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By Morgan Marlo
Honored GuestIt seems there should have been some warning, but I felt none. Events were already in motion. The group of predators sat, miles away, awaiting their prey. The luggage I had unpacked one hour before would tomorrow be tagged "unclaimed" and stay in storage, month after month. I was to become merely one more American to disappear in a foreign country. It was a sweltering October morning. I stood looking down the drive of the Australian five-star hotel for an unknown courier. Contrary t...o receiving a warning, my heart was literally singing. I felt so good, so excited, so successful and prepared. Inwardly I sensed, "Today is my day." A topless jeep pulled into the circular entrance. I remember hearing the tires hiss on the steaming pavement. A fine spray of water leaped over the bordering foliage of brilliant red bottlebrush to touch the rusty metal. The jeep stopped, and the driver, a thirty-year-old Aborigine, looked my way. "Come on," his black hand beckoned. He was looking for a blond American. I was expecting to be escorted to an Aboriginal tribal meeting. Under the censoring blue eyes and disapproving manner of the uniformed Aussie doorman, we mentally agreed to the match. Even before I made the awkward struggle of high heels into the all-terrain vehicle, it was obvious I was overdressed. The young driver to my right wore shorts, a dingy white T-shirt, and sockless tennis shoes. I had assumed when they arranged transportation for the meeting, it would be a normal automobile, perhaps a Holden, the pride of Australia's car manufacturers. I never dreamed he would arrive in something wide open. Well, I would rather be overdressed than underdressed to attend ameeting--my award banquet. He merely nodded and acted as if he were already certain of who I was. The doorman frowned at us as we propelled past him. We drove through the streets of the coastal city, past rows of veranda-fronted homes, milk-bar snack shops, and grassless cement parks. I clutched the door handle as we circled a roundabout where six directions merged. When we exited, our new heading put the sun at my back. Already the newly acquired, peach-colored business suit and matching silk blouse were becoming uncomfortably warm. I guessed the building was across town, but I was wrong. We entered the main highway running parallel to the sea. This meeting was apparently out of town, further from the hotel than I anticipated. I removed my jacket, thinking how foolish it was not to have asked more questions. At leastI had a brush in my purse, and my shoulder-length bleached hair was pinned up in a fashionable braid. My curiosity had not subsided from the moment I received the initial phone call, although when it came I couldn't say I was truly surprised. After all, I had received other civic recognitions, and this project had been a major success. Working with urban-dwelling, half-caste Aboriginal adults who had openly displayed suicidal attitudes, and accomplishing for them a sense of purpose and financial success, was bound to be noticed sooner or later. I was surprised; the tribe issuing the summons lived two thousand miles away, on the opposite coast of the continent, but I knew very little about any of the Aboriginal nations except the idle comments I heard occasionally. I didn't know if they were a close-knit race or if, like Native Americans, vastdifferences, including different languages, were common. What I really wondered about was what I would receive: another wooden engraved plaque, to be sent back for storage in Kansas City, or perhaps simply a bouquet of flowers? No, not flowers, not in one-hundred-degree weather. That would be too cumbersome to take on the return flight. The driver had arrived promptly, as agreed, at twelve o'clock noon. So I knew, of course, I was in for a luncheon meeting. I wondered what in the world a native council would serve for our meal? I hoped it would not be a catered traditional Australian affair. Perhaps they would haDetailed info »« Brief info
|Physical Info:||5.34 x 0.56 x 8.14 inches, (0.39 lbs)|
|Categories:||Action & Adventure | Literary|
|LC Subjects:||Adventure fiction, Australia|