Sense of Place

“Where are you heading?” He asked, dabbing his face with a scrunched up bundle of tissues.

He was too wet to ignore, “Central Station.”

We made the kind of small talk that doesn’t commit to the conversation. He told me, “I have this post-card from my sister, she bought it for me at the eighty-eight world expo. I used to use it as my bookmark. Here, careful. Brisbane always seemed a little water damaged. I guess I didn’t help with that impression. I bet ya the city doesn’t look a thing like this, all bright and lit up for the fair.”
I joked in a hushed tone, “We still get electricity.”

“And jokes, I see. The city was very clean back in Sir Joh’s run. I saw his son on the news recently. Running for the Palmer party. I recognised his voice before his face. Sir Joh used to say you could count a city’s future on the amount of cranes you can see on the horizon.”

I felt the flush of politics in my face, “He gutted a lot of buildings though, to make way for that, right? Seemed he liked his name on plaques.” There were a few seconds of silence. “And Cheques” I added, connecting semantic dots.

“Do you not like the city?” he asked.
I imagined people were staring at us, vying for silence, but something pushed me on. ”I accept it for what it is.” I thought back to the postcard, “Even if the reason it has water damage is no-one gets the gunk out of the drain.”

He smiled the smile of a priest, that frustrating acceptance, “Sure Joh might have had some problems, but he did well for city.”
“Plenty of cranes on the horizon.” I replied.

We slid back into small talk and I turned to watch the water running down the window as the train hurtled along the tracks, the blinding flash of the suburbs surrounding us. He looked down at the postcard in his lap and lamented, “Oh, I do hope it hasn’t changed much.”
I mumbled, “Don’t worry, people still voted for Bjelke.”

Who Am I?

The bathroom was dim and dank, humid to the point of sweating. If you closed your eyes and ran a tap someone could almost mistake the tangible presence of a waterfall in a rainforest, except instead of the smell of moss and damp decay you were instead buffeted by the acrid stench of urine. Instead of gushing water, the private flushings of the modern man behind wooden doors and tiled floors.

He sprayed the walls with bleach before moving to wipe down the basins. Pausing at the mirror, he tried to clean off a smear in the shape of an oily hand print. He stepped back and noticed me in the reflective surface. We both turned gradually but he seemed to hesitate before meeting my eyes. Grinning for a moment, the look faded away leaving his face to relapse into boredom. Our hands went back to cleaning the glass.

He was tall and lanky, with an added affectation of having his hair tied up in a man-bun atop his head. His uniform was country grass green, which sort of made him look like a string bean. Cleaners have a secret interest in working around the eyes of the public. The best are never noticed: in their effort or in their visits. No consumer wants to think about the vast waste they leave behind in their day-to-day existence. So, he took pride in invisibility.

As he moved to exit, a balding man in a charcoal suit pushed his way into the bathroom. His name was Joseph, but the housekeepers had a penchant for calling him Jofish.

Jofish looked towards him and wrinkled his flat nose, a look of accusation crossing his face. “Look, Mitch, do you have some kind of bowl problems?” He spat.

Mitch raised his eyebrows, “No, I am fine?”

Jofish lunged, leaning in he asked, “Well you just seem to be spending a lot of time in the bathrooms today.”

Mitch looked to me for a moment and turned back to Joseph a little bewildered. “Yes, I clean them.

The Without

There isn’t much worth remembering in this world, and only a few days even come close. We drank whiskey from the bottle and spoke about Spain, even though I never had the pleasure. Tiff talked about the fear of walking down the streets of Barcelona as a woman, and it frightened an already cowardly person. Lachlan loved travel and travel stories. He talked about the drugs and the beach and the bar that a friend of a friend owned, which he lived above for a while. He drank and smoked, and we drank and smoked. Who wouldn’t remember that night so fondly?

Tiff danced in the moonlight, and acted like she didn’t. You get enough yeast-shit into a depressed personality and you will work wonders for your ego.

I wondered if I loved her, a sentence I often write and think about. The truth was I loved anybody that could love me: Amy, and Emily, and Liz, and Sian. They gave me a chance, and I gave them a reason not to.

The bottle was gone before we realised we were too. I left and ran to Rhys’s house, a party was beginning and I needed it. I often imagine a sinking feeling when I drink, like I am being sucked down into some mud with a loud squelch; mud that ran grey rather than brown from all the prodding and stomping and clutter that killed the surface.

As I ran, I became aware of the beast following me along the Gailey Road. It growled at me on the tar road and I hid in a bush to escape the golden glare. The beast pulled over and let out a couple: Susan Andrews and T.P Conner. They weren’t in love with each other yet, but they would realise it at the same time, a few weeks from now, in the soft candle light as they waited out the floods in Toowong. She was from here and he was a visitor, but then he stayed.

I knew I was a fool as I watched the cab pull away from those whose love didn’t exist yet. I laughed and sprang from the bushes as only the young can, and ran to the party with reinvigorated interest. If I was paranoid it was because I felt entitled to be liked.

I paused at the stairs; two women were fleeing the party. They laughed at my obvious sweatiness and foolish drunken grin. The tinniness of their jests lacked meanness; I couldn’t help but project empathy. They looked like they knew. While I ran up the stairs Lachlan and Tiff waltzed under the cool night sky, imagining a song that would never be. It lived for a moment in their experience, sputtering out prematurely before gaining a sense of what it would have been.

Tiff panicked, she thought she was lost, but she was just drunk like Lachlan and I were. She missed her ex-boyfriend, who was in Berlin falling in love with another, and her unknowable psychic distress was the reason for our visit.

The cloying mist of inebriation slipped across her eyes and the street became a shrouded mystery. The house was no longer hers, and she was as lost as she felt. As was I.

The mist found me too, talking to Flynn and Angus on a wooden balcony. My body rebelled against the poison I had forced into it. I leaned over the railing and let it escape the way it came in. The truth was, I didn’t love her, even though I wrote this story for her. I tried to bottle my life, but found it flat and tasteless. I didn’t love her, but I loved that night.

Tiff and I weren’t in love with each other yet, but we would come to realise it at the same time, a couple of decades from now. I will die, and she might see it in the paper, if she looks. She would cry, not even knowing why, and maybe I will watch her. She is from here, but I stayed.

Sketch Two

One day, the man sat down to write. But unaware to his audience right now, he had no clue what to write about. That may seem strange to you, the reader, having a story within your cold clammy grasp as you attempt to suck some joy out of life. Now you are continuing to read to see if there is some point to all this, but surprise, there isn’t. It is as if the writer of this story is attempting some meta-dialogue with the audience in some vain endeavor to try and salvage a beginning. Now you as the audience are stuck listening to the echo of my voice when really you should all be outside, watering your garden, or reading an actual book. I can’t believe I haven’t lost you by now. Usually if the first couple of lines are insufferable I switch off instantly. Well, I can’t wait. I don’t know about you but I have all the time in the world.

How I Learned to Love the Liberals

Tony Abbott
Taken from PHduck wordpress


Originally published on Portwhine and Mild Mutant, in print from Obiter

I, for one, am not content with the environment policies of the current Gillard Government. Talks of a ‘carbon tax’ and a ‘green economy’ are for hippies who only fly Astral Airways. Discussions of a ‘sustainable tomorrow’ envision a world that isn’t the future I envisioned.

The only man to share my vision is Tony “The Rabbit” Abbott. You heard him last week; he is ready for it. The Liberal Party have always been forward thinkers and they champion the policies and environmental insight that will ultimately bring about a world that I want to be a part of. They are visionaries of tomorrow, today.

Continue reading “How I Learned to Love the Liberals”

Football in Two Halves: Second Half

Originally on Mild Mutant

My early years at school were horrible, mainly because of one boy.  This one boy was at the centre of my hatred because I was the centre of his cruelty. Although he could hardly string an insult together he still managed to make me feel horrible. He was the kind of bully that if you could go back in time and punch him you wouldn’t, because his frame would crush you.

Continue reading “Football in Two Halves: Second Half”

Football in Two Halves: First Half

You know those defining moments you see in teenage sporting movies where, against all odds and all logic, the team is inspired by a single act in a losing game to turn it into victory? It is a common trope, the rise of the weak against the strong; the lucky versus genuine skill. These miracle rallies are so rare cynics doubt their very existence or worth.

But it happened to me.

Continue reading “Football in Two Halves: First Half”