Bris-Vegas Magus

BRIS-VEGAS MAGUS

by

W J P NEWNHAM

 

‘…kicking in liquor stores, grabbing everything in sight…’

William S. Burroughs.

ink blotch

One     

…………………Me ‘n Mr. Meat have been fucking around and keeping ourselves busy with odd jobs. By Friday we are well over a week of sanding and bogging; renovating a federated Queenslander where if you push too hard with a sander you are straight through the weather board to the termite army which we don’t want to do because its supposed to be just a little of the old in/out and turn a quick buck, and who gives a fuck anyway; it aint’ mine and it never will be. The owners are away on a month’s vacation at anywhere but here and we’re running behind having had been on a couple of week’s vacation ourselves.

Mr. Meat says

‘What were they thinking ponying up the back end at the front end; I wouldna’, I mean have a look at the heads on us.’

But they weren’t thinking were they, and you get what you paid for, particularly when there’s lead based paints and permits and all that happy horseshit that owners after a little of old in/out/turn a quick buck themselves like to hire us for ‘cos ‘we don’t care if you don’t’ is printed on our business cards and tough stamped on our hides and its true;

 We Really Don’t Care! But The Moneys Got To Be Right!

Mr. Meat says

‘That, I swear to fuckin’ god, was the worst maggot bag I’ve ever had the displeasure of; gristle and gravy mostly, wrapped in yesterdays half baked news. I seen ‘em, feeding up the cats out the back of the bakery.’

I say

‘Told you we should go for falafel!’

But the race is on with deadlines to meet and in a china plated frenzy we hammer in screws and keep the paint work fast and loose and when you show ‘em from the front gate it creates the dream and they’re usually willing to sign us off and be done/move on/trade up/take profit.

He says

‘What t’ya reckon?’

I say

‘Oh fuck yeah!’

Ands its off round the back ways, sneaky one side-ways thru the five ways, up and over the hill, the creek, the drain and parked out the back of the Colmslie with a couple of rows of real old school one armed bandits and a T-A-B and a coupla young see-you-next-Tuesdays busting out tunes on a Friday night for the single mums and factory workers and flipping off the bouncers we’re in the door and it’s:

One: ‘Two quick schooeys of four ex thanks miss.’

Two: ‘two more please…………thanks Margrete’

Three: ‘Kenny! What’s your worst pick for today at Ipswich?’

Four: ‘$400 to win thank you’.

Five: ‘yes please Margrete we would care to have two more of those particularly cleansing ales; coupla’ turkeys and coke too’

Six: ‘Cheers’/’Cheers’.

Sooner rather than later we’re all wracked on chalked cues; busting the angles, watching the traffic, figuring the odds and with two more schooeys and turkeys thanks  we are waiting for the skimpies and talking shit.

I say

‘How was your flight?’

He says

‘Three juicies, eight bourbons; steadiest mother-fucker you ever saw; I swear.’

I say
‘Sometimes I cry sometimes I fly like a bird.’

And he says

‘They had to shake me to wake me.’

I thought about coming in low over Morningside and looking out the window for the railway line and following it along east to Mum’s old place thick with gums and the fat brown snake of the Brisbane river poking its head out into the bay with brown water rushing the reaches ‘tween Saint Helena and Mud. I thought of the quiet still streets of Cribbe Island and how they slept; buried as it were in a bed of sand.

He says

‘How was yours?’ and puts me on the old;

-Look over the top of his rayban aviators-

I say

‘HA! Yeah good good.’ and bust him the old two-step; rapping a hot ride home from Darwin with fellow travelers.

He says

‘Just a bum on the thumb?’

I say

‘Just a tramp on the stamp!’

Like a snake on the take I flick him the Wini’ Reds; we both light up and take a break from the pool balls and the banter to watch Kenny’s worst pick romp it home as per [four will get you six; enough to make it a regular sling]. We’re already ahead enough to make the evening interesting to say the very least. Margrete cops a tip and we’re sweet with doubles for singles and drinks coming right up before we’ve even asked. We’ve moved onto the rum cos’ ten foot tall and bullet proof we are going to run the fuck amok.

She says ‘What are you boys doing tonight?’ and squares back her shoulders.

Mr. Meat asks;

‘How’s your woodwork?’ and she’s looking at us like we asked her if she’s got crabs and I put her on the old;

‘How’s ya’ woodwork?’

She rolls her eyes and finally asks:

‘Whattya’ mean how’s my woodwork?’

And I say

‘We’d like to make you a coffee table.’

But she doesn’t get it and starts to glaze over a little and rather than labor the point we are back at the tables and wracking ‘em up and busting a piss and feeding the jukebox gold coins to keep the noise up so we can relax a little and talk some business before the dirty girls come on and its all;

‘Show us ya’ motor!’

And

‘She looks like she enjoys her job!’

Etcetera et etcetera et etcetera but that comes with the territory and nobody seems to really mind and besides we’ve known these particular dirty girls for years and they will play up to us knowing that it is all in the very height of good humor and that everyone deserves to make some kind of earn even if its only a cheap feel.

He says

‘And did you meet anyone interesting on your somewhat lowland transit from point A to point B or was it all just drinking piss with back-packers and bumming smokes off winos?’ and again I’m put on the old;

-Look over the top of his ray ban aviators-

I say

‘Yeah good thanks mate. Yourself?’ and flick him the old [Two Three]. He is all ears but I got to take my time and get this right because this is business and you don’t fuck around when it comes to business. I got to take that last leg of the journey again and revisit a half heard conversation exactly and use the land marks and bearings to plot a true course between what seems to be and what is and look for that one key which pieces together a very nice little earn for a couple of smart young lads all strapped and capped for the take.

*

Two

He says

‘So his bike broke down just north the Pine River and his missus rocked up in the ute and you chucked his pride and joy in the back to run it back to his joint, maybe twenty minutes and he’ll run you down into town and you’re, let me get this: ‘Fuck it; I’m going to hitch’?’

‘Not even that much mate I’m just walking down the road with my thumb out; you know just got them walking feet that just won’t slow down…….’

‘Lickety splits?’

‘..a little but the jobs right so I didn’t see much point in sitting out in the cane fields with a bunch of bunch of off tap wanna-be’s when I had you waiting for me in town so I started walking’

He [raises an eyebrow] says

‘And?’

It’s walking across the Pine river bridge and feeling the whole structure hum with the weekend traffic and thinking that it must have rained recently as the flotsam jettisons outbound with a vengeance and the cars can’t stop anyway; walking just seems easier than waiting. A beam trawler has winched up and spilled and a trail of pelicans and a raucous schoolyard of gulls dive in waves and screech their scores to each other above the noise of the Bruce, Bog is in his heaven and it’s a nice day for walk.

‘Mad Max.’

He [laughs] says

‘The man or the movie?’

I say

‘That old chestnut.’

He says

‘The plot thickens. So let me get this straight you start walking along and all of a sudden just out of the blue Max stops and gives you a lift?’

-an FB brown and rust eaten with mismatched plates and real nice wheels fishtails into the gravel raising dust and shrapnel and havoc; coming to a halt with the throaty rumble of a well tuned beast unleashed-

‘Yep.’

He says

‘Did he have a ‘friend’ with him?’ and we both laugh and jinx it on the

‘Don’t we all/

Don’t we all.’

‘And?’

I got in. Max is all dressed down, green and brown and it’s pretty obvious he’s been spending a lot of hours in the chair getting fresh ink linking the logos and the hands at ten and two say cunt line’ at the base of the right fingers and ‘SUCH IS LIFE’ on the base of the left and both have a blue bird of happiness; he’s all blinged up with the Bolle’ wrap rounds.

Max says

‘There’s a beer in the back.’

I grab us both one. He doesn’t take his eyes of the road and we keep it nice and easy and slow and steady. I’m in no hurry to talk and neither is he so I roll a joint and we slide thru the long S-bends of the Bruce south towards Bris-Vegas in a haze. He opens her out until she hits the sweet spot and we’re both humming the highway as the Redcliffe turn-off flashes past and then it’s the wetlands and it’s the Nudgee golf course before;

Max says

‘Where are you heading mate?’

Mr. Meat [laughing his arse off] says

‘He doesn’t know you?’

And I say

‘Mate, he don’t even know himself so I says’ to him Melbourne and he says ‘Shit…………fuck…………nah mate ……..I’d steal ya’ a car for the run bra’ but I got too much on today……….busybusybusybusybusy…………’,so I roll another joint and grab another beer and we do speed bumps off a stolen credit card and he gets real talkative but his day and who he saw and what they did and where he was going and what he was going to get when he got there in exchange for what he brought with him and then it’s wine women and song from there.  We cut across to Sandgate road………….’

[We pause for the dirty girls]

‘…………………and he makes a stop in Ascot.’

Mr. Meat says

‘He took you there?’

And I say

‘I couldn’t believe it he left me sitting out the front while he went in with a box and came out with a case.’

‘Suit?’

‘Brief.’

‘And he didn’t know you?’

‘Mate, I flicked him the old [One-Eighty-Seven] just for a laugh and if he saw it he sure didn’t say nothing.’’

‘Nothing at all?’

‘Not a damn word; just left me sitting in his car for an hour parked out back of the Farm and went about his business.’

‘And did business look good?’

‘There’s no business like snow business.’

‘He must be doing too much of his own business then?’

‘Just a bit!’

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Wait here, I’ll be back…….here we go……got to drop you off here Bunji…….cheers.’

I see the glint in Mr. Meat’s eyes and it echoes in my own and it’s a quick nod to the barmaid and out into night.  The waxing moon hangs  red and gibbous and with quick scent then gone in succession of jasmine and frangipani and fresh horseshit it’s up to the phone box to put out the call because ‘We’ are to be ‘Three’ for this job; plenty-a-meat on them bones. Three’s like just so many and just enough and Mr. Meat telegraphs a quick tattoo down the phone-line that says it all so quick and short and easy.

He hangs up and says

‘A wise man cometh bearing gifts!’

And I say

‘A wise man profits thru perseverance and hard work.’

We both laugh and have another Wini’ as we wait.

*

Three

an Fairmont Ghia LTD Saloon that sheens like water and oil on tar with film rolled windows that are dark and just legal; rock and roll muted yet thumping ‘Hells Bells’ and the throaty vibe of a donk all tricked up, slicked up and ready to roar-

Mr. Meat says

‘You’re riding bitch!’

I say

‘ ‘Kay.’

We get in and I am O-K with it because tucked up in the dogs and blacks is where I like to be; I look for new housing and un-shut windows. I scan the number plates of the cars ahead and behind; all the while checking for the Man whoever he may be. I look down at the river as we cross the Gateway heading north and mark the progress of river captains plying their trade in sand and coal and oil on barges as their attendant tugs honk mournful warnings to the reaches of the night and foreign flagged leviathans disgorge containers by cranes; under the sulphurous yellow night lights Maritime One is some kind of tiny winter wonderland.

He says

‘Boys.’

We both give him the middle finger and everything is A-O-Fucking-K as we are focused the job.

He says

‘All jobs are shit jobs!’

We lay it out as we want to play it out; we’re going in hot and hard and heavy; living it large and laying ‘em low.

Mr. Meat says

‘Dirty deeds?’

And I say

‘Done dirt cheap.’

He says nothing. Indicating and accelerating and overtaking we are rolling alongside the river as Kingston Smith flies past us in a blur and indicating again we are heading north by north east as if drawn by the lights at the Eagle Farm trots. Spurred on by the roars of the crowds as number four in the fifth comes in hard from the outside rail to take it by a whisker. The cries of pain and gain and loss crash hard on the harsh shores of the will of chance; we synchronize timers with racetrack precision as we crawl past the Farm. Mr. Meat has studied the form guide and he says

‘Nineteen minutes.’

I say

‘Kit up?’

They jinx it twice

‘Wait/

Wait.’

I disassociate as I wait and we crawl the block at forty and then the one north of it and back again as we check, check and double check. We look left and right and dead ahead as we pass and repose. As we wait we will kill time with preparation and counting and marking down the moments to the last race and the fireworks when the crowds are roaring again and we can go in as hot and hard and heavy as we like. I’m strapping twin trey-deuces and toting a stainless Ithaca gauge, shortened and banging solids; guaranteed open sesame and maximum shock value.

Mr. Meat [laughs] says

‘Knock Knock?’

And I answer

‘Who’s there?’

And He says

‘Bang-fucking-Bang. You’re dead.’

*

Four

He semaphores the count;

[Two, Three, Go]

The skies light up with red rockets blazing and silver chrysanthemums are etched white hot into the night and as the sonic shock waves rebound and boom back at us as we go in hot and hard and heavy, two up front-side [me and He] and Mr. Meat one out on rear guard catcher. My feet are set at twelve and twenty to four and we are all on the clock as the gauge’s rubber stock guard hugs my hip I just go …….

‘KA-FUCKING-BOOM’.

And re-rack and

‘KA-FUCKING-BOOOOOOOOM’.

And re-rack and the front door is open; lock and lintel splintered and smashed.

Mr. Meat can’t help himself and over the fireworks/crowd/gauge I hear a soft,

‘Anybody hooooome?’ hooted into the cacophony and we’re in.

The race results feedback into the  crowds roar and echo back up the river from the Hamilton hill and the eighteen twelve pyro-masters spew their nitrous hot designs heavenward and backlit like heavy metal monsters we step the boards on this stage, this desolated visage of hells elysian fields where dogs roast slowly over a thousand camp fires stoked by zombie flesh eaters, where the smoke from the meats prepared for this unholy feast coils heavenward and  the very stench of it has angels of searing magnesium lights hurtling earth bound with shrieking velocities and exploding with the murderously rapturous roars of the  mob as they sense the impending ………..

He signals;

[Down].

I stop, look, listen.

My breathing stops and my heart slows as the house becomes my ears and eyes. I taste the air like a snake and hear the soft questioning becoming harder and the answers become muffled sobs of anguished confessions and protestations of innocence and devotion and finally directional and to the very point and suddenly stopped.

He says

‘Got it?’

Mr. Meat says

‘If a jobs worth doing…..

First door on the right……

Fourth board from the left.

Now; this really is going to hurt!’

He signals;

[go].

Mr. Meat counts coup and we prepare to score.

*

Five

I’m on the job in the eye of the storm and as the pressure gradients drops and the roar of the crowd and the boom of the fireworks muffles to one clear high note that rings my bell; high and true and sounding and with the whole world reverberating thus I am a one man wrecking crew on a rampage. I’m kicking in doors and clearing rooms.

Mr. Meat says

‘First door on the right’

He flicks

[one-eighty-seven]

and taking no prisoners I kick down the first door on the right and with the gauge at high port  and coming in hot, I am momentarily frozen by star bursts into short, still lifes; magnesium moments of ballistic motion.

He counts down our remaining minute of grace.

‘Fifty-three, fifty-two, fifty one…’

She [moving her lips soundlessly and steadfastly keeping her eyes closed] says

‘………..and deliver us from evil for Thine is the kingdom………

……….hear us now in our hour of need………..

…………….please………….’

My gauge centers, like a third eye to her forehead and she says [still moving her lips soundlessly]

‘….PLEASE….’

The eye of the storm passes and we are back in the maelstrom as the barrages cannonade and climax and the sky cascades with cartwheels in oxides of copper and iron and paraffin.

She says

‘Please?’ and again points blindly to the floor.

Mr. Meat says

‘Fourth board from the left!’

She kneels and fumbles in the dark inserting a finger into a slot in the flooring which slides opens a well concealed treasure trove; a glittering Aladdin’s cash cave of toys and rock and scissors and paper and once again we are right on the money.

Mr. Meat says

‘X marks the spot.’

He counts off the remaining seconds and signs

‘Twenty three/ twenty two/twenty one/

Time to go!’

I say

‘Eagle picks up his own shit’  keeping her covered  watch as Mr. Meat gathers in the take and packs it quickly away all the while watching her and waiting to see if she would make this easy for him and peek at the nameless horror at the foot of her bed risen like the dream time apparition  of her  night terrors.

She keeps her eyes tightly shut and crying recites

‘…….And if I die before I wake…..’

And

‘…please..’

And

‘….Our Father who art….’

But she won’t peek and He flicks

[No]

[Women]

[No]

[Kids]

and is quickly outside and quietly into the car and starting it and scanning the streets left and right and ready to join the flow of in bound traffic coming from the suburbs and the trots as the Friday night chancers transport themselves towns-ward in search of fresher pastures and pleasures; waiting for a quick decision to be made and implemented so we can be over and out and gone.

I say

‘Well?’

And Mr. Meat says

‘Let me just talk to her quickly here now.’

He leans in to kiss her forehead as he brushes aside, as if no longer important, the gauge and kisses both her eyes and tastes her tears: such salt and anguish.

She [eyes resolutely shut] says

‘……grant now this sinner in her hour of need……’

He lifts her arms and kisses gently the scabs and scars that abound in the crook of her elbow and pressing his fore-finger to her third eye he incants ‘We were never here were we sweetheart?’ and looks for a response.

She [blindly reciting] says

‘…..for what we are about to receive……’

He repeats the question whilst gently lifting her chin with his finger asking

‘We were never here were we?’ for further clarification as she opens her eyes downwards and says

‘It’s coming!’ and

‘…….. Ohhhh…….

‘…………….My………..’

‘……….. GGGGOOOOODDDDDDD!!!!!!!!……….’

She looks me straight in the eye and says

‘……Please?………….’and points helplessly at the floor as it is suddenly awash in an amniotic deluge as her waters break the levee and rush forth from her pregnant belly in tidal rush and flood of mascara runs and washed up dreams and tied off silks and tears.

Mr. Meat says

‘Aaaawwwww for fuck’s sake; ring a fucking meat van will ya? Hurry the fuck up can ya! Jesus! Here lie on the bed love…..No, no, no don’t open your eyes: keep ‘em shut and listen. Ya’ going to have to wait, right, for like maybe twenty minutes at the very worst before the ambos from the Mater arrive so save your breath and breathe, that’s it breathe……come on now breathe…Jesus! You’re not on fucking hold are you?’

I punch the triple zeros and wait for the questions and  answer:

‘Yep….

Nah………

Nah…………..

Yeah………………

Number 11 ‘—–‘ street Ascot……

She’s havin’ a fuckin’ baby mate…….

Right now………..

Its heads half out and she’s stopped breathin’ …..

And there’s blood everywhere!…..

‘Hurrrrrry!’

Mr. Meat says

‘That’s it keep breathing, breathe, breathe; that’s us girl, we are gone like the smoke in the breeze and we were never here were we?’

He brushes her eyelids with his fingers and kisses her cheek and she nods.

‘We were never here were we?’ and she nods again not at us but in agreement with us as we step back and down and she keeps her eyes shut and nods again.

 

‘‘We were never here were we?…………………………………’

 

‘‘We were never here were we?…………………………………’

 

Mr. Meat [raises an eyebrow] and semaphores

[Dust Off]

we stand down quickly and quietly into our waiting vehicle, joining the inbound throng of Friday night thrill seekers for cover, as we wend our way cooler, colder, cold along the river bank and it’s the ‘Creek Hotel before we see the first candy cars and meat wagons en route in a wail of sirens and a wash of red white and blue flashers, racing in our opposite direction.

He says ‘Here?’ and we exit into the night………………

*

Six

………………. Me and Mr. Meat have been keeping good eye out. We’ve been all the way downtown to the well worn rum trails wending twixt the hand job harems at the guts out Garter and number one St. Paul’s terrace. We are players; handing out hundred dollar alibis and handling the merchandise with that old curious disdain they seem to like so much. Our ship has come in and with our resolve further fortified the night seems so young and rife with potential, so juicy, so mine for the mayhem.

I say

‘Just a bum on the rum?’

Mr. Meat says

‘Casino’ …………………….

nerd glasses with tape

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W<J>P Newnham

has had stories published in the seminal Melbourne literary magazines ‘Nocturnal Submissions’, ‘Overland’ , ‘The Lifted Brow’ and ‘Meanjin’.  ‘Full of Crow’ and ‘Gapped Tooth Madness’, 2 magazines out of California, have also published his stories, making him an internationally published author.  Ben John Smith is a big fan and has published 6 stories on his ‘Lits and Tits’ website ‘Horror Sleaze Trash’ . ‘Going Down Swinging’ and ‘Elohi Gadugi’ have published his stories 2014 whilst ‘Street Cake’, ‘SynchChaos’ and ‘Gone Lawn’ have accepted stories for publication in 2015.  He has finished writing a novella called “Fuck You; Hemingway” and is looking for a publisher.

He lives in Brisbane, Australia with his partner and 2 blue-heelers.

black tree

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Photo by Tomek Dzido