The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organizations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.

The Arrival

It was a blisteringly hot December day, just before the annual Christmas Parade was to be held in Rangiora, when Ned finally quit his job in Christchurch and bought a tiny cottage in Possum Point, North Canterbury, New Zealand. He had been imported from New Jersey by the Krukchook software company. From day one, he had not seen eye to eye with the boss, and their eyes drifted ever apart until came a time when he was crosseyed and the boss, walleyed as a result. This satisfied neither, and so he decided to depart. It had nothing at all to do with trepidations about developing a proprietary database product with limited connectivity in an environment dominated by powerful open 4GLs linked to OS level clustering extensions supporting scalable solutions and failback on symmetric multiprocessing enterprise class servers with thin clients. Naw. It was just that he had had enough.

"You will agree that all the things that have gone wrong in this department are your fault," said the boss.

"Bollocks," replied Ned.

And that was that.

And so, Ned decided to give up on civilisation and move to the beach, to do some writing and a lot of fishing. He sold the house in Christchurch, and moved out to Possum Point, where he found a tiny run down cottage, called a "bach", going cheap. Late one evening, he gathered all of his belongings up, stuffed them into a trailer, and made his way with fits and starts to his new abode, where, with prodigious effort, he managed to force everything into the cottage and the garden shed behind and still get the doors closed.

Meanwhile, the sun finally set, and somewhere, a cow lowed. The waves could be heard rushing up the shore, and the last of the cannabis-seeking helicopters retreated home. A dog yowled. A neighbor cursed, and something was thrown. An entire flock of birds returned to its nests in the eves of Ned's cottage. And, in the back garden, if you listened closely enough, you could hear a billion insects munching upon every piece of greenery in sight.

The next morning, Ned was abruptly awakened at an evil hour by the chirping and tweaking of the birds underneath his roof. He pulled the covers over his head, just in time for a determined buzz at the door. Half-heartedly, he dragged on a robe and made his way to the door, around various boxes and piles of things. The door swung open, revealing a short, wiry individual, aged about 40, in a state of extreme agitation.

"Hello, I'm John and I live just across the way from you and saw you come in last night I hope you had a good move, alright, but the thing is that I was wondering, if you didn't mind, if you could help out and bring an airplane back from Rangiora, it's not too big, but it will take two, and what do you say?

"I suppose..," Ned began, as John marched him away toward a tiny Austin mini that had been hand-painted a kind of mauve and almost didn't run.

All the way out to the airport, John sang a song with filthy lyrics about some kind of dog. At the airport, Ned was only half surprised to see a BD-5 "personal jet", largely completed, laying in parts in a storeroom. The BD-5 is a tiny aluminum kit airplane that some say is the most dangerous airplane ever built.

First, they strapped the wings to the top of the car and drove back from Rangiora to Possum Point by the back way. This time, John sang an agricultural song with filthy lyrics, and very loud. They dropped off the wings and headed back for the fuselage. Perching the fuselage on top of the mini took a great deal of thought, because it was much larger than the car. But, with enough ropes looping through the door frame, it worked, though John had to climb into the car through the window after it had been secured.

Now it started to rain, and Ned realised that the windshield wipers didn't really work, so he had to lean out the window and wipe it with his sleeve while John drove. The clouds made it dark, at which point Ned discovered that the lights didn't really work, either, although, admittedly, they did flicker a little. John sang the doggie song again.

Meanwhile, the local constable happened to look up just as the car was passing some trees, and he saw what appeared to be a huge bomb floating down the highway. He cautiously pulled out in pursuit, not wanting to give an alarm yet, especially after the flying saucer incident the previous week.

When they reached the house, John punched out a window and loaded the fuselage through.

"Landlady won't give a damn and besides I'll have it all back together tomorrow anyway, and wasn't that something, and I think I'll put a ram jet into her, or maybe even one of them rocket engines and she'll really go, and won't that be something."

"By the way," he continued somewhat later. "What are you doing here?"

At this point, Ned began the story about the job and the writing, but John said "Well, gotta go, time to have tea," and turned around, beginning to sing the doggie song again.

Ned returned home, pondering these things. There was a note on his door. "Your dog ate my vegetables, and so I shot him," it said.

"It is a lucky thing that I do not have a dog," he thought.

The constable cruised warily around the block, but everyone was inside, doors bolted, and even the airplane parts were safely out of sight.

When the rain stopped, the parade in Rangiora began. The local brass band came out in all of its marching finery, blaring "Tiptoe through the Tulips" with mixed success. Santa came along on his float, which was not in the best condition due to a wrangle with the local council. The float got a flat, and Santa careened into the crowd. Everyone was looking for the constable, who just now completed his second desultory tour of Possum Point.

On the radio, the Rangiora police dispatcher was sounding frantic. A small dog skittered across the front bonnet of the patrol car, yelping, a limping old gentleman waving a stick in hot pursuit. Nevertheless, discarding the current situation for that of Rangiora, the constable put on the blinking lights and the siren, and got the car up to speed.

At the end of Plover Street, Mavis Gromlin looked down in satisfaction. The crosses she had drawn on all her doors with holy water from St. Michael’s had actually worked! The police had been hexed away from her sacred cannabis plant, growing in the bathtub under the warm glow of fluorescent lighting.

There were two loud reports, some say from a shotgun, some say from an old tire. The birds in Ned’s eves went frantic. The buzzer went off again. And, it was John.

"Well, I thought maybe you could help me to look for my wee dog which was running just across the street, and I don’t know why it was running. "

"He just jumped into your window," said Ned.

"Oh, dear, oh no, he’ll piz all over the thing, and that’s hard to get out, and it’ll be a lot of sanding. A lot of sanding."

He left, hurriedly. Ned sighed. The shed out back fell over with a crash, taking along part of the fence. The birds went frantic. It began to grow dark and somewhere, a cow lowed. The waves could be heard rushing up the shore, and the last of the cannabis-seeking helicopters retreated home. A dog yowled. A neighbor cursed, and something was thrown. An entire flock of birds returned to its nests in the eves of Ned's cottage. And, in the back garden, if you listened closely enough, you could hear a billion insects munching upon every piece of greenery in sight.

 Copyright 1996, Brian J. Dooley