I used to be angry.
Most of the time.
Then I wasn’t.
The time gap between these two extremes is vast — most of my life, in fact.
For most of that time, I was unaware of the reasons for my anger.
I was aware of not having all the things I wanted, I frightened people, success seemed to come close only to run away — these things I knew and I assumed that my anger grew out of them. The more I strove to rectify these deficiencies, the worse things got.
The day I worked it out, I got angry. Not the old kind of angry, this was new — righteous, biblical, galactic.
For all these many years, I’d been living someone else’s life. Living their dogma. When I find that person, I’m going to reign down some righteous vengeance and lay waste to their existence — just saying.
I feel a lot better now I know.
Not knowing is the worst.
Before Scarlett, there was Anora.
Not in the ‘girlfriend, boyfriend’ sense.
Anora looked after Sam’s wellbeing. She cleaned his house and cooked amazing meals.
Standing at about five foot three, she was slightly round with short wavy hair.
Sam had tried to help her son, Antonio. Tried, but not succeeded. He went to gaol but not for as long as he should have.
Anora showed her gratitude by becoming Sam’s housekeeper.
In those days three young men were living in Sam’s house in Preston. Anora cleaned for them, but she only cooked for Sam.
Three times a week, delicious smells assaulted Sam when he got home.
On this night it was penne with a Sicilian meat sauce, thick with Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano. Anora cooked as though there was likely to be another war. Her meals were meant to feed a small platoon.
Sam dished a portion into a bowl, heated it, before carefully moving it to the table that Anora had set before she left for the day.
Sam grated Romano cheese onto the dish, but not too much – mustn’t overwhelm the other flavours.
Moving the fork to his right hand — a habit he learned from his mentor, he lifted the first piece of pasta to his mouth. The aromas assailed his nostrils, giving his taste buds a preview of what was to come. Sam sighed and swallowed and repeated the process slowly until the plate was empty. A piece of crusty bread wiped the remainder of the sauce, and Sam sat in contemplative silence.
Red wine with a tomato-based pasta. The glass felt pleasant to the touch and the bite of the wine compliment the taste of the meal.
“Is it okay to speak to you now?” said Damien. Sam’s housemates knew that you never interrupt or speak to him when he is eating.
“If you must,” said Sam.
“Your crazy housekeeper lady left this for you. Said I was to give it to you, ‘personally in person’. I have to tell you she scares me, Sam. She caught me sniffing your meal, and she threatened to stick me with a fork.”
“She’d do it too. Don’t mess with Anora. Her name means ‘woman of honour’ in Latin. She believes that I helped her son, so her honour tells her to look after me. She won’t take any money for her work, so we play this little game where I put it directly into her bank account, and she pretends that she doesn’t notice. Be kind to her, she has some dangerous relatives.”
“Like I said, she scares me, and I work in finance with some of the most vicious motherfuckers on the planet,” said Damien. “Any chance I could have some of that. I’m starving, and I’ve been smelling the aroma all afternoon?”
“What if Anora found out?” I said with a smile.
“On second thoughts, I’ll have a toasted cheese sandwich. Forget I mentioned it.”
As far back as anyone can remember, there was the three of us.
Of course, there were others — friends, relatives, enemies, confederates, liars and parasites. But through it all, we remained untouched, unsullied and unconcerned.
My main job was to not favour one over the other — a clear course to disaster.
They both wanted me, and the feeling was mutual, but to fall in love with one more than the other would pull our world apart.
I’d loved them both — not at the same time, we were too young to be that creative or that unselfish. Our carnal adventures were played out over the raging fire of adolescence. We could not; would not see any further than our triumvirate.
I’m younger in years but older and wiser. I put a gentle stop to our naked activities, and it has been that way ever since — not an easy feat.
We are closer than family, fiercely loyal and dangerous to cross, as certain people have found out.
There are ‘sticks and stones’ to deal with from time to time, but we’ve heard all the jealous jibes, and they roll off us before they even make contact.
The concept of ‘friends forever’ seems to be a belief of the young. Life pulls friendships apart, but our goal is to be the exception.
Small cracks are beginning to show as our careers begin to accelerate and war looms, but for now, we are here together, and the sun is shining, and the breeze is cool.
If yesterday is a foreign land then tomorrow is a promise never fulfilled — give me today every time.
“Can you zip me up please Hon?”
I’m sitting on the bed wrestling with a recalcitrant sock when I hear these familiar words. It promises to be a big night. One of those rare chances to dress up and play. I’m almost dressed, and for once, my beloved is ahead of me.
I abandon the sock and walk almost barefooted to where she is standing. As I get closer to her, her aroma hits me, and my senses are sending signals to a part of me that is likely to do my thinking for me.
I can see her bare back — no bra under this dress on this night — the downy hairs reflect the mellow light from her dressing mirror. I grasp the leaf of the zipper and my fingers touch her skin, ever so gently. I noticed goose bumps forming on her spine, so she is thinking the same thing I am. The zip glides up effortlessly making that familiar sound — something like the sound of delicate material giving way.
I lean in and fill my lungs — her shampoo mixed with perfume and that indefinable personal aroma that lingers on her clothing. I notice it when I’m asked to retrieve a cardigan from the car on unexpectedly cool Autumn days.
Having a woman ask you to zip up her dress is an intimate request. Zipping that dress for her is the most intimate moment between us which does not involve penetration.
We need to be leaving, but all I want to do is reverse the direction of that zipper. She knows it.
“Don’t even think about it, we’ll be late.”
“Too late. I started thinking the moment you asked, and it got more intense the closer I got to you. I’m pretty sure that we could be a little bit late,” I said.
She turned and looked at me.
“As long as we make it for dessert. I’ve been starving myself all day.”
I stared into her eyes, and we both listened to the sound of her zipper descending.
Until recently, Thursday was my favourite day of the week.
When I was a kid, it was Friday — only half a day in a classroom and sport all afternoon with the sweet promise of the two-day weekend stretching out into the delicious distance.
Then I grew up, and Saturday was my day to love and be loved. The movies, a romantic dinner, and maybe, just maybe, a long night with a willing warm body.
I’m losing my love of Thursdays — it may come back, but today the aura is ruined.
“Senior Sergeant, you mentioned that the victim was aged 50, worked as a Real Estate agent and was found on the side of the road. Is that correct?”
“Yes sir, exactly as it says in my report.” The bloke asking the blindingly obvious questions, and ruining my Thursday was Inspector Verago. Or ‘Verago the Impaler’ as he was lovingly known to all those who loathed Internal Affairs.
“The Lexus was located, but not for several days,” he said.
“We were operating under the assumption that the victim was struck by an angry husband and it took a while to eliminate him from our enquiries.” I hate the jargon, but when you are speaking to a duck, it is best to quack so that you know you are being understood.
“Why did it take so long to track down the car?” he said.
“It took three days because we are a small country station and all our forensics are handled by Melbourne Central, and the case was not considered to be a high priority at that stage.”
“Why didn’t you consider it to be a high priority Senior Sergeant? More important things to be getting on with?”
The sarcasm was to be expected. The Police force runs on sarcasm in the same way that politicians run on bullshit — and besides, he wasn’t here for a friendly chat, he was here to see if he could hang this cluster-fuck on me, and thereby take some of the heat off his masters.
“It was our number one priority sir. I was referring to senior management in Melbourne, sir.”
“It doesn’t say that anywhere here, Senior Sergeant.” He pronounced Senior Sergeant as though he felt my rank was honorary, or at least temporary. If I didn’t find a way to get out from under this mess, he was going to be right.
“Your report doesn’t say where the victim was heading, were you able to ascertain that?” he said.
“Away from where?”
“From what we can piece together, mostly from Mrs Simpson. He thought her husband had come home unexpectedly, and he legged it out the back door and over a neighbour’s fence where he commandeered a bicycle. He proceeded to peddle in an easterly direction for approximately 10 kilometres before being struck from behind by a Lexus four-wheel drive. So, in answer to your question — away.”
There was that jargon again — quack, quack.
“All of this should have been in your report Senior Sergeant,” he said.
“Most of it is sir — just not all in the one place.”
Precious minutes of my beloved Thursday were ticking away, and I was no closer to working out if this half-wit had already decided that I was to be the fall-guy.
“I noticed that you included in your report that the victim’s dog howled at the precise moment that he was killed. How did you know that, and why did you include it in your report?”
“The victim was a real person. A flawed one to be sure, but a real one nonetheless. He had a wife and kids and a dog, all of whom, presumably, loved him. The detail about the dog came from his wife, and I thought that it was unusual enough to include in the report.”
The cold truth — the dog was the only creature on the planet who loved this bozo, so I thought it deserved a mention. When the facts were printed in the newspapers, it was evident that the victim was a self-interested arsehole who made a speciality out of servicing lonely wives, but rarely did the same for his own. His kids thought he was a loser, and the community felt that he was a typical Estate Agent — always out to do his clients out of their money. On the other hand, his dog loved him unconditionally, and to his credit, he treated the dog well. Any bloke who was kind to his dog deserved to get one positive mention in a sterile Police document.
The inane questions continued for about two hours.
I made a pretty good job of answering them, and I knew that my report was thorough and there was little room to accuse me or my team of negligence. But only time would tell.
If his job was to fit me for the role of scapegoat, then that is what I will be. If he has any integrity left he will know that time will show that I did my job well and I’m hoping that he won’t want to put his signature to a lie.
Early in the afternoon, he buggered off in his shiny official car, and everyone in our tiny country station breathed out.
I told the team that after shift we were meeting at The Royal — the only decent pub in town. The drinks were on me which meant that everyone would be there.
We knew that the future of our station was tenuous before the slightly bald, philandering Real Estate agent got knocked off his bike. Now it was positively precarious. There was only one thing for it — enjoy the days we had remaining. Heaven, and a bunch of brass hats, only knew where we would end up, but we knew we had done our duty, and no one can do more than that.
I proposed the toast.
“May the black dog who howled when his master left this world find a warm bed and a happy home, and may the bastards who are splitting us up find cold comfort and a broomstick up their arse.”
There was that jargon again — quack, quack.
This story is now part of two of my books —