By Garry Hurle
(Winner of second prize in the Eastern Writers Group’s Biggest Little Short Story competition for 2009)
After a lifetime of different occupations Sammy found himself in the work crew building the new, concrete structure that was replacing a dilapidated country bridge. He was merely a lowly trades assistant, but he still worked with his usual enthusiasm and diligence.
It wasn’t a big work crew, requiring the hundreds of blokes needed to build the original bridge in 1922. A massive crane, powerful pile-driver and other construction machinery saw to that! But they were skilled blokes and all had their certificates.
Joey had his Advanced Scaffolding Certificate and his Dogging Certificate; Steve boasted a Bridge and Gantry Crane Operation Certificate and a Non-slewing Mobile Crane Operation Certificate; Larry possessed a Concrete Placing Boom Operation Certificate, a Turbine Operation Certificate and . . . oh, why go on?
Just know that these blokes possessed every certificate under the sun.
But before the new bridge could grow the old one had to be demolished. It was during that process that a crisis occurred – and at precisely the moment the Work Safety Inspector rolled up! Just as the last portion of the old timber structure was about to be torn down by a mechanical monster someone cried, “There’s somethin’ out there!”
Three abandoned baby possums were huddled together in a cramped nook between two massive beams that were swaying dangerously! It was a tricky spot and extremely difficult for the men to reach. The defenceless creatures were in dire peril!
Something had to be done!
But the man with the Advanced Scaffolding Certificate couldn’t do it! Nor the bloke with the Hoist Operation Certificate! The young buck with the Dogging Certificate should have been able to do it, but he didn’t like the way the timbers were swaying. And the bloke with the Heavy Equipment Handling Certificate was bloody useless!
But Sammy could do it! He jumped onto the great hook on the end of the giant crane on the river bank.
“Get me out there, Steve!” he roared.
“Hang on!” cried the Work Safety Inspector. “Are you qualified to do that?”
“Bloody oath! Go, Steve!”
The crane operator went into action and Sammy was soon high out over the river, hovering precariously above the vulnerable marsupials. He gradually steadied a swaying, dilapidated beam and skilfully unbolted a truss that was in his way. It gave him room to lift the tiny, trembling creatures gently from their doomed nook and tuck them safely between his tummy and his shirt.
Once back on the river bank the men crowded around him.
“Well done, mate!”
“You saved the little bastards’ lives, Sammy!”
The Work Safety Inspector said, “That was a dangerous operation, but it illustrated perfectly the value of a skilled man who possesses the necessary certificates!”
Sammy replied slow and deliberate as he cuddled the warm baby possums: “Shit, mate, the only certificates I’ve got are me Birth Certificate and me Marriage Certificate . . . but in due course I’ll get a third one – could of nearly got the bastard today, actually!”
“What one’s that?”
“Me Death Certificate!”