He snorted as the boy quoted some dictum from the Presbyterian minister in town.
"You're a heretic, Dad."
The man wondered what grace he would be shown when he was old.
He walked with half an eye to the sun. Why do we bother to hunt pigs?— there'll always be more.
"The minister's sitting in his own silo,"he grunted. "Counted up every last grain of wheat, he has, but never stood up to look outside. It doesn't matter how good his counting is— he doesn't know what he's got. He doesn't know what he's looking at."
"Don't you worry for your eternal soul?"
Bathurst Burr this far into a state forest!? What have we done to the place?
"Son, the good Lord gave that minister the same brains as the rest of us, yet he says your mum's not fit to be an elder. Every last one of 'em in that church knows she's holier than he'll ever be, but they take direction from a dope who'd get lost in a fallow paddock."
"Dad, the Bible says— " The words choked off as his father slammed the bolt open and sent the cartridge spinning into the bush.
He shoved the magazine into his pocket.
"Look at this place. Forest, pigs and roos. Apostle birds tipping off the pigs. Bloody cathead— even here!"
He kicked at it with his boot.
"You can't stitch this all up in a book. You can't make God tidy like a Sydney suburb.
"I got lost out here once— when I was a kid your age. I didn't have the sense to read the sun. You can die out here, and I nearly did.
"I met Him, you know— God. There's power past what that fool in town ever dreamed of.
"You know how I got out? Light. I walked towards the light at the edge of the forest— 'cept I was miles in from the old highway by then. Shouldn't have been able to see it. He's... wild, son. Not this weak vengeance is mine stuff— He's wild. It's dark in this forest, and it's His dark.
"You want my advice? You listen when he says to do what Jesus did, but you make sure you read it for yourself. And look at your mother, and pay no attention to what he says about women, or you'll have a miserable wife for your whole life.
"And remember this forest. Every time he acts like that book's got God stitched up in a box, you remember this forest.
"Come on. Pigs can wait."
He glanced at the sun and stumped off.
Andrew Prior Jun 2015
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