A Lucky Day

Karen Radford Treanor 

 

Copyright 2017  by Karen Radford Treanor


Photo of a person holding a bandicoot.

As previously noted, bandicoots haven’t got much road sense.  I think it has to do with their small size and their limited field of vision which just can’t encompass a huge vehicle bearing down on them.  This is the story of one very lucky little bandicoot that I met when I was still living in Western Australia..
 
I’m puttering along the back road towards home just on twilight, the sun glaring in my back window and rear-view mirror just before it plunges to a fiery death in the Indian Ocean.  I see a little grey-brown figure dart out of the bush at the roadside.  Foot off the gas, foot on the brake, try to steer around it—KLUNK--right into my left front hubcap. 
 
I pull into the next driveway, reverse, and crawl back up the road looking for the body.  There on the gravel sits a bandicoot, twitching and shaking.  I put on my emergency signals, set the brake and leap out, hoping there's nothing coming from the left, as I can't see a thing due to the combination of sun-glare and deep shadows.
 
The injured bandicoot isn't spouting blood, so I dash back to the car, dump out the groceries and run back with the calico shopping bag to scoop up the bandicoot, which begins thrashing about.  Tie the straps together and gallop back to the car.  An SUV passes me; the driver gives me a suspicious look.   I stash the bag on the floor of the passenger side, where it thrashes even harder.  Ooops, sorry, little beast; I didn't mean to put you down on the package of frozen beans. “ I move beans to back seat.  The thrashing bag calms somewhat. 
 
Driving slowly, I make my way home and trot up the front walk calling for Gene to come open the door.  "What have you got?" says he, eyeing the bag I have clutched to my rapidly dampening bosom. 

"Never mind, just get the cat carrier and the old bathmat!"
 
With care, we untie the bag handles and lower the parcel into the cat carrier.  Adding a few peanuts and a bowl of water, we decide to leave the guest to himself in my den, where we can shut the door and keep out inquisitive felines.
 
After supper, we put the first joint of a cooked chicken wing in the bag where the bandicoot is still hiding.  By bedtime the wing has been stripped, gnawed, and cast aside.  The water is overturned.  And the bandicoot is still alive.  I decide to name him “Lucky”.
 
Come morning, my den has a ripe tang of healthy bandicoot intestines, but the guest is alive and apparently uninjured save for the tip of his tail, which is gory.  The cat carrier is unspeakable, so I fetch a clean calico shopping bag, insert the guest, tie up the bag and leave it with some misgivings on my mohair rug while I take the noisome carrier outside to hose it out, dry it, and fill it with shredded newspaper this time.
 
Reinsert bandicoot into cage and wait until 9 a.m. when I take him to the vet.  There’s a new vet on duty, not the experienced Dr Ralph, but a 4th year vet student who seems not to have seen a bandicoot often, if ever.  He disappears with patient, returns very quickly and reports "Nothing wrong with this fellow bar the small injury on the tail. You can safely let him go."  (I suspect the bandicoot bit him or scratched him or piddled on him.  Or all three.)
 
So off we go, retracing our drive of the previous night, looking for the spot where Lucky dashed out of the bush.  I get to the gates of Bindaree, an imposing country place, and pull over, but worry about letting the beast go so close to the road.  70 yards or so further along is a dirt track, so I pull in there and release the bandicoot into a clump of grass trees where he will have shelter and can collect his wits until dusk.  I hope he won't have any trouble finding his way home, which is probably close enough for him to be able to sniff his way back.
 
I leave to do my errands, returning later via the same route, eyes peeled for a little corpse, but happily, don't see one.  Lucky may have learned a valuable lesson from his adventure—one can only hope.
 
(I drove down the same road a few weeks later and saw a dead bandicoot on the gravel verge. Maybe it wasn't Lucky, maybe it was a mean, bad,  drug-pushing bandicoot who deserved to be run over.....I’d like to think so.)


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