Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Adventures of Bomba Dun - 1

So this all began with three cricket stumps. We were playing cricket in the Coon's backyard. Peter Coon was bowling and I, as usual, was showing off. I was bored. Fielding, waiting, not in the limelight, not really three of my strengths.

When I am bored I do stupid things. Mum says its a genetic thing.

'Men,' she says, 'are creatures of the hunt. Make them wait, make them farmers or gardeners and they turn stupid. Let them hunt and they are stupid away from the house, which is preferable.'
I'm not saying I understand what mum is talking about. I don't. I just quote mum 'cos dad is faster with his backhand that with words. He clips my ears with his knuckles rather his words. So I quote mum 'cos there is no way I am going to quote my sister, Kathleen. She'd get wind of it and then I'd never hear the end of it. Kath's got a sense for snooping out praise or for finding the things that irk me the most.

So anyway, cricket in the backyard of the Coons. There were about seven of us playing, I say about 'cos Paul Harding was playing and he is only five so he's not really to be counted. We had to bowl to him underarm and give him two lives else he'd go running and screaming to his mum and then the game would get disbanded 'cos Mrs Coon always listens to Mrs Harding - I think its because Mr Harding drives a bran new Ford.

The thing was I was bored, so when the cricket ball came my way I grabbed it and took off - I knew they would chase me. It was the only ball we had. Now the Coons house is next to my own so I went straight for that fence, even as I heard the cries of, 'Hey Bomb, give it back yar mongrel!'

I forgot about mum's vegie patch. The corn grew against the fence, the tomatoes in front of them. People thought we were wogs cos we grew out own veg, but mum says growing things had been in er family longer than teeth. So I often fought the kids who teased while she ignored the neighbours' looks and sometimes chatted with Mrs Lamrosi or Mr Conti about tomatoes or zucchini.

I forgot about the corn and the tomatoes until I had grabbed the fence with both hands and began my flip over, then I remember - course it was too late then. I once asked Kath why she thought I always remembered when it was too late. Kath said it was because I was like an unbound car. I never did understand what that meant but I did notice she was using unbound a lot at that time. Everything was unbound this and unbound that. She was reading Frankenstein at the time for school. Kath likes to read, and to use the words she discovers in books. She was a good reader. Me I read with my tongue poing out between my lips, my brain striving to put the words together even as my eyes darted off the page to see what was happening in the world. My teachers said I was one given over to the search for distractions. They often said this as their rulers were whacking the muscles of my calves while their left hand hand my right hand tight so I wouldn't run. I'd been known to run from a floggin' faster than lightning, even though when I got home I usually got worse  from dad than any whack from a teacher, still in my mind, putting every bad thing off to later made perfect sense.

So there I was was, sailing over that fence like an acrobat and then the fall, Kath reckons I have the blood of Icarus in me. She told me Icarus was a Greek and I pushed her hard, I had Irish blood in me, not Greek.
So anyway, I'm hitting the ground, feeling the corn stalks shatter, the smell of crushed tomatoes, the feel of their scratchy leaves on the face, tickling my nose, making me sneeze. And as luck would have it, mum was their plucking the vegies for that night's dinner.

'Bill Dunstal'  - thats my real name by the way, though I go by the name Bomba, Bomba Dun , that was how everyone, even dad, knew me - 'Up now, inside and wait for your father, he shan't be long.'

She had that voice on, the one that meant I could not run, not if I wanted to live, not if I wanted to avoid seeing hjer cry. Of all the things in th world, seeing mum cry was the worst. Even worse than dad's strap on me bum, which is what I was in for that evening, I knew it.

Just then  John Scanlon's head appeared over the fence. 'Hey Mrs Dustal,' he said and then he said to me, 'give us the ball Bomba.'

So I tossed him the ball and headed inside, at the back window I saw the blinds crinkle and get shoved to the side and Kathleen's smiling face. It was sick how much pleasure she got from being in trouble.

'Next time,' I thought to myself, 'I'll just play cricket, no shenanigans, no nonsense,' but even as I thought it I started to giggle about the flattened corn and squished tomatoes and I knew, heck who was I kidding, I was Bomba Dun and I wasn't about to change for no one.

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