Leslie Sorrell was born in
take great pleasure in the family pets and admit to being ordinary people who
derive most of their enjoyment from simplicity.
Millions of others had already made the same journey. The
game had been played many times before. It was nothing new! But now it was his
turn to wait for the gate to open. The old adage of look before you leap was the
last thing on his mind. He had no intention whatsoever of looking anywhere
except straight ahead towards opportunity and adventure.
Slowly but surely, the gate began to creak
ajar. As the first sign of sunlight filtered through the narrow opening, he
poised himself, ready to make a premature dash for fresh air and fanfare.
Brimming with self-confidence he charged toward the end of the tunnel. He
figured he had already done a long enough stretch tucked away inside the womb;
it was finally time for a break out.
Born on the twelfth of May 1959 under the
star sign of Taurus, with a square head, flat nose and wingnut ears, he was
nicknamed ‘Bull’ by his proud and loving parents. Strangled by his own
umbilical cord on the journey, Bull spent the first three days of his life in
the maternity ward’s humidicrib. Some said he was lucky to even make it that
far. But luck had nothing to do with it. You see, Bull chose to be born, he
chose to survive. His ability to choose anything and everything was his natural
However, as Bull would soon learn, there
were those who frowned upon such unlimited freedom of choice. Like all good
little bulls, our young square-headed friend was eventually abducted by the
‘all-knowing herd’. The right to chose was somehow taken from him. They
proceeded to demonstrate everything, instructing him when, where and how to do
it all. The herd were extremely set in their ways: everything had to be done in
an acceptable and expected manner. He had no need to think, he just had to do as
he was told; after all he was a mere infant and the herd were much older and
Year in and year out, he tagged along
blindly behind the rest of the mob, believing whatever they told him.
all that was about to change, thanks to the Sculptor. I suppose you’re
wondering who I am? Well, that’s not really important at this stage. Let’s
just say I’m a close personal friend of Bull, a friend who has known him
longer than he has known himself. If you could spare a little time, I’d like
to share with you his story. It’s a tale of self-discovery; a story of how a
much older Bull strayed from the herd and lost his way but in the process
reclaimed his true nature.
The year was 1985 and Bull was now a typical blue-collar
battler. After twenty-six years of toeing the line, he had become extremely
cynical of the herd and developed a certain kind of indifference towards life in
general. His nappies and teething ring exchanged for denim overalls and
cigarettes, he only earned a minimum wage and constantly juggled to make ends
The silver bracelet he wore on his scrawny
right wrist was a gift from his parents. There was nothing Bull wouldn’t do
for his Mum and Dad. He drew comfort and security from their relationship and in
his own meaningless world, cherished it above all else. In fact, nothing else
even rated a mention in Bull’s book. He’d never had any luck with
girlfriends, his mates were all piss-heads, his car was a bomb and he hated his
job. He had no hobbies, no money and no interest in anything. Basically, he saw
life as just being one load of bullshit after the next.
Engraved on the bracelet, which he always
wore, was the name ‘Bull’, a tag which had stuck with him over the years and
one by which everybody knew him. Having experienced many of the hardships
associated with everyday living, Bull began to look upon the bracelet as a type
of barcode identifying him amongst all the other poor, struggling mongrels on
Sometimes he got so drunk that he needed to
refer to the bracelet to help him remember who he actually was. The question of
his identity wasn’t one he pondered solely when inebriated either. In fact,
most of his waking moments were dogged by feelings of uncertainty and
insecurity. He knew his name, address, occupation and telephone number but
beyond that, he knew nothing. Obsessed most of his youth with complying and
acting the way other people expected him to, his individuality had become
hopelessly lost. An enormous void had opened up within his very being.
The young bull, who had once chosen to pit
himself against the odds and accelerate from the safety of his mother’s womb,
now seemed even incapable of escaping from the negativity inside his own head.
He had become nothing more than a bag of bones holding up a skull filled with
sawdust and self-pity. Most nights he found it difficult to sleep. The noise in
his head simply wouldn’t allow it. Yesterday’s worries and tomorrow’s
fears, all stirred by pointlessness, chased one another in a never-ending game
of ‘catch’. Alcohol proved to be his only respite.
Stretched diagonally across the mattress
like a giant banana, Bull slept in a double bed to accommodate his six-foot-two
frame. He was well and truly in the land of nod that memorable Thursday night,
early in January. Having endured yet another unhappy day at work, his mind was
like a can of worms. Administering his usual self-prescribed dosage of one
six-pack on an empty stomach, he finally succumbed to the tranquillity of a deep
It was a wickedly humid evening and despite
warnings on the six o’clock news regarding a spate of recent home invasions,
Bull had decided to throw every window in the house wide open. Unfortunately,
his invitation to the cool evening air fell upon deaf ears and he lay lathered
A whole gang of intruders could have broken
in that night, without even the slightest reaction from Sleeping Beauty. He was
so far gone they could have even peeled the mattress from his back and he still
wouldn’t have stirred.
But something did wake him. It grabbed him
by the throat and dragged him back towards consciousness. With words as clear as
the crystal quartz in his mother’s favourite necklace, a woman’s voice spoke
firmly into his right ear.
‘Bull, it’s your Dad!’
She spoke in a tone that suggested that all
was not well.
The voice from nowhere frightened the living
daylights out of Bull. He bolted upright in his bed launching the pillow beneath
his head like a missile into a black hole, which engulfed him. The sound of
smashing glass was followed by the haunting strum of guitar strings. An eerie
musical note resonated through the darkness of his bedroom before gradually
dissipating into the silence.
The thud in Bull’s chest echoed into his
eardrums. He was scared, disoriented and confused. What was happening?
Who was there? The voice was familiar yet he
couldn’t quite place it. He couldn’t place anything. Bull was in limbo,
struggling to breathe and devoid of all motion. Unable to think, he lingered
somewhere between a dream and the reality he would one day come to question. The
stillness offered neither reassurance nor comfort.
Fumbling in an attempt to regain some
bearings, his left hand found the splintered edge of a cluttered timber bedside
table. As if reading braille, his fingers walked across a terrain of used
tissues, empty cigarette boxes and unpaid bills, before finally discovering the
relief of a brass-based touch lamp. The brilliance of the sudden flash sent the
darkness scurrying and bought some much-needed clarity to Bull’s befuddled
mind. Where he had been blinded by the darkness before, he now found himself
blinded by the light.
The fully dilated pupils in Bull’s
bloodshot eyes slowly contracted to normal size. Still with limited blurred
vision, he recognised the frayed leather strap of his wristwatch hanging around
the neck of an empty beer bottle near the lamp base. Bull picked up the bottle
and all, bringing the watch face near the tip of his nose, as would a
near-sighted jeweller. It was only four-thirty a.m. and following a frantic
survey around the room, he could see that he was very much alone.
His eyes, with sight now fully restored,
were drawn to the broken photograph of his parents, lying on the carpet after
being dislodged from its wall mounting. Surrounded by shards of glass, which
were once housed within its antique copper frame, the photograph itself had been
sheared in half and now sat lodged between the strings of his old guitar that he
usually kept leaning against the wall. Who would have thought that a foam rubber
pillow could have left such a trail of destruction?
But then again, bad luck seemed to follow
Bull wherever he went; nothing surprised him any more. He took a deep breath.
The fresh morning air passed through his nostrils and filtered down into his
welcoming lungs. Although soothing, the air was still insufficient to pacify the
thump of his heart. The voice had seemed so real. He wondered if his Dad was
Bull and his father shared much more than
just a paternal relationship. They were best mates. The thought of anything
happening to his Dad was more than Bull’s already fragile nerves could cope
with. Feeling compelled to ring his father, he searched for the telephone,
buried somewhere beneath the pile of dirty washing that littered his bedroom
floor. Tracing the cord back into the debris, he managed to find it and
hesitantly inserted his finger into the dial.
But commonsense suddenly kicked in and he
dropped the handpiece back onto the floor before even dialling the second digit.
‘It was just a bloody dream, you idiot,’
he told himself out loud, as he rubbed his eyes and stroked his furrowed brow.
yawning, he staggered to the bathroom down the hallway. His urine was tainted
with a dark brown hue. Together with the offensive odour, it was obvious Bull
was extremely dehydrated. But he took no notice of his body’s plea for fluid,
choosing instead to cup his hands beneath the running water and swill his gums,
before spitting a mouthful of mucus down the drain.
Returning to his room there was no way known
he could go back to sleep, so he decided to turn on the television. The set
perched precariously on an old discarded cardboard carton opposite his bed. The
remote lay on the floor where he had tossed it the previous day in one of his
frequent outbursts. Missing the battery cover, which had flown off on impact,
Bull depressed the green power button. With the black box searching for
reception, he tried to make himself comfortable. Grabbing the spare pillow from
beside him, he used it to lean against the bare plaster wall.
The faulty television jumped to life on the
only channel it was capable of receiving. Some early morning breakfast show
reporter was interviewing an old timer on the verandah of what looked like a
suburban hostel. From the looks of things, the old fellow had just turned one
hundred. The birthday boy was surprisingly sharp for a man of his age.
Apparently, he was still able to care for himself with most aspects of his
everyday living. Obviously unimpressed by the senior citizen’s amazingly good
health, clarity of speech and sense of humour, the female journalist tried to
‘What do you attribute your longevity
to?’ she asked.
‘Well,’ replied the old man deep in
thought, ‘I’ve never been one for the drink or the tobacco and I’ve always
stayed well away from loose women.’
The veteran’s face was deadly serious
while the reporter showed remarkable composure trying to prevent a smirk from
appearing on hers.
‘What did you do for a living when you
were a younger man?’ enquired the buxom young interviewer, clearly pleased to
get another question away and change the subject.
‘I’ve done all sorts of things from
digging graves to laying bricks,’ said the centenarian. ‘A real jack of all
trades, that’s me. There’s not too much I haven’t had a go at.’
The old bloke raised his hands to the
camera. ‘These two hands have cradled newborn babies and held dying
infantrymen. They’ve planted seeds and chopped down trees. These two fellas
have been my meal ticket. I’ve been …’
With complete lack of sensitivity, the
journalist cut the old man off in mid stream. Bull, who wasn’t one to care
much about most others these days, did still have a soft spot for the people of
his grandfather’s generation. He felt sorry for the man, whose words were to
remain unheard. The old-timer on the other hand didn’t seem worried by the
rudeness at all. He gave her a half smile, exposing his worn, yellowed dentures.
‘Have you got any words of wisdom for our
viewers?’ she asked, beginning to wind up the short interview.
The old man paused to consider his response
and was astute enough to keep it brief. ‘Work hard, do what you’re told,
live clean, stay happy and praise the Lord.’
Surprisingly, the journalist squeezed in one
additional question. ‘What does it feel like to be the most senior person
‘I wouldn’t know,’ replied the
birthday boy. ‘Old Jock there is three years older than me,’ he said,
gesturing with his rolling eyeballs to another grey-haired man sitting next to
him on the verandah.
‘It’s true,’ interjected a passing
nurse, in the middle of her rounds. ‘It’s his birthday next month.’
Bull couldn’t help but notice that the
alleged one hundred and three year old was smoking a pipe.
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