Working at a construction site for a few months while I wait for my masters course to start. Chris is 20 years old and lives with his girlfriend, with a baby on the way - he finds out the sex of it next ultrasound. Justin, who is 17, is his younger brother. He used to steal things and be a general hooligan, but now he's straightened up and is glad he outgrew the "shit-stirring" phase of his life and is concentrating on working, and his dream is to become a rapper. A famous one. Dan, Chris' former class mate, is a vacant brute who smokes too much and always smells like sweat, but hell, he can be a nice guy, too. Matt is a whiny pain in the ass who pretty much only opens his mouth to complain or to be a smart-ass to you. In response to Seth the electrician's comment about how Aboriginal Australians should have something on the flag instead of the Union Jack, Matt replied, "Why? What the fuck have they done? The English took it from 'em, fair and square. The Pohms (Brits) may be cunts, but they took it with guns like strong nations do. It's be like the boat people swarming our shores, taking our money and jobs, getting something on there, you know what I mean?"
"The world wouldn't be so shit if everyone wasn't such a bastard." was Seth's reply.
Jimmy is a small, Maori man who is more or less shaped like a ball, missing a front tooth to smoking, and has one of the best singing voices in Australia - when Jimmy asks you to do something, you do it. At fifty-five he could still throw around more weight than anyone else on the job - he was good. Nick the Builder is a scrawny, laughing man who is rarely seen, but is always doing work. Morad barely speaks any English, but that doesn't matter, because he, too, is always working. Shawn is the boss. He is one of the nicest men in the world, but had a bad year last year when some dumb shit he hired decided to fuck him over. Warren - who I had worked with before - you see, had decided that, instead of delivering the trash to the dump with the money Shawn gave him, he instead dumped it on the barren highway and pocketed the cash. No, if it had been no harm no foul, nothing would have happened...but. But, the police found the trash and on the furniture in the trash was the name of client. When the police contacted said client, the client contacted Shawn. As a result of this, there were fines, fights, Warren was fired, and Shawn lost the client, and can never work for them again. He was almost blacklisted as a contractor because of this. Warren is unhirable, sure, but Shawn copped some flack because of what he'd done. Nick the Builder's girlfriend worked in a morgue and she always came home, apparently, with great stories - one of which involved holding two pulsating hearts at once, but I missed that one. The other day I walked out of the life and just as I did I just caught the tail end of this story, "So my girlfriend, right, she works at the morgue and this one time she had to go pick up a body, right? And it was this old guy who had died of a heart attack, in the middle of jerking off! He died with his dick still in his hand and rigor mortis had set in, and so he was just slumped there, stiff as a rock, with his cock in his hand, a fresh load of cum on his belly!"
I suddenly remember a few years back working on a site with the same boss and the aforementioned Warren, and Warren was telling us this story about him living with his friend and his friend's wife, "So I staying with these cunts, right, and like, these cunts, they wanted to have a fuckin' threesome with me, right? And like, I'm not into dudes right, so I told the cunts to fuck off, because I didn't wanna have him nearby. I mean like, I fucked his missus, o'course, and he was, like, wanking in the corner, but that's pretty normal, ay?"
"I'm sorry, are they 'cunts' because you don't like them?"
"What? Nah, mate, these cunts are, like, my best friends, mate."
I remember Justin asking me, "So, like, do you study?" I told him I had finished my bachelors and was starting my masters in creative writing and he asked if that was the dream, "Journalism?" and I said, "No, the dream is to write." He seemed to really understand that, "I write sometimes," he said, "I write poetry, too, helps with my freestyle rap." I nodded and we talked about poetry and writing for some time. Then Chris, Nick and I were unloading plaster wall sheeting into the back of the ute, and Chris just says, "So you wanna be a writer, eh?"
"Yeah." I said.
"Mate, you should be taking notes as you work with us."
"As if I'm not."
"Better yet, just follow Nick around, eh?" He smiled at Nick. Nick, standing the tray of the truck laughed, "Fuckin' A, man!"
"Or maybe his girlfriend," I suggested, "She's the one who works at the morgue." I listened to myself as I said that sentence - how my usually Canadian accent was being subdued by the Australian one in an attempt to become a chameleon in this environment - the hard "r" from those words being removed and replaced with something reminiscent of an "h".
"Fuck yeah," Nick said, "She's got some fucking STORIES!" We all laughed at that. Salt of the earth these goddamn people.
Justin and I were loading more plaster into the garage, to go onto the truck, and a woman passed us with a chain tattoo on the back of her neck, a beautiful woman, and shapely. She eyed us and kept walking to her car. Justin smiled, "She totally smiled at me," he said, "I'd cork her champagne!"
As the plaster had made a hell of a mess on the floor, we were cleaning it, but in the process, made it worse. We then decided to clean it with rags and water on our hands and knees, Justin says, "Where's that mop you saw?" The mop didn't belong to us and the building already was making complaints, "I don't care if it's not ours, my brother is not going to clean on his hands and fucking knees!" He was angry because we weren't allowed, as tradesmen, to enter or walk through the main lobby foyer of the building we were working in, "Because scum aren't allowed to be seen on the ground floor" Justin paraphrased from the building manager. He was also mad because Chris had paid for everything of Justin's for a while because he was broke, and was driving himself broke, too. Chris was a good older brother, and Justin was fiercely loyal.
I remember Alan, and older man I worked with last time I worked for Shawn, who had been on the job for something like fifty years. He was always singing and whistling as he worked, pushing carts and hammering nails. I once asked what he was singing, "Oh, just something I wrote," was his only reply. Apparently, Alan had written lyrics and music for some real, well-known jazz and blues songs in Australia that were also often used in television.
Warren had a fat, balding friend on the job we worked together who's name I have now forgotten due to his lack of importance in my life - he also joined Warren in his trash dumping caper. This friend was the damn fool who didn't lift the right number of metal poles from the front that I was grabbing from the back, causing them to fall off the truck and into my body, causing me to get winded, and have an open cut on my stomach just below my ribcage, where there is now a small scar, shaped like to elongated scratch marks - a lucky break for what could have been much worse.
Matt got himself on a tirade again, "$3000 for having a baby, fuck that! They shouldn't get anything! Why? Because if you're having a baby, you should afford to look after it. Only after the third should you get the baby bonus! Single mothers, fuck that. You could be feminist and wank all day, or control the fucking population!"
"But what if I don't believe in abortion," Justin said, "and my girlfriend gets pregnant? I shouldn't get the bonus? We're not even eighteen yet."
"Wear a fucking condom, eh?" Matt said, shooting me a sly wink. Bastard.
"Haiti had another earthquake," Todd told us. He was a tall, lean man covered in tattoos below the neck who was on probation for a suspended sentence of drunken assault, "another 200,000 buried under rubble. That means over 150,000 dead. That's a sign from God, man. No one else is taking care of these people, so take them out of their misery."