The Beauty Contest

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Serial Starter

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

There’s a camel in my backyard.

Eating Mrs Whitman’s neighbouring prized white and violet hydrangeas.

I make a coffee, deciding that whatever I drank last night must’ve been good, like really good. The first caffeine sip and I shudder.  The next and, one by one, my muscles stand to attention.

A goose-bumpy cacophony of nasally groans snaps my attention to the living room. Snorey-Corey must’ve stayed over. I flip-flop against the old, patchy linoleum in my tiger-print slippers, [a Coles’ winter special]. I was right. Snorey-Corey is spreadeagled on the divan, fast asleep, wearing his Mighty Thor boxers and a dopey grin that I find quite disturbing.

I make a fast retreat to the kitchen.

More caffeine required, much stronger this time.

What is it about first morning coffees and windows? That fixated need to blend the two. I look up [for the second time] and immediately wished I hadn’t.

There’s a camel in my backyard.

Now feasting on Mrs Whitman’s daffodil-yellow roses.

I rub my eyes. But no amount of rubbing makes the one-humped creature disappear. I try recalling the previous night. An instant mistake. Nights like that are not for recalling. Mainly because one can’t.

I study the camel further. It is bejewelled in a sun-dazzled green and gold bling necklace. Was that envy I felt staring at the bling? I quickly shrug it off; begin the compulsory skin pinching. Surely, this is nothing more than some poorly scripted dream.

When my skin hurts from over-pinching, I make tracks to Beatrice, my flatmate. She is on her bed, wearing her black eye-mask, a pair of paisley-printed harem pants and matching top that reads: Life is good when you’re in pyjamas.

I shake her.

“I’m asleep,” she grumbles.

“There’s a camel in our backyard.”

She lifts one eye patch. Her bloodshot eye is not pretty.  “Sure, Molly, just like there are ants in my pants.”

I push the troubling image from my head. “I’m serious,” I say in my best serious voice. Beatrice grumbles some more and then struggles to her feet.

 ***

We are all in the backyard. Me, Corey, Beatrice… and the camel.

Camel slowly twists its long neck, pouts out its large, floppy lips and bats its black curly eyelashes.

Corey hitches up his boxers and carefully approaches the camel. “Nice camel,” he purrs in a ridiculously tawdry voice.

Camel lets out a freaky sounding bellow, follows through with one colossal spit. Corey’s face drips with something sticky-looking. “I think it likes me.”

“Because it just puked on you?” Beatrice doubles over, laughs so hard, she starts choking.

Corey makes for the nearest hose.

“Molls, why’s the camel in the backyard?”

It’s Gerard [current boyfriend] wearing his Sunday bests and a clearly mortified expression. He hoofs it to the camel and inspects it with the most bizarre care. “It shouldn’t be here,” he says.

Well… hello.

“It should be in the garage, instead.”

What?

“This sun,” Gerard says, “is really bad for its complexion.”

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