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The Great Escapism (standard:other, 3157 words)
Author: Craig AndersonAdded: Dec 21 2003Views/Reads: 1847/1207Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Ecapism in different forms...

Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

Dressed, and ready to stumble out, he found he was running unfashionably
early. He flicked on the telly, to kill a bit of time. An advert 
masquerading as programming; a couple of wet and soulless muppets 
swimming mindlessly from one end of the container to the other, 
perpetually gargling on the same lame jokes to sell the same iffy 
product. John didn't mind, though – he had a cone, then another, and 

The world seemed much more pleasant to John when he was stoned, with
everything less threatening and the intensity turned down a notch. It 
helped him function at a more intuitive level, instinctive and 
impulsive. Come nightfall, he could relax more readily in front of the 
telly after a billy or two, which was much needed after spending the 
day smoking drugs in front of the tube. 

Since discovering pot, John had felt little urge to try other illicit
drugs, and he drank little, bar the occasional beer down the pub. He 
considered himself blessed – at twenty-nine, he had found his niche and 
knew what he wanted from life. Not one of his friends could say that. 

Not that he saw many of them anymore. To most of them, he was just a
pot-head, a loser with no life, no plan. He had a plan alright, he knew 
that this was what he wanted and how he wanted to live. He wasn't 
merely content, like they all struggled to convince themselves they 
were.  He was happy. In his small rental flat, he'd subsist on pasta 
and noodles, spending only what was necessary to survive on non-weed 
related consumables. His one mate, Colin, supplied both his bush 
tobacco and weed at we've-gone-crazy prices, although lately, he had 
seemed distant. John reckoned he was having troubles with his missus 
again. Bitch, he deserved better. 

He had dozed off, hot coffee in hand, and now woke with cold coffee over
what was formally his best shirt, his interview shirt. He jumped up, 
spilling the remaining liquid onto the carpet. He shook his head, more 
to clear it than from concern over the stains, and saw that he was now 
officially tardy. He was grubby and late - the universe was aligned. He 
grabbed his keys, slammed the door, opened the door, and re-slammed it 
with him on the outside this time. 

He hadn't ridden his pushie in a couple of weeks, but it was where he
left it. More or less. For a while now, he suspected that the kids down 
the road may have been borrowing it, maintaining and possibly 
repainting it. On a few occasions.  In fact, he wasn't sure there were 
many parts left on this bike that were actually his anymore. 
Nevertheless, he boarded, and was off. The second attempt at boarding 
was far more successful. 

Dodging through the traffic. Riding like a man possessed, or, at the
very least, quite stoned. He was one with his steed, feeling the limit 
of adhesion, hopping up gutters and swerving to miss pedestrians. He 
cut across the path of a blue sedan, the passenger arguing with his 
wife, his wide-eyed wife arguing with the wheel, and it's tyres, 
evidently fed up with rotating or supplying directional integrity, 
smoked the vehicle across the road, behind him and gone. 

When he made it to Centrelink, he was barely an hour late. 

Sarah, later. 

“...unzipping them. The park surrounds were doing little to conceal from
passers-by their identities, much less the act about to take place. 
Wrapping her fingers around it's length, exposing his paleness to the 
midday sun, she began to stroke this stranger, upping the tempo 
gradually. Shaking, his hips moved to meet her hand, and then her 

Sarah's face did it's best to frown. What a piece of shit.  She tore it
from the typewriter, screwed it up, and tossed it into the bin; the 
last screwing and tossing this pair of half-arses would experience on 
her time. She hated writing trite twaddle even more than she hated 
reading it. Sarah yawned and stretched – she needed a break. 

She hopped to the fridge, and took out the bottle of milk.  She suckled
on it, and gazed forlornly at the empty shelves. She really needed to 
go shopping. 

She felt tears down her face, saw them flower on her blouse, delicate
wet roses, tears from her tears. Goddamn it. She dropped the milk, and 
to her knees. She began to cry. 

There she remained, sobbing and holding her face on; it leaked from the
same poor join as always. After a time, she stood, and made her way 
slowly to the bathroom. 

A stranger had been living with her for the past two months. It had come
home with her uninvited, from the hospital, and taken up residence in 
her mirror. It grinned back now; lips of dough, melted plastic, crude 
and contrived. She could take solace, however: it appeared injured, it 
was bloodied. Maybe it would leave soon. She dabbed at her own face, 
and found that she had stopped crying. 

She made her way back to her desk, and her typewriter. How she loved to
write, more so now than ever. It felt so wonderful to just get away for 
a while, be free of her life and the monster in the mirror. Ever since 
she had been knocked down, ever since her pretty face snagged on the 
bitumen, ever since her body rolled over and over beneath the car – one 
of the doctors had made a joke that she had just kept rolling, right 
through the hospital doors- ever since she lost the eye, her leg at the 
knee, and her looks, she had found more and more time to write. 

Erotic fiction was her thing now. Tom had had some magazines here, among
other things, and she had claimed them as hers when he had left her 
that morning. Neither the articles nor the oddly dislocated and 
anatomical spreads particularly tickled her fancy. The short stories 
had, though. In fact, a few times there she had nearly tickled her 
fancy right off. 

After reading a few stories, however, she had realized that she could do
much better. Sarah, once a professional dancer, had found out early in 
her recovery that she would still needed to express herself, and that 
she still needed to switch off and take on other forms, other 

The accident had changed her; she was more introverted now, more
introspective, more mortal. It had made her reluctant to leave the 
confines of her flat; she was painfully conscious of their stares, this 
cyclops collective – by paradox, it seemed to somehow steal her sense 
of self. She would blush and feel that her patchwork face may split 
apart and spray their brazen gawks at any moment, red-facing the 
shameless. But that car hadn't killed her, nor even any part of her. 
Energy continues, in other forms, as did hers. 

Crumpled in the bin was her unfortunate fourth attempt. The first three
stories had all been quite good, and had been published in the same 
erotic fanzine. She had supplied a pseudonym and a post-office box 
number with each submission for any correspondence with her growing 
fan-base. She had heard from a few different men - all bar one were 
semi-literate louts with dick-pics, burdened with scarcely enough 
digits and brain-cells to oversee the operation of a keyboard, much 
less the writing of an interesting letter. 

She sat at her desk, settled in again, and lost herself. 


“Hullo?” “Yeah, uh, hi... Can I speak to-uh Chris please?” “...There's
no one here by that name...” “Ah, a'right... Look-uh, would you mind 
telling me the number I rang please?” The male voice did so, and it was 
the number Colin intended. “Ah a'right, well-ah, I guess there was a 
mix-up there...” The earpiece had clicked, and he was talking to 

Colin turned off his mobile, and returned his wife's phone to her
handbag, hung behind the bedroom door. He made his way through their 
house to the fridge, got a beer, and walked outside.  The native trees 
in their back-yard grooved to the slow beat of the breeze, and here and 
there an insolent blade of grass encouraged an uprising from it's kin, 
a green-tongue poking cheekily at his inability to mow straight. When 
he woke today, his marriage had been fine, if a little strained. Now it 
was over, just like that. 

Home from his day-job, shift-working, her mobile phone had sounded
twice, indicating a text-message. Evidently, his wife had left her 
handbag home today as she had left for her nine-to-fiver. He tried to 
justify, now, as to why exactly he had gone into her bag to retrieve 
it. Was it because he believed that she had text-messaged herself, on 
someone else's phone, so as to locate the device? Or maybe he had 
thought that she may have been in some-kind of trouble, perhaps. She 
was untrustworthy. That was clear now. But was he untrusting? Had he 
suspected her of something, with no evidence, or had he intuitively 
known about and repressed it for some time now? 

As he stood on the porch now, with the breeze drying the sweat across
his brow, he regretted his actions. He had taken down the number from 
her phone, and then called it from his mobile, so as to remain 
anonymous. He had been hoping naively for the man's name, an address, 
even, or a clue that perhaps he was being silly. The conversation had 
revealed nothing, bar this individuals intolerance for wrong-numbers. 

Yet he was convinced. His wife was cheating on him, with this man, and
had been for some time. The text message, despite it's typically simple 
abbreviations, hinted to him of their sexual familiarity and enduring 
passion. He and his wife had not had sex in some time – he had assumed 
that that was just the way it went with some women;  sex simply became 
unimportant, a distraction. It seemed now that he was the one 

His mind retreated. He thought again of the writer, as he had done more
often recently. There was something about this woman, this stranger. He 
had never been one for overt pictorial pornography, and over the years 
had developed an interest in erotic fiction. He considered himself 
somewhat of an aficionado these days, and thus recognized this woman's 
stories as something special.. 

It had all been done to death, of course – Colin had read hundreds of
similar stories. But there was something about this woman and her 
prose, her intimacy and honesty with the words she chose. Her 
characters were simple and flawed humans that were, via desire, granted 
uncommon audacity. 

They were to meet tomorrow. He had written to her first, two weeks ago,
immediately after reading her latest instalment. She had written back, 
and following further correspondence, they had decided on  a visible 
halfway point - a park bench they had both known as youngsters. Before 
today, he had told himself that it was simply two asexual beings 
meeting to discuss a common interest in things. Things that just 
happened to be of a sexual nature. 

He saw it differently now, and knew that he never intended this
relationship to be anything less than infidelity. It sure was lucky 
that he found out about his wife's lover today, otherwise he may have 
felt guilt sleeping with the writer. 

The phone rang five times before Colin was able to get to it, and he let
it finish it's sixth before he answered it. It was John, of course, 
asking about scoring sometime today. 

“Yeah mate, sure, just pop round and I'll fix y' up”, he said. John was
by far Colin's best customer. Once every fortnight, on dole day, John 
would ride around to collect his goodies. Very regular, always had the 
cash, an absolute dream to do business with. They had been through a 
lot of shit together, he and John, and were best mates. 

“Um, yeah... that's the problem, mate. Some prick nicked me bike...”,
John said. 

“Ah shit, not that flash green one?” 

“Nah – well, yeah... but I think it was red this week, some nice
pin-striping too...” 

“Ah right – those kids, eh?” 

“Yeah mate... I don't reckon it was them that pinched it tho ‘cause
they've been hangin' round the front all morning, with a brand-new set 
of tyres and some spanners, frowning their little arses off...” 

“Ah righto, yeah... Tell ya what mate, I'm heading out tomorrow, to see
that bird I was tellin' you about. I'll zip ‘round after with your 
gear, and give you a bit of a rundown, too...” 

“Sounds good mate, sounds good...” 

John, again. 

Two days passed. Not only was John's stash depleted, he had since ground
up and smoked his wooden pot-pipe, his meagre collection of gourmet 
herbs, a clipping of hair and some lint of questionable origin he found 
behind the couch. He was desperate – he was starting to have unusual 
and worrying thoughts, thoughts that questioned his direction in life. 
He picked up the phone again. 

He had rung Colin countless times already (he had actually lost count
the second time), but the phone had rung out. It rang four times, and 
was picked up. 


“Um... Hey... Colin...? 

“There's no-one here by that name ...” 

“What the... who the hell are you then?” 

“Listen, I'm Tom, I'm looking after Colin's place – and his wife – while
he's gone...” 

“Like fuck you are...”, he yelled down the phone. John's painfully lucid
mind lurched. “Where the hell is he then, eh?”. 

“He's been arrested, you friggin' pothead moron. They've got him at
Hill's. He was done shagging his ugly-arsed girlfriend in the park - 
one pocket full of weed, the other chock-a-block full of home-grown 
tobacco, the stuff that really shits ‘em. Your not gonna see your silly 
bloody mate for five to ten, I would imagine... Not even I would 
represent his scum...” 

A snigger, a click, and the phone was dead. John was utterly motionless
for a long, long while. 

When he did finally move, it was with a conviction and determination
John hadn't exhibited in, well, ever. He blacked his face with grease. 
He lit a tailor-made cigarette, and coughed on the chemical. He got his 
crowbar, a torch and a hacksaw. He called a cab. 

“Yeah... yeah... just one travelling... where to...? Yeah, I'm goin' to
the prison...” 

He needed to help him. He needed to escape. 


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