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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2200464
Amilcar's Australian adventure
Amilcar’s Campfire

Well it's lonesome away
from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night
Where the wild dingos call

Gordon Parsons

Amilcar was in Australia when he received the wonderful news that he had passed his final exam for membership of The Most Worshipful Order of Hermits and Sundry Ascetics. A certificate guaranteeing his standing as an official hermit of the Order was enclosed with the letter.

To celebrate his new status, Amilcar decided that he should meditate in the wilderness for forty days. In Australia, the wilderness is called the Outback, so Amilcar set out in that direction immediately. He made no preparations for the journey and took no supplies since, as an ascetic, he had no need of such things.

As most of Australia is Outback, Amilcar had no trouble in finding it. He chose a suitably deserted and dusty location and sat down to meditate. Towards evening, he stirred as thoughts of the coming night disturbed him. He should build a campfire, not for warmth or food preparation (an ascetic is above such comforts), but to ward off the more ferocious creatures that lived there. Amilcar rose and collected some dry grass and a few twigs to start his fire.

The classic “rub two sticks together” method was tried first. Half an hour of fruitless rubbing persuaded Amilcar to try another method. He tried the stick twirling between the hands and the sliver of bark method. A few minutes of raising blisters on his palms put paid to that.

Amilcar tried a few other methods without success. In the end, he was driven to consider matches. There was a country store he had noticed little more than a day’s walk from his chosen campsite. It was entirely possible that the store would sell him a box of matches.

This did not solve his immediate problem. It was night by this time and, already, unfamiliar animal sounds arose from the darkness. Amilcar decided that the safest bet was to walk through the night to the store. He set out at once.

As luck would have it, Amilcar encountered no ferocious animals that night and dawn found him waiting patiently for the store to open. When the sunburnt shopkeeper arrived mid-morning, he assured Amilcar that he did have matches for sale and the hermit, after rummaging in his robes for a moment, produced a shiny silver coin that proved just sufficient to purchase a box of fire sticks.

At this point, Amilcar found that he was not ready to face the long journey back to his campsite. It was too late to get there before sunset and he would have to travel the last few miles in the dark. With the shopkeeper’s permission, he sat down to meditate in the open area in front of the store.

In the evening, a kindly rancher stopped and invited him to a barbecue he was having that night. Amilcar was far too polite to refuse. Although it troubled his ascetic conscience, he managed, when pressed, to eat a few sausages and bread rolls. Later he tried a beer and liked it so much that he had at least two more. In the end, the barbecue turned into such a celebration of his elevation to official hermithood that Amilcar remembered little of the night’s proceedings in the morning.

He knew enough to realise that his Australian attempt at meditation in the wilderness was spoiled beyond redemption. When the rancher offered him work as a stockman, Amilcar accepted, with the thought that it was just for a few weeks and then he would be off in search of enlightenment again. He had read somewhere that cattle were sacred animals and found that he much preferred them to wild beasts.

It was only much later that it occurred to him that a barbecue is a type of campfire.

Word Count: 643
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