Daisy by R.B. Clague
Who would ever believe that three cows absconding from a farm in country New South Wales could bring a father and son closer together, reunite two long-lost lovers, form a lasting friendship between completely different animal species, receive aid from a mysterious swami, and have a song dedicated to them by an internationally famous country music singer?
Who could foresee that those same three bovines could become enlightened, aware that humans actually consume cows, and in the end, capture the attention of the national media and the hearts of an entire nation as they attempt to escape to India, where cows are sacred and definitely not destined for the dinner table?
This and much more, is the occasionally hilarious, always uplifting, frequently thought-provoking, at times almost heartbreaking story of Daisy, as she, along with her friends Bunyip and Tulip set off on an amazing quest to step outside their limitations, becoming wiser and much more than others could ever expect them to be.
Tony and Petar woke early to the alarm clock installed inside the bed-head. It was still dark outside and they spoke in whispers as they searched around for their clothes. When they were fully clothed they headed outside, closing the door behind them and locking it with their room-key, which Tony placed in his jacket pocket. There was a slight chill in the air, although both of them knew that it wouldn’t last for long and that the heat of the summer day would soon make its presence known.
Tony led the way around to the back of the motel and opened the gate. Petar waited for him as he went inside and secured the horses, calming them with a soft and reassuring voice. ‘Easy,’ he said, ‘it’s all right.’
‘Let’s just walk them down to the beach,’ suggested Petar. ‘There’s nobody about at this time of the morning that’s going to spook them.’
‘Yeah, that’s a good idea. It won’t take long to fix their bridles and then we can go straight away instead of waiting to saddle them up.’
‘My thinking exactly,’ Petar said as a sleepy smile crossed her features.
‘You’re just a bit too smart for your own good,’ joked Tony as he pulled her close and kissed her.
‘That’ll be enough of that,’ said a voice from behind the pair that made them jump. ‘Sorry for scaring you,’ apologised the owner of the motel as he slipped through the open gate, walked up to them, and began petting one of the horses on the bridge of the nose.
‘That’s okay,’ replied Tony with a shy smile. ‘We just didn’t want to wake you or your good wife.’
The old man smiled and his sparkling white dentures shone in the darkness, glistening from the illumination that came from a streetlight across the road from the motel. ‘One thing that happens as you get older is that you need less and less sleep. I’m usually awake at dawn and my wife is usually up and cooking breakfast for the guests not long after that. I gather that you two are taking the horses for a run down to the beach?’
‘That’s right,’ replied Petar. ‘They could use some exercise and some time away from their saddles.’
‘They’re both lovely animals,’ observed the old man as he stroked the mane of the other horse, ‘and they didn’t cause the slightest bit of noise all night. I know, I would’ve heard them if they had. Our bedroom window is right there,’ he said pointing just across the way, ‘and we hear everything that goes on for about a hundred feet around. It’s an occupational hazard of having to look out for your business every night for many years. There are some troublemakers in the bay, although most of the locals know better than to fool with me. It’s mostly upstarts from out of town who cause trouble, although we haven’t had any bother around here for a while. It’s when the different festivals hit town and people get stupid on booze and drugs that we really have to watch out.’
‘Are there any festivals scheduled for the next few days?’ Tony asked him, hoping that there weren’t. It would mean that they would have to leave town sooner than they expected. Byron Bay was usually crowded on a normal day, but the influx of a great many visitors would make it almost impossible to manoeuvre the horses. It could even Daisy become dangerous for both the horses and innocent people if the animals suddenly became scared and bolted through a crowd.
‘No, thank goodness,’ replied the owner. ‘Most of the festivals have already been and gone. Summer’s almost over now and the students are heading back to their parents, where they’ll act like little angels until next year, and then they’ll be back to spend their parents’ money and act like feral animals for the duration of their holidays.’
‘Yeah, I came down here as a young person,’ said Petar, ‘although I was one of the good ones. I do remember, though, it could get very wild at times.’
‘Don’t get me wrong,’ said the old fellow, ‘most of them are good, well-behaved kids. It’s a pity that just a handful of them have to spoil it for everyone else.’
‘Anyway,’ said Tony changing the subject, ‘we’d better get these horses down to the beach and back, before the beach starts to get crowded.’
‘Yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you,’ said the old man. ‘I came out to ask you if you’d like for us to keep breakfast for you. You can have it when you get back from the beach. There’s nothing like the sea air to bring on a ravenous hunger.’
‘Sure,’ said Tony. ‘I’ll just have some toast and coffee.’
‘That goes for me too,’ said Petar. ‘I don’t want anything fancy.’
‘All right,’ replied the old fellow smiling as he walked them towards the gate, ‘then toast and coffee it shall be. I’m supposing that you’ll be gone for about an hour. If we know when you’re getting back, we can have it ready and waiting for you. There’s nothing worse than cold toast and lukewarm coffee,’ he added with a look of disgust in his eye, as if he just could not bear the notion of providing a less-than-quality service that might in some way reflect on him or his wife.
‘Yeah, okay,’ agreed Tony, ‘we’ll see you in about an hour.’
‘Don’t worry about the gate,’ said the owner as they passed through and walked out onto the front yard of the motel, ‘I’ll shut it behind you.’
When they were about a hundred yards from the motel, Petar began giggling.
‘What’s so funny?’
‘You don’t remember the owner’s name, do you?’
Tony started laughing too. ‘No I don’t, do you?’
‘No,’ replied Petar as she erupted into laughter and had to stop walking, ‘and I feel too embarrassed to ask now.’
‘I guess we’ll have to figure that out later,’ said Tony smiling. ‘It’s the least of our problems. Come on, let’s get going.’
The two of them, leading the horses by their bridles, walked though a local football oval and along a concrete pathway that led to the beach. They stopped on the crest of a hill and looked out at the ocean before them, awed at the enormity of it and the power they could almost feel exerted by the sea. They watched the far horizon and the seeming never-endingness of it and looked at the golden sun that was, just then, beginning to breach the darkness of the previous night.
‘It’s beautiful,’ observed Petar taking Tony’s hand in her own.
‘Yeah,’ agreed Tony. ‘If you painted a picture of it, people would think that you’d made it up in your mind. It seems almost unreal.’
They walked hand in hand without saying a word, down the hill and then wandered up the beach, the horses trailing behind them. They watched the ocean and looked for a place where there were no obvious rips that would drag them out to sea.
Once they’d found the perfect spot they stripped down to their underclothes, each in turn holding the horses’ bridles so that they Daisy
wouldn’t run off. When they were ready they led the horses down to the water’s edge to let them get used to it for a few minutes before they led them out to deeper water where they could swim and get some real exercise.
The animals snorted and whinnied as they swam, enjoying the experience. The water was a little chilly when they first submerged, but once they had, the experience was incredible and the temperature ideal.
They swam the horses around for about twenty minutes, and then jumped on their backs and rode them into the shore. Tony and Petar dismounted and used their clothes to dry their wet bodies and hair before they dressed again. They checked the time and saw that only a half hour had elapsed.
They spent the rest of the time going for a walk along the shoreline, feeling the soft sand between their toes and relishing the cool breezes that came off the ocean, all without saying a word to each other, as if talking would somehow spoil what felt like a perfect moment.
Tony looked at his watch and saw that they needed to get back to the motel for breakfast. Without speaking, the two of them headed back the way they had come.
They reached the motel at the allotted time. Tony looked at his watch and was pleased. He didn’t like to be late for anything; he was a bit of a stickler for being punctual. He guessed that was what came from living in the city for so long.
R.B Clague was born and raised in Melbourne, Victoria. He attended Heidelberg Technical School and studied social sciences at Monash University. R.B’s employment in a variety of fields throughout his career has included Health Care, Child Protection, Forensic psychiatry, Juvenile Justice, Community Outreach and Youth Residential work with several non-Government Agencies.
R.B. spent seven years, employed in various states and Territories around Australia as a Probation and Parole Officer, including three years in Central Australia, where he worked with tribal Aboriginal people on remote desert communities.
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