None of us can fight the combustion―not my boss, a soft-spoken man with cunning defenses; not my colleagues who could bring the house down after too much alcohol and a bit of pole dance; not the old lady cleaner who comes in everyday to break her back clearing someone else’s trash; not me, who has problem co-existing with more than a few people at a time and is always on the run.
Jack clenches the bottle of gasoline in his hand. I remember his Australian accent.
‘Calm down, mate,’ I say, ‘you want to go home and row down Albert Park Lake.’
‘We aren’t making a movie here,’ he says, pointing to the camera gear around our office. ‘You guys should have let me.’
The last syllable of Jack’s last word forms a magic ring in the air and for a moment our eyes are burst. When we look again, Jack is drinking up the liquid in a perfect frenzy that no amount of rehearsal or drama studies―which Jack claims to have wasted his early adult life on―could have produced. We can almost hear the lung smash and stomach stove inside him. Jack with no air to dream of lakes anymore.
Then he bends over, rolls off the chair and falls onto the floor.
‘What did you do?’ someone turns to my boss.
‘I told him he’d have to pay if he wanted to be on board, and it’s a lot to pay,’ he says.