The Writing Thread

I’m already over the trade period, and the offseason is usually a bit quiet. I’m not sure if anyone does much writing of their own, or is game to put their stuff out there for others to read. But here’s a thread for it . (I think we had one quite some time back on a previous version of Blitz).

I’ll kick it off in the next post, but its for anything you like. Short Stories, articles, reviews, whatever you like.

try to keep critiques pleasant and constructive - no one wants to be shredded and this isnt an authors forum anyway.

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Old Biker! Old biker! Old Biker!

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Ok, this is a rewrite of something i actually wrote as part of a Blitz travel thread, believe it or not. Which was subsequently lost and which i never saved because it was actually written “live” on a blitz page rather than in Word. I never expected it to develop beyond a paragraph or two but it morphed.

So, totally Rewritten in the sense of totally started over without the original to refer too. The events are true, the broad story is true and it dates to 1998.

ok, here we go. Flame away, lol

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An Old Meeting.

Dawn had broken some time ago and now a newly minted sun was threatening to creep over the horizon. Pale, cold shafts of light began seeping across an icy morning. As if granted animation by the departure of darkness, coils of mist lifted languidly off a scene of foreshore and the mouth of the Clyde River. Their lazy unhurriedness was matched in character both by the corresponding tendrils of steam from a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and also my own sluggish thoughts. Distant bird calls announced the imminent arrival of a new day, a low murmur of conversation and the clink of crockery emanated from the nearby café, but all else was silent. Even the gentle lapping of the water on the shore was undertaken with stealthy tenderness, a gentle caress in keeping with the mood.

Away to my left could just be seen, beyond a small forest of gently waving boat masts, the frosty metallic skeleton of a bridge spanning the tidal river, its stark rectangular form at odds with the rambling coastal bush that extended out behind it. I contemplated it with surprise, for it looked far smaller than the structure whose lights the previous evening had shone out of the inky darkness like a beacon of salvation. Never had a storm-battered sailor been more relieved to espy the warning glow of a harbour lighthouse strobe than I had been to see that line of welcoming sodium vapour lamps.

A series of delays, miscalculations and rampant stupidity had seen me benighted on the curving, flowing road that is the Moss Vale Road, running from the central New South Wales highlands town of Bowral across the high country, before plunging down through the Kangaroo Valley towards the coast and my destination of Batemans Bay. The road wasn’t the only thing that plunged. So did the temperature. And my spirits. And the blood flow to my extremities. Which made controlling the big capacity motorcycle I was riding all the more problematic. In daylight, with good weather, it would have been a glorious ride, but now it was a homicidal enemy, an entity to be negotiated and merely survived.

Things reached a crisis point when the headlight – now revealed as largely inadequate in the stygian darkness that engulfed everything beyond its narrow cone and running a very real risk of being over-ridden – belatedly revealed the presence of a murderous wombat, apparently intent on ending my life forthwith by acting as a marsupialian roadblock. How I evaded that not-so-mobile hazard I will never know.

Things didn’t really improve, either. As the black, sinuous ribbon that marked my pathway flicked back and forth savagely across hidden shoulders of mountain buttresses and slowly dropped in altitude, it was accompanied by an increasingly solid curtain of fog. Peering with straining eyes into the near distance, searching for threats in road surface, evading the local flora and fauna, and realising that your braking hand is becoming increasingly numb and disconnected from your wishes, does not for a relaxing ride make.

If you happen to do a defensive riding course, you may be introduced to a tactic known as a “Commentary Ride”. I had done one, and thankfully I recalled it on that interminable road of frigid darkness. The idea is that you maintain alertness by literally commentating – out loud – what is happening and what your next action will be. What it needs to be. What it has to be if you hope to live. For a while. I tried it. It works. I covered kilometre after kilometre, waffling to myself inside the helmet, undoubtedly sounding absurd had there been anyone to hear it.

I had also read that in the final stages of hypothermia you start to feel quite warm and comfortable. Then you sleep. And then you die. If so, I obviously hadn’t approached the scythe-bearing gentleman quite that closely, because I was still bitterly cold, chilled to my very marrow and would gladly have snatched at some warmth. Fingers ached and protested, feet were clumsy and the wind seemed to slice through leather and wool with impunity. At one point, I’d even considered pulling over and hugging the engine. It didn’t happen. Lady Fortune did appear to take pity on me, though, as eventually I closed in on a semi-trailer and sat some 50 meters behind it, using it as a form of protection from any wildlife that attempted to dispute possession of the road with me. Again.

And then those lights! Oh, those lights. The roadside markers had been inexorably counting down the distance to Batemans Bay in 5 kilometre increments. And then I’d seen a sign welcoming me to the town. But it hadn’t seemed real. Not until that warm orange tint of street lights loomed out of the night, and the superstructure of the bridge was flitting past, moist and glistening in a seaside murk. I’d rolled into the Pub carpark just after 9.00 pm, and fumbled with the ignition key to finally kill the engine. The silence had seemed surreal. So had the astonished, amazed look from the barmaid when I stumbled inside and asked if it was possible to get a room and a heater. Fair enough, too. Only a madman would be riding in such conditions.

My reverie was broken by the arrival of my breakfast, bacon and eggs piled satisfyingly high. I asked for a second cup of coffee and set to, enjoying the peace, quiet and a fitful sun that was now well risen to the east. The day promised to be far better than the just departed night, and my trip southwards – where it would eventually end in Melbourne, timeframe unfixed – was likely to be a pleasant cruise along the coast.

The drone of an engine carried in on the calm air, coming from the south. It sounded like a V-twin, probably a Harley, slowly increasing in volume as it drew nearer. A motorcycle swanned into view on the highway, and I noted with half-interest that it was actually a Japanese Harley-copy, namely an old Yamaha Virago from the mid 80’s, loaded with saddle bags and a luggage rack. Like my own ride, a Victorian registration plate adorned the rear mudguard. It pulled off the road and into the carpark, finishing up on the far side of my Suzuki, my attention still only the casual one of a fellow motorcyclist. Silence settled as the engine died, and I was returning to the remains of my meal when I noticed the new arrival struggling to remove a helmet that eventually revealed a crop of snowy white hair. Dismounting the bike seemed an inordinate effort, as if the rider was stiff and sore. He fumbled with something on the far side of the bike, and I took an incredulous second glance as he emerged unsteadily with his weight placed on an old walking stick!

It’s safe to say that I was now fully engaged, but I looked nonchalantly off in the direction of the bridge, just keeping the man in my peripheral vision as he divested himself of a leather jacket, retrieved something from one of the bags and tottered concerningly across the carpark towards the tables at which I sat, complete with walking stick. I looked at him as he neared, a high-necked woolly jumper somehow suiting what was revealed to be an old, weathered face, tinged silver with the early makings of a beard.

“Good morning, lad”, he opened with a clear voice that was somewhat at odds with a general air of advanced age.

“Morning”, I replied. I nodded in the direction of the bikes. “You’re out and about early today.”
“Aye. And it’s a bit brisk isn’t it?” He shifted his weight on to one leg, buffed his arms about a few times and exhaled with deliberation, his breath a white cloud of vapour.

I agreed and invited him to take a seat, an invite which he happily accepted. I introduced myself, “Jason”, and he stretched out a gaunt and trembling hand, dark splotches on the skin. I met him in the handshake, the grip none too strong or stable, but in sharp contrast to the obvious steadiness in the blue-eyed gaze that he fixed upon me. “I’m Jock, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, lad”. Of course. Jock. It could be nothing else, could it.

The waitress had been hovering and my new acquaintance ordered himself a coffee. Intrigued and in no hurry, I added my third. “So, “I opened, “just out for a little jaunt around the place on a sunny day?”
“Nay, nay. I’ve actually come up from Narooma, I thought I’d get an hour on the road before breakfast and then keep going”. He fished an old, discoloured map from an unseen pocket and placed it on the table.

Trying to contain my astonishment, and with fake calmness, I enquired as to where he was heading from here.

“Hmm”. He pondered on it for a moment, a far way look in his eyes as if he could see somewhere that I couldn’t. “Eventually, maybe, I’m thinking of Cairns. But I’m not sure. I may keep going from there”.
“Cairns!” I nearly choked on my coffee in surprise, and Jock broke into a massive smile at my astonishment. A myriad of lines and small creases exploded across his face, like a well-worn ancient parchment of hide and his eyes twinkled with humour. I couldn’t help laughing, myself.

Recalling the Victorian licence plate, I went with the next inevitable question. “And where exactly did you start from?” the query laden with genuine and very real curiosity. Jock was clearly ready for it, because he replied without hesitation. “Two weeks ago, I was in Geelong”.
I looked at him searchingly, and then wonderingly at the walking stick resting against the table. The coffee’s arrived and I took a moment to contemplate the situation. Jock must have been watching me too, because he broke in on my thoughts. “In case you’re tempted to ask, lad, I’ll save you the trouble. I’m 89 years old, if I’m a day. Nearly 90, in fact”. My expression must have been something to behold, because he chuckled at my nonplussed look.

Well, this was something! I ruminated on the idea of an octogenarian motorcyclist, one thousand kilometres from home and at least three thousand kilometres from his stated destination. Jock slowly stirred his coffee with deliberate concentration, and again I couldn’t help but notice the trembling frailness.
“Ahh…… right……… so ……when do you think you’ll return?”
He turned a calm pair of eyes upon me. “I won’t, lad “. It was quietly said, quite deadpan. And then more brightly. “ ‘T’is a one-way journey, that’s what it is. Go where I go and see what I see, but I won’t be back down that way.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the indomitable jauntiness of the final utterance.
“Do you have family, anyone, in Cairns?”
“Nay”.
“Just a never-ending road trip, eh?”
“That’s it. That’s it.”
I fixed him with a stare. “Do you have family in Geelong? Wife? Children?”
“Aye. Two daughters and a few grandkids. My wife passed on two years back.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Ok. What do they think of this?”
He grinned. “Och, they’re horrified. And they thought I was just going for a week. One of my girls threatened to report me to VicRoads and have my licence taken away.” He chuckled again. “A fat lot of good that would have done them though”, and then in response to my quizzical look he slapped the table and roared with laughter. “Because they took my licence 15 years ago when the doctors said I was legally blind! “

I joined him in his laughter, and instinctively seized his hand in another handshake. “That……is outstanding”. This had gone well past the surreal, and yet here I was, chatting to a blind 89 year old with a walking stick and a motorcycle, destination indeterminant and on a pre-ordained one-way ride. He regained his composure and finished his drink. I asked if he’d like some food, but he declined. “Nay, nay, I don’t eat a lot these days. It repeats on me a bit. I’ll get on my way and have a bite at lunch, perhaps.”

“How far do you think you’ll go today?” I was curious and strangely reluctant to bring this to an end.
Jock studied his old map and prodded it with a finger. “Kiama maybe. Its been a long time since I was there.” I mentally pictured the coastline, estimating that it was only a few hours ride away. Jock may have read my mind, because he added “I can’t do too many hours on the bike anymore”. And then there was that smile again. “Besides, there’s no real hurry”.
I agreed, and went inside to settle the bill for both of us despite Jock’s protestations. I pretended not to notice his slow progression back to his bike, and found some invented things to check and fuss over on my own luggage as he laboriously struggled back into his jacket and helmet. The walking stick was tucked into a small, purposely made frame hanging off the left-hand engine mounts. He rocked the Virago off its stand and proffered a gloved hand in farewell. I clasped it warmly and met his steady gaze, the smiling eyes framed by the same innumerable crows’ feet. “Good luck, Jock.” I felt a vague sense of sadness that surprised me when I looked back on it. He nodded. “Always enjoy yourself, lad.” He raised an admonishing finger. “We get just the one life. So ride well”. And that was that. Two engines burbled into life and we progressed to the roadside.

A final wave, and I turned slowly to the left, southward bound towards home, family and girlfriend. Jock turned right, to go whither I knew not where and meet the unknown in all its meanings. I trickled along at walking pace, fighting an urge to turn the Suzuki around, watching the figure dwindle and grow ever smaller in the mirror until the road curved around to take him to the bridge. And then he was gone, vanished from sight and removed from all but my memory.

I considered the matter for a moment, dropped the visor and snicked the gearbox into second. It was time to get home, and the next stop was a long way away. But as the bike accelerated hard under a lovely winter sun and the roadside started to flash by, I determined I would enjoy every moment of it. Even the freezing, challenging dark ones. After all, there was a blind, ninety-year-old motorcycle adventurer out there, somewhere, patrolling the endless roads and berating me if I didn’t.

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Thank you for rewriting it.

you’re welcome.

Come on, you buggers.
I’m sure a heap of you have written unpublished short stories.

Post 'em!

What about the published ones?

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Do you have a published one to post?

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I publish all my stories in the DJ King Thread.

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I ramble on WAY too much in my writing to ever really successfully nail a ‘short’ story.

I need the structured formatting of a play, or the guideline of a word count to reign in my nonsense.

I write most of my Short stories in a very short form colloquially known as Songs.

The Longer ones are a work in progress.

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W1, you are too modest. I recall you posted some very good creative writing back in previous BB incarnations.

Show us some of your new stuff.

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Come on, guys.
You must have something.

I’m forcing myself to start some new stuff. Been a long time. A couple of early idea’s for short stories.

Smartphones have sort of killed it for me.
It’s just so easy to distract yourself and kill time.

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I started this thread so i should probably damn well add to it.

Against my better judgement, lol.

Operating on the theory that there’s not a lot of point writing something no-one ever reads, I’ll put this up. Its probably draft 1.5 . I wrote it two days ago, walked away, tidied it a bit today. Comments welcome, lol

The RiverRun

Jacob Patrick Ramsay.

He was my friend.

I thought that made him important. I’m sure he was important. One of the few choices we are allowed to make. I decided he was. They couldn’t make him not.

It didn’t stop Them killing him. No. They had no qualms. No care. October 17, 1956. I saw the date. I remember it well, clear and printed. Official paper. Black, minimalist, simple. Starkly incontrovertible, though I wished it otherwise. And I did. With everything I had. They didn’t care about that either. My wishes weren’t Theirs. No-one even shed tears that day.

There was a heart defect. I didn’t know him then. Few did. His mum, Carol, did. Maybe some others. Not his Dad, though. He didn’t have a name. The nameless are that for a reason. Consigned to the void. He’d gone, vanished. No-one knew where. Jacob was small. And blue. Not a pleasant colour for a person. Not In mood, not in pallor. Perhaps his Dad didn’t like small. Or blue. Or marriage.

They fixed Jacob. So said the doctors. I’ve seen a photo. Black and White. They like black and white. Shades scare them. To control everything, it must be so. A mechanical contraption. All angles and metallic aggression. Nothing organic. No curves. Not like a person would need. When I did know him, he showed me a scar. It looked like a crackled pattern on a frosted window. Thin, spidery, pale pink. Small raised tendrils branching off the main line. Levy banks on a white landscape. From neck to waistline. It was his badge, his proof. You only got one if you’d been fixed. They said Jacob wasn’t blue any more. I think he still was, though I couldn’t see it. I think They knew it too.

School was difficult. It always is. They must design it this way. Else we wouldn’t all feel the same. You learn a lot. Not in the program though. The classrooms were islands, somewhat safer. But we learnt outside. That’s where They taught you. Where things are real. I remember Jacob, seized by a group. An older group, comforted in their numbers. The world can be staved off if you cash in on others. They held him down. He didn’t even struggle. Resigned. I half stepped forward to help, and stopped. Shameful. He looked at me, and closed his eyes.

They drew things on him. Obscene things. His face. His body. More black contrast, every bit as clear as the date I have seen. Two girls bound his ankles in tape. They tied his shoelaces together. Knot after knot, until they scoffed because they could tie no more. If only Jacob had had longer laces. They’d have liked that. I’m sure. Fun is even better when drawn out.

They all drew back, amused at their own goings on. Admiring their handiwork. I looked up at them, leering faces. Raucous laughter, the type designed to hurt others. To comfort themselves. Taunts and ridicule. Obscenity the artform. Far away a bell rang, the world signalling the end of this lesson. They never laid a hand on me. I wish they had. It made it all so much worse.

We lost half an hour trying to undo all the knots. Half of a science lesson. No matter. We’d had our teaching. My thumbs hurt. I learnt that Jacob’s tears did not remove marker paint. Unfortunate, it would have been better had he never seen. The water and soap we required were in the bathrooms. Mirrors and self horror. The teachers duly expressed their sympathy. With the world. By extending our school time into the afternoon. You can’t be late to class. You may miss a valuable lesson. I still wonder if they realised what they taught us. Do they wonder? Do they even recall? Jacob thanked me. I’ve never known what for. I made a promise. To myself less than him. I’d not let him down again. Wasteful words.

We endured. For years. School a thing to be survived. Tolerated. We hung out. A masquerade of youthful solidarity against everything. I’d stay at his place. There was strength in numbers. We had neither. But I had a friend, and it kept the world at bay. For now. Carol seemed pleased too. Her son wasn’t blue. A good outcome for all. He had a friend. She had a new friend as well. This one had a name. Still we didn’t like him. Avoided him. It didn’t matter why. Until it did. He didn’t like Jacob, either. His took a different form.

These marks weren’t blue. He was familiar with blue. Comfortable, even. Darker than that. Turgid mauve and violet. Swollen red at the edges. Angry looking. As though they reflected the cause. Rage looking at its own reflection. Cheekbone highlights. Stage makeup applied by a drunk. An eye closed, unwillingly. Squinting into an unseen sun. Bewilderment in the alternate. Fear. Misery. It didn’t look like my friend. It still was. Damage cares not who wielded the emotional stave. Named or nameless. It will be tempered by neither.

Jacob told me. He couldn’t go on. He needed things. To go. To find others. Others that he liked. Others like him. Others who liked him. His world was too small. Too cruel. Constrained by hate. Everywhere he could reach, penned in by walls. But I liked him. A lot. I told him so. Several times. He said he liked me too. I should have seen it. Even if I had, what then? Regret is not beholden to truth. It stands alone and looks only back.

The kiss. Not unpleasant, but we knew. Immediately. It wasn’t for me. His like wasn’t my like. The world knew too. It opened the portcullis, defences thrown down. You could hear it. A crash. They’d drawn on his face. First jeering, humiliation. Hatred, aggression. Now it was drawn on his soul. I had one fleeting moment. To make everything right. I couldn’t. I failed Jacob. Once more. Their pursuit resumed. If it had ever halted. It seldom does. Another lesson, learned late. We both cried. A little. A lot. A hug. I never stayed at his place again. Neither did he.

They have no need for haste. Their clock ticks. And ticks. Unspoken bidding. Time flows like an intangible river. You stand against it. End up downstream nonetheless. Fight it as best you can. But beware, the further you will drift. So it was. Randomly, it threw me ashore. Carol stood there. Hands wringing, face drawn. They were grinding her down too. Sadness written large. She was alone. She knew where Jacob was.

I found him. Filthy windows, carpet without thread. Bowie cut endless circles on a table. Singing to a listless audience. The house looked vacant. Less so than its inhabitants. Wraiths themselves haunted. Shadows in full light. Life distributed in irregular doses. I feared that he was dead. But, Lo! No! He had never been more alive. Friends in every corner. Lovers in every bed. Look around, see how the world is driven off. Tattered wallpaper ramparts. A moat of tangled undergrowth. The garrison animated death, venturing forth only on sorties of need. I pleaded Jacob to leave. He would not. He asked me to stay. I could not. They were closing in here. I could feel it. Stained walls and physical love. Poor defences at the bitter end. They saw a fortress. No, a prison. A trap about to spring. I could not say how. It would have mattered not if I had.

I tried many times. Futile attempts to bring him home. Perhaps more than many. Many times more. I don’t know when. Bathing in the river does that. I would hang out with him occasionally. Watching the shadows come and go. Someone shot Ronald Reagan. And the Pope. Of course. They try to get everyone. Even Gods man. Jacob’s household didn’t care. There was no God here. I sympathised. He seemed disinterested in His creation. So more fun. More love. Desperate acts feign nonchalance. Freedom from everything. Except The Cause. Thraldom walked unseen by its slaves.

Then Jacob fell sick. I knew it. Lies, always lies. They hadn’t really fixed him. He’d had defiance. To be who he wished. Stand when others wouldn’t. Such a stance is all consuming. And thus consumed. They’d planned this. Ensnared. He didn’t turn blue. Not this time. They’d tried that. It would have been preferable. Another frosty scar. This was something else. Something lurking, biding time. Malevolent.
A secret suddenly sprung upon the living.

Only They could do it. A final horror. Sweats in the night. Dark brooding lesions. Arms and ankles invaded. A racking cough, invincible. Weeks. Months. Celebrate through it. Grab the joy, ignore the peril. More lovers. Lots of them. But no love. Not against this. Word spread as their world woke to its hidden threat. Belatedly. They saw only their own doom. Heard the footstep on the threshold. Flee the pursuer. Alas, venture not within sight of the gates of hell. The road proves circular.

But I saw him. Eyes blazed furiously. Unnatural, illuminated with fire against a pallid background. Skeletal features. Haggard, thin, a canvas drawn too tightly on its frame. White growth on his tongue. A grotesque parody. Taste too much of life, be punished. My first waft of death. Quickly, emergency department. He could protest no more. Not in deed. Not in word. Not against me. Not against the flow. A one-way voyage. A new fortress. Mildewed walls exchanged for clinical white austerity. Every bit as hapless. Syringes ceased to bring relief. Long ago. They wouldn’t grant it now.

It ended here. Not long. I cannot say. We were all lost. Just a dip in the water. Others trod the same path as he. None alone. But all lonely. Visits were like skipping a stone on times river. Faster. More frequent at the end. Like we could halt it. Get inside every second. And then swallowed up. Skipping no more. Barely a ripple in the flow to mark our passage. The clock stopped. Shuddering to a halt. Another bell rang out. Forceful tones that penetrated deeply. A physical impact that jarred. Off balance. The final call on this classroom. I do not know the period. Maybe a second. Maybe a year. Jacob was nowhere. And everywhere. They woke me. With a tick.

They gave Jacob a new date. Passed it on to Carol. Another one. Printed, black, clear. Add it to the old one. Their one final trick. That you may find comfort. Solace even, in the maths. There is none. Illusions and falsehoods to the end. I know Them. I know when They really killed him. They know it too. The river runs in spate.

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NOT A STORY ,THE LONGEST ARTICLE I EVER PUT TO PAPER.
ECBC = East Coast Board Club

To The Editor
After being contacted by many members of the ECBC it was agreed I should write to you on behalf of the Club and its original members in the hope of clearing up any misunderstandings that may have occurred in the printing of a previous article in your magazine. We as a group of early 1960’s pioneering surfers suggest that if any other articles are forwarded your way regarding the ECBC, you should contact someone from the club prior to publishing just to save any more confusion.
The East Coast Board Club has once again had to defend itself from the misunderstandings of a “bystander” not being fully familiar with the rituals and traditions of the ECBC.
The original colours of the East Coast Board Club were orange with two black hoops; this combination being the colours of our board shorts. Unfortunately a clothing company adapted our colours to their new clothing range and we were not impressed. Consequently, after an exchange of “not happy” letters, our colours were reversed to black with orange hoops. This may seem to be of no big deal, but to us it mattered as it was our belief that any wearers of the new clothing line (our original colours) and their subsequent behaviour were possibly the reason our club suffered much misunderstanding and ill feeling.
EAST COAST BOARD CLUB: bus trip to “the Prom” September 1966
To the uninitiated and ill informed it may seem that a lot of drinking took place, when in fact it was only our “toasting” to the bus trip that was about to commence. No work for a few days, the waves waiting to be ridden, the waves already conquered, tube times, etc. etc. All these needed to be celebrated. There were also the “toasts” to the conversion of virgins, past present and future. Each “toast” was enthusiastically cheered on with a drink by all on board the bus. Some even “toasted’ the bus driver’s daughter who had by all accounts been converted earlier that week. This happiness amongst mates was probably the reason some people thought we were loud and rowdy. But those of us who know will assure you that we were all just a normal bunch of “nice young men” on a surf trip.
This social drinking also affected the degree of charm and charisma some of the bus travellers were to bestow on the unsuspecting young women they were about to meet later, at the Red Cherry Hamburger Shop in Leongatha and the camping ground at the Prom.
Arriving on a dark, wet night in Leongatha, our exuberant travellers burst from the bus in search of {in order} toilets then food (greasy chips with salt and the obligatory hamburger with the lot) and if any local girls were about that was a bonus.
It so happened that the Red Cherry was situated around the corner from the public toilets, so after relieving themselves of a belly full of beer some of our fair travellers entered the Red Cherry looking for a food fix. This was a typical hamburger shop of the 1960s. On entering, a bell attached to the door clanged and alerted the owner to any new customers. On the right hand side behind the high counter stood a row of deep fryers and one hotplate, blackened all over except for the centre where one frozen hamburger pattie and one egg were sizzling alongside a piece of bacon. Pushing the soon to be assembled hamburger around the hotplate was the owner no doubt as who else would be still working at 9.30pm on a cold wet night. On the left side of the counter stood a few rows of wooden cafeteria tables and chairs. In the very last row of seats was slouched four local Rockers, one of them being the owner of the hamburger that the owner had now assembled and thrown in his direction. Next to the four Rockers was the obligatory Juke box. Rockers in small country towns still hadn’t quite come to grips with the Beatles or Surf music or any music for that matter that didn’t fit their trend. Here they sat, uncertain of their future not knowing that likely they would probably become extinct.
After placing his order for a feed of “greasies” one of the bus revellers meanders over to the juke box, puts in a bright new ten cent coin and pushes B 17. The only surf music track on the juke box. As the Beach Boys and their “Barbara Ann” jump out of the speakers, the bell above the door clangs and a local female Rocker enters. She is resplendent: teased up hairdo, red lipstick, black stockings, stilettos, skinny legs and chewing bubblegum only on one side of her mouth; you get the picture. As her high heels clack, clack across the worn, vinyl tiled floor of the Red Cherry you can tell she’s not happy. Sliding across the seat towards her black clothed male counterparts, she grabs the arm of one of the pimple faced Rockers and starts pointing towards the door.
This dramatic entrance had an immediate effect on one of our fellow travellers who burst in on cue singing in his best falsetto to the last chorus of Barbara Anne, (singing was also one of the ECBC rituals), and his other mates in the Take Away followed… BAA BAA BAA BARBARA ANNE…You know what it’s like. This probably was the fore runner of what is now known as Kareoke, and everyone can sympathise knowing how terrible this would have sounded to the table of local Rockers. Their own turf was being taken over by a group of bleached haired, choir boy strangers who were fuelled by too much “toasting” on the bus; they were in their town and in their eating hangout, singing songs they did not like by groups they did not like…Finally the Beach Boys stopped singing and without fear for his safety unsuspecting surfer dug deep and (remember the rest of the bus travellers are out scouring Leongatha’s other fine food diners) another bright new ten cent coin entered the juke box. Yep B 17 and Barbara Anne and more group singing. A quick kick on the juke box by a foot wearing a white sock and a black shoe with a long pointed toe and Barbara Anne scratched and jumped to a halt. Perfectly timed, the order of four burgers and the $1 worth of chips arrived and as the singing surfers stood up from their bench seat to leave, the bell above the door clanged again. Gonzo stuck his head in the door and said”…Hurry up Harry wants us to get going…"
Gonzo (there’s a Gonzo in every group) was not from this planet. He could charm any female he came in contact with but unfortunately his charm had been diluted by alcohol and obviously hadn’t worked with the rocker chick who was seated with her men. She pointed and yelled “…that’s the guy!” All eyes are now turned in the direction of a badly bleached head that was peering round the partly opened door. What had he attempted? What had he said? What had he done? We all knew what he had said to her. Gonzo had recently applied one full bottle of product known as “one shade lighter” to his dark brown hair but failed to read any instructions and his hair had become very bright shade of orange. Wearing a denim shirt and board shorts, he was the ECBC version of M. Dora. We obligingly followed him and several other stragglers back to the bus before any questions were asked by the four other diners. All travellers were now in the safe confines of the bus but without warning a lowered Holden pulled up along side. The contents of the Holden being the Rockers from the Red Cherry. Decisions! A quick departure or tactical retreat? We out numbered the Rockers 7 to 1 not including the Rocker chick and with this in mind yelled the usual abuse one uses on enemies when the odds are in your favour. The bus promptly pulled out onto the highway past the 60 MPH sign and we settled back for the last leg of the trip.
The only reason we could think of as to why we being followed by a carload of angry locals was that maybe they wanted to come with us to the Prom. All seats were taken so this wasn’t about to happen. We assumed our joyous task of more “toasting” followed by bites of our recently purchased food which was getting greasier and colder by the minute. As the bus thundered into the darkness a strange noise erupted from one of the junior front seat passengers who had been trying to keep up with the finest “toaster” of all…Jacko. The youngster had spewed not on the floor but into his own duffle coat! This amazing feat wasn’t lost to all those in his vicinity and prompted another “toast” to his ability of not spewing on the floor. Harry the driver once again had to stop the bus. Stopping the bus on a downhill section of road with camber, any liquid that had spilt on the floor (and possibly other unknown liquids) drained towards the door, down the steps and onto the legs of those standing near the doorway. Closely following any liquids were the empty cans that Harry was kicking in the general direction of the door. “Don’t tell my mum!” the junior front seat passenger pleaded, in between coughing up the contents of everything in his stomach that he had consumed since getting on the bus.
On arrival at the Prom we found our lodgings locked up tight as a drum, and in keeping with the Parliamentary tradition of the opening of Parliament, one member acting as the Councillor of the Exchequer made three raps on the door and we entered unannounced into Wallaby Lodge our accommodation for the weekend .Fortunately the Park Ranger was familiar with this tradition, and after a brief discussion he realised what sensible law abiding gentlemen he was in the company of and bid us good evening.
At this stage of the trip things began to get a little out of hand.
Without warning and unbeknown to any one but himself, Gonzo let rip with a technique that he would later use in Vietnam flushing out the Viet Cong. Lighting three penny bunger firecrackers at the same time he proceeded to lob them into the nearest campsites adjacent to ours. I doubt the ranger had closed the door of his house when he heard the 3 loud bangs of the penny bungers and the laughter that followed and drifted with the cold southerly wind over the camping ground. Now he was even unhappier than the rocker chick was, and arrived back at our accommodation not a happy man. The three loud bangs had awakened all the campers plus a group of girls from a Melbourne Teachers College. Most of the bus travellers had already introduced themselves and were socialising, so when the ranger arrived to sort out the noise there were only four of us there. Harry, the two young guys and one other. That one other person being the smoothest orator of all, Dave. Known as “The Hormone” Dave was probably the smoothest guy in the ECBC. If it hadn’t been for his smooth talking we would have been “out on our ear” as they say. Even Harry the driver was impressed. The nearest Police Station was hours away so the Ranger relented and allowed us stay. But no more bungers! We conceded that we should try and make a good impression as Harry was a Lodge mate of both mine and Jacko’s fathers and we weren’t about to let them think we were unruly lads.
The rest of the weekend was basically uneventful. The girls from the Teachers College never got into any trouble that we knew of and they told us it was an annual College trip. This information was not made known to the others on the bus, so readers just six of us returned to the Prom at the same time one year later.
In the same issue of the magazine the Grey Guru wrote in glowing terms of two of our early ECBC members. C. Tanner and D. Cross. All those who have ever had the pleasure of meeting these two gentlemen should realise that they are not the type people associated with the person/s mentioned in another previous article by Curtis.
It appears that young Curtis has failed to mention or has forgotten the incident where the ECBC members had to come to his assistance and rescue him and his mates from a party held at the Del Mar residence. Curtis and his mates had been invaded by over one hundred party crashers whilst Curtis’s parents were holidaying in Queensland. They were young and defenceless and needed the Knights in shining armour (the beer guzzling brawlers?) from the ECBC to save theirs and young Curtis’s ■■■■.
I’ll leave it up to the reader. Some of our members appeared anti social but in true fact they weren’t. They had attitude and also great respect for each other and they all enjoyed a good time. What they expected was respect from others. They had rules. If you surfed anywhere where they were surfing, you didn’t drop in. If you paddled around the break, waited your turn, didn’t paddle inside every one and could actually surf, you were offered to join the ECBC and if you were not black balled by a fellow member at the next committee meeting you were voted in.
It was this high standard that the club enforced on all its members but also caused a lot of jealousy by those who were not invited to join or were blackballed at a committee meeting.

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I worked for many years in the field of homelessness. This is a very short story i put together in the 90s, probably more of an anecdote, entitled “Angel”.

Woke up this afternoon chewing carpet at The Smash Palace, in a dog-box that I eventually recognised as belonging to The Altamont Angel. Dunno how I came to end up crashing on his floor, but it can pay to have friends in low places. The false teeth weren’t there, so he’d obviously gone to put the bite on.

Angel had kindly left a Tally-Ho and enough bumpers to manufacture a wake-up lung biscuit … couldn’t find a light anywhere. As I trawled the human flotsam and jetsam in search of a flame, I had the misfortune to be accosted by Slapsie Maxie, the Palace’s in-house biff merchant.

Slapsie had done it hard throughout but was no longer the fearsome pug who often went too many rounds at The House of Stoush just to earn enough to put food on the family table at night. Still, it didn’t pay to ignore him when he applied his irresistible left-right eyeball and bellow combination.

The Slapster was keen to ascertain the whereabouts of my Angel and he wasn’t Robinson Crusoe. Turns out that Angel had jagged a rather handsome trifecta at Money Valley yesterday and, after establishing which line to stand in to collect from the TAB, headed to his usual stool at The Railway.

Replete with full wallet and the cunning spare fifty in the sock, he’d found shelter and promptly proceeded to fix up the slate, put drinks on the house and have a night on the tiles. That’s where we must have run into each other.

Angel was in demand. He might still have some money left and so the queue of creditors, optimists, acquaintances and just plain desperates was lengthening by the minute. The Vanilla Slice Man was typically short on funds, being just out of Pentridge after his sticky fingers had brought him undone yet again. Slapsie was as toey as a roman sandal and beside himself. The thought of two of him was too much to bear, so I agreed on his behalves to follow the trail of Angel dust and try to track down the heavenly holder of hundreds.

We’d stuck through thin and thin for years now, and I became a bit spooked when nobody in the usual haunts had seen Angel. Nothing. At Johnny’s, The Dead Russian finally coughed that St. Keith’s might be the go.

I nearly cried. There indeed was Angel, with Lefty who had inevitably taken him back into her arm again, and a handful of others paying their last respects to Wobbly Bob before he went to be planted at Yan Yean. All paid for by Angel. With what was left of his winnings plus next week’s rent.

As Angel observed, it was the only permanent home the poor bugger has had in fifty years.

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Enjoyed the colourful nom-de-plumes of the characters.

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I enjoyed the relaxed tone of the voice and the humour in the phrasing. It shows a love and appreciation of language.

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