Free short stories about Generation End

KNIFE FIGHT WITH A GIRLFRIEND

Knife fight with a girlfriendMandy was kicked out of home when she was twenty-two years old by both of her parents because they hated the fact that she was dating someone from China. Although her relationship with her then boyfriend never panned out, her relationship with her parents was never the same again, and I knew this because we’d spend hours of our evenings, nude, staring at the ceiling or the stars or whatever just talking about it, and the more I got to know her, the more I could see the subtle hints of pain in her face when she’d smile in photographs. For someone who isn’t too fond of making friends, her parents were the only people in her life she thought she could rely on.

Mandy and I had been fighting again, and after a few minutes of yelling I called her a bunch of names that didn’t make her very happy. She chased me around her apartment with a kitchen knife. At first I found it funny until she began lunging straight at me. She was pissed.

We’d been fighting about money. About the money she had and the money she felt I didn’t have enough of. “How are you going to support someone like me? I know you work hard but I make at least three times you do. And your book. Do you really think you can get a reasonable income being a writer?”

I couldn’t believe what she said. “Why do relationships always have to be about money? You’re the thousandth person to tell me that. Why can’t they be about other things?” And then it escalated from there.

We strafed around each other in a mad circle, and I kept yelling at her to calm the hell down but she wouldn’t budge. A whole shitload of things were knocked all over the floor. She lunged her knife towards me again.

“If you were a guy I’d punch the shit out of you right now!” I yelled.

“Like shit you would, you pussy!” she screamed back.

She was probably right. I was getting tired. I sprinted for the door and ran out, screaming “TRUCE! TRUCE! STOP IT!” but she kept going after me. I was in my underwear and so was she. If it wasn’t for the little dignity I had left I would’ve been pissing my pants. I truly feared for my life. We ran for about half an hour and it ended when I could hear her crying. I walked over to her, yelled at her for a bit, and then stopped. I picked her up and we walked to her apartment and I knew there was much more behind her anger and her worry than my financial failings. We lay on her couch for a while until she muttered “well, time to work out” and she put on a porno and played it on her flat screen TV – a gangbang video about two college girls surrounded by a bunch of angry looking janitors – as she ran on the treadmill, muttering affirmations and her goals for the month.

 

ONE DAY YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS

Balloon over Gold Coast“If you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, then why are you standing so upright?”

Mandy told me a few stories and I told her a few of my own. We were in some place around the Gold Coast, and we were in a hot air balloon and I hadn’t seen anyone but her for the past few days.

“What do you think?”

“What do I think of what?”

“Of the view.”

The sun was just rising and there was orange, a warm orange, and the tourists around us smiled and took photos of the trees and fields near the horizon.

The balloon landed and we all had to roll it up. The organiser then drove us to this winery. I drank and ate as much free wine and food as possible while Mandy smiled, drank water, watched the green hills and the sun’s calm but confident rise.

“You have to drive us back!” I said to her eventually. I hadn’t had alcohol like that in months and I didn’t know how to feel about it.

“But I haven’t driven in years.”

“You’ll be fine,” I said, giving her the keys. She started the car and began driving forward before I had the chance to stumble in. She ran over my foot and I screamed in pain. “YOU BITCH!” was all I managed to say.

She stopped the car. I jumped in.

She crossed her arms. “I can’t believe you called me a bitch.”

“I can’t believe you ran over my fucking foot!”

“You yelled so loudly.” She began crying.

“I don’t get you. Stop crying.”

She wiped her eyes, looking my leg over. “Well, should we go to a hospital or something?”

My foot. I didn’t want to look at it, didn’t want anything to do with it. “I’m fine.”

We drove back to Brisbane in silence; we parked in her guest car park and didn’t say anything for a while.

“I’m sorry I’m like this,” she eventually said. “You know what? I don’t really have friends anymore. I mean, like, I’ve been in a bunch of relationships, but I don’t really have friends, friends. And I don’t even know if it’s a good thing, or a bad thing.”

“It’s both.”

“I just don’t enjoy socialising as I do working and improving myself. Have you ever been to a swinger’s party?”

“I don’t remember.”

She looked at my foot. “Are you sure you don’t want to get that checked? You don’t look happy.”

“I’m fine.” I wasn’t.

“Anyway, there’s a swinger’s place in New Farm. And I remember so badly wanting to go with a girlfriend once, because I heard they’re not that strict about you needing to be a couple or anything, but when I looked through my phone I seriously didn’t know who to invite. I’ve just been working so much that I don’t know what a normal social life is any more.”

“How old are you?” I asked her.

“You should know that already.”

I thought about Jude and Vail and that was about it. “One day, you’re going to lose all your friends. But then you’re going to make new ones.”

“Like you’re so wise. You don’t even have kids.”

We went to her room, changed, and as much as I just wanted to sleep, she persuaded me to go to the gym with her. I pretended to do weights while she did Zumba.

 

 

NUDE AND CHILDISH GAMBINO

Nude And Childish Gambino

“It’s July,” she eventually said. “Like, well, it’s like Saturday, and we’re near the end of July.”

“Let me ask you something. Have you been hurt before?”

“That’s such a typical thing to ask. Are you a typical person?”

“I like to think that I am.”

She stood up and put some underwear on and tapped on her phone. “Here. I’m going to play Childish Gambino.”

We listened for a while before getting out of bed. I watched her take some medication before following her to the blender: she put spinach, tomato, beetroot, kale, banana slices, apple slices, protein powder, almond milk, orange juice; she blended it and we drank it together. She had scars on her thighs and I found them pretentious.

“You know,” she started, but never finished. She pulled out a pad, wrote down her daily goals. She then meditated for twenty minutes as I lay down and attempted to read her signed copy of The Alchemist before throwing it away.

She took me to a business and wealth seminar that I would “totally love,” and afterwards, in the late evening, we drove around for a while; we headed to a peep show in the Valley and she sat with me in a booth, and when we grew bored of it all we walked upstairs and she bought a porno about interracial anal, and then we went for a drive, east, I think, because I vaguely recognised Redbank or Red Hill or whatever it’s called; she took some medication and we parked and she told me to take her in the cold and the dark of the public toilets of some park. We changed into our running clothes and went for a two-hour run in the dark, and at the end, when she was well ahead of me and I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack, she took her clothes off and asked me to watch her in the distance and she was blurry, and I squinted and asked her what she was doing as she swayed and smiled and bit her lip in the silence of the cold.

 

***

 

NEWS: The Things We Do For Those Who Don’t Love Us, a short story from Surface Children, is now available as a standalone short story on Amazon.

 

EVERYONE WANTS TO BE RICH

Walking in line to become rich

I know it was only one post ago, but things with Sara went downhill quickly. Whatever the hell we had ended for no good reason, but that was fine with both of us – we walked out of a two-week romance unscathed. But something about all the real estate and business stuff she kept going on about got me greedy for a while, and after no convincing whatsoever Jude agreed to join me in attending a number of property, online business and stock investment seminars she always loved going to.

The seminars, which were mainly advertised through Facebook and spam mail, all promised live events where the speaker would provide FREE tips on how to become a millionaire, earn massive passive income, retire young or all of the above. The ads, once clicked on, would lead to websites with videos. The videos would usually be from the person who was going to speak at the event – they would provide a few brief tips on how to become successful and then go on about how they helped numerous every day people turn their lives around and begin earning a shitload of money, just like they did. If you scroll down the website you’ll see a giant yellow SIGN UP NOW AND LEARN HOW TO GET RICH FOR FREE button surrounded with red dashed lines, followed by the cautionary LIMITED SEATING ONLY flashing text.

Completely believing in everything in the ads, Jude and I signed up to about twelve different seminars. Strangely enough, all the seminars seemed to run in the same pattern: when we’d arrive, they’d give us branded lanyards, branded tote bags, branded pens and branded paper. We’d all be ushered into a room, and when the seminar would start there would be an introduction by some guy or some girl who would ask the crowd something like, “How are you all doing today, Brisbane?” and because no one would really respond, he or she would say, “You can do better than that, Brisbane! Now let’s try this again. HOW ARE WE DOING TODAY? WE’RE ALL HERE TO GET RICH. AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT?” and then he or she would ask everyone to turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves, because part of being successful means having the ability to network. Then he or she would tell everyone to give a huge round of applause to the guest speaker, who would come up on stage with a huge fucking grin.

After all the commotion would die down, the speaker would usually start with a story about their lives. The story would be inspirational; it would be something about how they were down in the dumps but one day realised that they could do things differently. Once they mastered the new found process, they were able to accumulate large sums of money (they would display the precise amounts of money they made on the screen). They would then proceed to tell everyone in the audience how they did it, and how the audience could too. Throughout the seminar they would also subtly hint at how their ‘mastermind’ or ‘mentorship’ or ‘boot camp’ students gained quick results and eventually earnt just as much money as they were earning. They would then call one of those mastermind or mentorship or boot camp students on stage, who would completely verify their story.

The climax of each seminar, which Jude would always love, would be right near the end, when the speaker would do a sales pitch for their three day ‘boot camp’. If you thought you learnt a lot at the free event, then you’ll be amazed at the shit you’ll learn at the boot camp. The presenters would talk about how you can learn many more easy profit-making strategies you can implement with no money down at the boot camp; they would talk about how every attendee would get a free 12-disc DVD set of the boot camp (so you can revise what you learnt at the event. It’s important to keep your mind refreshed, AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT?), another six-disc DVD set with exclusive success making strategies and tips, a huge folder of documents that will help you accelerate your wealth, weekly or monthly mentorship videos and newsletters, an exclusive one-on-one advice session with the presenter, audiobooks and much, much more! To sign up for the boot camp plus all the extras, all you’d need is a hugely discounted investment of about five thousand dollars (but you know what? They should be really worth one hundred thousand dollars!). The best part about it? Partners can sign up for half price!

I signed up for nothing. Jude ended up signing up for one boot camp (something about buying real estate with no money down), but that was it. He later blamed me for dragging him along and making him use up his money.

I met Mandy at the end of a Jordan Belfort seminar. She was wearing a business jacket and business skirt. Her perfume was either cheap or expensive – I can never tell with these things. We had coffee and then walked around for a while, and when we approached a bridge she showed me her forehead. “I have monkey hair.”

“The hell is monkey hair?”

She leant forward, showing me the curly hair near the top of her forehead.

“Oh. And?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know.” She looked out at the Brisbane River and brushed her hair against the wind. She sighed. “When will it be my turn to be rich? When can we get to Jordan Belfort’s level?”

“When we win the lotto.”

“I wonder why people never have seminars about finding happiness.”

“I’m pretty sure they do, but they don’t sell as many tickets. We’re humans,” I said. “It’s impossible for us to be happy for more than a day. At least when you’re rich, you can be rich for more than a day.”

“Do you like who you’ve become?” She asked me.

“I don’t know.” I leant against the bridge. “It’s good and bad, I guess. I can finally sleep again, and I’m healthier. I mean, I never pictured myself being like this.”

“Like what?”

I touched my business shirt. “I tell everyone that I’m a writer. But in truth I do marketing for a luxury car dealership. I go to seminars about getting rich. I paid eighty bucks to watch Jordan Belfort, of all people. I used to think business people are all evil, I mean Jude – you met him earlier, he and his dad are wealthy and they’re total cunts. But other businesses, the decent ones, anyway, are the ones who create jobs and give the most to charity. Even if I just wanted to be an author, I can’t just, like, write. I have to market my work and operate my books like a business. Aren’t writers supposed to be poor, drunk, messy, going downhill?”

“Who says you’re not going downhill?” She thought about something for a second and said: “You know one problem with these seminars is that they teach people to crave money, but not to crave doing something they love at the same time. Even in business. The businesses that put attention on what they believe in are the ones that get remembered. Like Body Shop. Like Apple. Apple’s tagline isn’t ‘make money’. So, Dean, I think you should just do what you love, and things will work their way out.”

“Even if I become homeless?”

“Don’t become homeless. I don’t kiss homeless people.”

“How can you say that when you’ve never even tried?”

“Shut up.”

“If you want to get rich quickly, just get a sugar daddy. You don’t look so bad, I’m sure you’ll find one.”

She shrugged. “I appreciate the compliment, but I’d rather be in control, you know?”

“I hate money. But it’s there. And you can buy things with it. Like Polaroid cameras, and plane tickets.”

“I just want to be rich. That’s all. Can’t it just, like, happen?”

“Everyone wants to be rich, but the easier things in life get in the way.”

“Maybe we’re already rich,” she said. “Think about the poor kids in Africa.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Think about the poor kids in Africa.”

We both laughed.

We went to her place. We didn’t get drunk, and as she panted she asked me to slap her, and the next morning she showed me around her large, clean room. She had a whole stack of Alanis Morissette CDs, a whole stack of So Fresh CDs. Her shoes were large; she had a framed photo of her happily posing in a graduation gown with her boyfriend; she had a number of forex trading and stock investment books piled on top of each other; she had an opened copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on her desk; she had a giant, stupid painting of some tiger on one of her walls. I pointed at the tiger, laughing. “Who did that stupid painting of the tiger?”

“I painted that tiger.”

“Yeah it’s a great tiger. I like it. Good job.”

“How about we write our goals on a piece of paper, and then after a year, we show them to each other?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Come on,” she said, “Just do it.”

I brushed my teeth with my index finger and afterwards, as I looked at her, leaning against her wall with a small smile, I took her clothes off and we just looked at each other afterwards and laughed at each other’s miserable bodies. It was six in the morning, so we went for a walk around her block and barely said anything. We had some juice in her kitchen; I changed and headed to work.

THE GIRL WHO WANTS ME TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY

Sara - the girl who wants me to make a lot of moneyIt’s been a while, hasn’t it? I suppose I haven’t posted in some time because I’ve fallen into the trap of working, and of boxing, and of reading a fuckload of books, and of promoting Surface Children, and of writing for a magazine. I also started doing things that writers shouldn’t do: I lessened the drinking, I began reading books on investment, I wore polo shirts. If I was in a movie, you could say that I was in the montage period of the movie where I finally decide to get my shit together. But what I can promise you is this: things have gotten better and things have gotten nowhere at the same time.

I met Sara during a group dinner. She looked good and she looked like she wasn’t trouble, which was the type of girl I needed at the time, so for a while, I ignored her and went about talking to other people. Eventually, I said hi. She told me that she works in medical research, and I told her that I write books and work in a job that’s so much more self-centred than medical research. She didn’t laugh, but she still gave me her number.

The next day, she messaged me:

“I bought your book online.”

“Fuck,” I said. “Really?”

“You write a lot of weird stuff. I mainly read personal development books.”

We went out to dinner and we talked about things and once in a while I’d remember the things that happened a few months ago and I’d become sad.

Sara’s a year younger than I am and she’s part Egyptian part Chinese or something. She was strange and great to look at. Her makeup was conservative and her jewellery was conservative and what she said, for the most part anyway, was pretty conservative. Her cheeks seemed to have this permanent rosiness to them that made her glow. She lived fifteen minutes away from me and has only ever had one job in her entire life.

After drinking tea for a while Sara lowered her voice, leant forward and told me that she did a lot of study on semen, and said that men actually ejaculate a lot of abnormal semen.

“That’s great to hear,” I said.

“Is it really great to hear?”

“It’s funny how semen is this magical ingredient that creates human beings, and us men, we shoot it everywhere: faces, stomachs, floors, fuckin’ everywhere…”

“Don’t forget inside socks.”

“Now that’s just crude.”

The truth was, Sara hated her job. What she really wanted to get into was real estate. She told me that she didn’t want to work anymore, that she just wanted to start a business in property. She had three properties already, and she was thinking of her fourth. Her next goal was to buy a BMW because she promised herself she’d buy a BMW outright before she turned thirty. I had no idea what I was getting into and she probably had no idea what she was getting into either. For the first time in my life I felt like one of those adults I used to despise: I had a 9-5, I went on dinner dates and talked about property investment, I had a book on Warren Buffet, I said the word “crude” in conversations, I pretended to understand wine. Had I grown the hell up… or was this all a lie?

I dropped her to her home, and during the drive to her home I told her that I liked her – she said nothing, but she smiled. I drove home and watched Eraserhead on my couch before dropping the remote and falling into a deep and normal sleep where I probably dreamt about flying or something typical like that.

OUTSIDE THE BALCONY

Outside the balcony
Break up a bit after Easter. Lost for a while. Happy for a while. Nothing much for a while longer. April comes. Excel at work. Make a few thousand dollars. Make a few friends. Meet a few people. Learn a few new songs. Nearly complete a book. Look at photos. Buy food alone. Buy clothes alone. Buy alcohol alone. Watch a homeless woman cry one night. Smile. Pay rent. Slight sound of fireworks one evening. Stare outside the balcony. Projector screen and horror movies. Go out drinking with friend. Go out drinking with friends. Work on a novel. Work until midnight. Work until eight in the evening. Work until six in the evening. Skip work. Meet a girl who can’t speak English; grin and stare at her lips as she fakes it. Start drinking more. Make a few thousand dollars. Walk around store. Buy a few things. Go out drinking. Go to work. Fall in love with an engaged girl. Become happy for the first time in months. Become delirious. Warned by friends not to pursue it. Warned by family not to pursue it. Girl gets married. Never hear from her again. Stare outside the balcony. Go to work. Make a few thousand dollars. Watch a man cry during the train ride home. Buy some clothes. Work until midnight. Laugh at people’s clever jokes. Stare outside the balcony. Work on a Saturday. Drink with friend. Get high with a guy wearing a top hat in a cubicle. Take Viagra with a girl with nice legs. Get home twelve in the afternoon. Get home two in the afternoon. Get home six in the morning. Kiss two girls at the same time. Not exactly the same time – a few seconds after the other. Another girl, an uglier one, joins in. Shower for a long time. Look at photos. Listen to music. Buy clothes. Buy shoes. Buy clothes. Buy CDs. Buy food. Pay rent. Drink more. Start smoking. Go to work. Work on a Saturday. Work on a Sunday. Work on a Monday. Work until midnight. Listen to a woman cry over the phone in the toilets, cry about some guy. Go to church. Pray hard. Make a few thousand dollars. Have green tea with a girl who tells me her vagina smells “raw” when wet. Excel at work. Make new friends. Meet a few people. Learn a few new songs. Look at photos. Swear at someone. Nobody’s fault. Buy a motorbike. Crash the motorbike. Buy a car. Sell the car. Move out. Move in. Be inspired by something. Tell people about inspiration. Send message to ex-girlfriend. Send another message to another ex-girlfriend. Send another message to another ex-girlfriend. Tell depressed people about the power of positive thinking. Listen to music. Look at photos. Write a short story. Refuse to get drunk. Go to church. Refuse to fall asleep. Refuse to eat. Refuse to get drunk with friends. Refuse to watch a movie with a friend. Refuse to exercise. Refuse to write. Refuse to meet people. Stare outside the balcony. Go to work. Raise fist at someone at work but don’t get fired. Make a few thousand dollars. Meet girl in library. Meet girl in shopping centre while buying shoes. Meet girl in a party. Lots of tears and lots of yelling and nobody wins. Stare at drunk person on sidewalk cry before falling asleep in pile of vomit. Find a free magazine and read through it and tell everyone about it and cut out some pages and use them as inspiration. Continue writing. Refuse to drink. Become afraid of being murdered by someone or a group of people. Go to church. Pray. Pray at night. Pray after waking up. Pray before meals, but never after. Stare outside the balcony. It’s nobody’s fault. Ride a rollercoaster. Stare outside the balcony. Charity work. Stare at some guy cry while watching a movie, 12 Years a Slave. Look at photos. Friend has breakdown in front of everybody. Watch someone drive a BMW. Watch someone buy a BMW. Watch another someone buy another BMW. Refuse to sleep. Have drinks with friend; pretend to order something alcoholic. Go to work. Fireworks in the distance somewhere. Smile. Smile. Smile. Show everyone a smile. Buy clothes. Stare outside the balcony.

The Key To A Happy Life Is –

The Fly UK movie poster 1958

 

I was busy, but we were under the moon. Or the sun. Or whatever was floating above us at that time.

Sam has a small office in the valley. Sam is about forty years old and has more wrinkles than most forty year olds. They crease deep, deep and hard. Sam’s a bookkeeper, and I’d known him since I was four. There are no windows in Sam’s office. There’s a shower, and a small kitchen, but there are no windows. Sam spent ten years of his life with a broken heart.

Sometimes I go to Sam’s place to type stories on his computer. Sometimes I go to Sam’s place to just sit there and watch his collection of movies: Sam was the one who introduced me to Ichi the Killer, Eraserhead, American Psycho, Cannibal Holocaust, The Notebook.

“What are you writing about?” he asked me.

“I have no idea.”

“Want to watch a movie?”

“Sure,” I said. “What do you have?”

The Fly. You’ve probably never heard of this one, but it’s a classic.”

Sam loves Asian women. He checks out every Asian woman who walks past us, no matter what the hell they look like. His computer’s internet history is full of Asian dating websites and porn searches. He frequently tells me about the Korean prostitutes, Filipina prostitutes, Vietnamese prostitutes, bukkake parties. He frequently tells me about the women he meets on Tinder. The ones from OkCupid. The ones from Instagram. The ones from Facebook, trains, parties, work functions. One of his goals is to fuck at least 3,000 Asian women in the mouth.

After we watched The Fly we went for a walk. We didn’t say much. I don’t know where his mind was; mine was on a volcano. We stopped in front of the Mini dealership and looked at the Mini hanging from the wall.

“One day that Mini is going to fall on someone.”

“You tell me that every time we go here.”

“Christine texted me,” he said.

“And?”

He shrugged. “Still angry. Still only requesting things.”

I didn’t say anything.

“You know the key to happiness?” Sam asked me.

“Yeah.”

“Like shit you do. I’ve read your work.”

“Then what the hell is it?”

“I just look at my whole life objectively and think about how whole I actually am.” He looked towards me, but not at me. “We’re lucky.”

Sam frequently volunteers for a basket brigade. He helps them pack food and household goods for the needy. He regularly flies overseas to countries such as Fiji and Cambodia to build homes, to build schools. He used to always buy me toys when I was a kid. And beer.

“I don’t want to go to work on Monday.”

We went back to his place, watched a few movies. He went to his room to sleep, and, ignoring the buzzing of my phone, I stayed on his leather couch, watching his television until the next day.

 

 

THE BIG BAD EASTER BUNNY

The big bad Easter Bunny - girl in bar raising drink
This was the first Easter Sunday where I woke up not knowing how I got to where I was. I woke up in a café in the Valley or New Farm or West End or something and Jude was there, and so was his girl, and so was some other girl, and all they did was laugh at me. We were in one of those industrial cafés everyone is so fond of now: you know, those cafés with crooked seats and crooked tables and concrete everywhere and tanned, blue-eyed, blonde wait staff who will never truly know you. I ate whatever they ordered for me – eggs, greens, sausages, avocado, mushrooms, salmon – and walked off, caught a cab to the nearest shopping mall with the hope of buying Easter eggs for people but everything was closed. I sat down, scrolled up and down my Facebook newsfeed, liking status updates that didn’t mean much. I vomited somewhere, drove home, checked my Facebook again, vomited again, drove back out to an Easter mass nearby and just stared at the altar until my mind wondered too often – I frowned, left and drove to an Easter picnic that Vail was having.

There were about thirty people in that picnic, and the only person I’ll be writing about was the man dressed in an Easter Bunny onesie. He was probably only a few years older than I was; he had a dark stubble and dark curly hair and he was loud but not too drunk.

“Why the hell are you wearing that?” I asked him.

“It’s Easter.”

“I think I’ve met you somewhere,” I said to him. “Were you at Jamie’s house party?”

“No,” he said, but then: “Yeah.”

I adjusted my sunglasses. “Jamie and I – we broke up.”

“When?”

“Last weekish?”

“I’m sorry to hear that, man,” he said, reading a text message on his phone.

I shrugged, thinking about her smiling in my arms right before the both of us slowly passed out on a stairway somewhere. I woke up to her drooling over my shoulder. She flinched and opened her eyes and asked, It’s time for a blowie already?

“Wasn’t meant to be?” I found myself asking.

“I got drunk last night,” he said. “Shit myself.”

“Where?”

“Down Under Bar,” he mumbled as he continued texting.

“What did you do?” I asked him.

He kept texting.

“What did you do?” I asked him again. “After you shit yourself?”

“Kept dancing, man.”

“People would’ve stopped dancing near you.”

“You’re absolutely right.” He put his phone down momentarily. “Have you ever had an abortion before?”

“I’m a guy. Guys don’t get abortions.”

“No I mean have you asked a girl to get an abortion for you?”

“What are you on about?”

“I never did. Don’t believe in them, dude.” He showed me his phone: there was a photo of this kid who looked about ten years old. He had dark curly hair and was in a school uniform, grinning into the camera. “The chick sends me pics of him every so often because I ask for them. But I don’t want to meet him man, never. It’ll fuck me up. You should see how fat the chick has gotten. Used to be really sexy though.” He went silent. “Ah fuck, she was always fat. Fuck. I pulled out and everything but I don’t know what happened.”

“I wonder if he hates you,” I said.

“He hasn’t met me.”

“Sometimes people hate those they’ve never met.”

He mumbled something and for a brief moment, I thought about Ariel. How she’d hold her drink up and smile. I suddenly wanted to fly to Italy. Canada. Mars. I probably wouldn’t call her if she was still alive, I probably wouldn’t even text. But she would still be alive, and that would’ve made life a little bit more understandable.

The Easter Bunny and I walked over to the barbeque area as The National’s “I Need My Girl” played depressingly in the background. We put some sausages in bread, spoke to people, shared stories, checked for text messages, checked Facebook, laughed at some things that actually weren’t that funny, frowned at some things that actually weren’t that sad, ate, drank.

 

***

 

NEWS: Paperback editions of Surface Children are now available at Mary Ryan’s store, in New Farm, as well as Avid Reader in West End. Grab one today, and support local businesses and the work of indie authors.

One Hundred Sixty Kilograms, a short story from Surface Children, is now available as a standalone short story on Amazon.

THERE IS NO TIME FOR GRIEF

Old photo of Ariel on bed - there is no time for griefI hadn’t slept in two days. I got to work at ten in the morning, drove home at about three in the afternoon. I drove to Vail’s home, parked on her driveway. I watched her house for a while before giving her a call. No one answered her phone, so I called the receptionist.

“Hello?”

“Hi.”

“Dean?”

“Who else would it be?”

The receptionist went quiet for a second. “I deleted your number.”

“I need to see you.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

“I’m driving over now.”

The receptionist and her new husband rented a small house in Underwood. She let me in, poured me some Coke. We looked at each other for a while.

She smiled slightly. “If my husband comes home early, he’s going to literally chop your cock off.”

“You know I thought you would’ve gained a lot of weight, but you look okay.”

“Why are you here?”

“Someone died.”

“Who?”

“A friend.”

She tucked some hair behind her ear. We spoke about a few things that weren’t that important until I finally walked over to the baby she held in her arms. I touched his hand, smiled. The baby was a tiny fucker. He had a lot of hair and his eyes – I envied his eyes: they were relaxed, they were happy, they were calm. Still smiling, I picked up the baby so that he was safely positioned above my head. He chuckled.

“You better not piss on my face.”

I lowered the baby, and it grabbed my finger with both of its fat hands. I couldn’t stop smiling at him. How could something like this just get created out of thin air? He’s going to grow up and become a boy, and then a man, and then he’s going to win at a few things and fuck up a few times and one day he’s going to be much more relevant than I am and one day he’s going to drive; one day he’s going to fly and one day he’ll start making other human beings and one day, well, he’s going to die.

How do I deal with grief? I make fun of other people. I take sleeping pills. I watch downloaded TV shows. I hide my grief in a corner somewhere, and once in a while it comes out in my writing. But the truth is there’s no time for grief. There’s time to fuck up, but there’s no time for grief. Time is free, but it’s not everywhere anymore – it’s rapidly running out. I placed my hand on the baby’s face.

I gave the baby back to the receptionist; she cuddled him and tapped his nose. The baby made a little noise. The receptionist looked up at me and told me a funny story about him; I don’t remember what the story was, but I remember laughing.

The receptionist and I just looked at each other for a while, not saying anything. Eventually, she opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. I headed back to my car and drove home, had some red wine, looked at a few photos on my phone, scrolled up and down my Facebook newsfeed, stared at the ceiling.

EVERYTHING ALWAYS ENDS UP IN YOUR BATHROOM

Girl on couch red

Life has been stupid lately. I was hired by the luxury car dealership to be their copywriter/designer/marketing person/driver, and as I happily accepted their offer and happily accepted their stable pay slips everything else outside my working life began to deteriorate: I wrote less, I saw friends less, I boxed less, I woke up at five in the morning every day and slept at nine in the evening every day. I became the type of person I never wanted to become. But the money was amazing, and for the first time in a long time it was actually present in my life. Who the hell doesn’t like money?

It was also time to end whatever I was doing with Jamie. There were plenty of things I was growing to greatly dislike about Jamie. Her hair. The way she constantly ate. Her healthy drug addiction. Her face. Once, she sent me a video of her drunk and dirty dancing with a female friend, but it just didn’t look right. So I planned to end things once and for all the day after we went to her friend’s house warming.

“You’ll really get along with her crowd,” Jamie said as we drove there. “They’re all artist types. Your kind of people.”

The house warming was up north. The house was a big house, an old house, and every room smelt like their ugly dog: this big grey thing that fucked everything it looked at.

“You know what?” I asked Jamie. “Dogs hump everything but I never see them come. When do they come?”

After a bit of walking around, Jamie introduced me to her friend, Amy. Amy was wearing a bikini made out of garbage bags and staples. The words FUCK RU$$IA were painted again and again all over her legs. I looked at her, and then at Jamie. “I bet you guys are best friends because your names rhyme.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Amy said without smiling.

With the exception of Amy and a guy in a Hawaiian shirt, everyone else in that party wore extremely tight jeans, thick-rimmed glasses and either a piercing on their nose or multiple piercings on their ears, or both. Most of them were freelance graphic designers, freelance web designers, freelance copywriters, baristas, interns, drama students or painters who haven’t painted anything yet.  The guy in the Hawaiian shirt turned out to be a writer.

“So I hear you’re a writer, too,” he said.

“Sometimes I think I am.”

“You should read my book,” he said. “It’s about these two characters trapped on an island. I’m going to submit it for a Vogel award.”

“Really?”

“Yeah I presented it at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival last year. It’s just gripping, you know? Well, more shocking than gripping, because you see the breaking of innocence. These two characters, they’re this innocent older couple, married a few years, just wanting to have a vacation in an exotic island they saw advertised online. But then, the horrors that happen to them… as I was telling my friends in my writer’s meetup… it’s quite a literary experience. Because every assumption you, the reader, will have, will be broken.”

“I’ll be sure to Google you.”

“I have a copy of the book over there,” he said, “you know, if you want to buy it now.”

“I don’t have money,” I said. “But I’ll look you up.”

“Jamie told me you had money.”

“Jamie’s a liar.”

You’re a liar,” he hissed before walking off.

“Hey.”

I turned around. It was Amy. “You scared the shit out of me.”

“Let me show you something,” she said, her eyes wide. She was high. She brought me to her bathroom, which was crammed with about four other people. She opened her mouth and showed me her tongue, which had a pill on it, and kissed me before grabbing a bottle of beer and pouring its contents down my throat. She kissed me again, grabbed another pill, pulled her garbage bag bottoms down, and forced it up her anus. Her eyes fluttered; she smiled.

She placed another pill on my index finger. “Your turn.”

“What is it?” I looked around at the four other people in her bathroom: one was passed out, two were making out, one was just wide-eyed, staring at me, smiling, drooling.

“All that matters is that you swallow one, and push the other one up yourself. It’s like, so much better than meditating.”

I did it, and then I smiled at Amy, and she smiled back at me, and I told her that I’m going to be afraid to sniff my finger or scratch my eye for the entire night. She ignored me and began telling me about Buddhism. About veganism. About capitalism. About how we need to change our ways. About this book called The China Study. She squeezed my balls, and I screamed, and then she laughed. She took my hand and guided me to her bedroom and we drank things, lots and lots of things, and then we took turns with her fancy looking bong, and then we argued about something I no longer remember – all I remember was that the argument quickly became a horrific one. I began to strangle her, and then she began to strangle me, and as our faces turned red and as our eyes began bulging we both let go and laughed. I ran to the bathroom and washed my hands and then got the fuck out of there. I saw Jamie on the way out and I gave her the finger and told her that I hated her before running – sprinting – out of the house. I saw my car and I ran on top of it, and I kept running. I wanted to run home. I knew it would take days to run home, but I wanted to run home. I was so happy. I texted some people. I hadn’t been that happy in months, years, ever. I looked up, at how clear things were and decided, then and there, that I wanted to be a fireman, because firemen got the girls. I sat down, crossed my legs, and began listening to something by Buddy DeFranco, whoever the hell he was. For some reason Jamie was behind me again, and her eyeliner was just so pretty and so perfect, and we were in her bathroom and she was giggling and beautiful warm water was running down both of us. I was also giggling. I asked her if I pissed my pants and she said Yes, you prick! You pissed all over me. I told her that she was my best friend, and that I loved her and that I wanted to impregnate her, twice. She was turning transparent. She pulled out the razor blade she used to shave her legs and began shaving my pubic hairs, and I told her not to, but she did, and I kissed her, and then I suddenly died and I saw blood everywhere and Jamie screamed, but then I came back to life! I came back to life! I woke up to my phone buzzing.

Everything was dark. I fumbled around and eventually managed to pick it up – my head was spinning and everything was throbbing, and I could barely make out what the person was saying so I kept asking them, “What?” until I was finally able to comprehend a tiny piece of it: the person, a sobbing young girl, kept saying again and again and again, “Ariel is dead. She killed herself, we need some money to pay for…” and everything shrank, and the darkness of the room kind of crumbled and gave way to even more darkness, and I yelled and I cried and Jamie asked me what was wrong and I kept yelling and screaming until I fell back to sleep.