Top of the Line

Franklin Xavier-Moore pulls out his rip-stop nylon compression sack and unbuckles the polyethylene clips. He tugs and out pop the carbon fibre tent poles and 5000mm polyurethane coated inner-tent. The polyester tent fly is stuck in the stuff sack with the titanium pegs and Kevlar guy wires. A shake of the stuff sack liberates them and they land on the ground with a gentle thud.

A crack of lightning illuminates the sky. The boom follows less than a second later. The storm is dangerously near.

Franklin assembles the modular poles and inserts them into the inner tent. The rain starts to fall and the tub collects water like a paddling pool. Franklin runs to capture the rain-fly which has blown away across the field. By the time he gets back, Bearded-Jim has arrived.

Bearded-Jim stands on a fallen tree branch and looks to the horizon. He sticks his tongue out as if he’s tasting the wind. Hes’ deep in thought, slowly soaking up the rain, when suddenly he’s made a decision.

With his back to the wind, he pulls out a small green package, slightly larger than the palm of his hand. Holding one end, he lets the other end loose and it unfurls in the wind. It’s an ultra-thin, ultra-light piece of fabric. He sticks one of his walking poles into the ground on the windward side and like a magician he ties a piece of string – which apparently came from thin air – in a clove hitch to bind the pole and fabric together as one.

Meanwhile, Franklin struggles to empty the water from his bathtub-come-tent. It’s a top of the line model so it doesn’t leak. Water doesn’t leak in, and water doesn’t leak out.

Bearded-Jim has made himself comfortable under his tarp. Six pieces of string secure it to the earth, and the earth is contoured in such a way as to deflect any wind and rain around him. The storm is blowing violently and Jim looks up from his book to see a top-of-the line tent tumbling away across the paddock. “Franklin!” he shouts. Franklin looks dejected. Jim makes a wide, arcing movement with his arm as if to say “come on over you poor bugger!”

Franklin brings his down sleeping bag over to Jim’s tarp shelter and lays down in the dry next to him. Jim then proceeds to dictate from his dog-eared Jane Austen paperback as the two wait for the storm to blow by. “Don’t worry, we’ll find your tent in the morning. In the meantime, what’s up with this mister Darcy bloke?”

T.

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