Owongoo looked sideways at Mirumdoo and shuddered when he thought of some of the thoughts he'd harboured about Doreena in the past.
He'd spent a great deal of his time whilst alone on the hunt fantasising about the woman standing only feet away from him. Unlike the two of them she was wearing a simple garment, and despite the way time had started etching its grim premonition of age on her face she was beautiful. At least she was to Owongoo's eyes.
â€œWhat are you doing here Doreena?â€ asked Mirumdoo before he could say anything.
â€œThe same reason as everyone else, I suppose,â€ she replied. â€œI was getting weary of going hungry. So me and my lads, my precious, precious lads, set out to find a better place to love â€¦ I mean live.â€ She smiled at them, rather vacantly, thought Owongoo.
Mirumdoo sighed. â€œI know, it was the same for us,â€ she said quietly, â€œand to think we were only talking about you a moment ago! Strange how things happen, isn't it?â€
Doreena smiled, but that smile hid an edge to it as though she was using it to cover some doubt or worry. â€œWhat were you saying about little me?â€ she asked.
â€œOh, not much,â€ laughed Mirumdoo. â€œWe were saying how you love animals and how nice it is to know someone with such a warm heart as you have. Have you brought your pussy with you?â€
â€œPussy?â€ asked Doreena, surprised, then: â€œOh, pussy! Yes, of course I have. I can't go anywhere without my pussy, don't you know!â€
â€œWe don't need to talk about animals,â€ put in Owongo, worried at the turn the conversation had taken. â€œWhere are you going, Doreena?â€ he asked.
â€œOh, me and the lads are on our way to an island in the sun, one that's far away that we've heard tell of,â€ she replied. â€œWe'll settle there and I'll open an establishment...â€
â€œAn establishment? For clothes? You mean a boutique?â€ asked Mirumdoo. â€œI'm fed up of having nothing to wear. My old skins had got really smelly,â€ she confessed. â€œSo did Owongoo's, so we threw them away.â€ she added.
â€œI wondered why your brave man was going tackle-out in these dangerous lands,â€ murmured Doreena. â€œBut he has got a manly figure, hasn't he? Those muscles, that broad chest, that noble brow â€“ and his other bits and pieces. I always said that size wasn't everything. You do agree, Mirumdoo, don't you?â€
Mirumdoo was at a loss for words, so she merely nodded her head, finally silenced.
â€œI think you're gorgeous, Owongoo,â€ breathed Doreena. â€œIf you didn't already have a woman of your own I'd soon get my claws in you, see if I wouldn't!â€
All Owongoo could manage was a strange little muted squeak.
â€œAre you going to join us?â€ asked Doreena. â€œThere are about a dozen of us â€“ me and the lads, that is, and the more the merrier is what I say. There are wild beasts in the lands about here. You can hear them at night, roaring and howling and sneaking into our camp. I'd be scared stiff if it wasn't for the lads: but they've come with me and they keep me safe.â€
â€œWhat lads?â€ asked Owongoo, gazing around him, staring into the still and silent distance.
â€œMy lads,â€ sighed Doreena. â€œMy fancy, special lads. They comfort me during the long, dark nights, you know. They hold my hands as I tread these foreign soils. They keep me safe.â€
â€œWhere are they, though?â€ asked Mirumdoo.
â€œOh, they're all around,â€ smiled Doreena. â€œCan't you see them? My precious lads, all might of muscle and hair of chest?â€
â€œThere's no-one here,â€ said Mirumdoo. â€œThe land's flat and I can see for miles, and unless they're really good at hiding there's nobody here.â€
Doreena looked troubled, then she smiled brightly. â€œThey were with me,â€ she admitted, â€œbut when we crossed the sundering seas â€¦ you must have crossed it, too â€¦ when we crossed on a raft there came a big wind â€¦ and they fell off, one by one â€¦ but they're here with me again â€¦ I can hear their voices when the wind blows calmly, I can see the shadows of them in my dreams, I know they're here from the things they say to me, the romantic songs they sing, the love that shines in their eyes...â€
â€œI can't see anyone,â€ cut in Owongoo.
â€œThey fell into the water... they were taken by the storm...â€ whispered Doreena, â€œbut they will come back to me, they will hold my hands with theirs, for they love me and I love them. I had a husband once and he left me...â€
â€œFlugilugs,â€ said Owngo, darkly, â€œI knew Flugilugs. He was a good man...â€
â€œHe left me!â€ flared up Doreena. Then she bowed her head sadly. â€œThey all leave me, the men I love,â€ she whispered. â€œThey fall off rafts and lie face down in the sundering seas. And then, when they've gone, I'm all alone again. You won't leave me, will you? Not like my lads did? We were going to be such a jolly party until that storm... Mirumdoo, Owongoo, say you won't leave me...?â€
Owongoo snorted and wanted to say he wasn't having a mad woman following them about and would she kindly go her own way, but Mirumdoo scowled at him.
â€œYou'll be safe with us, Doreena,â€ she said, quietly. â€œJust stay with us and we'll see you to your island in the sun...â€
And she scowled again at Owongoo, and he shrugged his shoulders and hoped for a change in the wind.
Â© Peter Rogerson 02.07.12