I can feel the nettle, stuck in my leg, this remnant of Nebo�s glory, shoved deep inside my thigh, and poisoned too. I can just imagine the swelling there, and the pain. Totally worth it. An opportunity I�d never had before In the field. The perfect ambush. No Sound save for the odd raindrop. Op. The only one I missed. We drank Victory sips from our canteens. Mine Was nearly empty but I shared it with Thurston. Up above, the water tower Promised unlimited canteen refills But offered us no source, not a tap. The irony of it was lost on us. Once We�d recovered we marched, our Cut, leech & scratch inspections. JR. My preferred call name. Sure, we�ve Got walkie-talkies. Sticks, also. My Hands a circuit board of cuts, made by brambles. On the other side of Mt Nebo there�s just the escarpment, and a farm we don�t ever go to. Rumours of ordnance, of secret tunnel dumps. Jason Malvern. Securing the sting�s Venom could take some time. Must Remember to breathe normally, thin Whistles of air between the teeth, my Nostrils an army brown face mask. On sale at Aussie Disposals. Should Pop in there after my haircut. A flat Top. It�s a totally Full Metal Jacket perimeter, through the grey cotton. Wasps and burrs. A three-cornered Jack. Scorpion of the weed world. Wheeling around to face an attack, Thurston dropped his walkie-talkie In the creek, laughing as its cricket- like bleeps faded in the jungle dusk. Returning home, mum read the tale on my shorts. That�s better. I have some Dettol in my locker, beside my camo paint. Lee�s pocket knife still there, ever since he got suspended. No more afternoon detentions. His Chance came early in the game, as I foolishly left myself exposed from The direction of Mt Kembla. I had to cut a fresh trail through jungle � to win. The second part was easier than the first. Falling finally behind the rock, I listened with my stick as Lee and Thurston slowly advanced. My first sighting of them would end The game but they�d improved over The months and all I saw was jungle up at the source of American Creek. Chest heaving, waiting with a stick For a rifle and an empty canteen, as My enemies close in on my position. There�s something of a quiet jungle when I return to my crow�s nest, my eyrie of calm in a turbulent world. A flicker of t-shirts between two trees.


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