The Rock

Garry Gillard

I suppose it started building up, and maybe we all should have noticed and tried to do something about it, when we got onto that dirt road to the Rock, and Donald didn't want to keep going in case he got bogged. But his car, the Rover, was nearly new. We could've gone back and found a better road—it turned out there was one—but Terry just started screaming at Donald that he was a gutless wonder, that we'd driven three hundred bloody miles to get to the bloody Rock and do the installation, that Donald was another example of alienated Western man, that he was in love with a heap of ferrous metal, and so on. He was working himself up, making himself get more hysterical, as though he'd given himself permission, that day, to really express his feelings to the nth degree, or as though he were under an evil spell or something. Anyway, he got his way. Josie and I and Terry got out of the car in case we had to push, and it looked like Terry was right really, because the car sailed over the sand like it was bitumen for about half a mile with Terry screaming at Donald to stop, that it was OK. It's lucky we had to walk a fair way to the car so that it wore Terry down a bit. He might have punched Donald otherwise.

Well the Wave was pretty magical, despite 'Foo was here', and the empty beer cans and so forth: a giant frozen wave—like a huge melting block of ice-cream that had been refrozen.

After we'd eaten, Terry dragged Josie off to start work on the installation. She would have preferred to finish off the wine with Donald and me. I dunno why she stayed with Terry for as long as she did. He's so hot and crazy and she's so unfeeling, so cold. She draws like a biologist.

I may as well write down what the installation was about because no-one made a record of it after what happened. A happening is what it was, all right. In fact, it only just occurred to me as I was writing this that it's possible that Terry was planning something like that all along—not just a static sculptured space, but a dynamic event. Well, I can't ask him now.

So. Wave Rock runs around in a curve, and it's obviously a highly numinous place, even for us whites, and must have been a really sacred place before we came. Terry wanted to mark it out as a sacred site, but in terms that Westerners would understand. This involved marking out rays from points on the curve, taking it as a circumference, leading to what would be the centre of the circle. He'd been telling us on the way down that Western man could best understand visual messages if they made some reference to Euclidean geometry. Also, that it was a question of finding natural centres, something we'd all lost any sense of. And he wanted to combine this with the Aboriginal thing by using all found materials. So the trees had to be marked with clay and the centre had to be a circle of stones. The clay was the best thing about the project. The point was that if it weren't maintained, if someone didn't go back every year or whatever and remake the marks, they would just disappear, so it demanded some commitment and continuity from a group of people—a sort of tribe of the Rock totem. I thought the idea was terrific—I still do, even now.

Well, by the time Donald and I were ready for action, Josie and Terry had the clay prepared and we could all start. The technology was pretty crude. The four of simply started at different points at the face of the Rock, aimed at where we thought the centre ought to be, and then walked through the bush marking the trees every so often at head height. The idea was that we would hope to converge on the same spot. I didn't think there was much chance of it, and Donald thought it was a pretty silly plan, although he didn't tell Terry that. But then Donald's used to designing and working in wood where you've got to be a bit more precise than just hope. But the funny thing was that we did all come out together, and could look back along the lines and see that they were straight, so nobody stacked the deck.

But that was only a bit of it. The really funny thing was that it was a real place . There was a clearing in the bush, and there was this big stone which was pretty well circular. It couldn't have been put there. It was too big, and it sort of bulged out of the earth a bit, so it was probably just the very top of a whole lot of rock. It was flat on top and bare. We were all knocked out by it, especially Terry, and I guess it was when he saw what we'd found that he gave himself permission to go the rest of the way, although we only gradually realised.

It was hot and we were out in the bush and pretty close so we were only wearing bits and pieces, and we didn't think it all that odd when Terry took off his shorts. But then he got more and more peculiar. We were all bringing stones to mark out the centre of the circle on the top of the big rock, and Terry was doing it in this jerky rhythm and making sort of didgeridoo noises. Donald tried to make a joke out of it, but Terry paid no attention and just kept chanting and hopping. But then we'd finished the work, and things really started happening.

Looking back, I think I can understand Terry's confusion a bit. There was the long drive, his obsession about getting there, drinking booze in the heat, and then the power of the site. He must have got mixed up in his mind a whole of things about Aboriginals and American Indians and even the Druids maybe. Anyway, what he did was grab Josie and proceed to rape her in the middle of the stone circle. Perhaps rape isn't the right word. She didn't put up much resistance at first, and she is a bit kinky, and it's not the only time she's been part of a show for friends. But she was pretty uncomfortable on the hot rock, and Terry looked right out of it, although Donald and I sort of tried not to look. Terry was muttering gibberish and we were hanging around for a signal for help from Josie. But it was over in what seemed like a few seconds, and then Terry was coming for me.

When I saw his face I was terrified, but I wasn't about to be some kind of human sacrifice. I tried to fend him off, but he seemed amazingly strong, like in those funny old nineteenth-century stories when the madman has the strength of ten men. It really was as if he had been possessed by some spirit of the place, if there really is such a thing. I screamed, and mild-mannered Donald sprang to the rescue, but it was only luck that it was Terry who got his head cracked open on the rock.

 

Terry's overseas now, among the green and pleasant hills of Mother England, and maybe's he settled down, but I still wouldn't want to do the Stonehenge trip with him. I'm pretty sure neither Donald nor Josie has been back to the Rock again, and so the marks of man would have disappeared by now, the clay, and Terry's blood on the altar stone. But I suppose there are still empty beer cans, and John loves Mary, and Foo was here.


This was originally part of Waifs and Strays, and was spoken there by the character Isabel.

New: 27 October, 2011 (written about 1983) | Now: 24 November, 2015