Monday, 23 January 2012

Awake

I awake in the night. Late for work. No, it’s Saturday. Fuck. Fuck me, I need to sleep. Eyes closed in the dark. What had I been dreaming of? Lucy. It is always fucking Lucy, with her back to me, asleep.
The bed feels too big and cold. I push my toes deep into the cold. The muscles pull beneath my legs, tight. Fuck me, I need to sleep.
I will paint a picture in the dark. Work. Work always puts me to sleep. Sitting at the nurses’ station. Poking through the dark with my flashlight. Rooms filled with invisible dreams.
But then maybe I am asleep. Maybe this is a dream. But then what? All I want to do is sleep. Can I fall asleep in a dream?
Thoughts. Too many fucking thoughts. I need to stop thinking. I need to fall into the bottomless dark. I need to die. Stop thinking.
Has it worked?
No.
My eyes are open. My eyes are caked with sleep. I can see my bedroom. I can see it bubbling like TV static. My clothes on the floor, my wardrobe open, my clock flashing . Power surge. What time is it? It will never be morning again. Fuck.
And there is a light. A light on in the hall. Did I forget? No. A burglar? The monster under the fucking bed? It’s coming closer. Closer. I can see the wallpaper. The cold is in my legs, my feet, my toes. It is so bright, my eyes are bubbling, boiling. I can’t see anything but dark and light. I am going to die. I need a weapon. My bedside table. My novel. My glasses. My cup. That will do. Fuck me, what is going on.
Get out of bed. Cold toes, stiff as boards. Carpet. Knees. Forward. Quiet. Raise the glass. This is a fucking dream. Close my eyes. Now!
There is screaming. Check. It is not me. What have I done? Fuck. Open my eyes. The light is on the floor. Small, screaming. A girl, four inches high, naked, wings, a fairy? I am dreaming. I am fucking dreaming. Wake up.
No.
I am dreaming. Nothing matters in a dream. Drop the cup. Down, over her head. Screams muffle, thousands of miles away. Is my real self screaming? Am I alright? Am I about to die? Fuck. Fuck me. Fuck it all. There is nothing I can do. Stop fucking worrying.
Bend down. Look in the glass. She is beautiful; naked. Scrunched up in a ball, knees to her breasts, face down crying, glowing gold, crackling, on and off and on and crying and her wing is bent down, broken. Fuck. What have I done?
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Shit. What am I doing? Why am I letting this get to me? This untruth. This reality. This means nothing. It is nothing. A lie. I am lying. I am insane. Fuck it all.
Pick up the cup. Place it on the floor. Scoop the creature into my palm. Lift it to my eyes. Warm. Beautiful. I touch her shoulder with my finger. Feel her skin. So real. Vivid. Will I forget this all when I awake? How could I? It is so real.
Talking. I am talking.
“Hey.” Pity.
What do I do? Do I take her to the doctors? The vet? A witchdoctor? What do I say? I injured a four-inch-high flying girl in fucking self-defence?
Thought. Everything I know as fantasy is a lie. What else may be true? Vampires and centaurs and dragons and hob goblins and trolls and witches and werewolves and magic. And I have injured one of their own. They will want revenge. What do I do?
“I’m sorry. I am so very sorry.”
But I am not sorry. I am sorry for myself.
She is on her knees. She drops her wrists on my own.
She bites me.
“Ouch!”
Jolt. Tendons pull. Arm goes up. Flying. Wings beating. Falling. She hits the carpet hard. Legs buckle. Bend. Break under her. Still. Eyes closed. Fuck! What have I done?
Bend down.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
The light flickers. Goes out. Everything is dark.
And she wasn’t a fairy at all. Fuck, it all makes sense now. An angel. A fucking angel. I have killed an angel. I will never see Lucy again. I am going to hell. Fuck.
Get up. Go to bed. Lie down. Close eyes. Stop thinking. Nothing. Everything will be alright. Fall asleep. Do it. Sleep. Everything will be alright in a dream.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Dog in the Window

Act I

This is the first panel in my comic strip: There is a girl; seventeen years old. She does not care about fashion or any of that peripheral rubbish, but she is quite pretty anyway. She is walking along some featureless street through the housing estate where she lives. She is alone in the dark. But of course we can see her in the darkness because she is the hero.
She is just restless, I guess. That is why she has gone for a walk. She should be studying for exams or reading or doing something actually useful with her time. I mean, it’s her last year of school. This is the most important year of her life and there are only ten months of it left. I can’t imagine a walk will make her feel any better. It was hot as all hell her bedroom, sitting by her window watching her reflection and the dark spread across the estate. She left her mother upending the pepper shaker onto her Weight Watches. She didn’t tell her where she was going, probably because she doesn’t know. Her mother will worry but the girl does not care.
Houses flicker through panels like TV stations in static. In the darkness, every house looks the same and that house looks ugly; with a double chin and rolls of fat sprawling out against the feeble wooden fence lines, like dioramas. The nature strips are mowed to a buzz-cut and studded with ornate trees hanging over the footpaths, swept clean beneath her new Nikes. She can feel the shame of slave labour rubbing bloodied holes in her heels. The night beats an unnatural rhythm under her heels and her breath. The cicadas ebb in the summer heat and the last of the cockatoos hail the passing day. In the distance she can hear a lone dog calling out to the night. It is not until she gets further down the page that she can hear the pain in the little dog’s cries.
The next panel: The girl stands in the street out the front of a double breasted Mc Mansion sweating fresh paint drips. The house is lit up under the streetlamp like a spotlight. It has two flabby alcoves sticking out from its chest and a long appendage of white stones leading onto the driveway. An old commodore is slanted across the driveway and in the windscreen the girl can see a little Chihuahua with its bauble face pushed up against the glass.
The girl is in shock. The stars are clouded out by thought bubbles and sweat is clear across her face. It must be nearly twenty-five degrees outside and God knows how hot it must be in the car. She can see the sweat balling in the little dog’s eyes. Thought bubbles:
“What kind of inhuman monster would do this to a helpless little dog?
“What kind of justification is there?
“The dog was yappy?
“The backyard fence was broken?
“Bull–.
“There is no justification.
“I just hope this household does not have children.”
She runs to the car and the night flies back in waves of light and dark behind her as her feet Crunch! Crunch! on the pebbles and she rips at the driver’s door but it is locked so she circles around the car but all the doors are locked, but the passenger’s window is wound down a few inches and she can smell the new leather seat covers and the pine air freshener swinging from the mirror and she wants to throw up all over it and she digs her fingers into the gap but she can’t reach the lock. The little dog licks her fingers and in that moment she has never felt more connected to the private suffering of another creature. Our hero knows that she must rescue the dog. If she doesn’t do something then she will regret it later.


Act II

Then, an idea! Across the road is an empty block that opens out into the fields behind the estate where roads have been sealed but the houses are yet to be built. She runs across the road and drops into the dirt behind the scrub which parallels the footpath. Through the scrub we can look back at the house. It is dark except for a single slit of light which slices through an upstairs curtain. She fumbles about in the dirt until she finds a rock. Then she stands up.
The darkness hangs over her in sheets of black paper. The sheets are large but she can see where they overlap at thin creases. At each crease she can make out the thumb-tacks that hold the whole illusion in place. The tacks come away easily under her fingernails and underneath there is nothing but darkness. She is alone in the darkness. Night is nothing but a trick of the light. The light hangs from the wall in a slit and spurts from the streetlight. She is cloaked in the night.
But her bleached white thoughts fill the air. Already she is thinking of the thrill she will feel when the little dog is free. This is only Edition 1. There are so many heroic deeds left for her to do to bring peace to the suburbs, slipping through the darkness caped in a pseudonym, the ‘Nightwatchman’ or the ‘Blacklight’ or something that the nightly news will catch onto, and the people will cheer and children will paint her shadow onto their walls. She will get some thrill from her middle class life, sitting in class all day smiling to herself, and sneaking away at night from her mother camped in front of the TV collecting wedding rings. Her night will be worth something.
It is with these thoughts hanging over her head that she throws the rock. When it hits the bonnet there is a panel of silence where her breath floats at the top of its arc, ready to fall. Then suddenly the car is screaming bloody murder. She drops into the warm dust. She can hear the suburb’s pulse with her ear against the black lines that divide the panels. She watches the slit of light until in the next panel something moves. Lights go on down the stairs and across the landing and out onto the porch.
The next panel is of her face, eyes alight, staring transfixed at the house, at us. She wears a wide grin that fills her chin.
“It worked!” She thinks.
Next panel: Front door closed.
Next panel: Front door open. A silhouette of a fat man stands in the light, wrapped in a bath towel. The towel sprouts shoots of pubic hairs that creep up his gut and bloom across his nipples. His horn is pointing up at the cloudy sky.
He winces down the path, dick first. From somewhere below his waist, the man whips out his car keys and presses one into the door. The alarm goes quiet and everything is as it should be.
Then the man turns around and returns to the house. The little dog screams but nothing happens. The lights go off.
She stands up and runs across the road, feeling the backs of her runners scratch! scratch! deeper into her heels. She skittles across the pebbles. The little dog yaps when it sees her at the window.
“Don’t worry,” she whispers, “I will get you out of this.”
Her mind lingers on an image of the fat man squishing his bum cheeks into his faux-leather couch in front of the infomercials with the little dog positioned on his boner, crushed to death by the crashing waves of his gut. She wants to throw rocks through their windows. She wants him to know what it feels like to be a dog trapped in a hot car. She scoops a handful of pebbles into her pocket and jumps the low fence into his backyard. Her breath is short and the little dog’s cries echo in her head.
“I am the hero,” she thinks.
“I am doing the right thing.”
Away from the window, her night vision is getting stronger. It is a small backyard but it is filled with trinkets of wealth. A brand-new barbecue stands on the porch for the fat men to congregate around. The lawn has recently been rolled out like carpet. In the middle of the lawn is a fountain where a naked cherub stands as a silent sentry over the yard. There is no kennel or dog bowl to be seen. Floor-to-ceiling windows watch out over the garden. The night is loud now. She can hear the cicadas and the cockatoos and the distant rumble of cars in another suburb and the little dog barking. She has been here too long. The dark windows now look like strangers. She can see people in them. She can see people all around her in the dark. She needs to be quick.
The pond is swirling black ink and cherub is as white as her thoughts. His podgy body arcs out from a stone pedestal with his cock out in front.
Next panel: Its cock is cool and rigid in her palm.
Next panel: Crack! And she snaps it right off.
She puts the cock in her pocket.
Next she runs to the end of the lawn and rolls a strip up into a bundle. She has been here too long. The dark presses in on her. With the lawn under her arm she jumps the fence and runs back across the road and falls panting behind the scrub.
“I am the hero,” she says.
“I am the hero.
“Nothing will go wrong.”
The reader looks at the girl and she looks back. Her eyes are closed. She is covered in pond water and dirt and mud hardens against her shirt in the heat. I don’t know how to feel. I guess I feel pity.


Act III

Things don’t feel right anymore.
“I am doing the right thing,” she says. The rocks are heavy in her pocket and she pulls one out. It is perfectly white and does not fit well in her palm.
“I am doing the right thing,” she says.
She stands up and pulls her arm back and points a finger at the car, like a sissy, like a –ing schoolgirl. She closes her eyes and exhales.
There is a crunching sound like the air is screaming.
Then the car alarm blares.
On
            And on
                        And on
                                    And on.
The reader can see shards of moonlight splinter across the windscreen. It is cracked through.
She drops to the dust and waits.
But nothing happens.
“I am the hero.
“I am doing the right thing.”
Her speech bubbles are bright above her head. She can see the grain in the paper she is printed on. She can feel the walls of the panel she sits in. She can’t escape. The air is as hot as blood.
She wonders if superheroes ever feel doubt. She wonders how anyone can ever live happily ever after.
She waits for something to happen that is not the same moment repeating over and over again.
Next panel: There is no movement in the house but there is a sound coming closer.
Then the distance flashes red and blue.
The penny drops.
She is up and running. The panel stretches out ahead of her as she runs through the fields behind the estate. Branches bash against her shins and she watches the ground for potholes but instead she trips over a log and tumbles down an embankment in the dust and gets up and runs. She needs to get home, to her mother, her alibi. They will find the roll of lawn. They will find her tracks through the field. They will find the stone penis warm in her pocket.
“I was stupid,” she says.
“God damn stupid.”
But I don’t think she was stupid. She was well intentioned, but na├»ve, certainly. One day she will look back and see the situation for what it was. She will wonder, truthfully, how much freer is a dog trapped in a backyard?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Serpent

1. His birth

I was born a boy, with my balls cupped in my hand. Even then I was ashamed to be associated with them. But what man isn’t? My balls were lumps of agony enclosed in a shower curtain. They ached at my touch and dripped stupid thoughts into my head. Of course, I didn’t know this until later. Thinking back, I’m not sure I even acknowledged they existed until much later: once they had wrapped their wispy little wires around my brain and hoisted my dick into the fraying mesh of my underwear.
I was born from my mother’s uterus and suckled on her tits. Of course, I don’t remember this either. I imagine that if I did, it would only leave me more ashamed.



2. His second sexual partner

At the age of thirty, I have had three sexual partners. I can count them on one fucking hand. They do not even equate to a full fist. I remember each so well. I can paint every one in vivid colours on the blackness of my mind.
My second sexual partner came when I was twenty-one. She was my room-mate at the flat in
Cardigan Street
. She had perfect black hair that merged with the darkness. Her skin was pale, filled with every colour in the light spectrum. Dark little freckles splayed in constellations across her skin and fell in and out of her shirt and her bra and her underwear. She was drunk; we both were. We were celebrating my appointment as the new maths teacher at a big rich school in the city: the kind I had attended in my youth; where boys are funnelled into suits and are lead around by the tie and wrestle on the footy field and cum in the toilets. At this point in my life I had dropped the fat that had hugged my waist since childhood. Every few mornings I could compliment myself in the bathroom mirror.  I sat with my hands in my lap and just watched her. I remember that she skulled the bottom out of her cider and turned to me beside her on the balcony, staring at the bricks and grout like maybe there was something more interesting behind it than the lives of strangers. Then she was talking to me with her lips and her tongue. Her jaw stayed very still.
“I’m so proud of you,” she says.
Her eyelids were heavy with powder and her nails were the colour of blood. I could see the slice between her breasts falling deep into the cut of her sweatshirt. I knew then that was all I wanted: not her breasts but that hint, that constant lure, desire; never anything more.



3. His adolescence

I have always lived in the city. I grew up in a sunless apartment on the twenty-third floor of the ANZ tower. When I returned to visit years later, I discovered the drab bedrooms reeked of mothballs and bottled farts. My bedroom was crammed up against the wall. Most of it was consumed by my double bed, strewn with clothes and homework and little ink stains. Through the wall were my mother and her boyfriends. Across the window was an office block over the far side of
Collins Street
. My window lined up with the office of a fat man with gluggy sweat patches under his arms, nimble fingers and a neck pillow. I named him Steve. Something about him looked like a Steve; as if I’d seen him on TV. There was some admirable quality about Steve: the way he sat there all day typing to his reflection on the screen, stopping only at to eat his lunch from a sandwich bag. I think what I admired most about Steve was that he was completely fake.



4. His Mother

My Father died when I was eight. It was a heart attack; completely unexpected. He ran the Tan every lunchtime, and never took his job seriously. He never fought with my Mother and was born on a diet. I can’t remember the day that he died; not anymore. I remember knowing he was dead and not coming back. I sat for hours and watched Steve punch away at his computer.
Two weeks later, my Mother found God in the newspaper. Just like that. Fucking bam! Then every Sunday she was off to this gingerbread church in North Melbourne and returned humming organ notes and singing about Jesus, the man who would save her. I went there only once. My mother never forced religion upon me, but she did not try to stop me going along with her. The music droned from before I could even see the little ornate church across Flagstaff Gardens, like a tone-deaf siren. The Chaplin smelt of piss. He took my hands within his, wrinkled like his testicles, and told me I was a child of God. God, it turned out, was some kind of all-seeing, all-knowing warlock and I was already too old to believe in Santa. When my mother died last year, the doctor told me that her final words were “I repent.”
My mother was only a short woman. She had been beautiful and she knew it. She told me of how she was fussed over at the University and the flowers she received from students taking her history lectures. She put each bunch into flowerpots around the kitchen. She would tell me the story of each one, each petal and trimmed stem. She told me of her affections for students and their eagerness and naivety. I think that I now believe she was buying them herself from the florist on the
Flinders Street
steps.



5. His Mother’s Peter

My mother began dating again when I was twelve. At first she kept this to herself. She told me she was meeting girlfriends along Degraves or up Lygon or something so specific and true that it must be false.
I know she still thought about my father. I saw her sometimes crying on the balcony, like she wanted me to watch unseen through the lacy drapes. She was smoking again too. She’d light up every time she started something new: cooking, cleaning, eating, going out, coming home, dropping her dacks, coming on or off the balcony. If ever she saw me, she’d hide the butt beneath her heel.
I know Peter wasn’t her first, but he was the first that she brought home. I was watching TV, just that kids’ crap they put on in the afternoon; when he came striding in carrying my mother’s hand.
“Jason,” she was smiling. “This is my friend, Peter.”
“How are you, champ?” He stank of bravado. I got it between my fingers when we shake hands. “I have heard so much about you.”
I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to hate him from this first encounter. I mean, it wasn’t really hatred directed at him; just the idea of him, and his deep stupid voice and his sweaty hand.
This was my first year at Melbourne Grammar. I did not make friends easily, a trait that still continues to frustrate me. I suppose I could never acknowledge or believe that everyone else is the same as me. Now I have learnt not to care. I knew a little, though; I was not completely without hope. I knew to sit in the middle of the class, so when my eyes drooped and weighed down my skull, I could stare at the flash of skin and hair chocked between their shorts and their socks. I watched the curl of flesh across their thighs and the smoothness of their skin below the hairs; then the next leg and the next leg, smooth and throbbing at my insides, pumping lust and guilt straight out of my balls. I was a sick hopeless cunt. I spent a weeks worth of lunch money to buy an outdated FHM off Robbie Harrison. I was not going to allow myself to be fucking queer. With my blinds closed and my back up against my mother’s wall, I looked at the women through my eyelids. Everything about them was fake: their tits and their pubes and the smoothness and blankness of their skin and the part in their hair and the emptiness of their expressions. Then I thought of Peter with my cock attached between his airbrushed legs. I couldn’t fucking help myself. Then I thought of Steve, tapping at his keyboard.



6. His first sexual partner

Soon I began to notice one of the girls. He name was Amy; it said so in the caption: “Amy enjoys playing with dolls.” She sat on a wooden bed in a Doll’s house, staring out of the gloss as if it were made of glass. She looked so lonely.
Soon a crease developed along the page and when in moments of shame and emotion, I reached for the magazine; she would fall open in front of me. She was always there, looking back.



7. His breakfast

One night I awoke to the lock jamming in the front door.
“Shit,” I heard my mother hiss. “It always does this.”
“Can we get in?” It is Steve.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to need to wake up Jason.”
There was a click then a long yelp as the door swung open. I traced the footsteps across the dining room, then the giggles by the bathroom.
“We’re going to need to be very quiet,” my Mother says.
“I can’t guarantee that.”
They giggled again until the sound snapped shut. Suddenly I felt so alone. Across the road, cleaners were vacuuming out the offices. Cars and pedestrians flowed through each other on the street. The night sky was empty. I leaned with my ear against the wall and opened the FHM on my lap. Amy. When it was over, I took my doona onto the balcony and fell asleep on the banana lounge in the dank; watching the red light on the mobile tower blink on and off.
I woke up to the sound of the morning commuters. Peter was sitting next to me; juggling a coffee and a cigarette in his lap.
“What are you doing out here champ?” He watched each light flick on in the offices across the street.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“Why not?” A stupid grin was slumped across his stupid face.
“I don’t know.”
“Your Mum’s gone to work. Are you hungry?”
“That is none of your concern.”
I remember his long sigh; I had heard it before. Somewhere above us was the sun we would never see.
“What do you reckon?” he asked. “Do you think we will end up like those losers locked into tiny little offices?”
I looked at him properly then; probably for the first time. I noticed things that I had not seen the first time: the colour burnt into his hair, his stubble like sandpaper, the premature bald patch and how tort his skin was across his cheeks and down his neck. It was as though he was every age.
“I am twelve years old. I haven’t even thought about that.”
“Then what do you think about?” He pulled his chair closer until I could taste the fermentation of his breath. All around me there was noise.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think about girls?”
“I don’t know – I mean, yes.”
He laughed; like his corpse is being pumped full of bullets in an old war movie.
“Are there any special girls you think about?”
“That is none of your business.”
His hand fell onto my shoulder and spun me around. I could feel the muscles and tendons hoisting his arm.
“Come on. From one man to another.” I give in too easily.
“There is this one girl; Amy.”
“Does she go to your school?”
“No. There are no girls at my school.”
“Then how did you meet her?”
“Through a friend.”
“Does she know that you like her?”
“No.”
“Then maybe you should tell her. Don’t be frightened, Champ. What’s the worst that can happen?” He furrowed through my hair. “You’re not embarrassed are you?”
“No, of course not.” 



8. His father

I don’t have a lot left of my Father’s. I have the picture books he gave me when I was young, half-eaten by mould on my bookshelf. I have his old hairdressing scissors from the salon where he worked and one of the old gowns he draped over patients like veils at an art exhibition. I don’t really remember much about him anymore except a flipbook of still frames from old photos.



9. His mistake

Peter was still there when I slugged my schoolbag through the front door that evening I remember him straddled behind my mother as she fried up the beans.
“How was school, Champ?”
“Fine.”
I headed for the lounge room but he dropped his sack-load of limbs in my way.
“Jason and I are going to have a chat in the other room and get out of your way.” He kissed my Mother. Smack! Across the lips and all.
He wheeled me onto a couch and sat with his head halfway up his arse and his knees around his shoulders. He smelt of stale cologne and the grit under my fingernails.
“So what did you do with your day?” He gave this weird smile, like his lips were going up and down.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know.”
Silence.
“Look,” he said finally. His head dropped with a puff between his cheeks. “I really like your mother and I really hope that we can be friends too.”
I don’t know why I started to blab. I was tired, I guess. I think I had my eyes closed.
“I hate school. I have no fucking friends. I get called Tubby. I was asked three times today if I was pregnant.”
He sat back in his chair for a long time with his fingers across his balls. I can hear the trams bleating in the street and my mother singing in the kitchen, like nothing is the fucking matter. I still can’t believe I told him. What stupid pang of loneliness thought this would be a good idea? That it would somehow make us closer? Did I even want that?
“Jason,” he said finally. “You have just got to ignore things. If you don’t acknowledge them then they won’t exist.” He climbed onto the couch beside me and ruffled my hair with his rigid greasy fingers. I could feel the warmth off his knees through my school pants and his breath on my neck, down my throat. I wanted to vomit but instead I stood up.
“I need to go do homework,” I tell him.
“Alright champ.” He smiled back like nothing fucking happened.
 I lay on my bed for a long time until I get this familiar little stirring in my cock. I rifled through my room until I found Amy, waiting for me.



10. His shame

Soon it was every night. I came home, entered my bedroom, stripped off my uniform and found Amy waiting for me in the folds of my bed. She was beautiful and completely perfect. Then I returned her under the mattress and moved over to my homework with my head swamped in a regret I could never fully understand nor shift. I felt sick and lonely. I still do. But for a few seconds when my mind dripped from my brow, it didn’t seem at all to matter.
I thought about God too. Fuck him; all seeing, all knowing. If he knows the thoughts that live inside my head then it does not matter what I fucking do. But then I had this guilt that maybe there was something better that God could offer. If God has some plan for me then suddenly desire seems like the ultimate sin. I could not walk from my room and smile at my mother or eat dinner and not stink of cum.



11. His expulsion

When I came home, one Friday; my mother was crying at the kitchen table. Hey eyes were closed and her lips moving silently. My first thought was that Peter had packed up. Then I thought of my father.
I sat down beside her and splayed out my palm on the table close to her own. She clasped her hand over my own and pulled her fingers in tight.
“The landlord is not going to renew our rent,” she breathed. “We need to be moved out in a month.”
I felt like my intestines had just dropped out of my arse. She placed her head on the tabletop and her skin and cleavage shifted about under her shirt.
“It will be alright,” I said. “At least we won’t have to buy new drapes now.” She snorts her sappy snot back into her nostrils.
“I love you,” she said; “No matter what happens.”
“Me too.”



12. His scissors

I was in my room all night, against the wall, just thinking. Steve had gone home, the office block was dark. I was so alone, but my thoughts are my own. No-one should ever know what I am thinking, or want to know.
I could hear them through the wall. My mother was still teary, hanging over the side of the bed.
“Shh,” said Peter. He dabbed her eyes with a tissue and plugged her little shudders in his lips. She convulsed, full shakes up and down her body.
“I don’t know what will happen to us,” she said.
“It will all be fine. You are torturing yourself. Just don’t think of it.” He kissed her again, long and slow.
“I love you, Peter;” she said. He slipped my grandmother’s old blouse off from over her head and fumbled about with the clip on her bra. Her breasts were glossy and perfect under my fingers. She stared back at me with glass eyes and a brain filled with stuffing. My whole body fell into her until the thudding pulse in my ears turned mute. I could hear little noises through the wall; lost syllables without inflection. I pushed harder, staring blurred into the ellipse of her cheeks and the lightness of her skin. My cock, burnt, my eyes were closed pooling with sweat; I could hear the whimpers rise like a wave and crash into the shore. But I was still here. Amy’s face was empty so I close my eyes. I thought about the slits of legs hanging under school shorts. I thought of Peter and then of me. The light clicked out in the hall. I just sat there. I was weak.
It wasn’t an idea that I got which made me do what I did next; it was a drive that picked up my limbs and pulled me into the landing. I found my Father’s old scissors in the kitchen draw. They were tinged with rust that chattered as they tugged open. I held them ahead of me like I was some movie spy sneaking through a stranger’s house. The bedroom door fell open at the soft clack against the blade. Inside, the city funnelled into two vertical strips of light enclosing me in on both sides. They were both naked. My mother was wrapped tight around the doona while Peter sprawled out across the edges. I pushed my fingers underneath his wrapping until I felt them in my hand; saggy and wrinkly. When I had my grip right, I moved in the scissors so his balls hung over the blade.
“Peter, wake up.”
He murmured back.
“Wake the fuck up.”
“What is it, Champ?”
I steadied myself. It felt so good.
“Get out of the house, now.”



13. His third sexual partner

My third sexual partner came when I was twenty-six. She was at a bar in Richmond waiting for someone to buy her a drink. I had already had a few.
“You are so beautiful,” I told her.
“Thanks,” she said. She told me her name: Rebecca or Rosie or Melody or something. We danced. I have never been able to dance, but on that night I just got into the rhythm of the music and found my limbs had fallen into all the right places. I bought her another drink and I leaned in for a kiss. My hand slid up her back until I could feel her bra strap tight beneath my thumb. I lead her out into the cool street where the streetlights splashed in the puddles and our words were spelt out in the heat of our breath.
“Let’s go back to my place,” I said.