beyond the break
Ron Platt was born in a casualty ward in 1948 with a hole in his heart (Tetralogy of Fallot) which was generously attendant with the conditions’ multiple manifestations: purple lips, blue face and a fluttering pulse, and in later life, a rampant and incurable full-body acne.
After a month of intensive care Ron was taken home by his shaken parents who nursed him through to an adolescence where his lifelong condition further addled his appearance so badly he was the target of every smartarse joker at school, and he suffered every bug that swept through Sydney and he failed every exam in every year at every school he ever attended.
As he grew into a lad he lived within a skin that looked like chipped brick, and he was covered with pimples that weighed so heavy with a skinned over load of pus he looked like a young Licara Friddi, without the maturing psychopathic inhibitions.
Pigeon-chested, rheumy and vacuous, ugly yet with a natural humour; Ron counted his friends very few and his girlfriends none – though he liked a drink from time to time, and once away on it was known to crack a deadpan humour that always rewarded his close listeners.
Then one fine day he bought a fourth-hand Bill Wallace four-stringer balsa from some thief at Billy the Pigs Hotel at the Junction and he arrived at South Bondi late in the afternoon on the same day when the onshore was at its freshest, and tried to carry the beast from the promenade to the water’s edge on his own.
Stubborn old lad, but he was in a bit of a hurry that day.
Ron couldn’t manage the carry at all, and neither was he ever able to stand up on the thing when we finally got him out the back that day.
But how he laughed when we got him out, and how purely astounding was his breathless hacking blue-faced joy at being beyond the break, with us. At last.
Out the back.
Ron died in hospital in 1967 – some respiratory condition – he was nineteen, and I’ve forgotten where we buried him.