Friday, September 18, 2009

Knock Knock

He is awoken by the harshest imaginable screech. It was those cockatoos perched in a cartoonish branch of tree a way across from his window, under a bulge of manic overgrowth near the start of Bowen Rd, the only green view left in Hong Kong at this price-range. Unless you leant over in bed a bit and saw the goal-post spires of the Bank Of China, you could imagine yourself in a jungle somewhere. He always feels like he is somewhere else, waiting to return, but to where?

The birds screech again, fly from the tree one by one like it was a rehearsed swoop down to somewhere else out of view. Strange, he had always considered them exclusively Australian birds, sulfur-crested cockies, birds of his childhood. He recalls one with a defeathering disease in a cage at his best friend's mum's house, and has the vision of a massive flock of the pest completely enveloping a giant dead tree in a wheat field in the Wimmera but he is not sure if it was a view from his uncle's truck he is remembering, or a show he saw on the TV.

What where they doing here? Lost? Like him?

Hold the front-page. Big boy lost. Expat at large.

He rises from the crumpled sheets, farts sonorously, and knocks softly on his door of the shared en-suite. Nothing from inside. He scatches at his scrotum just as he opens his door and just as Helga opens the door on her side, Mike's slightly larger room with a full view of HK if he cared to open the blinds fully. There is enough of a late Saturday morning glare to silhouette Helga so he can't quite see that she is completely naked. They both slam their doors.

"Sorry," he calls. "I knocked, but you go first, I can wait." His bladder is in fact about to explode.

"No, first you go," he hears Helga call back, "I am a long shower taking."

"Great, just need a piss."

He tentatively enters the toilet/shower/wash-room that is accessible only from the two adjacent bedrooms, snips Mike and Helga's latch out of habit, and patiently waits for the mechanisms of his micturition to commence their cycle...


Later, at lunch, they all laugh. It has been two years and that was the first time they had opened both doors at the same time.

"Lucky you were wearing your shorts, yah?" laughs Helga.

"Yes," he replies. "It was." He holds his toast still for a minute and wonders.

He hadn't been wearing anything but a t-shirt.


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