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Story about Anna

Dear Carlos Fuckface,


This started a couple of months ago, and I haven’t really told anyone about it yet, but given what’s going on right now I think now would be the perfect time to let you be the first person to read this story.

You see I was sober, and it was a Friday evening and I was at a friend’s gathering and things weren’t going so well for me internally. This girl had some techno tracks playing on Spotify, and whenever she’d walk off I’d keep changing the playlist to repeat a remastered version of Canon in D. Eventually, she caught me and told me to fuck off. I bunch of people agreed with her. I fucked off and sat down next to a group of girls and a few guys.

Anna, the only one in the group I was attracted to, was wearing a short, cotton grey skirt. I could see her panties from where I was sitting. They were also grey, but lace. Her hair was straight, her heels were high. She looked young but it looked like she was wearing an engagement ring. She wouldn’t stop texting on her phone.

“Stop texting on your phone,” I said to her.

She smiled. “I can’t help it.” She continued texting.

She had great legs. I tried to start a few more conversations with her but they all stopped short. I eventually gave up on trying to impress her and got drunk and embarrassed myself until Vail came to pick me up. As she drove and kept telling me to stop touching her legs and changing the radio station I stared at the blurry road ahead of me. I wished things were better. Something was missing, and I hated myself and wished things were better. I went on Facebook and found Anna and immediately messaged her.

“Hi,” I said.

“It’s you,” she said. “The drunk guy who tried too hard. Are you stalking me?”

“It’s past your bedtime.”

“You must miss me already. To go out of your way to find me like this.”

“You represent everything I hate about this world.”

We didn’t stop talking and flirting until four in the morning. Apparently, she was having a text argument with her fiancé during the party and was embarrassed that she didn’t really talk to anyone, including me. I looked at her Facebook profile, and she was engaged to this guy named Billy. I looked at Billy’s profile and concluded that he was one of the ugliest guys I have ever seen in my entire life. One thing that caught my attention was that he regularly competed in wrestling competitions and had several angry looking friends who also seemed to compete in a mix of wrestling, kickboxing and judo competitions. They all also seemed to frequent the shooting range.

He seemed to love bragging about how much he supposedly loved her, though, and regularly posted about his dates with her and how he wanted to grow old and eventually die with her. He was one of those guys who posted long, ranty posts that had one or two likes. I looked at Anna’s profile: there were pics of her with friends, photos of her in her bathing suit, selfies of her in tiny shorts before supposedly going to the gym. There was one photo of her showing off her engagement ring. I went to the Tumblr account she told me she had: it hosted thousands of shared GIFs and images of people fucking, of women receiving cumshots, of women dribbling cum, of quotes such as, “I want to fuck you in every city I travel to.”

Before I could say anything to her I received a new message: she sent me a photo of herself in tiny shorts, biting her lip in front of the camera.

I sent her a message: “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

She replied: “Do you like that?”

I looked at the photo of her engagement ring once more. “I do.”

Vail sat up from my bed. She smelt like milk. “You’re still texting her?”


“Sleep,” she said. “You’re still drunk.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”


I went to bed and dreamt of awful things.




The pain began a couple of weeks after Mandy and I broke up. It was a pain that was completely middle class and it was a pain that I was familiar with and it was a pain that pissed me off. She gave me back everything that I’d given her, and I deleted her number and completely cut her off.

I’m a grown up now, so I didn’t do anything tremendously embarrassing with the pain. I kept going to work, I kept going to boxing. I kept the pain tiny, miniscule, a small, dense marble inside me somewhere.

A bit later I met this girl in the gym. I called her Mouse, and one day she texted me: “Do you ever want to die?”

“Not really.”

“What would be a cool way to kill myself?”

I thought about it. “Make it clean. But don’t make people have to worry about you being missing. Cut yourself in the bathtub perhaps.”

“I don’t like blood. How about if I hang myself in my room?”

“That could work. But do you have anything in your house to hang yourself with?”

She didn’t reply for a bit. “I just checked. No :(”

“Too bad.”

“LOL.” I didn’t reply, so she added: “How would you kill yourself?”

“Yeah, bathtub, maybe jump off a building, but hopefully I won’t just end up being a living paraplegic.”

“I’m touching myself. Tell me more.”

I glanced around my room, as if someone could be watching what I was typing. “Or I’d like turn my car on in my garage, and I’d attach a hose to my exhaust and put the other end in my car. I’d write a letter to the Government as I’d slowly die, all alone in my self pity.”

“Snapchat me a picture of your dick.”

I downloaded Snapchat, signed up for an account, quickly figured out how it worked. I sent her a photo of my dick.

She replied with a photo of her vagina. She wasn’t doing anything with it. It was just a picture of her closed, hairy vagina. I’m not a big fan of vagina photos, but I thought I’d be polite and replied with: “nice.”

“I don’t want to wake up tomorrow. LOL.”

We continued texting like that for the next couple of weeks: we’d talk about different ways we’d kill ourselves, we’d talk dirty, we’d Snapchat each other photos of our genitals, she’d end the night with a sweet, “Good night, Dean, I love chatting to you:)” message or something horribly depressing, like “One day I’m actually going to off myself, just need the courage and not feel so ungrateful LOL.” I’d see her in the gym, and she’d look completely happy and never mention any of our texts. I constantly asked her to come out to see me, but she seemed content with what we were doing. She had a boyfriend, and they seemed pretty happy with each other.

Besides that I had no real interest in meeting anyone else but forced myself to do it anyway. One evening, I looked at Mandy’s Facebook account on my way to a party: she’d posted all these photos of her with someone new. He was an older looking guy; he looked better than I did and they looked happy. I’d never seen her smile like that. She looked beautiful. I flicked through her entire new album of photos before blocking her and turning my phone off. I headed to the party. I drank with the people there and smiled with them as they took photos. I drove home and fell in and out of sleep as I watched a movie a friend leant me some time ago.


If you’re depressed, visit beyondblue.


Ending it with Mandy - short story

Mandy and I had a fight right after coming home from one of my book signings. She yelled and I yelled but to be honest, none of the things that came out of our mouths were actually new. We fought about what we always fought about: money.

We (she) decided then and there to end it, and I walked over and gave her some tissues to wipe her eyes with.

She whimpered. “Thanks.” I stared at her for a while, and she stared back, and I stood up and asked her, “Like, are you sure?” And she said, “Yes I’m sure,” and I said, “Like, seriously? There’s no turning back from this, I mean it. Once we end things, it’s over,” and she said, “Yes, Dean,” with a bit of finality.

I leant towards her. “Look, I’m sorry.”

There was a bit of silence. “It’s done, Dean. Don’t make this harder than it is.”

“You took that line from the movies.”

“So what if I did?”

I felt like telling her to go fuck herself, but I didn’t. I took my car keys and drove straight home. I walked around in circles for a while, muttering to myself. I went to the fridge and drank some milk and called Jude.

“Fuck women,” he said.

“I don’t want to anymore.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul,” I said.

“You took that line from a song.”

“So what if I did?”

“This is pointless. Go out. Meet people.”

I scratched my arm. “What are you doing tomorrow?”

Jude sighed. “Chicks are just so stupid. But you know what? You just have to accept that they’re stupid. Never take anything they say seriously because there will never be any consistency in what they say. You see we’re wired on logic but they’re wired on emotion.”

“Men are the stupid ones. You’re the stupid one. I’m the stupid one.”

“The world is stupid.”

“You’re bitter.”

“So are you.”

I hung up. I threw my phone against a wall and quickly ran to it to see if the screen was damaged. It wasn’t. I walked to my room and lay on my bed and did nothing until the next morning. I hoped by some miracle that someone, preferably a woman, would call or text me. No one did.

I wasn’t tired, but I wasn’t awake. If I was in a movie, I probably wouldn’t have wasted my evening. I probably would’ve gone to a bar. I would’ve had a drink, something manly, maybe a whiskey or something, and a woman – dark hair, nice smile, large breasts, natural looking fake tan, quirky but only the attractive kind of quirky – would’ve sat next to me and said something witty, and I would’ve said something witty back, and it would all be so damn easy, and the next evening, I’d be able to do the same. Actually, fuck that. If I was in a movie, I’d be Peter Pan. I’d wear green tights and I’d murder Hook and get the hell out of Never Never Land with a bag of dust and I’d fly around the city and piss on people from above.



Vicki sexy cheating

… and we somehow made it to the next morning – we were in West End, eating overpriced breakfast. It’s painfully hot in Brisbane now, and Mandy acknowledged this fact by telling me, “It’s painfully hot in Brisbane now.” I didn’t reply. She then spent about twenty minutes complaining about a colleague before trickling off into a silence that I didn’t mind at all. We said nothing, and I ate my mushrooms, and then my toast, and then whatever the hell else was left.

Jude came by. He was hungover, as usual, and he refused to take off his sunglasses. He had a story to tell, a story was about his friend Vicki. He’d been friends with Vicki for about four months now. Vicki was twenty-one or something years old and had been in a great relationship for about one-and-a-half years. One day, without any real reason, Vicki began to cheat. It started with phone calls: she’d call guy friends and ex-boyfriends and start talking dirty with them while her boyfriend would be in the next room. She’d let them remind her about how they used to come all over her face. She’d whisper to them the things she’d do for them all over again with even more intensity: the things she’d wear, the places she’d take them to, the places she’d touch, the things she’d nibble on. She then proceeded to meet men in clubs; kissing only at first, but then proceeding to do more. She had “hilarious” stories about the men she’d hook up with, about how some of them would scream like cats when they’d orgasm, how some of them had triangular balls.

The second last person Vicki hooked up with (to his knowledge, anyway) was Jude himself. It happened in Roma Street Parklands, and it was near some chairs or something, and she “seemed slutty under the sunlight” so he kissed her, and she kissed him back. After some time, she cried and leant against his shoulder, and went on a rant about how she didn’t think her boyfriend was the right one – he simply didn’t meet her needs, he was simply a ghost: he was the dust you never really see form around all of your things. After her conversation with Jude she drove straight to their flat, had an argument with him, packed her clothes, drove to his friend’s house and “fucked his friend all night”. She instantly regretted what she’d done the next morning: she called her boyfriend, crying, and drove back to their flat. She told him that he needed to change, and he told her that she needed to change, and they kissed, and he apologised for how he’d been treating her. She forgave him, and she held his hands and they just lay there in their kind-of-strange-smelling bed (Jude knew it was kind of strange smelling because he’d been there with her himself), and told each other that they loved each other, and to her, that moment, that perfect moment – it was the most honest, most romantic moment in their relationship, and probably the universe. She had an amazing man. She had an amazing life. He proposed to her the next day.

“That’s the worst story I’ve ever heard,” Mandy said.

“I don’t mind it,” I said.

We went to the markets, bought some things, complained about the heat. Jude left. Mandy and I drove to her apartment in silence: all I could think about was Vicki, and all I could think about was this thing called “cheating”. It’s a fucked up word. It’s like a ball of some sort – no, more like a chubby, slippery creature that sits in the back of your head, a creature you’ve always wanted to touch but rarely do. How far do you go before you’re considered a cheater? Where do cheaters go when they die? Is there an island for them? Mandy and I have done some things I would’ve deemed as questionable when I was younger, but now I think it’s all completely normal. The fuck is life meant to be about, anyway?

I pushed Mandy against a wall and kissed her, but before we could continue with anything else, she said, “Let me shower first.” She showered, and I waited, and I waited so damn much I fell asleep. I woke up, and then I showered and brushed my teeth. We watched a few movies from her laptop (Avatar, The Grudge 2, Fading Gigolo, Fast and Furious 6), and when it all became too tiring we lay down.

“I’m kind of tired,” she said after texting someone on her phone.

“Me too.”

“Shall we just sleep?”

“Sounds good.”

“Good evening, Sir Dean.”

I remembered something. “Mandy.”


I stood up. I checked my phone, replied to a message, smiled. I plugged my phone into a charger. I pulled something out of my jeans and gave it to Mandy: it was a letter I wrote for her. She read it, smiled. “Thanks, Dean. I love you too.” She folded the letter and put it in her dresser.

We both fell asleep, and I dreamt about death and life and death and I don’t know if I woke up in the middle of the night or not. We both woke up the next morning to get ready for work. She made vegetable juice for the both of us.



You powerful woman you“You know I tried to cheat on you,” I told her.

“And then what happened?”

“She wasn’t interested.”

“You poor man.”

“Women have it easier,” I said.

“When it comes to what?”

“Finding men.”

“Quantity over quality, honey.”

I turned my phone on silent and placed it next to my plate. “That’s the whole problem with this world. Men want quantity, but never get it. Women want quality, but never get it.”

She laughed at this, but it was a sad kind of laugh. We were out somewhere, in the Valley, I think, trying out a new restaurant. As usual, she was wearing something expensive, and she was probably going to pay for our meal. This has become a trend lately: women who have more money than their men. Women who have more options than their men. Women who do the dumping and men who do the chasing. Women with their books on girl power and their music about sexual independence and men with their, with their… hip hop?

“Tell me more about yourself,” she asked me after taking a photo of her vegetarian meal and posting it on Instagram. “We’ve been together for some time now, but I feel like I barely know you.”

“Does anyone truly know anyone?”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“I’m twenty-six years old. I’m a Leo and I like having coffee with friends and long walks along the beach.”

“Very funny.” She took a bite out of whatever the hell she was eating. “I have an idea for your next book.”

“What ideas do you have now?”

“I know you want to do a simple love story, but I think you should do something about magicians.”


“Yeah, something with a fantasy element, you know? They’re selling a lot lately. Look at Game of Thrones.”

“If I wanted to be a sellout,” I said, “I’d do a vampire novel.”

“No, vampires are out of fashion now. But fantasy, or something about a young guy who finds out he has powers: that’s what’s going to sell. I can tell. And you know,” she added. “who’s to say it won’t also have a romantic element to it?”

“You’re the worst.”

“How am I the worst?”

“You’re just a horrible person.”

She sighed. “Whatever. I was just giving you ideas.”

“Keep ‘em coming, because they’re brilliant.”

“I read this article about some self-published authors who are millionaires now. How much are you making again?”

“Well I’m not those authors,” I said. “My work isn’t for everyone.”

“Do what you want with your life.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means this.” She raised her middle finger.

“Oh, don’t you mean this?” I raised both my middle fingers at her.

We ate in silence for a while. We’d been fighting a lot lately, and she’d cry in front of me at least once a week. No matter whose fault it was, it was always me who ended up apologising. I was a fool to her tears.

We walked to a strip club and watched this girl dance for half an hour. Mandy called her over after her performance and whispered something in her ear – the stripper smiled and looked at me, and then giggled. Mandy had problems, horrible problems, and I knew after she had her way with the stripper she wouldn’t be giggling the next day. The stripper gave her number to Mandy and she smiled at the both of us and walked away.

We drove to Mandy’s apartment. As she showered I looked at some of her books on her bookshelf: Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant, #girlboss, Robert Kiyosaki’s The Real Book of Real Estate, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Profiting from the World’s Economic Crisis, The Secret of My Success. I opened The Secret of My Success and a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up and opened it: Mandy had handwritten a whole list of her 10-year goals: Have a minimum of 20 properties around Australia and 10 in strategic locations in USA and Asia and Greece, have three kids, fuck 100 men, buy a Mercedes-Benz S-Class in cash, travel to over 50 countries, have a passive income of at least $500,000 a year.




NEWSYou can now also purchase paperback copies of Surface Children in Melbourne, at Polyester Books.




skydiving and falling - short stories

The next weekend, we went skydiving. We got to the place too early, so we walked to the beach, and she did star jumps and I threw rocks at birds. We went to McDonald’s and ordered some juice and we spoke about things that I no longer remember. I looked at her and took a photo: we’d gotten to that point in our relationship where we were completely comfortable with each other, yet still somehow completely attracted to each other. We still laughed at each other’s farts and left notes next to each other’s pillows.

Finally, when it was time, we went inside the skydiving place. They passed us some outfits to wear and briefed our group about safety and all that other shit before taking us all to a tiny, old airplane. I smelt my skydiving suit – it smelt like sweat. We walked to where all the planes were and filed inside the smallest and oldest looking plane out of all of them. The plane chugged a bit before finally lifting off and as I looked around its rundown and cramped interior I pictured the plane exploding and our body parts flying into the sky.

Because of the weather conditions we were only able to fly about ten thousand feet. My guide, who was attached to me, told me to sit on the edge of the plane, and before I could ask him why I was doing this he pushed us both off. Everything became a loud rumble of wind: I looked down at another skydiver beneath me, facing me, waving at me, hoping that I would wave back at him. He was yelling something I couldn’t understand, so I gave him the finger. He gave it back. I looked to the right and Mandy was there, screaming and laughing.

It was frantic at first, but when everything settled I wanted to keep falling. I wanted to be trapped in that fall somehow, and I wanted my skydiving instructor to detach himself from me and I wanted to keep falling, and falling, and falling. I was over the overwhelming burden of pretty much everything: the rich people and the poor people and the people on the internet and the people not on the internet and how subjective everything is, all the questions we have, all the answers we have, how unnecessarily necessary things are supposed to be. And I thought about heartbreak: I felt it before, and it was real, but with Mandy there, the word itself seemed like something alien. As the ocean and the city grew bigger I pulled the parachute thing and we bounced up and glided, and the guy behind me told me I could steer us wherever the hell I wanted.

We paid about a billion dollars for video footage of the fall. I drove Mandy home, and then I drove to my own place and called her and she said something and I laughed, and then she asked me what I would think if I filmed her kissing a girl and a guy, because she’d think it would be hot if I did the same, and I kept quiet for a while, and then we spoke about other things and I said goodnight, and she whispered that she loved me.



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.



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

“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.



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.