Shane Starling
monty can't sleep

i'd been burning screws into my head for a good long while, even before leila hopped it to lombok for a pre-season hot pot. her ice-cream flavoured nasal gob pottered through customs and she was gone into a hospital green hall that only brought back memories i wasn't sure i could handle.
she said three weeks.
it'd been four months.
when the van came i dutifully took my cone and hid back inside. leila was up in the wires there somewhere, stroking a thai cat, limboed between a cold white room and an burning corolla. i looked up but she was gone of course.
fucken hell, i thought. something is amiss.
striding kids were taking bar stools to the enviro-bureaus and as if that wasn't enough a cockroach team had damned upstream, and i was helpless to stop it.
leila would have liked that. she never went 'ooh' at birds that glud, i realised, and knew all news was bad news.
that fucker monty had always said that. only the adverts are good news, he'd say, twigging his eyebrows on a wicker chair.
it was always stinky feet with him, like he knew what dirt really meant. like he knew something. what the fuck did he know? i'd ask myself that occasionally. i always stuck the news out to the end. it made me feel superior.
even the bravery of simpson's donkey didn't match up. history only rewarded the freaky. being normal - now that took bravery.
i knew guys that took as a bad omen the fact their dole day was wednesday cos the dole office shut at 12-30pm on wednesdays, which was just way too fucken early to get up.
leila never did the dole. she'd be trackin' blood up at the quarter while monty sought relief at the table the very day the DSS fucked him off for good. they'd said it before. this time he knew it was for real.
the way his comrades took it, i knew monty didn't have long. they saw golden arches. monty saw death. i knew an enemy needed a spine.
i realised why ya never told ya problems to nobody. for the 90 per cent who didn't care, there were always 10 per cent who were glad.
but hey, that was a bleak time. and monty's still rakin' leaves out in the foothills. i saw him out there, kicking gumnuts and ice cubes, rakin' shit for no one, but he wasn't the same.
he wasn't speaking at all, which was understandable given what he'd been through. wittgenstein called it a region of silence. a place where language won't do. it's probably a good thing leila's gone jungle fever. she never liked monty. she never used bread knives and she despised the weak.
i fought hard to love her for that. i heard trains booting along electrictickerhiss beneath the charles street freeway crossover quite late at night. i knew monty was in every carriage clutching a contiki traveller's bag.
when the 23-45 left its rails it came to rest in an old church. i don't know monty would have wanted it that way but i'm not sure monty ever really knew the way he wanted it.
it was the church i thought leila and i would always be married in.
but as i say ...the screws.
the tourists seem to like it.