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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wolumbin the Hero

Category: Humor/Satire

It must be noted that the Aboriginal tribne in this story has no association with or representsive of an actual Australian Aboriginal tribe. It does not reflect their beliefs, their culture or their habits. It is entirely imaginary.

Wollumbin the Hero


Wollumbin was late.

He was three days late. He had been to the melon festival at the Melon Mountains, an annual event that he loved to attend; He was remembering the great time he had had as he walked along the path towards home and he was also thinking of the welcome that Mrs Wollumbin would give him.

He chuckled to himself as he remembered the last time he had come home from the festival, she was real pleased to see him. Really pleased. The chuckle became a deep tummy laugh.

It had been a good festival. The melons had been particularly tasty and the company had been good as well. One had the chance to catch up on old mates, and compare notes with other chiefs in a most relaxed atmosphere.

Walking along, lost in revere, he almost bumped into the young lady standing in the middle of the path. He looked around and found that he was on the fringe of the western tribe’s land.

“Good morning.” Said Wollumbin politely.

The young lady gave him a smile that made the hairs on the back of his head start to prickle.

“Hello Wollumbin,” the words seemed to ooze from her as if reluctant to leave such a beautiful home, and beautiful she was. Not too tall, she barely reached Wollumbin’s chin. Big, soft eyes that gave the impression that she was looking into your very soul. Wide, smiling mouth, long, graceful neck falling to perfect breasts that were so firm and upright that Wollumbin told himself that they would leave two holes in his chest if she was pulled too close. Himself began to think that couple of holes in the chest might not be such a bad thing. She tapered down to a perfect “two-hand” size waist, spread out again over graceful hips running into long, muscular legs. Wollumbin was lost in his thoughts when recognition struck like a bolt of lightning.

“I know you, you’re ‘Willing and Able’ the young widow from the western tribe.”

“I am.” She replied. “I have stopped you to invite you to come back to my place and visit for a while. Won’t you please come?”

“Well,” Wollumbin was uneasy, “I would love to but, you see, I am on a mission.
He wasn’t lying, his mission was to get home as soon as possible.

“I know your mission. Please come, I am hungry, but not for food.”

“You are?” Wollumbin’s mind was racing into places that he should never enter. He knew that he shouldn’t ask but it was if some unseen, but powerful force had taken over his mouth and he couldn’t stop himself asking, “What are you hungry for?”

“I am hungry for.. Conversation.” The wind whooshed from our hero in a gust of relief. ” None of the men in my tribe are interested in having a conversation with me, I can’t understand why ......

Wollumbin could.

..... and, anyway, none of them could come even close to the prowess of the legendary ‘Wollumbin’, for being proficient in the art of ..... conversation. Or is your reputation just all rumour?”

“Well no,” said Wollumbin modestly, ” the stories are true enough.” He had no idea what stories she was referring to but, being a true intellectual of his time, he always enjoyed a good talk, so he agreed and stopped to visit her for a while. They became so engrossed in their conversation that it was three days before he could tear himself away.

Wollumbin was late, three days late.

Mrs Wollumbin had not intruded on his thoughts much in the last three days but, now that he was getting closer to home a vision of her rose in his mind. He could see her standing at the door of their gunya, just waiting, planning some sort of diabolical punishment for him. There would be fire in her eyes, venom in her voice and murder in her heart.

” I could tell her the truth.” He told himself.

“Would you believe your story?” Himself asked.

“No, I guess not.” Wollumbin admitted. “But what’s the answer?” He asked himself again.

Himself replied, “Have a think.”

Doesn’t help. Wollumbin grunted. ” I’ve been thinking, I’ve done nothing else but think. I haven’t thought of a thing that would sound plausible, I guess I’ll just have to face the music.” He winced as he remembered how unmusical her voice became when she was angry.

Suddenly his woes were forgotten. His hunter’s instinct took over. There was just something not right with a bush up ahead.

He was travelling through sparsely timbered country. The grass was only curly looking patches here and there. There were few tall trees, just small, straight ones with large green leaves coming out of the top, looking like a petrified fountain.

About 100 metres ahead was a huge tree with wide spreading branches covered in foliage. Off to the right of it was a large clump of bushes. It was these that had caused the hunter’s hackles to rise. He hunched down and adjusted his eyes so he could see what it was about those bushes that was not right. Now he could see it, part of the green bush had a strange brown background. Wollumbin knew that this was not some natural phenomenon, there was something, or someone, hiding in that bush.

Wollumbin the hunter took over. He went into a crouch and began to circle away from the track so as to come up behind whoever, or whatever was there. Not a sound did he make as he patiently circled, not a blade of grass whispered of his coming, no small cloud of dust as there usually was when travellers put foot to ground in this country. He was so silent that not even a small bird eating an insect high up in the branches of the tree, knew of his approach. This was the best hunter in the world at his best.

Finally he was against the tree on the opposite side to the bush. One large branch jutted out over the bush that was his target. Wollumbin decided to attack from the air. Quietly he climbed the tree and walked out along the limb. Carefully he inched his way along it. He could see now that it was a person hiding there. He continued along the branch until he was directly above his unsuspecting quarry. His muscles immediately relaxed with relief when he saw that it was Nirinji, the news carrier, hiding there.

He expelled the held air and tension with a roar. “NIRINJI.”

The news carrier spun around and looked up in fright, at the near naked figure of his chief standing directly above him.

“Spare me days, ” he gasped, “what a sight to see on an empty stomach.”

Wollumbin dropped down beside him. “What are you doing here?” He asked.

“I have come to look for you.” Nirinji explained. ” I am the news carrier and the news is that you are late.”

“I know I’m late,” Wollumbin snapped, “Do you have to keep harping on the fact?”

“Being the news carrier, I have some news for you.”

“Well I hope it is not as obvious as the fact that I am late.”

“No, nothing like that,” Nirinji went on, ” the news is that your wife is not happy.”

“That’s not news.” Wollumbin said gloomily, “I could have told you that.” Then, after a short pause, ” How mad is she?”

Nirinji decided to make the most of the moment after all, it is not every day that one has the “Great Fighting Chief of the Mountain” at ones mercy.

“Well, on the first day she was bit worried, you know, ‘I’ll brain him when he arrives,’ that sort of thing. On the second day she was talking about sending various bits of you to various relatives. Yesterday the air was so foul that I decided that I had better came and warn you. Also, it kept my ears from being blistered and kept me out of the line of fire.”

Wollumbin groaned as each bit of information was imparted. At the finish he let out a grand-daddy of groans. “What am I going to do?” He groaned.

“Beats me.” was the cheerful answer. “Where have you been anyway?”

“On chief’s business.” Wollumbin snapped.

“On yes, ” Nirinji said sarcastically, ” I’ll believe you. Just as much as your wife will.”

Wollumbin gave another groan. “Don’t talk about it.”

“Come on chief,” Nirinji wheedled, ” tell me where your really were, I won’t say anything.”

” If you must know, I was talking to ‘Willing and Able’ we were having such an interesting conversation that the time just went.”

“Oh yes,” them disbelief was plain in Nirinji’s voice, ” talking eh, ‘Willing and Able’, isn’t she the young widow from the western tribe?”

“Er .... yes .... I do believe that she is a widow. Yes, that must be the one. Know her do you?”

“Well,” Nirinji answered meaningfully,” know OF her, I am the news carrier you know. So, you were TALKING to a beautiful, young, willing widow for three days. Can I be there when you tell your misses that one?”

“Oh shut up.” Wollumbin growled. ” It’s the truth.”

” Oh yes.”

” Well it is. We were only talking.”

“O.K.,” Nirinji smiled, ” But, as I said, can I be there when you try to get your wife to believe it?”

“You’re right of course.” Wollumbin said . ” She won’t go for it.. Wives are such untrusting creatures. Don’t ever get one.”

” I don’t need one,” Nirinji answered, ” I have too much fun watching you handle yours. Your household is enough to put anyone off marriage.”

” That may be so,” said Wollumbin thoughtfully, ” but you have to help me think of a story that she will believe.”

“Me!” Yelped Nirinji, ” Why me? I don’t want to get involved.”

” Yes, you.” Wollumbin’s voice was full of menace, ” You’re already involved. You don’t think for one moment that she is not going to suspect that you were up to something with me? Especially if we arrive back together.”

” No problem.” Nirinji wanted out. “I’ll just wait here for a few days and say I was fishing. I am an innocent man.”

“So am I, but I am going to get in trouble just the same.”

“You? Innocent? ......”

“Yeeeees?”

Nirinji was subdued. “Nothing oh great frightful chief of the mountain.”

“Fighting.” Wollumbin shouted,  “Fighting, not frightful. Fighting, fighting, is that so hard to remember? Great fighting chief of the mountain.”

“Sorry chief, just a slip of the lip.”

“Look, are you going to help me or not?”

Nirinji gave a sly smile. ” I’m willing and able.” He said and moved swiftly enough to avoid the blow swung at his head.

Nirinji sat under the tree deep in though whist Wollumbin paced up and down in front of him.

Finally Nirinji spoke. ” Why don’t you say that you had a fall, hit your head and have lost your memory?”

“No good. I tried that once, she found me out in five minutes flat.”

Silence reigned once more. Wolumbin sat down beside Nirinji, put his head in his hand to think.

Finally he jumped to his feet shouting, “I’ve got it!”

“After what you have been doing for the last three days, I’m not surprised.” Nirinji spoke without thinking he wasn’t prepared for the kick that sent him sprawling.

“Shut up and listen.” Wollumbin began pacing up and down again. He spoke more to himself than to his companion. “Invading tribe ..... no good ..... robbers that’s it, a band of marauding robbers, I save you, and you can produce something to back it up.”

” I have you ..... yes, I see what you mean. We need something to show her.”

” And it will have to be something pretty convincing.”

” A couple of dead bodies maybe. No. Followers are not at all co-operative in this day and age. It is unlikely that I could get anyone who would be willing to die for me.”

” Certainly not me.”

Silence settled over the two again. Once again Wollumbin jumped to his feet. “I’ve got it!”

“Not again.” Nirinji sounded tired.

“Yes, this is it, this will really work.”

“Lets hear it.”

“A wound.”

Wollumbin looked at Nirinji as if he expected him to jump up and dance for joy. He didn’t.

” A wound.”

” Yes, a wound, ” Wollumbin was excited. ” She would have to believe a wound. It would be there for all, to see, a great gaping hole oozing blood would be something she could not deny.”

” And where would you have this wound?” Nirinji asked.

“Not me,” answered Wollumbin, ” you would have the wound.”

“ME!” Again Nirinji jumped. ” Why would I have the wound? Why can’t you have it?”

“Because it would probably hurt.” Wollumbin explained carefully.

” Oh, I see, you don’t mind if I hurt then.”

” Well, you are better at suffering than I am. I’ll reward you of course.”

“No thank you.” Said Nirinji with finality, ” If there is to be wound it would be more believable if you had it anyway. The reason you couldn’t escape and get home sooner, was because you were wounded. I came along and rescued you. I will carry you in. Yes, that would be better, most impressive.”

“I suppose you’re right.” The idea was beginning to lose it’s appeal. ” I suppose in the leg would be best.”

“Well, it would give me a good excuse for carrying you . How are you going to do it?”

” I’m not, you are.” Wollumbin said.

” Awh, fair go chief,” Nirinji begged,” I don’t want to hurt you, and, anyway, you know how I hate the sight of human blood. Animal blood, no problem, I can work in that all day, but human blood makes me feel quite queezy.”

” Be that as it may, you are going to have to do it. It would not look right if I did it myself, Mrs Wollumbin would pick that immediately. Now stop arguing and do it.” Wollumbin ordered.

Nirinji took his spear. ” If I must, I must I suppose. Where do you want it?”

” I told you, in the leg. Through the calf I think.”

” O.K.” Nirinji took careful aim and began moving his arm back and forth without releasing the spear.

” What are you doing?”

“Practising.”

“Enough practise, just do it.”

“Right.” he tentatively touched Wollumbin’s leg without even breaking the skin. “There.”

Wollumbin looked. “Where?”

Nirinji pointed. ‘There.”

“That’s useless.” Wollumbin said. ” Don’t stab it, throw the spear, that way you won’t have to feel it go in.”

” Oh dear,” Nirinji was looking decidedly sick. ” I feel quite rummy in the tummy.”

” Don’t look then.” Wollumbin was beginning to shout, “close your eyes, that way you don’t have to look.”

Nirinji put his finger in his mouth to wet it, then drew a cross on the leg so that he would know where to hit, took careful aim at the spot and closed his eyes. Wollumbin closed his also and braced himself for the pain. He heard the grunt as Nirinji released the spear, but felt nothing. He was convinced that he must be the hero he kept telling people he was, if he could handle pain this well. He opened his eyes and saw Nirinji standing there with an astonished look on his face, there was no spear sticking out of his leg. In fact, there was no sign of a spear at all.

All this took only a fraction of a second, the picture and the non-pain had just impressed themselves on his mind when he heard a roar of pain and anger and a huge wild boar, with the spear hanging from his rear end, came charging out of the bush behind him. Instinct took over and, with one mighty leap he found himself back on the branch of the tree. Nirinji’s instincts were different, he began to run. The boar, seeing something to charge, ran after him. Nirinji ran around the tree and bushes, the boar ran around the tree and bushes. Wollumbin was an interested spectator, sitting safely on the branch and shouting encouragement to the hapless runner every time they passed him.

Nirinji was yelling at the top of his voice, “Do something, I think he’s gaining.”

When they arrived back Wollumbin reassured him, “No, You’re holding your own.”

Around again,  “Do something.”

Next time ‘round, “I’m trying to think of something.”

Next time. “Think faster.”

As the boar raced past this time the spear became dislodged and fell to the ground. As Nirinji approached Wollumbin called, “Pass me up the spear as you go past.”

He had to wait until they came around again to hear Nirinji’s reply, “I don’t have time, you get it.”

On the next round Wollumbin said, “I’m not getting down there, it looks dangerous.”

On his next circuit Nirinji yelled, ” I know it’s dangerous, I’m down here.”

On the next round Wollumbin tried to pacify the runner, “O.K. Keep him occupied and I will grab the spear.”

Around again. “How do you suggest that I keep him occupied?”

Waiting patiently for them to return Wollumbin suggested, “Run faster and grab his tail.”

On the next round Nirinji was too puffed to talk, he just screamed.

Wollumbin was so engrossed in watching the chase that he lent over too far, his foot slipped and he fell to the ground landing on the spear. He could hear the sound of his friend and the boar approaching, he rolled aside instinctively grasping the spear as he did so. Bracing himself, he waited for them to come around again. When they did he threw the spear with perfect judgement. It hit the pig behind the left shoulder.

“Got him.” he shouted.

Wild pigs are hard to kill, it was still chasing Nirinji even though it was dead on it’s feet. Nirinji appeared from around the tree and sank to the ground in relief. The boar came staggering around, blood and foam was running from it’s mouth. Seeing his quarry on the ground he made one last lunge before death claimed him. His tusk caught Nirinji in the calf and opened a 10 cm gash along it.

Wollumbin went and sat down beside his exhausted companion. “Thank heavens, ” he said, “I was beginning to get a bit worried there.”

Nirinji was busy trying to breath in huge lumps of air so he could only glare as way of a reply.

Wollumbin began to do makeshift first aid while Nirinji got his breath back. By the time he was finished he was covered in Nirinji’s blood.

Nothing was said for some time. Wollumbin sat, deep in though while Nirinji tried to build up enough strength to bleed. The leg was wrapped in leaves and grass with a dollop of mud made from dust and spittle, but blood kept seeping from under the primitive bandage.

Finally Wollumbin spoke. ” Well, it all worked out for the best after all, didn’t it?”

“How do you work that out?” Nirinji snapped.

Wollumbin looked at him in amazement. “You’re upset, aren’t you?”

“Upset, ” was the sarcastic answer, “upset, what would I have to be upset about?”

“I have no idea.”

” I’m sitting here with a leg that has been nearly ripped off, all because I was trying to help you, you say it has all worked for the best, and you wonder why I’m upset.”

“Look at it this way, “Wollumbin explained, “we have the wound we needed, and you will be a hero. There I was, surrounded by marauding robbers, hungry and thirsty, weak from holding them off for three days. Then you came along and tried to help your chief. You made a valiant, but foolhardy charge at them. Unfortunately you were wounded almost immediately. The sight of my trusty off-sider falling beneath the spears of the enemy gave me renewed energy. I rushed out and beat them all off and saved our lives. And, we have your wound to prove it. On the way back I saw this wild pig and, ever thinking of the needs of my people, I hunted it down in spite of the fact that I was carrying you. See, all our problems are solved. Come on.”

He helped Nirinji to his feet. He slung him over his shoulder and, carrying the hapless victim and dragging the pig, he made his way back towards home.

“Well, ” Nirinji said, “at least it’s not a complete loss.”

“What do you mean?” The happy chief asked.

“At least I have a reward coming.”

“What reward?”

“You promised me a reward if I took the injury.”

“That is true. ” Wollumbin was at his most reasonable. “But you knocked it back, didn’t you? Not to worry, because of your courage Mrs. Wollumbin will insist on looking after you so you will have her home cooking for some weeks.”

Humming a happy tune, Wollumbin the hero, carrying the victim and dragging the pig, made his way back home and into legend.

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Old Comments

  • Loved it!  Excellent piece of writing.  Clever, too.

    Posted by Green Fingered Skinner  on  12/10  at  01:06 PM
  • It’s a delicate matter to inject a story into a different culture.  Well done!  Light on cynicism, big on the universal realities of married life.  Great!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  11:49 AM
  • Thanks for the read.  Is it important that the character be an aboriginal Australian?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/23  at  12:39 PM
  • I loved this!  It’s amazing how hero’s are made!  Thanks for the entertainment.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:46 PM
  • An outside analysis:  I think it’s not important to the story that the hero be a specific ethnicity of tribesman, but I do think it is important that the hero be a tribesman in a tribal culture.  This highlights the human element of clever heroes and trickster stories rather then all the modern social complexity.  With a tribal culture, we get human ideas to situations at hand rather than the result of the common “wisdom” of centuries of conformity.  Bravo again for doing it so well.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:43 PM
  • Enjoyed this. Unusual story line and setting. Thanks for the read.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/16  at  06:32 AM
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