Sunday, July 13, 2008

rottnest romance #11

The narrative trundles along. We're in the restaurant - Larissa should have had tofu burgers at home. Nick reveals his one track mind. Larissa lets slip about her morning missile called Buster. Ashleigh is bored with it all. Caution: conversation about feeding quokkas will give RIA rangers heart attacks.
He shook his head. “Not yet. We’re planning to mount an expedition and ride around tomorrow. You never know, there might be other areas ripe for development as well.”

That sounds ghastly, she thought grimly. Why couldn’t he be content with messing up only one part of the island? Did he have to be so eager about what else he could spoil?

“You might be on your own again, Nick,” his assistant said. “The idea of having to propel myself around this sandy piece of rock doesn’t appeal to me, I can tell you now.”

There was an uncomfortable pause at the table.

Larissa wished the woman would say one positive thing about Rottnest. She seemed to take a delight in being negative about what was, after all, her home.

The awkward moment was broken by the arrival of Linda to take their orders. Nick was friendly and chatty, and made Linda smile as he told her what he wanted, while Ashleigh persisted with her suffering martyr attitude.

As Nick settled back into his chair he gave Larissa an amused glance. “I don’t want to offend your vegetarian principles, but I wonder if restaurants here have ever considered putting quokka on the menu?”

She gave him a guarded look. After a moment she decided he was merely being playful. “Perhaps it has occurred to them, but I can tell you there would be an uproar if they ever tried.”

“I’m sure there would be,” he admitted, grinning. “They are rather endearing, aren’t they? Are they only found here on Rottnest?”

“Mainly here, with some in the state’s south-west. My best friend is a quokka, actually. His name is Buster, and he usually comes to visit me first thing in the morning. I feed him, and then sometimes he runs amok in my garden.” She stopped, catching sight of an amused grin on his face. Why was she gabbling on like this?

Ashleigh joined in. “They give me the creeps. They look like giant rats – ugh.”

“You’re not the first person to think that,” Larissa told her. “The island got its name from Dutch explorers in the seventeenth century. They mistook the quokkas for giant rats, and came up with the name Rotte Nest.”

Ashleigh gave her a bored look. “Fascinating.”

Larissa felt a prick of annoyance, but Nick smoothly re-entered the conversation. “They’re very tame, aren’t they…I notice that generally they’ll let people feed them.”

She nodded. “Yes, in the more populated areas like Thomson Bay they’ll eat out of your hand. But in the wild they tend to keep their distance.”

“I wonder,” he mused, “if I could work the quokka into my new development. Have it as a mascot, or something like that. How does that sound to you?”

For goodness’ sake, she thought: did everything he say and do come back to his blasted project? Talk about a one-track mind. With an edge to her voice she replied: “If you want to use our native marsupial in your project, how about each cottage having a quokka-shaped letterbox outside the front door? That would certainly be a striking feature.”

1 comment:

  1. This has got to be written by a woman. A male author would have had her rooted from west end to parker point by now.