For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you’ll know about my friend the squatter (first referenced here, in relation to his chicken stealing antics). If you’re blissfully unaware of the squatter and the large role this man plays in my life, let me tell you a little more.
I first met him when his dog came running up to say hi to my puppies. They LOVED his pooch, and soon they were all rolling in some particularly foul smelling grass together.
Cue the squatter. I knew the house was abandoned. The windows were boarded. Light never shone from the crack beneath the door. No one had lived there for months. And yet this man walks over to the side of the house, sets himself down on the broken veranda and cracks open a beer.
He isn’t a very scary squatter. Sure, he only has one tooth on his upper gum, and he has a cold sore the size of a 50c piece on his top lip. And he is always drinking, even when I see him at 7am in the morning.
But he always offers me a sip. And sometimes a seat around the fire, on particularly cold mornings.
Since meeting the squatter, I’ve had the following moments (and I should warn you, this is just a selection. A squatter’s highlights reel, if you will):
- One morning, I was walking the dogs and an elderly gentleman walked past, the squatter’s dog in tow. When I came past the house on my way back, the squatter called me over.
“Me dog ran away this morning,” he says, 7am-beer in hand.
“I saw an older guy bringing him back.”
“Yeah, I was out searchin’ for ‘im, and when I came back there’s this guy in me laundry, tryin’ to tie him up!”
The main humourous part here is that, it’s not his laundry now, is it? Oh, and it doesn’t have a roof. Or a door. Or a washing machine.
- I’m walking past his house when his dog clambers up the rockface from the beach on the other side of the nature strip. Our puppies say hi, then I turn around–and am faced by the squatter, climbing over the rocks toward me, meat cleaver in hand.
“You know, that’s kind of creepy,” I say, eying the squatter and the knife–and the pathway to my house.
“Oh, don’t worry love, I’m not gonna kill ya or nothin’!”
Well, now that you mention it….
- I walk past and see the squatter pulling apart a boat that’s washed up on the rocks against the beach shoreline. He has the meat cleaver again and is using it like a saw, pulling pieces of wood away from the boat’s body.
“Did your boat wash up?” I ask. Because, hey, let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt.
“Nope.” The squatter shakes his head. “Salvage rights.”
And you know what? If there’s ever going to be anyone who knows something about salvage rights, I’d guess it would be a squatter.
- “Did I tell you about the dead body I saw the other day?”
“No, you didn’t,” I say. Once again, I do a quick check of the front of the house for that meat cleaver.
“Yeah, I saw a guy who’d like, slashed his wrists, ‘ey? He was in the bushes so I called the cops–or, I asked this young couple to call ’em, ’cause I didn’t have any credit–and they came, and I said to them ‘If he’s a bad man, I hope he dies.'”
“Oh,” I say. “That’s really sad. Was he okay?”
“I dunno, ‘ey. But I saw some kids playing there the other day and I told ’em they were making out in a spot where a guy died. Their eyes went so big, mate!”
“The poor things! They were probably terrified.”
“Nah. I just told ’em it’s a bit of CSI Umina!”
These are just a few squatter moments. I’ve also seen this guy steal a rooster, take a dentist chair from the side of the road and use it as patio furniture, hock a basketball hoop for cigarettes and, of course, the dreaded moment where I no longer saw the rooster at his house (poor Mr Crow-y).
Either way, despite the fact he’s a little odd, perhaps not the model citizen of society and okay, yes, sometimes a wee bit scary, it’s still inspiring. Because if he can pull this off, squat in this house presumably to try for eventual possession and still enjoy a beer at 7am in the morning…well, maybe there’s hope for me pulling off my writing career yet.
To see the rest of this week’s Thursday’s Children, follow the link here.