(My Uncle Graham was always good for a yarn and this was one of my favourites.)
Graham and his best mate The Groper had fallen on hard times in Sydney so they joined a road gang working out in Western New South Wales. It was a simple life, living in a set of Atco huts a few kilometres out of town, driving trucks and swinging shovels all day, then hitting the pub after work.
One Friday, after a week of 40 degree plus days, the gang headed in for a counter meal and a few cold ones. By about 10 o’clock the rest of the crew were ready to head back to camp in the truck, but Graham and his mate decided to stay and keep drinking.
Fully tanked now, Uncle Graham and the Groper had a good run on the pool table, and a couple of locals weren’t real happy about it. It didn’t take much for a fight to start. The Groper was an exceptionally tall man, and had a habit of using his fist like a hammer on the tops of people’s skulls. Graham had boxed in the army and had a more conventional style, keeping them busy while the Groper launched his assault from overhead.
It didn’t take long for the cops to be called, and as soon as they heard the siren Uncle Graham and his mate decided it was time to cut their losses and run. Out the door they went, taking off in what they supposed, in the dark, was the direction of their camp.
Within a few minutes they found themselves out of town, and while they could still hear the siren out there somewhere, looking for them, it seemed quite a distance away. It was a pitch black night so they just kept on walking.
They came to a chain mesh fence, but didn’t hesitate, just climbed over it. They were too drunk for skirting obstacles.
Pretty soon, the two men found themselves knee deep in water. ‘Hell mate,’ Graham said, ‘This is water, where do you s’pose we are?’
The Groper shrugged, ‘I guess it’s that dam just near the camp. It ain’t deep, I had a dip a couple of days ago. Just keep walking, I reckon. We’re nearly home.’
Graham did as his friend suggested, but the water was soon up to their thighs, then their ribs.
‘Jesus Groper, are you sure this is the dam?’
‘Course it is mate, just keep walking.’
Next thing the water was up to their necks, and the Groper started complaining. ‘Cripes this water stinks. I don’t remember it smelling this bad.’
For a few seconds the water was over Graham’s head and he copped a mouthful. He started swimming, until finally his foot touched bottom again. ‘Hang on mate, it’s getting shallower.’
It was true, next thing the water was down to their waists, then their knees. They were starting to think they were finally getting somewhere when a set of powerful floodlights flicked on, and they looked up into the face of a security guard standing on the edge of a roadway on the bank of the pond.
‘Stop right there you two!’
Graham and his mate were too drunk to know what to do. So they did as they were told. Things soon got worse. Car headlights flashed down the road, followed by a screech of brakes, then a police car rocked to a halt, lights flashing.
Three cops got out of the patrol car, and a strange thing happened. The cops started laughing, rolling on the road laughing. Laughed so hard they hugged each other, fell over and laughed some more.
After a while Uncle Graham couldn’t stand it any more. He waded through the last bit of the pond then stood there on the bank, dripping wet, with the Groper at his side, looking at the cops.
‘You blokes have gone mad. Aren’t you gonna arrest us?’
The cops thought that was even funnier, slapping each other on the back and laughing like lunatics. Finally, however, they got into their patrol car and drove off, leaving just Uncle Graham, the Groper and the security guard standing looking at each other.
The guard shook his head slowly. ‘This is the sewerage works, ya morons.’
And that, Uncle Graham used to say, was why they couldn’t arrest us.
©2015 Greg Barron