THE WINDY SEASON

The President said it’s a fact this country was born in battle and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that but no one could tell a war story like him. All wide-eyed fisherman and farm fellas stumbling sea-sick over tidal flats into Turkish rifle fire. Wading through bloodied trenches in French wheat fields. And I wonder what sort of country is born in all that and I wonder the effect it has on fellas. If it explains anything about the way they are. The things they say and the things don’t. The sounds that come out of them when they sleep. Cos I’ve held a gun in my hands and I’ve just shot a man dead. I don’t know what all of this has done to me or what I have learnt and it’s probably for someone else to judge. So I write this all out from the beginning. Write down the way we came. Through the heart of everything. Write down how it got here.

Essay

MONSTERS: The Swimming Speed of Sharks and Other Lessons

Even now, when I am in the sea, I find myself circled by the repeated visions of an attack in progress. The huge shifting of ocean and then the sudden heaviness on my legs. I see the tumbling red clouds in the water around me. I have surfed for two decades and though I have never once seen a shark, I am never without them. The ocean I live with is an ocean of monsters, vivid, fully formed. I am almost resigned to it now. I suspect this is how it always will be.

Short Story

STARK

THE CALL CAME AT FIVE IN THE MORNING, patched through from Marine Rescue in Geraldton. Fred had been in bed just an hour when her phone rattled the cabinet. She reached for it through the cider bottles and tumblers.

     A cray boat had found a body offshore, tied to a marker. The skipper said it looked biblical. A twenty mile crucifix. They were waiting for a helicopter in Perth to fly out. The boat from Geraldton would take four hours. She would beat them to it.

     Fred threw the phone to the bedsheets and swore her way to the bathroom, peeling off last night’s clothes. Her shirt sweat-fused to the hollow of her back. The seam of her denim jeans twisted around to her shins, gripping as though glued to her.

     She showered, used the last of the shampoo for soap.

 
 
 

THE WINDY SEASON

The President said it’s a fact this country was born in battle and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that but no one could tell a war story like him. All wide-eyed fisherman and farm fellas stumbling sea-sick over tidal flats into Turkish rifle fire. Wading through bloodied trenches in French wheat fields. And I wonder what sort of country is born in all that and I wonder the effect it has on fellas. If it explains anything about the way they are. The things they say and the things don’t. The sounds that come out of them when they sleep. Cos I’ve held a gun in my hands and I’ve just shot a man dead. I don’t know what all of this has done to me or what I have learnt and it’s probably for someone else to judge. So I write this all out from the beginning. Write down the way we came. Through the heart of everything. Write down how it got here.

OF MONSTERS AND MEN

The threatening performance of male anger perhaps distracts us from the emotional shadows that underlie it, the inherent fragility. My grandmother used to call it the frill-necked lizard effect. It is a metaphor typical of her – a curious, irreverent observer of men. That is what she saw in the gritted teeth and twitching limbs of an angry man: an attempt to look as big as possible. The trembling, weird performance and the scrawny lizard behind it all, trying to scare something off, something larger than itself. My grandmother understood that the frill-necked lizard isn’t fearsome, it is afraid.

STARK

THE CALL CAME AT FIVE IN THE MORNING, patched through from Marine Rescue in Geraldton. Fred had been in bed just an hour when her phone rattled the cabinet. She reached for it through the cider bottles and tumblers.

     A cray boat had found a body offshore, tied to a marker. The skipper said it looked biblical. A twenty mile crucifix. They were waiting for a helicopter in Perth to fly out. The boat from Geraldton would take four hours. She would beat them to it.

     Fred threw the phone to the bedsheets and swore her way to the bathroom, peeling off last night’s clothes. Her shirt sweat-fused to the hollow of her back. The seam of her denim jeans twisted around to her shins, gripping as though glued to her.

     She showered, used the last of the shampoo for soap.

© 2016 Sam Carmody