Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bored to Death

The snowy white tablecloth looked out of place, its edges flapping against a warm breeze that swam around our arms and legs. Sweat trickled down my spine, and stopped at the band of my funereal pants, and I silently chastised myself for not wearing a little black dress. The table before me was laden with food - an oasis amid the arid and tiny backyard where we gathered. Flies buzzed about with great expectation and people made polite conversation. Impossible not to, given we were standing shoulder to shoulder before a sinking Pilbara sun. I shifted my weight, my heels sinking into the dirt as I glanced around the tiny yard. The grass that dared to grow ran in a feeble strip along the back fence - fed by the neighbours run off. The rest of the lawn was sadly deceased and trodden to gritty red earth.

I moved toward the table, my glass sweating profusely in my hand. The evening was becoming equally oppressive, just as the afternoon had been and I wondered when would be the appropriate time to feign the start of a migraine. I thought of Big Len and couldn't help thinking that if these were the best of his mates, then he probably died of boredom. The polite conversation continued as I flipped back an errant corner of cloth and wiped at a creamy blob where the corner had landed in a container of French onion dip. 

My movement toward the food snapped an invisible force-field that pulsed silently around the table, safe keeping the food from human gluttony. As my hand retreated with the blob on my thumb, the crowd descended along with the flies, manners now gone with the searing heat of the afternoon sun. All conversation died as lip service took on a new form. Sounds of dipping and chipping and sipping took over, complemented by the gagging splutters of an old bloke inhaling a corn chip with salsa. I stood back and observed the bizarre and unusual scene. This was strangest wake I had ever attended. 

Coming from inside the house, the sounds of Herb Alpert and his Tijuana brass grew to an embarrassing level of loudness. I slipped my drink through the tangle of arms that reached for the table, and set the glass down. I stood back and rubbed furiously at my temples for effect, and begged Big Len's forgiveness, wishing him a long and happy Nirvana. It was time to go home.

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