A bloody fingerprint on my credit card made the store clerk hesitate for a moment, but I guess he wanted to finish his shift with a minimum of fuss because he put through the transaction, handed back my card and wished me a good day, all without a single change in facial expression.
My facial expression, on the other hand, could be described as one of grimace. Not the bloke in the McDonald’s commercials, but the one where you are in a lot of pain and it has to show somewhere, even though you don’t want it to.
There was a chance that a bloody fingerprint was a part of everyday life for this bloke. Maybe, he even kept a chart of how many he encountered in a shift.
There it goes again; my mind.
Probably a side effect of losing so much blood.
It’s difficult to think clearly. Fortunately, a lot of thinking is not required. All I have to do is slow down the bleeding enough so that I am still alive at this time tomorrow. The meeting isn’t far from here and no one takes any notice of a slightly disreputable character in this part of the city.
Melbourne is good that way; ‘big money’ and ‘down and outs’ mix freely, as long as they don’t get in each other’s way.
The bandages and gauze were enough to cover the wound, but at some stage I was going to have to find the courage to stitch it; was not looking forward to that.
It was Sunday and the tourists were out in force.
Lots of kids, and mums and dads.
Cameras and carry bags, giggling teenage girls and puffed up teenage boys, none of them interested in me.
Twenty-four hours is not a long time in most people’s lives, but it was to me, especially since I acquired that hole in my side.
Once it was over, if I was still standing, I was going sort out the bloke who perforated me, but till then I needed a quite place to sit.
I turned down one of the myriads of laneways that criss-cross Melbourne and I come across a sign that said the Conan Doyle Society was meeting for an afternoon of mediumship. The sign gave a start time, but I had no idea what time it was because my wristwatch was lying in pieces not far from where the fight started.
There seemed to be a bit of activity so I entered.
The building was very old and I passed through an open doorway that was crafted about hundred and fifty years ago.
The walls were brick and there was a faint smell of dust in the air.
“Don’t worry about the dusty smell. It will dissipate in a little while. The building only gets used on Sundays. Ghosts play here during the week.” The lady who told me this, was about sixty years old with a smile that suggested that she had left a trail of broken hearts in her wake in her younger days, and now, for all I knew.
The windows of the building were vaulted and filled with clear leadlight. The floors were Baltic Pine and the plethora of humanity that had trodden on them had sculptured them into hills and valleys around the tight knots in the wood.
Very old padded chairs were being laid out in rows by helpers who looked as old as the building itself.
A tiny lady, who was not much bigger than the chair she was carrying, said to me, “Sit here young fellow. You’ll get a good view. You look like you could use a good ‘sit down’. You sit here and I’ll get you a cup of tea.”
“You haven’t got something stronger than tea, have you lady?”
“No, but I know how you feel. I could go a good snort myself.”
I laughed and my side hurt.
The cup of tea had milk and about four sugars in it. I didn’t mind.
The chairs continued to come out through a small door, the same door that the cup of tea had come through and I wondered how many more rooms there were to this place.
Within a little while, the hall filled up with people and soon, none of the forty-odd chairs were empty.
Before the cup of tea and the kilo of sugar, I had been feeling quite sleepy, but now I was wide awake.
The lady running the show stepped to the microphone, which I had not noticed and welcomed us all.
She gave a particular welcome to all the ‘newcomers’ and looked directly at me. She introduced the two people who were seated behind her and gave their names, but I was not taking much notice.
She mentioned that this group had been meeting for about one hundred and twenty years, under various names, and that its current name dated from a visit by the renown author at the turn of the previous century.
A few people nodded and the tiny lady who had supplied my cup of tea, said something out loud and the woman at the microphone agreed with her.
This was getting interesting.
The lady sitting next to me didn’t seem to mind that I looked like I’d been in a fight; which I had.
The speaker introduced one of the people behind her, a Trevor someone, and he spoke to the assembled crowd.
He walked across to one side of the hall and asked a woman if she would like a reading. She said yes, and the fun began.
Trevor described a man in fine detail and asked the woman if she recognised this person. She promptly burst into tears and a box of tissues appeared out of nowhere. Trevor gave her a moment to compose herself and then he went on with a bit more description and ended with a message. “The gentleman wants you to know that it is okay with him if you want to get married again, and could you please make sure that the rose bushes get pruned.”
This went on for more than an hour and the two people on the platform took it in turns to read for various members of the audience.
I was enjoying myself, but the ‘over the counter’ painkillers were beginning to wear off and I had a monster headache.
I was feeling sorry for myself when I realised that this Trevor character was speaking to me. “May I come to you sir? Yes, you, the gentleman with the coat and the upturned collar.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Can you speak up sir, so the audience can hear you, also I’m a bit hard of hearing.”
“YES, I GUESS SO. Knock yourself out.”
“Thank you, sir. May I have your name?”
“Thank you, Sam. I have a woman with me, she’s presenting in her late sixties wearing men’s work clothes, and she has grey hair. Can you place such a person?”
“Not at the moment, but I had a girlfriend who looked like that a few years back.” I enjoyed the laughter from the audience but Trevor only smiled.
“She’s carrying an AK47 in one hand and a banana in the other. Can you place that?”
A cold shiver went down my back.
“Yes, I think I can.” I was in shock.
“She’s wearing Army boots and one of them is laced with string. She says that she always carried a banana because she never knew how long it would be between meals. She wants you to know that the wound in your side will result in your death if you don’t have it seen to today.”
Trevor stopped talking and every eye in the hall was turned in my direction.
Trevor continued. “This lady is telling me that killing people is not the way. Even though she was defending her country against invasion, nothing good came of killing the soldiers that came under her sights. She says that she has met up with them, ‘over there’ and they have made their peace. The soldier who killed her has done the same. She wants you to know that love is the only way. If you try to hold out, without treatment, to make that meeting tomorrow, you will die from your injuries. Oh, and she said that you should eat more bananas and ring your dad once in a while. Can I leave that with you Sam?”
“Yes, you can, and thank you.”
I’m not sure why I thanked him; it just seemed like the right thing to do.
The meeting broke up and food appeared out of nowhere and conversation broke out in several places.
The chairs disappeared as fast as they had arrived and we all stood around eating cake and drinking tea.
I was probably half dead by this stage but I have to say that those were the best scones and jam and cream I have ever tasted.
I found Trevor and told him about my ancestor who had valiantly and vainly fought off the Soviet invasion of her country in 1956. I wasn’t born yet but family legend had her name up in lights. My ancestors were mostly ordinary people living ordinary lives, except for the convicts who started our line here in Australia; and then there was Maria, the freedom fighter.
Sixty-three years of age.
She could field strip and reassemble an AK47 in the dark.
The AK47 was, and still is, the weapon of choice of the freedom fighter, but for all its virtues, it is not very accurate at range, but somehow Maria became the best sniper in her group.
Sadly for Maria, the Resistance was not able to hold out for very long. It was all over in a couple of days, and at the end of it all there were only broken dreams and a family legend.
Things got a bit fuzzy after that, but I do remember waking up in the emergency ward at the Alfred Hospital.
I had become quite a celebrity.
Apparently, a very small older lady had carried me in on her back, saying that I needed attention for a knife would.
She disappeared not long after, but not before she rearranged the chairs in the waiting room.
“You’ll get more people in if you spread them out like that.”
The Triage Nurse was okay with the new arrangement and she didn’t think that any of it was particularly strange.
I guess nurses get to see some pretty strange shit in the course of a day.
I was laid up for a while and I had to spin an interesting tale to get the cops off my back, but eventually they said I could go home.
The following Sunday I went looking for that laneway but the doors were closed and there was no one about.
I’m not discouraged though; I’ll go back next week and see what happens.
I get the feeling that I’ll never look at a banana or an AK47 in quite the same way, ever again.
I switched from tea to coffee and it still didn’t help.
I started using the fine silver teapot, but he didn’t notice.
I had my hair done in the latest style, and he didn’t notice.
A pretty dress and nice shoes went unnoticed.
Conversation was nonexistent.
I tried shocking him into noticing me. “Would you like me to fellate you before you go to work dear?” He hesitated for quite a while, which wasn’t the reaction I expected, but finally he said, “That’s okay dear, I’ll get a sandwich at work.”
I’ve tried everything and I’m about to give up.
It’s time I took action.
The chap who fixes our radio is coming around early in the afternoon, maybe he can help.
I’m sure, if I ask him nicely, he will be able to suggest a course of action.
Such a fine young man.
Who would have thought that fruit could get you into trouble……..
Originally posted on The Long Weekendd:
Sam’s life took a strange turn whenever he ate watermelon.
Other people were affected by the phases of the moon or by stepping into an unexpected puddle, but for Sam it always seemed to be watermelon.
No one had pointed this out, Sam had worked it out, all by himself.
Sam’s watermelon dealer had a stall at the Queen Victoria Market.
Many nefarious characters could be found at the Queen Vic’, and information was there for the asking. Watermelon and information went hand in hand with Sam, as did an espresso and a cold beer.
Unfortunately watermelon is a seasonal fruit so its delights were only available during the warmer months. Melbourne summers were famous for melting the skin off your neck and a cool slice helped to ease the discomfort.
Sam had noticed Antonio at the Market and wondered why he was wandering around on school days. Having skipped…
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If anyone finds out, I’m in deep shit.
My job is to protect my mistress, but everyone knows that terriers are really good at catching, and killing mice.
My problem is that one of my best friends is a mouse.
It’s a long story so maybe I should start at the beginning.
When I was in the litter, and not much older than a bottle of milk, my mum taught me that we all have a job in life and that is why our human feeds us; because we are of service. She said that some of us would be pets and it would be our job to bark a lot whenever strangers got too close to the house. She also said that we came from a long line of mousers. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I tried to make it look like I knew what she was talking about.
I asked one of the older pups what ‘mouser’ meant and he explained that because we are very patient and very fast, we are good at catching and killing mice.
I’d never seen a ‘mice’ so I was curious to find out what they looked like. I hoped that they were not as big as the horse that lived on our farm because I wasn’t sure I could catch and kill one of those. As it turned out, mice are small and furry and they dart about quite quickly so they are hard to catch.
One sunny autumn afternoon I was in the barn looking for a mouse to chase; just for practice.
I climbed up the tall ladder because I thought that maybe mice liked to be up high. I was a good climber for a young dog, but I found that being up high made me feel funny. Everything started to spin around and I found it difficult to stand up. I staggered around a bit and got my back leg caught up in a length of rope. I got a bit scared and toppled off the landing and found myself hanging in mid air suspended by the rope attached to my back leg. It hurt and I felt sick. Hanging upside down is only fun for a short while, then it gets scary.
To make it worse, I hadn’t seen any mice. My whole day was a complete failure and heaven only knew how long it would be before someone found me. I could starve, or die of thirst, or my leg could fall off. I was in real trouble.
“Do you need any help?” The voice was tiny and I could not hear where it was coming from.
“Well, do you?”
“Yes, I’m stuck. Can you get me down?” I said to whoever it was who was offering assistance.
“I could chew thru the rope, but you would be hurt when you hit the ground, so I had better move some straw under you.”
“Makes sense to me.” At this stage, any help was welcome. I could hear something rustling around in the straw and it was tiny. Whatever it was, it was going to take a long time for it to move enough straw to break my fall.
I must have passed out, or fallen asleep, because when I awoke there was a small pile of straw on the floor directly under me. It wasn’t very thick, and it occurred to me that my landing was still going to hurt.
Someone was nibbling on the rope above me and before too long I heard a small voice say, “Brace yourself, I’m nearly through the rope.”
“Okay, I’m ready,” I said.
“You won’t eat me once you get free will you?”
“Of course not, why would I?”
“I’m a mouse, and terriers catch mice.”
“Don’t worry little mouse. You are saving me so I’ll make sure that the other dogs leave you alone.” At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this promise, but I would worry about that when I was free again.
The mouse finished his job and I hit the floor hard. One of my back legs hurt a lot, but I could walk.
I was in a lot of pain, but I did say thank you to the invisible mouse before I limped off back to my pack.
My mum said I was very foolish and she licked me all over, twice!
My leg hurt for a couple of days but it soon came good and there were no long lasting ill-effects.
I went back to the barn a few times, but I didn’t find the mouse who helped me. I wasn’t sure how I would recognise him, even if I did run into him.
It was getting close to the time that I would have to go out into the world and work with my own human. Two of my brothers had already gone to their new homes. My mum was sad each time it happened, but she always said that that it is the way of the world, children grow up and leave home and make a life for themselves. It all seemed a bit scary to me, but I tried not to show it. Terriers are tough and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak. Mum told me to make a fuss of the strange humans who came to look at the litter, but I didn’t need telling, I like humans. Naturally, I’ve heard some bad stories, but so far I’ve only come across kind humans.
It seemed like I would be leaving any day when I made a final visit to the barn. A couple of older dogs were barking at something behind a hay bale. I could hear the mouse squeaking and I knew it was trapped. I recognised his voice and I boldly jumped into the middle of the action and barked at the older dogs.
For a second, they stopped and then they growled at me. I think they thought I was trying to steal the mouse for myself. I had to do some pretty fancy talking to get them to believe my story. They called me a bunch of bad names, but they let the mouse go free. I had kept my promise, but I was not sure what would happen the next time because I would not be around to save him.
The mouse and I talked it over and decided that he had better come with me when I get collected. This was going to be a lot harder than it sounded.
I had worked out that the humans usually brought a box with them when they came to collect one of my brothers or sisters, and the mouse would have to be smart enough and quick enough to get into that box without being seen. I could create a small diversion, but it would not give him very much time. If they saw him, they would surely kill him. People don’t like mice. He was indeed, taking his life into his hands, but I guess he knew that this hair-brained scheme was better than being cornered in the barn the second I left.
The mouse stayed close to me for the next couple of days. He hid out under a broken plant pot not far from the front door of the big house. He only came out at night and only long enough to eat and drink.
On the third day, some strange humans came to where our litter was and the big one picked me up and looked right at me. He said something to the other human and put me down on the ground and attached a lead to my collar. I’d only been wearing the collar for a few days and I didn’t like it much, but every dog seemed to have one so I put up with it.
As they led me towards their car there was a box on the ground close by. I saw the mouse start to run in its direction and I began to bark as loud as I could, which wasn’t very loud, but it did the trick. Everyone looked at me, which gave the mouse time to climb into the box and hide under the blanket.
I wasn’t too happy that the humans laughed at me for barking. They were supposed to be frightened, but I guessed that my bark would get louder as I got older, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
Getting the mouse out of the box was easier than getting him into it and he has been living with us ever since. It’s only me and my mistress these days, she got rid of the male human, apparently he was, “a no good, good for nothing, waste of space.” I guessed that this meant that he wasn’t pulling his weight, and doing his job, whatever that was.
I like the way things are now. I don’t get lonely. I have lots of adventures and I have my mistress and the mouse to talk to, but I have to keep them apart.
She really doesn’t like mice.
For such a small pleasant creature, they sure do stir up some bad feeling. I’ve talked to the mouse about it and he doesn’t understand it either. That’s life I guess.
As far as I know, I’m the only terrier who has a mouse as a friend, but then again, maybe there are others, and maybe, just like me, they don’t want anyone to know.
I have to go now.
Mouse is expecting me.
We are going to walk down to the creek and sit on a log and talk about life.
“………….. most nights he could recall
oceans in the city
the myth of floods the
missing man in the room with a window
his eyes closed only in sleep…………”