Based on an original idea by Nick Lachmund
PETER (Muck Up Day At Kookaburra College, 199_)
By Sean Crawley
Peter ate humus the night Patrick Redford raped him. Head down in the leaf litter, regretting following Evelyn along that dark path, he made up his mind about year eleven. He couldn’t go back. He could never face Patrick, or Evelyn.
Or Mr Wallace. What was he doing driving along Bentford Street that night anyway?
“You’ve got blood on your pants, Peter,” said the history teacher as he helped the student into his car. “What’s happened?”
“I fell over, Sir.” It was all he could utter.
The plumbing apprenticeship was not all it was cracked up to be. Get a trade son, his dad advised. All he seemed to do was dig trenches. To avoid the humiliation of tradesmen and older apprentices alike, he learnt quickly how to do them straight and at exactly the right depth.
His mates back at school disappeared. They thought they were shit hot in the white shirts that marked their ascendency to the senior years. They had parties and homework and slept in because school starts at nine. Peter was at the corner to be picked by the boss at 6.30am each morning. They had years of work lined up at Blue Ridge Estate, villas and townhouses mainly – lots of trenches, sewer and storm water both.
Daniel was a fourth year electrical apprentice who was often on the same sites up at the Estate. They were sitting on a painter’s plank they set up on a pair of empty Bycol tins out the back of a half finished villa. The tradies were inside grunting at each other about football and the tits on display in the ubiquitous girly mags.
“When I get my trade I’m outta here, man. Goin’ to Indo to surf for a year. Then off to Europe.” said Daniel. “I’m only finishing this gig to please the ol’ man. What about you? Why you putting up with all that shit from those fat cunts in there?”
Peter shrugged. He didn’t answer cause he didn’t know. It was just the way it was ever since that night. His bleeding anus healed but the taste of dirt lingered. He couldn’t get clean. He was sixteen and paralysed.
“Don’t talk much do you,” said the final year sparkie. “Good idea, actually. Around here anyway. They’ll only take the piss out of you. Here. Eat this.”
Daniel handed Peter a small piece of foil. On it was some sticky white paste.
“It’s goey. A bit gooey sure, but it’s top grade speed. You know … gas? Just lick it off, buddy. I guarantee you’ll enjoy your afternoon digging.”
Peter ate it and his world changed.
Euphoria. Confidence. Energy. It was as though a warm light had been switched on in a dark room. Life had possibilities after all.
By the time his new mate Daniel left for Indo, Peter had a cracking speed habit and all the contacts he needed to keep himself high. Sure he would crash and burn every once and a while, and his dad questioned what hell was going on. But Mum protected him and fed him soup so he could regain enough strength and get back to work. She even gave him her Honda Prelude as a permanent loan of sorts.
It was November of his second year apprenticeship when Peter ran into an old school mate. He was remarkably soft and he was whining about how Kookaburra College had banned them from having a muck up day for the end of year twelve. “But we’re going to do it anyway,” boasted the school boy.
Peter thought about Evelyn and that weirdo Patrick Redford. He imagined turning up at their pathetic year twelve muck up day and setting things right. He thought about taking a monkey wrench to Patrick’s head in front of Evelyn, in front of Mr Wallace and all of the school. He thought about the miles and miles of trenches he had dug. He thought about the taste of humus and the smell of clay. All afternoon he could think only of these things.
Later he took a nail gun he’d stolen from a chippy’s ute and hocked it down at Toby’s Pawn Shop where he’d become a regular. Toby didn’t even ask for ID anymore. It was enough to buy an eight ball. Enough to get really primed for muck up day. I’ll show them how to muck things up, he thought.
“Peter, Patrick never came back after year ten. And Evelyn dropped out in the first week back this year. She was very sick and had to leave.” Mr Wallace sat down on the ground next to the ex-student covered in blood and snot, and who was bashing the humus with a monkey wench.