An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children
THERE was a logging boom in Kandrian in the 1990s and the local Arawe landowners were flooded with money.
A group of seven Arawes got money for their timber and were on a spending spree when they ended up in one of the rooms at Hoskins Hotel for some drinks.
While they were drinking, one of them felt like taking a pee. He excused himself to his friends and was on his way to the toilet, which was located at the other end of the building.
Soon after, his friends were surprised when their hotel room door was flung open and in rushed the man who had just left for the toilet.
Without looking back, and knocking some beers from the hands of his friends, he leapt on to the bed and on to the table beside the bed, this time knocking a full carton of beer to the floor. And then he climbed on top of the wardrobe.
His eyes were almost popping out of their sockets as they remained fixed on the door. Had there been no ceiling it was clear he would have crawled even higher.
Stunned and shaken by this unusual behaviour, the other Arawe men asked, “What’s the matter? You look totally possessed. Is someone chasing you?”
“Crocodile! Crocodile! A very big crocodile,” he said panting, almost choking as the words tumbled out of his mouth. He was looking totally nervous - and sober.
“What? A crocodile?” asked his colleagues.
“I just saw the biggest crocodile in my life and it’s heading this way. Don’t open that door,” he barked at his colleagues.
“Where did you see it?”
“In the reception area,” he said.
Panic-stricken, the Arawes remained in the now silent room trying to pick up any unusual noise or sound from outside. Their drunkenness was gone but the only thing they could hear was their own heart pumping hard in their chests.
Then a brave Arawe slowly walked to the door. Careful not to make a mistake, he opened it slightly and peeped out. There was nothing there.
“I can’t see anything moving,” he reported to his friends, his head still outside.
“Where did you see it?” someone asked in a whisper to the one on the wardrobe.
The frightened one pointed towards the reception area.
“Can we check?” someone asked, and they all agreed and resolved that all should go.
With the brave one in the lead, the seven Arawes pushed the door open with great care and cautiously tiptoed towards the reception area. One after another, their eyes scanning to the front and the rear, they moved to check on the crocodile.
The Arawes finally reached the reception area. The light was dim and everything was quiet. Then something jumped noisily from the reception desk to floor before disappeared into another room.
The noise sounded like a leaping crocodile in the ears of the brave Arawe man and, without warning, he abruptly turned and raced for the bedroom, knocking to the floor the man right behind him.
This caused a chain reaction amongst the remaining now terrified Arawes and soon everyone struggling to enter the same door.
The scared and confused Arawes regrouped in their room, the door now firmly shut.
“What happened?” they asked their brave leader who was on the bed lost in thought and sweating heavily.
“The crocodile leaped,” he said.
“It was a cat. I saw it jump," said the one who had been directly behind him.
“A cat? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You knocked me down. I thought you saw it”
All was quiet for some time.
“Let’s check again,” someone suggested.
They agreed again and, like before, cautiously tiptoed to the reception area.
“Where exactly did you sight the crocodile?” they asked the one who had first reported on the reptile.
“Over there,” he said, pointing.
The Arawes scanned the area. There was a huge lounge against the wall. A long coffee table piled with magazines and a flower vase. At the far end was a big table. On top of the table were displays of artefacts and there right under the table on the floor was the giant monster crocodile.
“There it is,” someone whispered. Through the dim light, they could see its wide open mouth with razor sharp teeth lining lower and upper jaws ready to snap at anything that came its way.
It certainly looked frightening.
“Is that it?” they asked. The frightened Arawe nodded his head.
“You stupid fool” the brave one shouted. “That’s a wooden crocodile. It’s a carving. Did you not see it when we passed through before?”
The terrified Arawe shook his head as a sigh of relief flashed across his face. “I never saw it” he said. “With the seafront nearby I thought a saltwater crocodile had entered the hotel.”
A burst of laughter filled the reception area and curious guests from the other rooms joined them, as did the night guards. The story of the monster wooden crocodile became the joke of the night.
“Move this beast elsewhere,” was all the Arawes said when they checked out in the morning. There was laughter everywhere as the seven Arawes drove out of the hotel.
This story is based on a real incident that occurred when the author was a forester based in Kandrian. While the basic story is true certain sections have been embellished