I was going to spend my last night in Brisbane at a Performance Event. But then I got a last minute phone call from Franky. He’d left his controlling girlfriend, booked himself into rehab and found out he had cirrhosis of the liver.
So of course I had to go seem him. Franky was my main man. He booked me my ticket on the White Trash Express. He was the one who sold me the Crisis Centre, (cheap as chips,gorgeous grounds, lovely old Queenslander) and talked it up like a five star resort. He has a heart of gold and I love him to bits but If I started out on the wrong foot I owed it all to Franky.
Besides I had to finish Brisbane the way I started it. There was no point going for a happy ending in a tale with no redemption. Brisbane and I had a narrative going on that involved Crisis Centres, Rehabs , Boarding House bitches and conversations with bashed women, stand over men and people that live in Caravan Parks. It’s everything I ever imagined when I actually think about it?
It’s like way back (about ten months ago) when I was an arrogant up myself Sydney sider, I'd always imagined Brisbane as this back wards, scar neck, redneck, narrow minded lynchville, white trash, back water sort of city and that’s the Brisbane I’d discovered.
Creative Visualisation right?
It seemed every time I left the house I ran into some one who’d just got out of jail or who was visiting someone in jail, or who had been bashed or stolen from by someone who should have been locked up. Only that morning I had met this woman who was sitting outside Coles nursing a swollen purple foot that she’d won in a car accident. She had been sitting there all morning and would possibly sit there all night, because a group of homeless guys had stolen her wheelchair to hock at Cash Converters.
I would have helped her but I was scared those homeless guys would come back to grab my shopping. I’ve become a sort of magnet to people who have hit hard luck or hard luck has hit them or they’ve been shacked up with hard luck for so long that it doesn’t even feel like hard luck anymore. It just feels like life.
Not that I should talk because my luck has been surfing the toilet bowl ever since I crawled off a Greyhound bus and into that overpriced capsule hotel in Fortitude Valley. From there I flew down hill to a Crisis Centre and fled right back out of there as soon as I’d worked out it was only a cut above a Detention Centre to find myself a nice boarding house with dirty toilets. An errant complaint to the landlady had me packing my bags again and moving straight into a boarding house with bed bugs. After a bit of lateral thinking I found myself a few days reprieve with a nice middle class boy who wanted a hand job. Only to move in with a dead man in Paradise. Brisbane’s just another name for Heaven! What a lovely welcoming place !
But I have to admit my hard luck had become most confronting. Most people have to have had a serious drug addiction to be in my position. Whereas I’ve just had this on going delusion that ANY DAY NOW my talents are all going to pay off and I’m going to be a rip roaring fucking success. I might as well have spent the past twenty odd years on crack cocaine. Because at the end of the road there’s not much difference…
It was like my flatmate saying to me ‘I don’t care about your books. I don’t care about your Stories’. He was the messenger sent to tell me that my Gig Was Up! They’re the sort of messengers sent to delusional Australians. Tax Payers in serviceable state issued uniforms handing out Zoloft and threatening to quarantine your pension cheque.
That’s the difference between Brisbane and a Hollywood movie. Hollywood calls them Dreamers and Brisbane calls them Delusionals. In Hollywood movies the messenger arrives just before the closing credits to reward you for sustaining your delusion against all odds. He hands over a big fat cheque, gives you a story in the paper and the deeds to a happy ending. (see Crazy Heart)
So I cycled over to see Frankie and we wailed over a bottle of Greyhound water that I’d got free with my Sydney ticket. I told him not to worry, that livers know how to regenerate. He just had to just take up yoga and the rot would start to reverse. We had a hug, wished each other good luck, then I cycled back to West End for a liver punch with Kazza.
Kaz is a tranny. But I’m not sure which equipment she was born with? She looks like a bloke who has changed into a woman but she tells me that she was born as a female lesbian, who started to take testosterone to attract the straight girls and then stopped when the attraction didn’t work. Now she’s stuck in this no man’s land between Tuck Shop lady and Truck Driver and nobody knows what to call her? But if you get it wrong, she’ll threaten to punch all your lights out.
So she’s a little complicated, but that’s the woman in her and I’m quite happy to see her the way that she sees herself. The only problem is that I bring out her Lesbian tendencies. So she started getting jealous when I struck up a conversation with the Acid freak.
The Acid freak just sat down at our table and started telling us how he was at the crossroads of his life. He’d lived in Byron Bay for 23 years where he’d taken a daily cocktail of mind altering drugs. His brain had been frying for as long as he could remember. But after Monday he was killing the sizzle for good. He was booking himself into rehab. And he was terrified! From then on everything he liked about himself would be over. No more visions, visitations, astral travel and epiphanies. He would never be able to share another mind altering idea, conversations would be cold cuts served to idiots.
I found his raw confession totally fascinating but Kazza didn’t like him at all. Mostly because he was taking up all my attention. So she snuck off to the bar when we weren’t looking and reported him for being drunk and disorderly.
He may have been a little drunk but he wasn’t actually disorderly. In fact I found him succinct and very articulate. I could completely relate to the appalling idea of being stone cold sober in Brisbane. And to show my support I bought him a pint of Guinness.
But then the management came and took it off him and kicked him out of the pub for being drunk while drinking. This sort of turned me into an accomplice which was quite unexpected. So I exited stage left with Kaz glowering at the rear of me.
She exploded when we got outside.
‘Do you like trouble? Why do you talk to these losers?
‘For the same reason I talk to you.’
I didn’t say that.
But it’s true.
The only reason I started talking to her was because nobody else was talking to her. It seemed a little rude to point this out but I was getting pretty tired of finger pointing Briz Vegans. I do not like to be judged by people I once made fun of and I’m sick of trying to explain myself.
The fact is it’s not actually trouble I’m seeking! It’s a heart that’s still beating! And at least losers at the crossroads have a pulse! I came on a journey looking for the heart of Australia. But I’ve come to the end of my journey and all I have in my hands is Franky's rotting liver. And I’m trying to work out what it's trying to tell me?
It seems to me the deader and more conservative things become on the inside. The darker and more dangerous the outside becomes. The inside is 69 Paradise Street. And my flatmate stands for everything it represents. Parochial, narrow minded, boring, highly judgemental, non empathetic and oblivious to the world outside his window. And on one level it’s hard to blame him.
Because just down the road from Paradise Street, drowned out by a cacophony of garden tools are the people who will smash in your lights and knock off your wheelchair. You sort of get why the middle class have retreated.
But how can I say all this to Kaz. She doesn’t even have the choice of being on the inside. Her permanent abode is a Crisis Hostel. She has two broken front teeth from where she was living in a caravan park and this woman hit her in the face with a cricket bat.
So I tell her another truth. I tell her that I prefer people who wear their badness on the outside it because the most evil man I’d ever met looked totally benign.
Then Kaz confessed that she knew what I meant because she once had a six year relationship with a Serial Killer. At night he was a lovely nurturing husbandly type, but during the day he was murdering Granny’s underneath the guise of as a television repair man. He would get into their houses to put in an aerial and come back later to murder them. For six peaceful years she thought he was a sweetheart until his mug shot turned up on the six o’clock news. Then she left him.
And with that final Bedtime story I said Goodnight.