Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Seal Wife *13


He looked over at Arkie and she smiled at him. “Do you come here often? Down south?”
“I live down here now,” she purred. His chest thumped. He could feel Andrew’s flat, fuck off eyes.
“Did yer have a good night, last night, bro?” He grinned sideways at his brother before sliding his eyes to the cockpit again. “I saw you had company.”
“You musta been sitting up drinking again, Gordy. How many weeks has it been now?”
“Ahh, you get that on the big jobs.”

Andrew didn’t really love Trappey’s wife. Trappey knew what it was all about. He’d sat for two years now, ruminating in his little house that clattered with wifely knick knacks. He’d had enough time. He knew.

One night, he stalked the hallways in a restless rage, thinking, what is the wound, where does it hurt most for him? How can I hurt him? When did I see him hurt bad and how to do it again?
Just gotta ask the right question. His mind went straight to that sunny day on the wharf when the two brothers sat by the bow of a massive container ship and fished for herring and squid. Gordon was thirteen, Andrew eleven. (He thought. He’d spent so long not thinking about it, he couldn’t remember what year or even how old they were.) It could have been any day of hundreds. They spent their summer holidays crawling under the wharf, sitting on the dank iron walkways where water lapped against the jarrah piles and pigeons gently resented their intrusion. There was always a bit of action about the place; sailors painting their national flags on the wharf, someone hooking a stingray.
It was one of the Panama registered ships, rather dodgy looking with its rust holes and peeling paint. An Asian man knelt beside them and said, “You come up for whiskey?” Of course the boys were up the gangplank and into the creep’s cabin without even thinking of ‘stranger danger’. They each had an enamel mug of foul tasting stuff, rice whiskey Trappey later realised, and they sat on the man’s bed. Gordy began to feel strange, a combination of the drink and some kind of expectation, a sweat of alarm building in his body. The man’s walls were covered in girlie pictures - but he was looking at them. He gave them each a can of Coke to mix with the whiskey. The can had writing in another language on it and it buckled easily, aluminium. Gordy had never seen an aluminium can before. The buckling sound made him feel sick. He excused himself and ran through the warren of steel hallways, onto the deck and down the gangplank, where he vomited into the water and lay for a while, watching the oily slick gather around the piles.
Then he remembered his brother and ran back up to the deck, where he found Andrew climbing out of the hold, looking green and bewildered and hurt.

It was the same hurt Trappey had been looking to inflict after the bastard had stolen his wife. But remembering that day on the wharf made Trappey realise why Andrew hated him so much. And he deserved that. Couldn’t even protect his little brother. No wonder Andrew looked at him with that scorn tinged with shame.

Even while checking the cockpit, Trappey felt the blood rush to his face as the day on the wharf came back to him again. So what do you do with that shit? It doesn’t get any better knowing these things. He couldn’t seem to rid himself of it these days; it got bigger and bigger in his stomach like the opposite of starving. Sometimes he felt it had to come out or it will kill him. He did wonder if his wife knew. Maybe Andrew told her and that was why she left. Once, that night at the inlet, she said, “You are carrying something to big. I can’t live with it anymore and not know what it is.” He didn’t know himself back then. He was on permanent autopilot. It took a very dark clique’ of the soul to dredge up a secret like that and another hundred pissy nights to survive it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Listening tonight to an audio of Randolph Stowe transcribing a first draft to his publisher in England.
The soundscape is opaque and honest to the stone, falling into oblivion, rising into crystal clear visions of landscape and of a cat's eye glass from the windowsill.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Seal Wife *12


It took fifteen minutes to arrive at the area where local fishermen had seen the so-called illegals the previous day. This was granite country again and the stone peppered mountain rose into the sky ahead of them, the nippled breast pointing back towards town.

“Why didn’t you go out in the patrol boat and apprehend them?” Asked Trappey.
“It’s in Perth, of course,” said Stuart. “Nobody knew what to do when they realised how far south these guys were. It’s never happened before.”
“What about those toothfish poachers?”
“The whole north is ready for boats,” said Cowie, ignoring Trappey. “They’d get shipped straight offshore for processing if they landed up there. What gets me is how they managed to get this far south without being spotted.”
“It’s a vast area,” Arkie said. “Europe is so dense with traffic and yet customs still miss a lot of boats.”
“Take us out a bit, Trappey,” said Stuart. “Then if we can head east again and ...”
“I’ll do a grid that will cover some ground, you happy with that?”
“Sounds good.”

The last time he’d been out this way, it was the break up weekend. Two years ago now. They camped at the spot around the mountain from the inlet, where parking bays were neatly laid out with gravel and there were no fires allowed. Of course, they hadn’t realised that until the ranger arrived to take their camping fees and told them to put out the little brush wood fire they were just about to cook dinner on. It was a cold afternoon and they ate muesli and some apples and sat up late into the night, trying to communicate. In the camp beside them a bunch of city ferals thumped away on drums, communing with the nature spirits. “Give them a break,” Hazel said. “They probably live in squats in the city. They must be so happy to be out here.”
He told her that once they got their degrees, they’d all be ‘out here’ with their dreadlocks cut off, selling real estate to sea changers or implementing ‘coastal control’ programs. She hated his cynicism but he’d seen it all before. She was so much younger; she could have listened to him. Instead she melted away from his life – no she didn’t melt at all. She did not melt. She got sadder and sadder and thinner too.
Then one day and too late, he noticed that her skin was clearing again and her eyes looked brighter. When he came home from the spotting flights, she was waiting with dinner, smoothing her shirt down over her jeans. It happened quickly after that. He wasn’t ready for it. They went camping together, for what he thought would be a revival of their dirty weekends along the coast. He wasn’t ready at all when she told him that she’d been sleeping with Andrew for the last three months.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Seal Wife *11


He glanced at Andrew as he climbed in and decided to ignore him. Once they had taken off and were flying over the glittering harbour town, Stuart introduced everyone again. “Gordon – Trappey, this is Arkie, she’s the consulting anthropologist with Immigration.”

Arkie reached over to shake his free hand. “Pleased to meet you Gordon,” she drawled.

His stomach lurched. Scandinavian. What a voice! She purred like a beautiful engine. He glanced quickly down to her long, folded legs and those heels.

“This is my brother, as you must know,” said Andrew. Arkie nodded at him, a complicit smile twitching her lips. “Arkie asked me yesterday if I wanted to go for a ride,” he explained to the suits. “I don’t know how kosher that is but seeing as my brother’s at the helm ...”

Stuart happily raised his eyebrows at Andrew. Cowie ignored him and went back to his notes, marking sheets of paper one by one.

“So. Who are these guys?” Trappey asked.

“We think they’re fishermen,” Stuart said. “Definitely illegals. We need to ascertain whether or not they are fishing and if so, what they are targeting. We think they’re Indo’s but they could be anyone who just bought the tub off the Indonesians.”

“They could be asylum seekers,” said Cowie.

“This far south? Nuts.”

“Queue jumpers,” said his brother. “They should wait their turn like every other poor bastard.”

“It’s never that simple, Andrew,” Arkie said gently. Trappey didn’t mind who she spoke to or what she said, so long as he could hear her voice. “Some people are desperate. Anyway,” she glanced at Stuart, “it’s not illegal to claim asylum.”

Andrew nodded sagely and Trappey knew he hadn’t slept with her yet.

He flew in an arc around the arriving coast, lowering altitude to take in the cliffs where a fine spray from the Southern Ocean misted the heath lands. Here the cliffs were limestone and rather than wearing the headlands into balding granite outcrops, the sea pushed and crushed the softer stone until walls rose straight up from the ocean.  The sea glowed ultra marine blue but he knew that on their return, when the wind blew up and grey clouds rolled in from the south, that the sea would change to a gun barrel grey chop. It was that time of year.

They moved from the cliffs to a long stretch of white beach with reefs breaking the calm water away from the swell. A tribe of dolphins surged around inside the reef where the sandy bottom turned the water turquoise. Their urgent moves made them look like they were hunting.  There would be a school of pilchards down there, or perhaps some herring. He’d been hired by the Land and Sea mob once to track a school of herring that the dolphins pushed along the coast for twenty miles, the tight knot of fish gathering in tonnage all the while, like some diabolical ball of piscine fluff, until the dolphins pushed the school into a shallow corner of the harbour and fell upon them in an orgy of gluttony. He was reminded of kelpies with sheep, or hunting dogs. They behaved in the same way.

He tried to shake away his hangover but he knew he was left with it for the rest of the day. His lungs ached, front and back, and sometimes the tips of his fingers twitched and felt numb and tingly. It was a two week bender now and he was getting embarrassed tipping bottles straight into the recycling bin. He put them in cardboard boxes first and dropped them in carefully, so the neighbours wouldn’t hear the ringing of glass. No visible vessels of his addictions – except himself. The house was constantly being cleared out of bottles and yet there were always more and the ashtrays kept filling. He could hardly keep up with himself. Sometimes the hangover was the best part because he didn’t have to think too clearly, just sit in his own muck and feel the amorphous glob of his guilt in some vague kind of way. A not so merry, merry go round.