The Manager

Trauma and attrition of the frontal lobes had robbed his brain of the ability to hold more than a few thoughts at a time. The seven items suggested by cognitive theorists were a joke and flashbacks haunted him.

Sky, road, sky, road, sky, road, pain.

A crushed wrist in front of a smashed face. A busted ankle pushing through the sole of a stupidly inappropriate business shoe. The big motorcycle on its side, engine still ticking over, a spread of petrol flowing toward him.

A panicked voice, “Take off his helmet!” Fingers fumbling at the straps.

“Fuck off!” he yells through the redness, “Leave my neck alone!”

Six months, and he hadn’t noticed there was a problem until the day he asked when a work meeting was being held. It was less than ten seconds after he had been shown on the calendar.

There was silence, and it was useless to say he hadn’t heard her, but the look on Marcia’s face shocked him. He was speechless with embarrassment, but most of all with fear.

He had to get in control, to stay in control. Filtering the flow of information into his world became an obsession.

A cheap zip up vinyl planner from the local Reject Shop became his anchor, a talisman – a place for paper, a calculator, pens and pencils, a diary, one day to a page, it was all he could handle. Tools to rebuild his life.

He threw away his desk trays. Paper that came into his world was read, placed in a box, and if not needed after a month, thrown away

“A good manager should destroy twice as much paper as he creates,” he told himself with some satisfaction, and slowly, strangely, over the next few months the strategy worked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kick Off

Young Beckham was good, damn good. The whole street knew how good he was.

Even the whitewashed double doors of his Dad’s garage knew how good he was.

His neighbours grumbled as he scored goal after goal in the driveway.

He had started practice during the Christmas holidays, when the garage doors had been covered in random bruises.

His father whitewashed the garage, and by the end of the holidays there were just six bruises out front, and they weren’t random.

Foot height, waist height, head height…both sides.

It was now near the end of mid-term, and the garage doors still had only six bruises.

Frowning, he stood in the middle of the street facing the garage.

He was staring at a line of nails on the left door, just out of reach of his imaginary goalkeeper. A thousand yard stare, his father liked to called it.

James Dorrington was also good. A genius, many said. His delicate fingers had a seductive effect on the security systems of the cars he liked to steal. Beautiful cars sighed mechanically, opened their doors for him, and surrendered their plush leather secrets.

The Tesla he was driving had been a bit smarter than your average petrol burner, but he was persistent, and persuasive. He was stunned by the eerie and silent power of the electric vehicle.

Counting one, two, three, four, he accelerated toward the end of the narrow street at eighty miles per hour. Drifting into the next street he looked down to examine a computer screen in the middle of the dashboard.

There was a big red button at the bottom of the screen, and without hesitating he pushed it.

Young Beckham stepped behind a parked Volvo, and stretching, stepped up on his toes, to begin his run.

 

 

 

Nana’s Bedroom

 

Nana’s bedroom was my least favourite room. Its very existence provoked some of my most selfish and whinging moments.

We grew up surrounded by dead animals. The lounge room in our small Californian bungalow was crowded with bales of skins – rabbit, possum and kangaroo. Cardboard boxes full of wood-wool added to the perpetual mustiness.

Mum and Dad owned a toy manufacturing business called Kutie-Koalas.

My sister and I loved having the furs around, but the family desperately needed a dining room.

Nana’s bedroom started life as our new dining room, newly built, fresh and crisp.

I loved the sharp, clean resin scent of the new room, and was disappointed when Dad covered the floor with second hand carpet.

When Grandpa died, Nana moved in. I had always detested visiting Nana when they lived on the North Shore, and I liked it less now she was under our roof.

Snatches of adult conversation had convinced me that she was not sick, but at some point in her sixties she had decided to spend most of her life in bed.

Nana smoked “rollies”. She crushed the limp cigarette halfway up her fingers and slobbered on it until it was soggy. It would slowly go out, and she would leave the butt on the bedside table while she rolled another one.

The fingers of her right hand were stained, and her prickly moustache was the colour of Virginia Dark Leaf. Every day, after school, I had to drop into her room and give her a kiss.

She listened to the radio constantly, and in the afternoon she would recount the number of people who had died on the roads that day. It seemed to give her a lot of pleasure.

I left home before the dining room was re-instated, and never sat in it again.