It sits there all sleek, black and shiny. Completely different to starched white sheets. I see it as perfect, except where the cop got all frustrated crazy and kicked my passenger door, denting it and cracking the paintwork. The bloody boofhead bully. No, no, got to slide away smoother than that. The motherfucker. The mudderfuckin pig. That’s better.
Did that cop think it’d make me open my door, maybe slide down my dark tint window, get out and go quietly? Well, it didn’t. I just leaned forward and quickly tapped Trapp’s left shoulder three times and off we sped, V8 roar and squealing tyres, until I leant forward again and one shoulder tap to tell him to pull over, get out and take off the fake plates and put our real ones back on. Ten second job that. Two shoulder taps and we drove off all nice and normal.
See, I’m not always stuck in this bed. My EEG agrees.
You know, I said to Trapp, that cop must’ve recognised me.
Ja, ja, sure did, he answered, nodding his head.
Probably wanted to drag me out of the car, outa da car, and beat the shit outa me, I told Trapp. I got news for him though, it didn’t stop Mailer in Chicago, he still got that book out and it sure wouldn’t stop me no way, make me more determined that’s what, determined to get the truth out, to see what’s happening, to tell what’s happening, to be what’s happening. Yeah, be what’s happening. And if that means getting beat up by the mudderfucker, then that’s what it means. And I’ll tell it like it is.
I feel pretty good whenever I talk like that, Whoa! I feel good, you know with fire and passion, but it wears me out a bit. But like I said it makes me feel good, satisfied like, so I don’t mind it chewin up fuel and leavin me a bit burnt out. Everything gotta cost man and I don’t mind payin ma dues. So I took a good deep breath, closed my eyes and leant my head back against the cool black leather of my seat.
Before I fell asleep in the Caddy, Black Panther sliding through the streets, I listened to the beep beep machine we busted bodies and coma patients have. Well, not a machine, more a technical gadget even I don’t fully understand. Our beep beep gadget makes this beeping sound (D’oh!) all slow and rhythmical and usually so quiet you have to make an effort to hear it. But if the beep beep gadget senses danger it beeps louder and faster, and if the danger becomes a threat, a clear and present danger, it becomes one continuous loud, screeching beeeeeeeeeep. But sometimes it all happens so quickly, so unexpectedly, I don’t get a chance to do anything and coz I’m all helpless, like I can’t even move, it’s up to Trapp to do everything before the shit hits the fan.
When I woke up I was still in the car, my head leaning against the window. I really really needed to wee wee, but that was okay because I don’t have to go to the toilet to go to the toilet. It was warm in the Caddy with the late morning sun slanting against my window. I thought I might stay there, but started to think it could get all hot and stuffy and I’d be like those kids or pets that cook up and die because they’ve been left in the car and can’t do anything to get out, like what happened to that toddler and his puppy in Brisbane. Being stuck somewhere can get pretty scary and I did start to get twitchy and panicky. Beeeeeep. But then I saw dad standing beside the car looking all big and strong, ready to take me inside, and I came over feeling all warm and snuggly again even though there was some sticky sweat under my arms.
You’d think it’d be a cinch to get out of a nice big black Cadillac, but my one is really low to the ground, like Bruce Wayne’s, so low some of the grass in the yard brushes against the side and can get caught when the door closes, and this being low to the ground makes it awkward for Trapp to lean in and get me out. But it doesn’t bother me too much, it dunna bovver me, I mean if that’s the hardest part of his job he doesn’t have much to complain about. But it’s not the hardest part of his job, not by a million miles, hell I know that, even though I can’t say it, besides I’d just woken up and was all discombobulated … discombobulated, I like that word, I’m going to, gonna, use in my writing: ‘the students were discombobulated’; ‘the flower in the barrel of the rifle discombobulated the young guardsman’; ‘the motorbike crash left him much more than discombobulated.’ I can fucking tell you that one for sure, for fucking sure.
It’s times like that I usually vanish into the black.
It felt good when dad opened my door, the cool air, the relief, like I’d just escaped being trapped (ha, ha), even though I hadn’t. He carried me into my bedroom and gave me my magic pills with a glass of milk. At night, Hogwarts story time, he warms the milk and it lines my throat and makes me think that I could talk in a really deep and throaty voice, kinda sexy like Barry White, though I could never ever sound like that. But then I think I would probably sound like Stephen Hawking and though being like Stephen Hawking would be one hell of an improvement it’s still something I really don’t want to think about. These are medical things and I won’t go any further there, thank you very much. At least the calcium in the milk is good for me, dad used to say.
My magic pills make me soporific and placid, and I admit it’s a narcosis I really enjoy. Hell, you don’t have to be a hippie living on Haight-Ashbury to enjoy a little help from your friends. So despite my snooze in the car I wanted to go to sleep, in my baby cot would’ve been nicest, but I couldn’t really remember what it was like, so couldn’t get it. Before I floated off I looked at all my books, books stacked on books, and on the very top of them, like a crown, was my thesis, bound in red leather just sitting there looking all smart and clever. I was an expert on New Journalism, and fuck it all I’m still gonna be one, yes I am, I am. Shut up. I can be, can be if I want. It’s a PhD, my thesis, so take that! Looking at my thesis, my thing, my trip, made me think I should make some notes, should write up some of what happened, even if I just jotted down some key points about the protest, you know headings like: ‘Democratic Convention’, ‘Pig Daley’, ‘Twin Towers’, ‘Lincoln Park’ ‘68 68 68’, but then, like always, I told myself there’s no need because it would always be fresh in my mind as if it had just happened. Besides these things are so fucking obvious no New Journalist would’ve needed to write them down like some baby cadet journo. Plus, tomorrow was the big, big day and I didn’t want to use up my writing words on stuff that wasn’t the big, big day.
Sometimes my magic pills take me back to Mullumbimby and when that happens I can’t tell if I’m really there or just remembering, or making it all up. At the time it doesn’t matter and there’s no way to ask someone, no way for me to find out. Besides it’s all the same. Had a bike, trike really, black-snake shiny and dark and in the long kikuyu I try to ride it, I push and push, toddler legs straining, but the grass wraps around the wheels, strangles the axles and I can’t move, I topple over and there’s laughter, but my head hits the side of the stone dog dish and there’s my crying and there’s my blood, and he is cuddling me, thick black whiskers rough on my cheek amid a flourish of soft lip kisses and ich liebe dich, ich liebe dich.
I’m excited today. Nervous, but excited. Beep beep beep. Wired, I’m totally wired. Ha, funny that. Totally wired, man. When Trapp comes to get me I hide all signs of my excitement and nervousness; it would not be cool to show I’m not cool. Sometimes I don’t mind not telling it like it is. When we get out into the backyard it is not fully light yet, but I can see it has rained and the long grass is all lank and wet, so Trapp will have to carry me all the way to the Caddy because no way do I want my bell-bottoms getting wet. That too would not be cool.
Dad carries me and I can hear him breathing all deep and raspy like he’s a heavy smoker and his lungs are clogged up and lousy. Sometimes when he holds me I want to tell him that he is my hero, and in even crazier moments I’d like to cuddle him and tell him, I love you, I love you. But I can’t do it and I guess that’s good, because how uncool would that be? He says I don’t weigh much, no not at all, light as a feather, and sometimes he starts humming that Hollies song ‘He ain’t heavy … ’, never sings the words, just hums the tune, but I know the song, everyone knows the song; crummy humming if you ask me, too phlegmy wet and whistly, but I don’t tell him that, it’s not like I can do any better, can’t even make a decent sound. In his head he probably thinks it sounds perfect, and I understand that’s where it really counts.
Trapp walks right past the Caddy like it ain’t really there. That’s cos he likes to josh me, does it all the time, says he’s trying to cheer me up, trying to get a rise out of me. I know he means well, and he sure is persistent, but I have never reacted, so why he keeps trying is beyond me. Besides, it’s sort of patronising, like I’m one of thems folk in that Netflix doco on dementia where they secretly filmed the carers treating these people as if they were babies. The second part of the doco was about how the dementia patients were abused with things like pinching them to move, shoving food down their throats, slapping an old woman who kept crying and asking for Kenny, and leaving people locked in their rooms or sitting around for hours in clothes they had been to the toilet in … and more, much more, though I don’t remember the second part of the documentary because I didn’t watch it, no I didn’t watch it so I will stop thinking about it henceforth. Good doco though, not New Journalism, still good though.
I haven’t got dementia. Besides even if I did, dad cares for me and he would never hurt me, except when his whiskers scratch my paper thin skin as he kisses me sweet dreams.
Then I see why Trapp has taken me past the Caddy. It’s to look at that bike again. Beeeeep. No not a Mullumbimby trike, but a three wheeler motorbike that’s got two wheels at the back with a little leather chair that’s the colour of dried blood. I reckon this is too much. Beeeeeeeeeep. Bit cruel even. Even Trapp goes quiet. He’s always trying to get me to react, to do something, like how he always comes into my ward with all this different stuff and holds it in front of me, yabbering away all the time. It’s crazy what he brings to show me: an old teddy bear that doesn’t even have both legs; the Dreamworld photo of me with Batman beside the big black Batmobile; copies of my thesis; and that bag of fresh cut kikuyu he kept shoving under my nose. Batman movies were my fave. And the Sound of Music. Yeah, I know, but I can’t help it.
When I’m put into the backseat of the bike, I mean to let out a big moan like I’m kinda in pain coz the seat is so uncomfortable, but it comes out a high-pitched yelp as if the chair has bitten my arse, my ass. Trapp completely ignores this and starts up the Harley, the chopper, and it sounds all deep and throaty and muscly like I might if I could drink enough milk, but I know that’s stupid because I don’t really have any muscles anymore, despite all the pushing and prodding.
There just isn’t much I can do about this bike business, I just go with the flow and lean forward and tap Trapp on the shoulder. He pulls his shoulders back and sits up really straight, ramrod straight they say. But isn’t he usually stooped over like some elderly person? I’m not certain about this, no not at all and it starts to really bother me. Beeeeeep. He’s big and strong, so how come I think he’s all bent over? Like when have I seen him all gnarly old and bent over, like be specific … you wanna be all New Journalist but you can’t give a concrete example. Think, think, think, but sitting there in that fuckin stupid bike I can’t recall an example, beeeeeep, can’t bring up a single real scene where he’s like that. But he is like that, lots of times, and I’m all confused and scared: why am I on this bike, shouldn’t be on some fuckin bike, beeeeeeeep, should be in my Caddy all snug and safe. But it’s all too late and Trapp revs the Harley and I can hear its engine straining and screeching all high pitched, loud and dangerous. Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway … Behind us I see clods of dirt and grass come flying out as the bike rocks from side to side. But we’re not moving forward and when I lean over the side I see the problem right away; the kikuyu has wrapped around the spokes of the wheel and axle, so I know for certain that we are definitely not going anywhere in this Harley. I sit back into my seat, making sure I can’t fall off the bike and hit my head on the stone birdbath, and I know it has to be a birdbath because there’s just no way they’d let a dog in here. Then like times before Trapp has to give up and is leaning over and trying to pick me up; he’s having a bit of trouble because he’s all elderly and gnarly now. I’d like to help him, but I disappear into the black.
The Caddy crawls Mullumbimby-trike slow through the crowds of protesters, zillions of em. Never gotten this far before, never... this is it, this is it! There’s reporters and tv cameras everywhere and the Batmobile is like some dark boulder in a fast flowing river, beautiful people streaming around us and they’re chanting ‘68 it’s a date, 68 c’mon mate, fair dinkum it’s a date’ and this is plain fucken ridiculous, so fucken wrong wrongwrong. Beeeeeeeeep. There’s another wave of beautiful people, Robin’s amongst them, and they don’t want Hubert Humphrey to be their candidate; ‘Dump the Hump, dump the Hump’ they chant and I wind my window down and start yelling, my voice getting all milky big and strong, ‘Dump the Trump, dump the Trump’ and people surround my Caddy and they all start chanting, ‘Dump the Trump.’ And then they’re pulling me outa de car, lifting me up on their shoulders and I look back at the Batmobile and dad is standing there and his shoulders are shaking and he looks all exhausted, old and stooped over, but he’s laughing and crying like he’s just become a father. Beeeeeep. I see Abbie Hoffman in the crowd and he’s waving at me, giving me the peace sign. There’s Forrest Gump and Barack beside him. I can see police starting to move in. Beeeeeeep. And there’s Mailer, notepad in hand. You getting this? he asks me. You better believe it, this is the siege of Chicago, I yell back and he looks at me, smiling and nodding like he’s just had some great idea.
The police start to move towards us, they look like Death Eaters and so so many of em. Beeepbeeepbeeep. The people carrying me dump me and I hit my head on the stone gutter. Maybe there’s blood again, but I don’t know. People are running away, nobody likes Death Eaters. Abbie Hoffman and Hermoine look towards me as if it’s up to me, that it’s me who can get us outa diss mess. I see the tv cameras and I start saying, quiet at first, then deep and loud like I was Barry White: ‘The whole world’s watching, the whole world’s watching.’ Then there’s the smokey arcs of teargas flying towards us, people screaming, crying, coughing, hacking, vomiting, and there’s a Death Eater coming to get me, he wants me, only me, but I think I’m okay coz I’m above it all, carried, like so often before, on someone’s shoulders … so it can’t be me with eyes streaming like little rivers.
And dad is leaning across me, crying and cuddling me, thick grey whiskers rough on my cheek amid a flourish of soft lip kisses. He’s woken up, he says, ich liebe dich, you’re back, ich liebe dich.