Kerryn James softly cursed as she saw her boyfriend's phone vibrate with a low thrum, bouncing ever so slightly on the table on the opposite side of her bed. A lot less slightly in fact than the two of them had been bouncing earlier. Ian Reep groaned, having almost drifted to sleep after a heavy session of post dinner bedroom gymnastics. He winced as he looked at the caller i.d. on his phone, noting the time as 10.00. It was one of those fucking private numbers which meant anything from a call centre in India offering hot new deals on jam tin phone plans, a call from one of his drunk mates (red hot fave, ten bucks on the nose thanks), or a wrong number (hope and pray, like Beckham from the spot in a World Cup shoot-out). He grabbed the vibrating Nokia and hit the green button; "Hello. Reep." his voice was a bad croak.
"Reepy!" An excited voice blared, "Its Jacko."
"Fuck off Max! What the fuck do you want?" Reep turned over, cradling the phone, trying to protect Kerryn from Jacko's idiocy.
"I'm down at Central lock-up. Two hundred bucks bail until Monday. Any chance of a hand? I tried Sniper but his phone's not working. Sorry mate, I know its fucked but I'm stuck."
Reep shook his head and cleared his throat while doing mental checks of his blood alcohol reading and bank balance.
"I'll be there in twenty. Stay cool."
"Thanks mate. That's a gold medal effort."
"See ya", then Reep hit the red button. By this stage Kerryn was all inquisitive as well as being annoyed so Reep turned around and answered her arched eyebrows.
"Its Jacko. He needs bailing out down at Central. Wanna come?"
Kerryn rolled back over, pondering the incongruity of having hooked up with a decent man who lead a normal life but was bedevilled by a couple of drunken gambling friends who frequently dragged him off on misadventures. Maybe not so much since she'd fallen for him, distracting him with coupledom but the potential was always there, lingering like one of those cartoon devils camped on Fred Flinstone's shoulder offering all sorts of nasty advice. Still, they were funny bastards and meant well. It would also be something to write about in her "Creative Writing" class. The instructor was always looking for some grit; well here be a pile of the stuff ready for sifting.
"Yep. Its only one-thirty. May as well go and save the idiot. Did he say why he's in gaol?"
She watched as Reep climbed into his jeans and threw on his crumpled "NSW Blues" t-shirt. He still had a tight body, the memory of its intertwined with hers bringing a happy smile to her face.
"No. Have to be some pissed idiot antic though. Hey, you coming half naked. I'm sure the dykes on bikes will love that." As he slid on his sandals he took in the sight of her curves again. Kerryn flicked back a smile and she padded out to the bathroom. A few minutes later she was back. She grabbed her green dress from a clothes rack and drew it over her well proportioned body. Reep made a silent prayer, blessing his cotton socks (not currently being worn) that he'd fallen in with such a girl.
Central Police was just down the road from the railway station and a good two shot navigation to the pin known as the Chamberlain Hotel, outside which Reep parked his Lancer coupe. The pub happened to be open so he went inside and found the bar manager, Shaun serving a few of the crew from the latest musical being staged at The Capitol Theatre twenty metres down the road.
"When are you closing up, Shaun?"
"Prob'ly late. The crew's thirsty and we're doing good tonight. Mark told me to keep it going as long as it was humming. You want a beer?" then he noticed Kerryn in the doorway and smiled in a leery sort of way, arched eyebrows, the works.
"Hi Kez." he said in a singsong voice,
Reepo decided to put some direction to unfolding events,
"No, just going over to the cop shop to bail out Jacko. Don't ask 'cos I don't know. We'll be back in shortly."
With that the couple exited the Chambo and walked across the parking lot, then Belmore Park, skipping across Eddy Avenue to the police station. As they entered they saw a couple of detective types exit, leaving a clear path to the desk. They fronted up,
"We're here to bail out Max Jackson."
The desk sergeant nodded, handing some forms to Reep while checking out Kerryn's figure. She smiled, flicking her hair slightly as she looked over Reep's shoulder. The cop explained the procedure then picked up his phone, punching in a number.
"Get Prisoner Jackson out here. He's got bail."
As Reep filled out the forms Kerryn smiled at the sergeant.
"Busy tonight? Many drunk idiots causing strife?" The sergeant shook his head.
"Not really. Your mate's only the third and his wasn't a big deal.Plenty on over at Newtown though." As he spoke a junior constable escorted a cuffed Jacko to near the access door to freedom. Reep handed over the completed forms to the sergeant along with four fifty dollar notes. The sergeant took the forms and the cash and then explained Jacko's responsibilities in terms of fronting up to the court and the range of penalties a no-show would trigger. In spite of his situation Jacko didn't appear too ruffled. He held up his hands for the cop to unlock the cuffs and then he signed the forms. The constable opened the "freedom" door and Jacko exited. The desk sergeant handed him back a receipt, a copy of the bail papers and a bag of possessions from which Jacko promptly extracted his wallet. It was stuffed with fifty and hundred dollar notes. He slipped the wallet into his front pocket, nodded to the two police officers and said;
"Thanks boys. Sorry about the hassle tonight but I'll sort it out. I'll let yez know how it goes. Oh yeah, remember that trotter's name too. Probably run on Wednesday night in Brisbane. Felton Mully."
The young cop laughed,
"Okay mate, just don't let us see you here again in handcuffs. Good luck."
The three friends walked out of the police station and headed across the park. Jacko looked at Kerryn,
"By Jeez you're looking decidedly shagworthy tonight. Surprised to see you come out after eight but I'm glad you made the effort." he then looked at Reep,
"Thanks poof. I'll settle with you in the car." He then noticed the Chambo had its lights on and doors open.
"Fuck that, I'll settle up in the pub and tell you a tale. I could murder a beer!"
They walked into the Chamberlain Hotel a few minutes later. Jacko went straight up to Margie, the red headed barmaid,
"Three thanks Margaret. Got any sangers left over from the roasts?"
Margie shook her head,
"No but we've got some pies still going. Beef or chicken?"
He handed over a twenty dollar note, carrying the beers over to the bemused couple. He went back to the bar, collected his change, his pie on a plate plus a squeeze bottle of tomato sauce.
"Duck me fed I need this!" With that he downed half of his beer then guped down a huge bite of the meat pie. The others stared at him, their eyes drilling into his, demanding answers.
"Okay, here's the story." He then explained how he'd spent the previous morning breakfasting at Gayle's place after a night of passion. At this Kerryn interrupted,
"A full-blown item now, you and Gayle?"
"S'pose so, but that's not the point." he quickly changed the subject not wanting to turn the story into a romantic comedy. "I left her place and went and caught the bus over to Leichhardt." Jacko then explained how he'd stopped at his local pub and started putting a few bets on the races in Melbourne.
He managed to get a few wins, then lost most it chasing the big punt. He ended up putting fifty each way on a 12-1 shot, Tina's Joy, which took an outside run on the home straight and bolted in by half a length over the favourite. He then backed in a few favourites with hundred dollar bets and followed up with some greyhound wins, scattered amongst a series of losses.
"So I end up two grand in front and start celebrating. Gayle's off at her sister's place preparing some family gig and Sniper's gone missing so I'm on my own, with you two doing your Ikea thing or whatever the fuck gayness it was..three more thanks Margie...so I headed up to Newtown, to the Sandringham to see who was playing." Jacko walked over to the bar and grabbed the three fresh beers. Then he remembered they were meant to be driving.
"You wanna put your car in the car park? This may take some drinking, this tale of mine." Ian nodded,
"Best idea ever. We'll cab it home eh Kez?" Kez agreed, fascintaed where this was leading and determined to turn it into a story for her next class assigment. Reep walked out to his car, got in and drove it across to the car park, then handed over the ten dollar flat fee to the attendant. While he was gone Kerryn pressed Jacko on how he was going with Gayle;
"Well Kerryn, she's good. She makes me laugh a lot and we got on well in bed. Taking it easy at the moment but its going along nicely." he took a long pull on his beer, " What the fuck did you expect me to say anyway? That she's a raving case and into bat blood? I know about her ex, her exploits and all that shite but all it means to me is that she's lived a bit more than some and a bit less than others. God knows I couldn't go pointing any fingers in that direction." Kerryn arched her brows, inviting an explanation which wasn't coming. Not coming yet anyway, it was still at the domestic terminal waiting for a standby to get on the next flight. She knew Jacko had lived fast and loose with the usual rules of engagement but hadn't heard all the stories. Ian was letting them out on a slow trickle feed and she couldn't get near the tap to increase the flow rate. All it needed was patience and beer and she'd be able to tap the well. She made a mental note to quiz Gayle the next day.
"So Gayle's at her family's place tonight? Poor old lonely Jacko. Desparate, lonely Jacko."
"Fuck yeah, that's right. You don't feel like a proper shag I s'pose?"
"Reepo does me well thanks. You should get some tips from him. Speaking of whom..."
Ian Reep walked back into the pub and grabbed his beer,
"Thirsty work indeed. Now what are you two up to? Did we get to the crime scene yet?"
Jacko smiled and continued to relate the evening's events. After going to Newtown, flush with his gambling wins he walked into the Sandringham to check out who was playing. Unfortunately for him he recognised one of the bouncers from the night he and Sniper had killed Dog Shit Machine (deusexmachina or some such shite). The bouncer didn't quite recognise him but neither did he like the cut of Max's jib and promptly bounced him out of the pub. Cursing, Jacko bounced back up ready to shape up in a drunken act of bravado but the sudden appearance of two more monstrous Maori bouncers settled the issue so he turned tail and strolled off. He cut down to Enmore Road and wandered up to the RSL club. After signing in he wandered into the main lounge area and noticed another ghost from the past, the lead guitarist from Dog Shit Machine. He was in company with a sleazy looking manager type and another guy who looked like the keyboard player from Flange Gasket. Smelling something afoot in the world of indie rock he went and ordered a beer from the bar and took up an obesrvational position close to the DSM guitarist's coterie of ill-met friends. Jacko overhead snippets of conversation as he kept an eye on the TAB monitors in the adjacent bar. It was mainly about studios, rights, "advance earns" and recording albums. He went and placed a bet on "Rex Retlub" in Cannington and resumed his seat. Rex Retlub came in as favourite, paying a buck-fifty which meant that the hunnert he'd put on gave Jacko a fiddy buck profit. He was happy with that and decided to leave. On the way out he also decided to leave his mark behind. As he got up he leaned over to the DSM guitarist and said,
"Saw your crap band Dog Shit Machine at the Sando a while back. Remember how you lost your worse-than-shite sound? Deusexmachine? Fuckin' Dog Shit Machine!"
As his tirade went on Marty buried his head in his hands, remembering the night at The Annandale Hotel when the Gasket had applauded Jacko's efforts. The DSM guitarist didn't know what to do. His sense of artistic integrity was mixed with a full-blooded Melbournish feeling of 'Sydney done us wrong again'.
He got up and promptly swung a slow looping right at Jacko's beer-infused face. Jacko was anticipating this and backed away, laughing. The follow up left was not anticipated that well by the drunk punter and he only managed to bow his head, copping the blow on the top of his skull. In his effort to over hit the guitarist slipped over his chair and fell to the ground and that's what the bouncers saw. They looked at Jacko, grabbed him and frogmarched him to the foyer, followed by the angry guitarist who insisted on laying assault charges. Jacko's response was,
"Blow it out your arse ya big poof."
"So that's how I ended up in the clink. Newtown cop shop was full so they had to bring me here. The cops got statements from the bouncers and the guitarist but that bloke from Gasket and the manager guy apparently saw nothing. So its basically a 'he-said, he-said' case. The bouncers didn't see that dickhead throw a punch but they're going to get the security footage on Monday. I rest my case."
Kerryn and Ian shook their heads, laughing.
"So what's with you and Sniper's band. My bass is ready, got a drummer?"
"Senior's organising a Junior from his drum classes. We've got rehearsal time next Wednesday arvo at five in Surry Hills. Kerryn, are you keen on adding some vocals?"
Kerryn thought back to her own high school days of singing at school dances in front of a band doing Cheryl Crowe, Blondie and Madonna covers.
"As long as its just once or twice I'll do it. Have you got any songs?"
"We've written four and been practicing the guitar bits of a heap of covers. Pogues, Gurus, Oils, Nirvana, spiderbait, even some Beatles, Stones, Who and Easybeats. I reckon we'll end up being able to last two hours. Sniper's done well with his guitar work. Never picked him for a muso but he's picked it up okay for a retarded peddo."
Kerryn cocked her head, "Pogues, eh?" then she started singing part of their Christmas song;
'You're a bum, you're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip on that bed
You scumbag, you maggott
You cheap lousy faggott
Happy Christmas your arse
I hope its our last
The boys of NYPD Choir were singing Galway Bay,
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas Day'
(The Pogues - "Fairytale of New York)
Jacko looked at her in disbelief. Sniper would love it. Her voice was strong and true and that was exactly the sort of song he wanted to include in a set. He said "again", but this time he sang the bloke's parts. Reepo did a polite 'golf clap' and winked at Kerryn explaining,
"She's got that album. Sings to it quite often." Kerryn tilted her head, looking at Max,
"Okay, I'll sit in for a couple of tunes as long as you get us another drink."
Jacko complied and went to the bar.
Wayne Blake looked at his phone and noticed a couple of messages were waiting demanding attention. Sitting in the driver's seat of the welfare department's fleet car was one of their property projects staff, Scott Booth. Both men were glad that their shift had presented no problems. The fitout work at the department's Darlinghurst office was ahead of schedule and the first stage of the public contact area refit would now be finished by midday Sunday, allowing the office staff to prep the area for opening time on Monday morning. Blake had been seconded to the project after being onvolved in a committee to redeisgn part of the Area Office in Pitt Street, adjacent to Belmore Park. He didn't know it but the Property Manager had been impressed with his input and ability to get staff on side. He also got on well the Property Team blokes and seemed a likely recruit for an upcoming vacancy. Booth had been briefed to observe how Blake handled the pressure and had been please with Sniper's performance so far. He mused on this as he drove. He turned left from Goulburn Street into Pitt and as they approached Campbell St Blake noticed that the Chamberlain Hotel was open. He looked at Scott Booth and asked,
"Feel like a beer Scotty?"
"No mate, I want to get home. The missus is expecting me to be bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow. Gotta finish off that cubby house. By Christ that's been a nightmare project. Worse than that fucking Darlo fitout anyway." He pulled the car over to the kerb, adding,
"Get a skinful mate, you've earned it. That was a good effort today. I'll catch up with you on Monday when we debrief the boss on site."
"Cheers Scotty." with that he waved at Booth as the "Z car" moved off, heading south.
Bake walked into the festive pub atmosphere and as he did he heard the end of Kerryn's singing and stood back, unnoticed by his friends. He saw Jacko walk to the bar then decided to announce his presence by yelling out,
"And another one you rancid poof!"
Jacko turned around, shook his head, calling out,
"Fuck off and get your own. What the fuck have you been up to anyway?"
"Working. Got that overtime gig working with the Property blokes on that fitout of your manky workplace. Built you a new dunny and everything." Blake walked over to help his friend carry the drinks.
"A long day, I need this." Blake then swallowed a third of the schooner in one long draught.
Jackson said, "Ohh mate, you haven't heard the best of it."
After swapping their stories Blake fetched a final round of drinks. They conferred on their next movements with Jackson insisting they go back to his "palace" in Leichhardt and carry on the party.
Kerryn nudged Ian awake at around ten thirty in the morning. He looked a mess, just like she felt. Fuck! They had to go back to the car park and get his car. They'd still be well over the limit for driving. Shit! Oh well, they'd sort that shit out later. She scrabbled at Reep's hair as his eyes slowly opened. His voice was a poor croak of its usual self,
"Thank Christ that was you and not Sniper or Jacko. I'm busting. I need a snakes'." He got up and staggered into the bathroom from where his ablution noises were loud and strong. Then he started singing,
"I like to go swimming with bow legged women and swim between their legs." to drown out the splashing noises.
From the kitchen Kerryn heard Jackson talking to someone. She got up, putting on her dress to stop Max getting an eyeful and walked into the kitchen. Jackson continued his conversation,
"Kezza's here now. Want a word?"
He then whispered to Kerryn, "Its the blond prossie looking for some HLA". Kerryn snatched the phone and spoke into it,
"Hiya darling! How was the family gig?" she smiled into the phone as Jackson grabbed a steaming mug from the counter and handed it to Kerryn. He then grabbed a half-full coffee pot and poured himself a mug and headed out to the lounge room. On one side Blake was fast asleep on a foam mattress. The lounge was still folded out in its service as emergency kip spot for Reep and Kerryn. There were three guitars lying on the floor in the dining area but he noticed that the amps had been turned off. As he did, Reepo exited the bathroom and walked into the lounge.
"Feel like a cuppa? I'll make a pot of tea."
Jacko shook his head, pointing out the coffee pot in the kitchen, so Reep went and poured a cup. Kerryn hit the red button on Jacko's phone and walked over, handing it back to him.
"Gayle's going to pick up the car. I told her the keys are behind the bar. Better ring Mark and make sure of that." Reep pulled out his own phone and called the Chamberlain and confirmed that his keys were n fact there.
"Sweet. That's nice of Gayle. Don't know what she sees in a hopeless prick like you Jackson, she needs to wake up to herself." Jacko's only response was that "All chicks dig me."
Noticing the recumbent Blake, Kerryn shuffled over and started to flick her hair into his face, triggering a fly swat response from the Dog Shit Killer guitarist. She repeated this a few times before Reep and Jacko got into the act, eventually rough housing him awake. He growled himself awake, took his turn in the bathroom, then grabbed a coffee from the nearly empty pot after rummaging through Jacko's fridge. Looking around the busily messy flat he addressed his friends,
"Ladies and Gentleman, good morning and welcome to the Dog Shit Killers Breakfast Club. I'm proud to announce that in his fridge Max has stashed a truckload of bacon and a carton of eggs which are about to become breakfast. If someone would kindly ring our press agent and let them know, I'd hate to miss out on a photo op of Jacko's apparent turn to domesticity."
Kerryn chuckled, "And he's got a multi roll pack of toilet paper in the bathroom plus a pot plant in there."
She reaised her coffee cup, toasting her friend Gayle,
"Here's to Gayle, taming a new frontier."
As she did she noticed Jacko, stretched back on a lounge chair taking an unhealthy slurp from a large glass full of coke. Then she noticed the nearly depleted Jim Beam bottle at his side and "tsked" at him.
Jacko swivelled his head in her direction, bloodshot eyes beaming out his own truth in stereoscope. Noticing the nearly empty bourbon bottle Blake swiftly stepped over and opened it, smelled it and then tilted the bottle to his mouth, commenting,
"By fuck ya gotta be quick around here. He'd almost finished that off without even offering any around. The prick."
After taking another swig from his glass Jacko summed up his true feelings, belching, then asking,
"Did someone mention bacon? I could murder a feed."