Two young men are driving back from a party, somewhere deep in the forest. Jack and Parka are entertaining themselves in a large white ute as they power down the dark freeway. Mucking around and keeping themselves company, the young men are unusually lively for this late at night. The party out on a friend’s farm, ended prematurely when the alcohol ran out. To say, they were jovial would be an understatement. They sang along with music in the car. Punched each other in the arm when they spotted roadkill. When the songs they didn’t know the lyrics to came on, they played an intensive game of truth or dare.
The road was scarce with other traffic. Something they had come to expect when traveling at this time of night. There was something quite liberating about being awake and active at this time of night. Especially here, where it was so desolate from urban topography. A sense of authority and ownership drifted over their minds.
As they approached an upcoming turn a coupe drifted wide in erratic fashion. In that moment they were given their ultimatum - plough into the nearby rock face or try their luck over the impending turn.
The two girls packed their things in the middle of the night, in an abused little backpack. Cara and Stephanie were quite independent after living together for a long time. They were not sisters but they may as well have been. The families had become inexplicably entwined from birth. Yet, their mothers not apart of the picture anymore. They often wondered where their mothers had ended up.
Their fathers had sent the girls to bed without dinner a few hours earlier. Could it be a learning experience? As the girls knew that their fathers weren’t coming home any time soon, they took their chance to escape. Grabbing around the pantry, they found the keys for their other car with a flashlight. The sound of wind blowing and occasionally whistling against from an oozing purple sky was capitulated by a hinge on the screen door. They stepped out into the garage and hopped into the car. Throwing the bags against the back seat resulted in a rebounding to the floor. The seats were dusty and smelt of mildew. The faint scuff of yellow foam stuck out and tapered away from the grey chairs. The ignition switched and the car slowly crept into the night.
The men sat there, see-sawing between groveling and laughing, whilst sinking beers. Dave and Red often amused each other because no one else was invited. In a sickly sweet kind of way they needed each other. Pint after pint was only interrupted by the customary counter meal, usually a burger or a wrangled schnitzel. The stress and responsibility of their pathetic lives was seeping away with every sip. They felt it was a burden being fathers. It was no surprise that they could not identify or resonate with anyone. Barely making enough to make ends meet, surely it didn’t help to frequent the pub that many times per month.
The conversation had gone into a lull. Dave darted off for the bathroom but got distracted by the alluring lights of the pokies. Looking in as if he was watching the gorillas at the zoo, his nose pressed against the glass. He left off and finally made his way to the bathroom. He almost slumbered while he stood at the urinals. Drifting from side to side like an infected goat. Arisen from the stupor that is so often brought on by the laborious and painfully boring task of pissing, he floated to the wash basin, only to be distracted again. This time, by his own face in the mirror. What he saw was not a man with features, rather an unshaped mind with ghosts flying around. Paused in front of the mirror, he breathed heavily with his mouth open. Red walked in, concerned but slightly amused. He flicked the car keys out of his pocket and rang the chain. Almost as if he was calling a baby with a rattle. The different coloured metals clanged together, reverberating with no sound of decay. Dave acknowledged Red in the mirror and followed him out of the bathroom. The men walked back to the bar and shook the hands of the barmaid and left.