Even with his acute hearing that could pick things up from kilometres away Rigabold had to wait for nearly three minutes before he could hear the approaching creature he was parked there for. Then after first hearing it there was another three minute wait before the creature arrived next to him.
“Well, hello Flugglenuff.” Rigabold said as he stood beside his Dodge Ram which was parked on the bitumen road that headed down to the Head of the Bight in the South Australian Outback.
Standing at his feet was a black, a silky jet black to be completely honest, four legged creature which stood just under a metre high. It’s four paws were large, the size of a small human child’s foot, while its legs were long and strong and its upper torso across the shoulders and down to its hind quarters looked like they were all muscle. But it was the creature’s head that stood out the most, it was the size of a basket ball and although he didn’t need to see them to know they were there Rigabold could see the sharp teeth and big eyes glinting in the moonlight. In just about every way the creature that sat at Rigabold’s feet looked like a panther, an over sized panther but a panther nonetheless.
“Evening Rigabold. Geez did you pick that hunky chunk bod with the bad head or was it assigned to you?”
“It’s better than being a black panther!”
“No it’s not, you look like a meathead beef cake only good for capturing female drool.” Flugglenuff said.
“Jealous are we matey?” Rigabold asked with a smile on his face knowing that his friends comments about the good looking Helmsworth’s body were fairly close to the truth.
“Not really, I gots what I gots and I can live with that!” Flugglenuff said with complete honesty. “So what brings you out to my neck of the woods?”
“Not really much wood around here!” Rigabold said and the big panther raised his front shoulders as if he was shrugging at such an obvious statement. Rigabold continued the conversation. “They sent me here to get the recipe and the best cook of Chiko Rolls.”
“Oh geez, half ya luck. I haven’t had a warm Chiko Roll in ages.” Flugglenuff said.
“If I come back this way I’ll bring you a few.” Rigabold said.
“Cheers, Riga, you’re a legend!”
“That’s what my dog tags say!”
There was a brief laugh between the old friends then Flugglenuff asked. “What are you doing this far out anyway? The Chiko Roll factory is miles away.”
“Bloody Stargazer was too big to park anywhere but that bloody big crater near Halls Creek. So I’m doing the hard yards in this thing.” Rigabold pointed over his shoulder at the Dodge.
“Could be worse I suppose.” Flugglenuff said. “Why you flying a Stargazer and not something a bit smaller?”
“Still paying for that darn skylarking incident where that silly satellite ran in to me.”
Both Rigabold and Flugglenuff broke out in laughter.
“I remember that, you dropped the bugger a thousand clicks down the road from here.”
Rigabold and Flugglenuff laughed and reminisced about the Skylab incident and Rigabold’s punishment which saw him still flying a Stargazer, which was a capable and fast machine but was as Rigabold knew on the large side.
“Why didn’t you just park it in the ocean and come to land closer to your final destination?” Flugglenuff asked once they’d stopped reminiscing. Rigabold tilted his head and looked his friend directly in the eyes at which point his friend began to laugh again. “You didn’t even think of that did you?”
“Bah!” Rigabold said in disgust without adding anything else to the conversation. Truth was he hadn’t thought of dropping her in the ocean. Why he hadn’t thought of it he couldn’t even guess but it was too late to do anything about even if he could figure it out. “A nice long drive at a speed slower than a Tumcuddulan sniffleberty,” which was not unlike an earth snail, “will do me the world of good.”
The black panther shuffled his four feet and then said. “Oh well, at least you get the chance to see me. That’s an opportunity too good to pass up. It’s the kind of thing you’ll be telling your kids and grand kids about for the next million squeelookals!”
“Oh for sure.” Rigabold said sarcastically. “Got anything to report, or anything you need?”
Flugglenuff spent the next ten minutes explaining to Rigabold how he wasted away most of his days creeping around the rocks, shurbs and bushes. How he’d often poke his head up over a rise or out from behind a shrub when he knew people were looking, or his favourite past time of running across the land at a far enough distance that people could not accurately make out any single things about him.
“Have you achieved your objective yet?” Rigabold asked after Flugglenuff’s story.
“Well you’ve seen the reports and the stories about a black cat, dog, tiger, panther, and whatever else roaming around out here when people come to whale watch.” Rigabold nodded at Flugglenuff’s statement. “Well I think I’ve done pretty good at achieving my goal. And not only that I’ve got a wonderful view to enjoy while I do it. Honestly it’s and amazing workplace.”
Rigabold shared a few Pollywaffles and some drinks with Flugglenuff as they talked in the darkness but he knew his time with his friend had to come to an end because they both had jobs to do and as Flugglenuff had pointed out to him his job could have been completed in a lot less time had he thought about where he parked the Stargazer.
They bid each other farewell, Rigabold again promised he’d bring back some Chiko Rolls if his return path took him across the Nullarbor and within ten minutes Rigabold was back in the Dodge and heading east along highway 1.