Jungle Stranger

The party in the jungle was already jumping when I arrived.
I sat on the top step at the rear of the house that faced the DJ and his turntables.
It was hot, Far North Queensland hot. The air was wet.
People were semi naked and sweating.
Except one person.

In the far corner of the clearing, cut out of the thick vines and tropical ferns was a person in a long woollen winter coat.
I figured it was some guy trying to stand out.
These outdoor parties were full of extroverts showing off.
Fire twirlers, jugglers, pseudo hippies, it was like a circus in a twisted jungle.

It took me a while to realise that this bald-headed stranger in a winter coat was a woman.
She turned towards me, head down with her hands cupped together as if praying.
Even with all the distractions of lights, sounds, smells and flesh I couldn’t stop staring.
After a while she looked up and straight at me.

I tried to look away but was mesmerised by her gaze.
From twenty meters away our eyes locked.
I tried to look away but couldn’t break contact.
She then started to move through the crowd, towards me.
The jumping, colourful, beautiful people moved aside to let her through like a bow wave in front of a boat.

She walked as if in slow motion. While the crowd seemed to speed up around her, as if I was watching a music video.
My mind was racing, trying to make sense of this scene.
Sometimes different people freak me out.
I thought about escaping through the house and out the front door away from this crazy person.
But my curiosity was stronger than my need to flee.

She was almost at the bottom of the stairs, hands still cupped in front of her and our eyes still locked.
I started to panic and thought maybe she was looking at someone else behind me.
I turned to check but there was no one looking in our direction.
She started to climb up the stairs.

We met face to face. She looked down towards her hands. I looked as well.
She slowly opened her hands spreading her thumbs apart.
To my complete surprise and relief, a baby chicken, big enough to fit in a small pocket, poked its head out.

The bald, coat wearing, chick holding woman, sat beside me and smiled.
We started to talk and instantly she was no longer a stranger.