The Big Issue : Edition 439
THE BIG ISSUE 16 -- 29 AUG 2013 61 “Dammit, Tammy, follow the guy. The fuorescent guy!” Tammy looks all shocked. “Okay,” she says. “Okay, I’ll follow the fuorescent guy. You don’t have to keep shouting at me the whole time.” She foors it and I get knocked back into my seat. “Always yelling,” she says. We swerve around a rubbish bin and squeak as we stop at the entrance to the parking lot. Tammy yells, “There he is! Hank, is that the guy?” She is all excited. The fuorescent guy is over in the distance with my G-Seven Thousand cradled in his arms. He’s across the double-lane road and is running along in front of an Eat-n-Drive. The fuorescent guy pauses for a second. He’s looking at the Eat- n-Drive as though he’s thinking of going in for a sandwich or something. Anyway, he’s not getting a damn sandwich with my damn G-Seven Thousand. I feel really tough, like I’m charge for once. “Go Tammy! Go get him!” I say. Tammy looks at me and instead of being confused or looking at me like I’m a bit soggy or like I just let one slip, she’s looking at me like I just hit the bell in the hammer game at the county fair. It’s been years since she looked at me like that. It’s the same look she gave me on our third date when I shook her father’s hand and told him I would like to date his daughter. That was a brave thing to do – Tammy’s father was a Vietnam veteran and was known for being unstable. He once punched out a waiter because the waiter told him that the salad he got was the one he ordered. He glared at me and squeezed my hand pretty hard, but I held on until he said, “Okay”. Tammy says, “You got it, Hanky”, and foors the El Camino. We bounce a lot and there is some honking from other cars as we mount the divider in the middle of the double-lane road and cut right across the rows of traffc. The fuorescent guy is still jogging away. He didn’t stop to get a sandwich at the Eat-n-Go after all, and now he hears the commotion of the honking and the tyres screeching as Tammy does a big wide turn at full speed. The fuorescent guy looks over his shoulder and takes off faster. He rounds the bend and runs through another parking lot. Tammy says, “I got him, Hanky!” She mounts another curb and drives right over the garden bed. The fuorescent guy runs around the back of an Italian restaurant and disappears behind all the industrial bins. Tammy squeaks the brakes again as we stop. I jump out of the car. “Hanky!” says Tammy. “Hanky, he went ’round the back!” Someone in the restaurant comes out and looks confused at the robin-egg-blue El Camino parked across three spaces. He sees Tammy yelling and watches me start running around the back. I look back to see Tammy giving him a look as she wobbles after me in her high heels and leopard-print. Her perm waggles aggressively. I round the bend of an industrial bin that smells like fsh and bad milk, and then I stop. The fuorescent guy is halfway up a chain-link fence at the end of the alley. Just like in the crime shows on TV. It’s rattling and wobbling as he tries to climb. At his feet is my new G-Seven Thousand. The box has a sweaty patch on it and its edges are crumpled – that makes me angry because I like to keep the boxes. “Hey you!” I yell at the guy. I fast-walk. The fuorescent guy stops climbing for a moment and looks over his shoulder at me. He says, “Shit!” then climbs even harder. The chain-link fence wobbles more and looks like it’s going to fall over. “Get him, Hanky!” says Tammy as she comes around the bend of the dumpster. She coughs and curses because of the smell. It’s almost like everything slows down. That thing that pushed me is standing behind me again. I feel it like a coach in my corner. I move up to the fence and grab the fuorescent guy by the waistband of his little red shorts. I yank at them and his pale bum shows for a second. He has a tattoo of Tweety Bird holding a cupcake on his left cheek. He hits the ground hard on his back. He scrambles up, puts his bum away and says, “Hey man, look – no hard feelins, huh?” He puts his hands up like it’s all okay. Back when I asked them why they were fring me after 20 years, they said, “Downsizing, Hank, nothing personal.” And when Ferdinand, Tammy’s Pomeranian was crushed under that police car, the offcer said, “Sorry, sir. These things happen.” Just this morning I woke up and looked at Tammy in the bed next to me and thought about the day when the doctor told us we were never going to have a child. It’s not all okay. A voice inside my head says, “This is it, Hanky.” I can feel something pushing me. I ball up my fst. “Time to shine, Hanky boy, you give it to him,” the voice says. I blink. “What would Herdinger Black do?” the voice is asking me. I close my eyes, I purse my lips and scrunch up my face. “There are hard feelings!” I yell, and I throw my fst at the fuorescent guy. It smacks him right in the ear and he stumbles back and says, “Shit, man,” and then he runs off. He sidesteps Tammy who is standing by the industrial bin. She is still and she is watching me. “Oh, Hanky,” she says. Tammy walks over to me and puts her shiny red fngernails in my hair. We smush our lips together, extra hard. David J Keegan IS A BRISBANE BASED WRITER WHO LOVES STORIES AND WRITING...AND RABBITS. HE HAS WRITTEN MAGICAL REALISM AND CHILDREN'S STORIES, AND HE IS NOW WORKING ON A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL. LATER THIS YEAR, DAVID WILL TRAVEL TO JAPAN WHERE HE HOPES TO DRINK SAKE WITH HARUKI MURAKAMI. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER FOXNRABBIT.