A guest post with a few characters from the Sydney underworld
Hosting a guest post, and choosing who to invite today wasn't easy. Getting the mix right took a while, and of course consideration had to be given to who would want to come and who might be pissed if left out.
Carol was easy (she always was), she's garrulous, fun and easy on the eye. She has occasionally referred to a friend called Heather, and I've never known if it was Heather Todd, or someone else. Anyway, I asked Heather to join us, and I hope she’ll put in an appearance. Sam was unavailable, or not contactable, anyway. Maybe he's at sea. It would have been interesting to see him in the same room as Carol. Micky never turns down an opportunity for a drink and to scope out opportunities to steal shit.
It's late, or early, depending on how you use the day. Two-thirty in the morning. I'm putting away books, and getting out bottles and cigarettes ready for when our guests arrive, if any of them do. I pour a shot of Jameson, light a Camel, and sit back thinking about how I came to know them all.
Carol was first to arrive, I knew she would be. She walked in without saying a word, giving me the hard-eye as she walked past me to the table in the middle of the room where she poured herself a drink.
‘Nice to see you too, Carol. How are you?’
She gave one of her derisive snorts, lit up and then said, ‘Still dead last time I checked. Arsehole.'
I’d guessed this was coming, and was glad that it was just the two of us in the room. ‘Come on, Carol, don’t be like that. It was necessary.’
‘Killing me with six chapters left to go is necessary?’
‘For the plot. It was needed for the plot, you must understand that.’
Two steams of smoke escaped her flared nostrils, she looked at me for a five beat, then turned away. ‘Yeah, whatever you say, AJ. You’re the boss, right?’
‘You know you’re one of my favourites, Carol, you always have been. It’s why I invited you first. I really wanted you to be here, to be my guest of honour.’
‘You know, AJ, you’re so full of shit. But I’m here already, so what are we doing? What is this guest post thing anyway?’
‘It’s a chance for the readers—your fans—to get to know you better, perhaps to hear more about you. I think they’d like that. Wadaya say?’
‘You couldn't print what I want to say about you and that eighteen-carat prick, Micky Bloody DeWitt.’
She sat on the sofa, looked at me defiantly as she rolled the ash off her cigarette on the cushion. Then she turned away from me and said, ‘I guess some of you blog readers have read Flank Street already, and so will know what a nasty shit he is, and how he killed me. For the rest of you it went down—no pun—like this. My life was good, and could still have been good if someone hadn't got frightened and killed me. Isn't that right, AJ? It’s okay, it was rhetorical, and you don’t have to answer me, answer the bloody door instead. Like I said, my life was good, plenty of money, enough friends, didn't have to work too many hours to maintain it. Then he found me, Mr A.J write-your-life-the-way-you-don’t-want-it Sendall. He needed me to breathe some life into the dull and vapid existence of—Oh and speak of the devil’s arse, it’s the man himself. Come on in, Micky and pour me a drink. That’s what you do isn’t it; pour drinks for people, Mr A Hole Barhop? And why didn’t you tell me he was coming, A.J? Afraid your “guest of honour” would tell you to get fucked, instead of sitting here entertaining your blog readers?’
Micky had that sardonic grin as he poured Jameson into a tumbler, dropped in ice, and then handed it to her. ‘Mud in your eye, Carol.’
‘A knife in yours, douchebag,’ she said, taking the drink from his hand. Despite her attitude I could see that suppressed smile that was uniquely Carol. I’d seen it a hundred times, so had Micky. He threw me a quick grin as he turned from her. ‘One for you, AJ?’
‘I’m fine thanks, Micky. I’m the designated writer, and somebody might have to stay sober enough to call the cops before dawn.’
He poured one for himself, sat in a chair opposite Carol, and raised his glass in salute. ‘Carry on with your story, Carol. I’d really like to hear it too.’
‘Listen to this guy. Sitting there like Mr Innocent. Hear it? You helped write it, you prick. But for the rest of you, I’ll continue what I was saying. He, Mr Smartarse sitting there with a smug look and a glass of scotch, he needed something in his life, his sad existence—other than his horse-faced barmaid with big tits and no brains—to make the book worth reading. I mean, can you imagine it? Micky and Meagan… doing what! Jack shit that’s what. The dullest book in history. If it wasn’t for me you’d still be pulling pints, spilling whiskey and telling lies. Loser.’
‘And you’d still have a good life, with plenty of money, a few friends and only working a few hours a week—on your back, or knees—to maintain it.’
‘Let’s talk about the book,’ I said, to try and defuse the tension between them. ‘How about that?’
Micky lit a cigarette, his hands cupping the flame of an old Tommy lighter. ‘How about we do a rerun of Carol’s last five pages?’
‘How about you do something useful like cut your throat,’ Carol said. He just grinned and looked back at her, blew smoke into the air and then said, ‘Remember when we were driving back to Sydney from Tamborine Mountain, from your parent’s place? There was a bit of angst that day, just like now—’
‘You’d just threatened to kill my father, you arsehole.’
‘And you’d just lied to me and left me in shit up to my ears with people who kill for fun… remember? Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is we made a truce that night; put everything to one side and just did what we had to do. We can do that tonight for A.J, for the people reading this post, right? Afterwards, we can go back to trying to destroying each other. Okay?’
She laughed, swallowed half of her drink, then said, ‘You and good old A.J. Like two rotten peas in a fucked-up pod.'
‘Come on, Carol, mind the language,’ Micky said, ‘there could sensitive people reading this. They don’t want to hear your foul mouth.’
'For the readers, I'll do it, but it's not for you, or A.J.—hovering here like a blow-fly—trying to look innocent.’
‘That truce is a good idea,’ I said, in an attempt to turn the tide of hostility.
‘You would say that, after all, it was your idea. All of it was. Including getting Micky to kill me.’
‘But it was his idea to—.’
‘Never mind. It doesn't even matter now. You two arseholes killed me between you.’
‘So, Carol, the book, the story. What was your favourite part? What day did you enjoy the most?’ She sat quietly for a half minute. Micky sat smoking and watching her on his best behaviour. Eventually she looked up at him for a few seconds then turned away.
‘Two days stand out in my memory. The first was when we did the robbery together. That was fun, it turned me on,’ she said, glancing at Micky. ‘The second day, or days, were the sailing trip to Pittwater; swimming, laughing and playing poker in the cockpit, and jumping into the water.’
‘That was a good time,’ Micky said. ‘I really enjoyed those days too, Carol.’
She crushed her cigarette out on the arm of my lounge, then said, ‘Just a shame it had to end the way it did then.’
‘Remember the truce, Carol,’
Micky leaned forward in his chair, rested his elbow above his knees, and said, ‘I meant it, Carol. They were good days. Great days. I really wish we could have had more of them.’
She shrugged and wouldn't meet his eyes. Then her shoulders shook, once, then again as she bowed her head. I stayed quiet, stunned to see this beautiful, tough woman cry.
I looked at Micky, there was a broad grin spreading across his face as he watched her. I knew he was a cold, lying bastard; I’d made him that way, but even so....
Carol's head was still bowed, sobs seemed to be convulsing her until she threw her head back and let out one of her loud raucous laughs. She looked at me with a mix of amusement and disdain.
‘Shall we tell them the truth, Micky?’ she said, wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes with the back of a hand. ‘Shall we? Or shall we make them wait to read the book?’
Micky drained his glass, then still grinning, he stood and walked over to Carol and took her hand in his. ‘Nah. Make ‘em wait.’
They walked out the door together, laughing like a couple of coked-up teenagers. I guess the joke was on me.