Sunday, August 06, 2006

LUCKY by Ian Jones

When we arrived at the house the whole place was locked up tight. Often the case with people who live alone. The police arrived at the same time as we did and forced the door. The place was a mess. The smell was the worst. Stale tobacco, rotten food and neglect. The lady was on the floor in the kitchen and the signs were not good. Some scotch still left in the bottle and a stack of shredded sedative packs all over the place. While we were prepping her for transport I noticed a note next to the phone. Two words, ‘please lucky’. Being a crippled and lonely diabetic who has just attempted to top herself did not seem to me to be all that lucky. We called emergency, logged the case and hit the siren. I sat with the patient and watched her vital signs but you cannot get involved with the ‘why’.

When Jennifer arrived at the door with her mum and a bag I knew the inevitable had happened. Jack had shot through as soon as the baby arrived and they had struggled to make ends meet. ‘It will only be for a few weeks’ she said, ‘There is a job on a trawler for the prawn season out of Weipa. Big money. Jen will cope alright at school, she is used to moving about’. An abandoned thirteen year old was about all I needed. The first thing we knew after that was the writeup in the papers. ‘Murder or Accident’ was a devastating headline and Jennifer saw it when she brought in the paper. You probably remember the story. The pony seemed like a good idea at the time and Jennifer had something to care for, for the first time in her life. Everyday after school she rode that pony, brushed him down, rugged and fed him. Her mates from school came weekends to ride the pony and Jennifer was a star. When she went on a working holiday last year I think the pony missed her more that she could have imagined. I told her not to worry, I would be alright.
We got a call from the neighbours who were worried about the pony at the old Thompson place. Apparently no-one is living there since Mrs. Thompson died on Monday and no-one knew if the pony was still around. ‘Her grand daughter looked after the pony but we think she is overseas’. People and their damn pets. It was a shock to find the pony is the shed at the back, barely alive, filthy, starving and almost dead from thirst. How the hell was I supposed to know? If you drop everything every time you get a phone call from a neighbour you would spend your life chasing red herrings and vindictive nonsense. The tilt tray driver hooked the chain on the pony’s leg and started the winch. ‘Took a few days to find the poor old bugger, eh’ he said accusingly. I gave him the paperwork and put my stuff back in my bag. ‘Thanks’ I said. Thanks for nothing.

I picked up my bag and looked around for anything else I should include in my report. Something was scratched into the timber above the door. I stood on the feed bin and ran my fingers over the mark. ‘Lucky’. ‘The pony’s name was Lucky’, I said aloud. Dying from neglect did not seem to me to be all that lucky.

Ian Jones ©


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