There are no smells quite as sweet as the smell of the sodden trunks of trees and saturated ferns as you drive with the windows down through the roads that squiggle up and down the peaks between the tiny towns of northern New South Wales. Ears pop where plants grow fiercely without limits. They embrace each other, tangle around each other, they are free. Even the birds. Currawongs and Common Koels; coo-ees ringing through the mountain ranges, over the misty air, cows mere dots through the valley.

Have you ever noticed birds in the city squawk? Birds in the country sing.


A Bar Story


The third time I met him he told me about his wife. With his thick silver skull-ringed fingers clamped tightly around a cigarette he breathes deep and inhales fast, the smoke scampering up the corners of a twisted moustache. A beaded necklace hangs over the buttons of his tight white shirt, the cuffs are at his elbows and his forearms are furrowed with blue etchings. His shoes shine and his pants stick to him, his accent is thick and it had taken me four goes to pick it.

His arrogance is certain but his confidence is fabricated, a result of whatever the blue shit in his glass is; it smells bitter on him and he makes a habit of sipping, taking a swig and then leaving his half-smoked cigarette burning a slow death in the prongs of the ashtray. He lights another and tells me she doesn’t trust him, the late nights running the bar, he must be up to something.

A mangy, motley dog appears, German Sheppard cross hyena, it skulks through the bar, fur wiry and dreadlocked and I half expect him to lose his shit, he seems to be the type that likes things to be clean and in place, but he stuffs his cigarette into the ashtray prongs before approaching it with a soothing whistle and a gentle hand in front of him. He crouches upon one knee and I watch as he carries the dog out of the bar like a new born babe. He drives down the street on his scooter with it perched on his knee, his moustache flying backward mirroring its furred dreadlocks in the breeze.

“Maybe you just need to make her feel more important”, I say when he is back with another cigarette, his glass glowing blue and fur stuck to him.

He shrugs. I can tell his adolescent years were spent in a musky dark bedroom sleeping late, playing video games and masturbating over girls with whips and long pony tails, or maybe I’m wrong, but I think that and imagine that at that exact moment. I imagine him going through puberty late, his first sexual experience, him not having a clue and she knowing exactly what to do, his hair a mop of black, long limbs with a pelt of sparse black, his excess foreskin turning his dick into an anteater.

He sucks on his cigarette looking out to the road. Their lost competencies these types, it’s always about their lost competencies. Always like they have to make up for something. Like a boy still trying to make his father proud well into adulthood, I knew he had something to prove. It seems most men do.

“If you want to make things better you just need to make sure you still fulfil her, make her feel secure.”

“I do,” he says and sucks hard on his cigarette.

“Well if you did she wouldn’t complain would she.”

He allows me a moment, or maybe he had nothing to say, maybe he was just pissed off. We both smoke in unison looking at one another and he sips from his blue and I sip from Merlot.

“You know most girls can deal with you working shit hours  if you still fulfil her and go out of your way to make her feel special.”

“I could fulfil you.”

“What?” I say.

“I could take you upstairs right now and bend you over the bathroom sink. Fuck you like you’ve never been fucked.”

I blink hard.

“You heard me.”