Short story by Michael Botur
My first video is of Dad trying to put the key in the ignition just to drive to Brisbane Airport. He tells me to turn my phone off and quit filming every goddamn fucking thing. Years ago Dad would’ve smacked me one, but something schizo has been happening. See, the more gangsterer Dad’s been getting, the less he’s been aggro on me and Mum, cause his crew’s got a war on and they’re all about being soldiers and discipline and going out into the bush for a weekend, crawling on their bellies and shooting automatics. Thing is though, Dad’s had a gutsful of smoking crack 12 hours a day to keep him alert so he can guard the clubhouse, and he’s pledged to go on this desert detox dealio to sweat the shit out of his system and keep Mum from leaving us to go live with her sister in Perth. So yeah, my first vid is me filming Dad trying to get to the airport after he hasn’t had a drink or a pill in like a day and a half and his muscles are all greasy cause sweat’s bursting out of his tats. In my vid, he eels the car through traffic, gripping the slippery wheel, yelling at people at traffic lights, daring them to fight him. He seems way more aggro withOUT a smoke of crack than with. Dad’s way more chill on his Harley, but he’s not supposed to be Riding-with-a-capital-R anymore. That’s the point of this whole escape-to-the-desert mission. No more bashings, no more booze, no more bikes.
The vid ends with Dad toeing my passenger door with his big steel boot then strutting confidently over towards the terminal and going, ‘You comin or not, Junior?’
I used to think Darwin was a hole in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a heap better than where we end up in my second vid. Darwin’s at least got Hungry Jack’s and Pizza Hut, and we drive past this humongous sports shop with this real amazing aluminium softball bat in the window display that I beg Dad to buy me but he doesn’t even answer. There’s girls and beaches and phone reception is mint in Darwin. But nah, Dad’s taking us out to nowheresville to detox, driving the only red car he could find, a gay-arse Hyundai. There were tonnes of awesome Fords at the Avis rentacar place but Dad’s not allowed to drive Fords cause Ford’s colour is blue and all his enemies are blue.
But yeah Dad makes me get up soooooo freaking early for the drive. In my second vid I can barely hold the camera up. I’m begging him to let me sleep in, the motel’s got ESPN, but we’re on the road before the birds wake up, driving into the sun, and it’s like literally evening before we hit this town called Mataranka and crash for the night. Next day we do ten more hours of just road and orange desert and I clock Lego Star Wars on my phone and I’m so bored I play it again from scratch and by the time we get to the ferry at this shithole called Numbulwar, facing towards Groote Eylandt out there in the middle of the ocean, I don’t even give a fuck. I may as well be on Mars.
I kinda thought I could take advantage of Dad while he’s detoxing, get some extra pocket money. Get him to buy me some good shoes and a new phone. But he’s in a funny mood so I just pop my Adderall, munch lollies, play my games, fill in the multi-choice questions in my homework folder so he doesn’t give me a smack in the chops.
It’s like three whole days before I stop and wonder how Dad got the energy to drive for those big long sessions. Maybe his last smoke wasn’t his last smoke.
By my third video, I’m about as far from Brizzie as you could imagine. I’m talking to people my age in a town called– fuck this shit’s hard to pronounce – Al-Yan-Goo-La. Alyangula. Man Aborigine stuff’s weird. To be fair, though, the black dudes on the streets walking barefoot, kicking dust on the fallen Coke sign seem just like me: bored. It’s not to do with my ADHD either. Groote Eylandt’s just a shithole no matter what colour you come from.
I decide to find someone to bash. I try make myself look like Soldier Dad – arms all wide, throat puffed up, eyes pink with rage. I go into this spacies parlour and try to eyeball some Aborigines and they just laugh and sneer. I go and drink a Fanta in the corner and this one blackfella asks me like ten friendly questions and I give up trying to be gangsta. I keep not-getting the guy’s name so he asks me if I want him to spell it out in English, and I’m like What fuckin other language is there? and straightaway he’s like Enindhilyagwa, Nunggubuyu, there’s Yolngu language, there’s Iwaidjan, Umbugarla, depends who my Pop’s yarning to, and I just Psssht and sip my Fanta. He tells me his name’s Yiliyarr and he’s a rapper and he’s my man if I need shrooms, weed, ice, piss, anything. Yiliyarr’s got a big dent in the middle of his face and he’s had the top of his ear bitten off. He wears an Iron Maiden t-shirt and says that’s what his mob’s called, the Iron Maidens.
Yiliyarr asks what I’m doing in his town. I tell Yiliyarr my Dad’s taking a holiday. Dad’s got a massive rep where we come from, but out here it’s not the same. No point talking him up My Dad had this thing not long ago that made him take a second look at thug life. Dad’s footie team got in a brawl with the opposition and it spilled into the car park, and soon enough there were drive-bys and pipe bombs and the pigs got involved and since Dad’s born in New Zealand they were gonna 501 him which is why Dad’s gone and taken himself like 6000 miles away from the club, the booze, the bikes. He even stuck his crack pipe under the front tyre of Mum’s car and made her drive over it so she could love him again.
Tomorrow Dad’s beginning his indigenous cleansing course in this funny little village called Anindilyakwa. Dad’s asked me to video him. Reckons he needs the evidence for his lawyer to prove to Minister for Immigration And Border Protection Peter Dutton that he’s an alright bloke and they shouldn’t deport him. So I spose on top of helping out my old man, I’m making one of those David Attenborough documentaries where you see the last of a dying breed.
I give Yiliyarr the rest of my Fanta and say Laters.
That’s the first 1000 words.
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