The Black Stinker

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning while Benson was making himself a banana sandwich, his mother came into the kitchen and wrinkled up her nose. “What’s that smell?” she said. “Kind of damp and swampy.”

Aunt Lillibet came into the kitchen and sniffed. “What’s that smell?” she said. “Something dank and nasty.”

Benson’s mother said, “Benson, would you go down to the back door and see if you can find anything down there?”

The wombat hole where Benson lived had lots of extra tunnels and rooms that they never used, like most wombat holes. Some of them were too small, and some of them were overgrown with tree roots and some of them didn’t lead anywhere. At the end of all the tunnels and passages was a back door that they hardly ever used because it came out in a paddock where sometimes there was a horse grazing, and no-one wants to be accidentally stepped on by a horse when they’re going out their own back door.

Benson wandered along the main tunnel and turned into a smaller one, past the old kitchen they stopped using when his mother set fire to the turnip roast one day. A bit further on was the trophy room with all Aunt Lillibet’s old croquet trophies and the trophy Aunt Moss had won for yodelling. A bit past that was the Quiet room where Benson’s mother sometimes went when Aunt Lillibet’s belly-dancing friends came over and turned the music up very loud. Finally he got to the back door.

There was a strange animal there. It smelled like mouldy cabbage.

“Hello,” said Benson. “Are you a wallaby?”

“Swamp wallaby,” said the wallaby. “Wallabia bicolor. You are a common wombat. Vombatus ursinus.”

Benson said, “I’m not common. There’s only one of me.”

The wallaby sniffed. “The common or bare-nosed wombat is a solitary creature.”

“Solitary? What does that mean?” asked Benson.

“It lives alone,” said the wallaby.

“I live with my mother, and Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss,” said Benson.

The wallaby sniffed. “The common wombat may sometimes live in a group known as a mob or wisdom. However most wombats are solitary.”

Benson was starting to get ruffled. “What are you doing here?” he said.

The wallaby said, “I have moved in. This is my new home, my place of residence, my abode.”

“I think you’ve come to the wrong place by mistake,” said Benson. “This is our place.”

“I have decided to live here,” said the wallaby. “It is dry and quite cool. I would like you to leave now.”

“Leave?” said Benson. “Why should I leave? This is our place, not yours.”

The wallaby brushed his face with his hands and sniffed. “Wombats are known for their low intelligence. I have decided that this is my new home. Therefore you must leave.” He pushed Benson out the back door with his strong back legs, and slammed it shut.

“Hey!” Benson shouted, banging on the door.

“I do not wish to have any visitors,” the wallaby said through the door. “Go away.”

Benson scampered all the way around to the front door and tumbled into the kitchen where his mother and Aunt Lillibet were. “There’s a wallaby,” he panted. “He came in the back door.”

Just then the wallaby came hopping down the hallway. “Ah,” he said. “More wombats. A mob or wisdom.”

Aunt Lillibet pointed at the wallaby and said, “You’re a stinker!”

The wallaby said, “I prefer to be called a swamp wallaby. Wallabia bicolor.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “You’re a black stinker, that’s what you are. What are you doing here?”

The wallaby sniffed. “I have decided to take up residence here. It is not very roomy and it needs more windows but it is adequate. It will do for now.”

Benson’s mother said, “You may visit and stay for a while if you need to, but please remember that this is our home.”

The wallaby sniffed and pushed past her. He sat down and put his big feet up on the table. Then he took an orange out of the fruit bowl and started eating it. “This food is not very good,” he said. He dropped the orange n the floor.

He went to the fridge and got out a lettuce and started munching. He said, “This is better, but there is only enough for me. You will have to leave now.”

Aunt Lillibet said firmly, “We are not leaving. This is our home. We dug these tunnels, we and the wombats who came before us. We have always lived here, and we will go on living here as long as we want to. We’re not going anywhere.”

Benson’s mother sat down and folded her arms. Benson sat next to her and folded his little arms too. Aunt Lillibet sat down next to them and folded her arms.

The wallaby sniffed. He scratched his face with his hands. He looked up at the ceiling and whistled.

Benson’s mother said, “If you’re staying, maybe you’d like to have lunch with us? We’re having vegemite and mushroom sandwiches and boiled lentils, and rhubarb pie, although the pie may be a little bit burnt.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “And after lunch, my belly-dancing friends are coming over, and we like our music very loud! Benson may even play his saxophone for us.”

Benson said, “I can play it for you now, if you like.”

The wallaby hopped quickly towards the door. “I find this place is not suitable after all. I will now depart.” He hopped out the front door.

Benson watched him hop away into the bush. Then he said to his mother, “Is the rhubarb pie really burnt?”

His mother smiled. “No, I think it’s just about perfect,” she said.

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