Reflection is a funny thing, sometimes instant and sometimes sneaks up when you least expect it, today was a successful day for me, well, I’m calling it a success, achieved a good photo of myself, for my business website, worked on the dream, got a great haircut and got to wear my new small business shirt that essentially has my name on (ego boost ha-ha), this is where reflection part comes in, Earlier this morning, as usual one of the first things I do when I wake is pick my phone up, bad habit I know! Scrolled through Facebook to get the lowdown on everyone’s debauchery on a Thursday night, and came across my “On this day” section, and bam there it was, 4 years ago, after a whirlwind of a series of decisions I had updated my status on the previous weekend’s events, and let me see if I can remember the story, I’m sure that there are others that would tell me I have it wrong, and that’s fine, I have stated before and live by an exalted recall of the cliched “old me”..
Thursday 4 years ago-ish, I received a call from a mate, a good mate, someone I should try and write about at a greater length, but not here, not now.
I receive a call, that they are all doing a ride out through the forest to a small town to bury a good mate, on the following day, I explain that I need to go to nightshift tonight and probably won’t be able to make it, “all good mate, no dramas” I imagine was something that was said and a mutual agreement that I wouldn’t go was agreed upon.
Night shift finishes at around 6am on the following morning, day of the ride, and for whatever reason, I was left at home alone for the night, family having something else to do or someone to catch up with, the exact reason I don’t recall, irrelevant as well I might add, so arriving home, to an empty house, I made a decision, a “fuck it why not” decision, so a text was sent, where am I meeting you, an address was given, a bag and small swag were strapped to the bike, and the day began all over again, after let’s say 14hours-ish awake at this point, an hour or so ride to a small house, a coffee was had at a small table, and it was time for the next leg of the journey, riding two wide making our way through the dry and subtly green hills and valleys, on well used and poorly maintained roads we stopped off for two things, fuel and beer, we were a couple hours ahead of the funeral start time, so relaxation was an option, another table, but no coffee this time, the clock had down a couple of laps and it was time to move towards the funeral, allow me to best set the scene that would befall this small towns visibly weathered cemetery.
we pulled our bikes into a gravelled area, to a quiet spot under a tree, dodging cars and people as we went, at this stage the crowd would have been at least 150 strong, set to peak at around 200 maybe 220, past the police presence that was very visible, the sea of black shirts, jeans and dresses, The smell of weed, beer, exhaust fumes and sadness was thick in the air, offset only by the unspoken words left to never be heard by the deceased and the monotonous “we’re here for anything you needs” to the family.
Stands down, helmets propped up, a place under the trees off to the side enough in the crowd but isolated enough that no one spot me in the crowd, not a real issue as the only people I recognised were the ones I came with and a few lets says “Celebrities” of the old days.
The funeral began as always the slow drive in of the hearse, the slow lowering, the handfuls of final goodbyes and tears moistening handfuls of thrown dirt, people watching at funerals is an interesting thing, there are solemn nods, strong handshakes, kisses from old friends, well needed often over extended hugs, glares at old enemies, and the nameless unknown on the face of children.
and with that our day went on, people cleared, “celebrities” left in the entourage’s that they arrived with, in their stage costumes, and respects were paid, fuel was filled and the final leg of the journey for the day began.
Again, countless and insignificant scenery was passed, the roar of the bike, 2 wide at the beginning of a good friendship, the kilometres stretched on. Arriving at our destination around lunch time, the sun was high on a cold valley and a pub sat just across a small river bridge, the party was about to begin.
The bikes were lined up, more hugs were had wallets were produced and the toasts began.
There are two things that absolutely shouldn’t happen at a wake, those that aren’t immediate family should not drink the tab, and two, there should never be violence.
two rules I live by when it comes to funerals, well, where possible.
The special of the day was free speed, free amphetamines and 4 Coronas in a bucket of ice for $20, and of course a coincidental EFTPOS minimum of 20 dollars, only one of these was over the bar, the others from the ever so generous guests.
Now allow me to explain myself as a preface to this story, I was awake for well over 20 hours, had not had a beer before arriving for the wake, and being respectful as to not be a part of the reminiscent conversations of someone I didn’t know. I wasn’t here to mourn, I was here for one person’s support and to get as comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings as possible, and the only way I knew how to.
Now as mentioned previously these memories of myself are all very one sided, memory tends to be what you tell yourself over the years unless written, and even then is biased by the most honest and humble of people, also let me tell you, that my grudge holding ability is second to none, I usually forget why long before I forget a name.
The sun was setting on the beginnings of a bender for the ages, the bar staff maybe knew me by name by this point, if not they definitely knew my order, bucket of coronas, two jacks and coke.
The speed that I had snorted was well into my system and the jittery battle of my body trying to force me to sleep and a laconic “no” from the drugs was raging on inside me, the beers were there as a social platform used for nothing more than to fit in on a picnic table of bar staff and drop outs, renegades and rebels, all the best people to know when a binge lifestyle is on the menu.
a new friend was made, amphetamines were offered and the party continued, now at this point the day had well gotten into my system, but again there was that “fuck it why not” guy poking his head about so on we marched, with marching powder coincidentally.
In a haze of a handful more buckets of beers, A few sideways across pool tables “hey aren’t you that guy” and 2 pairs of boobs seen, the bar was closing, last drinks generally means how many will you let me actually buy and this case I believe it was another two buckets, and a handful of Jacks stubbies, a win for us and a sign that they wouldn’t get rid of us too easily, the night went on.
At some point the beer run out, and memories had recalled a stowed bottle of wine in a saddle bag would be a suitable nightcap, off to the bike I go, to hear a commotion further towards the back of the car park around a sizeable brick wall corner, now, the way I’ve told the story a hundred times and am pretty sure the way this part of the night went down was something along these lines, the noise got louder and I chuckled to myself at the idea of kids fighting at pubs in carparks, I was mid to late 20s by this point and the idea of a carpark fight was the furthest thing from a good time or suitable activity for this time of the day in my mind. A small amount of time was spent looking through my saddle bag for the ever elusive bottle of wine, I suppose this is a testament to my level of intoxication as saddlebags aren’t big, wine bottles are, and I’m sure I was looking for well over 2 minutes, maybe a part of me wanted to see the fight, just for old times sakes, maybe I was just really fucked up, either or, I was in the exact place to see the exact thing that would incite my involvement on this night.
Now make no mistakes I am not a knight in shining armour, I was a horrible fuckin person for the first 25 years of my life, and now still have repercussions of my behaviour from then, however one thing I grew to hate, (funny how it usually is something you do yourself) is see people get picked on, and especially outnumbered, in this case it was 5 to 1, now the 1 in this case had passed me running at full speed, something I had no capability of doing at this point nor probably during the 4 hours before it, however the 5 people behind the 1 were more than capable. They gave chase and followed this poor fella the 30 or so metres past me onto the road, that’s when I made a decision, one of them was going to fight him one on one and that’s that, or I was going be the one and they were going to be the five.
Number one going into something like this is to establish a first name basis, or at very least a nickname, this happened, the main protagonist of the 5 was called **** he was the only one that spoke to me and immediately the one I identified as the head of the snake, simple, I’d done this a hundred times before, do my best to buy the kid who was running enough time to make a decision, one on one with this fella or take his chances in the wind, the look that passed from his eyes to mine had sealed my fate and I knew it instantly, and as soon, as I seen it, I was saying something along the lines of “if you want to pick on someone, pick on me” and I’m certain the reply was something like “ok” followed by two of the quickest jabs to my face and a much slower third, fourth and fifth, this guy knew he had my number and I knew he had trained, not for this exact thing, but something very similar, by the time the white lights had cleared from my vision, my goal was clear, if you can’t breathe, you can’t fight, and I set about ensuring he couldn’t breathe, reciprocated by his 4 friends to me, once I had a hold of him, the switch had flipped and one thing he wasn’t trained for was a long armed, stimulant filled close quarters battle, and as soon as it began it was over even if it felt as long as a movie, the battle was done, fight was broken up and my shirt much like my pride and glory were lost.
In a swirl of faces, one familiar the rest blurred and irrelevant I remember hearing his name again, something along the lines of his level of friendship with prominent people in certain circles and the quick mention that they were off to get the knives from the car, un-phased and unabashed I collected myself, caught my breath and made my way back towards the party, I was bruised, beaten, bitten and fuckin thirsty.
Passing an ambulance an apology was made to the poor guy that was first picked on, he couldn’t reply, maybe from guilt, maybe because his jaw was bandaged shut, I’m not sure, but it was over, almost, I still had a rant to go on how 4 people can hold a pub ransom, and the state of local pride was less than prevalent as an outsider like myself was the only one with the balls to stand up for a kid in a pub carpark at some ungodly hour.
Two revelations surfaced at this point, I came to find out the wine bottle had been retrieved much earlier in the night and consumed (damn it) and that the knife in the boot was not going to be given to me, thank fuck because this story and the last four years could have had a very different timeline.
The rest of the story is uneventful, I slept, as well as possible with the substances in my body whilst I was watched over, we loaded the bikes up, I winced in pain as I fitted my facemask to my extremely swollen face, and departed for what I remember as the coldest ride I have ever been on, we meandered back through the sparse labyrinth of country roads and plain farmhouses, back to sanctuary, comfort, warmth and relaxation that only a strange couch in a friend house can provide.
so, where does that leave the point of this story? Well it’s there, in the first paragraph, and throughout this story, life goes on, and decisions made in haste often build up, like addiction and debt, growth and develop are made in single choices, they all compound and they build the version of you that you allow them too, The four years since this occasion have seen my withdrawal from this lifestyle on a regular social level, a pretty decent withdrawal from a lot of people in general, and a clear develop of myself spiritually, professionally and dare I say morally.
We all have the ability to change, it just takes more good decisions than bad, or at least a decent amount of justification through stories like this that you did actually do the right thing. That kid might have been seriously injured, he might have died, hell I was so fucked up he might not have even existed, but, I feel good for what happened and I proved to a good friend that I had the balls to stand up for what was right, and sometimes, all you need is someone to believe you are a good person.