Eight Short Stories
Set in a Tasmanian Apple Orchard
Mono & Macka - Apple Orchard Terrorists
Pick’n Season is an exploration of style. After writing the novel, Dance me, I was puffed with all the ‘she saids’, ‘he pondered’, ‘she exclaimed’. I wanted to try to write a story where there was none of that and little guide as to who was saying what except the context.
I hope you enjoy my experiment.
"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."
Got the explosives, Mono?”
“Shhhhhhhhhh, put them in the bloody boot before some dong comes along and seesya,”
The two blokes, both wearing daggy blue stubbies and pink tee-shirts, climbed into an old, faded-yellow Torana 1974 SLR. Clanger had had a shot at painting it Ferrari yellow, using a box of spray paint he'd found at the tip. Didn't work out though.
The motor cranked over, then died.
“Didnya check the bloody battery?”
They got out of the car and Mono fiddled with a wire catch above the bonnet. There was a faint click, the bonnet sprang up, then sagged back again like a limp dick in the wind. A faint click followed.
“Hurry up ya dopey bastard, it's bloody hot sit'n in the f'kin sun.”
Mono fiddled with the wire. There was another faint click and the bonnet sprang back up again. Mono shot his hand into the slot between the radiator and the bonnet.
“Wotsthematter Mono, didthebloodybonnetgetya?”
“Hang on, I'll lift it soya c'n get ya f'kin hand out.”
Macka grabbed the edge of the bonnet and began to lift it.
"No! don't take ya hand out! Changedmebloodymind, spring the bloody catch while its still in there.”
Mono wiggled his hand around a bit and there was a click. Macka lifted the bonnet so Mono could snatch his hand out. He jumped around sucking his knuckles.
“Fuck! Wheresthebloodythingtoholdthebonnetupwith? No, don't tell me, grab that bloody stick over there and jam it in.”
Mono ran in the direction Macka was nodding his head. He grabbed the stick, ran back and jammed it in at forty-five degrees. Macka let go the bonnet, the stick sagged a little, then held. They waited a few seconds.
“Get in and turn her over mate.”
Mono got into the drivers seat and started to crank the motor. It whined and whirred, every so often coughing like a consumptive corpse with an electrode up its arse. Then it died.
“Its the f'kin battery!”
“Got another one somewhere?”
“Well, where the fuck is't. No, don't tell me, its in the bloody garage, the one we we just bloody locked, in'it?”
“You got the key to the house then?”
“It's under the f'king gnome isn't it?”
Macka walked over to a happy looking red gnome sitting in the middle of the front lawn.
It's nose had been broken off by a beer can, and its right hand, which was supposed to look like it was tucked into the gnomes side pocket, instead looked like he was playing with himself. The blokes would sit on the front verandah pissing themselves laughing. Reckoned they could see the hand move when a sheila walked past.
Clanger lifted the gnome by its hat, stooped down and picked up a single bright blue key, then walked over to the garage. After a furtive look around, he unlocked the door and slipped inside.
The garage was chockers. It was full of drums of nitrate and bags of sulphate of ammonia. Macka had read about how to make explosives on the internet. He'd bought enough supplies to fertilise a medium sized farm. The smell was overpowering. He looked around, then walked back out.”
“Can't find it, sure its in there?”
Macka went back in and rummaged around again.
“Found it!” he exclaimed, his voice muffled.
Macka carried the battery out to the car, removed the old battery, put in the new one and connected the leads.
“Get in and give it whirl wouldya.”
Mono got back into the car and turned the ignition key. The motor leapt into life, grumbling and purring like a tomcat dreaming it was chasing a bloody great black rat.
Holding the bonnet up with one hand, Macka snatched the stick away and let go the bonnet. It landed with a metallic crunching clang then sprang back up again. The motor coughed, farted, and stopped. Mono tried to crank her over a few times but she just sat there, silent, like a sulking sheila.
Macka pulled at the bonnet.
“Fuckn catch is busted.”
Mono got out of the car and walked around to stand beside Macka, who was trying to prise the bonnet open with one hand while wriggling his fingers into the narrow slot with the other.
“Can't get me fingers in, wish me girlfriend was like that. Go and get sompin flat and strong wouldya,” said Macka, whose face was starting to turn red with the exertion.
“Yeah... if you had a fuck'n girlfriend,” said Mono in a rare spurt of loquaciousness, grinning broadly, showing his missing front tooth.
Mono went out the back and hunted around the verandah, which was used to stack everything they had accumulated since Mono's parents died four year ago. Macka moved in because Mono, his mate, was lonely. They had a strong friendship based on their mutual interest in drinking, football and girls. They were only good at drinking. Football knackered them and girls were out of reach, a dream, usually wet. In the corner there was a replacement motor for the Torana that Macka had picked up cheap.”
“Never know, mate, never know.”
The engine was under a faded green tarp held down by bricks. There was a can of VB sitting on the top like a cop's blue light. When Clanger was drunk enough he would stand at the window and try to piss into the can.
One day the next door neighbour's cat was sleeping beside the tarp. Macka looked at Mono and grinned.
The cat shot off the verandah with a plaintive yowl, scrambled through the grass, clawed up the paling fence and disappeared like a ginger comet. Macka and Mono fell to their knees laughing.
“Jeez, didyasee its arse, like'a freckle in a gingersnap.”
“Fuckn' funny eh?”
Mono walked around the tarp to where several tool boxes were heaped in the corner. He opened the lid of the red plastic one, looked inside, grunted, then opened the lid of the green metal one beside it.
Picking up a tyre lever, Mono walked back to the Torana.
“Give it here, mate.”
Macka pushed the tyre lever into the gap and poked around. After jiggling it for some time he smiled and exclaimed, “got it!”
With a click the bonnet sprang open a little.
“Don't just stand there, hold it y' dopey bastard!”
Mono rushed over and gripped the front of the bonnet with his fingers. Macka fiddled around about a bit more with the tyre lever, there was another sharp click and the bonnet gave away, flying up into the air, taking Mono completely by surprise. The bonnet slipped out his clutch, then fell down on the tyre lever, causing it to fly up in the air catching Macka on the chin. Macka lept back holding his chin, deep-red blood seeping though his fingers. The tyre lever plummeted back down onto Mono's bare toe.
Mono always wore thongs, even in winter, which could be bloody cold. But he didn't like shoes, they made his tinea play up; the gaps between his toes turning bright, blotchy red and the skin peeling off.
The tyre lever landed on Mono's little toe at just the wrong angle. Mono swore he heard the bone snap.
“Jeez, me bloody chin! Is it bleed'n Mono? Wots the fuckn matter?”
Mono was hopping about clutching at his foot, eventually he over-balanced into the garden bed.
His mother had spent years in that garden bed, and roses had been her favourite flower. She had lavished more love and attention on them than she had on Mono. Mono had tried to keep the garden going after she died, but he knew absolutely nothing about roses, or flowers of any kind for that matter. So it didn't seem fair that he landed in the thorny rose bushes. After all, in the competition for his mother's affection the rose garden had always won hand's down. They embraced him like a long lost brother, which, in a strange way, he was.
By this time Macka had realised what was going on and had doubled up laughing.
As Mono rolled, in slow motion, trying to get out of the rose bushes, Macka groaned.
His sides hurt. Yeah, I mean it, his sides really hurt. You can only laugh so much, a proven scientific fact, and Macka had pushed to he boundaries of all human endurance.
“You should see this.”
Just then a battered green Holden EJ drove past. It stopped just outside the next door neighbors house, then reversed in a howl of noise and smoke, then stopped outside Momo and Macka's driveway, the motor ticking over.
“Wot are you two clowns up too!?” yelled a voice from the car.
Macka looked up.
“Jeez,” he gasped, “is”, gasp, “that”, gasp, “you", gasp, "Baz!?”
The EJ nosed into the curb and the motor died. A grossly fat man wearing tight red stubbies and a loud Hawaiian shirt, with a giant frangipani pattern, emerged from the car. He walked over to the Torana and looked down at Macka, then looked across to Mono, who was extricating himself from the rose bush, his pink t-shirt torn and his arms scratched and bleeding.
“Did the ginger cat come back to claim its revenge?” inquired Baz, his face deadpan.
“Don't be like that Mono.”
Macka, holding a dirty hanky to his chin, walked over to Baz and extended his hand.
“S'pose we should look at Mono's toe,” said Macka. “You al'right Mono?”
Macka and Baz walked over to Mono who was rubbing his little toe. Baz squatted down and carefully looked at Mono's foot.
“How'd you do it?”
“Bonnet catch was buggered,” answered Macka. “Had to use the tyre lever to prise it open. F'ckn bonnet fell back and the lever flew in the air. Caught me a beatty on the chin, then dropped onto Mono's toe. Didnit Mono?”
“Then he fell in the bloody rose bushes....... Fuckn funny though.”
“Jeez, you two are clowns,” observed Baz shaking his head. "'Y' like a couple of old kookaburras trying to root a snake. Still, coulda been worse, a crocodile coulda bit y'r dicks off.”
“Com'n in for a beer?”
“Nah, just slipped out to give the Mrs a quick root in me lunch break, better keep going. What are you two up too?”
“Gunna check out how to make a bomb from fertiliza, aren't we mate?”
“Read about it on the internet. Gunna go down to Burly's farm. Should be fuck'n spectacular, eh mate?”
Burly got his name because he was a big bastard who always threw up when he was pissed.
“You two bastards really making a bomb? F'kn idiots.”
“Nah, it's really easy, you should see. Wanna cum?”
“Nah, gotta root the Mrs and then get back to work, see's ya both.”
With that Baz walked back to his car, hopped in, cranked the motor over and screeched away.
“They always squeal the tyres Betty, always.”
“I'll slip inside and get y' a bandage and some mecure-achrome Mono.”
Macka walked over to the gnome, picked it up by the top of its red cap, reached down and picked up a bright, iridescent green key, let out a horrendous fart.
“How they hanging mate?” he asked putting the gnome down, “seen any good looking shielas walk past?”
Macka walked to the front door and fiddled about for a while. The key had never really worked properly, ever since they had had a new one cut down at the local hardware. The hardware shop had just got in a new batch of coloured blanks and the owner swore they were the 'f'kin best”. Lying bastard. The old key had been swallowed by Crusher for a bet, and no-one wanted it back.
“I'm not going to look for it t'morra,” said Crusher.
“Not asking you to.”
Mono walked back into the room, smiling broadly, with a torch in his hand.
“F'k off,” said Crusher.
“Yeah,” said Mono, smiling.
After jiggling for a while, the key worked and Macka opened the door. He turned to check that Mono was OK, then walked inside. Some people called the place a brothel, but they were wrong. Brothel's are clean and tidy. They smell of cheap perfume and condom oil. Macka and Mono went to the brothel in Hobart sometimes, whenever they had a win at the races, which wasn't often. “F'kn gnome gets it more than we do,” said Macka once. The brothel had a waiting room furnished with two red vinyl settees facing each other with a coffee table in between. There was an untidy stack of magazines, selected to encourage the male libido on the table. Mono would flick through and giggle. Macka would look at the voluptuous and beautiful young women in the magazine and wonder why the ones at Gloria's didn't ever look as good. There was usually a dirty movie playing on a TV set bolted to the ceiling. If you weren't watching, the grunts, moans and squeals sounded more like a farmyard frolic. The carpet had a loud floral design that reminded Mono of catsick. It smelt of beer, tobacco and vomit having been bought secondhand after the local RSL closed down.
Anyway, it wasn't like a brothel because brothels are clean and the blokes always scored when they went there. No, their place looked more like the local garbage tip and smelled of stale beer, an unsanitary toilet, aftershave, damp clothes and sexual frustration. They had picked up the same carpet from RSL.
“Least we can smell it,” said Macka once, when they hadn't had a win for a while.”
Macka picked his way through the mess to the laundry where Mono kept his fishing gear, which included a canary-green floppy hat. Macka grabbed the hat and went back out to Mono.
“Here, bung y' head in,” said Macka, throwing the hat to Mono.
Macka went back inside and looked around for the bandage he had used when he sprained his ankle playing touch footy a couple of years ago. He found it at the back of the cabinet under a packet of lifeboy soap that hadn't been opened. The bandage was a bit mouldy and smelt, but it was serviceable. Rummaging around some more, he found the mercurochrome lying on its side in a pool of red. He took the bandage and the bottle out to Mono.
“Here mate,” said Macka, “I'll bandage your foot up. You OK?”
Macka wound the bandage around Mono's foot with a surprising expertise gained from several weeks of a sprained ankle. Unfortunately, he didn't know how to bandage a broken toe so it was left bare sticking out from the perfectly wrapped ankle bandage. Macka smeared the mercurochrome over the cuts making Mono look like a landing pad for red-arsed flies.
“That should do it. Wanna stand up now?”
Mono gingerly stood up and walked around a bit.
He looked like he'd stepped on a landmine; with his torn shirt, ankle bandage, smears of mercurochrome, and wincing whenever the weight went onto his toe. He hobbled over to the Torana with Macka. They stood looking at the bonnet for a while.
“Rekon we should grab donkey dick and give it a whirl, wot d' y' rekon, mate?”
Macka went around the back and rummaged though the tool boxes. He came back with a screwdriver the size of a telegraph pole. After mading a couple of obscene gestures with the screwdriver, he inserted it into the front of the Torana.
“Did you see that Betty, disgusting.”
Macka poked and prodded for a while and eventually he gained leverage and forced open the bonnet, just enough for Mono to get his hand in.
Mono lifted it, then held it while Macka had a look.
“Didn't fix the battery lead properly. Hang on. There, that's it. Here, I'll hold the bonnet while y' give it another whirl Mono.”
Mono went around, climbed into the drivers seat and cranked the motor over. After spluttering and farting a couple of times, the motor burst into an arthritic coughing fit, black smoke bellowing from its exhaust pipe. Then the motor backfired a couple of times, in loud barking farts, causing Macka to jump back and drop the bonnet.
The breeze blew the cloud of poisonous black smoke back over the car to envelope Macka, then the motor started to splutter and cough, threatening to give up the ghost.
“Keep her go'in mate! Keep her f'king go'in!”
“Yeah,” coughed Mono.
The Torona backfired, belching out a particularly large and bilious cloud of black putrid smoke, then died.
Slowly the cloud of poisonous fumes dispersed.
Macka stood still, looking down at the bonnet, coughing every so often. He pulled a large, dirty hanky out from his pocket, blew his nose, looked into the hanky, coughed, then stuffed it back into his pocket.
Mono climbed out of the drivers seat, very slowly, and walked around to stand beside Macka.
Macka sniffed, “Blew the f'kin motor up, eh mate?”