seven months in the gulf
Everybody knows what airports are like, there are thieves everywhere. Whether you are parking your car or buying a coffee – they will take it all and thank you not. Pickpockets on the concourse and in the management.
Sydney domestic is no different – their bars are dirty, the seats are hard, the prices are double and everybody watches each other.
Over there an outrageously fat young man with a women who could only be his suffering mother – he has Bali tatts all over his arms and legs she buys him four croissants with ham and honey.
She waits for him to stop eating, maybe then he will talk to her – when he stops watching Paula Abdul on the HD screen.
A sour faced old man man sits with a sweet faced woman, he reads and she talks, and talks. He flicks over the pages of his paper and every page looks like it must be bad news. She buys him another coffee and gets no thanks. When he leaves she follows. His backside sags, nobody of any age should wear cargo shorts.
A man in the dress uniform of a Chief Petty Officer slips into the room and orders a beer, he is wearing enough fruit salad (medals) to suggest he has had some serious service – he finds a spare table and settles in with a newspaper. Alone.
He looks crisp in his whites, straight to the airport after his disembarkation.
A perfect young man slides into a spare seat and connects his laptop and iphone and ipod and earphones – his girlfriend is looking at her palm, there must be a phone in there somewhere – they do not speak. Every now and then he tosses back his long hair and rakes his fingers through the curls, he has a stain on the back of his shirt. She is looking at me.
The CPO finishes his Stella and he slides his chair back and heads to the bar for a refill. An older man joins him there and is overheard telling the Chief that his money is no good, and the sailor looks hard at this man, unflinchingly hard – who the fuck are you hard …
The older man tells the Chief that his father told him long ago to always pay respect to a serving man in a public place in times of war – and the best way to forward this advice was to buy the serviceman a beer if ever the opportunity arose. Not that a matelot would ever be happy with just the one.
This satisfies the CPO and he accepts the beer with a smile. He is just back from seven months in the Gulf this morning – and he is on his way to Coolum to see his little daughter, his wife and his three other children. The baby girl is nearly a year old now. Emily. The others are all boys.
There will not be another seven months over there he says, once is enough.
He has an old longboard racked up in his garage roof – ‘ Maybe in a couple of days ‘ he says ‘ I might get up to Noosa for a wave, but I have alot of catching up to do at home first.’
The two men, strangers, shake hands and go their own ways.