Monday, 17 August 2009

Kimberley 4 Hire-car

Two men in grey QANTAS t-shirts are talking to Renee about the 4WD camper they’re here to pick up.

‘It’s the black Hummer’ she says
The large ebony vehicle glinting in the sunlight and packed full of camping gear stares back at the three of us. Denis and Steve exchange looks. we were expecting a white Toyota Land Cruiser. ‘It’s not what I was expecting’ I mumble.

‘There’s two six person tents there’ continues Renee. My heartbeat starts to pick up. Not from excitement. Fuck. They’ve supplied enough tents to house a small army but none of the creature comforts illustrated on their website. Andrea will spew.
'I’m happy to go to Broome as long as it’s not a bloody boot camp.’ Her words ring in my ears.

‘It’s brand new’ calls her offsider from inside the shed.
‘Don’t know why they bought a black one. Everyone knows they show every scratch.’
I wonder if Renee is trying to be helpful. She doesn’t seem like the nasty type.
‘Stupid colour’ confirms Tim the sidekick.

‘There’s been a change of owner in Brisbane’ she tells us. ‘It’s a mess. Tthey’ve been moving cars all round the country to cover their bookings.’

‘Some of 'em on backs of trucks’ chips in Tim. ‘This one came up from Perth couple a days ago.'

'But it’s not what we ordered’ I say with a little more intent.

‘It’s almost new’ repeats Tim. ‘You’re bloody lucky. You should se some of the cars this lot send us. Useless.’

We don’t have a lot of options. The girls are at the supermarket getting supplies ready to load up the 'land cruiser' they’re expecting. We follow Renee into the office and dutifully ask a few questions about insurance and conditions of hire while resignedly initialling every page of a document which would do justice to a legal firm arranging a lease on Kirribilly House. Every black scratch is listed on the condition report.

‘The tents are on the roof ‘ Tim tells us. ‘and four stretchers, four chairs, a table’
Everything is big. Feels like were moving house.

‘The tents are those new ones’ Renee says, excitement in her voice. ‘The poles just pop into shape as you set them up. Clickety click.’ She adds.

In the boot is a giant esky and four more of everything contained in four large plastic crates. Other stuff is spilling over into the back seat. It’s chock-a-block.

We get a call from the girls. ‘Pick us up from Coles. We’re almost done.’
I look at Denis. He looks at me. We both raise our eyebrows thinking the same thing. There’s no room for food, let alone our travelling gear sitting on the veranda back at Moonlight Bay.

‘One thing' says Tim. ‘Don’t on any account leave your keys in the car and then close the doors.’ He pauses. we wait for the punchline.
‘The Hummer automatically locks you out. Some kind of security system’ he says with gravity. ‘I’ve done it once already. Lucky I had the window down. Last renter lost the spare key.’ He explains. Denis ands I exchange raised eyebrows a second time from opposite sides of the bonnet.

Tim demonstrates how the auxiliary battery works and gives us instructions about when and how to use it. The charge light flicks on and off. Tim swears, gets it to work long enough to convince us it'll be okay and closes the boot door. It never works properly again.

‘When you get back, tell us how this thing works.’ says Tim casually indicating the multitude of dials and knobs on the dashboard. 'It's automatic' he says proudly stating the bloddy obvious. By now Denis and my eyebrows are just jumping up and down, twitching in disbelief. Shit. Andrea is going to spew. She hates surprises.

‘Call us if you need anything.’ says Tim as if he cares. We climb into the black cabin with its dark tinted windows and its bullet proof metal frame and inspect the array of options facing us. Feeling like a pair of Hummer virgins we carefully reverse from the storage shed intent on avoiding the embarrassment of having our first accident in the carpark.
Shit, it’s a big monster.
‘But you’ll need to call Brisbane if anything goes wrong’ calls Renee as a parting reassurance.

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