Gone Fishin' - Cover

Gone Fishin'

Copyright© 2010 by Pedant

Chapter 19

I was sitting in my office. It was Tuesday, March 1st and I was staring at an enlarged photo of Myrmecia brevinoda, the giant bulldog ant of the Western Australian desert. Together with some egg cases, this specimen had been found in Kelmscott, a southern suburb of Perth. Right next door, you might say. It looked just like the ones I'd seen in Brisbane. Then Shirl buzzed me.

"It's the big boss from Canberra."

"Put him on. Hi, Kevin." I wondered what this was about. "We're fine, thanks. Yes, settled in nicely. Oh. Oh. Yes, I met her in the Alice and then briefly when she was in Perth. She did! Oh. Yes, Labour Day. No, I don't think Weena's got anything planned. Yes, sir. Of course. Okay. Just fax everything to the office. Yes, I will. I'll tell her. Right." I put down the receiver. Weena wasn't going to be happy.

I looked at the ant again. Sighed. Picked up the phone but put it down again. If I call her at the Royal Perth and have her paged, she'll think it was a crisis. Best wait till they were at home.

The phone buzzed again. "Oh. Okay, Shirl. Bring 'em in. Thanks." There were several pages. I guessed only the cover sheet was important. "Hold on a minute," I told Shirl.


There's some sort of hysteria about "bugs" in Shark Bay. The nitwits went straight to the Minister because it's a UNESCO-listed site. So he's demanded an investigation.

Please fly up to Carnarvon, rent a car, and try to straighten everything out. It shouldn't take long. Do it over the holiday weekend, if you can.


The other sheets were pure guff. A telegram from some moron at Monkey Mia worried about the impact on tourism. An incoherent note to him from someone running a cat in the Bay. No description of the "bugs," no photo. I sighed. And why fly to Carnarvon, instead of directly to Monkey Mia?

Of course! Kevin had never been to the west. And Carnarvon had nearly 10,000 folks, unlike the barely 1000 in the whole Shark Bay region.

I put the papers in a folder and brought up Skywest on my screen. Well, about two hours from Perth to Monkey Mia. A bit more by way of Geraldton. I could fly up on Friday and back on Sunday. It looked like there was no Monday service.

"Shirl? Could you call Skywest and get me a reservation to Monkey Mia, returning on Sunday? And call Monkey Mia for a room, too."

"Sure. What's up?"

"You read it. Let Des read it, too. Maybe one of you can dope it out."

I drove home, thinking about just what "bugs" might mean; and what Weena would say.

"Sweetie!" called Weena, as she came in.


"We're not scheduled for anything over the holiday, are we?"

"No. I wanted to talk about that."

"Well, the hospital's in a bind because so many girls want the three days. If I work two doubles, they'll give me a week off in exchange."

I laughed. "Curiouser and curiouser ... Kevin wants me to fly north on a problem."


"Monkey Mia."

"Oh! I went there when I was around 12. I fed a dolphin and we looked at bunches of dugongs. It wasn't really a lot of fun. They wouldn't let us go swimming 'cept in a pool."

"Right. So, if you're going to work, I could fly up on Friday and come back on Sunday or Tuesday."

"Okay. What's the problem?"

"Kevin didn't know. They're complaining about bugs."

"I could complain about not getting a kiss." And that ended the conversation.

In the morning, I phoned Canberra and told Janice my plan. Then I called Monkey Mia and asked for the name on the telegram and told the bloke who I was, that I'd be flying in on Friday, and that the room "my girl" had called about should be for two or four nights.

"Two or four?"

"In case there really is a problem."

"Very well. We'll see you on Friday."

Friday morning I drove to the airport, parked, checked in. All I had was my trusty, old backpack with clothes, collection kit, and an Upfield to read -- Widows of Broome -- not close to Monkey Mia, but at least along the northwest coast.

It was an uneventful non-stop. Even with the upcoming long weekend, there were only a few on board. When I got to the terminal, I saw a van labelled "Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort," walked over and asked the driver: "Goin' to the Resort?"

He looked at his clipboard. "Dr. Hollister?"


"Just hop in, you're the only one this flight."

We were there in under 15 minutes. The landscape was uninteresting. The conversation non-existent.

At the resort, there was a tubby chap in a knit shirt and shorts waiting under the awning.

"Oh, Dr. Hollister," he began. "I'm so glad to meet you, this has been so distressing." And he extended a moist palm.

"Well. Let me dump my stuff in my room and you can tell me all about the 'bugs'."

"Right, right. Unh. Jonny, could you take Dr. Hollister to number 4?"

Jonny, who was my silent chauffeur, walked into the lobby, took a key from a hook, turned, and said: "This way."

The room was ... well ... a room. I put my pack on the bed, opened it, got out the collection kit, and turned to Jonny. "I guess we can go back to ... what do you call him?"

A glimmer appeared in Jonny's eyes. "Bossman, when I have to."

"Popular with the staff, eh?"

"Bloody ponce."


"Acts like one. Walks like one. Just no business here."

"Thanks. Not my type, either."

He was pacing in the lobby, wringing his damp hands, when we got there.

"Now, why don't you take me to those bugs?" I asked.

"Certainly. It's not far. Right by the beach. Near the treeline." The boss was really nervous. There wasn't a tree in sight; but there was some brush. "Over there, you can see those worms."

I walked over and forced myself not to laugh. The "worms" were larvae. And there were what looked like egg cases, too. I opened my case and took out two sample jars and a pair of tweezers, put several larvae/grubs in one and sealed it, opened the second and put the fragments of egg cases into it. Stowing the jars, I asked: "And the 'bugs, ' see any around?"

"No. No."

"Well, what did they look like?"

"Small. Black. Horrid."

"About how big?"

He held his thumb and forefinger about 5mm. apart.

"Sort of the size of a large apple seed? Or an orange pip?"

"Yes. Yes. Exactly."

"Okay. Let's go back. Is there a room with very bright light I could use for a while?"

"Yes. There's a meeting room. There's nothing scheduled there this week."

"Wonderful. And perhaps a clean white plate?"

"Yes. Yes."

They were back and bossman fired instructions to Jonny, who nodded, picked up another key, and signalled to me to follow. He opened a door and there was a meeting room with a long table and a shorter one forming a 'T.' He flicked a switch by the door, and fluorescent lights came on.

"And you need a white plate?"

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