the country girl
Valise’s Milk Bar was once a local meeting place of considerable social merit with the boardriders from the southern end of Bondi, with its half dozen cushioned booths, and mirrored walls and pillars.
Valise the senior was renowned for his iced lime cordials, and his Grecian calm, and the number of times he removed all the notes from his cash register in the weekend’s day trade, for safety’s sake. Slippery hands as they were.
Because we watched you see, we Bondi Blue Bloods; composed, tanned black and dark, squarehouldered, and dusted with the fine Tasman salt that would turn our hair white in a season. Surfed out here on Campbell Parade this day, barefoot and vagrant, our knees and feet disfigured by egg-sized knobs of hardened flesh, the indisputable and hard won qualifications of membership to this renegade sport.
We would sprawl there in the booths and charf amongst ourselves with our immature and thin blooded resolve, and relive the mornings’ rides, all the while watching the Bondi girls come and go, all of them young and beautiful and untouchable, and knowing, and a thousand miles away from our doltish gaze.
Some of them would carelessly glance over our heads and into the mirrors above, just to catch themselves there for an instant, and us on an oblique for a little longer.
Then a deft and dismissive appraisal. The geometry of the mirrored walls impossibly complex and unreadable to the fools being watched in their apposite reflection.
This girl though just came in alone and sat down and looked over at us, directly.
Much later we found that she had been sent up from the South Coast to Sydney by her mother, sent to stay at her grandparent’s home in Blair Street for a while, until the family could begin to understand the problem, with their daughter.
But Bondi understood the problem in an afternoon, and there was a ruttish heat in the air that day.
Five boys drove her to a forested harbour side park the next day, and within an hour another fifteen had arrived in cars from the coast, ancient beach battlewagons painted up with all manner of surf art, laden with roped boards and some older and quicker men amongst us now, and she lay unmoving on a filthy towel deep in the eucalypt forest and accepted every approach, one by one. Again and again.
There was some muted laughter later about a horribly visible prolapse that spilled out of her body as the last of her mutilators was done, and as he knelt to clean himself on her clothes. Here, a dry spot, here.
Whatever order of turn was accepted in the shadowed lines of men amongst the trees that day was entirely without precept, and everyone was served without haste, the first and the last, and the first yet again. Haystack haired young boys wandered about the shadows, stowaways from the beach, wanting to know, not wanting to see.
She was never given rest, and the longer she stayed at Bondi the worse her blameless punishment became. Until the pleasure taken became an unspeakable thing, and at last she was gone.
She had no name.