I rolled into the yard, dry, dusty, the grass dead and brown. A tired old fibro house was perched on a small rise of dirt, shimmering under the hot, hot sun. The air-con in my van was flat out, and only just managing to keep the inside bearably cool. Two people gave me a lazy wave from the safety of the dark pool of shadow, an undercover area at the side of their home. They had a couple of little dogs yapping their heads off, but neither wanted to step out into the withering heat of the sun. I turned off the motor, wound down the windows, and hopped out. The sun struck me like a molten sledgehammer, and squeezed rivers of sweat out of every pore in my body. The 20 or so metres I had to walk to the relative cool of the shade felt like a mile or more. My shirt was wet before I got there and flopped down into a comfy chair.
“Hot eh?” said the man, big, round in the belly, hairy, with arms graced by a delicate filigree of ink.
“Isn’t it though?” I replied. “The worst time of the year, I reckon, hot, sticky, and teasing us with storm clouds every afternoon, but not a drop of rain… How’s your little dog going? I think you wanted a check up, and some more homeopathic medicine for her?”
“Yes, that’s right,” said the lady, fanning herself with an old newspaper, face shiny with sweat. “She’s actually going pretty well – those drops you gave us last time have really helped, she’s had a lot fewer fits, and they haven’t been as severe, either. And she’s so much better not being on those damned tablets, they made her into a zombie.”
I got her to pick up the little dog – she was quite fearful, and would bite, so I took hold of her carefully, and sat her on my knee – about 2 kilograms of bristling attitude. Fortunately she didn’t have many teeth, and was fat and old, so she couldn’t easily reach around to nip me. I was very careful to place my hands where she couldn’t reach to nip me. Her back hairs were standing up with indignation, and she was very put out indeed as I checked her over. I carefully put her down, and she stalked off like a wet cat, shaking me off before hiding under her mum’s chair and glaring at me.
“She does have just a little bit of attitude, doesn’t she?” I asked. “Shes fine, though she still needs to lose weight. How are you going with that diet?”
A guilty expression fleeted across the man’s face as she answered – “Well, we’re trying, but she complains a lot when she doesn’t get what she wants, and it’s hard, for some of us, at least,” she said, with a wry look at her hubby.
He looked even more abashed, and tried to sink into his chair. I gave them the whole spiel again about how her being fat was really not helping her health, but it was a bit by rote, because I could see that he was going to keep giving his little dog whatever she asked for. I knew he wasn’t going to change, that dog had him well and truly trained up. I had to brave the sun to make up a new bottle of medicine for her- a blend of Australian Bush Flower essences and a carefully chosen homeopathic remedy. I came back in, labelled the bottle, and packed up to go.
We said our goodbyes, and I braced myself for the heat. The sun beat down on me mercilessly, and then I had to get into the van, which had been sitting in the full sun for a good half an hour. My heart rate shot up, and I started panting like a dog as I fumbled to get the key in the ignition and the motor started. I cranked up the air-con to flat out and as cold as it would go, and waved to them as I rolled off, sweat now gushing from every pore. It took a good ten minutes for the car to cool down enough to be comfortable.