…Since we crossed into the Garden State, Jed has been circumspect about the fire-ban, enquiring at all our stops to see if it is still in force and just what is and what is not acceptable.
No one he has asked so far appears to have heard anything about it. The owners of the last garage just laughed!
That was over two hours ago and we have not seen another vehicle on the road since, just tyre debris from the big trucks which from a distance still looks like dead crows.
” Whaddya think ?” Says Jed, ” Do we risk the billy-can? “
” Side of the road, away from the bush. It’s not exactly a fire is it? “
… As the steam is about to emerge from under the lid a pick-up truck cruises into view and pulls over.
The dude who leaps from the cab is wearing dark shades, a red T-shirt,tailored khaki shorts and regulation boots.
” You guys not heard about the fire-ban ? One stray spark from that thing and the nearest town is in danger. Come on, wrap it up. “
Jed turns down the valve on the gas canister and, as the Ranger is clambering back into his pick-up, he pours out the water into our mugs anyway.
The tea-leaves float on the surface like black snow-flakes.
Jed raises his tin cup…
Extract from The Living One, Stuart France