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North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Tale of Sammy and Juan

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

The Tale of Sammy and Juan

Andrew Ryan

Sammy and Juan went walkabout the other day. I knew something was up when they left the house wearing back-packs: Sammy rarely leaves the house with a backpack, certainly not on a Sunday morning. She always comes back before midnight. They said they were going to get a feed, and they didn’t come back until much later than anyone expected.

On the Tuesday, we in the house started to get a bit anxious. Have you heard from Juan or Sammy? When was the last time you saw them? I tried calling, their phones are off. Pete said “Maybe-they-dead” in some sort of American accent and I was like, “Nah, more likely with those two is that they just went bush for a bit” (in a way more rough-and-tumble Aussie accent) even though I’d never known Sammy to do that, and would have expected them both to let us know.

Because we in this house have a solid family vibe going, complete with hugs and tensions and shared dinners.

I felt it in my bones that my two friends were having an excellent adventure somewhere together, but then the bad thought was planted, and I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t like Pete dropping that thought in my mind. And Bek was worried, because she hates not having control, hates not knowing every detail about what is going on around her, and when she’s stressed, everyone else gets stressed.
Did they go to a party? Has Costa heard from them? What about our crew in Sydney? Did they have Juan’s number, have they talked to him?

So we were a bit worried.

I think that I am a writer primarily because I have an imagination that sends on me on journeys through all possible outcomes of any situation, especially the dark ones. Neurotic. Classic. So many tangents, I cannot keep them all in my head, gotta get them out. So many notebooks over the years, so fucking many, filled with best- and worst- and sometimes average-case scenarios based on my relationships, my decisions, and my observations.

One day I’ll be able to direct it in to books or something.

The big worry was that Sammy was not okay. That she was in danger. That she was dead. I imagined Bek calling the police, all hectic and harried, filing a missing persons report- maybe only for Sammy, maybe for them both- and then pulling her hair out for a few days, frenzied attempts to contact Sammy’s parents in Aotearoa, stress stress worry until we find out that her body has been found somewhere, life taken from her by someone else- a “natural” death seems impossible for someone as young and vibrant and sweet as she.

Fuck thinking about that. I hate thinking about that. Why must we fucking think about that, why is that such a prominent thought-option? How is it that the act of murder can be so easily accessed as a possibility when a young woman isn’t heard from for two days?

Because it’s happened before and it will happen again, and that is terrifying.

That is what stops me from hitch-hiking around this country. The fear of being attacked, raped, murdered. The fear of being over-powered. Also, the fear of being arrested simply for wanting to be free and on my own, sleeping where I like, away from designated camping areas full of arseholes and arsehole children and having to pay money for that experience when I should be only paying money for the petrol I am sharing with whoever gives me a lift, or for the food I need to sustain myself if I can’t find adequate nutrition on the land.

But mostly it’s the being murdered thing.

But also, land should not be owned.

Humanity is not trustworthy, or likeable, except for when it is.

No wonder walls are so easily built around hearts, when our trust has been broken by society before we even have the chance to learn the words with which to express ourselves.

Sammy and Juan turned up back at the house last night, Juan with a fistful of flowers from locals gardens because his gut told him we would be worried. They each spent ten dollars on train tickets and a bit of food, and survived two nights camping in the wrong-zoned bush about an hour out of Melbourne, using only the abandoned items they collected along their journey to keep them sheltered and warm.

Bless their cotton socks; I knew that’s what they were up to. I am keen to do something similar myself soon, but I’ll probz do it alone, except for a knife and some pepper spray.

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The image featured is David Moore’s painting: “Bush Summer, Eltham, 1924”