The spring day was bitter as Bruce Murdoch headed off to milking for the last time. A cold front had gone through in the night, sweeping the sky clear.
He was a third generation farmer. It had been two years since he had quit his desk job and returned home. He’d burnt a few bridges; this was meant to be a new beginning after all. Bruce had taken on the farm, the cows and a mountain of debt. And his father’s right-hand-man, Charles.
He had known Charles in boarding school. Charles had been in the same house, three years ahead of him. Bruce thought he could handle him but realised too late that Charles wasn’t interested in switching allegiances. Like all good bullies Charles was clever and subtle. Nothing overt, just casual needling and subversion which over time slowly wore Bruce down. Bruce had tried to sack Charles, but his father wouldn’t have it of course. And the Celexa the doctor had given him hadn’t helped.
The wood of his Grandfather’s old Remington felt warm in his hands as he lifted it from the tray of the truck. He found Charles already in the pit, putting the cups on the first row of cows. Bruce lifted the gun and shot Charles once in the throat. Then again in the chest as he lay gurgling in the shit, just to be sure. The cows lowed and complained but soon settled as Bruce finished milking on his own.
Category Archives: Duncan Smith
Slow humid rain falling in the gloom. She leads the way up the track, about an hour to the hut perhaps, we should make it just on sunset. It’s darker in the bush, beech trees towering above us, a light southerly pushing through the tops. The raindrops are intercepted by the canopy but regroup into something bigger and more violent on the way down. I don’t want to put on my raincoat, it will make me sweat… and smell. I recall something about women having a more acute sense of smell than men.
Long day at work, late to meet her, not what I had in mind for a first date: she probably thinks I’m an idiot. I try to think of something clever to say, but her legs ahead are distracting, all symmetry and grace. Stop looking at her and think. It is beautiful here, shadows and grey mist, elbowed branches and gnarled roots. I lick the rain and sweat off my lips.
Soon we are above the bushline and cloud. The sun has just gone, leaving half-light and a gentle wind through the tussock. She turns to look back. Her face and neck have fine angles and shadows, and I glimpse a smile at the edge of her lips. She is beautiful in her element.