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WE ALL COME FROM DUST

The dust, this water, it comes from the dead and it comes from the living. The pain and the joy—it’s all recycled, we’re always sharing a piece of each other. There are bits of people within all of us, there are bits of people outside of all of us.

tunnel drive

LOVE LETTER 2020

Sometimes I still think about you. Sometimes I imagine you looking at my Facebook profile and being a little impressed and a little jealous that you’re not the one doing that thing with me, or being in that place with me, or posing in that quirky restaurant photo with me. But sometimes I imagine you being relieved that you’re not …

forest at night

THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO A MAN IN A COMA

Some time ago Christie’s step brother fell into a coma. Apparently he was having sex with his wife, and apparently all of a sudden he closed his eyes and didn’t open them again. Everyone prayed for him, and the next day, in hospital, he opened his eyes and acted as though nothing had ever happened. It’s a miracle! we exclaimed, …

I’M BACK

Some time ago I became consumed by stress so I quit my job and promised to finally work on my next book. But before finally working on my next book I travelled, and when I returned home from travelling I promised to finally work on my next book. But when I returned home from travelling I took on a part …

old stone house

THE OLD OLD HOUSE IN THE OLD OLD VILLAGE

Christie and I didn’t meet much when I went travelling, but once in a while she’d join me. She went with me to this old village. I had no idea how old it was, but everything about it seemed ancient: there was no electricity, there were no doors and all the houses looked like they were made of stone. But …

juan luna portrait painting

WAITING IN THE PHILIPPINES

We went to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila, and near the entrance was a large room, and in that large room was one enormous painting, the Spoliarium. My cousin and I looked at it for a while: at the bodies, at the audience, at the stroke work, then at the people taking selfies in front of the …

old dark alleyway

FAT GOOD LUCK CHARM

“Have you met Brisbane’s good luck charm?” Jude asked me. “No and I don’t want to,” I said. I turned to Vail: “Do you want to meet Brisbane’s good luck charm?” Vail had her sunglasses on and she was driving. “Dean,” she started, sighing, “your stories… have I ever told you about your stories? They need to have an arc. …

bathtub shot

CASSY’S SUPERPOWER

“Do you believe in the supernatural, Dean?” This is what Cassy asked me as we sat in a train to the city or whatever. “What do you mean? Like spirits and stuff?” “No…” she said, putting her phone down on her lap. “As in, like, superpowers.” “Like the Avengers?” “Like the Avengers.” “No, I don’t believe in that.” “Well you …

9 orders of angels - source Wikipedia

THE ANGEL WITH FOUR FACES

I wanted to write about angels but I couldn’t do it. Christie spent about two hours talking to me about angels. She spoke about the hierarchy of angels, how there’s the Seraphim, whose jobs are to continually worship God and who will only ever reveal themselves to humans if God is present, and then you get angels like the Cherubim, …

madman in the mirror

MADMAN IN THE MIRROR

The quality of my writing started to drop at the same time the quality of my life started to increase. I hadn’t had alcohol or drugs in months. I had found God. I was in a stable relationship. I regularly exercised. I took protein shakes. I hadn’t masturbated in over sixty days and whenever I caught myself in the mirror …

gold everywhere

GOLD EVERYWHERE

“There’s a beautiful piece of corn in every big pile of shit.” This is what a homeless guy told me. I’d been hanging out with a lot of homeless people lately, especially since I started working in the city. There are homeless people everywhere in the city. I have a number of favourites. There’s this one guy with a beard …

ALIENS ARE IN THE AFTERLIFE

The most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life was a sunrise when I was eighteen years old. It was in Noosa, and it was four in the morning, and the sea looked like crumpled pastel crayons. The most beautiful song I’ve ever heard was a song whose title I’ll never know, whose tune I’ll never remember: all I’d told …

THE AFTERLIFE OF THE AFTERLIFE

“You know,” she smiled slightly, starting to say something but then stopping — her mind drifted somewhere, to some man or drama maybe. “You know what?” “The afterlife, eternity… like, even when people talk about afterlife and eternity. It scares me.” “It scares me too.” Vail exhaled smoke from her nostrils as she killed her cigarette. She texted someone something …

THOR THE GOD OF THUNDER

The world was being the world and I was being me, so I walked into the Cathedral of Saint Stephen and knelt down and watched some people rehearse some kind of choir song. I looked at Jesus at the altar, on the cross, and I told him that I was sorry for the garbage truck of horrors inside of me. …

YOU NEED MORE MONEY

Sometimes I see the earth as this tiny marble occupied by these even tinier dots called people, and all these people are looking up at a giant sun made of money, and they’re all bowing to it, talking about it night and day, thinking about it night and day, and when they’re not talking or thinking about money night and …

SOMETHING IN YOUR STOMACH

Someone from work once gave me a moleskin, and for some time I just let it sit at the back of my car. “If you don’t want to write in it, why don’t you draw something in it?” Christie asked me from her hospital bed. “Yeah okay,” I complained. “Like drawing is so fucking easy.” She got mad, so I …

HAPPINESS AND ARMPIT PLUCKING

“You know what I’ve realised?” Vail asked me. “What?” “I like the idea of doing charity work more so than actually doing it.” Vail had just finished an afternoon of volunteer work with troubled kids. “It’s a lot of work.” She sighed, sipping on her latte or whatever the hell it was. “It’s so much work.” “You know what I’ve …

WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

“It’s my birthday soon and I’m all grown up,” I yelled to Jude over some blues track playing from his car stereo and a freestyle by Eminem streaming loudly from his friend’s phone in the back of the car somewhere. It was about two in the afternoon and Jude was speeding along some road in a suburb in Logan that …

8 DINNERS WITH CAROL

I knew that things were never going to work out with Carol but I went along with it anyway. I met her at some place I don’t remember and she was drinking some drink I don’t remember. “We won’t make a good match,” I told her, showing her a photo someone took of us. “We just won’t.” “You’re right,” she …

HOPES AND FEARS FOR 2016

Carol took a sip of her drink. “My only wish is that I find good music this year. I mean the music in two thousand fifteen was great, and like, I really got into Spotify and Pandora and that, but like, I mean, The Weeknd’s album was pretty good, but really, I wanted more, you know? Do you ever get …

PART 5: THE TRUTH ABOUT CHEATERS

This year has been all about cheating. I cheated, I helped people cheat, my friends cheated, I was even cheated on for a while. Funnily enough, there was a brief period of time when the loads of cheating seemed abnormal – immoral, even – but the more it absorbed me this year the more it seemed like a natural, expected …

PART 4: HAIRY ARMPITS AND A VISION BOARD

If I gave you the opportunity to escape the life you’re currently in, would you take it? Where would you go? What would you do? How would you make things different? Being up north was my escape, even though I had no idea what I was escaping from or how I wanted to make things different. All I was doing …

PART 3: KAZAA VIDEOS AND CIGARETTES

My friendship with Hayley grew stronger as my friendship with Jason began to fade. It was exactly how it was that year when we both turned sixteen: she’d call me in the middle of the night and we’d tell each other everything. It was love, but it wasn’t the love you’re thinking about. “What are you doing here?” She asked …

PART 2: HAYLEY

  There were plenty of things I thought of while up north: money, girls, boxing, the point of it all, the ups and the ups and the downs and the downs. I spent most of my time and money on driving and music CDs, and it was always sunny, and something about the heat and the beach made everyone tired …

PART 1: DRIVING ONE MILLION HOURS TO REACH HOME

“Life will kick you in the balls, and when it realises you don’t have balls it’ll kick you in the pussy,” Jason laughed, even if what he said wasn’t funny. Jason is my childhood friend. He’s stocky and angry looking and something about his face makes him look racist. We were in his kitchen, talking, and he was drinking beer …

SILENT PERIOD

It was a few minutes past midnight, and this guy, Bill, whose boyfriend was supposedly a “scam artist slash DJ slash art dealer from like, London who had like, fifty thousand followers on Instagram,” had some kind of cover of Earned It by the Weeknd playing loudly from a gigantic iMac placed on a pile of magazines, and I was …

ANAL

Things I liked out about Anna: she loved The Weeknd, she loved mixing music and had a following online, she brought Surface Children with her wherever she went, she regularly bought her parents dinner. Things that annoyed me: she secretly loved chaos, she loved destruction, she enjoyed the drama in walking away from the flames. I walked out of work …

ANNA’S PHOTO AND JUDE’S FIRST GIRL

Anna jumped in my car and we went for a drive and we parked somewhere and she went wild on me and everything seemed okay. Her mobile phone background, which used to have an image of her fiancé, had been replaced by a giant photo of a polar bear. Photos of him had vanished from her social media pages. But …

THAT PLACE BY THE BEACH

   

WHERE DO CHEATERS GO WHEN THEY DIE?

… 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 …

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 …

SKYDIVING

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 …

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

“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 …

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. …

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 …

THE BIG BAD EASTER BUNNY

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 …

THERE IS NO TIME FOR GRIEF

I 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 …

SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS

I was alone again, just sitting there in Queen Street Mall, and it was a few days before Christmas, and for some reason I was thinking about Eva when this guy – scrawny, tall, dressed like a stereotypical homeless person, kind of held his right hand like a T-Rex would – circled around in front of me before stopping to …

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE BLIND AND PEOPLE COME OVER FOR A DRINK

It’d been about a week since my PRK laser eye surgery and things had improved: I could walk around with my eyes open and when things were good, objects in the distance looked clearer and crisper than when I used to wear contact lenses. I’d also become slightly addicted to the sleeping pills they gave me, Hypnodorm – it was …

CIGARETTES AND CHOCOLATE DICK

I woke up one day and realised that things were terrible. I walked to the kitchen, smoked and called in sick. I ate an apple before heading to my car and driving off to Nowhere. I’d never driven around in the nine o’clock morning before; not in that way, anyway. Things were so bright and damp and the people in …

UNCLE BILLY’S FUNERAL

The funeral on Friday was for Uncle Billy. I was never that close to him, but I knew this: he smoked a lot and joked a lot and got into a lot of fights. When we were kids he used to tell us about all the nonsense he’d get up to when he used to work at the sea. Once, …