Dr Exchequer, or How I stopped worrying and learned to love my wallet.

“Is the patient going to pull through, Dr Exchequer?” The nurse with the California facelift and breasts to match asked, her ridiculously short blue uniform skirt barely covering the top of her suspenders. Dr Exchequer; suave, sophisticated neuroscientist, brain surgeon, top athlete, former head of the IMF and all round Mister Fantastic, hooked his stethoscope around his neck and sucked air through his Colgate commercial teeth. Running a hand through his newsreader perfect hair, he nodded to Nurse Bubbleyknocker. “I think the little guy has taken quite a hit. But, given rest and a reasonable exchange rate, if he’s strong enough he’ll make it okay. Just keep him away from extreme sports, gas guzzling motor vehicles and fancy restaurants and I think, with God’s help, he’ll make a full recovery. Remember, In God We Trust…”

“So when do you think he’ll be able to Promise To Pay The Bearer On Demand?”

“He should lay off writing cheques beyond a few dollars for the time being. Maybe even just a few cents at a time.” From the speaker in the roof a voice called out, a hint of urgency fringed the otherwise cool plea. “Dr Exchequer to the Euro Suite, flatline in the Euro Suite.” Pulling on his white coat, the doctor moved around the bed, his expert eyes making sure the ATM leads were fitted correctly one last time. Nurse Bubbleyknocker scurried over to him, her high heels tapping the polished floor, “Hurry Doctor, but first, kiss me.” He took her in his arms and kissed her full red lips, they were interrupted by the speaker repeating the announcement. “Is it Greece?” she asked, batting her long eyelashes at him. “I think so, God damn if we haven’t already pumped enough funding into him. I just don’t think the Chinese are going to agree to be donors this time. Guess we’ll just have to tap the Germans again.”

“If anyone can secure additional funding, you can, I love you.”

“I love you too, sweet lips.” And with that he left the room, leaving Nurse Bubbleyknocker to adjust the pillow on which my wallet lay, faintly gasping for breath and clutching at it’s bank cards.

Blimey, I don’t half have some weird dreams. And yes, I know the title is baaadddd! Suffice it say, having taken a pounding in Queenstown my wallet has now sealed itself shut and won’t let me touch any of the contents. Until I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time living in the countryside surviving on twigs and lake water, I won’t be going out on anymore spending sprees. Having tried and failed before, I did this time manage to drive away from Queenstown. I had learned that the place I had been jumping into the lake was known by the locals as ‘Little Thailand’ and was a popular, well known spot. I hit the road once more, setting Milford Sounds as my destination. On the way there and to split up the journey, I stopped at a DoC site near Lake TeAnu. The town was a pleasant enough place, it had all the usual amenities, but it wasn’t somewhere you’d pay a special visit to. The Sounds though… I’ve said many times that New Zealand has spectacular scenery, but driving toward Milford Sounds is a thing to do in itself. The Remarkables in Queenstown are great, but you only drive past them (or fly over them). Going toward Milford Sounds you drive through the mountains. You have to force yourself not to stop at every single scenic point on the road, if you did you’d never get there. For mile after mile you’re going up, into where the ice is still on the side of the road. Then you reach Homer Tunnel and if you are lucky the traffic light is on green, if not you may as well switch off the engine because it won’t change again for fifteen minutes! Still; it gave me chance to wonder how, when I was standing wearing shorts and T-shirt feeling warm, next to me was thick mountain ice. Why doesn’t it melt? The light finally went green, and it was down hill from there. The road weaves back and forth on itself, again in perfect Mini country. Eventually I got to Milford itself. The road ends at a harbour where the tourists can board a boat for a cruise of the Sounds. It would be good to do, except it is expensive and food is extra on board. Looking at pictures on information boards and from what I had seen on t’web already, and what was all about me, I got a good idea of what it would be like. Mauri legend has it that the Sounds were made when one of their demi-Gods (whose name my auto spell checker refuses to write properly) began to cut the landscape using his stick. He started further south, because he hadn’t had practice the results were hills and valleys. As he got better the further north he went, his cuts and gouges became more artistic. He became confident and began to add waterfalls from the highest peaks and made islands when he reached the sea. If I was his boss, I would’ve given him an extra day off. The whole of Milford is surrounded by sheer mountainous cliffs that are washed by hundreds of waterfalls. Forest surrounds the river that runs into the sea and forms a fresh water lake nearby. Aside from a small airfield and a few houses, the main point for tourists is a cafe – information point – bar and restaurant, all housed in one building. This is built on the site of the original buildings the first settlers put up. They must have been hardy souls, what with the sand flies and loneliness of the place it also has an average rainfall per year of eight meters, a two storey house worth of rain! Between Milford Sounds and Queenstown are many DoC campsites, the dead cheap ones. I managed to find one were I could indulge in a simple, ancient and most importantly free form of entertainment. I could build a campfire! Someone before me had done the hard work of digging out a pit and surrounding it by large pebbles from the lake, all that I had to do was find wood (easy in the middle of a forest) and set it going. After first eating tea, Lamb Rogan Josh and Rice, (see, I said I was getting more adventurous) cooked on the stove because I didn’t want to get things sooty, I ventured out to find fuel. Now, being from a cold rock in the Northern Atlantic, I know how to set up a good campfire. Gather lots of kindling, then some medium sized branches until you put the big stuff on last. Using my handy lighter I had bought for just such an occasion and using paper from the many free information leaflets I’d gathered, I soon had a roaring fire going. I settled down with my book (I’d bought another one at a second hand shop, based on the ‘Philadelphia Experiment’, you’ll just have to Google it) and all was peaceful and right with the world. When it became too dark to read, I put away the book and just sat, staring at and prodding the fire. I could just about hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the lake and rustle of wind in the trees, but where I was all was still and the smoke went straight up, rather than in my face like last time. I had spent the past five days seeking out one adrenaline rush after another, but even though it was at completely the opposite end of the scale, sitting staring at the fire by the lake was just as enjoyable. I had planned on watching an episode of ‘The Sopranos’ on my computer before turning in, but by the time I had finished and put out the fire, to my surprise it was almost midnight. I’d spent almost four hours just sat there. Brilliant.

Mini Count :- 20!

Follow Me! :- 44 40’00.80″S 167 55’31.21″E

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About Steven R Harrison

Greetings! Thank you for having a look at my blog. On here you will find my epic adventure around New Zealand that I undertook in 2011-12, now available to buy with more pictures and in hard back entitled 'Blogs, Bikes & Jelly Beans' from Lulu.com and Amazon. Since returning to Blighty I have been writing my next novel, Attack of the Atomic Airships, which will soon be available to buy from all the usual channels. For now though, since my travelling days are 'on hold' for the time being, I hope you will enjoy some 'Flash Fiction,' that is, fiction of around 1000 words or less. The subjects are varied, but usually gravitate toward SF. The first one is called Continue? Yes / No. I hope you enjoy it!
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2 Responses to Dr Exchequer, or How I stopped worrying and learned to love my wallet.

  1. Dave Lee says:

    Eyup Steve! I returned to the SSFFWG last week, and they told me you were ‘here’!
    Sounds like you’re having fun!
    I have a blog too, that’s partly what I’ve been doing in my absence. chaotopia-dave.blogspot.com.

    So how long are you in the Antipodes for?

    • Kia Ora!
      I’m in NZ until the beginning of March, hopefully, as long as I can sell the car etc. In the new year I hope to get to the North Island and do it all again!
      Hope things are going well with yourself and in the SSFFWG, maybe we can finally get the next anthology sorted soon.
      See you in the New Year!
      TTFN!

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