The corpse of the kangaroo that the lads had gone out and shot the night before had been hefted out of the car, chopped roughly and hung in the garage. It was a big job just to cut it in half. You could see Geoffrey was over it – the roo corpse needed to be dealt with, and he, tired after a night spent bouncing over station tracks, didn’t really want to deal with it.
So he rang Clint, and Clint, the kind of friend he is drops everything and comes right over which is what these two blokes do: they back each other up in life’s tricky mechanical and emotional tasks. Geoff cheers right up and starts whistling around the back yard getting stuff together for what now feels like a meat party.
So I’m looking out the window listening and watching these men cracking jokes, as blokes do in that loud play/insult tradie way as they set about sharpening knives, positioning the kangaroo sides, sorting out chopping block and table, all the time sucking on tinnies.
A sudden inexplicable rage arises in me. Their identical shaven bullet heads and matching beer guts seem insufferable. They’re two huge toddlers in oversized board shorts. The exaggerated can-do humour as they yarn, squinting at each other past the fags hanging out of their gobs strikes me as awful – they’re on a stage acting out obnoxious blokey rituals from one of those 60s plays written by Ray Bloody Lawler.
I push open the wire screen kitchen door and glare at them both: Look at you guys with your wife-beaters on and your bullet heads and your matching beer and fags hacking into that corpse!
Clint bridles instantly, hits attack mode: Bullet head? What? What’s a wife-beater?”
Geoff, barely looks up, amused: “the singlet mate, she means the singlet.”
Clint’s utterly incensed by the verbal assault. He does the insulting up and down eye sweep, puts his arms akimbo, adopts that wince-y, high-pitched voice blokes use when they want to piss women off and says: And look at you with your man-basher on.
I look down. He’s got a point. I’ve got a broom in one hand, the other is cocked on my hip and I’m wearing a faded shift way too big falling off one shoulder. The whole slovenly ensemble ends in dirty bare feet. Ray bloody Lawler indeed: he probably did write in a few chick parts. I have to laugh, feel a bit shame-faced. Yeah righto. Touche.
We move on; they keep working methodically, Geoff cutting and Clint bagging the pieces for the freezer; the table by now, laden with glistening, slack bags of meat. Under instruction from Clint, Geoff tackles a leg that’s at least as big as mine - it takes some strength to hack into the knee joint. He makes a noise, mock horror with a bit of real in it – and then hacks twice more into the tendons at the side of the knee. It takes all his strength to wrench the leg back on itself until the white gleaming cranium of the knee bone pops out of the joint with a crack.
We all wince. The corpse is so red, so meaty and of a size that makes it impossible not to relate it to the human body. No-one says anything, it’s too visceral for words. There’s that expression, when something is too close to the bone - dismembering a large mammal takes you right there.
I get a sense of what it would be like to be prey.