Written in response to inspiration provided by Phill (call for inspiration 2):
My heart was broken. I kept telling myself to stop. I just wanted you.
But you kept fucking him?
One minute I’m listening to Ziyad, our twelve o’clock shadowed tour guide droning on about anything but the pyramids in his enthralling, hard edged English that has us all listening because it sounds like a song being barked through a megaphone.
The next minute, well.
Julie had wanted to come to the airport. I said no. She asked if I was still angry with her, and I said no, I was fine. Was it true? No, probably not. She’d left me with too many questions. The worst kind of questions too, the ones that you don’t actually want answers to.
It worked, you know? Ziyad’s angry English, the clove infused smoke he leaves in his wake. It just felt like Egypt. At least the Egypt I pictured when I was growing up in Geraldton. But there are other smells here too. If I had to paint you a picture, I’d say this shoulder high tunnel smells of one part old person, one part old person’s urine and one part sickly sweet wine. In other words, like every underpass you’ve ever walked through. Zayed’s tobacco covered the stench only fleetingly.
But I was used to the smell by now; my fantasy Egypt could live amidst old person’s piss, no problem. What it couldn’t take though was Geraldton. Specifically, Geraldton as represented by Sharon Mills and Tracey Stott, the owners of the four legs in front of me.
What happened was this:
I had been listening to Ziyad graphically examine the many moral shortcomings of the mother of Egypt’s president when I heard from the front of the group, “He’s a fucking dog.”
“Yeah,” agreed another shrill, nasal voice, “Grey-fucking-Johnson. World class wanker.”
Recognising the name, I lifted my head sharply, crunching the top of my skull hard into the limestone roof and yelling out. When the pain receded, the group had moved on, I was on my arse, and there were four legs in front of me, with Sharon and Tracey attached to a pair each.
“Phil fucking Thompson,” said Tracey.
“Trace,” I acknowledged. “Sharon.”
“What are you doin’ here?”
I didn’t want to answer. Fly half way around the world just to hear about Geraldton from a couple of girls from my high school days? No thank you. But how do you suggest to someone that we just pretend we don’t know each other?
“Nothing,” I reply.
Tracey misses the sarcasm. “Hear about your mate Grey?” Even in the muted light, I could see the almost macabre satisfaction on her face.
“Surely you heard? He’s your best mate.”
“I’m in a bloody pyramid. Not sure that it was designed with an internet café in mind.”
“But he’s fucking Julie. Didn’t you know?”
I hadn’t known. Well not who anyway. “I knew it.”
“What are ya gunna do?”
“I had planned to find a big pile of rocks and crawl under it. Not working though, apparently.”
I know the internet and blogs and chat-whatever and twitter and Youtube and all that shit make local a relative term, but I’m in a pyramid for fucksake. I should be immune from local news.
I look up at the rock. I wonder how hard I’d have to ram my head to knock myself out.
Sharon smiles. “Poor thing, you’re so upset, aren’t ya? Want to come back to our hostel for drinks after this?”
No, I didn’t. I still don’t. Which is why I’m so surprised I’m back here with them. Sharon has messily poured three shots of a liquid from the petroleum family from a stained second hand bottle. Tracey is clearing away the mugs that once held what she dubiously referred to as beer.
Sharon knocks back her shot and immediately leans over and hurls up the semi-digested vegetables and flatbread we had wolfed down earlier. She falls back on the cushion, vomit patch spreading on her tank top.
“Who chundered?” calls Tracey.
“Me.” A slurred reply rises from the cushion.
“Shut up,” Sharon says when Tracey walks back in.
“Whew, it reeks in here.” She is right too. The air was ripe enough before the acidic bile was added to the mix.
My brain is ordering me to leave. I didn’t trust the alcohol, I didn’t want the company, and I had had my fill of reminiscing. I get up to go.
Tracey grabs my arm, “Where you going Phil?”
Home, I try to say.
“Um,” I actually say.
Tracey pulls my face down to hers. Over her shoulder I see Sharon pull off her vomit stained top revealing a bulging black bra, nipples straining through the thin material. Get going Phil, screams the jelly in my skull, this isn’t a good idea.
Communication has gotten easier hasn’t it? Humans can get to each other like never before. I can find out my best friend in Australia was fucking my girlfriend in Australia from a couple of Australian birds while touring an Egyptian pyramid.
If only the organs of our body communicated half as well. But my brain doesn’t stand a chance. The gulf between it and the organ it needs to speak to is a great southern land wide.