catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

A fraction too much fiction continued

with 3 comments

Chapter One is here

The Family Services officer came to the Spiteris’, came striding down their street of Housing Commission butterboxes on stilts. Sixteen, she told Mr Spiteri, was legally old enough to leave home. Mr Spiteri called her a diseased convict dick. She stared calmly ahead, clipboard secure under one arm. She smiled sweetly. Donna went to Zoran’s birthday party. She liked Zoran. He had a sexy build, she thought, and amazing hair. Taffy hair, Irene called it. And eyes the colour of the sea.

Irene saw them make love at the party, Donna’s red curls other girls stared at in envy flowing down her back, her fingers locked around the back of Zoran’s head. Her breasts swelled round and heavy; he let them fill his hands. Irene could see muscles ripple and twitch on his back; sweat made his skin polished and silky, like hazlenuts. Later he told her that Donna had big boobs, ‘like the models in Playboy, and more muscles than he’d ever noticed on a girl.

Donna felt guilty about pushing Irene aside for Zoran’s sake. Irene was her closest friend. Even Irene ‘s parents were all right. Mr Neils was a Vietnam Veteran, and had ‘funny ideas’, so it was said. People still talked about the time when, after his tour, he’d run a Vietcong flag up the Beenleigh Town Hall’s flagpole. Shopkeepers in George Street got nervous and had him arrested for disturbing the peace. The funny thing was, Irene told her, no-one had even recognised it was a Vietcong flag.

Sometimes when she went to the Neils’, Irene wouldn’t be there, and she’d have to wait. She found she didn’t mind. Irene’s parents weren’t boring like everyone else’s parents. Her own parents had pictures of Italy and Italian flags all over the place and lumpy furniture with the stuffing bursting out of it in the lounge. They listened to scratchy opera records. Zoran’s dad would bend her ear about the Croatian Destiny, and the house was wall-to-wall with Zoran’s soccer trophies. The Neils’ had batik wall hangings, and a brass incense burner in the corner. Family pictures sat on top of the bookshelves. And that was another thing: they had books.

Donna followed Irene down the dune, her feet sinking into the dry sand below the moist, dew-crisp surface.

‘Irene! Irene! Can you wait up?’ She yelled over the roar of the surf. Irene wheeled around, buried her board upright in the sand and leaned on it. Trevor and Kate, two of her surfing friends, turned as well. Irene waved them on. ‘What? Donna! Has he worn his prick out?’ She laughed. Donna felt her face flush. ‘No. It’s just that…’ She stopped beside Irene, puffing. ‘It’s just that, you know, I came down here with you, too’.

She puts the lid on the biro and rests her head on the desk. Outside the night is buzzing and humming with insects. The trees drip, calmly and regularly. The words won’t come out right, they’re awkward and strange. I want you to come home. I’m going to have your baby. Please come home. I need you here. Yet when he was here she could say anything in words so fluent they danced and skipped. She thinks of him keeping watch alone in a wintry field. Didn’t she hear that there’d been early snowfalls and frost? She can’t remember. She can’t imagine the wintry field. It won’t come. She wants to conjure up the buzzing and the moist and the trees for him, alone in his wintry field. If he reads this, she thinks, maybe he’ll come home. But what if he stays? What if he’s trapped in one of those Serbian encirclements? What if he’s changed, like Irene’s dad, with spots on his back and a funny stiff walk from shrapnel in the back?

She turns off the light and steps cautiously along the hallway, testing her footing in the dark. She opens the front screen door and sits on the concrete step. Streetlights cover everything with a soft, spectral glow: the house across the street, the swings in the park that the council approved to try to stop complaints about the toxic waste. A dog is crapping beside one of the swings. It’s a mangy looking kelpie cross. Someone’s kid is going to step right in that tomorrow, she thinks. They’ll get on the slippery-slide with shitty shoes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll go with Irene.

Irene helped Donna and Zoran move into a unit beside the freeway. The unit was new, part of a high-density council subdivision, and painted pink on the inside. Even the kitchen was pale pink. Irene could see its cheapness. The skirting wasn’t flush to the floor, and the doors on the kitchen cupboards didn’t close properly. The freeway beside it whined and roared. Still, it was new, and that was something. Donna was sick of junk, she said, and she worked and saved to buy decent furniture and a new VCR. Zoran and his yonger brother Dragan painted over some of the pink with white and apricot paint, and Zoran fixed the mis-hung doors, so the unit began to look reasonably pleasant.

Donna got a job in Woolworths, ordering stock and arranging shelves. She was pleased because she sat down most of the time. She saw the check-out chicks standing on tired legs at the end of the day and pitied them. Zoran got an apprenticeship with a mechanic in Moss Street. The pay was small, but he supplemented his income fixing lawn-mowers, guns and bikes. Donna told friends he knew more about fixing things than his boss, which was probably true.

Donna and Zoran spent Friday nights at the Croatian Soccer Club. Sometimes Irene and Nick, her new boyfriend, would go as well. Nick would sometimes have a bit of luck on the poker machines, although he didn’t play that often. Nick was another surfie type. He showed Zoran his photograph in the school yearbook. Someone had written ‘100% MAMBO: Puts Tom Carroll to shame’ underneath.

Zoran stood up to get some rakia. Because his father was the Club president, he could get cheap drinks. The club was noisy and happy. Someone walked behind Nick and flicked the hair on the back of his head, saying ‘hair like Shane Warne’. Zoran giggled as he weaved between the tables, bottle in hand. He poured out glasses for Irene and Nick. Donna was still looking at Nick’s photo in the yearbook.

‘That’s pretty impressive. Do you compete?’
‘Not surfing. More in triathlons. There’s one up at Noosa next month. Irene’s coming along’. He sat back in his chair, tumbler in hand. Later, while Zoran was in the toilet, he leaned towards Donna.

‘When are you going to marry Zoran? You pair have been together for – what is it – over a year now’.
Irene smiled. ‘If you married him, you’d be like that girl in “Heartbreak High”.’
‘Not quite,’ said Nick. ‘She’s still at school’. Donna drew patterns in the water on the table, her fingers outstretched.
‘I’ve thought of that. It’d be nice. I’m just not sure about things yet, you know’.

To be continued…

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Written by Admin

November 18, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. This is a nice quiet read.

    Sinclair Davidson

    November 18, 2006 at 1:54 pm

  2. Don thought I was posting a novel, but no. I’ll post the concluding chapter tomorrow.

    Don’t know if anyone round here is into fiction, but I thought I’d give it a burl. An earlier version of this story has been published elsewhere, but it’s not on the net anywhere.

    skepticlawyer

    November 18, 2006 at 2:05 pm

  3. Yes, after calling you an ‘ex-novelist’ I was wondering whether I’d made a mistake.

    Are you still writing fiction?

    Don Arthur

    November 19, 2006 at 7:55 am


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