The Furry Squatter Settlers – Short Story
Our house roof broke under heavy rain and the wild Queensland storms sometime last year. Separating the entrance hall with front door, the storm created an unexpected alfresco space. I rejoiced in the fact that, the roof was now broken, so it removed the fear and threat of when it would actually fall. It happened when my sons were away. I heard a crack and ran out and held up the beam as long as I could, and finally, when it settled, I inserted two timber pieces to keep the roof steady until my sons returned from their holidays. It took three men to bring it down and let it break apart.
We cleared the entrance, and waited to repair. And, before we started repairing the broken roof, some furry squatters moved in. They used the leaning trees against the house to make their entry. It was quite a natural invasion of these parts of Queensland. One small possum settled into the car port ceiling; separated now by the broken roof. Another took the main house.
Above the kitchen, noises started. Sometimes light bulbs would flicker and weaken from bright to pale orange – just like a ghost movie, bringing family dinner to a pause – perhaps someone from outer space or inner ceiling is speaking to us, we joke.
In the evening, long hours into the night, our family would hear knocking, walking and thundering repetitive noises in the ceiling. My guess initially was, the possums were cracking the macadamia nuts they picked from our tree. With my Callaway Steelhead Systems III driver I had not used on a golf fairway in a long while, I would thump the ceiling in response to the settlers’ sounds. The sounds would immediately pause or move, given it is a large house with an extensive ‘living area’ for the possums. Sometimes there would be fights, a lot of screeching and grunting. It often reminded me of the fights in the streets of Port Moresby or neighbours in a drunk brawl. If the furry fighters didn’t listen and stop to the golf club’s thudding, I cursed them and told them they were staying rent-free, with free meals and should keep the noise down. And if they did not appreciate their high-class living, I would need to call the possum remover to evict them.
Eventually, they would stop pounding and exit. It was through one of the broken parts of the roof that the possums used where we suspected the snake entered and took Boz’s life.
One day, about three weeks ago, a squatter settler came out of one of the broken part of the roof. It was in the middle of the day and the animal urinated and excreted above the back door entrance, sending a collection of light brown pellets sprinkling down the door frame. It was the first time we saw her with a baby in her pouch. It was not the time to wander about or visit. Possums only came out in the dark. She was fed some carrots and green apples. Obviously, she did not have too many ‘hospital visits’ or someone to care for her and bring her macadamia nuts while she was caring for her baby.
The possum could not care less what time of the day, nor where she left her waste. She was starving.
It has been a few weeks of spring and summer will make the roof too hot to live under. Iron roof bakes like an oven when you are one foot under it. It would be a good time to close the hole, repair the house, evacuate the squatter settlers and get rid of the noises. (I am hoping…)