By Adrian Hyland
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He was bow-legged and barefoot, wearing, as he'd always worn, a checked shirt, a white beard and a look of bemused anticipation. Lincoln Flinders. I scooped my blanket up from the seat, threw it around my shoulders, kicked away a couple of dogs and took a step forward. When he was ten feet away he paused, examined me more closely. What would he have seen? A short woman in a blue denim dress with a mass of wiry black hair, a tawny complexion, a pair of apprehensive eyes. Anyone he recognised? I should be so lucky.
Some of the old people said they'd seen him as a boy, chained to a tree out at Kilyubatu, in the desert north of here. The Kilyubatu mob swore that he'd been raised by dingoes. Teddy Bushgate had it on good authority that he'd been thrown, fully formed, out of a volcano. Us kids, except for Hazel, who was strangely immune from the universal terror and seemed almost fascinated by him, called him Mamu: the Demon. My old man told me once that, as far as he could piece together the story, some missionary mob had taken the young Blakie to an orphanage in Adelaide, from where he'd absconded into the desert.
Yelled Bindi. 'This drivin round in circle tangle up my brain…' My passengers gave up their various diversions and clambered back aboard. We inscribed a slow circle in the dust and headed for home, swapping insults, oranges, tobacco and, occasionally, passengers, as the kids took whatever opportunity arose to make death-defying leaps between the two cars. We were running along the foot of Jimpili Hill, almost back at the camp, when something - a shift in the noise level, a subtle tension in the air - made me look up.