Since nobody would publish our Booker compliant masterpiece phwoar, I might have to post some excerpts here for some kind of posterity.
We find Tom Whitebait finishing the last section of the Bibbulman Track at Albany, dried Chiko Roll skins protecting his battered bare feet…
…then they’re on him. All of them. Every classic book club loser. The put-upon tall bloke who gets shouted down, still completely oblivious to the old timey sexism of his comments. The housewife doing the travel writing course. The drunk cow who never reads the book but drinks two bottles of wine and drives home anyway. The know-it-all who tells everyone what the metaphors are and what the writer “really means”. The mouse who wants to be a writer and never says a word except a quiet “no thank you” to the endless, brimming tumblers of cleanskin Shiraz.
But he gives them all the small smile and signs all their bloody books, even though none of them has even bought phwoar – cheap bastards; It’s all fucken Cliché Street as usual. The drunk shoves a copy of of something under his nose and he signs it, only realising afterwards that it’s a copy of The Joy Luck Club! Might be worth something on ebay some day maybe, or was she is just too soused to know the difference?
The last five kilometres through the outskirts of Albany are a shambling blur. Worse. Ten times than the treck through the bush. Cars slow. Some of them not even Holden classics. Was there really such a vehicle as a Honda Beret? Kids gawp. His legs and feet burn, but if he goes down he won’t be rising again under the weight of his burden, these die hard Cliché Street fans with their interminable questions about the book. “Is Meat & Two Veg his real name?” “Wha?” Each inquisitor not so subtly showing with their question how their own experiences are somehow more authentic than the characters he has written about. “My grandfather cleared 7,000 acres outside Moora.” Was that even a question?
The sound of his heart in his ears drowns out the questions, the traffic, the soft slap of his Chiko covered feet on the pavement and even his own mumbling answers. The entire group, book club, kids, dogs, shoppers, tourists, growing every minute, rolling on like a ball of garbage down Bluff Knoll, grotesque plague ridden flagellants with him at the head of it all, copping the whipping. Phwoar!
Sweat drains into his eyes, outlines his man boobs plus a thin crescent at the top of his gut. He brushes through the barrier of the Golden West television cameras, the journo chick from The Advertiser doing her time in the bush before shooting through to the smoke, even the kid reporter from Dog Rock Primary School trying to get a piece to camera with her ipad. What he says to them he hasn’t a clue. From the inside he sounds like a humpback with half a dozen craypots wrapped around its nurries. But they are all smiling and nodding, and it won’t matter anyway. He doesn’t even stop. doesn’t even slow his gasping lurch onwards. Kids struggle to get the fingered joke rabbit ears ready behind his head for the cameras. Too late – he is gawn. Others are trampled by the crowd as some over ambitious piece of fartarsing for the TV comes undone and under they go. “Wipeout. Ya wankers!“
They wheel along the rail line like a scene from The Seventh Seal. Wagons of woodchips barely rolling faster towards the port than he is, hammer beside them. “Ya bastards! Ya fucken desecrating bastards!” comes a disembodied howl from deep within his watermelon neck. Thin lipped book club prudes who prefer their obscenity on the printed page pretend they didn’t hear. And still they go on.
Now they pass The Amity, an ill thought out crapulous replica of a wooden ship. Almost there. The ridiculous boat-shaped arts centre where they had staged one of his plays (Rising Lunch was it?) claws the sky. And then he sees it. Outside the old railway station, now the tourism centre – at the very end of the Bibbulmun. “Can yas see it?” A truck. A huge one, on the side written. “Great Southern Catering Services. “
The roar in his ears clears.
“You little fucken beauty. Christ, I could totally murder a mini quiche.”
鯨 mini quiche.
… and there they will be , laid out on lace-paper lined trays atop sleek clinically white composite party bars , row upon row of them surrounded by literal descendants of all his literary inventions , plush and pretentious nongs congratulating themselves almost as much as him within the glass walled first floor room — neomodernist in style — overlooking what once were the indo chinese bordellos crack joints and opium dens on the wrong side of the sandy tracks about which he dare not write , so much depending upon the foreign investment in goddamned urban vibrancy that has converted them like a seedy magician converts snotrags into fake bouquets of sushi bars , cocktail bars , caribbean pulled pork bars , bars purveying everything to those insufficiently hungry really to need food , ever , while all the while their real customer base was upstairs gorgong on party pies and as-yet-unrepurposed-as-footwear chiko rolls ( paid for by their subscribed support of that cramped music hall the tastefully recycled greyish timber lining of which still smelled so evocatively of creosote ) after he did his star turn for the first night of his first stage play about old geezers and posh lesbians and broke pottymoutged pommie sheilas on hols , all of em squatting in redeveloped marina berths on sailing yachts they d forgotten how to sail , and …
Where was he ? He wiped the fresh transfat fron his lips and asked himself was it for this i went barefoot on stage and took a bow ( only figuratively speaking of course ) ?
Yes , he said … yes he would … yes yes yes
Tom remembered. All that had been forgotten. It surged back to him like the incoming tidal wave of 1883, when Krakatoa erupted and carried away 1,883 bales of wool left on the mudflats of King Sound for a ship that never came. That year all the dugongs had new jumpers. It was the year the Whitebaits came to Cliche Street. It would be another 70 before their neighbours, the Koonacs, fled their drying wheatbelt dam and became the first ever global warming refugees. Some hadn’t made it. Some had been caught in nets and barbecued on the spot. Others had been eaten as they passed Cunderdin. The dirt music of dystopia played for Tom. Then just as suddenly all that had been remembered became forgotten. Again.
Cliche Street is a gated community now
Well they ll be made not to compromise the heritage integrity of the curtilage .