The comedian

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

Willie was big, strong and handsome. …. and had a devilish Maori sense of humor. Willie was as honest as the clay is long, he always kept within the law with his antics – but he could also be devious, and evasive, just for the fun of it. Willie was so full of laughter that those who came in contact with him laughed with him, even his victims. Willie enjoyed baiting authority – policemen , forest rangers, wildlife rangers, traffic officers – they were his favored targets. Willie always laughed, even when the joke was on him especially when the joke was on him.

One night at a local dance, Willie knew a policeman was patrolling outside the hall, so he went to his own car in the car park, Crouching to keep out of sight, he furtively began siphoning petrol into a two gallon tin. Willie fully expected the heavy hand of the law. to land on his shoulder with an accusation of petrol theft, so he was sadly disappointed when, the constable – who knew him – strolled up, greeted him with a polite ’Good evening’, and strolled on.

Willie, laughing, voiced loud indignation about the ‘slack cops’. He didn’t suffer many such humiliations, and anyway his friends all got a laugh out of them too, so they were still worthwhile. In victory Willie was superb…. like the time a new wildlife ranger moved into the district.

Willie knew that a new broom sweeps clean and is the easiest of victims; He fished for trout regularly, so having prepared his plan, he kept a weather eye open for the opportunity to put it into practice.

One day while fishing the lazy river which winds through our valley Willie caught sight of a furtive figure, some distance away, approaching him from down stream. Willie, ignoring the approaching figure, picked up his gear, nonchalantly waded across the river, and continued fishing. From the corner of his eye he saw the person downstream cross the river and continue his advance.

Willie gave him a bit of time, then quietly upped stakes and waded back across the river to his original position. Sure enough, the approaching man, now quite close, did likewise. Once again, quite fast this time, Willie crossed the river. The visitor literally ran back across the river to finally catch up to the guilty-looking Willie on the bank.

He identified himself as the new wildlife ranger, and asked to see Willie’s fishing license. Willie produced it, all in order-. He looked in Willie’s fly bin ~ all was legal there, Nothing was wrong or illegal-about Willie’s rod and gear either. nothing to hide? The ranger was nonplussed. Why was the man so evasive if he nothing to hide?

Then the ranger spied the one pound milk powder tin on the grass at Willie’s feet. It was half full of fat white huhu and matai grubs. ‘Illegal bait.’ “You can’t use that!” Willie never blinked an eye. “That’s not bait, that’s my lunch!”

Willie put two fingers into the tin, popped a fat wriggling grub into his mouth, neatly bit the head off with his strong front teeth, and ate the grub with obvious enjoyment.

The ranger, frustrated; gave up and walked off, so Willie had a new story to tell the community.

One day, less than a year after Willie’s fishing experience, Stumpy was driving through the forest. He could see by the deep tracks that a heavy machine had just driven down the narrow logging road ahead of him. He saw where, for no apparent reason, the machine had driven off the road and down a precipitous bank.

Sick in the stomach, Stumpy stopped his landrover. Upside down in the gully below lay the huge yellow bulldozer. He scrambled down to the machine and found the man half buried under that great mass of immovable steel. Willie wasn’t laughing anymore. Willie was dead.