I open the door of my apartment to look for the taxi, and get a terrible shock. Dressed in hoodies and baggy pants made from hemp or hessian, garments i later discover were obtained, probably by force, from some poor Laotian fishermen in Byron Bay, are two larrikins i last laid eyes on in Oyster Creek, Carnarvon. The living Dewse and Monkeyboy Zac. A sudden vertiginous fear grips me. Their precipitous arrival here in Albany cannot be a good omen. How did they get past the ring of cops? Last seen back in the bad old days of booze, guns and loose women, the living Dewse and Monkeyboy Zac, together, are like nitro and glycerine. I recollect that long night in the mud and mangroves, pursued by a drunken young woman Monkeyboy let loose with a high-powered rifle.
That was back in the days of cod wrangling at the oyster farm. The sweltering heat. The boredom. The strange, misbegotten mania that can seize a man. Carnarvon. It's a different kind of heat up there.
"Art Director," says Dewse. I consider for a moment just shutting the door and bolting it from the inside. Hunching down below the letterbox slot. I could pretend to be an illusion. I figure they are probably so dosed up on stimulants and hullucinogenic drugs they could never really be sure they actually saw me. Instead i elect to step out onto the street, pulling the door shut behind me. How did they find me here, i wonder?
"How did you find me?" i ask.
A smile crosses Dewse's lips. "I read your blog. It said you were in Albany. We just came down and asked the first person who looked like a journalist where you lived." He shrugs. "It was easy. There was a girl -" here he exchanges a meaningful look with Monkeyboy "- and she was photographing some people in the main street. She said she worked for the paper, and that you lived down the next street, above the hairdressers." He points at that gay party palace beside my front door.
"That girl, ooh," Monkeyboy moans. "She was nice."
I frown. I don't know any nice journalists. "Which one?" i ask.
"She was blond, pretty, skinny -"
"Gertie." I shake my head. "She won't have anything to do with you reprobates."
"Art Director," Dewse says again.
"Good to see you man," he says. He smiles. He has very white teeth.
"I thought you were in Darwin," i say.
"We were, for about six months," Dewse says. "God, it's easy to buy a gun in Darwin. We had a great time there, didn't we Monkeyboy?"
Zac grins. "The women," he says. "Remember that time with the coconuts?"
Dewse nods. "We bought a couple of coconuts each from the Parap Village market," he explains. "And as we walked down the street, carrying these coconuts, every girl we saw just gave us a big smile and bared her breasts." He shakes his head. "Darwin is just tremendous."
Monkeyboy nods. "Except when we got to the nightclub, and they made us check our coconuts at the door," he says. "But they didn't take our weapons."
"So what are you doing here?" i ask.
“Oh, hunting, fishing,” Dewse gestures airily. “Why, what else is there to do?”
Good question. I sigh, and resign myself to a night of mayhem. In spite of my initial trepidation, it is actually good to see these guys again. It’s just that i know i will wake in the morning in some strange place, having done some strange things. It is simply inevitable.
“There’s a shed party,” i say. You want to come? I’ve just called a taxi.”
Zac grins. “No need. I’ll drive. We’ve got the Salmon Wagon. Let's go.” Zac has no patience.
Curious, i follow them down the main street. There is a blue HiAce van, new paint, new peripherals. Zac presses a button on his keyring and the new indicators flash. Central locking. Noice.
“Zac’s not drinking,” Dewse explains. “Much.”
This is what i like to hear. Binge drink responsibly, that’s my motto.
The interior of the van is roomy and, in contrast to the wild wooliness of my companions, surprisingly tidy. There is state-of-the-art stereo system. I climb into the passenger seat. Dewse, in the back, reaches into the bar fridge and extracts a six pack. He hands me a beer, then spreads himself out on the double bed in the back. I notice a well-constructed storage system under the bed. I don’t want to know what is in there. A small armoury of guns, knives, and harpoons, no doubt.
“We’ve caught a fair bit of salmon in this bus, eh Dewse?” Zac says as he fires up the beast. Dewse laughs.
“Oh, i caught a couple of salmon a few weeks ago,” is say, enthusiastically. “We got nine. This big,” i hold my arms wide apart. “Good eating, as long as you bleed them –” I notice they are both staring at me as if i were insane. “What?”
“Not that kind of salmon, mate,” Dewse explains. They are talking, as usual, about women. I’m thrown back in my seat as the Salmon Wagon accelerates up York Street.
Sarah Toa is there, and Catherine. Some other girls i don’t know. The shed party is cranking. It’s a big shed. There is a band, people dancing; drinking. Jezza from Bluemanna is fronting a four-piece outfit. He’s delivering some fervent Oz rap, his mic held upside-down and close. A drummer in a bluey, who looks for all the world like a waterfront worker, is keeping up a steady funk beat, locked in with a solid-looking bloke on a Rickenbacker bass. The guitarist is fast, and good. A boat hangs from the roof. Behind us is a flatbed truck. Behind the dancers , coming out at right angles from the tray of the truck, is what looks like an aluminium house, like some kind of space-age fold-out kit home. I can see people moving around inside. A boy climbs out of a hatch onto the roof to calmly survey the scene. I pour some wine. “Sarah – Dewse, Zac. Dewse, Zac – Sarah.” Sarah says hello and goes back to dancing. Zac starts up a conversation with the blonde girl on the couch. Dewse polishes off another beer and just stands there, grinning.
The evening of saturnalian mayhem is just beginning.