A Fireworks Display

Swigging wine, and blinking into the headlights, I staggered out to the alley, contemplating whether to charge the bullets or run the other way and risk taking it in the back, slipping on the fashion magazines that littered the steps up to Darlinghurst Road.

A light on the roof of the car whirred orange across the brickwork. The headlights suddenly flared to high beam and then cut out. The light on the roof spun itself off. I lowered the bottle and slouched over to the yellow Hyundai Getz.

The window opened five centimetres and the air-conditioner smelled of KFC. I hid the bottle behind my back and cut my thumb on the cook’s best fish knife.

The security guard chuckled, thrust in the cigarette lighter, and began to cough, his chins sagging and rolling around his blue collar like an old accordion. “What’s cooking, stickman? Don’t tell me you’ve been busy. No one’s been busy. Rain keeps the creeps indoors. I caught a kid sleeping while his mate broke into Darlinghurst Primary. Said I’d give him five minutes before calling the cops. Did I call?”

The lighter clicked out.

I shrugged and chewed my thumb.

The security guard teased a fat joint from his pocket. He spat the tail at the windscreen. “I don’t get kids these days. Aren’t they meant to break out of school?”
Unable to answer the question, I drained the wine into my mouth.

When the security guard prodded the lighter at the joint, his eyes ballooned with the flame swelling up against the sun visor. His haemophiliac wristband grazed the window. He shook out the fire and exhaled from the side of his mouth. “Night like this I reckon there’d be plenty of leftovers,” he said.

I slobbered on the joint for a while and then handed it back and put the bottle under my arm and rubbed my hands together, indicating that I’d already cleaned up.

“You look worse than usual.” The security guard winked. “Have you been having your own party? Does your boss know about that?”

I tilted my neck and glanced at my wrist for a watch that wasn’t there.

After swallowing the joint, the security guard took a puffy red leather photo album from the glove compartment. “Have I showed you these?” he said, peeling through sticky page after sticky page of illegal firecrackers.

“I told you I’m not interested in buying any of that stuff.” I threw the bottle at the mangled blonde wig on the trash pile at the corner of White Lane.

Something moved under one of the cold room boxes.

My brain ran imagines of Kay, dead, chopped up in a black plastic bag, naked, cake smeared around her genitals.

I was kicking through the trash before I let those pictures take hold.

“What the hell’s wrong with you tonight?” said the security guard.

Bob, one of the toughest local tomcats, darted along the brickwork and slinked to the Falcon that was parked in the Valiant’s space. He smoothed the cancerous tumours and the gashes on the back of his head against the Falcon’s Victorian license plate. A closing door had stubbed off his orange tail. Kay never fed the homeless.

“I’m not eating any garbage for desert.” The security guard loosened his seatbelt and attacked the lock. With nostrils flaring and eyes pitching left and right, he pinged the door open and shut against my knees. “To go to so much trouble protecting them,” he snorted, “there must be some prime leftovers in that kitchen.”

I untucked my T-shirt to cover the knife.

He quit flapping and scratched his tear duct with his gold-banded finger. He wasn’t a real security guard. He didn’t have a license or a gun. He was just a regular vigilante whose medical condition let him down. “What are you doing in the rain anyway, creep? You think I’m a welfare case? I’ve got a family. Can’t people have a normal conversation these days?” He shut his door and put his gearstick into reverse. “Did you hear about the drummer that finished high school? No? Me too.”


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