Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Fanny Show

Act 1.


Fanny Eagleton was created by the simple chemical reaction of silicon and oestrogen under a bright light. In a puff of Chanel no. 5 she appears in the sepia glaze of Collins Street behind her Ray Ban prescriptions. Like her middle-to-menopause-aged divorcĂ©e after three glasses of red and a bath bomb target audience, we follow her up the concrete catwalk. Mike holds the boom over his shoulder like he’s gone fishin’. Marty’s head is down, hoping desperately that no-one recognises him from his university days. I’ve got the camera trained on Fanny’s straining bra-strap.

            But up ahead the top-heavy totem pole of flesh has stopped. Like shadows we pull up behind her.

            “Marty!” she says. “Can we get a shot of me giving money to that bum?”

            She points a $150 fingernail at a hobo wrapped in charity bin off-cuts and slanting a cardboard sign across his lap. The whole show relies on keeping Fanny happy and she’s already asking Mike if he has change for a fifty. Marty approaches the hobo gingerly.

            “Hi,” he says, offering a hand. “Martin Sherwood.”

            “Do you want me to sign a petition for something, Martin?” asks the bum.

            “No,” says Marty politely. “I am the director of The Fanny Show.” Marty knows better than to pause after that statement. “We were hoping that we could film Fanny giving you a… donation.”

“What sort of show is this?” asks the bum.

“It’s a reality show.”

“What, so you film this broad going about her life?”


“See, this is why I don’t bother owning a TV.”

Marty watches the bum’s brain moving through the gaunt outline of his forehead, asking himself why out of all the hopeless dropkicks in this city too lazy to hold up a Big Issue, did we stopped at him? Does he look the most harmless deadshit on Collins Street? Or the most pathetic? Maybe he’s the most photogenic? His parents did tell him he looked like a young Mickey Rourke.

“Alright,” he says. “I’ll do it for $200.”

“What?” stammers Marty. “Listen mate, we’re giving you publicity here. You’re going to be that homeless man off the TV. Fans of the show will be lining up to give you money.”

“That’s why I want you to give me the $200 off camera and her to give me a dollar on camera. No, two dollars.”

This shrewd bastard has too much business sense. No wonder he’s at the Paris End of Collins Street. Thommo at the office will shit himself if he hears that his Monday night stocking filler blew two hundred bucks on a bum.

“Hold on,” says Marty. “I’ll talk to Fanny.”


Act 2.


Fanny is rubbing lipstick on lipstick while Jock holds a mirror.

            “Listen Fanny,” says Marty. “I think it is wrong to exploit this poor man on television. The audience won’t believe you are doing it from the goodness of your heart if there are cameras trained on you.”

            “But…” says Fanny. “But Jock just lent me ten dollars.”

            “If you want to give him the ten dollars,” says Marty, “then you are doing a wonderful thing. But I just don’t think we should film it.”

            With a flick of her eyelashes, Fanny begins dropping Lois Vuitton bags across the pavement.

            “What are you doing?” asks Marty.

            “I’m looking for my phone,” says Fanny, “so I can call the network and tell them what you’re doing.” The scattered bundle of bags is blocking pedestrians and a few people who have recognised Fanny’s breasts from television have gathered around to watch.

            “Fanny, don’t make a scene,” says Marty weakly.

            “I am the fucking scene!” says Fanny. She locates her phone and furiously mashes the screen in an attempt to unlock it. After several painstaking seconds she turns to her small crowd of women built from sausage meat.

“Do you all want to see me give money to this bum?” she cries.

Spasms of noise blurt from the crowd. Marty turns to me.

“Alright,” he says. “Roll film.”


Act 3.


Fanny approaches the bum. She has taken off the Ray Ban’s so the bum can see the eyes that wooed fame and fortune.

            “Hello,” says Fanny. “I’m Fanny Eagleton.”

“I know who you are,” says the bum.

Fanny smiles, clearly flattered by the breadth of her notoriety.

 “And what’s your name?” she asks.

The bum holds his cardboard sign below his face and stares long into the camera lens as if maybe he can see the audience on the other side.

“Martin Sherwood,” he says.

Fanny glances at Marty.

“Really?” she says.

“Yep,” says the bum. “After I flunked film school I got a job filming star-struck celebrities going shopping. When it was noticed that I was a total fraud at life, nobody hired me again. So I ended up in the street.”

            Fanny’s newly lipstuck mouth hangs open in shock.

            “I was going to give you ten dollars,” she stammers. “But now I’m not going to give you anything!”

Then she turns and walks back to the camera. She takes Marty’s hand and pulls him away down the street.

            “Don’t listen to him, Marty,” she says. If he’s going to make a living sucking pity out of people then he has to learn some respect.”


“Stop!” says my editor. I click pause on the furious expression eclipsing Fanny’s $400 eyelashes. “We can’t use any of this.”

            “Why not?” I ask him. “It’s the perfect scene. It’s almost too good to be true.”

            “Firstly, it makes Fanny out to be the hero. It breaks with her character as a one-dimensional bimbo. Secondly, it draws attention to the Fanny Show for exploiting Fanny as a one-dimensional bimbo. Thirdly, Fanny would never be seen with a bum and even if she was, this bum has neither the charisma nor sex appeal to pull off prime time. Would you like me to go on?”

            “No. I think you’ve made your point.”

            “Look kid,” he says with a hand on my shoulder. “Marty is your boss, and it’s pretty heartless to make him look like an idiot on primetime television. Delete the footage.”

            But my editor is a spineless chain smoker who never aspired to anything higher than The Fanny Show. When he is gone I slip the tape into my pocket.

The Snake and the Bag of Apples

This hobo’s moved into the old nightsoil alley. He sits there all day staring at the cobbles like maybe if he looks pathetic enough then God’ll come down and give him a hug and tell him everything’s gunna be alright. I watch him from the window as I eat my Weet-Bix just hoping that I might see him do something. For a while I thought maybe he knew something that nobody else did, that by sitting still forever you found inner peace or something. Then I thought he was dead. But this morning I can see his breath plume and disappear into the cold.

Walking to school, I decide I’m gunna try and talk to him. I haven’t said a word to him since he showed up one day and I thought he was gunna ask me for money, like because I wear a tie I must be privileged. I stand there, right in the middle of his eyes so that my feet tread on his cheekbones and my forehead holds his eyelids open. And still I’m not sure he sees me until I speak.  

“Hi,” I say.

“Hi,” he says. His voice is coarse as a fart. He stares me in the face but his eyes look too bloodshot to see anything.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

Brandon.” Shame. He looked like a Stanley.

“What are you doing here?”

“I live here.”

“Why don’t you live somewhere better?”

He smiles and his teeth point everywhere like brambles.

“Where would you recommend?”

It’s so weird that someone can have nothing, not even a history. I run inside and find an old box of biscuits and a bag of apples. He thanks me and places the apples on his lap.

“My mother told me not to accept food from strangers,” he says.

I sit in English class and wonder how Stanley ended up here. I mean, he can’t have been homeless his whole life. He was probably abused as a kid and stuff. You know, sex and violence and all that shit you see on TV. Grew up stealing stuff from charity bins (I mean, isn’t that why they call them charity bins?). I bet he broke into a couple of houses too. I wonder what he thought when he was in there. Probably patted their dog and sat on the couch with a packet of chips and watched Oprah repeats thinking the whole time that you had to be born into this respectable lifestyle. He’s wrong though. I fight bloody to be respected at this school. Like at lunchtime, Peter Carson throws his sandwich at me in front of the lockers and everyone is laughing at me. So I knock him down and sit on his chest and shove sandwich down his throat. He makes gagging noises and his limbs jerk like he’s trying to escape in all directions at once until the principal pulls me off him. He takes me to his office and shouts at me for a bit. Then he sends me home.

I’m pretty riled so I have a smoke down by the creek and walk home slowly. Stanley’s asleep and the biscuits and apples are gone. I stand over him and look for crumbs in his beard and wonder how someone with nothing can piss all over a favour. I find the biscuits and apples in Mr. Finch’s bin. The arrogant bastard hasn’t gone more than six steps to dump them. Now I know he can walk I wonder if he can run.

The first apple catches him in the temple. Juice and apple gore spatter across his dry-as-a-bone and his eyes snap open. The second apple bounces off the fence above his head.

“Hey Stanley! Is something wrong, Stanley? Why don’t you do something about it?”

I get him a good one in the nose and he’s up on his feet and I reckon behind that beard and hair he looks scared. He turns and legs it up the alley and out of sight.

I stand there until I’ve calmed down a bit, then I go inside and grab a bag of chips and sit by the window. The alley looks so empty and useless without him. I wonder where he’s gone. I wonder if he’s found another alley by now and a new cobblestone to stare at. The chips taste like nothing and all I can see through the window is chunks of apple. I wonder how long it will take for them to rot or wash away or for someone else to pick them up.

In the end I do it myself.