Archive for June, 2008
Notes to my daughter on getting her first car.
oh dear! fumbling around doing the brake
callipers. its the start of worse things.
next it will be a valve job, then you
will be ripping the head off for a
decarb everytime your top speed drops
below 220 kph. beware! i guess the good
side is that this sorts out presents for
the next decade. toolboxes, tools,
vacuum gauges, workshop manuals, feeler
gauges – you are entering the twilight
zone of MOTOR MECHANICS. from now on you
will have a perpetual line of black
grime running along the tips of what
used to be perfectly manicured fingers
but which, now, are ragged, torn
remnants attesting to your former
femininity. you will notice that bath
scum changes from a satisfying grey to a
murky black. no more the sweet smell of
opium, instead, a heady mix of 96 octane
‘Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last confession’
T leaned back against the wall of the confessional box and tried to put those weeks into focus.
‘Go ahead my son’
‘I have taken the name of the Lord in vain. I have twice stolen. I have hit another man’
That was somewhat of an underreporting of what had transpired but the church didn’t need to know everything yet. Wait until the big one went down before asking for contrition.
‘Tell me my son. Is there anything else you wish to confess to?’
The silence was indicative
‘Very well. You must learn from these mistakes and avoid situations that lead you into sin. Say twenty Hail Mary’s each night and ask the Lord for forgiveness’
T bustled out of the box anxious to avoid the eyes of those waiting. The church and the confessional box were a necessity, his last grasp on normalcy.
Puddles of exhaled vomit litter the streets amidst discarded fast food wrappers, cardboard drink containers with bent straws, and carefully posed half-empty beer bottles signifying their former owners’ good intentions or bad memory. The smells of bread baking, bacon frying, coffee brewing, mingle with the salty smell of the fresh morning as the city awakens. A helicopter passes overhead, the chook-chook-whoop-whoop drowning out the roar of a BMW accelerating down a deserted, early morning Wellington street.
He wheeled the Jag down the narrow streets by the waterfront. The next visit was to his doctor. The waiting room, dark; a radio played top 40 hits; the seats covered in disposable sheeting like the examination table. Did doctors have any training in how they set up their waiting rooms or did they just make it up as they went along? An air of hushed anticipation hung in the air as the other patients waited for their delayed appointments.
The balding doctor, ten or fifteen years T’s age poked his head around the door.
T entered the room and made the journey to the chair placed beside the doctor’s desk. He felt, then noticed, the shaking in his hands, the cold place in his chest, the dizziness.
‘Well T. How have you been since the last appointment?’ The doctor didn’t even wait for the reply and ploughed on ‘the results of your tests are back’
T felt the cold place turn into a dark tunnel from shoulder to groin.
‘Well the picture doesn’t look good. See this elevated figure here, and here, and here, and this substance. Put together they mean that there is something seriously wrong with your kidneys and liver. They are just not removing the poisons from your body the way they should do. The symptoms you described of tiredness, nausea and ………….’
The doctors voice slowly faded out of T’s consciousness. So it had finally caught up on him. He snapped to attention again. The doctor had moved on.
‘I’m also worried about your blood pressure and I want to refer you to a cardiologist and a neurologist to check out your heart and to have a look at whats happening to your brain. The failure of the kidney and liver need to be investigated separately but lets get a thorough view of what your body is up to. I have to talk to you about lifestyle changes but lets leave that until we get some more results in.’ He reached for the telephone while asking if there were any questions but T knew what this all meant.
Later: High over the bay he looks down over the harbour, bordered by rich green eucalyptus tress and the stark, gleaming monoliths of Government and corporate buildings. Ferries large and small ply their trade across the harbour and the adjoining strait, while the ubiquitous jet-skis and yachts flutter like butterflies in their wakes as they put to sea. The silence of the early morning has given way to the all-day hum of the city which will build to a crescendo as darkness falls again, the salt smell will be replaced by the sweet mix of petrol and deisel, and bodies that have slept all day will rise to inhabit the night.
Last stop of the day.
‘Gidday. How are you ?’
‘Oh pretty good. No worries’
‘What you got today then T?’
‘This, this and these. Should be worth at least five hundred’
T pulled a couple of camera’s, a portable computer and a nautical sextant from his totebag.
‘I can take the cameras and the ‘puter but no call for whatever that other thing is. Looks like it should be in a museum.’
T thought of the struggle with the man in the dark room and the feel of his fist catching cheek and nose before he managed to break loose and get out the door.
She was sitting at the airport table. She was hunched over, squashing her breasts against the plastic tabletop. Her tongue hangs out the side of her mouth and her eyes squeeze inwards as she concentrates on pulling up first one, then her other, sock. Her vacant gaze searches out her carer buying chips at the café. Her stubby fingers now stuff the fiery hot potatoes into her mawl. Her head, inclined to the right, her shoulders hunched she seems impervious to the burning. Twenty-two years ago she was born suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome. She is my daughter. Her mother died after she was born, unable to give up drinking, unwilling to change her life.