Our fellow, but for his shallow breathing, sits motionless on the edge of a cliff resting between Waverley Cemetery and the vast Tasman Sea, after such a busy twenty-four hours he only half watches a most, unexpected sunrise.
He thinks of another time, the day fifteen years ago when he saw his father last. ‘Be good while I am away,’ says the father to his green-eyed five year old, ‘bless you my son. Now go play with your brothers’ and that was it. Our little fellow turned and ran away laughing. One month later he asks his mother where his father is. She tells him, ‘Father could be gone for a very long time,’ but our fellow knew in the pit of his stomach. Father is dead.
When this little fellow is eight years old, he’s working on a construction site, his father dead three years by now; his mother so very sad. He does all he can to keep her alive, such a determined little fellow. How else could he travel so far from his country to the cliff here between the cemetery and the sea? Waverley, Australia.
His brothers carried him here; bigger, stronger brothers. Even brothers he had yet to meet, carried him, all along the way. Each brother introduces our little fellow to his cousin, and his cousin is also our fellow’s brother. They formed the chain for him. He could cross the globe just by holding the hand of one brother long enough to be passed into the hand of the next. The fastest way of transport he knew.
Putting many simple ideas together was always the most effective way for them. Everything as it is, being detailed and complex in some way, did not need to be too great a challenge for one fellow in the end. Learning just as much as he needs to, about what he needs to know, is part of determination. Always, he thinks, he can do this. He knows no other life than this gift from God, and he knows God has a plan. Our quiet little fellow knows the grey bird gets the sweetest seed. The bird looking most like the ground spends the most time on the ground. The more he can blend in, the more he can find his way to the sweet seed and his destiny.
A motley flock of Silver Gulls peevishly toss guttural trills and squeals between each other as the Tasman’s surface starts to catch the new light. They watch our fellow, each through one eye. At times, some of them turn their head and watch with the other. Some watch our fellow front on with both eyes. A Scarlet Honeyeater twitters happily to greet the rising sun.
So many simple things to do; but also some things are very difficult. It is very simple to enter a familiar place knowing nothing about it. As long as you know the ‘universal commonalities’, so our little fellow knows these ‘universal commonalities’ well. How they speak, what their words mean; he is not always so sure. These people here are so friendly. Australian. Open hearted. This is why they allow her to come here. Their boarders do not welcome everyone but they bring her here to parade herself. She is very bad.
The salty ozone emphasizes some kind of resolute feeling around this place where the graveyard meets the sea, his breathing seems to calm. Slower, deeper, more relaxed. The crypts and headstones shine in a lick of golden sunshine casting long black shadows behind them. Sea spray mists and tumbling waves below our fellow. Our fellow thinks he always knew one thing, it would be right to follow his brothers, they knew his destiny well. Now he thinks ‘I know nothing.’
Only hours ago he was there, a journalist in the media area beside the entrance to the Fox Studio Cinemas in Moore Park standing beside the long red carpet. A carpet so thick he would easily get a good night’s sleep on it. Media pass with his photograph hanging around his neck. He took care to smile for this photograph like a friendly Australian. A number and a barcode stamped over this part of his face through the plastic coating distorts the smile enough to twist it into a nonchalance.
There’s plenty of space for him to twist his body as she passes. She will pass from left to right along this red carpet. As she passes he is permitted to speak with her. He may hold up his microphone. The Australian guy at the Community Radio Station calls it ‘a Sting,’ when he loans the equipment to them. The equipment they use to record the stars. His brother says he should ask her for a ‘Station ID,’ but in Australia it is also ‘a sting’. Later in the car, they laughed. ‘Going to get the sting,’ says one brother, another shouts with his perfect American accent, ‘No worries mate!’
Now as he waits his perspiration is too obvious. He stands waiting for her arrival when an Australian stranger beside him says, ‘better give your face a wipe champ, you’re all a wash,’ but these words, he does not think he really understands; he takes the paper napkin the kind stranger offers. Our fellow thinks again, ‘so friendly, the Australians’. He dabs at the drizzling sweat on his face ‘She is very hot today,’ he smiles at the stranger, meaning the day is hot. ‘Yeah mate, and you can say that every day o’th’week about this one; shame she’s a lesbian; bit of a worry!’
What the stranger says, does not make sense, except he also waits, to get a sting. Getting the sting is competitive this way. All the Australians beside him, and the many others, Chinese, Japanese journalists they all wait together. Many have cameras only, and no microphones. The ones with cameras will call to her as she passes. It will be noisy. The ones with microphones will hope for a moment of calm so their recordings will be clear. If she approaches our fellow he will lean forward holding up the microphone and she will be like the Honeybee who first gives the sting, before she dies.
Our little fellow imagines she will approach him but even if she does not, she will die. He has delicate machinery attached to his body, small, expensive machinery. His brother kissed him on each cheek before he told him how to attach it. And now our little fellow is here, waiting, exactly where he knew he would be. Everything is familiar enough to make some sense; our little fellow is on track.
What did not make sense were her eyes; the purity and the compassion in her face. Her ability to remain graceful as the strangers with cameras called out ‘Over here Jodie!’ and ‘Miss Foster, this way please,’ as they aimed their capturing lenses directly at her. The freshness of her smile, her pale skin, tiny frame all of this astonished him. On the screen she looks so big, but here on the carpet she no bigger than his mother.
All our fellow does now is stare at this sunrise, the one he was never supposed to see. Back then, when she was close enough to touch he raised the microphone towards her. His sweaty hand allowed the microphone to drop, but she caught it in mid air and offered it back to him, ‘Expensive stuff habibi, you don’t want to drop it,’ she said ‘here.’ She offers it back to him. This was the moment he was supposed to press the mechanism on his hip. His great moment of glory, but, she called him ‘friend’. She is a delicate little flower. ‘Did you bring your kids Jodie?’ calls a photographer, ‘Is your girlfriend with you?’ hollers another. She does not answer them; she waits for our little fellow to take his microphone. She smiles.
The seagulls watch our little fellow as he slumps forward over the cliff. Before his young body hits the water it disappears in a crimson mist just above the booming breakers; below the sudden cacophony of hungry squawking gulls and excited flapping of a thousand wings.
David Paul Jobling
Freelance writer, dramatist, actor and artist; editor of various sites, blogger. Adelaide SA · http://facebook.com/DPJobling
- The Fit In Room and The Poetry of Object 0.1 (davidpauljobling.com)