From Week 3 Writing Prompt: https://smcadman.com/2016/10/16/52weeks-shortstory-amwriting-challenge-week-3-writingprompt/
Toad on a Hot Colorbond Roof
by SM CADMAN
The wind rose up and danced across the lowland billabong. A giant swirl of water enveloped Cane. The waterspout picked him up and plopped him belly side up upon the green Colorbond roof of the Bogan‘s home. He sat there for a while, considering what had just happened. The tin hot beneath his back, staring up the sky with red dust flying every which way.
“What the hell was that?! Sounded like a rock hit the roof,” Beejay Bogan yelled.
Madison Bogan stared up at the ceiling fan circulating the air in the room. She pushed stop on the cassette deck beside her that was playing her favorite song, Thunderstruck by AC/DC. Another small thud came. Cane had managed to roll himself over but got caught on a snag of roofing and dangled from the eaves trough by one arm. She ran over to the window just in time to see Cane slide off the roof and stick to the window pane. He screeched as he slid down the window. Beejay dropped his dropped his can of Victoria Bitter and ran over to the window.
“Oh my god! What the fuck is that?!” Madison screamed.
Cane oblivious, stuck now on the ledge of the window, his black eyes widened as he peered into the Bogan’s home. He let out a large croaking sound.
“Ah! It’s a bloody Cane toad!” Beejay hollered. “Looks like those aboriginal rangers aren’t doing their fucking jobs!”
Cane unpeeled from the ledge and flipped off onto the red dirt beneath the Bogan’s window. He was on his backside again, staring up at two peculiar human faces looking down at him lying there. He croaked again.
“Shit… I think she’s dead,” Madison pressed her nose up against the pane of the window and looked down at the ground with Beejay.
Beejay ran his hand through his dark wavy mullet. Confused, he grabbed his hard Redwood boomerang and ran out the door to check on Cane.
“Don’t kill her!” Madison ran after Beejay as he went out the front door and round his way to the window.
“I’m not going to kill her! Jesus Woman. I want to see if the little gal is still alive.”
Cane stared up at them. They stared back. Beejay poked him with his boomerang. He croaked again.
“Grab me another can of VB, fuck. I’m going to have to get rid of him before Big Daddy, Mama, Wynter and Cruz arrive.
“Too late. Crap. I see their Holden coming up the driveway. Throw your boomerang on him! Hide him! Your dad doesn’t need this stress right now,” Madison exclaimed.
Beejay knelt down, not wanting to further injure Cane and placed his Redwood boomerang on top of him. Cane squealed and let out a small gasp. They ran down the drive to greet their parents and family. Cane lie beneath the window, his belly heaving up and down as the boomerang lay straddled across him. He wiggled in the dirt. A small puff of dust rose up around him, he wiggled more. He thought if he could move a bit harder he could free himself from under the weight of the heavy wooden object. Red dust began swirling around. He stopped. He could hear voices approaching. The red cloud that had formed moved off and away from Cane, settling near some small flowering Sturt’s Desert Pea.
“G’Day, how goes it?” Big Daddy emerged from the Holden griping his cane.
“Good to see you up and about,” Beejay embraced him.
“See! Even Cancer can’t knock a good man down,” Madison remarked.
“C’mon, where’s your poofter-friend? He not here?” Big Daddy asked.
“No daddy. He moved out. We had an issue…” Beejay trailed off.
Wynter snickered under her breath. Cruz clasped her hand tightly to get her stop. They all walked into the house except Beejay and Madison who straggled behind.
Beejay and Madison glanced over at Cane. She whispered in his ear, “Look! Waltzing Matilda isn’t moving. Stay out here and move her outside the gate.” Beejay made his way over to the window and lifted the boomerang off Cane. He didn’t move. He lie perfectly still afraid of what would happen next. Beejay made a choking gesture at Madison, he mouthed: she’s dead.
Beejay reached down to grab Cane and he jumped. He jumped as fast as his little legs would carry him, to edge of the yard by a Eucalyptus tree. Beejay and Madison ran after him, Daddy, Mama with Cruz and Wynter appeared at the door sensing the commotion.
“What the hell are you two doing?” Daddy hollered out the door.
Beejay and Madison stopped, turned around. Beejay stood in front of the Eucalyptus tree motioning for Madison to hide Cane. Cane flailing and jumping about moved towards a Paperbark tree.
“Uh nothing…” They both responded in unison.
Big Daddy came out into the yard, walked over to them and started laughing.
“It’s a Cane toad!” He reached out and grabbed him as Cane sprang up mid-air.
“She hit our roof this morning,” Madison said.
“My roof. You just rent this property from me.”
Cane croaked as he held him. He put him down and walked over to the hose and vigorously washed his hands.
“It’s a male too not a female. Females are much bigger and don’t croak.”
Cane sat there, looking at them speak.
“Oh shame. I nick-named him, Waltzing Matilda,” Madison responded.
“Let him be. He’ll jump back to the road. The rangers will find him and destroy him. Damn blasted things everywhere. They kill house cats, vermin, snakes and dingoes! Some idiot decided in the 1930’s thought it would be a good idea to let them loose in here in Queensland.”
Cane hopped away. He hung out by the gate, listening. The exchange died off and he watched them all go back into the house. He explored around the yard looking for a way to escape. Eight o’clock came, more people arrived at the house. A party or gathering was happening, some sort of celebration. The people who arrived appeared sad though and almost like they were hiding something. Cane hopped towards the backyard and nestled himself between a rock and bush of weeds. He listened to the comings and goings. And fighting. There was a lot of it. And flannel plaid shirts. He couldn’t quite figure that out. He overhead Madison describing his earlier predicament on the roof to a fellow Bogan family member:
“What is the victory of a toad on a hot Colorbond roof?—I wish I knew… Just staying on it, I guess, as long as he can… but he slid off! Stuck to the window screeching as he went down it! Scared the hell out of me and Beejay.”1
Laughter erupted. Cane didn’t think it was so funny. He croaked. The party went quiet.
“Dammit all! That toad is back again!” Beejay announced.
“Aww shucks. Let him be. Leave a small dish of Victoria Bitter out for him. He’ll drink himself to death. Pleasant way to die. I’d rather die of inebriation than this Pancreatic cancer I have,” Big Daddy responded.
“Dad, just don’t. Not tonight,” Beejay hung his head.
He made his way inside to find a bowl for the VB. He saw Mama and another relative talking. He ignored them, grabbed an empty tin pie plate from under the kitchen sink and went back out into the yard. Beejay made his way over to Cane, sat the dish down and began pouring the beer into the tin plate.
“Drink up little man,” He said to Cane. “Mendacity is a system that we live in,” Declared Beejay. “Liquor is one way out an’death’s the other.”2
Cane stared up at him. Looked at the dish. Beejay walked off. The sweet odor of yeast hit Cane, he moved toward the dish and hopped in it. He slurped up the golden liquid. He felt good. Really, really good. And yet somehow he found himself lying on his back again. I could get used to this he thought as stared up at the starry night sky. The whirling voices in the air that night carried around the desert wind like a pack of wild dingoes. Cane fell asleep to AC/DC, ironically it was to Thunderstruck, the very same song that he first heard after being plopped down on the Bogan’s roof. He drifted in and out of consciousness. The heavy metal music, banter and partying carried on long into the night. Cane fell asleep in the tin pie plate.
Citations & References:
¹Williams, Tennessee. “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof: Top Ten Quotes.” Novel Guide, http://www.novelguide.com/cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof/top-ten-quotes. Accessed 22 October 2016.
²Williams, Tennessee. ” Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Quotes.” Good Reads, https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/69862-cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof. Accessed 22 October 2016.
Keeping toads off the island ABC Rural http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-06/keeping-cane-toads-off-groote/5074384#.WAuRDgHl450
AC/DC – Thunderstruck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2AC41dglnM
VB Victoria Bitter (Australian ad) 1988 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA1h9h7-_Z4
Why feeding toxic cane toads to native animals may be the answer http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/getting-reptiles-conditioned-to-the-fact-that-cane-toads-are-not-good-for-them/news-story/7c3adc983192507214dc43cf6a358f4f
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof: Metaphor Analysis http://www.novelguide.com/cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof/metaphor-analysis
The best (or should that be worst?) Bogan baby names http://www.kidspot.com.au/birth/galleries/baby-name-ideas/the-best-or-should-that-be-worst-bogan-baby-names
Professor honoured for work on front line of cane toad invasion http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-19/a-radical-approach-to-protecting-native-animal-from-cane-toads/7942310
Debunking Myths About Cane Toad Impact http://www.canetoadsinoz.com/debunkingcanetoadimpactmyths.html
Invasion Of The Deadly Cane Toads – Australia with Simon Reeve – BBC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYcl0xxU5_s