A family comes down the ramp at Sunnyside shopping centre. He, in fluro orange, sized XXXL, a four wheel drive of a man, big as a Nissan Patrol. Silver beard and balding, the hairs above his lips taking on the sheen of nicotine. And she, the body of a grapefruit. Waddles as she walks, thighs rub together like tectonic plates colliding. Tsunami Sal. Once upon a time quite a looker, a cheeky binge drinker, deep throating Dale in the back of his Hilux like no other. He is one of the ones on the road works. Not the one holding up the signs, that’s for the soft cocks. He’s one of the ones who doesn’t quite look like he’s ever not on smoko, and he still comes home cranky. Cos she ain’t as beautiful anymore and he forgets when he’s looking at the back of her, washin his dishes, his gut full, the back of her like the whole of America, that he is not the Mona Lisa either. And the kids, exotic names to give them a good start. Names that sound as beautiful as all the places Dale and Sal saw on the tele. Venice and Skye. They think their mum and dad are holy. They’ll hold onto the shopping trolley as mum packs it up with loaves of tip top and frozen meat pies and pizza shapes and cordial. They fight for the spot on the back, where the steel sits between the wheels, just to hold on, while mum piles it up with the bargains and the shiny glimmering rainbow packets, she’ll give them a backhander if they aren’t careful. But they have no idea. They are fluffy and floating. The world is lit up like a fish tank and they are there, crouched on their knees, noses squished the glass, amazed. The world is amazing.
Billy wants a brother in arms so he turns up at my place. He is sweaty. I see that through the curtains, he’s really shimmering. He is at my front door but I’ve blocked it off so I don’t see the abandoned sail boat and cars. It’s been raining all day, and it’s that real refreshing sort. I stick my head out the window like Rapunzel. It’s one of those ones that swing upward.
Oh hello, Billy says. He has a habit of pushing his glasses up all the time with the tip of his thumb, they are thin-rimmed and silver, one of the lenses is completely fogged up. He’s just turned my water off. Yours isn’t off is it?
No, I go.
Bloody bastard! I am a heart patient! A small ball of saliva comes cascading through his lisp and out the place his four front teeth once were. Billy’s shirt is that real thin button-up material, patterned like an old hanky, brown and teal stripes. It’s buttoned down from below his nipples, the scar is there, piglet pink. A pack of ciggies dangle in the pocket beside it. All the irony in the world is there for the plucking but all I keep thinking is how incredible it is that through that gash Billy’s heart was opened up. I picture Billy laying there anesthetised with his mouth agape and his chest agape, and tubes everywhere, a real public hospital shocker, nurses running around everywhere, and people dying, and no flowers for Billy after. A visit from the lady on the property who sells weed maybe, and probably a visit from Chad, the schizophrenic guy. I feel sad for him.
He is going down you know, Chloe. I am going to take him down. I am going to go to the tenancy tribunal about this, and all of this, he says motioning his arms to the corners of the property, will be history! He scowls as best as he can so he knows I know he means it and a bit of spit hovers in the corner of his mouth, his eyes are wild. He seems a bit stoned.
Billy’s hair was once strawberry blonde, I think. Now it’s silvery pink. They are big oily curls that hang below his shoulders, parted in the middle. Always in the way, though occasionally revealing ear lobes that look older than the rest of him. Real grandpa ears. A few silver rings hang in them and raw red sores are on and around his cheeks. Like he’s squeezed blackheads and made real mountains out of molehills.
But you know what he’s like. I say cheerily as I can. You’ve really got to keep it brief will Billy otherwise you’ll be there all day. It’s Fastie’s kingdom and we’ve just got to play by his rules or move out.
But he’s a psychopath!
Yeah I know, but what can you do? I mean he was trying to show me his penis for a year and a half every time I tried to pay rent…
What? Billy’s eyes light up. That is disgusting!
I can’t believe he did that to you! He pauses. That is disgusting.
Yeh. I say. I direct debit now, it’s all good.
He once sat in front of me and spread his legs when I was up at his place one time! And his dick fell out like he is proud of it or something! Trying to intimidate me! I mean he might have a bigger dick than me, I don’t really give a damn about how big it…
Billy leaves me eventually. I close up the window. It starts raining again. I have a shower. I lay in the bed naked reading for a while. I listen to Father John Misty. I start feeling horny. Him swooning his wife always does. I get out my vibrator. The rain hits the roof harder. What bliss.
I find a flanney. And a skirt. I look a real treat. I shove the vibrator under the mattress. I move back the curtain and swing open the window. A man is standing out there who I’d never seen before. He is wearing a bandanna like he is a red hot chilli pepper or something.
You are Chloe right?
I am George. I’ve just moved into the cabin down there. Your electricity isn’t off is it?
Sorry to bother you. Fastie is having a war with Billy. I think he’s turned my electricity off by accident. Sorry to bother you.
You’re all good. Nice meeting you George.
George takes up the driveway, up to Fastie’s house. I start the Father John Misty album again.
The next day I’m driving down the street and pull into my property’s driveway. Billy is parked at the top, blocking the driveway, talking to the lady who deals the weed. They are both in their cars talking through their wound down windows. Billy sticks his hand out the window to acknowledge me and his engine starts. He waves goodbye to the weed lady and crunches the gravel as he rolls down. I’m right behind him. He stops his car suddenly and gets out and walks up to me. I am his brother in arms. He is barefoot. His toenails are ripped blunt. He stinks. He smells like ciggies and like sweat stuck under folds of skin and the stink of him makes breathing normal breaths difficult, even from in my car. His jeans are the same as always, maybe the same pair always; black straight legs with grey and white powdery marks stark over his crutch and knees of ash and ice cream and cum. But his smile is always intended to disarm, bless him.
Can you believe last night at midnight he took all the knobs off my gas bottle! Came over with a torch. He seems excited.
Gee, I say. That’s messed up.
And he turned off my electricity but I got a generator. I called a local real estate and let’s just say they were very interested to hear what I had to tell them. They lent it to me and he’ll be paying for it don’t you worry. He is going down. Oh and I’ve called Mental Health about what he did to you. Showing himself to you…
You don’t need to do that. It’s all good, honestly.
They are going to ask you for a statement.
What? No. I really don’t want to get involved.
Yeah? He says at me with his eyes crazy and the pinky silvery oily curls swinging on his shoulders. And this is exactly what everyone said in World War 2! Noone wanted to get involved and look, look what happened! He pushes his glasses up with his thumb. The lenses are covered in raindrops.
I live here knowing what he is like. I smile. I chose to live here y’know, I like my house, I just don’t want to get involved.
Billy skulks back down to his car and throws his hands up in the air when he reaches the door. He hops in and shouts out something out to the forest about needing luck because no one gives a damn and then leaves a skid mark on the gravel and charges down the driveway, careful to dodge the witches hats Fastie has set up to stop driveway erosion.
I go home, my paradise. I open up the back door to the balcony and the forest and put some Moby on. Most of his stuff is shit, but there are a few real nice instrumental numbers on the Play album. I select one and sit down to meditate. My sister told me recently my over-analysing was starting to get out of hand and I needed to do something about it. I sit with my legs crossed, taking on the breeze, I summon all the real zen thoughts. But all I can hear is the fucking generator.
Ah, that airy feeling.
Loneliness blows like leaves on trees moving.
And birds make the noises necessary
as they find their perches for the night.
Everything is doing it’s thing.
Everything is doing it’s thing exactly as it does
every single damn dusk
and goes unnoticed
on all the other days ya don’t feel blue.
Like the camphor laurels standing like brick shithouses,
reflecting light from their new growth,
fluro green like feathers of frogs.
And tawny’s in twos,
only to be seen as feathers not bark
when you give them your lonely time.
I can’t help but feel overwhelmed.
The way the clouds drift and sink.
And black takes over and everything transcends.
Silent and so noisy,
Vacant and so alive.
The crickets blind the air with this monotone,
this one you can tune in and out of.
As easy as lifting a drinkto your lips
to wash the day’s silly away.
A young woman, a young woman one night walked into a bar. She wore white up top and grey on the bottom and a scarf he said later was red but she knew was dark orange. He fixed her a drink, something pretty, something girls like, she took it in her hand, held it up in front of her and said gently “what the fuck is this?” He tipped it down the sink, the pretty fruity chunks and ice clogging up the drain and he reached up for the second nicest scotch on the shelf grinning like a dog’s head out a car window. He wasn’t looking for Audrey, he was looking for Nancy. He was in love.
They sat outside the bar and smoked a cigarette together. This was in a time when the boxes of cigarettes weren’t yet covered in gangrened feet and bad teeth and Bryan’s jundiced face that eats itself more with every durrie you draw. He noticed her pack was a Peter Jackson one, this was another detail he kept close. She remembers his shoes. Black, shiny, Gucci. They were like one of those cars that are driven real noisy down the street to make everyone look. She hated them. She hated them that night, she hated them on the last night, she hated them as she slipped out quietly two years later. If he believed you could tell alot about a girl from what she smokes and drinks she learnt to believe you can tell alot about a man by the kind of shoes he wears.
Some people make a mess and you get tired of cleaning it up and then pretend they are dead and the mess is no longer your worry. Some people make a mess and you get tired of cleaning it up and then pretend they are dead and then you still keep finding more messes even ages after the mourning is finished. The messes keep coming. Keep being found. Messes stuck in her bones. Kookaburras cackle at the same time each night from a barky gum just at the point of the last sliver of clouded mottled light in the sky. They cackle the funny little things, they cackle from a gurgle at the back of their beaks and if you’ve been smoking enough Mary J’s of late you are sure they are cackling at you. Because the Kookies know and you are sure they know. The Kookies know, they don’t have to wonder, someone’s mess will always remain your mess until you dab it up with the mess of another.
The oxygen of hope governs me like a queen temptress. On her shiny days I soar. Like a silly giddy kite I go up. I am her slave just like everybody else. I am a giggly kid on an ice cream wave.
Supermoon. Some said it was the biggest in 45 years, some said 68. I sat under a large fig tree to watch it rise. Surrounded by hardened cow patties and fruit with oozy seed brains that had fallen from it’s branches. And clumps of fuchsia thistle, and big stones which had rolled down from the road and settled in little divets made from cow hooves , the grass swayed in a lazy dance. I was with a group of friends and each one was as undistressed as the other, it was a beautiful clear afternoon with a pink marshmellow sky. We were sat on a mountain, the one each of us hillbillies were lucky enough to call home, and we were looking out at the ocean in the distance, out at the curve of the bay, out at Julian Rocks, out at the most easterly point of terra australis waiting for this great big thing to present itself. There was pisstaking and chatter, beers were cracked and the darts were shared around and I sat looking out breaking up a blade of grass between my fingers, I could not find their simple peace. I could not appreciate the simple splendour of being alive and no outter worldly spectacle, no matter how big or how bright or how beautiful was able to get me there. My mind was devil red and scratched up, hacked at with ferocious biro and bolts of carnivorous gash. We all went back to a backyard that stretches out down to the creek where water trickles under a cool and quiet canopy and crays with great big blue claws hide under fallen camphor leaves and we lit a great big fire. I sat in my own silence for a while and then I left.
Ashing into the empty tin of a tea light candle in bed with warm white wine leaning against my side, a foggy head and not a person in the world to consider, I was at the complete mercy of my own hedonism and self destructions. I listened to John Martyn. I touched myself over my latest crush or a past lover or a stranger without a face and then fell asleep in the most comfortable clothing I was able to scrounge out in the lamp light, my hair knotty and putrid with fire.
Sometimes I have to set an alarm, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’ll have not a single plan for days ahead and I will get lost in the sheer vacance of that. I’ll awake and panic and finish last night’s joint and boil the kettle but then forget to drink the tea. I’ll dust the ash off all the surfaces and brush the dead moths and gecko shit off the pillows and find where the rats of the night have got in and play some music. Lately it’s been a lot of jazz, I like the unpredictable nature of it, no melody to follow and nothing that can slime you into melancholia. I’ll walk around my house stoned and do whatever I feel like. Free as fuck. I am it in its epitome with no obligatory undertones no matter how hard you dig. Existence purely for thyself. But when I actually really think about it, it frightens me. The sheer vacance of that. It’s limitlessness. Just unobstructed distance between me and the fat wet horizon.
A woman unloved is condemned to infinite head humming. Her own perceptions of the world played over and over giving her no break from herself.
I found Fastie out the back, he was dragging a piece of chipboard by its corner from the darkness of one of his many sheds exploding with junk. His gut was ripe, the bottom of it dipping down under his shirt misbuttoned from the nipples down. His eel face was drooping underneath hair white like a Maccas cleaners’ mop tendrils with eyes that could set bull ants on fire like evil kids with magnifying glasses. His Subaru was fucked up, the front and sides around the bonnet removed, like a mouth with no teeth and pushed in like a pie, it’s why he’d parked it round the back I guessed.
“You knocked down one of my witches hats on the driveway,” he said stopping for a breath, then five more and he was really going for it.
“Are you ok?” I asked and he scowled at me like a devil man when I asked him so.
“I don’t know where you’re fucking dumb or just can’t drive,” he spat between heaves.
I stood with a hand to my mouth to compose myself, a giggle wanted to breach it’s trap. Finally I let it. “Like you can talk,” I said, pointing to the Subaru.
I gave him my rent, watched him count it and then walked away quite pleased with myself.
I never get tired of my hands filling up with wet that I wipe off on my legs in the first few minutes of rendezvous. The way he steps slow at me and our faces light up like Christmas looking so sad and happy at the same time. We both uncurl slow, slow like armadillos in streaks of forest sun filtering through a thick canopy. Every word we speak makes the other soften and ache though we listen patient, listen warm to all the stuff and the fluff from our most broken moments when we were tight up in little balls, him staring at walls hating the way he loved the way the knife always sliced him right up in the quiet. And me writing and drinking and drinkedy drunkedy writing every stupid thought I’d had using a name I’d give him in the times I hated him the most with cigarette ash tumbling over the pages like glitter.
I never get tired of the sicks but then the glads for the yucky ways we’d both always try to keep ourselves warm but did bad at it. The way his face squeezes up sad to meet his nose for my hands that wave around like an opera singer with a machine gun. He keeps his animations and details left packed up in their box for me because he is nice like that and also because he’s not good at saying the words that make him see him from the outside looking in, all the splinters in his scone shining like a high rises windows in the night. He slithers like a lizard, slides to all the nooks of dark to hide with his shivers and endeavours of no one finding him while all the sandwiches get eaten by everyone else. I dance like a bushfire.
We spew the caramel gooeys out when all else is done, all the silly things we’d found that reminded us of us in all the tightened moments and our insides curl and coil like two pythons in spring while we do it. He tells me about logs on the beach how he finds me in them swimming with no clothes on first thing in the morning with the sun shining like nectar. And me, I find him in cous cous it’s why I keep some in a jar. It always starts so slow and ends so fast and I never get tired of it. It is exactly the way I like to be fucked.
I’d gotten used to
on the days you were in my head.
they were in my dreams
now it’s spring
they’re in my roof.
Between two tables of talkative folk a dark-skinned boy sits with a bowl of hot chips. He takes a chip, dips it in the sauce, pops it in his mouth, chews it down. He looks around as he chews, looks at people, watches people moving around and talking as he dips his chips into sauce. I watch him from behind a haloumi burger, the voyeur of a voyeur between two tables of talkative folk and I smile with sadness for the vulnerability in that mix of his contentedness and his aloneness.
“We are going to have the best holiday ever and Mummy’s gonna plan the whole thing, Daddy’s not going to make a decision at all,” says a lady with a very made up face to a two year old in a pram at one of the talkative tables. The Daddy in question appears to be busy watching a kelpie lick a rock.
“Babe?” She goes loud out her nose. “Harlow wants a babychino.” Daddy becomes startled and digs into his back pocket.
My eyes fall back on the dark-skinned boy, still going at his chips and I take a bite from my burger.
The greatest ache
I’d encountered for a while
was on the day I observed
ladies have babies
to get 9 months
of being celebrated.