Tax Man

Miles Somerset’s mental map of his briefcase’s contents was as accurate as his dream images of his garden, a place where he’d spent countless hours reading tax law tomes, tracts of tax philosophy, tax themed novels and tax inspired poetry. There was nothing tax related that hadn’t happened there. He’d even hired a beautiful bikini clad woman to tattoo a calculator on to his chest, in the shade of his Frangipani tree and paid cash to avoid the G.S.T. It was arguably his most exciting acts of tax evasion that financial year. Miles occasionally branched out into other topics, but managed to view them all from the perspective of tax.

Overseas holidays hardly dimmed Miles tax obsession. While being treated to panoramic views of the Amazon, he was busy contemplating the tax deductions he could get for the pilot, if he were among his clientele. As he focussed more intently on the shrinking expanse of river riddled jungle, he considered how he could conceivably fatten the tax return of the tour operators below.

Whether viewing a South American jungle or a French mediaeval jail, Miles’ tax dissecting, tax deflecting, tax collecting mind was in overdrive. At the age of twelve, he’d made a conscious decision to leave the spontaneity of childhood behind. He still loved to think on his feet during tax related crises though. Otherwise he wasn’t one to improvise, with the possible exception of his odes to the Medicare levy, which he composed while busking at railway stations with his ancient classical guitar.

For exercise, Miles lifted filing cabinets overladen with tax related documents. He also practised a blend of Brazilian ju-jitsu and free style wrestling, augmented by Thai boxing. One never knew when some aimless thug would need to be disciplined for interrupting Miles almighty schedule. He’d pinned a few would be wallet snatchers to the ground in his time and tortured most of them, usually by quizzing them on the details of their tax return. No matter who their accountant was Miles invariably left them devastated by missed opportunities for deductions.

It was while Miles was seated on a park bench, reading the Financial Review, that he first spotted the hornet like drone in his peripheral vision. It accelerated so rapidly it appeared to vanish from one spot and reappear in another. Miles was too engrossed in an article on the history of taxation in the colony of New South Wales, to notice the hornet like contraption hovering above him. It sent a signal to the interdimensional craft lurking above the clouds. If it weren’t for its radar absorbent force field, it would surely have been confronted by a squadron of fighter planes already. The ship was seen by hundreds of commercial airline passengers, on several flights, but before anyone had time to video or photograph it, it teleported out of range.

Miles finally realized something strange was happening when he was enveloped in a mysterious cloud of luminous gas. By the time his feet left the ground he was in an R.E.M state. He remained so until he was onboard what his nephews would’ve called the mothership. Miles called it an unforeseeable interruption to his schedule, which on his scale of disasters was akin to genocide. The temporary paralysis that fastened him to the gleaming white floor did nothing to improve his mood.

Once he was permitted to sit up and open his eyes, Miles discovered he was in the middle of an indoor stadium built for beings who were two foot tall at most. Unseen instruments scanned his internal organs from a distance. Nanobots piloted submarines through his bloodstream. Literally thousands of tests had been conducted by the time Miles suspected anything odd was afoot.

Miles vaguely humanoid captors possessed noise cancelling translation helmets that could decipher most languages within a one trillion light year radius. They were a vast improvement on the crude sound of primitive Earthling speech intermingled with the translation. Miles skull had been mapped weeks ago, from a distance, by his captors manufacturing robots. The mobile factory they operated had mined, refined and crafted the necessary materials into a custom-made translation helmet that fitted him as snugly as his eyes fitted their sockets.

At first, Miles imagined the translation helmet was protective equipment for an upcoming gladiatorial contest and that the extra terrestrials seated in what he thought was a commentary box, spoke English with a London accent. The truth eventually dawned on him. If he’d had the opportunity to hear his captors language it would’ve sounded vaguely like classical music to his uncomprehending ears.

“I don’t know who you guys are or how you mutated into your current form and quite frankly I don’t give a fuck but if you don’t return me to the park from which you abducted me, right now, I’ll report you to the ATO, the IRS, the IMF and worse” Miles raged.

The aliens didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the level of denial it took for Miles to confuse them with genetically damaged humans. He was far more intelligent than the golden retriever they’d interviewed a few hours ago, but judging by some of his errors one wouldn’t think so. They’d never gotten used to the frequent, out of context, apparently sexual references, typical of English-speaking Earthlings. Their boredom, stemming from being insulted with just one adjective, had grown since they’d had the contrasting pleasure of talking to Robin Williams. They’d been tempted to adopt him as a pet.

Miles threats were even less intimidating, to the diminutive extra-terrestrials,, than the barking of the golden retriever, who had threatened to eat them if they didn’t prepare a banquet for him. They possessed a vast array of weapons that could do everything from programming Miles to tear out his major arteries, with a pair of pliers, to imploding his brain. Their means of activating these highly intelligent weapons were as numerous as the potential causes of death.

What did frighten the tiny interdimensional travellers was the network of microscopic computers embedded in Miles’ body. Their computer hardware experts confirmed they’d been installed by the Slorg’s, a war mongering Alpha Centaurian species, who possessed the astral projective, psychokinetic and pyrokinetic powers to remould marble statues from light years away. Their extra sensory abilities paled into insignificance, in comparison with their intellects. Interfering with a Slorg research specimen was potentially more dangerous than swimming naked in a volcano. There was no option but to release Miles immediately, draft an apology letter and contemplate the best way to bargain for their lives.

Another mysterious cloud of luminous gas transported Miles back to the park bench, where he’d been relaxing with a copy of the Financial Review. Miles was extremely impressed with his authoritative display onboard the gigantic experimental aircraft. Bowing to his reflection in the duckpond wasn’t enough. He further highlighted his supremacy with a shadow kickboxing exhibition, for the homeless people congregating in the old band stand. What was meant to impress them only served to terrify them. They cheered when Miles finally left the sanctuary of the park for the tax related adventures that awaited him in the office. In response, he raised his arms in triumph.

By the time Miles realized he’d left his copy of the Financial Review on the park bench, he was already in the pedestrian tunnel leading to Somerset Tax Consultants. He ran back to retrieve the newspaper. The thought of going over his media budget by four dollars was intolerable. Miles took no notice of the golden retriever running alongside him until it snatched his newspaper and galloped towards a heavily wooded area of the park. The homeless people in the bandstand laughed uproariously as Miles gave chase. He cursed like a gangster as mud splattered his trousers.

The mischievous Labrador finally dropped the teeth punctured, saliva saturated newspaper at the feet of a pin stripe suit clad oddity. The Slorgs had been too hasty in the development of their new Homo sapien avatars. Their facial expressions weren’t quite natural. They reminded Miles of the sex robot he’d discreetly purchased during his trip to Tokyo.

Miles couldn’t resist the opportunity to do business “Sir, there’s no need to steal my newspaper and corrupt this poor, innocent animal in the process. If you’re looking for a financial adviser, there are several talented associates of mine whom I can recommend, depending on the size of your portfolio and your investment needs.”

“Silence Homo sapien, I have no need for the quaint wealth proliferation strategies your dumbass friends wish to foist on me. I’ll let you in on a little secret, that beautiful tattooist, who illustrated your torso with a calculator, wasn’t really a tattooist, it was one of our I.T specialists. It injected probes into your bloodstream. These probes collected the necessary raw materials from your organs to build a computer network, for the purposes of conducting research into the Homo sapien immune system. We plan to use the resulting discoveries to improve medical treatment for the hundreds of species of hominids on display in the wildlife parks, on our home planet.

“The Orbloober’s, the tiny creatures who abducted you this morning, have been terrified of us ever since we vaporised some of their hospital ships, in response to their unwitting theft of some of our research specimens. They really should be more careful. We’ve had quite enough of reading their apology letters. Anyway, it’s been nice to talking to you, I’ve got things to sabotage, places to be, creatures to kill”

Miles watched in awe,  as a tiny reconnaissance drone, that had been briefly trapped in Gary the golden retriever’s intestinal tract, flew out one of his nostrils.

“I’ve been looking for that for hours. No, it is not food” the Slorg explained to Gary, with what sounded like cacophonous barking to Miles. He was momentarily distracted by the sight of a wedge tailed eagle. When he looked around again the tall, odd looking stranger and Gary the Golden retriever were nowhere to be seen. Miles wondered if he’d inadvertently ingested psychotropic drugs, as he headed back in the direction of Somerset Tax Consultants.

 

 

 

 

 

Scammer Slammer

Towering Angophoras and Corymbia’s were frozen in a looping, twisting dance, waiting for the wind to animate them once more. “The Whistling Puppeteer is the ultimate choreographer” the Surreal Art Psychonaut mused as he strayed from the main track. The overgrown path was clogged with fallen branches, bulky enough to crush a bunyip. An epicormic limb fell to it’s death, missing the Psychonaut’s misshapen cranium by the width of a geranium.

Fifteen minutes into that mystical explorer’s marathon, Margot Shugg, the local grammarian, greeted him via Facebook messenger. Hearing from Margot at 3am was more surprising than getting reception in the forest. Well there was a photo of Margot attached to the profile anyway. Strangely, none of their previous conversations were visible. The Psychonaut scrolled through his messenger contacts and sure enough there was another Margot Shugg, the real one.

“Are you there?” Margot’s impersonator asked for the fourth time. The Psychonaut had seen more patient Golden Retrievers during dinner. Anyone who has ever seen a Golden Retriever eat, has surely wondered how they don’t give themselves whiplash, as they attack their meal like it’s three days late and about to fly away.

“Are you there” the faceless criminal purporting to be Margot asked the Psychonaut once more. He decided to have some fun.

“Margot, you’re still the queen of the night owls I see and dynamite on the dancefloor I bet. All the youngsters must be in awe of you. How’s life been treating you?”

“I really can’t complain too much, bills are getting paid, eating every day, got friend, living comfortable”

“Margot, your grammar is as impressive as a manned mission to Neptune. Shakespeare would be in awe”

“Yes. I’m so happy and full of joy today. Guess why.”

“Has that X rated romance novel you’ve been working on rocketed up the New York Times best seller list?”

“Have you heard about the united nation award IFC?”

“No, I can’t say I have. What’s Tom up to these days, have you seen him lately?”

“Not really”

“That’s probably a good thing. I heard he joined the airforce and was lucky not to get court martialled, after almost crashing into the control tower. He calls himself Maverick now, what a wanker!”

“I am bet you love too hear about IFC. It is International Finance Cooperation. The IFC are helping people with some grant money to help deaf, retired, disabled, widowed, military, employees, unemployees to maintain the standard of living”

“Interesting. Do go on.” the psychonaut typed as he Skyped Storm Fox, one of his associates, for a coded chat. It’s unlikely that anyone listening in could’ve discerned that they were discussing anything besides which restaurant to go to the following evening.

The scammer continued “The money is being given to people from them to pay rents, bills, homes, pay school fee for children and lots more. I got $50,000 cash from them.”

“Wow.”

“You too can get money. Because I saw your name on the winner list. Federal government IFC Program. They are helping all people for self service provider and you don’t have to pay it back. Do you know how to apply for it?”

“Sounds legit. Please tell me how I can my hands on all that cold, hard cash”

“I will give you their Facebook page where I apply so you can apply there as well. Are you there?”

The Psychonaut decided it was time to crank up the craziness “The arrival of the glowing pterodactyl pig is imminent. It makes the swiftest Peregrin falcon look as pedestrian as an inebriated slug.  The glowing pterodactyl pig, look how it plays with such zeal, with the risen gargoyles, oh how they shattered their graves. After thee, they will fly, buoyed by a tiny tornado”

“Should I send you the agent link now?”

“Send it to the glowing pterodactyl pig, to appease his sadistic spirit”

“You dey mad”

“Yes, I’m very angry. Spell Czech, that meddling editor, he keeps changing pterodactyl into redirect. Spell Czech, he’s the one they should sacrifice to the glowing pterodactyl pig. That Jurassic abomination should leave you alone, at least until I get my cash”

“Should I send you the agent links now?”

“Agent Lnyx, haven’t seen him for years. Last I heard he was trapped in a parallel universe, on an asteroid where clouds sky write lyrics, for a contortionist hippo’s symphonies. It’s the only place where I’ve seen a hippo conduct an orchestra with its ankles behind its ears, twice. The drummer is swifter than the beating of a dragon fly’s wings. The saxophonist has wings. The violinists stab carnivorous butterflies, with their bows, between strokes.  If you return Agent Lynx to this world, I’ll be eternally grateful”

“Just click on link, http://www.internationalfinancecooperation.org and you too can get lots of cash. This Agent Lynx, you buy him back”

“I’m confused, Margot, you’re knocking on my door. I can see you out the window. Now you’re doing handstand pushups, while waiting for me to let you in. How do you type while doing handstands pushups?”

“Voice recognition softwarw”

“Surely, only the Shimmering Egg Man has the power to make typos with voice recognition software. Are you the Shimmering Egg Man?”

“Yes, I the Shimmering Egg Man, he send you to where there lots of cash. Just click on link.

Are you sure you’re the shimmering egg man?

“Joking, ha ha, I Margot silly”

“You’re Margot Sealy? You said before that you’re Margot Shugg. I just Googled Margot Sealy and she’s a mattress”

“Grrrr, you dey mad, for half an hour we talk, you talk shit bull whole time, I go now”

High above a Manilla warehouse, wingsuit warriors descended from a nearby crane. They glided between office blocks as casually as eagles. One looked remarkably like a bipedal pig and the others were so hideously deformed by injuries and body modifications that they were reminiscent of Gargoyles. Not even the tiny tornado, that caught them by suprise, dented their confidence. The Margot impersonator couldn’t have looked more suprised if it had been a tiny alien spacecraft that crashed through his office window.

“We didn’t mean to land here, we got stuck in a tornado. I’m the Glowing Pterodactyl Pig and they are the risen gargoyles.”

“Margot’s friend said you would come.” the scammer blubbered. He was a quivering mess, lying helpless in the foetal position beneath his desk. The Glowing Pterodactyl Pig and the Risen Gargoyles grotesque smirks grew as they helped themselves to the contents of the scammer’s bar fridge and considered their options.

Back in Australia, their boss reached his plot of land in the middle of the forest. He bounded up the steps of the Temple of the Risen Gargoyles. A statue of the Pterodactyl Pig, towered over the waxworks cyclops kneeling at the altar. Five hundred more of those three dimensional metaphors filled the pews. The Psychonaut expected to have millions of one eyes supporters, within a decade. He rehearsed the introduction to his first sermon, with the intensity most people reserve for warfare.

Internet scamming was that tricksters favourite fundraising method. There were several degrees of separation between him and his scammers, so surely it was a freakish coincidence that one of them had contacted him. He wasn’t taking any chances though. The bit about the Glowing Pterodactyl Pig and the risen gargoyles being buoyed by a tiny tornado was wild speculation for a lark. He’d fully expected his hideously deformed henchmen to use the door.

 

 

 

The Man Who Blew Up Hate

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?

Clever Man

“Tell us the story of Clever Man granddad” ex Prime Minister Melvin Frasier’s grandchildren begged.

I suppose you’re old enough to learn about the phenomenon known as Clever Man. According to legend, he took his first tentative steps into the world of politics before he took his first steps. He was a seasoned campaigner by the time he locked horns with the notorious Julius Craven.

“Will there be a guest appearance from Julian Assange in this story Granddad?”

“Maybe, you’ll have to wait and see”

Dark clouds rolled in to accompany the dishonourable Julius Craven, the Minister for Immigration in the Neo-Liberal Party Government.  He was busy being the centre of attention in an imaginatively titled documentary called “The Campaign Trail.” Julius wondered which superhero the little boy dressed entirely in yellow was meant to be. He’d seen a lot of Marvel and D.C movies with his tantrum tornado grandchildren but he’d never seen this caped crusader before. 

“Yellow is the colour of intelligence,” the boy who couldn’t have been more than seven stated as though it was as apparent as the blueness of the distant ocean.

“Intelligence is a big word for a little boy, do you know what it means?” Senator Craven asked.

The little fellow rolled his eyes and looked at his mother Avira Ali, Professor of linguistics at Sydney University and his stepfather Byron Stradbroke, Professor of Anthropology, at the University of New South Wales, as if to say “who is this fuckwit” He pointed at Senator Craven as though he was about to shoot a concentrated beam of unpalatable facts into his frontal lobe.

“I am Clever Man. You can be my sidekick Idiot Boy if you like.” Senator Craven looked as incensed as a Staffie that’s just lost a wrestling bout with a Maltese Terrier.

“I guess you think you look pretty heroic in that outfit. I’ll have you know that yellow is the colour of cowardice little boy”

“You’ve got the wrong shade Mister C grade. I’m no Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, sucker.”

“I want you to edit those bits out Corey,” Minister Craven barked.

“You’re the politician, we’re the film makers” the producer reminded him. “I want you to edit that out” was one of the most common phrases Julius Craven uttered in his professional life. He’d been known to say it on Q&A and a host of other live current affairs programs more than once.

Ten years later, the now Senator Julius Craven remembered being bested by Clever Man as clearly as he remembered being flung around a strip joint, the previous night, by the pole dancer he’d attempted to molest. “I used to play football” the senator said with a chuckle, in response to her repeatedly warning him that she had been practising Brazilian ju-jitsu eight days a week, since the age of two. The security staff’s laughter still echoed in his mind.

Senator Craven was scheduled to give a thirty minute talk, at Heron Selective Highschool, on his memoirs. He was doing his best to convince everyone that his editor was a glorified proof reader. In reality his book was as ghost written as Casper’s diary. Craven was unaware that the little boy known as Clever Man, who was now seventeen, was a student at the school. Dorian Grey, the last bully to fuck with Clever Man, had been expelled five years ago after being framed for graffitiing the principal’s office. Clever Man didn’t take kindly to having his lunch money stolen. On the day Grey was expelled, someone hacked into his bank accounts and sent the funds ricocheting around the world until Sherlock Holmes reincarnated as an accountant wouldn’t have a hope in hell of tracing them.  

Coincidentally, or not, within a few days dozens of cashed up persons unknown were campaigning on behalf of Murray Greenberg, the most prominent left leaning independent candidate in Julius Craven’s electorate. Rumours abounded. According to the Daily Telegraph, Banksy was flown in to mastermind Greenberg’s graffiti division and Greenpeace mercenaries were training squadrons of base jumping sky writers. It was said that Banksy mixed his pallet from the stains of corruption, as he got high on the sky writers wind dispersed slogans. Needless to say, Julius Craven lost his seat. Craven strenuously denied that his affair with a chimpanzee was a contributing factor.

“C.G.I, C.G.I, C.G.I” Craven repeated ad naueseum, with his hands firmly placed over his ears and his gaze fixed on the floor, whenever journalists questioned him on the matter. The F.B.I suspected that Clever Man had set up an inter species singles site solely for the purpose of setting a honey trap for Julius Craven, but nothing was ever proven.

Craven’s muckrakers best efforts centred around the claim one of Greenberg’s visits to a massage parlour last century wasn’t solely for the purpose of rehabilitating from a skiing accident.  When it emerged that the massage therapist was eighty six years old, Craven’s smear squad changed tack and accused Greenberg of promoting pseudoscience, due to the athritic therapists increasing reliance on reiki. This approach proved to be less effective than bringing a machete to a whittling contest.

The world wide release of Craven’s inter species porno wasn’t enough to satisfy his enemies thirst for retribution. Surely a more cost effective, diplomatic approach could have been used to counter the smear campaign against Greenberg, an article in Green Left Weekly lamented, after it was discovered Anonymous hacktivists had hijacked U.S Air Force reconnaissance drones, for the purpose of leaflet dropping in Greenberg’s electorate. It’s long been rumoured that Clever Man is the mastermind behind their seemingly leaderless collective. Clever Man started the rumour, to make his battle with the world’s intelligence agencies challenging enough to hold his interest. His avatar’s, avatars spread it so convincingly that the majority of Anonymous’ membership believed it.

How did Craven resurrect his political career at the next federal election? That’s a boring story. It suffices to say that idiots vote and in Craven’s home state there are plenty of them.

On the day of Senator Craven’s memoirs sales pitch, at Heron Selective Highschool, Clever Man, AKA Imran Ali, was busy doing the public speaking component of his society and culture assignment on refugees. He’d been busier with what he liked to call his side projects, so busy he hadn’t begun writing his speech until the early hours of that morning. He’d practiced during lunch, between bites of his vegan burger.

Clever Man strode to the front of the room and placed his notes on the lectern. Clever Man doesn’t need notes. He’d said it often enough himself. They were there in case some extraordinary distraction, like a flock of pigeons flying into the room, took place. If some of the hypothetical birds happened to catch fire it might well be enough to give Clever Man a mental blank. He cleared his throat and begun.

“This afternoon I’d like to talk generally about self-harm and specifically about the horrific way in which my father died before I was born. First there was the psychological torture Imran Ali Senior endured before his sanity disintegrated and he set himself on fire. Then there was the thirty hours before he was taken to a hospital with the equipment and expertise to treat his burns. He probably wouldn’t have died if he had been evacuated from the offshore detention centre ASAP. It may as well have been murder because treating people like that kills them.

If there is nothing someone can do to change their unbearable situation, their rage, frustration and misery will inevitably be channelled into extreme action. Some people react to trauma by curling up into the foetal position and sobbing until their tear ducts are as empty as the promises of unfettered capitalism, some stop moving and speaking for days on end, some attack others with blind fury, more gentle souls prefer to cut themselves, some try to escape with drugs, some perform death defying stunts without calculating the risk, some run until they cannot walk, some pull their hair out and some turn themselves into a human bonfire and some politicians couldn’t care less.

Self-harm is not just attention seeking, it’s a dysfunctional coping mechanism for hell on Earth. A lot of people who self-harm keep it a secret. They know being forced to take medication won’t rid them of the cause. A stint in a mental health unit could mean losing their job and custody of their children.

Whether Imran Ali Senior intended to make a political statement with his act of self-harm, or he was simply driven insane, I’m not sure. What I do know is he would’ve loved the opportunity to start a business in this country, to have a sense of purpose again, to live life to the full in a free society. Has our nation realized the importance of giving refugees their lives back yet? It seems not!

The majority of politicians have been busy cultivating the community’s xenophobic fears, so they can scapegoat refugees for the bulk of the nation’s problems. For a generation now, they’ve gotten more votes for indefinitely imprisoning refugees without charge than they have for assisting them. You would think that banning reputable charities from assisting in the care of asylum seekers and banning journalists from going anywhere near the offshore detention centres would make the majority of voters highly suspicious but apparently not.

Former Prime Minister Monte Coward and Dieter Mutton, the former Minister for Home Affairs, wouldn’t even let our more altruistic neighbours help the refugees we won’t accept. Successive governments would rather let refugees die in third world conditions than evacuate them to the mainland for urgent medical care. As for the immigration minister during Monte Coward’s reign, the newly elected senator for the Neo-Liberal Party Julius Craven, you’ll have your opportunity to ask him questions soon, if he dares set foot in the auditorium once he realizes that Clever Man is on the scene.

“What, Clever Man’s here, why didn’t you tell me, I’ve been hunting his autograph for years” Miss Blanks, Imran’s English teacher, said with a wink.

Senator Craven was crossing the quadrangle when Clever Man seemed to appear from nowhere.

“I know your parents, you can’t hide your identity from me” Craven smirked.

“Do you see a mask dipshit? That secret identity stuff is just a lame joke but not as lame or as secret as the shit show that’s about to be unleashed in Canberra”

“Whatever you’re talking about kid, if it resides anywhere, other than in your imagination, it’s got nothing to do with me”

The Senator’s swift departure from the school suggested he believed otherwise. “As Craven’s private jet accelerated away from Thor’s mighty hammer, enroute to Canberra, Anonymous hacktivists hijacked a fleet of U.S Airforce drones again, this time they were destined to be modified to parachute books on to beaches, into music festivals and sporting events. The “Books not Bombs” campaign was wildly successful.

Craven popped the cork on a two thousand dollar bottle of champagne, at tax payers expense, to celebrate the skyrocketing sales of his memoirs. Why did Craven think he was entitled to such luxury for free? “Why” is a common refrain for anyone who frequently associates with Craven. His willingness to sign anything, without reading it, largely explains why he’s come as far in politics as he has.

The recently released political prisoner Julian Assange loved cryptograms. Assange managed to solve the one in front of him manually long before anyone thought to analyse it with decryption software. Every tenth letter in the clumsy prose told a very different story to Craven’s subtly edited narcissistic twaddle.  Clever Man’s favourite apparent confession of Craven’s involved the use of a ten thousand dollar bribe, from a property developer, to tip a troupe of shemale strippers. It was an interesting one, considering Craven’s opposition to anything less straight laced than an abstinence education kit. He was on Good Morning Australia, skiting about writing his autobiography with virtually no assistance, when the story broke.

Dewey

The Camellias and Roses along Remedy Street,
are silent welcoming committees for someone else.
Misty rain is a sweet distraction
from all that pierces Mervyn’s soul,
like African Box Thorn through an eyeball.
Since burglars stole the frames from his family photos,
he’s carried his most prized possessions in a back pack.
His Toughbook is a more constant companion
than Booboo the Bear ever was.
He’s prepared to defend it to the death,
with the fusion of Brazillian jujitsu and Muay Thai
he’s been learning
since a fellow kindergartner decapitated Booboo.

The advent of online backup hasn’t changed the equation.
Mervyn without a laptop is as dysfunctional
as Mervyn without kidneys.

His anxiety vanishes with the last vestiges of day.
Tiny suns illuminate people peering streetward.
Do any of them realize inviting him inside
would be smarter than drinking molten lead?

Every week,
Mervyn considers visiting the house he grew up in,

to retrieve the telescope and albums
his grandmother mistakenly mailed there.
The new owner threatened to unleash his Pit Bulls,
if Mervyn set foot inside the gate again.
Tenants the size of a Polar Bears,

covered in tattoos of dragon slaying vampires,
threatened to “break his legs with a sledge hammer”,
if he rang the doorbell one more time.”
“I sold your precious telescope.
Those photo albums I found, I burnt them,
whaddya gonna do bout it”
a squatter taunted him,
oblivious to how close he was,
to broken elbows.

There’s a strange lady
on the corner of Brumby and Thoroughbred;
her yard is populated with granite freak show legends.
Waxwork likenesses of locals gaze at them in awe.
Mervyn mistakes the sculptor for a statue.
She holds yoga poses for millennia.
Her automatic gates slides open.

“I can’t sketch you from there” she protests.
Mervyn follows her like a lost puppy
and that’s how Victoria depicts him.
She signs, scans and prints the image on to a shirt
before he can sip his way through
a concoction of pineapple, passionfruit and coconut,
As Victoria sketches Mervyn nude,
he discusses the archaeological significance
of her pottery collection,
and identifies the chess match
between a television detective and serial killer,
as an imitation of Vladamir Kramnik versus Gary Kasparov.
Before he can finish the story of how Van Gogh lost his ear,
Victoria kneels in front of him
and feeds his towering monument to her lacy cleavage
into her cavernous mouth.

Mervyn enters his mouldy, cockroach infested flat at dawn.
The plumbing is older than Rupert Murdoch.
His carpet is more worn than a fifth day pitch.
Rain pelts the pavement.
Mervyn dons his blacked out swimming goggles
and succumbs to exhaustion,
with the sound of Himalayan singing bowls
massaging his ears.

“You’re so far away from me”
Mark Knophler’s classic storytelling voice,
drifts from his clock radio,
waking him in time for the midday shift.
It’s been ten years
since he’s had a lover to travel home to.
The supermarket is Mervyn’s home away from home.
Some can tell you which shelf every item is on.
Mervyn can tell you which products contain palm oil,
from plantations that replaced orangutan habitat
and which companies are guilty of child slavery.
Want to know how may milligrams of Vitamin B12
are in your can of smoked oysters, ask Mervyn.

Visiting the sideshow freak sculptor
has become a permanent feature
of Mervyn’s Saturday night wander.

He never knocks,
instead he walks around the block
until she spots him.
Tonight she’s with her synchronized swimming partner,
in her birdbath.

It’s been eight years since Mervyn crossed the highway,
to the street where he was born.
He pauses enroute, to watch Quiz Maestro.
“Unbelievable, The Maestro doesn’t know
opals are a hydrated amorphous form of silica”
Mervyn closes the video in disgust.

Dawe Street is unrecognizable.
There’s a massage parlour,
where the corner shop used to be.
Houses have been demolished
to make way for high rise units.
The park has been transformed
into a putt, putt golf course.
The laneway where Mervyn raced his BMX
no longer exists, neither does his fish pond.
His aviary has been replaced with a pool.
A young woman glides along the bottom
long enough
for Mervyn to wonder if she has mermaid genes.
As she surfaces, she spots his elongated shadow.

“I, I, I grew up here.
I, I came back to visit my childhood
but I can’t find it.”
Alicia senses Mervyn is as peaceful as a meditation retreat.
Tears well in his eyes,
as he walks the winding path through the shrubbery
and runs his fingers over the assortment of
Acacias, Hakeas, Bottlebrushes and Indigoferas.
Mervyn removes his shoes and luxuriates in the feeling
of Weeping Meadow Grass beneath his feet.

“Wonderful isn’t it, I’ve kept it weed free.
I moved in the day Donald Trump was assassinated,
by a peace activist without a sense of irony.”
“You moved in on the 4th of July 2020?
Trump was killed at 7:45p.m.
John Smith, a former US Army sniper,
shot him in the eardrum,
through the partially open bullet proof window,
of the armored presidential limousine,
from five hundred and four metres away.
The vehicle was travelling
approximately thirty five kilometres per hour”
“Wow, you’re a history buff and a half”
“At work they call me Dewey,
they say I am a human library”

“Would you like to sit on the veranda with me,
you big strong enyclopaedia?”
Still wearing her fruit salad print bikini,
Alicia perches herself on Mervyn’s lap.

In an effort to ignore the tingling in his plumbing,
he lists the botanical names of every plant in the garden.
Then he identifies the constellations.
Alicia just grins and listens.
“Which industry do you work in” Mervyn asks,
once he’s exhausted the backyards
clusters of conversation starters.
“I’m a burlesque performer.
We’ve met before, in a past life perhaps?”
“No, in aisle four, you wanted to know how reliable,
the sustainable fishing labels are.”

“Come inside, I want to show you something.”
Mervyn’s eyes light up.
The loungeroom is empty,

except for a dazzling array of portraits
and a curtained section in the middle.
“How about you work on that library in your noggin,
while I banish the chlorine demon”
Mervyn waits until he can hear
needles of steaming hot water raining down.
“No peeking” Alicia’s disembodied voice warns,
as he creeps towards the curtains.
One of the picture frames contains a surveillance screen.
Apparently Alicia has pressed the wrong button.
Mervyn’s eyes are riveted to
the love heart of golden thatch,
above her waxed gorge.

Alicia steers an electric wardrobe into the room.
She’s dressed like a corporate executive.
Miles Davis’ most ethereal masterpiece,
drifts from the speakers.
A marathon strip tease ensues.
Eventually Alicia’s figure hugging pin striped suit,
is as abandoned as a burning building
and her black lace brassiere draped around Mervyn’s neck.
Her matching panties stay on,
as do the tassels concealing her towering nipples.
Mervyn had always been too busy watching documentaries,
and summarizing encyclopedias,
to go to a burlesque club.

After careful deliberation, he shuns rose embossed satin,
in favor of a wild cat print matching set
and a zebra pattern mini dress.
Alicia dresses as gracefully as any ballet dancer
ever pirouetted across a stage.

The curtained area is large enough to hide,
a love seat and large screen television,
or a queen sized water bed.
Alicia parts the curtains with tantalizing slowness.

Inside is an easel shrouded in black cloth.
A riot of variations,
of Alicia the Burlesque Goddess on canvas,

glide through Mervyn’s mind.
The way Alicia scissors through the shroud
conjures images of her hairdresser shutting up shop,
playfully pinning her to the ground,
sliding her skirt up her silky thighs
and pleasuring her as skilfully
as she trimmed her cascading golden hair.

The shroud’s tattered remains fall to the floor,
to reveal a portrait of a puppy, wearing an Oxford cap,
posing like Rodin’s thinker.
The inner frame swivels to reveal the wolf version.
“These paintings remind me of you.
I bought them from a strange lady,
who was sculpting conjoined werewolves in her garage.”

Alicia wraps her tiny arms around Mervyn
and kisses him, tamely at first.
His curious hands glide over her.
He circles her breasts,
as though 
touching them would produce an electric shock
powerful enough to launch him through the window.
Her wandering hands embolden him.
“Not like that Dewey, a kiss is a dance,
you’ve gotta listen to the same song to get it right.”
“I can’t hear any music”
“Never mind”
First they do things Mervyn hasn’t done before,
then they do things he didn’t know men did with women.
Once he’s managed to stop moaning in ecstasy,
a stunned Mervyn exclaims
“I didn’t know hominid species do that” 
The one thing Alicia doesn’t need to teach is staying power.

In the morning
they watch episodes of Quiz Maestro together.

“My daddy is the producer
and he’s always looking for new talent” Alicia hints.

The Cockroach Guru

Mr Bellinger was busy marking essays
reminiscent of typing monkeys,
when his siblings died
in a head on collision with a road train.
Their brakes had been declared perfect,
by a mechanic as suspect
as a property developer’s ecological survey.

Bellinger described his weekend
as “less fun than a choice between
having his brain vacuumed through his nose
and his liver extracted with a spoon”
Mister Piccolo, the music co-ordinator,
found his colleague more depressing
than a legless Taekwondo addict.

Bellinger’s return was
more tricky
than untangling plaited vas deferens.

Being weeks from retirement,
was all that kept him from slashing his wrists.
He
expected the final bell to be as exhilarating
as beating a forest fire to a barren hilltop.
During lunch,
daydreams of 
a bamboo massage parlour,
in a patch of urban rainforest,
enhanced his mushroom and eggplant pie experience.
Maybe that patch of paradise awaited him.

First, Bellinger had to judge a speech contest.
“Is the current leader worthy of a consolation prize?”
he mused,
as the final speaker 
strode to the podium.
Guessing Huon Stratton’s  topic

was like wondering if the Melbourne Cup
is going to be a horse race this year.

“Bogans, nerds and distinguished scholar,
I wanted to explore the evolutionary history of Blatta orientalis,
but Bellsy said that would be less entertaining
than watching gangrene spread.
Find a topic more light hearted than infanticide, he said.
If I can’t convince you studying cockroaches is fun,
I’ll wear a hot pink mankini to the swimming carnival.

The cockroach brain is decentralized
so don’t be surprised if the one you decapitated,
with a razor blade, last week, is still alive.
Do not despair, ultimately it will succumb to thirst .
Due to it’s rectal water re-absorption you might die first.

Roaches can spit but can’t blow bubbles.
Alas they will never know the joys of bubble gum.
Incapable of burping,
or playing the gas bugle
they’d be insectoid gelignite,
before the end of the night,
if it weren’t for teeth below their oesophagus.

Cockroach kidneys writhe like snakes
as they purify their white blood.
Dracula deduced they’re are as good as juiced;
they have no blood vessels.

Roaches probably aren’t religious
but Ramadan would be a stroll through the dinner scraps
for these nuclear holocaust survival candidates.
They’d think nothing of enforced fasting for a month.

If cockroaches were Catholics the Pope would love them;
male roaches present their mates with sperm packages
wrapped in protein coats,
leaving them perpetually pregnant.

Cockroaches Achilles heel is poor eyesight in red light,
so they’re easy to kill in strip clubs.
Elsewhere they’re hard targets
for the swiftest of clown shoes.

Motion detecting hairs on their posterior
make the average stalker feel so inferior;
ordinary hunters are bound to despise
the two thousand lenses in their eyes.
It’s hard to envelope these insect Houdini’s
when they can slip through cracks as thin as an envelope.
Some species are harder to detect than stealth bombers;
small enough to hide in ant nests.

These ninjas of the insect world
are engineering marvels
but forensic experts would gladly break
all eighteen of their knees,
because they like to
track the arterial flow of murder victims across ceilings.
Many are globetrotting fugitives,
thumbing their nose at extradition treaties.
They’re stowed on ships and planes
before disgruntled crime scene technicians
and outraged cooks know they’ve fled.

In the seventeenth century the Danish Navy
dealt cockroaches self-esteem a stinging blow
by offering a bounty of a single bottle of brandy
per thousand carcasses.
William Bligh, captain of the Bounty,
once de-roached his entire ship with boiling water.

For the sports nuts among you,
cockroaches scale speed is on par with top fuel dragsters,
those finely tapered vehicles with parachutes for brakes.
Fortunately their reflexes would embarrass
formula one driver Michael Schumacher,
at the pinnacle of his prowess,
otherwise they’d be crashing into the fridge a lot.
The machinery driving these fiendish super athletes
has animatronic wizards salivating.
Insect dance troupes beckon.
These athletic marvels can spin fast enough
to make a ballerina’s brain explode
from the centrifugal force.
Roaches can hold their breathe
from kick off to half time,
so white water rafting murder plots
are dead in the water before they’re concocted.

Is mixed martial arts your favourite sport?
Male Madagascan hissing roaches
possess horns for ramming rivals
from their alpha male mantles.
Sadly their trash talking is indecipherable.

During the Middle Ages
it was customary to release cockroaches
into new dwellings.
Today, outside of sporting circles,
roaches aren’t so widely revered.
In the Plano, Texas Cockroach Hall of Fame,
Liberoachi was the star attraction.
He sat at a miniature grand piano,
his white mink cape
as flamboyant as his dazzling claw strokes.

Mr Bellinger cleared his throat.
“At last, something worth judging.
T
he winner is a blue ribbon bonsai,
older than the Sphinx.
The also rans are
 toxic weeds
that germinated yesterday.”

“Sir, the art of pun sai, the forerunner of bonsai,
originated in eighth century China.
The Sphinx dates back to 2494 BC.”

“Poets licence Huon, poets licence.”

“They must be easier to get than drivers licenses.
Sir, did you know the Egyptian desert roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca, can absorb water vapour?”

“Mister Stratton, did you know first prizes
can be arbitrarily revoked?”
Bellinger was smiling, like a kid in a toy store.
For the first time since the Carter administration,
he considered working until nursing home heavies
dragged him from his desk.

The Goldfish Incident

“Sorry I’m late Jill, My Navman
was drunk on cosmic radiation.
Trying to hear street names,
amidst all the slurring,
was like spotting soap suds in an angry sea.”

“You can’t be serious Dwite!
Have you never heard of a street directory?
There’s also those things called road signs
and haven’t you been here fifteen times?
You slept in didn’t you.” Jill asked as accusingly
as if she suspected him of molesting her dog
and tying up her ferret and making it watch.

“You, you slept in didn’t you!” Jill repeated.
“Jill, the truth sounds less plausible
than being spied on by an Amish satellite”

“And what you’ve already told me doesn’t?”

“You wouldn’t understand Jill, you’re not ready!”

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s radiator trouble.”

“If it’s just car trouble
why didn’t you tell me to already?”

“It’s more complicated than that.”

“I’m not your mechanic,
I don’t need to know the details.”

“I’m more in need of a psychologist
than a mechanic.”

“Well that much is clear.”

“To be precise, I need a grief counsellor.”

“I’m confused,
what does that have to do with car trouble.”

“Everything!
I think you better sit down before I tell you.
Quark the Carp, a miniaturized fish,
who lives in my radiator, has died.”

“Bullshit, even you would know to use a fish tank.”

“But Quark could tolerate extreme temperatures.”

“Even if that’s true, isn’t a radiator
a dark, cramped, stagnant place for a fish?”

Dwite gazed at Jill
As though she was the most stupid person
he’d ever had a conversation with
since he’d broken into the spider monkey enclosure
at Taronga Zoo.

“Haven’t you heard of the flair
carps have for telepathy?
Quark the Carp sent me mind beams,
to let me know when to top up the radiator.
He could hardly afford to let it evaporate.
He lived long enough for me to grow very attached,
we became lovers Jill.
It was purely a spiritual connection,
what 80’s pop star Phil Collins
might call a Groovy Kind of Love.
I feel so guilty.
While my car was impounded,
Quark recycled his own urine one time too many.
For years he’s saved my car from overheating
and I wasn’t there to purify his home.”

“Would you like the day off,
to organize a psychiatrist’s appointment?”

“Do you question the sanity
of everyone who has a death in the family Jill?”

“Take time off to give it a funeral then.”

“He’s not an It, his name is Quark.
Yes, I do have funeral arrangement to make.
Dwite produced a scale model of a hearse
and pulled a match box sized coffin from his coat pocket.
Happy April Fool’s Day Jill.”

“Dwite, you nearly had me there.
I’ll have to dock your pay,
for wasting work time with your crazy story.”

“Is that your April Fool’s Day joke Jill?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“I’m serious too Jill,
serious when I say it’s a public holiday.
April Fool’s Day again. April Fool’s Day 360
Quark the Carp exists, but he’s alive and well
I must go’ Hershel proclaimed,
more suddenly than a switch in Arctic weather.
“It’s time to sample the juices
of the Levitating Star Fish Masseusses.”

“You’re insane”

“The Star Fish Masseuses would agree,
they’re a psychedelic rock band from Gosford.”

 

Cash Stash

A beehive, in an abandoned lounge chair,
sits at the blackberry infested entrance
to the strangest stretch of suburban creek line in Australia.
The brambles conceal a Casuarina grove
decorated with tinsel, angels and strap on dildos.
Forest regeneration in Feral Valley
is more surreal than a blizzard in Tahiti.

In the centre of a Cestrum and Tobacco Bush infestation,
Kirk Mcdonald spots the rusting remains
of a flower power era bus.
The guitar stashed under the bonnet
is as unblemished as a music shop display.
The only instrument Kirk can play is the radio.
To him, music is merely auditory maths.
He thinks nothing of smashing the six stringed treasure,
to reach the wads of cash inside.
Despite the oven like heat,
Kirk empties his water bottle
and stuffs it with excess wads of one hundred dollar bills.

Sharing with the crew is unthinkable.
Bush Regen Jesus would spend it all on bibles,
to leave in the glove compartments
of atheists and pagans.
A man who thinks Methusaleh lived to be 969
cannot be trusted with money.
The Crown of Thorns Parading Goat Fucker,
that slithering Janus,
he’d waste it on fighting defamation suits.
Princess Sheree, she’d squander it on cosmetic surgery.

The afternoon passes like a drag racer with a death wish.
It’s thirty seconds to beer o’clock.
Kirk looks as focused as a clay pigeon shooter,
on the verge of pulling the trigger,
that ring pull doesn’t stand a chance.
An entire case couldn’t have sickened him
like the sudden realization he’s lost his wallet.
He hasn’t seen it since he smashed the guitar,
to set a quarter of a million dollars free.
It was full of cards for his home bonsai business.
What if the cash stasher finds it?
Kirk’s heart rate accelerates,
like a salt pan searing jet powered car,
as his horror movie ring tone sounds.

‘I know what you did, you’re gonna pay’,
a bone marrow freezing voice promises’
Within seconds of Kirk dead locking the door,
and closing his bullet proof roller shutters,
a thunderous knock drowns out the television.
A bikie, built like King Kong, waits impatiently.
Why is he carrying a bucket?
Maybe it’s filled with hydrochloric acid.
Kirk’s fear subsides,
once he realizes the unkempt goliath
is raising money for charity.
Just in case a cash retrieving sniper
is hiding in nearby shrubbery,
he slides change beneath the door.

Kirk runs the gauntlet,
to the convenience store,
for cigarettes.
On the way home,
a black panel van sidles up beside him.
As the door slides open, he flees
like he’s being pursued by a starving lioness.
“I’m lost, can you direct me to the motorway”
the driver pleads.
Kirk warily consults Google maps.

The cash scavenger’s bowels loosen
as he’s surrounded by gang members,
in a stray cat infested, laneway.
“Have you seen my guitar ancient man”
their leader menaces.
“Y-y-your guitar, w-w-what does it look like?”
“Have you seen my guitar ancient man,
I think it was stolen by a geriatric fan,
a tragic geezer in need of a busking ban”
“Y-y-you’re just singing a song?”
Their good natured laughter is like desert rain.

The stairs to Kirk’s ensuite creak and groan.
In his terror stricken state he can’t remember
if he’s hidden the cash beneath the floor,
or left it on the kitchen table.
“Yoohoo, Kirk, is that you?
I baked scones.
You look as worried as Uncle Freddie,
the day the police questioned him
about an armed robbery, are you ill?
I’ll make you some vegetable soup.”
“Knock next time mum”

“They don’t know what I did, it was a prank call,
Kirk repeats long into the night.”
Screeching tyres shatter the early morning serenity.
“I know what you did” the driver roars,
before departing at rubber melting speed.

On Monday morning Kirk has two cups of coffee,
followed by coffee on his cocoa pops.
To calm his nerves for the journey,
from the front door to the driveway,
he dresses in riot squad gear
he purchased for a fancy dress party.
“Don’t ask” Kirk warns,
as he stops at a friend’s to change.

The bushland reserve,
where Kirk will be drilling and poisoning
Large Leaf Privets and Camphor Laurels,
is home to hundreds of foxes.
It offers perfect camouflage for snipers.
Maybe it’s time to move to Darwin.

“I know what you did” Bush Regen Jesus roars
as he holds up two charred bibles
and a few that have been defaced
with graffiti of Judas performing fellatio on Satan.
I found the video of the bible burning
on a USB drive in your wallet.
I perused your porn collection,
to make sure there’s nothing too sinful.
The rumba videos
were the most depraved thing I’ve ever seen,
until I laid eyes on those beach volleyball ladies.
They’re Satan’s concubine’s…”

“Did you look in the folder marked X?”

“What’s in there”

“Ah, nuthin, just pirate’s treasure”

Strange Days

Jerome’s memory of the office Christmas party
was as vague as a tabloid horoscope,
yet he was sure his position
remained as unsinkable as an iceberg.
If he’d done anything as disastrous
as texting his penis modelling portfolio to the board
or slapping the gardener,
for neglecting the plastic plants,
he’d remember wouldn’t he?
He staggered to the letterbox,
to rummage through fast food vouchers
and get rich quick schemes
but failed to find anything more useful
than a bunker busting bomb
in an archaeologist’s arsenal.

Jerome made climbing the garden stairs
look as death defying as swimming across
an alligator infested lagoon,
before passing out in the lift.
He woke to discover he was made up like a geisha girl.
A temporary tattoo of Donald Trump
covered his left butt cheek.
Giggling could be heard in the distance.
He’d worn trousers into the lift hadn’t he?
His party hat, that he remembered;
the sparkly silver thong he didn’t.

Jerome made climbing into his bunk
look as challenging as visiting a Sequoia tree house.
The sun would’ve had better luck
turning a necropolis into a thriving metropolis,
than rousing him before evening.
The belief he’d slept for twenty six hours,
stunned him like a taser.
The Sorenson’s Surreal Art Gallery voucher,
beneath the door, inspired curiosity
like a helicopter hovering over a stone age tribe.

The remnants of Jerome’s hangover faded,
enroute to the station.
Judging by his shirt, strawberries grow on watermelons,
peaches on pineapples and grapes on coconuts,
and it’s all the fruit of singing avocado trees.

The solitary figure on platform four
was stranger than Jerome’s clothes.
His Dickensian suit
and cobra tipped, floral walking stick,
weren’t as odd
as his robotic dance between vending machines.
He chose a can of ice cold coconut milk,
poured it into his packet of pumpkin chips
and gazed at the over flow
as though it were as entrancing as Victoria Falls.
Saluting an Ibis,
as it salvaged half eaten chicken burgers,
from a broken bottle littered bench,
was an attempt to blend in.

“All stations to the city circle on platform two,
departing in one minute”
Jerome spun and boarded.
An old guy, in a Cannibal Carcass t-shirt,
listened to The Demonic Pixie’s Greatest Hits,
without headphones.
Desperate to escape this brain bleed inducing noise,
Jerome race walked four carriages.
Once every set of doors
were as shut as a jar of funnel webs,
he barely heard that demonic audio cancer.
His ears were ambushed by distant doof, doof,
as monotonous as life in solitary.

With the urgency of a man caught between
a flood of boiling mud and a river of lava,
he fled to the top deck.
Two phone Talia was half infomercial echo,
half gossip mag journo wannabe.
Pounding exclamation points
infested her ten words per second.

In a bid to block out her inane chit chat,
Jerome salvaged a tattoo magazine
from an abandoned brief case.
An almond-eyed beauty,
with a cherry blossom branch
protruding from her black satin briefs,
distracted him from the reappearance
of the nineteenth century relic,
with the cobra tipped floral walking stick.
His high-performance phone
had eighteen years battery life remaining.

“With a shirt like that
you must be on your way to Horace Hill Graffiti Labyrinth”
“I’m headed for Sorenson’s Surreal Art Gallery” Jerome insisted.
The dapper stranger found his denials more absurd
than a P.G.A legend staring blankly at a golf club.
“Horace Hill awaits you” he proclaimed,
before zoning out like an interstellar astral traveller.
Glare tentacles prodded his abnormally large eyes.
He turned away and stared at two phone Talia,
as though she were part of her seat.
Jerome and Talia both stepped off at the wrong station
to escape the strangest man on the planet.

At the bus stop,
a voluptuous Goddess’s, flowery summer dress
lapped against her shapely sandalled feet.
The breeze threatened to send her hem into orbit.
The floral satin Jerome may’ve glimpsed,
vanished like a Thylacine in the undergrowth.
Beyond thinking, he followed her on to the 458.
Her hips were so broad,
squashing against her was the only way
to avoid tripping old ladies in the aisle.
As she turned to read a street sign,
one of her snugly suspended breasts,
pressed against his arm.

The bus went from cheetah to snail pace in a nanosecond.
Burning rubber invaded their air-conditioned sanctuary.
“This is Horace Hill Graffiti Labyrinth darling,
with a shirt like that, it must be your stop.
Have you lost your irises” she teased.
The kiss she planted on Jerome’s begging lips
was affectionate, yet chaste.
“Come with me”
It was the closest she came to asking a question.

The radically eccentric fellow,
with the cobra headed floral walking stick,
manned the ticket booth.
How had he arrived so swiftly?
Could a man like that have doppelgangers?

Once inside Jerome lost all sense of scale and direction.
In the colloseum,
netballers moved as gracefully as ballet dancers.
Drums erupted from sub court speakers.
They were their own cheerleaders.
Their little skirts flared like parachutes
as they leapt, flipped and spun in unison.
From giantess shooters to petite centres,
Jerome savoured every glimpse of jungle camouflage silk,
“This direction” Jasmine prompted.

“Which way now,
through the hippy praying mantis’s eyeball,
or the beatnik koala’s pouch?”
“I don’t know”
Jasmine’s authoritarian stare said
“that’s not good enough”
“Um, um, the beatnik koala’s pouch.”

“Introducing Graham H Goalposts Smith,
the high priest of The Obscure Poets Club,
The Original, Mr Ultra Cool, Ice Cold,
The Terrestrial Scuba Diver,
a man who can put the floor of the Mariana Trench
under the microscope,
while break dancing on Chomolungma’s nose.
See how he strides to the stage like Hughes jaguar,
to enact a rap battle between Apollo and Seshat.”
To Jerome and Jasmine’s uneducated ears,
the ancient Greek and Egyptian Gods he channelled
spoke fast forward gobbledegook.
They left to explore spray art mazes.

Some works were as provocative
as children, orphaned by I.D.F bulldozers,
painting Swastikas on Zionist extremist memorials;
others were LSD on concrete,
hybrid storms plummeting to Atlantis.
Giraffe man was Jerome’s favourite.
His forked tongue was a rhythmic gymnasts ribbon,
a lasso and an anchored magic carpet,
depending on who was looking.
Jasmine preferred the gliding squirrel fish.
Its scales were cinemas for artistic plankton.
Tap dancers xylophones,
cut the remaining strands,
trapping Jerome and Jasmine in this universe.

During an aquarium submarine cruise,
to a mural maze,
Jasmine undressed with a graceful fluidity,
burlesque Goddesses merely dream of.
Why was a 20th century alarm clock
invading that temple of creativity?

Jerome sauntered to the letterbox on steady feet.
A Sorenson’s Surreal Art Gallery leaflet
Plummeted to the footpath.
“Must’ve seen it before I dreamed it,” he reasoned.

The fabulous weirdo,
with the cobra tipped, floral walking stick,
screeched around the corner
in a gold-plated Rolls Royce ute.
The most alluring netball squad/dance troupe in history,
lounged in the Jacuzzi tray.
In their jungle camouflage sports briefs and bras,
Falcons had stolen their fluttery little skirts
and paint tight shirts.

Jasmine walked a pack of huskies in the park.
‘You’re going the wrong way’ she screeched,
as he approached the most ostentatious motor vehicle ever built.
She didn’t protest as he strode to the hospital.
Diamonds toppled from low lying clouds, solidifying mid flight.
Jasmine caught them in her purple lace adorned cleavage.

It was a daunting wait.
A triage nurse finally arrived.
“Highly unusual question nurse, am I awake?
Did Socrates just ask me the definition of a dream?
Can you see a woman carrying ethereal diamonds
in her cleavage,
standing at the door with a pack of huskies?
Did someone spike my drinks with DMT?
Do DMT trips ever begin as slowly as windows flow
and last for aeons?”

“Regarding the bejeweled lady with the huskies,
not that I’m aware of sir.
Haven’t seen or heard Socrates either.
I need to get some details from you.
Medicare card please.
A doctor will be with you ASAP.”

“Youuu, you’re behind this”
Jerome accused a clown,
who kept four ping pong balls in the air
with his cobra headed, floral walking stick.
“Where did you park your gold plated Rolls Royce ute?”

“We’ve met have we”
the clown replied,
while continuing his performance
for children with leukaemia,
on their way to The Enchanted Garden.
“What’s real, what does real mean”
Jerome bellowed at bubbler water,
as though he might receive an answer.

Varnished and Vanished

Jade painstakingly sculpted Myrtle,
the bipedal, amphibious, octopoid,
from mottled marble.
The black garnet pupils
of her green fluorite eyes
looked ready to grow and shrink
in light and shadow.
Mining magnate Martin Martyn
paid more for this lifelike marvel
than his driverless Rolls.

Myrtle was Jade’s lover Opal’s preferred murder weapon,
in Art Museum Mayhem,
her latest theatrical gem.
Jade wheeled the loan on to the studio apartment set.

The place was as chaotic as manic poetry.
Opal’s sister Helena was assembling kitchen cabinets
without instructions, that alone
was as ominous as a tsunami warning in the Maldives.
Their cousin Hugo, had smoked enough weed
to believe a claw footed bathtub,
in the lounge room,
surrounded by a fern jungle,
was a home decorating triumph.
His husband Darius bored holes for picture hooks,
with a drill that hadn’t been tested and tagged
since Reagan continued his acting career
in the White House.

Between beers and bowls of ice cream,
Darius and Helena raced each other up the fire escape,
giggling like toddlers.
They’re in a competition to see who vomits first,
Hugo explained to the bath’s scuba diving gargoyle.

Jade meditated amidst the madness
with the aid of a blind fold,
hermetically sealed ear muffs,
and a cork igloo as thick as the Ross ice shelf.

Upon opening her eyes,
she noticed the sculpture trolley was as empty
as a politician’s promise.
Months of honing her search skills,
for the Federal Police,
proved as useless as a granite dartboard.

Her one thousand litre pot plants had been toppled.
Nobody remembered a mini tornado invading the balcony.
The wine glasses perched on the window sill
looked as stable as Olympic divers.

Opal once told her tower climbing, ex-girlfriend Jacqueline,
she buried cash in pot plants.
Had Jacqui taken her more seriously
than rumours of lunar cactus swamps?
Ecologists cameras ridiculed her crime time location claim.
Only an albino goanna and a graffitied turtle were recorded.
Opal’s radio was found in Jacqui’s back pack.
Detectives wondered if she’d
dropped Mrytle, the amphibious, bipedal, octopoid
into a foam rubber lined dumpster.
Shifty Shannon Shamrock, a homeless man,
camped in bus stop shrubbery,
was her suspected accomplice.
He was filmed climbing into the industrial bin.
His explanation sounded as unconvincing
as stories of Mars being terraformed
by Saturnian cyborgs,
but the damning evidence was circumstantial.
Rumours that Shifty was a pub salesman,
of everything from mobile phones
to comic book tribute toilet paper,
lead nowhere.

Multimillionaire buyer Martin Martyn
had seen Jade’s masterpiece evolve
from a slab to the finished form.
He waited for its twin to emerge,
from beneath her chisels and lathes.
Myrtle the amphibious, bipedal, octopoid, mach two,
was more lifelike than the original.

When Jade returned
from a book exchange adventure,
Myrtle the Second wasn’t herself.
Martin Martyn was as oblivious as an oyster.

After observing Helena glancing nervously
towards the kitchen cupboards,
Jade found the false wall,
behind the pots and pans.