In bed late that night, Larry dribbling into his pillow beside me, I wrote two new headings on the pad: Liabilities on the left, including the fees for the twins’ exclusive girls’ school underneath. And Assets on the right. And included Larry’s life insurance.
I hadn’t meant to turn it into a Joan Crawford moment, but when he stood in the hallway weeping into his hands saying, “I’ve lost my job,” I looked down at my Charles Jourdan pumps with the gold pom-poms and immediately went online and bought twenty Versace t-shirts.
And after I bustled Cashmere and Chambré off to bed, fear in their eyes as they wondered at the strange noises coming from Larry in the toilet, I’d sunk against the 100% goose down pillows with the amazingly high thread count Egyptian cotton pillowslips and I’d started my first list.
Decant cheap wine into more expensive bottles, I’d written.
The litany of tough decisions scrawled on.
Stencil Gucci on no-name jeans.
I looked over and watching the saliva encrusting in the corner of Larry’s mouth, my heart sank. I knew a breach of promise suit, charging we were not being kept in the manner to which we were accustomed, would not deliver the desired result.
So I tore up the first list and started the second.
eBay’s been good to me. We’ll see what it delivers this time.
Category Archives: Matt Potter
Their jaws drop. Tears well in my father’s eyes.
“You’ve turned this into a circus!” I say. I fold my arms and glare.
My mother lays her pen on top of the seating plan. “And disappoint your father?” she says. “When that’s all he’s looked forward to throughout his illness?”
Dad sniffs. I don’t look at him.
I jab the plan with my finger. “You’ve put all my anorexic friends on the table nearest the buffet,” I say. “And all my bulimic friends on the other side of the room away from the buffet and the toilets.”
“There’s no point wasting good food,” says Mum.
Flicking my veil behind my shoulder, I stomp out of the room and into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me.
I slump on the bed, twisting on my bottom so my head hits the pillow and my feet, in their dental assistant-like white, rest at the other end, beneath the cross on the wall.
Mum taps on the door and stands in the doorway.
“Sirên,” she says, using the Christian name I’m giving up. “This going away party is the last time we’ll be able to do anything like this. Soon you’ll be in the convent. Have a heart and let us do this the way it should be done.”
She looks at me doe-eyed.
“At least while your father’s still with us.”
I roll my eyes. People think being a Christian means you’ll put up with anything.
Home sweet hoe, it said in red stitching.
Her ancestors weren’t great spellers but who cares when it’s worth a bucket of money.
Took it to the framers after I found it in her old girl’s shed. “Need this framed yesterday,” I said, thumping the counter. Two hours later had a massive gold frame with flowers and shit all over it. Scratched it up a bit so made it look old and the auction bloke fell for it.
“It’s not spelled right,” I said. In case he didn’t know.
“The mistake gives it its value,” he said.
“Well, the wife’s family weren’t too bright in the upstairs department, if you know what I mean.”
Took it home, banged a nail in the wall and stuck it up.
Janice’s jaw dropped when I told her how much we could get for it. “Enough to never work again and get a nice new pair of these,” I said, squeezing her tits.
And the wife said the same that night when she got home from shotput practice.
But Janice didn’t want to wait. “When am I gonna get my new tits?” she said.
Booked tickets to Bali and got Janice a perm. Told ’em at work I wouldn’t be in Monday.
Went to grab it from the wall but only the frame was there, and a note.
Sold the cross-stitch and have run off with Barb my shotput coach. We’re somewhere on the Great Ocean Road, ya miserable fuck!
Went to work Monday.
“It’s about basic working conditions!” she says, rubbing ice cubes on her nipples.
I hand her her plate and she clicks it into place in her mouth. It’s her signature look, buck teeth. Heaven knows what the punters would think if they knew even her teeth were fake.
I hand her the vermillion-sequinned g-string. Stepping into it, her flashing platform shoe snags on the crotch. I grab her elbow.
“Fuck those cockies,” she says, steadying to snap the g-string into place. “It’s them or me.”
“So you’re a match for a million-year throwback?”
She bends over in front of me. “Am I straight?”
Fingering the waistband, I shift the t-bar a centimetre to the right.
“I hate the bastards in this business.”
I pick the plastic raincoat from its hanger. Holding it out, I slide the sleeves over her arms then button up the front. “When you’re on-stage, don’t let the cockroaches in this dressing room get you down.”
She grimaces, checking her teeth in the mirror, then picks up her umbrella. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is her biggest strip.
She stands in the doorway. “The Hungry Doughnut has offered me twice as much money and a cockroach-free clause: for every cockie I see I get an extra $100.”
“Oh,” I say. “So … you want me to collect as many cockies as I can so we can take them with us?”
“Yeah.” Her cheeks rub the raincoat as she turns around. “A little bit of pre-history never hurt anyone.”
Smoke is pouring outta my ears! (And outta my mouth and nostrils, but that’s normal.)
The Fast-o-matic Supermart has changed their coupons. Now you can’t swap them for plastic surgery. So all those tubes of New Orleans-style Cottil-i-Lard dog sausage were bought for nothing.
And New Orleans-style Cottil-i-Lard flavour is not my favourite.
“Next election is gonna be real interesting,” I said, wearing army fatigues as I stood in the check-out line swapping coupons for rubber sheeting.
“Why’s that, Maureen?” said LaVern, patting her hair.
“The little people have had enough and there’s gonna be a revolution.”
“All ’cos you can’t get discount face smoothing anymore?”
Where that LaVern leaves her brain, I got no idea.
“It’s more than just my face, LaVern,” I said, handing her the coupons. “Even my thighs have crow’s feet.”
“It’s a free country,” she said, popping the coupons in the cash drawer and pushing the rubber sheeting towards me. “No one ever made you smoke.”
“If the government wants us to smoke so they can take our taxes, they should give us free plastic surgery so we can get rid of our smokers’ wrinkles.”
LaVern leaned over the conveyor belt and said under her breath, “Sounds like socialism, Maureen.”
Ever since LaVern went to that community college last summer she uses these big words.
“Have fun looking socialism up in the dictionary,” LaVern said, as I stuffed the rubber sheeting in my titanium-dipped carry-all.
I love this country but it’s going to the dogs.
Get the angle just right and you can create a pile-up.
I’m the Good Samaritan of Highway 57. Twice I’ve been cited for a Medal of Bravery but I’ve turned it down.
I don’t want the scrutiny medal-giving brings.
I live atop a cliff behind a clump of trees, in a Frank Lloyd Wright knock-off bought in the last property bust. From the balcony you can see for miles across the ocean, and even in winter, as the sun sets, it’s a million dollar view.
But there’s no welcome mat in front of my door and I work long hours in Emergency at the large hospital twenty minutes up the coast anyway.
Have you seen my photo in the paper? I always have a serious expression on my face, am usually in a white coat and probably look completely unapproachable but there I am, and pasted in my scrapbook: Local Doctor Saves Another Life.
I keep it in a secret cavity the Frank Lloyd Wright wannabe designed, under the kitchen floor. Dragging it back from the bushes atop the cliff without gouging the lawn is a challenge, but neatness is next to godliness in my profession.
Catch the glint of the afternoon sun in the large mirror and rush hour on Highway 57 somersaults to a halt. Half an hour later I’m working miracles with battered bodies and there I am in the local newspaper again.
My ex-wife had four children after we divorced.
“Put it down to experience,” Tess says, beginning our next ascent.
Our glockenspiels glint in the sun. Ahead of us: eight more glockenspielers. Ahead of them: Wanda our blonde-bobbed Manager, high-stepping in leatherette boots and cowgirl fringing, waving a baton in the refugee camp breeze.
Booooooooooompppp sounds the tuba, wrapped around a lumpen guard bringing up the rear. Any slower and he’d be marching backwards.
The Happy Times Elevenette is the camp’s official cheer-up squad, marching the hilly streets dispensing goodwill. Tess and I are seconded from our English-teaching positions.
Clunk, ting, ping, sounds my hammer on the gleaming keys. One more bum note and I’ll be struck down by lightning.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if Wanda just learned to do her job?” I say, spying refugee residents (‘clients’ in the official parlance) curtain-twitching at their windows.
In over her head managing the camp’s education and activities programme, Wanda has morphed her job into something she can do: a weekday version of her weekend brass band-conducting hobby.
Wanda high-steps aside as we crest a curve, evil-eyeing me through Jersey-cow-length false eyelashes, and waves her baton: dispensing rhythm or casting a curse, I can’t tell.
I hammer a high C.
“It’ll look good on your C.V.,” Tess whispers.
Marching down the hill, I think of verbs I could be declining in my classroom-tent. And of my growing bank balance, each jolting step, each clunking hammer-dong more money towards the hitman I’m paying to release us from this tinkling hell.