Sport 42: 2014
Another music bomb exploded from the spare room. Between them a fork and saucer vibrated on the kitchen table and then went still with the music.
‘God Jesus,’ she said.
He looked at the ceiling. ‘There she blows,’ he said, as if it was some small thing.
She dragged her fingers over her ears. ‘I can’t—’ ‘He’s Brazilian,’ he said, like it was an answer. ‘This is your scheme.’
‘And you’re doing the spending,’ he said, gesturing at the cigarette carton on the microwave.
‘Oh, right,’ she said, flying her hands by her shoulders. ‘What?’ he said, mimicking. ‘What’s this?’
She just looked at him. She lit a cigarette and just looked. ‘Well?’ he said, ‘I’ve given you the solution.’
Exhaling, she sat back, cupping her elbow. ‘That?’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, lighting up, ‘yeah, that.’
‘It’s wrong,’ she said, like wrong was a joke they shared.
‘He tramps or whatever, he’s always outside. There are cliffs and caves and shit like that. It can be dangerous. Especially for foreigners.’
They heard his footsteps.
‘Mr Barboza,’ she said, spitting the words. And there again the music came on and died.
Her hands shook. He was looking at her. ‘No,’ she said. ‘We’re not going back to that.’
‘You’re not. Jesus. What about his parents, the cops, the exchange folk?’
He took a long drag and turned out his arms, examining the rash there.page 241
She stood and looked. Softly he let the smoke from his nose.
‘I’m not thinking about it,’ she said, going towards the fridge. ‘I’m getting tea. That’s all I’m doing.’
‘Things blow over,’ he said.
And, as if to punctuate this truth, music again invaded. Ninety- three seconds of devil-metal that settled, once and for all, the very short life of Raimundo Barboza.
The Judge and the Artist
From the dock the artist watched. He’d admitted the assault charge. Now the judge was considering a sentence.
‘Previous form?’ he asked.
‘One other conviction—also biting female,’ said the artist’s lawyer. ‘He’s into hurting women?’ said the judge, eyes bulging.
‘Not at all—’ started the lawyer.
‘Not at all?’ said the judge, pausing to raise his hand and then ping ponging his eyes from his wedding ring to the artist and back again.
Years later, having disembarked a taxi, the judge tripped, staggered and regained himself.
Through the gallery’s doors he went into a tall room where young women with trays of champagne worked the crowd of suits and evening gowns.
They were after him. Who judges the judges.com—an online mob barracking him over his heavy sentences. It provided a useful excuse for his drinking.
A waiter passed carrying a platter of cut meat. The judge followed. His wife would commit to these events and then spy on him, lurking amongst the throng like that bespectacled fool in those children’s books
His hunt took him onto an elevator. Then he was on a mezzanine amongst the art. A centred paddling pool steamed. Suspended above, in an over-sized birdcage, a man—like a castaway he had a ratty beard and arms like pipe cleaners—crouched.
Wobbling on the spot the judge stared. A thought came: My teeth are floating, floating like little apples on a river. And in that moment some lethal thing crossed his blood–brain barrier and took bed. He was dead inside a month. Locked inside a crematorium’s furnace well before they’d closed the artist’s show, but for now the judge reached for a passing flute of champagne, shaped himself into the shape of the man he was and continued his search.
Louise Fowler, aka Wine-bottle Lou, aka Truck-Lady, aka Rex’s widow, pulled in just beyond the Motorway Café. The driver of a departing sixteen-wheeler slowed to stare at the wrecked helicopter on Lou’s rig. Ignoring his wave, Lou climbed down from the cab and crossed the lot. The café was quiet—just a dressy couple at a table that looked over the motorway and paddocks beyond. Lou bought a beer and took it three tables down.
An old woman had paused at the wreck. Most people could add two and two. The pilot of the crashed chopper had been a celebrity. His female passenger—Betty someone or other—was in a coma. It was all over the news. Anyway, with the site investigation now complete, Lou had the contract to haul the wreck to the CAA’s city compound.
Lou whacked the window until a man clambering onto her truck went away. She was on her fourth beer.
‘Excuse me?’ The male half of the dressy couple had walked over. ‘Yes.’
‘You’re transporting the helicopter that almost killed Betty Dean.’ ‘Am I?’
The man nodded back in the direction of the woman. ‘My wife knows Betty,’ he said.
Lou stayed dead still. After a moment he gestured at her beer. ‘Are you okay?’ he said, ‘that’s really what we wanted to ask.’
Outside dairy cows were spaced down the fence line. They were shaded, but the rising sun had caught the mangled upper-half of the chopper making it look clean. The man shifted. Now the woman was coming over. Lou was warmed by the concern. She tried to think of something to say to keep them there. More than Rex himself, what she missed was the structure of a husband. Though when she spoke it came out nothing like that.