Every time I walk down the street and see someone who looks vaguely like Dave, for a moment I wonder if it’s him. Then I remember why it can’t be. How many people emerge from palliative care and go on living for decades, I wondered as Dave lay dying, too weak to accept a visit from the hundreds who would’ve loved to speak to him one more time. I shed a few tears as I heard the news, knowing my pain was nothing compared to that of his family and closest friends. Coincidentally Dave died on the day of my brother Neil’s wedding. Neil was a valued amateur photographer at the wedding of Dave and Michelle, his wife of eighteen years.
Their children Lachie, Chloe and Blake wouldn’t know me from a Martian, I was just one of many people they stood patiently waiting for their dad to finish chatting to in the supermarket, at a school fete or wherever I happened to cross paths with him in recent years. If they’ve read the Man Who Blew Up Hate, they could well be wondering if I am a Martian. I imagine they’ve been far too busy coming to grips with the void their father’s death has left, to be aware of the crazy little story that seemingly came from nowhere as I wrote the first version of this tribute.
Dave’s funeral and wake were surreal experiences, as full of humour as sadness. The readings were done with extraordinary composure. I was wondering if we would hear songs that have never been played in a church before, the kind Dave might hear in the distance as he dons his night vision goggles and abseils down the pearly gates, on his way to the Coolest Place in Hell. I’m told he chose the music for his funeral, but wishing to avert a diplomatic crisis the Vatican denied some of his requests. God can be a bit of a prude, so Dave has to sneak out of heaven every Friday and Saturday night to hear something wilder than Silent Night.
Any secret mission back over the pearly gates featuring Dave is bound to make the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a boring pamphlet. No doubt, many of his excursions to the Coolest Place in Hell are under the pretext of his Heaven Intelligence Agency missions. He’s probably their 007 already. I bet his face is plastered all over The Satanic Empire, with an angry red line through it drawn by the devil himself.
According to rumour, Dave has been planning to blow up Hate, ever since he first ventured into the volcano infested swamps of hell. Hate is the nickname for Fortress 666, a largely subterranean complex that extends about a mile above the Everest dwarfing mountain into which it was rapidly carved by Red Bull gulping Beaver Goblins. One thousand squadrons of amphibious scorpion dragons and their platypus pixie overlords are looking forward to the brutal chess match they’ve been told to expect.
According to the angels I’ve interviewed, Dave gave those battle hardened hybrids little thought last time he took the scenic route to the Coolest Place in Hell. The argument between the Banshee Flowers and the searing breeze was far more entertaining.
For those who don’t know, the Coolest Place in Hell has pole dancing on ice skating rinks. Topless mermaids serve drinks from its network of icy canals and burlesque plays like The Empire Strips Back and Dames of Thrones are performed every night. According to Satan “The Coolest Place in Hell is like Sydney’s Inner West, except evil.” My angelic sources assure me they’ve never been there, but they’ve heard all about it from more sinful folk.
The Coolest Place in Hell was visible on the Horizon when Dave encountered the Missile Thorn Tree. That gnarled abomination was repulsed by the cheeky grin on his face. Any reminder that not everyone is as miserable as her is an offence punishable by death. Death may be an incomplete experience in hell but it tends not to be a painless one. Dave’s “Turning negatives into positives since 1976” t-shirt was as infuriating to the Missile Thorn Tree as the piranha lichen. That fanged forest coating refused to stop singing I Can See Clearly Now that the Rain has Gone, by Hothouse Flowers.
The Missile Thorn Tree prefers flowers that die an agonizing death, while exposed to ice and fire in equal measure. The piranha lichen has been its only friend, ever since the moss abandoned it. The moss was last seen slithering away, to burn itself to a crisp in a volcano, a fate it much preferred to listening to more of the Missile Thorn Tree’s whining. Obliterating the piranha lichen for refusing to cease its caterwauling wasn’t an option, Dave however was considered expendable.
“Nobody turns my negatives into positives, you nobody” the Missile Thorn Tree screeched as Dave boldly stood within its shadow.
“Do your worst Missile Thorn Tree, it makes no difference to me. I heard that you can’t even shoot down a vulture moth anymore.”
“Can’t shoot down a vulture moth? I can take down a sonic peterodacyl with a single thorn”
“I don’t think so”
“You despicable former human, what the hell are you doing? For the hatred of Satan, put your clothes back on. I’ll teach you not to dance naked in my domain. Why are you smiling? I’ve hit your with two hundred and seventeen thorns and you’re fucking smiling at me”
“You call yourself a Missile Thorn Tree? Being the glass half full kind of guy I am, I’ve decided that you’re an acupuncture tree. I’ve got all the right moves, so you hit me in all the right places. Let’s call it Tandem Acupuncture. We can go into business together and give the money to charity”
“Charities are as disgusting as you are, I hate helping people, spearing them is much more fun”
“I always thought you hated fun. Anyway, I’ve got things to do, people to see, have a lovely day Missile Thorn Tree. They should call me the Mary Poppins of the Satanic Empire”
In the penthouse, above the Coolest Place in Hell, an overconfident Satan snorted cocaine off Madelaine Albright’s butt. The synchronised bursts of semi automatic spud gun fire, corralling his most fearsome demons outside, was merely a diversionary tactic. By the time The Prince of Darkness realized Dave had defeated the hounds of hell, with nothing more than a packet of Schmackos and an unending supply of tummy rubs, it was too late. Dave had already shouted the bar, in the Coolest Place in Hell. Being the drama queen he is, the Evil One packed up his pitch forks and flame throwers and went home.
Dave sent a text to negotiate a truce. “I’M NOT YOUR FRIEND 🤬” Satan replied, before settling down to watch reruns of Jerry Springer with Ghengis Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney and Margaret Thatcher. Then Michael Jackson rang. Satan turned off his phone in a hurry. Seconds later Dave sent another message.
“WTF was that” Satan screamed, as his palace vibrated from the shockwaves of a nearby explosion. As he raced across the satanic lawn, Satan had a feeling something was missing. Eventually he realized it was his letterbox. “Nooooo, my hate mail” he screeched. Steel girders landed in the swimming pool, unleashing a chlorinated tsunami that decimated Satan’s prize petunias. Debri was found as far away as the Sea of Despair and Lake Hopeless. From that day forth, Dave was known as the Man Who Blew Up Hate.
A disgusted Ghengis Khan said what was on his mind “Satan, I’ve been tellin ya to get an email account since 1997 ya dumb ####. This letterbox bombing has got Dave’s signature all over it. Where is that man, I wanna shake his hand.” Ever since Genghis Khan’s defection to heaven the Satanic Empire has been in worse shape than Trump’s America.
According to my favourite angel, Ju-Lee, the Amphibious Scorpion Dragons grew so impatient while waiting for Dave to show up at Fortress 666, colloquially known as Hate, that they raided Satan’s wine cellar. Dave knew those alcoholics would crack eventually. He became an Alcoholics Anonymous counsellor and marched to their aid. The only Fortress 666 that’s been blown up so far is a party balloon replica.
Dave, if you can read that crazy little story from wherever you are, I hope you enjoy it.
Until he was well into his twenties, Dave combined his interest in war history with an interest in creative writing. Perhaps it was the tall stories he told off the cuff that were his best. He was a funny guy, with an imagination as vivid as a supernova. Perhaps I’ve channeled him a little, in the writing of The Man Who Blew Up Hate.
Returning to 2019 now, it was great to have a chat with some of the former St Gregs boys and Antiochers (youth group) who were paying their respects to Dave. The intensity of emotions meant that all the memories we shared were as fresh as yesterday. It was one of those times where people in their forties felt like they were nineteen just a moment ago, a time when you remember just how much people you haven’t seen for aeons mean to you.
Especially during his youth, Dave truly was an adventurer. I wasn’t there when the spud and frozen orange guns might have been put through their paces in Smiths Creek Reserve, by Dave’s gang of funsters. It’s been said that the odd chlorine bomb was detonated too, possibly resulting in the destruction of a letterbox or two. Then again, maybe that’s as fictititious as The Man Who Blew Up Hate, as riddled with rumours as a tabloid newspaper.
What’s that, you’re wondering which crimes have a statute of limitations in NSW? I’m saving my curiousity for other things, like the origin of the leprechauns on giraffe back, that keep batting their eyelashes at me. The odds of me remembering who was allegedly involved in the blowing of letterboxes to smithereens, last century, are as slender as a string of saliva, stretched between Mercury and Pluto. What’s my name again?