Chapter 9

Written by: Ken Burns

Clearly the entrance fee of $200 for the beauty contest had prevented many locals from venturing out despite the noise from the marquee. No one apart from Mrs Knight knew the contest was a set up to help fund Gerard’s and my wedding.  The change left over from the $10,000 prize money would be more than enough to pay for the special day as long as there were enough entries.   

While some everyday people can spend limitless amounts of their own money on the pets they love, getting involved in a public display of beauty/grooming-care is another story.  This, though, does not stop people and pets from being part of the show.

Mrs Whitman is still dressed like a “Sunday-church-visiting-mum” holding her beautifully groomed white Persian cat Hector.  He has a silver coloured leather collar with a tag attached with all identifying details engraved on both sides.  Hector’s name clearly in upper case is on one side and a cell phone number on the other. Mrs Whitman holds him close to her chest stroking his beautifully groomed coat. Hector purrs loudly with obvious affection towards his dressed-to-the-nines softly-stroking owner.  

Two police officers with German shepherds are behind Mrs Whitman. Both attached to leads sitting quietly to their right-hand side. The community constables are identical twins, Neil and Sarah, who followed their father and mother into the police force.  They are next in line to pay the entry fee clearly loving being part of this new community binding event.

The camel stands slightly back from Gerard holding her head high like the princess of New England she feels she is.

“Everyone is looking at me.” This daydream whisks into her big hairy head in a language only she can understand.

Gerard looks out over the crowd. He waves when he spots me, clearly happy in making this project work however awkward it is.

I wave back while a bit shaken by the fact Gerard is behaving like he loves that fuzzy camel more than me.  My love is bigger than that furball with a big hump and fat lips I assure myself quietly.  

Mrs Knight is walking across the carpark with a coffee in her left hand while shoving a chocolate donut into her well lipsticked mouth. She doesn’t see me otherwise she’d be caught out of her own authoritative head space.

“Just keep it to yourself’ my dad told me.

“Don’t get in the way of a good time,” was the second part of that life philosophy.

His wisdom has helped me get through any disagreeable situation in my life so far.  Mrs Knight has been an ongoing target of that philosophy.

Gerard has the camel’s head in his soft hands, whispering into her left ear.

The P.A. system kicks into life with a crackle…

“10 minutes to go and the winner will be crowned.”

The camel takes a confident step towards the entrance.