A friend said I’m repetitive. I don’t want to repeat myself but I am confronted with madness every day, other peoples and my own. I know that I’ve mentioned Hitler recently but I really did have a driver the other day with a toothbrush moustache. Sometimes the coincidences in life make me nervous. I started writing this story and didn’t mention being in a wheelchair. I didn’t need to. As I kept writing this I added it in, I had to
I was going down the footpath in time with a dark haired woman pushing a redhead baby in a pram. She smiled at me so I smiled back at her. There was a big mustard stain on the side of her right breast. Her baby had flaming red hair. Did you know, I said, that the world’s redhead population is dwindling? Yes, she replied, only one percent of the world is redhead. She pointed at me and said, you’ve got some red in you. I do have some red in me. I once lived with a girl who regularly told me, if we have a ginger baby I’m going to kill you. She had a good sense of humour and said ginger with G’s like gingham. I also knew a woman who told me that redhead people smell. Smell like what, I asked? You guy’s just smell, she said. I was intrigued so had to ask her again. Do we smell bad, I said, is it an offensive smell? She asked me if I knew that the redhead gene was closely related to the Neanderthal? Are you calling me a Neanderthal, I asked? No, she said, I’m calling you smelly
Is it so bad to be smelly, like a redhead? There are worse things than being smelly. I could be a parking warden or I could have a compulsive disorder. The woman pushing the pram looked at me. I looked at her and I saw her compulsion. It’s a man’s world but the women do all the work. I looked inside her pram and saw a small pink thing. What’s her name, I asked? His name is Garage. It’s a boy and his name is Garage. I had to ask, what did you say his name was, Garage, like where you park the car? No, she said, it’s his father’s name so we continued it on. So, I said, now you’ve got two Garages. She smiled as she said, sweet aye? She told me her husband was a redhead. She said that he had ranga blood. I thought I hadn’t heard her properly so I asked her what she had said. Ranga’s Orangutan’s, she said, you know… you redheads
I had to see the audiologist so I went home and got ready. I’d arranged a car service to take me there. It turned up five minutes late. A big lady got out of the drivers side. She was wearing a pair of short black shorts. I could see verrucous veins all over her white legs. I wondered why she was showing them off? I guess we only see what we want. I dismantled the chair and she put it in the boot. She slammed it shut. She asked me if I smoked? I told her I did but I hadn’t brought any with me. She told me I could have one of hers if I let her have one. Go for it, I said. She took her left hand off the steering wheel and pulled out a packet of menthol’s. She pulled one out and offered it to me. No thanks, I said, I’m fine but you feel free. She asked if it was because they were menthol’s and I said yes. She told me that the cigarettes have a device on the filter. She said that it only becomes a menthol cigarette if you crush the tip. No thanks, I said again, I’ll be okay. I don’t trust it
She asked me questions as she drove. I’m an open book so I told her answers. She asked if I was married? No, I said, but I am in love, I think its love; it’s been so long I’ve forgotten. She asked me so I started talking about my love. I told her everything I know about her. I fell in love with her at first sight. She put her smile on me. I loved her more after her first smile. Everything about her screamed Me. I could tell she liked me. I was scared ‘cause I don’t know who I am anymore. She asked me to show her something. I thought about showing her my willy but I opened my soul instead. My imagination jumped out. I bared it and scared her. The souls not everything, she said, there’s the heart too. I opened my heart as well, I said, I opened it and she stomped on it with her shoe. I can show you the tread-mark if you like. Ok, she said, show me. I lifted my singlet to show her. I looked down and there was no mark. You’ll just have to believe me, I said. There is no love like love lost. Why don’t you stomp on her, she asked? I told her I didn’t have the heart
She didn’t say anything after that. She drove a hybrid. It was silent. It hardly made any noise. I missed my best mate in New Zealand so I text and asked him to tell me something interesting. He text me back that he was high on Gin and felt like he was in London in the 18th century. I told the driver and she laughed. I text him that I was jealous that he trusted himself to be that drunk. He asked me what I meant? I told him I could set fire to London. When I get that drunk I could do anything. I’ve got a friend who lives up the hill on Blair St in North Bondi. I went to a party at his house one night and got drunker than two skunks. I had to get home to meet the nurse. I can’t remember getting home. The next morning my friend called me and asked if I was okay, he asked me if I was sore? No, I said, why? He said that they watched me leaving from his balcony. He said I fell out of my wheelchair as I left his building. That’s not so bad, she said as she steered the silent car. He said that I got back in it and wheeled into the middle of the street without looking. There was a car coming behind me that high-beamed and honked. It was a long honk. He said that they watched me take my hands off the wheels. He told me I gunned it down his hill. He said that they saw sparks coming off my chair before I fell out at the bottom. I can only imagine how they laughed. I was too drunk to feel it. Her head turned towards me as she said, what? The car veered with her head movement and she just missed a parked car. Watch the road
It was my third trip to the audiologist. It should have only taken one visit but everyone wants to get paid. I told them that I could hear something in my deaf ear when I put water in it in the shower. Maybe you can hear, they said. She got a megaphone and put it up to my left ear and shouted something. She tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I’d heard her? What, did you say she sells seashells on the seashore? No, she said, I called you a deaf twat. I asked her why after I’ve listened to music with my headphones and put the hearing aids back in I no longer hear as loud as I normally do? She said, because your hearing aids are smarter than you. They are protecting your hearing. Oh. Also I take the showerhead and wash my ears out in the morning. How come I can hear water rushing through my deaf ear? She said that there is a connection between the two ears, a bone or something. I was actually hearing it in my good ear. A connection? Yeah, she said. I asked her why I hear ringing in my deaf ear when it’s deaf? I asked her if they could cut the nerve that’s causing it. We don’t actually know how tinnitus is caused, she said. I know how my tinnitus was caused. I landed on my head. She told me that scientists believed that the body holds on to trauma. It enjoys it. I don’t enjoy it, I said. It drives me crazy. You’ll learn to live with it, she replied. I told her I had learned to live with it and was sick of it. She smiled as she said, tough. So what, we’ve sent a man to the moon, we cook our food with radiation and we still don’t know what happens inside our head? She said, you’re right
They can’t fix what’s inside my head. It’s a shame nobody knows how to stop it. One night it drove me crazy. I couldn’t sleep ‘til four in the morning. I got a nail and hammered it into my ear to stop it. I told her. And, she asked? What, I said? And what happened, she asked? It just bled and rang louder. I asked her about a cochlear implant. I asked if that would help reduce the tinnitus in my deaf ear? I don’t know, she said. I looked at her and saw sincerity. I said, you know for a professional you don’t know that much. It’s not like that, she replied, I’ve heard of it reducing for some people and I’ve also heard of the tinnitus getting louder with others. I told her to forget it. If it got worse I would go mad(der). I left her office and went outside.
An old lady was walking down the street towards me. She tripped and landed hard. I watched hordes of teenagers step around her. It looked as though they were avoiding her on purpose. Nobody offered to help. She couldn’t get up. I went down to where she lay on the pavement, applied my brakes and offered her my hand. She took my forearm tightly and I pulled her up. She felt as light as a feather. She groaned as she rose. She gripped tightly to my arm. Her skin was paper-thin and was broken on her left shin. I asked her if she was okay and handed her a tissue? She thanked me. A teenage girl with pink stripes in her hair bumped into her from behind and she almost fell again. The girl kept walking and didn’t say sorry. What’s with the young people today, she asked? I told her I didn’t know. These days I don’t know anything
I sat and waited for the car service. I saw a cross-eyed blonde with big tits feeding a pigeon. I asked her it’s name and she only giggled. When the car showed up it was another driver. He said my name as he opened the door. I didn’t recognise him. He shook my hand and questioned how I was. I didn’t need him to but he grabbed me under the arms and lifted me into his car as I transferred. He put my chair in the boot, got in the car and pulled out from the curb. He had a black Hitler moustache so I called it. Is that for Movember, I asked? He said yes. I asked him what charity he was collecting for? I’m not, he said, and it’s not a Hitler moustache it’s a Toothbrush moustache. I grew it because I watched a Charlie Chaplin movie a couple of months ago. Hitler stole it like the Green’s stole Labour. Everything’s gotta belong to somebody, that’s what I hate about humanity. Well it looks good, I said, I’m jealous. I told him I don’t grow a beard because mine’s ginger. I said the g like gingham.
He scratched the side of his face with his writing hand as he told me that he stole from charity as a boy. He said he collected all this money and went down to the shop and bought fish and chips with it. That’s terrible, I said. He turned and looked at me and told me I was just as bad. You just accused me of stealing the moustache from Hitler. His stare went past me out my window. Look, he yelled as he pointed, a Ranga! A tall beautiful redhead woman was walking down the footpath towards us. She walked like a model. He honked the horn three times and stuck his head out the window. He yelled out, I love you. He pulled his head back in, leaned across me and started at her. The car veered with his stare and we almost hit a parked car. I yelled, watch the road. Sometimes the coincidences in life make me nervous
Andrew Stuart Buchanan