On our way back from collecting Jeremy in Tamworth, we passed a huge sand monitor on the southbound lane of State Highway 95, also known as Fossickers Way. I thought it was alive; Dad and Jeremy said it was dead. Dad turned around to look. I was all “Be careful!” but my big atheisticky skeptical papa said “He’s my totem animal,” so that was the end of that.

The goanna was dead of course – half his poor head was gone – and he stank to high heaven, but he was so beautiful, his patterned skin almost unmarked, the green double-chins still iridescent in the sun. Dad got a little shovel out of the back of the Terios and put him over on the side of the road, so that the carrion-eaters who fed on his carcass wouldn’t also be hit by cars.

Dad says they are called racehorse monitors because they can run so fast, and that he once knew a pet one called Phar Lap.

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