The visitor staggered into our camp at Palm Springs a little after dark and just as we were sitting down to dinner. He approached thru the scrub shining a tiny led torch and yelling “Where’s the cold water! Somebody tell me! Where’s the water?”
He collapsed on the ground by our table exhausted and maybe even a little delirious.
“I’ve been yelling for the last 30 minutes. Did no one here hear me?”
We shook our heads, still wondering what was going on. “The water’s up that way” I said pointing to the waterhole.
“No I need a drink. I’ve been walking all day”
We were still a little stunned and wondering just who this was and what was going on. I went inside to get him a glass of water from the fridge. When I returned he began to talk.
“I’ve been walking since 10.00 this morning. I reckon I’ve done 40 ks. I’ve got 40 to go before I get back to town but I need a drink.”
“What happened that you’re walking?” I asked, trying to make sense of it all.
“I was out camping with some mates and when I woke up this morning they had taken off and left me there.”
“Really?… 80ks from town?…Why?…”
“Dunno, but I’ve been walking all day. I dropped my stuff after about 15ks and I’ve been carrying this water with me, but its hot and I need something cold.” He was certainly distressed, but it seemed a tall story.
As he talked we found ourselves wondering, what do you do in this type of situation?…
He was intent on walking back into town, but he was also clearly exhausted. We had no idea who he was or if his story was accurate and we didn’t ask to be part of his life. But he had landed on our lap and now we were involved. Occasionally you hear stories of weird stuff happening in the bush to people who help others so we were a bit wary.
We offered him some food, but he wouldn’t take any. He reckoned he couldn’t eat – would throw it back up. We tried several times, but he wouldn’t touch anything. I would have been ravenous. He lit up a smoke and began to relax a little sitting on the ground and looking like a man who had just been given a reprieve.
We talked and he told us some of his story. He used to live in Perth and work operating sideshows at the Royal Show and Community fairs. He had come to Hall’s Creek for a ‘change of pace’, but had recently been sacked and was unemployed. He had moved out of the place he was living and was now with mates.
He is 39.
He began to tell us of his life, of being fostered out at 4, of being abused for 8 years by his foster parents, but of the case being dismissed when he went to court because he couldn’t cite dates and places the events occurred.
He is a chronic insomniac who can’t sleep because of the nightmares he still has as a result of that past. His life seemed to meander from one messy situation to the next. We wondered what he had done to make his mates abandon him? We wondered why he was in Halls Creek… There are plenty of people in these kinds of towns for a very good reason… so no one can find them.
I found myself asking ‘God what is he doing here?… Tonight?… And what do we do?…’
In trying to figure out a way forward we told him he was welcome to stay the night and we’d give him some sleeping gear and then we’d take him into town in the morning when we were due to move on. He didn’t argue about that.
A little later after talking with Danelle, I offered to take him into town. It was an hour in and an hour back, but I figured he might want to get home and into a real bed. To be fair, I also wanted to cover my bases on the off chance he was a nutbag. If I took him home then it would get him away from Danelle and the kids. I had a big set of stilsons I would slot under the seat just in case.
He seemed to be the real deal, but you can’t help but be a tad suspicious.
He wouldn’t let me take him in. He knew how far it was and didn’t want to trouble me. So we settled in for the night. He seemed glad of the company and the knowledge he would get a ride home in the morning. We sat around the campfire and talked. Nothing big, deep or serious… and he slept in my favourite camping chair – at least he did until it ripped and he ended up on the ground…
In the morning I found him lying on the rocks in front of my car with a towel around his head. I guess he figured that if he laid in front of the car then no one could take off without him… He refused breakfast, helped us pack up and we drove quietly back into town. As we neared the town centre he said ‘Just drop me here. I’ll be ok”. He had asked the same previously. We wondered if he actually had a place to live…
So we dropped him off and said farewell. I doubt we’ll ever see him again.
Some days we forget just how good we have it, but the visitor was a reminder that for some life its not that way at all.download fury online