I'm leaving this place and I don't give a fuck about what I leave behind anymore. I don't care about Frank and Coralee. I don't care about Bug. Mum and Joe. Little Sammy, and I know they're there before I get to the door. Heard it, smelt it coming but shouldn't be too much of a delay. Shit, let's get this over and done with. The younger one still has his hand raised in the air, hasn't knocked yet. I smell cunt juice on it, round his mouth. 'Sally Hunter? I smile, 'how ye goin?'
It's a beautiful day, clear blue sky, birds singing. A crow, couple of maggies. Their voices like crystal slowly falling onto a hard floor. The song shatters and spreads across the land. Got to break sometimes before you can move. I look at it like I'm never going to see it again. The lake, the golden paddocks. I know every single inch of them, where they get rocky, the angles the sheep tracks take, how the dew collects in the morning. I know the slant of the morning sun and how it changes between summer and autumn. How it falls on the gum tree next to the turn off to the old tip, makes it shine pink. A couple of woolly heads lift up, jaws moving from side to side, following us as we pass by.
The road through Oatlands is deserted. You know, things pretty much as usual. We stop off at the police station and Sergeant Bartlett gets out. 'Where's he off to?'
'Ye don't need to wurry bout that.'
'I'm not.' I pick my nose and wipe the snot on the seat. There's a bit of blood in it. 'Hava good night last night?' The stink of sex is unbelievable.
'It was awright.'
'What's her name?'
He turns round and looks at me, 'you've got bedda things to think about haven'tchyou?'
I shrug, go back to looking out the window. Mr Agnew goes past in his ute, slows right down. Him and his kelpies have a real good look and I wave. 'Hey Mister Agnew,' and the young cop shakes his head. Fuck I'll be glad to get out of this place.
When we get to Jericho Sarge shifts down a gear. It's not really a town. Nothing but a few old trees and a run down antique shop. Open on weekends. No one around. No witnesses. I make my body change. They never really believed it, I can see that in their faces. Sergeant Bartlett puts his foot down on the brake. I put both my paws out at the same time as his foot goes down, extend my claws and slash the cunt licker across the eyes. He's turned round and made it easy for me. With the other paw I pull the Sarge's chin back, snap his spine. One dead and, I sink my teeth into the other's neck. His body's trying to go forward with the skid of the car. We bounce through a ditch then hit the fence, travel a few more yards. I dig my claws into the seat, wrap my hairy arms right round his body and taste for myself what he got his head into last night.
I eat bits of their bodies, don't want to hang around. Couple minutes max and I've taken my arm off, my front left leg to be exact. The one with the missing finger. Chewed it right through, just down from the shoulder, tossed it with all the other body parts. This hairy, blood covered arm-leg lies on the silver grass next to the car door, which has also been ripped from its hinges. It's lying upholstery side up and the driver, the police sergeant, has his legs still on the seat. Somehow one of his feet got caught behind the steering wheel. The rest of him's hanging out, his neck bent and head lying flat on the ground. Eyes looking up and his shoulder, a big part of his chest, missing. I grab the cunt licker's torso, what's left of his attached limbs, and head west for the hills.
That's strange. I scratch behind my ear. Stretch my body back and tighten the muscles in my hind legs. Reach over to his shirt collar and get it between my teeth, pull down. The buttons break loose, some of them popping out of their stitches and falling to the ground. I open him up to the moonlight and he's luminous. His skin's so close to transparency that I can nearly see the goings on underneath, the race of energy as it tries to find a way out.
My eyes come back to the surface. Settle down round where his heart is, where the muscles protrude slightly in two islands beneath his nipples. There's a rustle of feathers above me, a bird settling more into sleep, and I look up. Prick my ears. Listen till it finishes then lay my paw down on one of his nipples, still hard from excitement. I smell, push my nose under his arm and smell deep. Breathe it all in. Nuzzle the wet of my nose and mouth in between flesh and bone. I become covered with a thick damp aroma, already slightly putrid. Maybe you've been dying for a while I think. I lick him. Clean him. This is what death does. It makes you clean. I try to make Bevin clean.
In just a few minutes I've taken away all the blood, tasted and categorized his smells, but I don't stop licking. I lick his face and his chest, push my tongue between his fingers, then start all over again. And everything, every single little part of what's round me what's inside me, becomes gentle, so very soft and gentle. The moonlight, the rhythm of my tongue washing Bevin's face, his neck, the soft roll of his head as it falls first to one side then the other. I slip into a pattern that comforts, one that takes me into an infinitely tender place. It's as if the movement of my body has brought it all together, the total of what life is.
How to explain. It is the shivering stars that lick Bevin clean, the branches of this tree that are my tongue, my moving head some ocean's tide. And this blue shadow, this shadow that rests beneath his ear my paw, is Bevin's last breath a falling leaf. I smile at the thought of it, howl into the fat lonely night collect the rest of the moon with my opened mouth and pull her thumping into my belly. I pull her so deep that she's never going to get out.
Then slowly, imperceptibly, I feel something start to lift up and out of Bevin's body. It's like my tongue is drawing it out. His soul rises up, drifts up and out of this flesh, this skin and bone. He's gone. His eyes have emptied. I lift my head and watch him float into the night sky. I watch as he swims into the blackness, stars waving at him like crazy. Beckoning him onwards. I want to yell out to him, join in their excitement. You can make it. You're on your way home now. See you later Bevin.
Instead I howl and the stars become a million tunnels leading through a gigantic rock face. The universe is now a solid thing and Bevin's climbing it. He's climbing towards the stars, reaching for those last bits of day blasted into the black. The way through to what we can't see, to what's behind it all. He's on his way to god.
And you know, his soul doesn't do this with any hunger. There's no urgency, no fear of not getting in this movement upwards. I mean this is what his soul's been longing for ever since entering Bevin's body sixteen years ago but it's not rushing at it like desire can make you do. Rather his soul goes slow and gentle as if already sated with the knowledge, the absolute certainty, that the path has been opened and there's nothing to do now but go home.
I'm just about to leave. I've got my front paws pushed forward and my bum and one back leg up in the air, giving my body this really good stretch, when I hear a branch snapping. It's like the whole world splits in half, falls back into separateness. Things get fast again. Real fast.
I'm chasing after Nigel. He's like shit scared and running like hell. I'm running too but not like hell. If I did I'd've got him by now. Nuh, I'm enjoying this. I want to prolong it a bit. Stretch my legs. So whenever I feel some of his sweat flick back at me, or the tip of my paw just touches his jeans, I slow right down. Put the breaks on. It's hard to do. I mean I'd like to run so's everything'd squeeze into the ribbon again. You know, like after old Wignall'd taken a shot at me. I want to be on that long black road that goes through what's beyond the universe.
Instead I hold back and watch Nigel exhaust himself. He's doing a pretty good job of it. There's no efficiency to his movement. Fear makes his legs all jumble rather than stride. He's not using his arms to cut through the air but rather trying to pull it apart, grab on to it. I don't know, he's a total mess. Nigel, you shouldn't be doing it this way. You got to let go of the fear. Regardless, he's still dead meat. I mean I'm not this little doggy dog snapping at his heels. I'm not even a mean bastard crazy dog. I'm a monster dog and he hasn't got a chance.
The stink of fear is almost palpable now. I watch him falter and this time when my paw brushes against him I move it into the small of his back. Push. Not hard like. Just a tiny, weeny, little push and he's flat on the ground. He's got his neck all twisted so's he's looking up at me and it looks like his eyes are going to pop out of his head. I roll him over and put my paw on his chest. Start to let my claws out. Just slightly, till I feel them piercing his skin, and I wait a moment. Want to see if those eyes do pop out. I smell urine and listen to the spit gurgling at the back of his throat, as if he's trying to say something. But again the fear is stopping him, holding him up.
'What are ye trying to say Nigel? That you'd just come out for a bit of a nooky. Ye know, to get some after Bevin'd finished. Was that it Nigel? Was that what you were after? A bit of fun with the school dog huh? Shit yer pathetic.' He's shivering now. His teeth are chattering and he's letting off this stink of ammonia. I don't think it's a fart. Maybe it's shit but it's coming out of everywhere, the pores of his skin not just his bum.
I've got to get this over with. So I grab him round the middle of his chest with my mouth. He's a real little runt Nigel, not like Bevin who was a big fucker. I pick him up and his body sort of flops to either side, lets out something like a moan. I think it's just the air being squeezed out of his lungs by my teeth actually. Anyway, I head down the road a bit towards Parattah, till I pick up some speed, then I jump the fence and go bush.
And I eat him all up. I eat every single, little thing of him up. His clothes his shoes, everything. I've got no idea how I'm going to digest all this stuff, or why I even did it. And I did it quickly. I didn't wait for his soul to leave his body or anything. Nuh, I just chomped right through him.
Afterwards I let out this burp and I think maybe that could have been his soul getting out. I don't know. I'm so full and heavy with both of them I can't be bothered with any of the god stuff. Like death's no longer about beauty and opening up some dumb pathway. Nuh. It's about eating till I'm well and truly stuffed.
She opens the door straight away, as if she's expecting someone. 'I'm collecting stuff fer the Red Cross, like if yer've got any ol stuff ye don't want anymore, that'd be good.' She looks at me like she doesn't understand what's going on, closes the door. Try again.
I knock at the door and she opens it like she's expecting someone else. She looks a bit shocked to see me. 'What're ye up to?'
'I'm collecting the lamingtons.'
'The lamingtons, I'm here to collect them.'
'I don't have any lamingtons.'
I look behind her, into the kitchen. I came round the back way instead of the front. Pretty much as I remember it. I look into her eyes, 'yer sposed to.'
She's thinking I'm crazy, 'I dunno whatchyer talking about dear.'
'The country women's association, you promised to make two dozen lamingtons and have em ready by this morning. By ten o'clock this morning, to be exact.'
Well that's got her in a tizz. 'Did I? I can't remember any such thing. Are you sure?' she's saying this but at the same time opening a cupboard and getting out some flour.
'God but ye need old sponge, are you sure it's this weekend?' She looks at me like I must've got the dates mixed up.
'Yeaheh. The grand final weekend, they're selling them at the game.'
'Well couldj'ye pop back in a coupla hours dear? Maybe one o'clock, or two'd be bedder.'
'That's when it starts.'
'What starts?' She puts the sugar down, near the flour and butter, starts weighing them out.
'It's the grand final weekend Miss Bradley.'
'Yes, I know that. I'm not stupid Sally.' Could've fooled me. 'Well one'd be fine, they'll be a bit wet but I can do it.' I stand there looking at her. 'Ye can come back at one Sally.' And miss out on my little game, uh uh.
I let myself in, stand with my back towards the screen door. I can feel the heat of the morning sun pushing through onto my shoulders. 'I can help you if yer want.' She's missing something. I've been watching her look for it.
'Eggs, can ye go up the back an find me some eggs then? That'd be useful.'
'Yeah, ok.' I go outside to look for the eggs. There's green grass, which is very well kept, a footpath, chooks and my body stops again. Naaah, it's not going to work this way. Have to change it.
'I can help you if ye like.' Vera looks totally confused. 'I can cream the budder an the sugar.'
'Yes well I spose that'd be useful. Here ye go,' and she gives me the bowl. I put my hands into it and start rubbing the butter into the sugar. She doesn't take her eyes off of me, off my hands I mean. The butter's pretty nice and soft and so it's mixing in really well. I can feel her looking at me, and like maybe you should put the oven on, get cracking you know. We haven't got all day.
'Here ye go dear,' and she puts a wooden spoon down beside the bowl. I pick it up. 'Aren'tchyou going to wash yer hands first?' My fingers are pretty grubby. They're shining with the grease of the butter. I feel the speed of her heart increase. It's sending this vibration down through her feet and into the floor, which then moves along till it gets to my feet. In the soles of my feet I feel the thumping of her heart. Sometimes you can laugh at strange things, other times they just scare the shit out of you.
Her pale blue angora jumper is moving up and down as her breath gets quicker and quicker. Makes me think of a rabbit. There's a gold cross hanging on a chain round her neck, her flesh's skinny and wrinkly. I put the spoon down and go wash my hands, brushing my shoulder against hers as I walk past. I lift the back of my hand so I can feel the fluffiness of her sleeve, and she jumps, goes oh, rests her hand on her chest like she's about to have a heart attack. Jumpy.
Beside the sink is a cake of Lux soap, a new one, sitting in a saucer. I pick the soap up, turn the tap on and everything gets loud, the water coming through the pipe thumps. I put my hands under it and millions of little drops sparkle and hit the sides of the sink, like falling diamonds, they crack and scratch the metal. Blood comes out. Blood washes off my hands. What have I done. I turn round but she's still standing, still alive.
'How d'ye think they died?'
'Ye know who I'm talking about,' I turn the water off and sound goes back to normal. I turn round.
'Someone murdered them,' she passes me a clean tea towel. Same pattern as my mum's shirt, well pretty similar.
'Didj'ye get this at Fitzgeralds?'
'The tea towel?'
'I dunno, Coles I think.'
I dry my hands and hang the towel up against the oven. Good, she's turned it on. 'Yeah but how'd it happen?'
'I dunno whatchyou mean.'
I pull out a chair and sit down. 'Yer must have a theory though, evryone else does.'
'Well I don't go in fer that supernatural stuff.'
I laugh, 'ye mean the werewolf stuff.'
'That's when this town really shows itself fer what it is.'
'An what's that?'
'That we live in fear of what's around us.'
'But it's god's creation, it's all god's creation. There's nuthing to be feared in that.'
'But god creates tiger snakes.'
'People just don't wanna recognize their own viciousness.'
I sit down at the table and ask if she believes in werewolves.
'It's a load of RUBbish.'
'Do ye think it's the poofters who run the antique shop then?'
'I don't wanna go naming any names, or calling any names, all I'll say is they should be given a long an nasty death. They should be strung up and,' she stops talking. Picks up the bowl and begins beating the butter and sugar really hard. 'Really, I don't need any help. I'd be quicker if you weren't here.'
'But they were like, sexual, the killings, weren't they? Ye know, both Rick and Beven had their dicks hangin out.'
'I wantchyou te leave right now.' She slams the bowl down on the bench and stares at me.
'Do ye think that'll stop the sponge from rising?'
'I don't give a damn about the sponge.'
'How about electrocution?' I stand up and walk over to her. 'If they find whoever did it HE should be made to have a very nasty death. Electrocution's not very nice.'
'It's not up to me to decide those things.'
'No, I spose it isn't.'
'I don't know whatchyou want.'
'I was just making conversation,' I sit up on the bench. Stare her straight in the eyes. 'That's all. Ye know, having a good ol gos. And helping you make the lamingtons fer the cunts from the C W fucking A.'
'Will you please leave now?'
'Do ye miss yer cat?' Her little spindly arm lifts up and slaps me. The heat of it surges through my body. I feel everything move into place. I put my teeth into her neck.