Dave and I rode to the top of the hill in the park. It was a warm night and we were sore and sticky from the pedalling. It wasn't just the hill. We were sore and sticky from a night's work on our feet before the pedalling. The park's hill is always an extra physical challenge to be dealt with after the night's work is through. By the time we reach the top our conversation usually gives way to panting. No complaining though. There is no real desire to complain because the ride down is generally worth the general discomfort of the climb. Every night we are greeted at the top of the hill by a patient and vicious dog. It isn't a real dog. It's a fire hydrant that has some spray-painted splodges and looks like a vicious, very well-trained dog from the dimly lit distance. Dave pointed this out me one night. First I didn't see it. But after I saw it, I couldn't not see it and we'd sometimes imagine scenarios where the dog chases us down the the hill. I look forward to this dog silently acknowledging us we ride.
This night Dave and I rode past the dog like usual and wound down the path towards the bottom of the hill, only this time Dave stopped about halfway. I braked to see what Dave was looking at. He was fascinated by a possum that had approached him.
'Why isn't this possum terrified of me?' he asked. I shrugged. I didn't know.
'If this were New Zealand this possum would be running for its life.' The possum looked at us and twitched its face. It was unafraid. Then it scurried off so we started riding again.
'You guys are much more tolerant about most things but treat possums with contempt, why is that?' I asked.
'Have you seen our possums?'
'I have.' (New Zealand possums look like rabid bears compared to out little ring-tail guys.)'My cousin from Hawke's Bay was going to take me out possum shooting one time but it was raining too hard. I really wanted to shoot a gun but I'm not sure if I could've shot a possum.'
'Fair enough,' agreed Dave. 'When I was a kid, we went out possum spotting for a school excursion, not shooting, spotting.'
'Was it fun?' We stopped outside Dave's house while he continued his story.
'It was traumatic. We all gathered around this guy's ute and once he'd spotted a possum he grabbed it from a tree from its tail, swung it around a few times then bashed its head against the side of the ute.' Dave mimed out the actions of the guy who'd pulverized the possum.
'Yeah, all us city kids just sat there like this' Dave acted out an expression of childish disbelief.
'That's fucked up,' I said.
'Yeah,' Dave said, walking down the alleyway to his house.
'Are you working tomorrow?' I asked.
'Yeah' he said. Then I rode home.
Next time we rode up the hill the vicious dog splodges had been removed. We were sad to see them go.