Sunday, October 5, 2014

Generation sauna

As I lay on top of her, I asked if she had any condoms and she shouted in my ear, “I’m a lesbian!”
We went to the service station at the end of the road.
“Yeah, we’d better be safe,” she said.
She needed a pack of cigarettes but didn’t have money so I paid for the cigarettes and a pack of condoms and, for some reason that she wouldn’t say, a tin of motor oil.
“You’re paying with a credit card.” She huffed.

We met in Fremantle. It was one of those hot January nights where it was better to stay out until dawn than it was to go home and suffer in the heat.
We met outside the Hungry Jacks on the Cappuccino Strip.
 She sat on a public bench. She wore a faded grey Unearth shirt and no shoes and a black and white pimp hat that was all the rage back then. She was waiting for a friend at Metros–the bouncers wouldn’t let her in.
She drank a potent mix of vodka and OJ from a 2-litre OJ container. I let the liquid splash on my lips when she offered me a drink.
We started up a conversation about the man driving along the strip who had been flagged by a police RBT and tried to run and been tasered and held down and handcuffed by five cops. I was polling everyone in the street.
“Did you see it happen?”
“Five cops!”
She had the double-set of smile now/cry later tattoos on her sinewed biceps. At least she would have, if the smile now tattoo wasn’t covered by a plaster cast that ran from her wrist to her collarbone. The cry later tattoo face was the grunge is dead smiley.
I talked about her Unearth shirt. She didn’t really like hardcore just Unearth. What she really liked was Gabba. She was going to the Rainbow Serpent in Victoria in a month’s time. She asked if I liked Unearth.
I told her I didn’t like Unearth. I found them derivative of the bands that influenced Unearth. Like Converge, I liked Converge.
“What does converge mean? I’m so dumb.”
I told her the definition of the verb, and how it related to hardcore and punk and how people, like punks and hardcore kids, converge on a shared goal or ideal or ethos or band, like Converge. I also started telling her about convergence in technology, I don’t know, but she was so drunk and possibly dumb that she kept on wanting to shake my hand.
She loaned me her hat. She told me that if she gave me the hat, it was an excuse for me to find her and see her again. She loved that hat, an ex-girlfriend gave it to her. She made me promise to give her the hat back.
I said OK. We exchanged phone numbers. She said her name was Jen. I told her, “I’m Sean.” I asked what her last name was. She hesitated and said, “Saunders.” Her number was Jen Saunders in my contacts.
I walked up and down the strip and back to her. When she gave me the vodka and OJ I did not pretend to drink.
“Do you want to watch me piss?”
“No, not really. But I’ll come with you to make sure no one rapes you.”
She pissed in the carpark under Hoyts Millenium. I played lookout. In hindsight, I don’t know how she did it with the full-arm cast.
“Do you want me to show you my favourite spot in Fremantle?”
We walked to the West End.
“I’m a lesbian, by the way,” she said. “I want to let you know, nothing is going to happen.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything.”
She told me that a couple of times and I gave the same answer.
She led me down a side street past a backpackers, and down a back alleyway and up some concrete steps to a landing overlooking an empty construction site. It was pitch-dark and there was no railing at the top so it wasn’t safe.
“Why is this your favourite place?”
“Because no one else knows it’s here. People on the high street walk past here all the time, and would never know about it. It’s quiet and safe.”
She offered me more Vodka. Something fell out of her pocket–she fit into her jeans tight–and down into the building plot below.
“Oh no! That was my phone! I have to get it.”
“You’re kidding, right? Just come back tomorrow morning, when you can find it, and get it then.”
“No! The specialist is ringing me first thing to arrange an appointment about my x-rays. I can’t miss that call.”
“I’m not climbing down. I’ll break my neck.”
“I need that phone.”
I had to physically stop her from climbing down into the plot: it was three stories high and her right arm in the cast was set in a permanent bent elbow.
“Let’s walk around the block and see if there’s any way to get into the site.”
I got her down from the landing and we walked around the block and she wouldn’t give up about her shitty Nokia in the building plot. I told her it was probably broken but that made her more anxious so I dropped that line of conversation.
Around the corner there was a boarded-up entrance to a house or store and she pushed open the door and we went inside. Inside was a construction site. Through a chain link fence we could see the building plot.
“Oh my god,” she said. “You’re looking for my phone, for me.” She moaned in the dark.
We looked through the fence.
“We can’t get in,” she said.
I looked through the fence.
“You’re trying to help me.”
She moaned and bit me on the shoulder, through my shirt. I didn’t look around at her. Did that just happen?
I pushed on the fence and the fence swung open. I stepped into the pitch-black building plot and fumbled for my shitty Nokia and pushed buttons on the mobile so that the screen would stay lit and I could stumble around the weeds and bricks and dust and I found her shitty Nokia on the edge of plot against the wall and when I walked back into the construction site I told her “I found your phone” and handed it to her and we kissed our lips mashing together and she used her tongue not sure whether she had to lead or whether I had to lead and if she wanted me to.
“Come home with me.”
“My god, I’m so weird with my sexuality. Are you sure?”
“My weird sexuality. You really want to fuck me?”
“Do you want me to come back?
“Yes, I want to fuck you.”
When I said that she smirked.
We walked from the West End back to the Luna Cinemas where I had parked. We held hands. I held her left hand. She staggered and bumped into one of the poles on the high street outside the late-night kebab shops.
“Are you OK?”
“Yeah, my arm is fucked, it can’t feel a thing.”
“How did you break your arm?”
“I was hanging upside down on a swing in a park and I fell off the seat onto the ground.”
Like a true gentlemen I unlocked and opened the passenger door for her and in the shadows away from the prying eyes of latenight clubgoers she pushed me against the car and we kissed open mouthed her definitely taking the lead with the tongue now and she fondled between my legs feeling my dick through my jeans and at that moment I realised not discomfort but not excitement either.
“Are you OK to drive?”
“Let’s take a taxi.”
“Where do you live?”
“I can drive.”
“Are you sure?”
I probably wasn’t drunk.

She told me about her lesbian lover: Cupcake.
“I have a good thing going with her. I don’t want you to think that anything is going to come from this between us.”
“What is going to happen with us is whatever, but what I have with Cupcake is special, and I don’t want to ruin that, so don’t think anything is going to come from this.”
“Where’s Cupcake tonight?”
She shrugged.
“Is she home at your place? Her name is really Cupcake?”
She smirked.
Her place was a house down the Canning highway by the Canning Bridge in a boulevard of deciduous trees.
“You live here?”
“Yeah. I work in the mines, I’m twenty-three years old and I make a thousand bucks a week.”
She had locked herself out of the house. We had to break in. She dragged the recycling bin up to her open bedroom window and, surprise, both my arms were working, I climb inside and unlock the front door.
No one else was in the house.
She made us a couple of Vodka and OJ’s sickly sweet Harvey Fresh. She filled the glasses to the brim and as she swayed and staggered and served the drinks there was spillage over the drinks cabinet and the sides of the drinks cabinet.
I cleaned up with a tea towel.
“Why are you cleaning up?”
“Don’t you pay me to come over and clean up the mess?”
“I don’t pay you to clean up,” she said and paused and looked at me and I had to think, how drunk are you exactly?
Inside her bedroom I took off my shoes and sat on the edge of the bed. She told me to pick some music on her computer as she went to the toilet. I looked through the folders and it was mostly Gabba shit and I didn’t play anything. There was a bunch of MSN chats from her other dyke friends asking what she was doing tonight, where are you, wanna chat, are you still up, lesbian solidarity sorta stuff.
She came back to the bedroom, her clothes were on, and fiddled around with the standing-fan in the room stinking hot and humid and I offered to help her but she got pissed and insisted on doing it herself and dragged the fan around with her one good arm. So I sat on the bed and she got the fan where she wanted it and switched it on. Then she turned around and pushed me back onto the bed and we kissed.
“I have you in my fuck position,” she told me.
She snatched a hand-full of my hair and pulled. I sat on the edge of the bed, longways now, and I was surprised not only how she could undo my belt and unzip and push down my pants but how rough the palm of her hand was. I was also surprised when she pulled and wanked on my erection then stopped and her hand rubbed and whacked my balls hard like they were a clit or a pussy. I held her wrist and pushed her back onto the bed and lay on top of her and said, “Do you have–OK, you know this part now.

I had to break in again when we got back from the service station. She still didn’t have a key.
“I’m going to sex a sexy man,” she dirty-talked, or tried to.
“Lucky you, I’ve been to the gym.”
She snatched at my hair. I pushed her hand away and I held her shoulder-length brunette hair.
"You like it rough? You like to be in control?” I said and yanked. “You're not. I'm in control." I yanked her hair again.
She lay on her back and I pushed up the Unearth shirt and her stomach was 8 per cent body fat and I felt down her stomach and traced the faint line of pubic hair from her navel to her pubic mound. I pushed down her jeans and underpants until her bush and pussy exposed and I traced her lips and rubbed her clit and pushed my thumb inside her and she stared at me with dull bloodshot eyes and tensed and I got the sense that I was never going to turn her on.
“I want to see your tits.”
“I can’t get my shirt off.”
My hand crawled under her shirt but her arm was a massive unmoving log between us.
“This isn’t going to work, we can’t fuck with my arm like this.”
I put my shirt back on. We sat at the outside backyard table and smoked. Her feet were covered in dirt. I hadn’t put my shoes back on and my feet weren’t much cleaner. I wore the hat.
“It’s cool we won’t fuck. I know heaps of dykes and bi-girls who are going to want to fuck you.”
“I’m still not giving you the hat back.”
A fluoro orange jacket hung from the hills hoist. I always liked it when the backyard had a hills hoist, it reminded me of when I was a little kid. 
Conversation dry I sat on the edge of the bed and she stood awkward in the bedroom entrance with her jeans unzipped around her thighs.
I couldn’t take it anymore and I stared at her and licked my thumb and her piss and come.
She definitely moaned this time and she leaned forward and fell on me and we kissed sloppy violent and past the open window, dawn light streaming in, walk a guy and girl, the housemate and Cupcake.
I pushed Jen off me and zipped up my pants and pulled on my shoes and stuck my socks in my pockets before I heard the key in the front door.
Jen’s too drunk and her arm too broken for her to zip up her jeans.
The housemate and Cupcake come in through the front door. Cupcake was short and wearing pink jeans. She ran past me and into Jen’s bedroom and jumped on top of Jen and straddled and pinned her on the bed and they shared a sweet Lesbian kiss and cuddle.
I stood in the kitchen watching and the housemate is gay and he started telling me how they’ve been at Metro’s tonight and he works there or something and he’s had five dexies tonight and he’s talking to me like a fucking munted space martian he’s making so much sense.
Cupcake and Jen hadn’t moved and nobody asked why her jeans were like that not yet.
I shouted out from the kitchen, “See you later, Jen!”
And Jen or Cupcake called out, not moving, “Bye!” and I’m out the back door and around the house and in the car and starting the engine and pulling off away from the Applecross house.
      Then I wound down the driver’s side window and drove the boulevard and turned at the roundabout and went past the strip of shops and waited at the lights for green and the heat was unrelenting.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The dream factory

         We decided to write a script to win grant money to make a short film. We decided on a rolling appointment every Friday late in the morning. He wanted to direct. I wanted to write.
         I sat on his computer chair and he lay on his bed with an acoustic guitar and I asked him what he wanted the film to be about and he strummed chords and told me his idea and I wrote down his notes in a notepad.
         The film was going to be about the majesty and greatness of living and was going to celebrate life and be a positive, ruminating piece on the central character’s life from birth to death. His twist: every scene was going to be a second long and feature one action or line of dialogue or exchange of a couple of lines of dialogue between characters and these scenes would be in great counterpoint and propel forward the narrative brilliantly. I told him that sounded interesting.
         “Have you ever been in love?” he asked.
         “Yeah,” I said with no hesitation.
         “I have never been in love.”
         I showed him the portrait I'd drawn of him: a massive ejaculating penis playing a guitar, lamenting, "Variety is the spice of life!"
         He wasn't that impressed and I went home with my notes and the day before we were due to meet I brainstormed ideas for his film. I didn't come up with much.
         On the Friday I had to wait at the front door because he was still asleep due to attending a party late the night before.         
         It didn’t matter that I didn’t really have anything to show him: he hadn’t written anything.
         Anyway, he had a new idea. We were now writing a black comedy. He explained the idea as he played along to Jeff Beck and widdled away at Beck’s guitar solos on his three thousand dollar white guitar with real gold pickups connected to a 15-watt amp.   
         “It’s not common knowledge but, for three months in late 1978, Beck’s incendiary guitar fusion was solely responsible for powering the United States energy supply requirements.”
         He liked the joke. The new story was to be a sardonic commentary on relationships and careerism and life.
         On top of his computer desk there was a framed picture of his girlfriend in a bikini on a yacht, goofing for the camera with her friends. The photo was a black and white laser jet printout and was faded and blurred and grey.
         "There she is, posing again!"
         The next Friday we drove to an industrial complex in Welshpool to pick up his computer. We went in his car. The advertisement for the Cheesecake Shop blared on the car radio.
         “That was written by Kevin Mitchell from Jebediah,” he told me. “It’s so simple! ‘Munching on a cheesecake at the cheesecake shop!’ Writing jingles is a good way to make money.”
         The computer shop was in a row of shops next to the complex. The people at the shop knew him and laughed heartily at his jokes. We were there for a while. He had an idea for a game show. The central premise: all the questions were about music and the contestants would never guess a correct answer.
         He showed me his porno on the computer. The DivX and QuickTime files ran from ten to fifteen seconds long.
           "I've missed these girls."
         The meeting wasn’t that bad. We researched the big grants currently offered by the Australian funding bodies and found out about what Screenwest and Film Australia had available for the year and when submissions were due and now we had a deadline.
         The third meeting he received a couple of phone calls. He answered them both. The phone rang and he spoke on the line and replied “Oh really?” and burst out laughing. He said, “I’ll see you tonight,” and hung up the call.
         “I was talking to John, my stand-up comedy writing partner, and he just told me he’s broken up with his girlfriend: Anna.”
         “And I asked, ‘Oh yeah, what’s she like?’ and he said, ‘She likes soft jazz, holding hands, walks on the beach, and anal sex.’ Ha ha!”
         It was a pretty decent joke.
         The other call was right after and he answered and listened and shouted out:
         “Oh my god! Was that today? I forgot! I am so sorry! I’ll be there right now. How can I make this up to you? I’m SO SORRY! How can I make this work? OK, I’ll be right there. Where are we today?”
         Then he hung up the call and left to go to his road crew job for a radio station, handing out energy drinks to passer-bys in the street and promoting NOVA FM or whatever and that was the end of the pre-production meeting for the day.
         The next time I arrived he had a new iMac in a box and he spent two hours unplugging the old broken computer and setting up the iMac and registering the machine and copying over his porno and documents. We wrote a song. He played a crazy guitar solo and provided high-pitched backing vocals–“I really have a talent for hitting a high note” –and I wrote the lyrics about worker bees taking over the hive and everyone losing control and I sung the monotone lead and we recorded the effort in garage band. I think he still has a copy of the file somewhere.
         By now our film script was about a ‘selfish man (Mark Aristo–he chose the surname) with a soul crushing, bureaucratic job, in a loveless relationship he doesn’t enjoy [who is] diagnosed with cancer and has only two months to live. [Mark] decides to turn his life around and make his lasting impression on the world with his time left.’   
         For some reason there was a cat and a beggar with strays who is killed by Mark and the comedy was the cat has stock options and the cat represents the futility of existence and Mark embezzles the cat in his stockbroker partner job. I titled the script ‘Means to end’ in a sly reference to Joy Division but I’m sure that even then that made no sense to me, let alone anyone else.
         The week before the deadline I wrote out half a dozen scenes of what we had brainstormed about the stockbroker and cat idea. He came over to my house for the first time in the project and we spent all day on the day of the deadline finishing the submission.
I can recall him saying when he read the first scene description of the piece, “Wow, you’re a good writer,” which stuck with me, because it was the first time he’d read anything I’d written or even acknowledged what I’d done.
         At first I’d type on the laptop with him dictating over my shoulder and when I was tired of that and thought we hadn’t enough time left he took over and wrote the final pages. He annotated the pages of the script with block capitals addressing the person in charge of vetting submissions–sample lines: FROM NOW ON THE TREATMENT WILL BE FAR LESS DETAILED AND MORE LIKE A SYNOPSIS AS TO GIVE YOU THE BEST IDEA OF WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS SCRIPT. WE HAVE HAD LIMITED TIME TO PREPARE THIS FOR YOU AND WE WILL BE WORKING TO COMPLETE THE IDEA OVER THE NEXT WEEK and FROM HERE IT IS EVEN LESS DETAILED, HOWEVER YOU WILL GET A GOOD IDEA OF THE ENDING WE WANT TO ACHIEVE!and he signed the script with his name first.
         Which annoyed me because even though I knew it was a shit script I wasn’t that amenable to bending over and making changes wholesale just to get some money for him to direct the project.
         During a break we ate steak rolls and watched Roger Federer lose to the mercurial Marat Safin in the unbelievable semi-final of the 2004 Australian Open.
         We shook hands and agreed we had a great story and that we would see this project through to completion even if we didn’t get the grant funding.
         Later when I saw him or maybe we spoke over the phone he said, “My girlfriend read the script and she works as a production assistant and she said it's just about the cat getting some friends to play with at the end and the story isn’t that strong.”
         And that was the last time we had contact.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Now Men

“At closing time the cops would come in and they would order a drink at the bar. A middy of beer each.
And they’d finish their beer and then they would go 'round to every person in there and ask them if they needed a lift home.
‘Do you need a lift? Do you need a lift? Do you?  How about you?’
And someone would say yes. Because they were drunk and shouldn’t be driving. So the cops would drive them home. They wouldn’t bust them! They would drive them home.
Then the cops would come back and order a drink at the bar. And after they finished their beer, they would go 'round the pub again.
‘Do you need a lift? Anyone need a lift?’
And someone would say yes. And the cops would order another beer – a middy – and after they finished their beer they would drive the person home. And they’d keep on doing that until everyone was home safely.
But now the cops just bust you if you’re drunk and trying to drive.”

“There’s nothing to do. There’s nothing to do here!
Everything shut down. On the weekend all the shops are shut.
There’s fucking nothing to do in town.
Me and my cousins we had rollerskates.  We used to put on our rollerskates. We used to rollerskate down to the arcade on Balo Street and buy ice creams. We'd skate over the bridge to Boggabilla and fish in the Mehi. When it got dark we’d pack up and we’d skate to the cinema and we’d play pinballs there.
But the cinema owner’s wife died and the owner left. The cinema closed down. Long time ago.
There’s nothing to do!”

"Of course you can have a cigarette. You know, you're a very fine pool player.
Isn't Joanne great! She loves having a good time. She's a beautiful dancer.
So, I'm gay, right? Last year. Last year? I went to the Pride parade for the first time. That's the gay Pride parade. Because I'm gay.
I had some reservations about going. As you can tell I'm a little bit older than you. Ha ha!
But everyone there was so accommodating. The parade, and the floats, and the people, we all started at the Court Hotel, the gay pub, and went down the main street, and turned down Aberdeen Street and we ended up at Connections, the gay nightclub.
Everyone was so nice. People were watching on the street and waving to us. I wore a red scarf! Some of the others were dressed way more ostentatious, though!
I had a great time. I think I'll go again.
So, I'm going this way to get home. You live that way? Well, I'm going this way. Did I mention I'm gay? I'm going now. OK, bye. Bye bye."

"On the trains we didn't have mobile phones and headphones and all that shit.
People used to talk and laugh with each other on the train. We talked about what was happening then. Young people listened to old people.
We didn't just talk. We also sang. We sang popular songs of the time.
At the front of the train carriage there was an old-time stand-up piano. Trains looked different to how they look now. There was a piano, and an old woman used to play it.
She'd play: Mr Sandman, buy me a dream.
We would sing and laugh along. Well, we didn't really sing, we would laugh mostly.
And the old bird would look over her shoulder and say, 'C'mon, children, sing!' and the old bird would bang away at the piano really slow in time to the music.
Make her the cutest thing I've ever seen!"

"Yeah, yeah. Alright, alright."