Mount Barker, South Australia
Evolve, Devolve, Revolve Competition Entry
‘You’ll be the first bastard up against the wall when the revolution comes!’ growled Orry, as he whacked me unnecessarily hard on the back.
‘Oh, you’re so original,’ I mocked. We’d just come out of the pub and were both the worse for drink. ‘What was that one about the dolphins and the fish?’
‘Na, shut it, gobshite,’ he said. I could tell he’d lost interest in quoting from books and movies, though it usually kept him going for hours.
‘What’s up, mate?’ I asked. He definitely wasn’t himself tonight.
‘I been thinking,’ he began, and I refrained from jumping in with a silly remark about this being bad for his brain. ‘What if them scientists find a way to bring back the mammoths? I read about it somewhere, and they said they could do it right now if they wanted.’
‘So what if they do? What’s it to you?’ I asked, not getting it.
‘I’m worried about it,’ he replied, ‘they’re going to put them all on the frozen bits of the planet, but they’ve forgotten about climate change.’
I sighed. Orry was not exactly Einstein and once he got an idea in his head he kept at it until everyone was sick to death of it. This sounded like another of his obsessions. I didn’t encourage him.
‘I’ve seen those Jurassic Park movies Paddy, I know what happens when people mess about with extinct animals, it always goes wrong. What if they set a lot of ginormous mammoths loose in areas which are melting away, they’ll end up tramping back into populated areas, like the polar bears—I wonder how those two will get on? At least down south they’ll only have to contend with penguins. Wonder if they can swim?’
My mind switched off soon after the mention of Jurassic Park. I was thinking of something much more interesting—Jenny Ryan’s tits. She’d been sitting next to me in the pub with her long legs crossed and showing a fair bit of them, and as she leaned forward her cleavage had wobbled like vanilla jelly and I couldn’t take me eyes off them.
‘Oi,’ she said, laughing, ‘I’m up here you cheeky bastard.’
She had nice eyes too and though her teeth were a bit crooked, she had a nice smile. I was just fantasizing about what else she had that I’d like, when Orry elbowed me in the gut.
‘Urgggh!’ I grunted, ‘what’ya do that for you eejit?’
‘You’re not listening, Paddy. You’ve either gone ga-ga or your mind’s in the gutter, judging from the drool on your chin.’
‘Leave it, will yer?’ I snapped, wiping my chin with the back of my hand. I’d quite gone off both Jenny and Orry and just wanted to go home in peace.
Later that evening, when I was engrossed in some mindless reality show on TV, Orry rang.
‘Paddy mate, just wanted to say sorry for bugging you before,’
‘No problem, Orry. Think nothing of it.’ I was only half paying attention, still watching the nonsense on TV.
‘The thing is, I just read that scientists at Harvard have put some Woolly Mammoth DNA into elephant DNA, moving them closer to the ultimate clone. But they’re making the same error they made on Jurassic Park. Don’t they watch the movies? If you mix dinosaur DNA with other species you get something completely different, with scary abilities.’ He paused for breath, ‘Paddy?’
‘Yeah mate, I’m still here,’
‘And those of us who watched the Ice Age movies, we know that mammoths live in icy cold places, which is why they have the long hair, wouldn’t it make sense to wait until the Earth cools down again before introducing an extinct animal that needs the cold? Why couldn’t they have picked a small, harmless, tropical dinosaur? I suppose it’s because they found a few entire frozen carcasses of mammoths so they … Paddy? Are you there?’
‘Sorry, must have dropped off. What were you saying?’
‘What about the plants they used to eat?’ Orry continued, oblivious to any cues I was giving as to my complete lack of interest. ‘They may not like the modern equivalents. Then again, what if the re-introduction or de-extinction experiment is a resounding success? What if the mammoths breed and become plentiful? Where are they going to go?’
‘Look mate, you gotta stop thinking so hard or you won’t be able to sleep!’ I said in desperation. He was doing my head in.
‘Sorry mate, I just needed someone to talk to.’
‘I know what, why don’t you write a letter to the editor of one of the scientific magazines you like reading and tell them about all your concerns and see if one of the boffins can answer them?’ That should keep him occupied at least until tomorrow, I hoped.
‘Mate! You’re brilliant! I’ll do it right away. Thanks for your help, I owe you one.’ And the phone fell silent. I almost said a “Hail Mary” in relief. The reality show was long over and there wasn’t anything else worth watching. I had a brief temptation to watch Ice Age I on DVD, but resisted. I didn’t want to dream about the bloody mammoths of Orry’s obsession. Instead I decided on a whim to phone Jenny Ryan and see if she’d talk to me.
‘Hey Jen, it’s Paddy.’ There was silence on the line. ‘You know, the bloke from the pub?’
‘The one who couldn’t keep his eyes off my tits?’
‘You should be flattered, love,’ I was imagining them right now, ‘they’re bloody marvellous!’
‘Is that what you called for? To compliment my tits?’
‘I also want to tell you that I really like you and wondered if you’d like to meet up, for a coffee, dinner or whatever you like?’ I held my breath. Would she blow me off or did she like me too?
‘Maybe,’ she replied. My heart did a somersault, YES! We set up a meet for Friday, when she wanted to go for drinks then on to a girly movie. I’d have said yes to anything if it meant she’d go out with me. I went to bed that night full of excitement that I gratified satisfyingly before sleep.
The next evening after work, in the pub with Orry, I hesitated to tell him I’d got off with Jenny. I didn’t want to jinx it. But I didn’t need to worry, he was excited about his own thoughts.
‘I did it,’ he said, ‘I wrote the letter like you told me. I wonder how long before I hear if they accept it or not.’
‘I’m sure they’ll shelve the mammoth project straight after reading it, mate.’ I said with a straight face, ‘would that make you happy?’
‘I’d rather be happy than right,’ he quoted, quick as lightning. I was chuffed to see he’d got his good humour back.
‘Glad to see the old Orry back, I missed him.’ I said. What I didn’t tell him was that I’d just read an article about the discovery of another complete dinosaur carcass preserved in the permafrost like the mammoths. It was a sabre-toothed tiger.
Bio: This piece features Orry who’s worried about cloning mammoths and Paddy who desperately wants to get off with Jenny Ryan.