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MY FRIDAY AT GREY GUMS – 9 APRIL, 2021

It's never the same kind of day...

Today was weird.

 

Every Friday is a little weird in one way or another, but today was special weird.

 

Today was the Commissar’s birthday. He is 755 in Lenin years. I sang him a verse of “Arise All Factory Workers” as I approached the café this morning. He doesn’t speak any Russian, so he thought it was Happy Birthday.

 

Young Harry was also at his post. Which saved him a corrective lashing. He learns fast, does Harry. “Be upon the field of righteous endeavour before I arrive,” I’d said to him when his indentured servitude began, and then I hit him on the side of the neck with the hose.

“What was that for?”

 

“That was for free,” I smiled. “When I start for real, I’ll be putting the John Karandonises to you, as well as the hose.”

 

“What are Karandonises?” he asked, his eyes wide in confusion.

 

“Tony Barber used to wear them,” I told him. “But I’d like you to note that while you’re asking questions, the shitters are not being washed, and the Commissar, whose birthday it is, will soon be forced to move his bowels. It would please him to move them in cleanliness. You know the routine by now.”

 

 

I immediately put him to work blasting the shitters with cleansing water, while I chased the whirlwind and neatened the bark chips.

 

Rubbish had become an issue. A lot of it had come from KFC and McDonalds. And it put the cranky in me some.

“Are you open?” said a women standing in front of the CLOSED sign.

 

“No,” I said.

 

“When do you open?”

“At ten.”

 

“That’s a bit late,” she sniffed.

“No,” I said. “It’s not late. It’s the time we open.”

 

She went away.

 

“I love seeing how hope dies within them,” I said to Harry. “It’s just beautiful.”

 

I let Harry drive the car and trailer to the pit – which is now a lake with marvellous islands of rubbish floating in it.

 

Harry almost bogged the car.

 

“The fuck you doing, fucker?” I asked him.

 

“Forgive me,” he said.

 

“In 1389,” I said to him, “the Turks invaded my people. We have not forgiven them for that. Forgiveness is not something I process.”

 

We returned in short order, and I returned into the warm embrace of Big Red Sexy, which had been repaired. The Commissar had, in fact, already mowed a goodly portion of the property, but he left me some acreage to spin upon.

 

I was done in an hour and parked Big Red Sexy under the Commissar’s bedroom window, where its proximity would enhance his potency.

 

“When can I drive Big Red Sexy?” Harry asked.

 

“Do we need to have a second conversation about you asking me any questions that aren’t: ‘Can I do that for you?’”

 

We then went and re-affixed the Motorcycle Parking Only sign on one of the logs, which was trying, because Harry put it on at an angle.

 

“It’s not straight,” I said.

“It is if you tilt your head,” he smirked.

 

“When I wrap the tendons in your neck around this drill-bit, that’s how your head will be until you die,” I smiled.

Harry straightened the sign.

We then went to install the magnificent new hose-thing the Commissar had generously acquired so as to ease the passage of water into the pressure washer.

 

Halfway through this, Miss Kim came to ask me to fetch a bag of ice for a lady.

 

“It’s pretty bad in the freezer,” she said. “After the four-day power-outage…”

 

I took a hammer. And it was, indeed, bad. The power went out, the ice melted, then the power went back on, and the water froze again. A lot of it was no longer in the bags. The inside of the freezer looked like Khumbu Icefall that tumbles down Mt Everest, but with smaller crevasses.

 

I crawled inside the freezer and set about liberating and salvaging, with my hammer, what ice bags I could, which was maybe six out of 15. I gave one to the lady, when Harry appeared.

 

“Can I do that for you?” he asked. “Oh, and you’re bleeding.”

 

I gave him the hammer, and looked at my bloody hand, and the inside of the freezer, which looked a little gruesome, but was hardly mortal.

 

“Do not hit any of the pipes as you’re banging away in there. Use finesse and patience.”

 

“What will happen if I hit a pipe?”

 

“Freon gas will escape.”

“Will that kill me?”

 

“Not as quickly as I will.”

 

When Harry tired, I relieved him and kept chipping away at Khumbu.

 

“Excuse me,” said a lady as I squatted inside the freezer.

“Yes?” I said.

“What time is the ice delivery today?”

 

“There is no ice delivery today,” I said.

 

“Why not?” she asked.

 

“You’ll need to ask management about that,” I said. “I’m just the bloke whose job is to dig this dog-corpse out.”

“I need ice,” she insisted.

 

“You can have this bag here,” I said, handing her a bag liberally splashed with my blood, being held by my hand, which was still dripping blood.

 

Clearly her need for ice was not as pressing as she originally thought.

 

About an hour later, another lady dumped several armfuls of McDonalds rubbish in one of the bins.

 

“Take it back out,” I said to her.

 

“What?” she blinked at me.

“Take your rubbish out of the bin, put it back in your car, and take it home. Or just throw it out the door at the end of the driveway like so many other people do.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because these rubbish bins are for café rubbish.”

She complied, but she appeared most displeased.

 

An hour before beer time, a couple turned up with two empty 20-litre water containers.

 

“Where can we fill these up?” the lady asked.

 

“We only have tank water,” I replied.

“What’s that?”

 

“Water that lives in a tank.”

 

“Where does it come from?”

 

“The sky, mostly.”

 

“Where is the nearest normal water?”

 

“Well, there’s bottled water for sale in the café, or you can drive 80km in one direction or another, and try your luck there.”

 

“So there’s no water here?”

 

“Here there is tank water. Or bottled water. I don’t know what else I can do for you.”

 

At the end of the day, we all sat down with the Commissar and raised a few cans of wonderful Grey Gums Lager to his health.

 

“May you live 1000 years in health and happiness,” I said. “And may the workers of the world unite and strangle the capitalist running dogs.”

 

We chinked cans, and I made my way home along the Mother, who was deliciously green and welcoming on this autumn afternoon.

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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