Friday, October 4, 2013

The Godfather and The Hipster.

I'm sitting alone during Happy Hour in a beer garden somewhere in Freemantle. I can't tell you the name of the pub or what end of Freemantle this is.  It could be West but feels like North. I feel direction in my waters. I don't need a compass.  I know it is happy hour but I can't tell you the time. I haven't worn a watch since 1983 and I don't know how to set the clock that comes with my phone. I can't tell you where I'm going to eat tonight because after walking around Freemantle for four hours I'm yet to find an eating place I can afford but I can tell you about the two men who turn up at my table just as I was about the shoot down the last of my warm white wine.

One of the men is thin and wirey and my vintage. He's the Hipster.

He takes a seat and strikes up conversation.  He gives everything away about himself before he's even finished his first beer.  He loves his children but he doesn't love his wife. He stays with her just for the kids. The kids are what he lives for.   He grows some plants. Not for selling, just for smoking...

I tell him he wouldn't do that in WA. He'd probably get jailed in this state. The laws are heavy here. The Mines drug test their workers every day. That's the culture . Bali is where we send the Pot Smokers to rot in jail. Every day it seems to me we're moving further and further away from the Californian model and closer to the Indonesian school of tolerance. I have no idea how one would find themselves a smoke here. It feels too dangerous. Everything feels dangerous to me these days.

The Hipster's mate is a beefed up Pom whose slightly older. Or maybe he was born looking slightly older. He is the Boss. He tells me in every job he ever had he always ends up running the joint. He looks solid, sensible and totally benign. He left England on a boat at sixteen to work in the Navy and never went home again. He fought in two wars. He killed men without blinking. He's never been out of a job and has traveled all over Australia. He gives me a sip of his Mount Gay white rum. And now I want one.

He's the Psychopath.

They sell Catering Equipment. Knives, stoves, Chef Uniforms, stuff like that. They're in Perth for three days to sell to the Mines. They've been in a plane for four hours. They're hungry and tired. Their heads are still up in the clouds.  'It takes time for the soul to catch up.' The Psychopath has already adjusted but the Hipster's still taking in the scenery like a boy in a lolly shop.

'Where am I again ?' he asks me. 

'You're in the largest state in Australia. Most of it desert. In a city surrounded by man eating sharks. Every day I open the paper and some one has been eaten. I wouldn't dip a toe into the ocean here. On land it's wall to wall Miners and Corporates. Plankton and Hammer Heads.  I've never seen so many cops. That's all I know.'

The Hipster and I reminisce about the 80s in Sydney. We remember the venues, the bands and the drugs. The Psychopath sips his drink slowly and listens. As Psychopaths do.  The Psychopath doesn't have to tell me what he's thinking. I already know that he knows what I'm thinking, who I am and what I'll be drinking next shout. The Hipster and I are back at the Trade Union Club in its hey day. I had died my hair black like Siouxie Sioux and I wanted to be on stage too so I joined a band called Saigon Childrens Choir.  The founding member was a greasy guy called Vince and his anorexic girlfriend Miriam.  He played bass. She played Keyboard. We got onto the JJJ Cooking with George compilation album at the Aquatic Club. It was a major league entry into the cool club and in Independant Music circles a big break. The only thing that broke was my heart because Vince and Miriam didn't turn up for the gig. They left me stranded.  It was the ultimate betrayal.  A major league trauma. I didn't leave the house for a month I was so depressed and humiliated.

The Hipster remembers how you could buy Amyl Nitrate in pawn shops. It was called Rush. I remember it too. It was appalling. You could hear your brain cells sizzle and then commit suicide. The next day I felt one hundred years older. He just remembers the high. His eyes are glistening. Those were the days. 'Box the Jesuit. Lubricated Goat. Early Hunters and Collectors. Celibate Rifles. Saigon Children's Choir ?' '

Never heard of it.'

'Saigon Childrens Choir!.  How could you have missed us ? Our graffiti was plastered all over town. We did it ourselves with a stencil. We stenciled walls and footpaths and telegraph poles from Annandale to Redfern.  That was our territory although  we once played the Newcastle Workers Club and that was a major league drama.  Our keyboard player had a Epileptic fit when they turned on the strobe and the audience threw green slime at my head.   They missed but the drum kit looked like jello by the end of the show. That's what I call suffering for your art. '

'Those were the days.' sighs the Hipster looking down his now empty glass.  

The Psychopath came here in 1979 and he can't remember no punk scene in Australia. He thinks we're dreaming. To Psychopaths all dreamers are liars. I turn the conversation to war to try to bring the psychopath inside it.  I'm always trying to make everyone at the table feel comfortable. I'm a born country wife in this way. I should have been a nurse or a talk show host. Instead I'm trying to keep one step ahead of the dole and off the disability pension.  I tell the Psychopath I've been writing about PTSD and ask whether he suffered PTSD after leaving the war zone?   He says the only men who suffered PTSD were the ones who felt guilty about the blood and the murder.' If nothing horrifies you then there's no flashbacks. It's simple.'

'I reckon you're just suppressing your real feelings' says the Hipster.

'No. I'm not repressing my feelings. I don't have any feelings.'

I believe him

The Conversation shits back to Mount Gay. That sip I took has melted on my tongue and my tongue wants to taste it again. mmmmm I've never been one for rum but that is the power of drinking from the glass of a Psychopath. You develop appetites you didn't know you had. Desire sneaks up from behind and starts putting a bag over your head. The bag is fur lined and it drowns out the sound of the sirens. It feels good until the cord around your neck starts to tighten. Desire is no substitute for love.

'So are you married?'

The Hipster asks the question and the Psychpopath looks at me to hear the answer.

'I'm married to the muse. I'm mobile and writing a book.'

'What's it called?' the Hipster asks.

'It's called Snake Kennedy. A girls own adventure in the land of wild men'

Both men laugh.

'What are you drinking?' asks the Hipster.

I point to the psychopaths now empty glass of Mount Gay. 'I'm drinking that! 

'Oh no...Do I have to ask for it again? '

Mount Gay? Yeah say it with conviction'. Or maybe you can just point to the bottle and whisper 'please sir can i have some more white rum ? But in that your arse.  This is WA.
They don't just mount Gay here. She is shark bait...

They both laugh.

The Hipster goes to fetch the drinks and its just me and The Psychopath.

Do you know sharks have more advocates than people in this state? What is that?  The people are paying ten dollars a beer for the privilege of working as a slave in a mine and the sharks are swimming free and grabbing Uncle Jo for dinner and people are protesting the culling of what stops them from being able to relax in the water. They're worried about species extinction even though the next species on the list is them.  They gather on the beaches with placcards saying 'Save the Sharks'. What about save yourself from Gina Rhineheart.  

'I"m hungry says the Psychopath. ' Do you feel like Chinese? There's a place just around the corner.'

'Round the corner?. Where am I again? ' I'm somewhere in Freemantle. I'm in a pub. I'm talking to two strangers. I'm following my bliss. I'm 100% open. Because that's how a writer has to be to exist. An writer can't be frightened of leaving the house. Of striking up conversations in public with complete strangers. A writer can't be scared of speaking her mind because her words might be used against her. A writer must be brave, truthful, open, resilient. But the problem is that almost as soon as I step out the door life throws me a Psychopath. And I don't know why it sends that same damn messenger over and over again. And I'm thinking that what the messenger is trying to tell me is that It's not enough to be open and brave and it's not enough to be positive either. There's only so long you can suspend disbelief before life snaps like an elastic in your face. But nothing ever happens if you don't leave yourself open.'

'So what you're saying is that'

The Hipster comes back to the table with Three Mount Gays. I grab mine.

So what you're saying is that you can't suffer PTSD if you don't have a conscience ?.

'What I'm saying is if the violence didn't traumatise you why flash back? It's sorted.'


'He's hardcore' says the Hipster. 'He can watch a man being beaten to death in and not blink an eye. Me -I want to save the guy, I'm running out there in the middle of it. Not him. he's unmoved. He's totally cold blooded.' the Hipster looks worried.

The Psychopath doesn't. 'I've got no regrets. I've killed men. That's war. It doesn't stay in my head. I move on. I could do it again if I had to'. He looks straight in my eyes and I toss up asking him whether he could kill me but I already know the answer to that very sticky question so I ask

'Could you kill him? ' and point straight to The Hipster.

'Well not now. I could have in the early days but he made me the Godfather of his children so he's family now.'


The Hipster and I both look at each other like we woke up on the other side of The Sydney Trade Union Club with no bus fare. What sort of mind fuck decision was this? To make the devil a Godfather of two tiny innocent little people. What if he's not just a murderer, what if he likes a fiddle as well? Who knows the predilections a man with no conscience. It becomes less a matter of values, more a matter of taste. Kids taste like chicken, lets hope he likes beef. I'm thinking in fast motion like a train is coming towards me, i can feel my heart thump in my chest. rum tum tum. I don't have flash backs. I have Feeling Attacks. My feelings attack me. It's like they're getting in first so there's no surprise. The Hipster looks into his empty glass.

'Sometimes I ask myself why did I make this man the Godfather of my children?'

I hunt for an answer to comfort him.

'At least you know they'll be protected?'

What else can I say. It's too late. He handed his babes to a wolf. I've done the same with my own life.  I can't imagine how I'd feel about two children.  I dread to think. Lets hope he never dies.

The Hipster and I want to drink to forget now. What else can we do . He loves his Children. Doesn't love his wife and is bonded by blood to a Psychopath and I can't save him. I can't even say myself.
I'm running around the country as the star of Bimbo's Initiation. The only clubs that seem to want to have me want me dead.  I'm black on the inside. I'm the only straight guy at the gay wedding.  Every dream only leads me like a lamb to the slaughter over and over...

'Shall we Mount Gay again?'

'Yeah why not ? Ride Em Cowboy. Just stand at that bar and Yell 'GIVE ME MOUNT GAY! BRING IT ON!! '

But the Godfather is hungry so we go for Chinese.

He's the Boss.