1. Friday Night Training

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Beyond the Boundaries

Clayton. Just another one of those small country towns people pass through on the way to somewhere else. They remember the speed-limit sign and slowing down but little else. To the traveler, Clayton was nothing but a nuisance town that couldn’t be bypassed.

To the locals, Clayton was a big part of the only life they knew; the town they were born in, went to school in, married in, and would probably die in. Clayton linked the scattered memories which formed the substance of each person’s identity.

Clayton had the usual run of miscellaneous businesses; it had its churches; it had its pub and, like most southern Australian country towns, it has its Aussie Rules football club. Two in fact. The Clayton Football Club and the Clayton Rovers Football club, or Reds and Rovers as they were knows. The Roosters and the Magpies.

Casting a glance along the main street, little distinguished Friday 27 August 1978 from any other weekday. By 5.30pm trucks, utes and cars occupied every available parking space within a hundred yards of the Clayton Community Hotel. Inside, the front bar was a swell of salty male bodies surging back-and-forth, rising up and down like a choppy sea. Voices slapped and crashed against themselves as conversations blended into a racket, drowned in the roar of overlapping blasphemies.

The Plane brothers, Ken and Wally, or Stiffy and Wobbly as they were known, had been in the pub since opening time. Their two Stetson hats lay upside-down on the bar near their elbows, stacked one-inside-the-other like dusty dishes. Their hound’s-tooth tweed jackets stretched almost around their bloated midriffs, and their sloppy buttocks squashed the bar stool cushions flat. They looked like two oversized marshmallows on four-pronged toasting forks.

“Jesus! Don’t these bastards have anything better to do on Fridays? The rabble’s bad enough but now a man’s getting crushed,” Stiffy whined, as the general surge of bodies towards the bar forced him to shift a couple of inches.

Stiffy whinged about most things. Exhausting one topic, he launched into another, always with the same bitterness that stained his outlook on life itself. Stiffy licked his brandy chaser clean, and slid the pony glass across the beer puddles. It stopped short of his empty butcher glass like a child before its parent. Stiffy’s bloodshot eyes stalked the bar until he located the solitary barman pouring beers three patrons away.

“Christ Almighty!” he moaned. “Nothing ever changes around here. You still can’t get a beer when you want one.”

Wobbly toppled his stack of assorted coins in readiness for the barman’s next lap as Stiffy spat green phlegm into his hankie, and stared at it. Wobby avoided correcting his brother, having learned after seventy years together that nothing he said would make Stiffy see things any differently.

Barry Oldfield, or Rags as he was known from his habit of calling everyone Rags, propped himself alongside Stiffy. Rags was the town drunk but out of common courtesy the locals still considered him a shearer. His blood-and-shit stained dungarees added one more fragrance to the mix.

“The Red Dogs tomorrow,” Rags spluttered, and thrust his Coopers Ale stubbie towards the nicotine-stained ceiling tiles.

Sniffy snorted and counted certain blokes with his unsteady finger.

“Fucking Red Dogs, my arse! Look at the drunken cunts. The whole team’s in here and it’s not even sick o’clock. They couldn’t win a game if their lives depended on it.”

“Twenty bucks says they win tomorrow.”

Rags jerked his stubbie from his mouth, and spat out his reply. He wiped his wet handlebar moustache across his chequered shirt sleeve, and eyed Stiffy over his wrist.

Stiffy flicked at the uninvited froth and spittle on his jacket, and screwed his face into a crumpled paper bag. His black eyes peered from his pasty skin like currants sinking into cake mixture.

“Piss off Oldfield. I haven’t seen the last twenty. Or the twenty before that.”

Stiffy turned away, and glared at his empty glasses as though they alone were responsible for all the injustices he had suffered over the years.

Wobby advanced a timid objection.

“Not all the team’s in here. Young Paul’s not.”

Stiffy rotated sideways, and eyed his brother with contempt.

“When I said all, I meant everyone except him. You bastards knew what I meant. The bloody place would fall down if Reilly walked in.”

  1. Big Al says:

    This is top read this book…shit yea.Deery is a gun !!!!

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