would like to thank the people who aided in the completion and publication of
this book with their kind words of encouragement, or their kind assistance,
Rock, Little Rabbit, Leesie, Kong Wei Na, John, Grant, Chelsea, Harvey, Chris,
Jean, Ray, Jacqui, Natasha, Minx, Springy, Baby, Sarah, Sophia, and of course,
Bruce from Poseidon Books.
AN average day. Wake up at six-thirty feeling bad.
Its either the bad diet with piles of sugar and caffeine needed for the job,
or a cold from a change of climate in the boarding house. I have not had a drink
for six weeks so I cannot blame it on the booze.
Open the door; check the bathrooms, hoping Russ hasnt started cleaning
them. No, its a good start. The coast is clear apart from Neil, the live-in
manager, watching TV. He doesnt say, Morning Robert, like he normally
does religiously. For a few seconds I wonder if there was a reason for the
non-hello as I get into the shower. The shower is good. Use the tea-tree shaving
gel, which is fresh on the skin but does not give a good shave. Smells nice
though. Start feeling like a shit, right on time and wonder if I can time the
crapper before Russ starts, or some one else crawls in. Yeah, make it.
Breakfast. Vita Brits. Always the same green plastic bowl. But today I
have banana yoghurt. Pretty average. The coffee trip. Pass Neil. Still no
morning from him. The Kurd is in the kitchen as usual. We greet, as
always, no small talk. I like it that way and so does he. The other early birds
are there. Coffee made, begin the trip back. Say, hello, to Russ and Neil
says, morning, so everything is fine. Coffee, sitting on the bed. One of
my few luxurious moments. Its only instant but I like that one at the start
of the day. I meditate, to get those extra miles, those extra dollars.
Time the exit when the talking stops. Yes, perfect, no one to see.
The trip down
, away from The Valley and towards the city, marvelling at yet another flawless,
sunny day in
. If it rains here it is usually only at night, which is good because I need the
On the way I look at all the regular people going to their regular jobs
in their regular cars, on bikes, or with their regular legs. I think they are
not as sad as the
mob. At least they have the sun.
Arrive at work, the usual scene. The desperadoes. Cant get a job,
cant get the dole, cant get a life.
Spinal Aid. We raise money and take a commission. There is a new girl, Inger,
. Im too tired to check her out. Trying to cut down the extra coffee. She is
with someone else anyway. The guy with the shaved head and ponytail. He looks
like he might be the sort to keep his women or get sour if he doesnt. Shane,
the second-in-command, gives some young guy my place in the shopping centre.
Fuck. Oh well, hes a nice kid. I dont like the Canadian girl for some
reason so make a point of ignoring her. I think this pissed her off because
Im always friendly with the English girl. Shes pregnant and a good
listener; rare in
. The manners mean something too. I load up on raffle tickets and Shane promises
a good day, as always.
Dennis, the young Australian driver, turns up late as usual. A nice guy,
but with a huge road rage problem. On Monday, at
, he chased a car two blocks for not indicating before it turned in front of
him. He is nuts, though you would never pick it unless you rode with him for a
while. Like a bubbling volcano. And he is getting hotter each day. He has been
warned, but then he is crazy. Were all crazy at Brisbane Spinal Aid. But I
guess for some of us its only temporary. I hope so, anyway. The last
permanent one was fired for assaulting a cop. She was in her sixties, poor
thing, lost it in residential one day and they called the cops. She seemed
normal at first too. Except she kept rubbing her chin all the time where there
were spots. Should have known she was too old for acne. She had the crazy spots.
So I sit in the van as Dennis the Menace drives like the maniac he is and
Im so tired so I try to sleep. I cant of course, but the Canadian girl is
next to me so I pretend anyway. With my eyes closed I can feel her skin against
mine as Dennis makes the van career around the corners. I wonder about
, and think about how I cannot wait to get the fuck away from my chains of
poverty and craziness, and the old men in the boarding house. Part of me knows
thats all bullshit of course and I will look back on these days with a smile.
Its Stones Corner first and Dennis has behaved so far. Maybe he is
going to have a good day. The Canadian girl and Claire, the pregnant English
girl, have the shopping mall and exit the van. Claire gives me her usual smile
and wishes me a good day. I study the Canadian girl and conclude she is ugly
inside and out.
Then its the Swedish girl and the guy with the ponytail. Poor
bastards, it looks like a dirty, unfriendly, industrial area. That leaves me,
the English Gambler, the kid and Dennis. I tell Dennis I cant face industrial
today and need a nice easy residential area full of old ladies. The gambler and
me chat about Blackjack, Roulette and
Suddenly Dennis is in full rage. Yelling obscenities and giving the car
in front the finger. He takes the van close to the rear bumper. The light is red
at the intersection. Then this guy gets out the car and hes kind of big and
rough looking and Im thinking like the other two, yeah, finally Dennis is
going to get it. Someones going to pummel that crazy little head of his.
Dennis is much smaller, but the lava is flowing now, and he launches himself
onto the road and slams the door but gets his arm stuck in the seat belt and the
metal door smashes on to his hand. He seems oblivious to this like a real crazy
and stands his ground. And Im smiling to myself, thinking, yeah, free
ringside seats. But the guy looks at Dennis and then at us in the van and either
knows now that this guy waving his arms at him wildly is fucking psychotic or he
has done some quick mathematics, and backs off.
It just lost power thats all! he shouts defensively.
Its not my fault if you drive a heap of shit!! Dennis counters.
The guy retreats back to his car.
I rip heads off c…ts like you!! Dennis yells after him.
He resumes his seat. He gives the guy the finger and more abuse and takes
the van within inches of the bumper. The light goes green and were off,
disappointed, and I am thinking its amazing what can occur between the
I turn back to the gambler and ask him if hes going anywhere for the
long weekend. Hes not so we start talking about gambling again. Meanwhile
Dennis takes the next corner so fast he nearly rolls the van and my bag slams
against the door on the other side.
. Dennis says 4.15 and leaves with the kid. Its me and the gambler. Another
coffee at a café. He goes off. Its commercial for him. He has a sly look in
his eyes, like he knows hell be off to the casino. I go for a piss. I start
eyeing up all the shops and little businesses and think they have got potential.
But the first five say no. My mind isnt on the right wavelength. I cant be
fucked today. I need money but the sun is blinding and on days like these it is
like trying to write with a pencil on glass. You try to leave your mark but the
harder you try the more broken it all is and theres not even a scratch on
that perfect world. I could read it in their eyes. I do not have the power to
create anything today. I wander down a residential street despondently and have
the same overwhelming feelings of insignificance, dirtiness and shame. I might
as well be naked wandering down this street. I notice that the houses look cheap
so its not a good area. I choose a good-looking house. A guy answers. Not
good. Females are much better, especially old ones. I do my spiel but he says
no. I miss a few houses and find a man carving a wooden horse with a saw of some
description. He looks like a real artist. I try the door as he is busy and he
might have an educated wife. No answer. Fuck. I leave.
By this time I have concluded I cant go on. Its hopeless. I think
about trying to sell one raffle ticket so I can steal the five bucks and get
some food but I cant even be fucked doing that. I pull out the map and find
with some glee that the railway line is nearby. The casino beckons. Cant be
worse than this. Its a short walk to Coopers Plains Station. I set off. A
long cargo train stops the traffic and me and crawls slowly past. I think how
easy it would be to jump on unnoticed, and really contemplate it, that being a
secret fantasy of mine. But I dont have the balls today. Plus the cars would
see me. Shame.
Its a memorable two or so kilometres. Not a bad walk. I pass a Channel
Seven news car sitting under a tree in the shade with two people in it and
conclude that journalism is for me. Look at them after all, sweet. At the train
station I ring Dennis and tell him Im off to the city. On the train there are
hundreds of school children all talking at the same time so I have to pretend I
am asleep again. I listen with my eyes closed. Queenslanders, so content. Some
boys close to me are talking numbers.
No, six niner six!
No, six niner niner!
No, the first kid again, its sixty niner! Mouth to bum!
I think about my answer if they ask me.
Listen kid, its probably one of the most wonderful things in this
world. Rates right up there with surfing your first wave. But it depends on the
girl of course. I decide on that.
But luckily they all get off a few stations further on so I can breathe
A short walk back to the office. The door is locked and when I knock
there are the usual sounds of panic and hurried movement of things followed by
Als aggressive, WHO IS IT!!? Al is the boss.
Shane eventually opens the door, when I say it is me. Fuck. I had figured
on only one. I get a blasting from them both, though I know Shane is only
pretending, and he gives me a friendly wink when Al is not looking. I say I have
worked for the last five days.
So fucking what!? asks Al angrily.
Pathetic! agrees Shane.
It just wasnt gonna happen today. You know what thats like? And
Ive got a sore leg.
What the fuck are ya? A sore cock more like! Fucking useless Kiwi!
says Al in a serious tone.
But luckily its all hot air and Im not going to get fired today. Al
gets kind of friendly again and softens when I volunteer to work the next day, a
Saturday. Plus he wants to know more information about
as he is going there on a fishing trip with his family in July. He offers me a
free can of coke a rarity and we have a nice chat, with his wife on
speakerphone, and Shane leaves. I agree to come back at 5.30 to load up for
Clear Vision, another charity, this one concerned with blindness.
I pick up my ordered Bukowski book from the public library, Mockingbird,
Wish Me Luck, which cheers me up but Im so tired and I hate the city and
my leg does start getting sore, just to punish me a bit more. On the way home I
decide not to go to the casino. Its one already but Im too tired to buy
food and just crash into bed when I get back to the boarding house.
I set the alarm and do sleep despite the two coffees and a coke. Must
have been exhaustion I conclude when I wake up pissed off at someone slamming a
door. Dying for a slash I try to go back to sleep. No way. I urinate, then read
Bukowski. These are the first poems of his I have read and love them straight
away. Always honest. Another piss and I am getting hungry so I wander to The
Valley. I like The Valley. It has a pulse. I head to McDonalds but the queue is
long and I get pissed off and go to the cheap Asian place. Cheap and nasty but
at least it is quick. I get a chicken fillet burger and a small container of
chips. Five bucks. I worry about food poisoning as I eat the burger. She nuked
it. But it is okay.
Too early to head to the office I try to kill time in the CD place, but
or the right Leftfield CD so I leave. Im too self-conscious for the
bookstore and could not handle having my bag randomly searched. I head to the
city but Im way too early. Always too early. A symptom of having no life. I
walk on to the bridge and watch the ferries passing underneath as the sun begins
setting in shades of orange behind a church spire. The buildings dont look as
impressive as they do with all the lights on at night. A young couple walk past
and suddenly Im paranoid about people thinking Im going to jump. I think
of a response: Looks too far to me, but I decide on, Im not the type
to jump, unfortunately. He is balding and she is a total babe, blonde with
long legs and good tits and I feel a pang of pain and jealousy at the same time.
I leave before the sunset. Still too early I sit by the water, which is
nice, so I stay for some time. I watch as streetlights send long flames deep
into the dark water, until the wind wipes them into the blackness, and think
and wish I could go tonight. I have done
for a while.
At the office there is talk of Dennis and a final warning. I try to chat
up the Swedish girl. Crack a few. Make her laugh. She has visited
. Says something about how dangerous the North is. I tell her thats where I
am from. She likes Maoris. I agree; theyve got a good sense of humour. Al is
in good form. I dont have to lug the table out there tomorrow. I leave them
and buy some Minties and Burger Rings for a treat. I eat them all as I read
I write a poem on my word processor entitled, Even The Dolphins Are
Getting Angry and print it out. I like it, for now. It is time for sleep. I lay
in bed listening to Vangelis on the CD walkman and watch large fruit bats caught
in the city lights flying between the buildings. I have to do it all again