1/04/07

This is my bedtime story. It is a story about Bill who had an aeroplane and dropped vegetables from the sky. Bill did this not because people were hungry, or vegetarian, but because he was crazy. Like the Irish. Also, he had the aeroplane. And a vege garden. Anyway, Bill reckoned, some people needed a lettuce leaf smack them on the head from a thousand feet more than food. Or they needed a vege garden so they could smack themselves on the head. And then they’d need an aeroplane so as to drop their veges from a great height, and have fun themselves. But then they’d have to land straightaway in order to be hit by their own vegetables.

It was all too complicated. Better Bill did the job himself.

Of course, Bill had a near limitless supply of organic veges from his hydroponic glasshouse and associated outdoor garden which were both dedicated to the cause of producing aerodynamic and highly accurate heat-seeking vegetables.

Today’s what? Monday? Of course, Mondays were usually Bill’s day off. But instead of relaxing in his shed working on the trap-door mechanism of the honest and trustworthy Zelda, or designing a new, advanced stealth vegetable, capable of launching itself on a whim and turning people purple when it hit them.. instead of any of these things, or any other thing, Bill dragged Zelda grudgingly from the shed (for it was her day off too), climbed into the cockpit, pushed the button that said “I’d rather be in the sky,” and took off down Elgin Street.

Elgin Street was a difficult street to take off from as it had a slope down towards the park and then a sharp rise to Williamson Avenue. Also a bit of a dogleg at the beginning. And then there might be a neighbour driving to or from home, or some extraneous person with no good reason to be there at all.

Too bad. Bill flew up high above the city and circled once so as to have a good look at the day. No. Today he would not bomb cars, or their perpetrators, or even their perpetrators’ pets. With not a vegetable on board, Bill veered south, following the motorway. To farmland. Country folk. Cows in paddocks. Sheep shit. Payload.

He landed in a field recently mown for hay, and coming to a halt near a fence, pulled back the cockpit of the single engine Zelda and climbed down. There was a barn to one side of the field, and a gnarled macrocarpa which at some time in the past had been butchered by some person knowing next to nothing about trees.

“Hay bales are vegetables,” thought Bill as he walked towards the barn.

Bill spent the rest of the day hand-picking cow-pats and loading them into the cargo bay of the ever patient Zelda, neatly stacked and ready for delivery. By the time Zelda was full up with cow pats it was nearly dark. Bill decided to light a fire and camp for the night. He and Zelda would camp together under the stars. Bill searched for kindling underneath the macrocarpa. He remembered he’d heard somewhere that cow pats were good to burn, but dismissed the idea. Once embers were established however, Bill finally succumbed to the burning cowpat idea and, having searched out an extra-dry, paddock-aged cow pat from his newly replenished aerial cellar, he threw it on the fire. Before too long Bill discovered the beautiful aroma that only city folk and the totally ignorant can know.

Sometime after dark a torchlight came bobbing across the field. It was Eliza Tenfold. Eliza, as it turned out, had seventeen hundred kids and had just put them all to bed. Now she was at a loose end. Mister Tenfold was rightly dozing in front of the TV. She’d come to see what an aeroplane was doing in the hay paddock.

Beside the fire Bill explained the problem. He’d stolen nearly all of their cow pats. He’d lit a fire without consulting the mafia. Someone had butchered the macrocarpa. Or, having passed through the stomachs of live animals, could cow pats still be considered vegetable? Besides which, aeroplane fuel had suddenly gotten cheaper. Vegetable bombing had finally caught on. Everyone was doing it. Victims were getting clever. Top of that, according to the newspapers, the world’s sea levels were about to drop, opening up a whole lot more land. The worry was the fish would become too crowded. The jetties would all be in the wrong place.
“Could I tender a simple solution?” said Mrs Tenfold.
“I’d be glad if you did that,” replied Bill.
“My neighbour, Senseless Johnson.”
“That’d be Senseless who?”

Senseless Johnson himself turned up in the morning with A249. A249 had a yellow tag in her ear to prove who she was. A black cow with a white face. Senseless Johnson ran 450 hectares of sheep and cattle some way up the road. Up until now A249 had been mowing grass. The deal was done. Bill could grow his own cow pats. In return, Senseless Johnson and Mrs Tenfold required something extra special. A return favour.

Bill and his Angus-cross-Hereford cow became inseparable. Except when flying. Operating on the time-proven “drop first, think later” principle, Bill managed to teach A249 to glide. Out the bomb hatch she went, with her specially fitted orange jumper, her remote controlled parachute, and a full stomach of grass.
After six months of near daily practice, A249 could glide a full thirty miles and even control her own speed and flight by moving her legs.

There are accounts from various places scattered about the globe of unlikely items falling from the sky. Sudden downpours of frogs. Sideways blizzards of first edition copies of The Count of Monte Cristo. In the days of Moses as the bible tells us, somewhere in the Wilderness of Sin, bread fell from the sky.

Anyway, with Bill’s new gliding cow, that was the beginning of the random falling liquid cow-pat saga.

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