Fiction

Five anecdotes

Bicycle Courier

A young Bicycle Courier who, one night after a Big Bash match, for a prank shimmied up a flagpole and stole the national flag and who later – the judge recorded, half-smiling – while profoundly intoxicated wore this flag as a summer skirt running like a lunatic through the foyer of a luxury hotel shouting Death to Foreigners!, was unexpectedly gang-tackled to the marble floor by a group of environment and development conference delegates who, as it happened, were just at that moment on their way out to dinner. These delegates were not unused to shenanigans and had, they would themselves have admitted, in their younger days been involved in a fair few of them. It is said of the poor skinny Bicycle Courier – who, admittedly, confessed shortly afterwards his guilt and shame – that he never rode a bicycle again.

Builders Labourer

Some years ago a Builders Labourer down on his luck working for a boss whom he quite frankly despised was digging the footings for a new warehouse-style pharmacy on an estate in the south-east when his shovel struck something hard. It was, as later discovered, a solid gold funeral urn from the 1880s with the ashes of a wealthy local landowner inside. (The landowner’s wife had buried it there in the rose garden following the landowner’s death at the relatively young age of 45 from a sudden and unexpected myocardial infarction). The Builders Labourer, uneducated in the area’s history or any history for that matter, saw in this urn nonetheless an object of real significance and, having concealed it all day in his bag, took it later that afternoon to the museum where, its significance having been quickly noted, it was subsequently included in a temporary exhibition on the splendours of late-19th-century Melbourne funerary art. This obviously marked a big change in the Builders Labourer’s otherwise ordinary life and on almost every job thereafter you’d see him digging so furiously and with such determination that his workmates would often joke about him – ha! – digging to China. It was only in a recent interview with one of the museum’s archaeologists for an upcoming article in well-known academic journal that the Builders Labourer finally declared in all truth and seemingly out of the blue that, actually, he could dig no more, he was done, spent, and that like a stone in his heart until his dying day he would carry the regret that he didn’t keep that damn thing and melt it down and cash it in and take that trip to the Gold Coast he and his fiancée were still dreaming about.

Clothing Designer

A Clothing Designer for a small independent children’s wear manufacturer on the verge of a securing a major deal with a major city store and whose own three-year-old she felt proud to say had been the inspiration for the clothing range in question, seemed not in the least perturbed when one of its key items was declared by the reviewer of a major fashion magazine to be, quote, bordering on the ludicrous. Indeed, it is well-known in fashion circles – and is still talked about today – that after this some might say scathing review the Clothing Designer actually went on blithely to manufacture this so-called ludicrous garment and sell it in such quantities to major retail outlets across the world that she long ago retired on the earnings.

 

Journalist

Some people say the Journalist found naked in a quarry in Clayton South deserved everything he got – but I’m not sure I agree. He’d been involved for a while in a story about a career politician who had, apparently, I’m not sure and I know it sounds weird, been involved in some kind of sexual relationship with his half-sister who was in turn the product of the politician’s father’s own brief affair with a young female barrister – a story in itself. The Journalist had worked long hours on it and was sure a page one spot was his when he took a text message from an unknown number asking could he please meet the sender in a certain watering hole in the legal district the next day at four o’clock. The sender had, the message said, some news. Neither the Journalist nor the subsequent police investigation were ever able to say what exactly went on between this meeting (assuming he kept it) and his discovery the following morning by a tip truck driver naked and dazed in a quarry off Fairbank Road. But let’s just say in passing and without judgement that this by no means stopped the Journalist’s own newspaper from reporting the story with the facts as they saw them accompanied by a picture of the empty quarry in question and a caption that read, in part, drug-fuelled naked romp.

 

Meter Reader

A Meter Reader, untroubled by dogs but completely paranoid about biting insects of any kind – ants, spiders, bees – was recently attacked by a swarm of wasps after disturbing their nest during a reading. So badly bitten was he by these wasps that he felt, with good reason, that his whole body was on fire and consequently ran without thinking immediately into the backyard of the house where he turned the garden hose on himself. The woman who lived there, alone at the time and recovering from a painful hip operation, on hearing this commotion decided to let out her three-year-old purebred Staffordshire Terrier (it usually slept in the laundry) to attack or at least frighten what she presumed was a burglar, or worse, a violent sexual predator. The Meter Reader, unafraid of dogs and therefore disinclined to think them dangerous even when they are charging at you with wild eyes and bared teeth, in addition to losing a large piece of his leg was seriously scarred from the wasp bites and is still off work but, thankfully, on full pay.

Wayne Macauley is the author of seven books. His latest novel, Simpson Returns, was shortlisted for a 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and longlisted for the 2020 Voss Literary Prize.

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