives with workaholic husbands or speed-driven street gangs of unsafely pinned punk rockers, decadently dishy drama-queen vampire cults or fundamentally mental last-days doomsayers – but, like most of her rebellious peers, Seheal came from a ‘normal’ suburban home.
The emergent pre-millennial brood of dreadlocked pierced ferals was the progeny of aging babes whose self-absorbed voices still boomed down the decades. The feral/Goth genre of her generation was a result of a fertile cross between optimistically rebellious reggae cultures and nihilistically anarchic Cold War punk rockers, when Generation X marked the crossover point of cold old clichés and the piebald hopes of yesterday’s half-baked futurism.
When the walls their parents had built between notional nations began to fall into crumbling heaps and the gates to freedom were finally thrown wide open, many children decided it was time to party hearty in the last decade of a fractious millennium. When the planetary ecosystem decayed to the point where the damage was finally obvious to any with eyes to see and noses to smell, most condemned men and women merely pursued a hearty last feast – but many wild feral children ran away to the woods, to defend the last unsullied bastions of Mother Nature from a last generation of mindless destroyers. Meanwhile, most of their peers and elders surrendered to the fool’s gold lure of plastic consumerism and the fetters of endless debt.
When the lovers were reunited in the churchyard of Saint Peter’s, Seheal was emerging from soul-trying years of drug-numbed Goth gigs, sadomasochistic and sexual excesses and frenzied all-night partying - of drunken, coke-infused, tripping, xstatic or soporific encounters with metal-pierced Hellfire Club cronies, beguiling smiling seducers and opportunistically pouncing paedophiles. The gorgeous young grrl had survived a range of challenging experiences which she alluded to repeatedly – but was loth to recount in detail - during their timeless conversation beneath the endlessly glowing near-starless night sky of the
The hippy shaman absorbed each and every word of her bright yet sardonically-tinged banter, and every intoxicating nuance of her invitingly charming manner. Her charismatic pink-cheeked face was lightly flecked with tiny sun-kisses that speckled the fluorescence of her glowing pallor with a spangle of nebulous stars. Seheal was an aquiline pixie whose firm chin depended from a symmetrically heart-shaped face, framed within a luxuriant nest of deep red curls that verged on becoming a full-blown medusa swarm of thick twirling dreadlocks.
Her fey pixie glamour was completely irresistible to a magician who’d long been enamoured of pale-skinned red haired women. He’d decided it was a pleasant price to pay for having used the first item that lay close at hand, when he’d first begun practicing three dimensional visualisation techniques – impressing the reality of a box of matches into his awareness until he could rotate the image before his mind’s eye, an etheric red-haired thought form transposed within the matrix of the outer world.
David Conway’s tome – appropriately entitled ‘Magic’ - had advised that he practice his visualisation techniques with a nondescript object devoid of emotive attachments. Ram’yana had chosen a wooden box of Redhead brand matches, replete with the image of an alluring bloodnut woman; with such simple decisions destinies are made.
Palm fronds and interlacing vines formed a woven roof over their heads as they descended the narrow rocky trail. It was hard to imagine what kind of animal could have left such a well-defined track in terrain so rugged and remote. The pathway meandered across the most suitable inclines and exploited the most viable routes to create an easy descent to or ascent from the serpentine valley floor. The largest creatures they expected to find in these parts were wallabies and possums, but the hippies had heard rumours of huge canine predators that wandered the rainforests, bred from the stock of escaped farm animals and abandoned pets.
Yet Ram’yana couldn’t convince himself the path had been made and maintained by the passage of macropods or canines. Nor could it be a path frequented by humans – not amongst the steep cliffs and defiles of this remote wilderness; not even by intrepid ganja growers, who’d surely have no use for the shady floor of this rainforest-shrouded gorge country.
He turned to take Seheal’s hand as she jumped down from a rock which her longer-legged beau had used as an easy stepping stone. She stood on tippee-toes for a quick kiss before turning him around and ringing his waist with a slim clinging arm, tilting her temple onto his bicep as they shared the blessed vision of unexploited wildness. Her eyes peeked at the view around Ram’s angular shoulder, staring through veiling extremities of his long dark hair. They gazed through multiple canopies which covered and concealed the remote valley floor, the uppermost hovering at the level of their superlative coign of vantage. The lovers cuddled closer and Seheal shifted behind him, breasts pressed athwart her man’s upright spine through two thin layers of cotton while her hands roved beneath his shirt to caress his furry chest and fuzzy belly.
Joel and the other boys were barely visible through the leafy rainforest trees, skipping rocks along the unfurrowed surface of a placid rock-lined pool a goodly distance below. The rest of the expedition of conservationists and botanists stood, sat or squatted in conference, foreshortened into dwarves and gnomes by a dizzying illusion of perspective. The clustering Munchkins munched handfuls of munchies between tall ancient tree ferns and taller young palms, huddled in the shadows of huge buttressed Yellow Carrabbean and Black Booyong trees, truck-thick Rosewoods and rare Red Cedars, Boab-like giant Strangler figs and sassafras-scented vines thicker than Ram’s thigh or Seheal’s slender midriff.
A fine mist – or perhaps a faintly luminous aura that glowed in the uncanny gloom of the deep valley at this late morning hour – lay across all the interlocking surfaces and sap-filled membranes of the vegetative world. Every living thing appeared illumined from within after the lovers’ fairy-bedecked sojourn at the spring sourced waterfall, and vibrant colours teased and beckoned the eye wherever they looked; jewel-like tints of rainbow glints sparkling within the overwhelming mass of greenery.
Rare orchids festooned the upper branches, competing for purchase with cloaks of epiphytes, Staghorns and Elkhorns, Bird’s Nest ferns and an opportunistic multitude of parasites and symbiotes. An intricate canopy-spanning webbing of vinery bound individual trees into an inextricably interlocking whole that encompassed the entire lower valley and scrabbled at the stony cliff walls and steep surrounding inclines. Birds flittered through, below and above the multilayered branches, appearing from and disappearing into heaven knew where as they filled the world with a cacophonic chorus of trills, whistles, warbles and chortles.
The springtime air was sweet perfume as a flautist played an eerie tune which resonated between the rocky walls of the awe-inspiring primordial forest. The lovers descended a natural stair of tumbledown hexagonal black crystals; the cleaved layers of basalt boulders had somehow shattered into a convenient set of solid stony treads, which followed the course of the waterfall-fed stream to its tumbling endpoint in a broad, deep, and deeply cold crystalline pool.
When Seheal skipped onto a quartz-lined boulder at the edge of the pellucid water the lanky figures of Fig and Jim Tedder were engaged in lively discussion, disagreeing over the provenance of a desiccated branchlet which was festooned with pendulous seed-filled purple pods. The rest of the group broke away from the mildly argumentative duo, ending the moot and arranging their belongings for the next leg of their trek. “We might as well take a look at the vegetation here at the head of the valley,” John Monroe said to the others as the lovers arrived. “I wasn’t expecting to see so much water this far up… it’s a real surprise.”
“Where does it all come from?” the Pergola woman asked the grey-haired gent as he cleaned his wire-framed granny glasses on a crisply starched Hard Yakka work shirt. “All that water pouring out of the cliff…”
“In old volcanic country like this the underground streams can run further than you can imagine,” her husband replied while John settled his glasses onto the broad bridge of his nose. “This water could easily be coming right up through the volcano, or all the way from the tablelands or beyond,” the older man agreed. “Squeezed down from the aquifers of the
“All the way from the
“Actually, the Snowies extend all the way up the Great Divide, just over the horizon to the west,” John explained. “It still snows there some winters, and the plateau just over this hill has stands of Antarctic Beech. It can get pretty cold in an Ice Age, even here in the mountains of the subtropics… but still, that’s a fair way for water to come underground, and pop out all the way down here in the Wonder.”
Ram’yana entered the fray. “The Kooris had Water Dreaming specialists who knew how all the underground streams linked up,” he announced, “and where the surface flows joined with the hidden streams. Some of the old people still do,” he said to a silent chorus of incredulous stares. “Who told you that?” Fig asked; his tone hovered on a razor’s edge betwixt disparaging ivory tower scepticism and genuinely curious inquiry. The momentary lull that hovered in the wake of his question was punctuated by bouts of boyish laughter from young Joel and Paul, who were swinging across the rock pool on gargantuan vines.
“Guboo,” Ram averred while Seheal tugged nervously at his arm. “Among others – including old Tiger.” Enough of the ecologists knew the Aboriginal elders’ names for Ram’s claim to withstand a little more consideration. “It’s true that many of the streams link up,” John belatedly agreed. “And if you don’t know where they flow you can destroy the channels forever, through mining and sutchforth…”
“Even road building in virgin forest can destroy a spring or dry up a creek,” Jim opined. “If you break the channel the pressure goes out of it, and if you expose it to the sunlight or the soil heats up around it the flow can be drastically altered, or seize up entirely. It’s like a huge peristaltic system…”
“The water only emerges from a true spring at its ultimate compression point, at four degrees Celsius,” Ram added, “and if you alter the temperature at the point of emergence that can stop the flow as well…”
“That’s why many of the sacred springs in the old world were covered by large stone slabs that kept the font cool,” John elaborated. “But here the forest does the job for us…”
“If they don’t trash the whole place,” Fig put in. “That’s what we’re here to stop, people – let’s get on with it. The loggers work from long before dawn until well after dusk…”
“And at night they steal the illegal rainforest trees.” Ram’s interjection was greeted by another round of dubious stares. Then one of the roustabout teenage boys finally fell into the pool, drenching half the group in a splashing sheet of cold liquid crystal. “Hi,” the boy said to Seheal as she knelt to help him from the slippery boulder-lined bath. “I’m Ben.” Seheal stared into his Golden Labrador eyes while their forearms locked in a monkey grip; “As in ‘Gentle Ben’?” she asked as his other hand grasped her slim ankle and he clambered onto the rock by her bare beringed toes. “Or maybe Ben the Rat – the control-freak King Rat that Michael Jackson sang about? I’m Seheal,” she said with an inscrutably quirky grin.
The bewildered younger teen released Seheal’s foot and quickly stood up, stripping the sopping wet slab of his flannel shirt from the angular planes of his slippery body in a single motion. “Don’t rip anything,” Seheal giggled as she admired his contemptibly obvious display. “It’s a long way to the shop if you wanna rock and roll.”
“Where did you get this mandarin?” The scent of sweet citrus filled the cabin of the capacious panel van as they trundled away from the gates of Saint Peter’s on the kismet-filled night of their unplanned encounter. Save for the mere suggestion of rainbow decals on the front and rear windows, NEXUS magazine’s sole official vehicle could easily pass as a small delivery truck, but the unassuming vehicle was internally decked out as a classic hippy campervan. A handily placed invoice book displayed on the broad dashboard completed the utilitarian illusion of the battered six-wheeled van’s commercial anonymity. “It’s the best mandarin I’ve ever had…”
Seheal’s pearlescent teeth flashed in the glare of a passing streetlight and the entranced driver forcibly willed his wandering attention back to the traffic-clogged inner city street. “It came from one of the trees at home; I picked it three days ago,” he replied. She halved the fruit and slipped a sweetly fragrant segment between his lips. “Did you pick all this fruit?” she asked, turning to survey the boxes stacked up in the back at the foot of a wide quilt-covered bed. “And the nuts,” he replied. “Pecans.”
“So you’re a refugee from a nut farm?” Seheal reached backward and rummaged in a foam box; huge elongated seeds rumbled and rustled in a slurry of shifting wooden waves as she withdrew a handful of unshelled nuts. “It’s a gap in a rainforest that I’m slowly filling up with trees,” he replied with a smile. “Fruits and nuts from everywhere, along with native species.” The unbroken stream of green lights they’d been encountering finally came to an end and the shaman took advantage of his momentary chance to stare into Seheal’s intoxicating gaze. “I live in a wooden shack…”
“Do you live there all alone – out in the forest?” Her eyes glinted with the refracting glow of beaming headlights as a slice of mandarin slipped between her teeth. A spray of spilling juices glimmered on her sensuous lips when she tore into the thin membrane and suckled on the fruity flesh. “For the last few months,” Ram replied with an immiscible mix of confession and bravado. “A couple of friends live in another cabin on the land, a few hundred yards away…”
“This is so delicious! It must be organic…” She slipped another slice between his teeth before he could reply, nodding at the garish green traffic light shining in through the windscreen. Ram reluctantly shifted his attention to the road, slipped the van into gear and released the clutch. “Of course!” He turned onto a major artery and commenced a zigzagging track across the nocturnal heartbeat of the inner city, avoiding the knotted clots of doddering stop-start traffic as he made for the intoxicating maiden’s inner city home. “The river’s absolutely pure – tortoises and fish, water birds and platypus – and a deep swimming hole that’s longer than an Olympic pool.”
“You must be happy there. Where is it, exactly? Near Nimbin or Byron?”
“On the way,” he said as she lit up a slim joint with the van’s occasionally functional lighter. “It’s in the foothills of the Great Divide, near…”
“Then it’s on the way to where my parents live!” Seheal clapped her hands and sucked a lungful of smoke, crouching on the seat to catch Ram’s eye in the rear vision mirror. The seatbelt slipped over her breast and fell from her diminutive frame, scarcely impeding the teen as she leaned across the gearstick and placed the joint in his mouth. “Nice ganga,” she enthused.
The shaman raised the spliff to his brow; he lowered it to his throat and heart before taking a puff, while negotiating the city’s byways one-handed. Seheal lingered at his elbow, her breast brushing against his arm. “When are you going back home? Maybe I can get a ride with you…”
“When do you want to go?”
“As soon as I can. I need to see my mother; she’s been… unwell. And I have to move out of the place where I’m staying…” The shaman made an instantaneous decision. “Is tomorrow too soon?” he asked with a level stare as he passed her the smoke. “On the morrow’s sunset, if that suits?” He combed his pharaohnaic beard while the Nexusmobile skimmed through amber traffic lights; he’d planned to return home some days hence, but found his mind changed without notice as he returned Seheal’s gleeful grin.
She clapped her hands again, and when she threw her arms around his neck the smooth softness of her lips lingered on his cheek far longer than he expected. “Great! Fantastic!” Her cries exploded into his ear before her eyes darted to the world beyond the windscreen. “That’s my street,” she said, pointing to a gap in a low row of shops beyond the university precinct, where the highly strung cast iron balconies of hunkering terrace houses shouldered their way down a once verdant hillside.
“Come in, if you like…”
A true story
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From The Prince of Centraxis - http://centraxis.blogspot.com