Friday was coming quickly. Couch surfing for the days leading up to heading for the bus station to meet Charlotte, had given David the chance to review a few things. More than a few things. He was tying up the ends of this phase of his life in the same methodical manner he went about climb preparations. He had meet folk in so many coffee shops he could see the caffeine in his pee. There’s just so many soy latte no froth, and cappuccino on skim, a man can face. His friends had come to the fore in his hours of need, they lent gear to replace things he had inadvertently left in the Kombi. The rest he figured Sixty Minutes would be good for when they got to Orstralia.
The week had passed quickly since he left the cooperative site, away from Alice.
One day he’d spent in a coffee bar over looking an intersection downtown. On the café audio speakers, Tom Jones had belted out “What’s new pussy cat” and tears welled in his eyes as he thought of Alice’s cute little pussy cat nose. All day the music changed, genre to genre, sometimes funkier, with a unrecognisable lyric and synthesised syncopation at a beat twice that of a pulse. His mind had wandered how it had come to this, losing Alice the worst of all.
Charlotte had called a few times, he couldn’t call her, having run out of credit. All was well with the plans and she had babbled on about getting in touch with some of her relatives in Melbourne and some other unpronounceable places about her family history and something about racial hatred. He took this to be the stuff he had heard about in the papers where the President of Orstralia had met with Obama. President Juliar of Orstralia, had denied that there were any racial issues in Orstralia. She explained to Barak in some detail the fact that all the people coming by boat, who she didn’t want, were coming from Asia, and this was something to do with someone else’s business model. She said she was no raceshit, neatly sidestepping any criticism of Indonesia. Barak liked that. But David knew these right wing conservative politicians were the same the world over and would say whatever was needed to stay in power.
However, Charlotte had seemed to be on a totally different track. He hadn’t really listened, which he knew he was good at. He much preferred the technique of not really listening though sometimes acknowledging, cause he had the certainty in his own mind that he was right. It was something though that he kept very much to himself.
Friday was on his mind, though coming Tuesday he felt better, even his old man looked good, when he went to say, “Bye.” Wednesday came and went but Thursday went to slow and then it was Friday.
Friday broke with a crack of thunder, not a good day for flying he reasoned. He made his was to the bus station making it to the agreed meeting place with fifteen minutes to spare. His things he had packed neatly into the few bags in his possession. He dumped a few things out to be sure to make the weight, and made sure that he knew where everything was, in which bag and at which level. He stood at the kerb and waited.
Charlotte pulled into the kerb in a hire car. He lifted the trunk lid and chucked his bags in. There wasn’t much space.
“Honey,” he growled through the back of the hatchback, “How come so much gear? The excess is gonna be a fortune!”
“Well a girl’s gotta look pretty and I couldn’t decide what to leave so I brought most of it,” she said, her eyes imploring him to hurry and get loaded.
“Damn there’s gotta be eight cases and gee how many cosmetic bags?” he said.
“Don’t you worry sweet, Sixty Minutes will see to it all. After all they want their top talent to look the piece don’t they?”
“Don’t they? ” she added in that coquettish way she voiced when she wanted her way. David had learned that the upward inflection at the end of a sentence was more than just a female trait. How often had he listened to that upward interrogative voice styling? It was enough to drive him nuts or ironically made him want to climb a wall.
“If you got all your things in, let’s go! We got enough time, but we gotta get rid of the car and out through customs, the VIP lounge is fab, wait till you see it,” she said.
Within minutes they had hit the freeway and she treated the speed signs as minimums. She loved driving and he found the chance to catch up on sleep irresistible. He was soon fast asleep, she didn’t mind though, she loved driving and the traffic was a treat. Drumming her fingers on the steering wheel she felt her life was in the groove. Here with her new man, three months of virtual holiday ahead and a chance to dig up the past of her ancestors. Well at least those who had tried to make a go of it panning for gold in Die Gum Sarn, the Big Gold Mountain, as it had been called before becoming Orstralia.
She saw the Qantas advertising with the rampant kangaroo as she rounded the airport turn off. They were traveling on Qantas, as the show had a sponsorship deal. She had not been impressed, hearing that the service was damned surly. The hostesses had been reported as old boilers, but the safety was good.
“We’re flying Qantas”, she said to him as he shook himself awake. It should be quite interesting. I hear the service is crap.”
“Well so long as I can get some sleep” he replied, ” I’m so, so tired.”
“Okay sugar,” she said,” But do me a favour and shower in the lounge before we fly huh, I don’t want to be sniffing your manliness all the way to Sydney, it’s non stop you know.”
“Okay ok,” he mumbled knowing that he did pong a little but thought no one would notice. He’d made an attempt to disguise it under a more than adequate spray of Eau de Baux, but it must have evaporated hours ago and the idea of a shower in a luxury VIP was a tempting proposition.
They were ushered in to the lounge through a special entrance, security hadn’t been a hassle, apparently on the basis that if you were this famous why would you want to blow yourself up?
He took his toiletries in with him, but needn’t have bothered, arrayed before him he found more than enough selection of eau de this and cologne de that. He let the water rush over him, and sear away the pain of loss he felt for Alice. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get the feeling of betrayal out from under his mental skin. The cleansing of the water could only go so far, the rest he would have to resolve with a shower of reasoning. He prided himself on this inner strength, which for now had departed him. He thought of the flight ahead.
The take-off was flawless.
Far above the blue Pacific, wisps of cloud scudded eastward as they headed westward. He imagined the wave heights, which from this altitude appeared as mere ripples in the direction of the surface prevailing wind, not the direction at which it was up here. None of this was apparent in the cabin though. The on board movie screen showed pictures of Tasmanian uplands, the film was the Hunter, the hunt for the thought-to-be extinct thylacine, the Tasmanian tiger.
“We heading there, Charlotte?”, he asked, ” To Tas main eh ah” cutting the syllables into bite sized chunks.
“Not on the itinerary, as I recall but if you need to I’m sure we can arrange a side trip for you,” she said.
“You mean a bit on the side?” he said grinning at her.
“You’ll get a bite on your side if you think you might even like to think about a bi” and they laughed softly at each other as the champagne took effect. The hostess had brought the champagne, well actually brought it to Charlotte three times until she got it right.
“Dumb bitch” Charlotte had thought when she asked for her fav Moet and was delivered some similar sounding, said to be superior tipple. As Charlotte was about to let loose on the old boiler hostess, David’s eyes flashed the “Oh shit, not again look.” She had seen the look this time, not like the last time when she ignored it at the chilli con carne gnocchi a la three cheeses incident. The incident had now been down rated on the YouTube alert. The clip had been found to have positive “likes” far in excess of the “Serves you right you bitch” type posts. The positive aspects of the incident were clear when mince meat, tomato paste suppliers and gnocchi makers were lined up to get sponsor time. The response overwhelmed the advertising department. There was even one cheese maker lauding the possibilities of three cheeses as a health masque. They had been quick to see the potential in using Charlotte’s face covered in a three cheeses derivative facelift product, with a funky cut of the YouTube clip to launch their new product? The suggestion of a face lift product was premature then quickly abandoned after it was mentioned to Charlotte, and she, well, she responded poorly.
” Fuck facelift. You think I want to be associated with a facelift product. My mum and gran ma might, but not this chickee babe,” was roughly what those who heard the exchange at the twice weekly “How to raise ratings and revenue, sustainably, ethically and organically” meetings recalled later.
The champagne took it’s toll, more than ably assisted by the turgid “let’s get another shot of the Tassie bush” production values of the Hunter. When the thylacine made it’s inevitable appearance, it appeared to David that instead of fearing being shot, it turned, and sauntered away out of boredom. The school scenes too, of man sees boy across school ground, boy sees man, rises from bench, walks then runs to man whilst remarkably finding a voice not before heard in two preceding hours of film, were spoiled David felt by the girl’s incessant twirls, hoola hoop round and round in right centre background screen. As the final credits rolled, mercifully the captain asked for the cabin to be prepared for landing. “Welcome to Sydney”, the cabin manager announced, adding,
” We call Australia home.”
<< STILL CALL AUSTRALIA HOME VIV>>
Editor’s note: First published in 2011 – Write a Novel in a Month 11