Well I was down at the Geebung RSL this arvo having a punt on the gee-gees. And the dishlickers, and the red hots, and the Lithuanian Division 2 hurling match between Bosko’s Bangers and Drago’s Ducks – cracker of a game it was too – and the Kiwi sheepdog trials in KamafukanKamafukanKamafukankameleon. It was dole day after all, and after a schooner or sixteen what’s a bloke supposed to do? Sit and play bloody Keno with the old boilers in the ladies lounge or somethin’?
Anyway, I’d backed the winner at the Sheepdogs – Ka Hunt was the canine’s name and the obvious omen tip, and it won by plenty after throwing a dummy and sending the pack down the road to the sh*thouse – and had just nabbed the trifecta on sixth race at Sale, and I was feeling pretty bloody good about myself. So bloody good in fact that I was standin’ on the beer-stained bar doing the vida loco and screaming my bloody head off. A 2 grand collect does that to you, particularly after you’ve just sculled 3 straight shots of Bundy and shouted the bar.
The beer bandits of the Bunga were screaming their heads off too. Who wouldn’t be after some mad bastard has bought ’em jugs till stumps, which was still 8 hours away. We were having a bloody riot of a time, and Kev behind the bar was too as I poured a schooner down his throat and said “buddy, I f*ckin luv ya”. I’ve always been a bit suss on Kev.
So I’m just about to pull a pineapple from my pocket to throw on Charlie the Boss’s Stooge in the last at the Ladies’ Amateurs, when all of a sudden the nags disappear from the screen and a breaking news bulletin appears. And blow me down with a feather and bugger me dead, there’s little Katie – the Jones of Arc of Jubilee Terrace, the eye candy of Enoggera, the Conqueror of Campbell – right there before our eyes on a dozen 80 inch screens.
Old Geoffrey the Geebung Groper goes for the zipper, as he’s been wont to do ever since old Col Bennett the bugle blower at Bunger Primary bunged him in the bumhole back in 1972, but we’re all awake to Geoffrey’s games and Macca, who ruck-roved for the U12’s in the glorious year that we knocked over Paddock Swamp for the State Title, laid him out flat before little Katie could open her gob, and before the Groper could pull out the tadpole and start pulling it on his pew.
Little Katie therefore had our absolute bloody undisturbed attention as she made the pronouncement we had so long waited to hear – the search for the 2018 Commonwealth Games mascot had begun!
The bar at the Bunger erupted upon hearing the news. The Lizard – little Larry Lovejoy, who’d lick anything that was blind drunk and held a pension card – put in the first bid.
“Fine Cotton” he declared, and his mate Sloppy Seconds Steve was quick to second the motion. Sloppy Steve is quick to second any bloody motion, even if it’s passed out on rum in the pokie room and 100 years old. But blokes who specialise in seconds never cum first, and when Pablo the Punter, a former SP who dodged the Fitzgerald Inquiry by camping in a concrete sewer under the Zillman Waterholes between ’87 and ’91 – I won’t tell you how he was able to sustain himself on meat pies and largies during his exile, because in Geebung we don’t give blokes up, especially ourselves – piped up and declared “Fine Cotton’s dead ya f*ckin fool!”, well that was the end of that.
Jimmy the Jeweller, a well-respected bloke who for years used to throw open the 12 foot fence in front of his shop and do business between 10 and 12pm every night, had a crack next. “The Burglar of Bamff” he suggested, out the corner of his mouth, and for a moment there he almost had it over the line, because we boys in the bar well-remembered the pre-pubtab day when we’d all suspended the shout and nicked over the road to old tightass Bill’s boudoir – otherwise known as the Geebung Tab – and bled the bleating bastard dry when the Burglar knocked off Vo Rogue and Vic to win the Salary-Anne Cup.
The memories came flooding back was we waxed lyrical over the Burglar’s sixteen length win at Braidwood just a few starts before, and guffawed as one at all the Melbourne Mugs who thought Vo’s win in the million buck Australian Cup at Flemington, when ridden by a bloke named Cyril, was superior form.
But then bloody Pablo poured cold water on our reminiscences, and on Jimmy’s idea, by reminding us that the Burglar’s triumph was twenty-bloody-seven years ago, the year that Expo was in full swing.
Expo! We all remembered Expo – that was 1988 – the year that they opened the bars 24/7, and we were drinking piss all night until we dropped, and falling asleep on the train we thought was headed home to Geebung but ending up wakin’ up at Pinkenba at 4 in the bloody morning, with the Station Master’s size eleven planted firmly up our ass. Ah, Glory Days, just like Bruce the Boss sanguinely sang.
For a moment there we were lost in our memories of those super sauce sozzled days, and debating back and forward whether Stefan’s Sky Needle could be put back together and chucked on wheels as the 2018 Goldie Games mascot, when a bloke and two sheilas strolled into the public bar and a sudden silence stopped us in our tracks as the cat got all out tongues.
For the bloke was goddamn Gorgeous George, and the sheilas on each shoulder were the Gorgeous Greek Goddesses, the Gals that even Dyson Heydon couldn’t haul away. “What the f*ck is he doing here?” Butts the Bat whispered. “No f*cking idea” I whispered back to the bloke who for decades had believed that he should have opened the batting with Border for the baggy greens, all because he’s bowled Stuey Law out for a duck one day at Deagon when the future one-day superstar slipped on surreptitiously placed sausage skin on the sodden Sandgate cement pitch.
But I was bullshitting Butts, for I feared that I knew full-well why Gorgeous George had rocked into Geebung with his hands clasped behind his back; and I strongly suspected that he had a pistol in one paw, and an iron bar in the other: for it was only the day before that I’d been out in the beer garden watching the fella live on the laptop and callin’ him Junkie Boy in a story fuelled by Four X and published on Australia’s premier internet punters paean.
“Holy f*cking shit” I thought, as I remember the legend of Louie Moran, and my life flashed before my eyes. “I’m off here, I’m f*cking brown bread”.
Then the lights went dim.
“Help me Rhonda, please help, help me Rhonda” I muttered to myself, as the Goddesses mounted a protective Praetorian Guard around Gorgeous, blocking my view of his black hands. “Do I beg for mercy, then kick him in the bloody nuts; or do I belt him with a Bacardi bottle and then bolt for Bowden Park” I was thinking, when without warning the bugle started to blow.
“Sh*t” was the thought runnin’ through my head. I didn’t think the angels started trumpeting until after you copped the bullet in the head. But before I could think another thought, the familiar refrain started to play and the penny dropped: the bloody bugler was playing the last post! It was six o’clock, the time that once upon a time they called full-time on the swill.
The ghost of my Anzac great-grandad had come back to save me!
“You bloody beauty” I thought, as I scanned the sliding door to the smoking area and wondered if at 50 I could still scale the Elite Scaffolding set structure like Superman, in a single bound. It was hell or the highway I figured, or Newman Road at least, and either get over the bloody thing or I’d die trying, because there was no bloody way that I was gunna let Gorgeous George leave me garotted and gonzo like Elvis on the Geebung gents floor, or cactus on the carpet with a high-calibre cane toad killer lodged in my cerebral cortex.
Nup, that wasn’t happening. My bloody wallet would go walkabout, and the key card would be kiboshed, before the bereft bead twirler and the sniffling sprog even rocked up to forge my signature on the frantically forged will.
Like Albert bloody Jacka, I was going to throw the dice and have a crack, cos if your back’s against the wall there’s no point in wailing, you’ve just gotta take the bloody bolt and come what may. Even in the fog of fear I figured that if I could somehow get over the f*cking faggers fence, then local knowledge would come into play and the bookies would wind the odds of me wagering on the first at Wangaratta tomorrow into two’s on, even against a tough guy with titanium in his pins.
So as the drunken dodgers started slurring “as the sun goes down”, I slipped under the stool and started sliding like a scorpion toward the designated smoking area door. And as the lounge room lizards lisped “we shall remember them”, I was edging like an echidna through the fire-exit door. But just as I was about jump like Jimmy Horwill and f*ck off faster than Cathy Freeman to the wrong side of the tracks, a massive shadow appeared before me.
Sh*t! It was Double Dealing Dazza! He’d slipped out from the dunny and was holding a hefty damned yellow envelope in his hand. It was all over, and as the boozed boys at the Bunger chanted ‘lest we forget’ as one, I was thinking to myself lest you forget me fella’s, as I faced up to the gargantuan Greenfield and gave it one last gamblers gasp, grabbing his gonads in my paw and gyrating for all I was worth.
The Big Fella went down like a bag of bull’s dung, gasping for air and turning green, and for just a split second I was climbing up the wall like a Kangaroo and dreaming of home, when four Ptolemaic paws pulled me down to the Trebizond tiles. The gig was up – the golden Greeks had grabbed me and that was all she wrote.
Gorgeous George appeared before me, the last Seleucid sight I would ever see. Slowly he drew his hand from behind his back. The temptation to close my meat pies was overwhelming, but I kept saying to myself “Die like a boy from Downfall; die like a boy from Downfall”, so I kept my head up and stared at him like a Spartan as the hand came into view. And as he pointed his hand directly at my head I heard Gorgeous say:
“What the f*ck are you doing Archie? Are you pissed or something mate?”
“Look – I’ve got the mascot for the Goldie Games! The Koala that Koalas! It even winks like Matilda! It’s a bloody bottler mate! Get on the blower to the Beefcake and tell him to give little Katie the mail. Gorgeous George has come to Geebung and it’s Gold! Gold! Gold!”
And so the stars aligned, and the Goddesses ascended to their heavenly home with the Gods, and the Koala that Koala’d became the games mascot, and the Beefcake became the boss, and Gorgeous George became Sir Gorgeous George, and here I am sucking a schooner at the Bunger and telling you the tale.
Ain’t life grand?