Chapter 8

Written by: Donna McTavish

“Late for what?,” I splutter as Gerard leads the camel through the busy afternoon crowd. People move away quickly leaving us a clear path to … where exactly are we going? I shout the question at the back of Gerard’s head.


He pauses for a second as if unsure which direction to go and I watch incredulously as the camel lowers his head and Gerard leans in close. For a freaky moment I think he’s going to give the beast a hug but what happens is the camel and Gerard huddle. Gerard nods several times then lets the lead drop from his hand. I brace myself for the chaos that I am certain will follow a camel on the loose but no one notices, or cares if they do. The camel pulls his huge rubbery lips tight baring his teeth in a sneering grin, bats his impossibly long eyelashes and turns decisively to the left. He walks daintily, lifting each foot as if it was a puppet on an invisible string, and Gerard follows. So do I. 


It turns out that camels have an excellent sense of direction. Ours confidently turns right, then left then left again, and I begin to notice that other people are strolling purposefully in the same direction; there are animals too, some being led and the tiniest fluffiest ones being carried. After a while I can hear a PA system playing Because You’re Gorgeous


Gerard and the camel stop at a gate and wait for me to catch up. “Well that was quick,” he says cheerfully. I raise my eyebrows and he smiles his goofy smile. The camel harrumphs and Gerard smiles at him too (is it a him I wonder?) and nods again. I swear the animal nods back.


Gerard either doesn’t hear my question or he is ignoring me because I still don’t know where I am or what is happening. One minute later he disappears with the camel behind the flaps of a red and white striped marquee and tells me that he’ll be back soon.


The PA is playing Just The Way You Are and a young girl walks past leading a horse wearing a purple feather headdress. They disappear into a large circular arena and I hear a man’s voice booming to the people inside … “and now ladies and gentleman, please welcome …”  but I can’t hear anything more over the clapping and hollering. 


“Here we are,” Gerard says. 


He’s beaming and the camel, well, it turns out the camel isn’t a him. She is wearing a silver crown on her head with a large red pom pom on the top and a silver ribbon is tied under her hairy chin. Her hump is covered in a blanket made of silver lace that falls gracefully down her flank and there are fine silver chains draped around her impossibly large eyes. Like any woman dressed to the nines, she knows that she’s gorgeous and she knows that we know too.


What a fabulous chapter, written with just the right amount of tongue in cheek. Those animals and their attire were described to perfection. Gerard is also strangely believable and that is clever word crafting. Fabulous chapter.