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I don’t come from there anymore

Scoresby and Lambton rented two bedrooms on the top floor of an old weatherboard boarding house whose windows overlooked the wreck, just across the carpark.

Jack Lambton’s long dead now and buried in the Lismore clay.

Scoresby is sitting alongside me in the bar of the Apollo in Roma tonight and by the look of his ropey forearms and chopped up face he has moved a fair bit westward from his early Catholic days as a boy at Waverley College in 1960.

‘ There was two groups in the bay when we moved up there,‘ he says, ‘ the Brisbane arseholes who drove down every Friday night to fight and fuck, and the local blokes who butchered Queensland meat every weekend.’

Scoresby has a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes and how these do they beam a steadfast and penetrating gaze on me as I fidget with a notebook and pencil.

‘ Cunt of a way to way to earn a living sorting out old bastards like me eh? ‘

I have no answer to that first challenge.

‘ Jack and I ate shit for about four months off all of those bastards before I got a job at the slaughterhouse and he scored work at the Ballina Cannery.

We’d get up to the Pass every week day morning at dawn, have it to ourselves for about two hours before those fucken Keevers got out of bed.

Islanders! ‘

Scoresby’s right index finger is immovably curled into his palm and has bound around itself a tight string of hide. He will never shake a man’s hand.

‘ There was the top Pub, the townie, the railway bar and the Northern and if a bloke couldn’t get himself a good night without trying too hard then the Pope’s a flamin’ Jew,

Some weekends there was blokes from Sydney’s northern beaches, Nat fucken Young and all his pretty blonde mates, the Witzigs (could never figure THOSE blokes out) and every now and then Bob Evans would show up with all his cameras and kidding he wouldn’t get the shits if he had to park up the top of the road.

Phil Edwards rolled up once and pissed everyone off with his Califuckenfornia style on a two-foot Watego’s shorebreak.’

I should be asking Scoresby if anything good ever happened up there 40 years ago but I’m the kind of fellow who respects a harder mans’ silences.

Besides, any man who takes a quarter of an hour to take a piss could be a prostrate suspect and that hurts enough for a bloke to punch brick.

‘ There was two girls up there who upset everyone. ‘ Scoresby said, who so help me is leaning forward and almost getting intimate.

‘ Denise and Wendy, the Blonde and the Black. Those two sheilas had every bloke up there by the balls and they knew it and nobody I knew but Jack ever got into a room with one of them with the lights off in the two years we lived there, that lucky bastard!

Serves him right for dying young ‘

Ever watched an old man step-thought back into remembered times?

A half smile there and perhaps a big hand will come and will rub, will caress a cheek, or a chin, and in a softer voice the hard old boy will give out on some of the tighter things.

‘ Peterson came by a few times and we would all paddle in and sit on the rock watching him, same with stumpy McTavish. Those blokes showed us how to slide down onto the flat and use the draw of water down there to accelerate back up onto the wall.

Peterson showed us how much time a good man could make for himself.

McTavish, when he wasn’t blowing off about how good he was showed us how to get over there faster.

Bob Cooper rolled up a couple of times too, he was the only yank I ever met who was fair dinkum.

Algie Reid, Mr Bundles. That clever little bastard could slip in and out of tubes in a blink and if you ever had a beer with him he’d giggle like a sheila all night. We ended up real good mates me and Alge, he used to draw maps at night and pretend he knew what Bob Dylan was singing about.’

Never had a blue with him, ever.’

The calm moment is lost in an instant as Scoresby pushes back his barstool and gets to his feet, his fresh bought schooner forgotten, and his breath sour from beer and shag tobacco.

The man looks lost between weeping and raging and his last testimony of the days I’ll never understand is blasted into my face.

‘ A week back from two years up north and I’m having a few beers at the Newie Arms with a couple of mates, some fucken Saturday night or other, and when the bell goes we have about a table full of piss to get through when this awful big bastard comes around hurrying everyone along.

Drink ‘em or lose ‘em he tells us.

Fuck you I tells him and over goes the table as he comes in on his way to mark me.’

A breath.

‘ That big Bristow cunt nearly killed me for the sake of a few beers.

You can stick Sydney up your arse mate, I don’t come from there anymore.’


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Pete, that’s a huge, painful brick to punch on someone else’s behalf. I admire your respect.

    November 11, 2011

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