Title: Faces


In: Sport 31: Spring 2003

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 2003

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Prose Literature

Conditions of use



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Sport 31: Spring 2003


page 72




Portia says faces can be sorted into three groups—horses, birds or buns. Or a combination. She says her latest, Hamish, is a horse. His breath smells like freshly cut grass. He chews his food with a contemplative jaw action.

It's also true, confides Portia, sipping her Stealth Mule, that Hamish is a stallion in bed.

Her friend, Trina, leans forward over her Sea Breeze, listening.

Trina is a bun. Her face is a muffin dusted with freckles. Her eyes are light brown sultanas.

After sex, Portia says, Hamish sucks air into his big nostrils and blows it out on my neck. Want to hear my whinny? I spent weeks perfecting it.

Trina looks at Portia's face. Her face is thin, with high cheekbones and a small pointed nose. Her bright eyes dart around the bar, under a thick fringe of streaked blonde hair. She is wearing a flimsy skirt of lime green and pink scarves. Portia is a fashion designer.

You're a bird, says Trina. You're a crazed, tropical parrot.

Portia shrieks with delight. Faces swivel towards them. Bun-birds, horse-buns and bird-horses. The barman clatters his cocktail shaker like a maraca.

How astute! says Portia. There's a sharp mind behind that sweet face. What group does Mark belong to? Trina conjures up Mark's face. His jaw is square. His face has as much expression as a bank deposit box. Mark is a stockbroker.

I've thought of another group, says Trina.

page 73


The bird, the bun, the horse and the box picnic by a river.

Portia flits around, opening wine and unwrapping sandwiches.

Mark sits silently on a tree stump checking his mobile for deals. His eyes are hidden behind his Dirty Dogs. There are three kinds of people in the world, announces Hamish. He masticates on a sandwich. Martyrs, farters and starters. He spaces out each word as though he is dropping three stones into the river. Hamish is a psychology lecturer. He prides himself on his enunciation and his honesty.

That's silly, Portia says. It may be silly, but it's true, replies Hamish. Think about it. There is a long silence. The trees whisper.

And, of course, people can be a mix of all three, explains Hamish.

What am I? asks Trina. She leans forward. She is wearing a simple white strapless dress. Her brown bun-face, glazed with sunscreen, glows wholesomely. Trina works with special needs children.

You're a martyr, replies Hamish.

There is another long silence. The cicadas click.

Want to hear a joke? asks Portia. A horse walks into a bar and the barman says—why the long face? The bird and the bun roll around on the picnic rug. The river chuckles. The horse and the box look on, glumly.


The box and the bun lie in bed, discussing the meaning of life.

Only three things matter, pronounces Mark, stroking his muscular things. Money, power and sex. In that order.

There's the environment and people, says Trina. I support Green-peace. I send money to Oxfam.

You might as well give your wedge away on the street, replies Mark. The planet's a woofer. Was that my mobile? I've got half a bar swinging on a deal.

page 74

You're a farter and a selfish lover, says Trina, to her astonishment. She gathers up her clothes.

That night, the box and the bun call it a day.


The bird, the bun and the horse meet for dinner.

Don't feel bad about Mark, says Hamish. Stockbrokers are aliens. You're more suited to a missionary or a vet. I'll introduce you to my life-coach, Veronique. She'll sort you out.

Plenty of birds in the air too, says Portia hugging her. If you prefer women, of course. Merlot?

Trina meanders home past bars full of cheeping women and braying men. She lies in bed, thinking about Mark. She realises he left out fame. Should she ring him?

Later, the moon shines in Trina's window. She wakes up and leans on the windowsill. The bun-faces stare at each other.

Where do starters start? Trina asks the moon. Do they suffer?