‘Goddamn bus, how long do I have to linger in this shit-hole?’ I thought. I could still see the Centrelink sign across the road, hangin’ over the entrance to the Labrador branch I’d just visited. The bastards accused me of fraudulently obtaining disabled benefits. It was true, but they’re still bastards. The bus was a million-kilometres away for all I knew, and all I could see were Gold Coast City Cabs zoomin’ ‘round with filthy towel-heads behind the wheel; no way in hell I’d fork out for one of those. I noticed a Cash Converters a few doors down from Fascistlink and started fingerin’ me girlfriend’s ring. I don’t mean it was a ring she gave me. No, it was HER ring. Shouldn’t’ve left it lyin’ ‘round, the silly bitch. I raised meself up from the bench, which was a tough thing to do in the midday heat. Half-expected melted tarmac to swallow me into a black, nightmarish grave as I began strollin’ across the road. Didn’t though; how borin’. Me phone started ringin’, so I pulled it outta me pocket with me right hand, while givin’ the finger to a prick who’d beeped me with me left.
‘Hey, ma!’ I answered, feigning delight.
‘Hey hon’,’ she sing-songed to me, ‘what’re ya up to?’
‘Just doin’ some studyin’ out the front of the house,’ I gave the finger to another car.
‘That’s me boy,’ she gushed. ‘Wanna come over for dinna tonight?’
‘Hell yeah!’ FREE FOOD. ‘Six pm?’
‘See ya then, I’ll fry up some salmon, love ya.’
‘Love ya,’ I closed, shoved the phone back in me pocket, and slammed the ring down on the Cash Converters counter. ‘How much for this?’
Love and disgust rose in her spine like vomit as she watched him enter the pawn-shop.
‘Hey babe,’ I said, as I walked through the door to me girlfriend’s digs. I threw me keys on the kitchen bench, grabbed a beer from the fridge, ripped its head off, and saddown in fronna the teevee.
‘Hey,’ drifted her voice from the bedroom. I burped. She walked in front of the teevee. ‘Have you seen my grandmother’s ring?’ she interrogated, with crossed-arms.
‘Thought it was your ring.’
‘It WAS my ring, that my grandmother gave me when she died,’ her hands melted into her pockets. ‘It was worth one-thousand dollars!’
‘Fuck’, I thought, ‘I only got a-hundred for it.’
‘Dunno know what ya talkin’ ‘bout,’ I dismissed. She headed back to the bedroom, eyeballin’ me ‘til out of me vision.
‘Can you at least help me look for it?’
‘Later, goin’ to ma’s for dinna soon!’
‘Can I come?’
‘Could ya shuddup!? I can’t hear the teevee! She’s cookin’ rissoles anyway, ya hate rissoles!’
‘I’ll stay home,’ and she fell silent.
‘Thank God,’ I thought. I glanced at the text-books on the coffee table, and a paranoid attack hit me brain like a Nazi blitzkrieg. I neglected those books; I neglected me friends; I neglected me ma; I neglected me girlfriend; I neglected meself; I took another swig and changed the channel. The attack passed.
‘What, the, FUCK, is this!?’ she screeched like a train braking into station, from the kitchen. I turned me head. She was holding a receipt, which I knew was written on it: $100, antique diamond ring, Cash Converters, Have a Nice Day :). I sighed. Her abuse was unceasing. I got up and went to the fridge for the rest of me six-pack, her hate swirlin’ ‘round me like a tornado; impossible to pick up individual words, though I’m sure ‘bastard’ and ‘liar’ were in there somewhere. I sat back down in front of the teevee and consumed the ale along with her furious tirade. Horrible, but deserved. I paid attention to her rant; she may’ve killed me if I didn’t. After drainin’ the last of me sixer, I stood up, walked up to her, put me face in front of her hate-filled-words, then leaned back and aimed me clenched fist at her crimson-skin. Missed, too drunk. I pulled back up in time to see her approachin’ fist, then darkness.
She watched all this from the street, through a window, her shame being slowly replaced with anger.
‘That’s quite the shiner ya got there, hon,’ said ma, layin’ the salmon before me and fixing her eyes on mine. ‘What ‘appened?’
‘Walked into a door at uni’,’ I lied, ‘it’s no biggie.’
‘Well, ya gotta be more careful,’ she lectured, subtle disbelief in her voice.
‘Look ma, I said it’s no biggie,’ I raised me voice. ‘Don’t worry about it!’
She changed the subject, ‘How’s uni’ goin’, anyway?’
‘Well,’ I mumbled with a mouthful of fish, ‘I made some progress today.’ I was talkin’ ‘bout Centrelink, which was loosely related to university, though she didn’t need to know I was on the verge of bein’ kicked out for failin’ me classes, not payin’ fees and abusin’ the teaching staff.
‘I know about ya progress,’ she said ominously, lowerin’ herself into a chair in front of me. ‘I received a phone call today. Apparently you’re not going to class, you owe fees, abuse people and are suspected of stealin’ equipment.’
‘Look ma, it’s all bullshit!’ I wasn’t stealin’ equipment, that WAS bullshit. ‘Can we forget it!?’
‘Ok . . . just as long as ya know what ya doin’.’
‘I’m fine,’ I reassured, and we finished the meal in silence.
‘Bye ma,’ I kissed her on the cheek before steppin’ through the front-door. ‘Thanks for dinna.’
‘Be a good boy, ‘k?’ her voice followed me out into the frosty air.
I froze. There she was, standin’ on the street holdin’ a pistol: the girl I fucked last weekend. Knew I should’ve said goodbye . . . and not stolen all the cash from her wallet. . . .
She wandered up the garden path holding a Magnum .357, every inch an angel of death, and unceremoniously pulled the trigger between his eyes.
Exegesis (this story was originally a university task, and this exegesis serves the purpose of academically analysing the work for my tutor’s benefit):
• George Harrison in I Dream of Magda and Icarus in A Night at the Pink Poodle are deeply flawed, even dislikeable characters, at once hero and villain. My protagonist is mostly villain, and only briefly considers the error of his ways. I remember reading once that villains should not be likeable; my protagonist is a manifestation of that rule.
• The story’s set on the Gold Coast, as highlighted by the Gold Coast City Cabs and mention of Labrador. The suburb helps to highlight the base existence of the protagonist, and his racism towards ‘towel heads’ highlights his degenerative qualities.
• The second viewpoint comes regularly, but not often and in short duration, in the form of the one-night-stand who eventually murders him. In a way it’s her story, though mainly from his first-person point-of-view.
• The character’s relationship with his mother is one of love, shame and denial. He is loved by other women, but it doesn’t last long, is marked by chauvinistic abuse, and ultimately ends in his death. He’s abusive to his mother, but the abuse is tempered by his love, and her unconditional love maintains the strained relationship.
• The protagonist’s language is linked to three things. First, it highlights his degenerative, lazy—even abusive, in this case to and with language—approach to everything. Second, it’s inspired partly by the language in Swallow the Air; coarse and lacking in education, as many aboriginal people, both in and out of literature, unfortunately are. Third, the language is influenced by a book called And the Ass Saw the Angel. This book used speech such as ‘ah’ instead of ‘I’ to highlight rural, uneducated—even inbred—use of language, and, to a degree, it influenced the protagonist and his mother’s speech—minus the inbreeding.
• This story is consistent with my tendency to write in a gritty, suburban and not terribly fantastical—though I’ve read much fantasy—style. I’m heavily influenced by writers such as Hunter S. Thompson and classic literature that deals with the everyday or mundane in a vivid light. I Dream of Magda inspired me heavily (I lapped-up the book in a couple of days).
• Though I, too, indulge in self-destructive practices such as drinking/smoking, and occasionally neglect my relationships, I am horrified by stories I hear of men abusing women, and this horror makes regular appearances in my writing.
• This piece has taught me that it’s true: you can only break the rules once you know them. I believe I’ve reached a point where I can start being adventurous, especially with the way characters speak and think. The regular elision of ‘g’ from the protagonist’s ‘ing’ words is risky, but consistent, and a departure for me.
• The piece is, in some ways, a departure for me and hopefully an improvement. I’ll keep writing as long as I have fingers and a brain, and my writing will continue to protest against negatives I perceive in society and my own gender. I hope to continue to learn how to manipulate stories and language in order to do so.