PAPERBACK BOOKS
SILVER STUDS AND SABRE TEETH

silver studs cover

Meet Hector Davis, a forty-year-old town planner who loves his wife and teenaged daughter. He enjoys listening to Kiss, Gary Glitter and T-Rex. He also occasionally likes to strip down for a ‘rub-and-tug’ at the local ‘massage’ parlour.

Life’s pretty cruisy for Hector.   

Until one day, whilst enjoying one of his ‘massages’, the parlour is raided by police and Hector snatches up his clothing, fleeing naked to a nearby park. He shelters behind some shrubs, but is discovered and filmed on a mobile phone by two schoolgirls. To his astonishment, he is rescued by the very embodiment of one of his idols, Marc Bolan, the late singer with T-Rex. 

As Hector’s marriage falls apart in the wake of the mobile phone footage, he is erroneously accused of taking a bribe and forced to stand aside from his job. 

Hector has to deal with the emotional fall-out of these upheavals, being supported by a colourful cast including his oafish best mate, his sister who just wants to get married to her partner (another woman), his new friend Kat, a rambunctious Doberman, Seventies tribute artists, and his new landlord-cum-benefactor, the world’s most accurate Marc Bolan impersonator.  

Silver Studs and Sabre Teeth is a compelling, rollicking, rollercoaster tale of one man’s journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary with much drama and mischief on the way.   

In Store Price: $AU31.95 
Online Price:   $AU30.95

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ISBN: 978-1-921919-86-2  
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 382
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

Author: Simone Bailey
Publisher:
Zeus Publications

Date Published: 2014
Language: English

 

BY THE SAME AUTHOR  

 

Calumny While Reading Irvine Welsh

Author Bio

 

Simone Bailey was born and raised in Merriwa, a minute farming community in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales. As a child, she discovered a love of creating with the written word, which became a hobby and passion over the years whilst she lived in Sydney and worked as a paralegal/secretary. She did consider undertaking a Diploma of Law, and it was only after she filled in her name on the enrolment form did she experience the Damascene realisation that she didn’t actually want to be a lawyer. She accordingly crumpled up the form and threw it in the bin, and turned back to her typewriter (she didn’t have a computer at the time). 

She now lives in the Hunter Valley again, in Muswellbrook with her husband and their two sons, together with a dog who is running to fat, another who is incredibly bossy, and a cockatiel who grows more cantankerous by the day. When not at her writing desk, she works as a carer for the aged and disabled in the community, and recently attained her Certificate III in this industry. She loves the work but dreams of the day she can write full time. 

Simone loves reading, sketching, cryptic crosswords, cooking, movies, and playing trivia. She is passionate about The Rolling Stones, and is indeed a total music tragic with a special soft spot for Seventies Glam Rock. Therefore writing this book was a labour of love, and an excuse to listen to Gary Glitter and T-Rex in the name of research. She hopes you enjoy reading the book as much as she enjoyed writing it. 

With Silver Studs and Sabre Teeth out of the way, Simone is now working on her next novel.

Chapter 1 

 

The thumping of his heart, like a bass drum in an echo chamber, had Hector Davis worried he was suffering a heart attack. It wasn’t unheard of in a man of his relatively tender years. Well, forty wasn’t necessarily all that tender, but it was hardly Metamucil time for him yet, he thought. There was no excess fat on his five feet, ten inch frame. He followed a chiefly vegetarian diet. He did not smoke, and drank only occasionally, usually a drop from the vineyard belonging to his parents. Before semi-retirement to control the vineyard originally owned by Hector’s grandfather, Maura and Noel Davis had been teachers of classical history and literature. Both huge fans of The Iliad, Hector had been named for the Trojan hero: brave, handsome, a loving husband who had the fortitude to fight Achilles even in the knowledge of his imminent slaying by said Achilles.

However, much to the annoyance of Maura and Noel’s son, Hector was also the name of that bad-tempered emu on Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo.

And, at that moment, Hector was feeling neither handsome (he was an ordinary looking man whose mousy hair was cut short with a fringe), nor brave. He felt, in the parlance of his mate Ron, as though he were about to shit bricks. He took a few deep breaths to stop the gymnastics his heart was performing. He knew his lifestyle had not contributed to the palpitations. More likely it was the nudie run he had just undertaken. Well, maybe it wasn’t really a nudie run as such, after all he had sprinted with one hand holding his wadded up shirt and jacket to shield his groin, and his trousers, socks, underwear and shoes held fast against his buttocks with the other hand. He had never been much of a runner, but the adrenaline had sent him tearing out the back door, through the discreet side gate, up the hill along the footpath, across the zebra crossing and into an adjacent park. He believed he had run as fast as any of those Jamaican runners who had torn through the finishing tape at every Olympic Games coverage he could remember watching. He had no idea how many people had spotted his lunatic flight. It was still early, about two forty-five in the afternoon, and he could recall seeing only a couple of people in his peripheral vision. One was a young woman, probably a professional nanny, pushing a pram. The other was a smartly dressed older woman, who hopefully had not collapsed with her own set of palpitations as he had gone galloping by like some ancient Greek nude marathon runner, an analogy sure to have delighted his parents.

Hector wondered could he have run even faster. He knew little about sports physiology, and even less about aerodynamics, but surely running with his hands held against the private parts of his body to preserve his modesty had some effect on wind resistance. Hampered this way, it was impossible to get the arms to really piston like those of the champion runners in the 100 metres sprint.

Cowering in the scant shelter afforded by a grevillea tree and a bottlebrush tree, Hector looked longingly at the toilet block which was situated right over the other side of the park. Unfortunately, this was a very large park, taking up almost the entire block. On the blocks of land that crossed the roads surrounding the park were apartment buildings, a BP service station, a school, a childcare centre, and Hector was pretty sure he could see the spire and crucifix that topped Lawsonville’s Catholic Church, Corpus Christi. This was the church where he had served as an altar boy, where he had married Karen, and where their daughter Bronte had been baptised, reconciled, confirmed and Eucharist-ed. The whole shebang, if you liked.

Factoring the distance between himself and the Gents, and the surrounding buildings, Hector realised he had a snowball’s chance in Hell of running across the park without someone in one of those buildings seeing him. It was there behind the trees, or nowhere. Hector dropped his clothing on the grass and reached for his boxer shorts. The boxers had been a Christmas gift from Karen’s sister Remy. Remy was a lawyer, and had the most naff taste of anybody Hector ever knew, evidenced by the grotesque boxers she had given her brother-in-law; they featured a motif of yellow smiley faces.

The vagaries of Hector’s mind explored the events that had led him to where he now was: naked behind two native trees in a park.

It had not started out as a bad day. He climbed out of bed at eight minutes after seven o’clock in the morning. The clock radio’s alarm had sounded at six fifty-nine, as usual. Hector had lain in bed and listened to the news and weather, while Karen was showering in the en suite. It was his custom to get up as soon as he had heard the weather report, but Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite came on, which was one of his all time favourite songs, so he just lay there with his eyes closed, imagining Gene pumping the air with his clenched fist, his batwing flapping. Hector could see Ace and Paul swaying to and fro in tandem as they faced each other over a single microphone, with the feline Peter Criss beating the skins and cymbals.

Refreshed and rockin’, he walked naked to the en suite and urinated in the toilet, flushed, then turned to the shower stall where he could make out Karen’s form behind the frosted glass. She was having a very long shower, probably shampooing her shoulder-length dark brown hair. Normally it irritated him when Karen took a too-long shower. Not this morning. He pulled open the folding glass door and stepped in, pondering the possibility of a soapy or shampooey hand job from his wife.

Karen stood underneath the spray with her eyes closed, rinsing away the final dregs of conditioner. She opened her eyes and when she saw Hector, screamed. The scream startled Hector and he jolted, hitting the back of his head against the shower stall door.

Fuck!’ he roared.

‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ she demanded, her voice more strident than usual. ‘You frightened the living daylights out of me!’

‘Just thought, you know, you and me–’ he said lamely, rubbing the back of his head.

‘Don’t be ridiculous, you know I’ve been getting to work early, what with Ellen being away.’

‘You work too hard,’ he joked.

‘It’s fine,’ she said shortly. ‘And don’t forget you’ve got that meeting with Ron this afternoon.’

‘As if I’d forget,’ he replied, making room for her to exit the stall.

He was aware of Karen saying something as she wound a towel around her head.

‘Huh?’ asked Hector, sticking his head through the door.

‘I said – oh, look out! You’re getting water everywhere!’

‘Well, what did you say?’

‘I said, have Council made their decision about Ron’s application yet?’

‘Not that I’d discuss with you, my dear,’ Hector replied, before ducking back under the spray and shutting the cubicle door.

After showering, he put on the dark trousers he had worn yesterday, and chose a clean shirt from the built-in. He looked at himself in the mirror as he buttoned up the blue chambray shirt, which from the embroidery over the left breast pocket a passer-by would note that Hector was an employee of the Lawsonville Shire Council. They would not be able to tell that he was a local town planner, but Hector felt that was neither here nor there.

His wife and daughter were in the kitchen, regarding each other like two fired-up gunslingers.

‘I’m going to talk to Dad!’ spat Bronte in that triumphant Ha-Ha-On-You tone she occasionally adopted, a tone Hector hated with vehemence.

‘What are you going to talk to me about?’ he asked as he poured himself a coffee.

‘What we talked about last night! Have you thought about it?’

‘No. There’s nothing to think about.’ Hector placed two slices of bread into the toaster.

Bronte took a deep breath. ‘This is a decision I really want to make as a responsible person,’ she said slowly. ‘It’s important to me.’

‘Hear this, Bronte,’ said Hector calmly, as he reached for the margarine and Vegemite. ‘You are not getting your bellybutton pierced.’

‘You used to wear an earring! And Nanna and Poppy were cool about that!’ Her voice became shrill, like her mother’s did when she was annoyed about something.

‘Yes, Nanna and Poppy were cool about my earring. However, your mother and I are not cool about navel piercings. Get used to it.’

‘You’re both completely unreasonable!’ shrieked Bronte, in a voice that had escalated from shrill to air-raid siren. She snatched up her school bag and stormed out, bidding neither of her parents farewell.

 

Hector pressed send, and the e-mail was whooshed off into Cyberspace, or the Twilight Zone; wherever it was sent e-mails went en route to their destination. He smiled with satisfaction because he had replied to all his e-mails. It was his ethic to reply within twenty-four hours to all e-mails. He had considered raising this at team meetings.

There had been no time that morning for Hector to make sandwiches, so he decided to nip out and buy a salad roll. Just as he stepped away from his desk, Kirralee, one of the administrative trainees, informed him Mr Richardson was on Line Three.

‘G’day, Ron,’ said Hector down the telephone. ‘I was going to write to you, you know, as a formality, but–’

‘Don’t say anything!’ his oldest friend interrupted.

‘But–’

‘But nothing. Meet me at the Duke.’

‘For lunch?’

‘On me,’ said Ron magnanimously. ‘Got someone I want you to meet.’

‘Who?’

‘Just someone.’

‘Okay, then. I’ll be there in ten minutes.’

As Hector made to go, Kirralee said, ‘Are you going to come back after lunch, Mr Davis?’

‘Why wouldn’t I?’

‘It’s a staff training thingy. You don’t have to go to it, remember?’

‘Oh, of course. I’ll see, Kirralee. Got some correspondence to write, but I can just as easily do it from home, I suppose.’

‘Sure. See you later, Mr Davis.’

‘You too.’

 

The Duke of Windsor had been recently renovated, and was the bistro was now considered one of Lawsonville’s more trendy eateries. As he looked around, Hector wasn’t sure he really liked all the clear glass that had replaced some of the leadlight. He spotted Ron Richardson seated at a table with an unsmiling man of perhaps fifty. They were the only diners in the bistro, but Hector supposed business would pick up later in the week on the traditional paydays. Today was only Monday.

The two men stood as Hector joined them, and Ron introduced his companion as Kingsley Baxter. Ron removed his jacket, which was from a tailor made suit, and winced a little as he draped it over the back of his chair.

‘You right there, Ron?’ enquired Kingsley Baxter. He sounded as though he were only trying to be solicitous.

‘Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Just gotta be careful. Nearly snagged it on this friggin’ thing.’ Ron waggled the fingers of his right hand, the fourth of which was adorned with a bulky black onyx ring. ‘So what’ll it be to drink, boys? And any idea what youse wanna eat?’

‘Just get me a light beer, thanks,’ said Hector. ‘For lunch, I reckon I’ll have the vegetarian lasagne.’

‘Jesus, Hector! It’s the friggin’ food chain. Look it up.’

After Ron strolled off to place their orders, Hector asked after Baxter’s occupation.

‘I’m a developer.’

Hector inwardly sighed, and wished he had followed his original plan and bought that salad sandwich. 

As the meals arrived, Ron finally asked, ‘Did Kingsley tell you what he does?’

‘Yeah, Ron. He did. Look, is this about that application you put in?’

‘Yeah! So what’s happening? Have youse blokes okay-ed it, yet?’

‘No, we haven’t, because–’

‘What’s holding youse up?’ boomed Ron. ‘We’re, that is, me and Kingsley here–’ he pointed to himself and Baxter, ‘– we’re all set to go!’

‘Have you got the plan on you?’ asked Hector wearily.

Ron produced a folded sheet of A3 paper from his briefcase and unfolded it over the table. To Hector’s irritation, one corner settled itself on his food.

‘Look at these dimensions.’ Hector pointed at the plan. ‘They don’t fall within Council’s guidelines. I’m really sorry, Ron, but I can’t approve this application.’

‘What’s wrong with you? It can’t be that far off your stupid rules!’

‘Look, if your proposed floor space was smaller–’

‘But I need more floor space! How else am I gonna fit all them Kias in? Come on, there’s this bloody great block of land behind my showroom and all it’s got on it is fucken weeds! It’s all going to waste.’

Hector found himself irritated with his old friend. ‘I don’t make the rules, Ron. You might just have to display less cars, or something.’

Ron appeared to see reason. ‘You’re right, mate. It’s not your fault.’ He looked at Baxter. ‘Back to the old drawing board, eh?’

‘There’s not much point me hanging around,’ said Baxter.

‘Sorry,’ said Hector agreeably. He was not sorry. He had not liked Baxter. His sister would have said Baxter had a bad vibe.

‘I’ll see you gents later,’ said Baxter, pushing his chair back to the table. ‘We’ll have to look at getting a new set of plans drawn up.’

When Baxter was gone, Hector said, ‘I tried to tell you earlier, when you rang–’

‘No worries. Sorry I got a bit hot under the collar just now.’ He folded the paper and stowed it in his briefcase.

‘It’s okay. You were just disappointed, mate. But do what that Kingsley guy said, and change your dimensions, and maybe it’ll get approved. I’ll even stamp it personally.’

‘It’ll get approved. I didn’t start making cups of coffee at Lawsonville Ford twenty-five years ago just to get applications knocked back, I can tell you that much.’ Anybody listening who did not know Ron would wonder whether he was actually not joking.

‘Fear not,’ said Hector. ‘You will end up this town’s foremost motor tycoon.’

‘How’s things in general, anyway?’ asked Ron as he sawed his knife through the T-bone steak on his plate.

‘Can’t complain. Bronte wants her navel pierced, but we’ve put our foot down.’

‘Yeah, Kaz told me she had a dummy spit this morning.’

‘You wait. You’ve got all this ahead of you.’ Hector was referring to Ron’s two daughters, aged eleven and nine.

‘Not to mention the excursions! Bloody crippling. Have youse made yer minds up yet whether to send Bronte to Japan?’

‘We’re hoping to. We’ve explained about airfares and spending money.’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Karen told me.’

Hector was momentarily irritated with Karen, but decided maybe it was okay for her discuss this with Ron, who was not only Hector’s oldest friend, but for the past four years Karen’s business partner.

‘You got the airfare together, right?’

Hector fidgeted a little. ‘Almost.’

Ron twisted in his seat and reached into his jacket’s inner pocket. He removed a well-stuffed DL envelope.

‘This should help get you over the finish line, and give Bronte heaps of money to spend.’

‘You don’t have to do that!’

‘Mate, she’s my Goddaughter. I love her, too. Come on.’

Hector took the envelope, and peered inside to see bundled sections of pea-green polymer.

‘There must be about two grand in here!’ gasped Hector.

‘Three. Go on, take it. It’s on Uncle Ron.’

‘I’ll pay you back, every bloody dollar!’

‘When you can. Well, I’d better get back, Karen’s holding the fort.’

‘Does Karen know about this?’

‘Yeah. I told her I was going to offer it to you. She said to make sure you put it in the bank straight away, in case you get mugged. You’re an easy target with that skinny carcass of yours.’

‘Mate, I’m humbled.’

‘Yeah, well, humble yourself to the bank before you lose it. Then I suppose you’re heading back to work to write the official letter? You know, the ‘re yours, up yours, yours faithfully’ one to me?’

‘I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ve got the rest of the afternoon off.’

‘Arsey bastard. What do you reckon you’ll do?’

‘I’ve just had an idea. I reckon I might call by Straub Street,’ he said, eyes twinkling and voice saturated with innuendo.

‘Go for it. If I didn’t have a shitload of work on, I’d join ya!’

 

After depositing the cash into his and Karen’s bank account, Hector stood outside the bank and wondered whether to walk back to the office and collect his car first, or just make his way to that little haven in Straub Street. He decided to walk; Straub Street was closer and although there was a large multi-floor parking station nearby, he was paranoid somebody would recognise his car. He reached Straub Street and walked to his destination, being number one hundred and eleven. The three ‘ones’ were crafted from brass, above an ornate brass door knocker. Hector supposed the knocker was art deco, and probably just for show because there was a buzzer. Hector did not avail himself of this buzzer, but ducked around the corner and walked up the side street, which happened to be on a slight hill, until he found a small gate and strolled through.

Soon a pleasant manageress had him ensconced in a small room. She asked had he been there before. Hector said he had, and sat on a small chair in the corner.

‘Welcome back,’ she smiled. ‘We have three ladies on duty: Jayne, Shannon, and Jett. Shannon’s with a client at the moment, but I’ll send Jayne and Jett in to meet you in just a minute. Jett’s not been with us very long, she’s a lovely West Indian lady. Jayne’s been working here for a few months, so perhaps you’ve met her before.’

When he was alone, Hector tried to reconcile the name Jayne with any of his previous visits. The last time he had called by, a girl in a short vinyl skirt that showed off her legs to their best advantage had attended him. Her long dark hair had been teased and backcombed. Hector’s first thought was that she looked like she should be in a Motley Crüe video. He could not remember her name.

He recognised neither of the two women who introduced themselves to him. He did feel his lungs cry for air when he saw the second of the two: Jett. Jett was about five feet five of what Hector deemed to be the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen. Hector hated thinking in pithy metaphors, but when he looked at her eyes he thought of milk chocolate melting over a double burner on a hotplate; and her lips made him think of dusty-pink throw cushions. Her hair was a dark brown hazy, springy mass that hung halfway down her back. The latte-coloured smooth skin against the rich velvet burgundy gown she wore made Hector want to dive into a pool of melted Belgian chocolate.

Alone again, he looked quickly at the massage table, the folded towels, the oil bottles and Kleenex boxes on a small cupboard, the shower stall–

‘Have you decided, sir?’ asked the manageress. He hadn’t noticed her come in.

‘Um, the West Indian girl. Jett, wasn’t it?’

He booked himself an hour with Jett and paid the fee to the manageress. He waited, feeling as nervous as he had that night when he was sixteen and fumbling with his then-girlfriend Mandy as the strains of Cool World were heard from the radio, and his loss of virginity was becoming more and more imminent. To this day, he couldn’t look at Ross Wilson or hear any Mondo Rock song without his mind straying back to Cool World and I-Hope-I-Get-This-Frenchie-On-Properly (notwithstanding all the practising he had done on his sister’s can of Impulse).

The door was opened and Jett walked in, smiling. He smiled back and stood up from the chair.

‘Hector, wasn’t it?’ Her voice was soft, and Hector noticed she had a British accent, a fact that had escaped him when she introduced herself.

‘Yeah.’

Unzipping the back of her gown, she said, ‘If you could just have a quick shower for me, we’ll get started.’

Hector showered and lay face down on the table, resting his head on his folded arms. Reflected in a mirror that extended the entire wall, he could see the now naked Jett warming massage oil in the palms of her hands. Her beautiful hands had been treated with a French manicure, and the white tips of her fingernails looked like pearly crescent moons contrasted against her dark skin. She rubbed oil into his shoulders.

‘How’s your day been, then?’

‘Not too bad. Getting better,’ he added with a laugh.

She asked what did Hector do for a living.

‘I’m a town planner. I’ve done it for a while now. I worked privately as a surveyor before, so I guess that’s a natural segue.’

‘That’s interesting,’ said Jett. She was now rubbing oil over his back. ‘My father’s a surveyor.’

‘Whereabouts is that?’

‘Home. Brixton.’

‘Is that in England?’

‘Yeah. Couldn’t you tell?’

‘I noticed your accent, yeah, but they said you were West Indian, so I thought you were–’

‘Uh-huh,’ she nodded. ‘My parents came from San Fernando–’

‘Let me guess! That’s in Trinidad, right?’

‘Go straight to the top of the class!’

‘You’re Trinidadian, then.’

She rolled her eyes good-naturedly. ‘No. I was born in England. My parents moved over from Trinidad, but I’m English. The West Indian thing is probably some marketing exercise here. And no, I don’t dance the limbo!’

Hector laughed, and Jett asked did he know many English people.

‘Not really,’ he said. ‘I’ve worked with some over the years. My sister’s partner has dual British citizenship, but she’s been here since she was five, and she’s about thirty-five now. She’s got no trace of an accent, at all. She pretty much considers herself to be an Aussie.’

Hector decided to let Jett continue the massage in peace. This was difficult; he really wanted to talk to her. He didn’t know whether to close his eyes and enjoy the sensation of those soft hands kneading his flesh, or open his eyes and look at Jett’s glorious reflection in the mirror. He opted for lying with his eyes closed, swathed in sybaritic hedonism.

She commenced work on his legs, and lightly scraped her nails along his inner thighs. Hector gasped.

‘Do you like that?’ she asked in a sly manner that made Hector’s penis twitch.

‘Yeah.’

She caught him looking at her in the mirror and smiled. After the backs of his calves had been oiled and kneaded, she asked him to roll onto his back. Hector obeyed and lay with his hands tucked under his head, watching her make her way along his legs from ankle to thigh.

As she started to caress his inner thigh, Jett said, ‘I’ve worked out who you remind me of.’

‘Who’s that?’ croaked Hector who, as much as he liked Jett, did not wish to engage in unrelated small talk at this crucial point.

‘Luka Bloom.’

‘What?’

‘I think you look just like him. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.’

Jett then rubbed Hector’s shoulder with one hand, and started to stroke his penis with the other. The bliss-filled Hector closed his eyes. He knew it was childish, but he couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of the erection he was sporting. Jett stopped massaging his shoulder and used both hands to gently masturbate him.

Hector half-opened his eyes to gaze at the beautiful woman who held him in thrall, and in hand. He was about to ask could she maybe go a bit faster now, when a distant crash was heard. This was followed by an indignant accusation by the manageress, and men shouting. The noise was garbled, but the words ‘immigration’ ‘drugs’ and ‘illegal workers’ in loud male voices clashing with angry denials from a woman came through like snippets from different stations when a radio is being tuned.

Jett let go of him. ‘Oh, my God!’ she hissed. ‘I think we’re being raided! Get your things, quickly!’

Hector’s eyes bulged. The erection of which he had been so proud collapsed onto his thigh as though it had fainted. He scrambled from the table and had no sooner snatched up his clothing, when the door to the room was kicked open and swung into the wall with a splintery bang. A shorthaired man aged about thirty appeared in the doorway. He was wearing an olive green suit and waving a laminated badge in a small plastic folder.

‘Don’t move!’ he shouted, and gawped at the still naked Jett.

‘Run, Hector!’ she ordered.

So, Hector shoved his crumpled shirt and jacket against his groin, and awkwardly gripped his trousers, socks, underwear and shoes in his other hand, with which he tried to cover his backside, and took off past the agent or copper or whatever-he-was, who looked like he wanted to consult the instruction manual about what exactly he should do next.

The officer recovered in time to yell out for Hector to stop.

Not fucking likely, thought Hector as he wove his way through the premises, passing several suited men who were searching through a filing cabinet, two bewildered and worried looking ‘masseuses’, and two female managers. One of the managers was talking angrily into a mobile telephone.

‘Piss off!’ she snarled at an approaching officer. ‘I’m ringing my solicitor, and if you don’t like it, you can just go and fuck yourself!’

All of them stared at Hector as he went dashing by. One of the officers tried to grab Hector’s upper arm, but his grip was rendered ineffectual by the massage oil, and Hector was able to slip away, like the greasy pig at a country rodeo. He opened the back door, not caring that his genitals were momentarily uncovered, and sprinted through. He raced through the gate and up the side street, across the zebra crossing and into the park.

Which was how Hector came to be cowering naked behind a grevillea and a bottlebrush.

He started to step into his boxers when the foliage rustled. He glanced up, and two girls walked around from the other side of the trees. Hector noticed one had a mobile phone, and they were both about Bronte’s age, and both wearing jackets from Saint Catherine’s, the same school Bronte attended. Upon seeing Hector fumbling and stumbling into his boxer shorts, their faces positively shrivelled with distaste.

Eeeeuuuuwwwww!’ shrieked one. ‘Look at the old perv!’ At the same time her friend trained her phone towards Hector.

‘Piss off! You’d better not be bloody filming–’

He tried to step towards them, but he was hobbled by his boxer shorts and fell forward. He landed on his knees and elbows, and hoped the girl with the camera would not run behind him and film him with his arse in the air and his balls swinging. He struggled to stand, one hand pulling up his underwear and the other shooing the giggling girls away. From the other side of the shrubbery came a voice.

‘Hey! Take a hike, you girls! Go on!’

The girls’ eyes widened at the caller, who Hector still couldn’t see, but who from the voice could deduce was a soft- and well-spoken man.

‘Geez, keep your hair on, you weirdo,’ said one of them, and they hurried away.

Hector pulled up his boxers, and quickly got into his trousers.

‘Are you dressed, then?’

Hector noticed the speaker had an English accent. He crazily thought it must be Britain Day in Lawsonville.

‘Well?’ the voice persisted. ‘Are you dressed, or aren’t you?’

‘Almost,’ panted Hector as he shoved his arms into the sleeves of his shirt. He decided to eschew his socks, and worked his feet into his shoes. He crouched to tie his laces, and heard footsteps. From his crouch, the first thing he saw was a pair of snakeskin platform boots. Looking up, he saw a pair of red polyester flared trousers, a silver silk smock-like shirt, and a long white scarf. This anachronistic outfit was worn by a man with a head of the springiest, most corkscrew-ish hair Hector could recall seeing for a long time. He stood up, and looked into the face of his rescuer. He could not tell what colour the man’s eyes were; one moment they were brown, the next they seemed to be hazel-green. They were as alluring as the eyes of a hypnotist, or some mythological creature whose face should never be looked into, lest the hapless victim be drawn into debauched temptation.

Looking at those eyes, however, made you not mind being drawn into whatever debauched temptation was in store for you.

Hector blinked and looked down for a moment, to clear his head. He realised the man was not particularly tall, and it was only by the grace of those bizarre boots could he look Hector in the eye. The hair added a few inches to his height, as well.

‘My car’s not far from here,’ said the man, pointing in the direction of Corpus Christi Church.

‘You wouldn’t believe what happened to me–’

‘It doesn’t matter what happened to you. We’d best get you out of here before those girls come back, along with some humourless authority figure. Come on.’

Hector walked across the park with the man. The man kept a quick pace, not impeded in the least by his boots. Hector thought if he tried them on, he would get a nosebleed just standing in them.

As they got nearer the church, Hector saw a station wagon, a sedan, a minivan, and a 4WD.

‘Which one’s yours?’

‘You can’t see it yet. It’s further on from those.’

They continued walking, Hector taking furtive glances over his shoulder to check whether they had been followed. So far, so good: there were no outraged torch-and-pitchfork laden people coming after them.

‘Here we are.’

The 4WD had blocked out the man’s vehicle, which turned out to be a purple Mini. Hector’s eyes widened.

‘Geez, is that an Austin?’

‘Could be,’ said the man mysteriously, unlocking the passenger side door and handing the key to Hector. The key dangled from a star-shaped key ring that was fashioned from clear plastic, with flecks of silver glitter through it.

‘What are you doing?’

The man looked at Hector impatiently. ‘Well, I can’t drive. You’re going to have to. You can drive a manual, can’t you?’

‘Yeah,’ replied Hector. He walked to the driver’s side door, unlocked it, and climbed in. He wondered what sort of man dressed in lairy clothes and owned a garish coloured motor vehicle that he was unable to drive. Given the man had rescued him from a horrendous situation that could have turned even more catastrophic, he decided he shouldn’t be too quick to judge.

 

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