Author Topic: A story full of cliches - unfinished - Australian Young Urban Fiction  (Read 516 times)

Ebony Zebedee

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   20th September 1996

It’s my birthday.
My 14th birthday.
I’m officially allowed to smoke weed.
My dad let my brother start smoking when he was 14 and I’ve been smoking for about a year at friends places or at this little spot across the road from my school in the mornings. Dad knows, I’m sure he does, I mean, I steal most the weed I smoke from him.
He asked me what I want for my birthday and I told him I want an ounce and a pair of black Nike Airs.
He just laughed.
I woke up this morning and there’s two presents on the kitchen table. One is the size of a shoe box so I’m thinking he got me the Nike Airs, hopefully, and the other present is bout half the size of that and I open it first and it’s a Nike basketball singlet. I hold the singlet up and a bag of weed falls out onto the floor. I pick it up. It’s an ounce. Nice looking bud to. You can smell it through the plastic Glad bag it’s in. I put that down on the table and hold the singlet up again. Its proper basketball mesh material. Navy blue with a white outline of a basketball on the front and a yellow Nike tick in the middle. It’s even got a white layer of that same mesh material inside. I hang that over the kitchen chair and unwrap the box and sure enough it’s a Nike shoe box. I open it and there’s a pair of black Nike hightops but there not Air Jordans. I don’t care.  I take em out the box and they’ve got a white tick on the side and a little air bubble in the heel. I sit down and try em on and they fit perfectly, just a little room in the toe. Im a size 9 ladies. I look at the box and it says Mens 7 ½. Even better. I hate how the girls joggers are always pink and shit.
This is a big deal. It’s my first pair Nike joggers and they’re perfect for basketball. No more shitty old Lynx joggers. 
I pick up the wrapping paper and put it in the bin and look at the time on the microwave. Its 7:34am.
I walk over to the phone in the corner of the kitchen and pick up the receiver and dial Tina’s number. She should be awake by now. It rings 6 times and I’m about to hang up when it answers. Its Tina’s mum, Evelyn.
“Hi Mrs. Host. Its Ebony, is Tina awake?”
“Just a minute, I think she’s in the shower Ebony, hang on.”
I’m thinking Tina can come over before school and smoke a sesh with me if she gets her ass ready quickly.
“Yeah?” Its Tina.
“Hurry up and come round before school, I got an ounce for my birthday.”
“Yer, alright. What’s the time?” She sounds pissed off. But Tina always moody, so I don’t even bother asking what’s wrong anymore.
“It’s 7:30, hurry, I’m gonna start chopping up in a minute.” I say.
The line goes dead.
See. Moody.
Whatever, I think to myself. I’ll have a shower, get dressed and if she’s not here by then I’m starting without her.
I hang the phone up and then I notice an envelope on the kitchen table poking out under the shoe box. I pick it up and it’s got Nanna Zinny’s hand writing on it. Nanna Zinny always sends money so I open it thinking there’s gonna be bout $20 in there. It’s the typical birthday card Nanna’s get. “To my beautiful Grandaughter…..” blah, blah blah. I open the card and there’s two $50 notes.
“Fuck!” I say under my breath. I better ring her tonight and say thanks.
I grab the joggers, the singlet, the ounce, the card and go through the kitchen, down the hall to my room. I throw everything on the bed and grab my towel off the door and walk into the bathroom to have a shower.
I take my trackpants off and my singlet and start the hot water and while that’s getting hot I look at myself in the mirror.
I gotta pretty face, and nice hair. Its kinda wavy and mousey brown with natural blonde streaks from the sun.
I look at my chest and just like always I wonder when are my breasts gonna grow. They’re small and round and sit up nice but I’m only an A cup.
The waters hot, so I turn the cold tap on and feel for the right temperature with my hand. When its perfect I step up over the bath into the shower and pull the curtain across and do my business.
I’m showered, dressed in my school uniform, which is a green, black and white tartan mini skirt with a white polo shirt and I’m sitting on my bed pulling the tops of my socks down over my feet to look like ankle socks when I hear someone knocking on the front screen door.
“Hang on.” I sing out thinking it’s Tina.
I pick my wet towel up off the bed and hang it over the door and walk down the hall in my socks. My hairs still wet and I haven’t brushed it yet, but it’s just Tina so who cares. There’s another knock on the door, this time louder, and I’m in the lounge room just about to open the front door when my Dad comes in, pushes past me and opens the door. There’s a cop standing on the other side of the screen door, and Dad says “Yer?”
“Are you Shaun Hillbrick’s father?” the cop asks.
“What the fuck’s he done now?” my Dad asks.
“Armed robbery. He held up a service station with a machete last night down at Park Beach. Him and another kid. He wouldn’t give us a phone number. We picked him and the other kid up at Wongala Estate this morning.”
“We don’t have a phone.” Dad lied.
“Well, regardless, he’s a juvenile and we’re obligated to inform his guardian.”
“Can I see him before he goes to court?” Dad asked. “He is going to court today isn’t he?”
“He won’t appear before the Magistrate till about 2 this afternoon. You can come down and see him at midday.” The cop said.
“Alright, alright. I’ll bring him some clean clothes.” Says Dad.
The cop walks off and Dad closes the door and looks at me with the most fed up look on his face.
“Fuck.” He mutters to himself as he walks past me and turns down the hall. I follow after him.
“Can I come to court?” I ask him.
“Ya got school.” Dad says as he walks into his room.
“It’s Friday Dad, I wont miss…” He slams the bedroom door shut and I’m just standing there in the hallway, thinking “What the fuck?”
“I’m coming to court!” I yell and go into my bedroom and look through the curtain out onto the street to see if the cops are still there. I see Tina coming across the road and remember it’s my birthday and she’s coming over to smoke some weed with me. The cops are gone so I grab my ounce off the bed and head out to the lounge room.
I open the front door just as Tina gets to it and unlock the screen door and let her in.
“I just saw the cops pulling away from here.” She says “What’s that about? Did you get busted?”
“Nah. Shaun did a armed rob last night. They picked him up up the mish this morning.” I say as I throw the ounce on the lounge. “Hang on. I’ll go get the scissors and Shaun’s bong.”
 I walk up the hall towards Shaun’s room which is at the end of the hall. I open his door and look at all his clothes and dirty socks on the floor and wonder if he has any clean clothes to wear to court. I know where he keeps his bong cos sometimes he shouts me a sesh or lets me chop up when Dad’s asleep so I go to the little cubboard his stereo sits on top of and open the doors and there’s his bong in the left hand corner with his mull bowl in front of it. The scissors aren’t in the bowl where they usually are so I just pick up the bowl and the bong and walk out.
Tina’s sitting on the couch looking at my ounce when I walk back in the lounge room.
“Looks good.” She says
“Yer, Dad just got some new shit the other week.” I say.
I put the bowl on the coffee table and walk through the kitchen into the laundry to clean the bong cos the waters dark brown and it stinks. It’s just an Orchy orange juice bottle with piece of garden hose pushed in through the side. I take the gold cone piece out n rest it on the washing machine and clean the bong by flushing it out with water in the laundry sink.i flush it till the water runs clear then tip the excess water in the sink till there’s about an inch of water in the bottom of the bottle. I grab a dirty tea towel that’s on top of the washing in the washing basket and dry the bong off, pick up the cone piece and walk back into the lounge room.
“Ya want me to chop?” Tina asks “Where’s the scissors?”
“Hang on, I gotta find some.” I say and walk back into the kitchen and open the second cutlery draw.
Nope. No scissors. Wait there, I think, and walk to the phone shelf in the corner and there’s a pair of orange handled scissors in the pen mug. I grab em and go back to the lounge and sit down next to Tina on the couch. I give Tina the scissors and pick the ounce bag up off the table and open it and the smell is strong. I pick a nice big bud out and drop it in the bowl, seal the bag up and tell Tina I’m just going to stash it in my room and she can start chopping it up if she wants to.
“Ya got any spin?” She asks.
“Hang on.” I say and walk down the hall into my room.
I stash the ounce in between my mattress and the base of the bed and look on the shelf in the top of my wardrobe for my cigarettes. Shaun usually buys my smokes from The Three Bears shop down at North Side. He’s only 16 but they don’t ask for I.D.
I wonder if they’ll sell to me? I think, now that Shaun’s locked up. He’s already on parole for beating up his girlfriend a couple of months ago. He did three weeks on remand in Minda for that, but because it was his first serious charge the judge let him off with a 6 month good behaviour bond. He’s definitely doing time now.
The cigarettes, Winfield Blue, are at the back of the shelf and I pull the packet out and take two out then put the packet back in a place a jumper on top of them. I walk back out to the lounge.
Tina’s chopping the weed up in the bowl and I put the two cigarettes on the coffee table and walk into the kitchen and open the fridge looking for some juice. I never eat breakfast anymore. I just don’t feel hungry in the morning but I always have a glass of juice. There’s some Home Brand apple juice on the shelf on the door and I pull the bottle out and ask Tina does she want a glass?
“Yer” she says, so I pour two glasses, put the bottle back in the fridge and head back to the lounge room.
I sit down on the couch next to Tina and she’s chopped up the whole bud and is just breaking open the second cigarette to mix with the weed.
“Just put it all in there.” I say. So she breaks open the whole smoke and tips all the tobacco into the bowl and goes back to chopping it up.
“What’s the time?” She says.
“I don’t know. I’m not going to school today. I’m going to court.” I tell her.
“Hang on.” I say and grab the TV remote off the table and hit the power button and the TV turns on. Then I grab the Austar remote off the table and press the TV Guide button so I can see what the time is.
“It’s 8:16.” I say then scroll through the TV guide looking for channel V the music channel.
“You first.” Tina says, passing me the bong. “Your birthday cone. Make a wish.”
“Fuck. I need a lighter.” I say and get up again and I’m just about to walk to my room when Tina pulls a lighter out of her school bag saying “Here.”
I sit down, take the lighter and light the bong, thinking, I wish Shaun would get off again. I don’t want him to get locked up.
I smoke my bong and it tastes good and I hold the smoke in my lungs while Tina packs the second cone.
“Two up.” I say to her, exhaling the thick smoke at the same time.
“Yer” she says.
Mariah Carey, Always Be My Baby comes on channel V and Tina hands me the second cone. I’m just about to light it when there’s another knock on the screen door.
“Fuck.”
I pass the bong back to Tina and jump up go to the front door and look through the peep hole.
“Thank fuck.” I say and open the door. It’s Shauns friend Marcus. I open the door.
“Hey Marcus. Shaun’s not here.” I tell him through the screen door.
“I know.” He says. “I saw him get picked up this morning.”
Marcus lives up the mish where Shaun got arrested this morning.
“Come in.” I say and unlock the screen door for Mar us to come in.
“Sit down man.” I tell him and point to one of the arm chairs while I take my place back on the couch.
“What happened?” I ask Marcus, taking the bong back of Tina and lighting it up.
“Nah, cops come up home bout 7 this mornin, two cars, went straight to Craig’s place. Two went round the back so they couldn’t run. Aunty Leena was trying to tell em they weren’t there, but they just pushed past her. They used Craig’s car when they did over the servo last night so the cops musta got em on the number plates. They came and seen me after they did it. They only got about $400 out of it.”
“Pack Marcus a cone.” I tell Tina, handing the bong back to her.
“Ya Dad got any weed?” Marcus asks me as Tina hands me the bong and I pass it to Marcus with the lighter.
“I’ll sell ya some.” I say. “How much ya want?”
“Just a rigger.” Marcus says and lights the bong.
I go to my room and take my ounce out from under the mattress. Dad weighs his weed and sells two grams for $20. I figure I’ll just give Marcus a nice deal and pull out three buds that look about a gram each. I put the ounce back under the mattress and walk down the hall and into the kitchen through the laundry and open the third kitchen draw and take out the aluminium foil and tear a strip off and put the buds on it and fold it up, folding the ends over to seal it.
Tina’s smoking a bong when I walk back in the lounge room. I hand Marcus the rigger, he gives me $20 and he says “Thanks.” And gets up to leave.
“Hang on.” I say. “How’d you know they did it?” I ask him.
“They came over mine with a bottle of Bundy last night.” Marcus says. “Told me they did it. Said they’d been on it all day down at Charles place. They were pissed as”
“Well if the cops got em on the number plates, why didn’t they get em last night?” I ask. “I mean, they would of just gone straight to Craig’s as soon as the servo guy called em and gave em the plate numbers wouldn’t they?” 
“I dunno.” Marcus says. “I gotta go. Gina’s got morning sickness and rekons she needs a cone to feel better.”
I walk Marcus to the door, thinking how stupid Shaun and Craig were using Craig’s car. They must have been wasted. Craig’s been robbin people for as long as I’ve known about him and I’ve never known him to be this stupid. And Shaun. Fuck. Shaun’s like Craig’s apprentice.
I walk Marcus out to the front porch and say “See ya.”
“Yer. I’ll let ya know if I hear anything else.” He says as he walks down the steps.
“Tell Gina that’s some good shit.” I say as he makes his way across the lawn.
“Yer.” He sings out, wavin his hand in my direction.
I walk back inside and Tina’s just sittin there watching channel V. Coolio, Gangsta’s Paradise is playing.
“Who’s cone?” I say, sitting back down next to her.
“Your’s.” She says, picking the bong up off the coffee table and packing another cone.
“Have you even had one?” I ask her.
“Yeah.” Tina says, handing me the bong. “I had one.”
I smoke the bong and Tina starts rapping along with Coolio, then she picks up the remote and says “How do you get the time to come up?”
I’m pulling on the bong and the cone blocks up, the Orchy bottle sucking in with the pressure, bending on the sides. There’s no stoker on the coffee table so I give up and blow the smoke out and tell Tina to hit the TV Guide button. “The time comes up in the corner.” I say, putting the bong down. I go to the kitchen and look in the third drawer that’s still open for some toothpicks. They’re in the back corner of the draw and I pull two out, grab the foil off the bench, put that back in the drawer, close it and go back to lounge room. Tina’s blowing into the cone piece, trying to get the ash out.
“It’s blocked.” I say and sit down taking the bong off her and pulling the cone piece out and stoking it with one of the tooth picks.
“You goin to school?” I ask her.
“Yer, why, you comin?” She asks me.
“Nah. I’m going to court.” I tell her for the second time. “Hang on. Pack yaself another two cones while I go and get changed. I’ll walk down the school with ya and see if Malik’s there.”
“Hurry up.” Tina sings out as I’m walking down the hall. “It’s twenty to.”
I get changed into a black and white striped midriff long sleeve top and my black denim overalls, leaving one strap of the overalls undone and put my new Nike’s on and grab my hairbrush off the desk and start looking for a hair band. I can never find a hair band when I want one. I remember seeing a couple hanging on the bath tap in the shower and walk into the bathroom to do my hair. My hair’s half dry I brush the knots out then put my head upside down to gather it into a ponytail n brush it up so its smooth and tight. I tie it up with the hairband and open the mirror cuboard to look for my lip gloss. It’s not in there. Tina sings out “Come on. It’s quarter to.” I think “Fuck it.” And walk out to the lounge room.
“Ya got any lip gloss?” I ask her.
“Yer.” She says picking up her bag.
“Hang on, I just need some spray.” I say turning to go back to my bedroom.
“Use mine.” She says, “The bell will ring before we get there if we don’t leave now.”
“Okay. Hang on, one more cone.” I say, sitting down on the lounge and packing another cone while Tina looks in her school bag for her lip gloss and deodorant.
I smoke my cone and stand up and Tina stands up still looking through her bag and we walk to the door. I take the key off the hook next to the door and open the front door and the screen door and we walk out onto the porch.
“Here.” Tina says, handing me her can of Impulse Incense deodorant.
“Hang on, I gotta lock the screen.” I say, closing the front door and screen door and locking the screen door with the key.
I take the deodorant off Tina and spray it all over myself as we walk down the steps and across the lawn towards the school. At the end of my street is Fredwrick Street and there’s a little reserve on Fredwrick Street that leads to the school ovals that connect the primary school Tyalla and the high school Orara. Tina is still looking for her lip gloss by the time we get to the reserve.
“I can’t find the lip gloss.” she says and I hand her the deodorant which she puts in her bag and we walk up onto the oval.
Busses are still pulled up at the bus stop so we’ve still got about ten minutes before the bell rings. We head across the oval towards Orara while primary school kids walk down towards Tyalla. Some primary school kids are playing football on the oval down the Tyalla end and there’s some girls kicking a basketball over the goal posts. No one’s on the Orara end of the oval except for some kids milling around the back of the bus stop. There’s basketball courts at the high school but the hoops are never in the back board. You have to ask a teacher to bring them out from where ever they keep them. I think they must have been stolen at some point so now they take them down and usually only put them up for P.E.
We get to the front of school where our cubicles are. The cubicles are just divides in the brick walls for the windows in the classroom. Some of them have wooden slats for seats but we usually just put our bags in there and stand around at recess and lunch. Or we smoke in the cubicle while someone keeps a look out for teachers at the corners of the building.
Malik’s at the cubicles with Aaron, Tina’s boyfriend and Bradley. They’re just standing there talking and when Malik see’s me he walks into one of the cubicles and grabs his school bag. Tina stops to talk to Aaron, and Malik’s rifling through the front pocket of his bag when I get to him.
“Happy Birthday.” He says, pulling a cassette out of the pocket and hands it to me.
“Thanks.” I say.
This is typical Malik. He’s American, and I think it’s because he’s American that he does nice things like give’s me a birthday present. Australian boys aren’t like that.
Malik’s been at our school since about half way through last year. He comes from California, and he came here to live with his Dad cos his Mum was worried he was going to get caught up in the gangs in his neighbourhood in America. His Dad married an Australian woman when Malik was about 5 and his Dad is the coach of our boys and girls high school basketball teams. I play for the under 15’s girls team and Malik plays for under 16’s. He’s in year 9 I’m in year 8. Malik is about the same height as me, maybe an inch taller. He’s got dreads down to his shoulders and he is very good looking. I’m always getting jealous because he’s so popular and talks with everyone, boys and girls. I’m sure the little bitches in his year are going to try and steal him from me. I’ve pretty much got it sorted with the girls in my year. They know not to fuck with him, but I’m jealous of the older girls cos they flirt with him all the time or at least that’s how it seems to me. I told him I was jealous and he told me not to worry but I know he’s not going to tell me he’s interested in someone else.
“I made a mix tape for you.” Malik says, stepping towards me for a kiss.
I step back and look at the tape and it’s got “September 20 1996” written on the sticker on the front of the tape. It’s just one of those blank tapes you buy to record on.
“What?” Malik says, frowning at me because I stepped back.
“Thanks.” I say and lean in and we kiss for a bit.
“Why aren’t you in school clothes?” Malik says when we break away.
“I’m not going to school today. Shaun got arrested and I’m going to see him at court. Wanna wag and hang out at mine?” I ask him.
Malik’s a straight A student. He told me education is very important in America. I average mostly B’s. I don’t really try very hard but school seems kind of easy to me. Like I’ve never really taken it seriously. Malik looks at me and the bell rings.
“Come on, you can come to court with me. I got an ounce for my birthday and I’ve got a sesh waiting at home. Look.” I lift the leg of my overall and turn my foot from side to side to show off my Nike’s.
“If my Dad finds out I’ll get grounded.” Malik says.
“How’s he gonna find out.” I say. “He doesn’t check up on you at school. Just say you missed roll call if he ever asks.”
“OK.” He says and picks his bag up.
“Later Tina. Come over after school. We’ll go and see Charles and get him to buy us bottle and go down the beach tonight.”
“There’s a dance party tonight down town at the hall. Steve Curry from Jetty High’s doing it. $5 a ticket.” Aaron says.
“Come to my place after school and we’ll figure out what we’re doing.” I say to Tina and Aaron.
“Where are you going?” Aaron says to Malik as Malik and I head toward towards the oval.
“Ebony’s.” Malik says. “I’ll see ya after school.”
I say “Later.” And me and Malik head towards the oval to go to my place.
“What’d your brother do?” He asks me when we’re halfway across the oval.
“Armed rob. Held up a servo. He only got $400 out of it. Him and his friend was drunk and they used his friends car. They got picked up this morning up the mish. Cops come round bout 8 o’clock this mornin and told Dad. He goes to court about 2 this arvo.”
“Isn’t he on probation?” Malik asked me.
“Yeah. He’s definitely looking at time now. That’s why I wanna go to court. It might be the last I see him for a while.” I say.
We walk through the reserve, cross Fredwrick Street and walk up my street, Kurrajong Street.
“Is your Dad home?” Malik asks me.
“Yer, he’s in his room. But it’s cool. I’m allowed to smoke weed now.” I say, reaching for the key in my front pocket as I’m walking up the front steps. I’m still carrying the tape Malik made for me in my left hand and I give to him to hold while I unlock the screen door.
We walk in the lounge room and the Tv’s still on. No Doubt, Just A Girl js playing. Malik takes his bag off and I take it from him and tell him I’ll put it in my room.
“Can I pack a cone?” He asks. I left the weed bowl and bong on the coffee table. Dad musn’t have come out his room or he would of put them away. I’ve gotta remember to put them away before I leave the house in case there’s an unexpected visit like this morning.
“Yer.” I say to Malik, and walk up the hallway to my room.
I can hear the shower running in the bathroom, so Dad’s obviously awake. I hope he didn’t see the bong and weed bowl in the lounge and just leave them there to use as an example while he lectures me about the responsibilities that come with certain freedoms. He’s a cool Dad. I’ve got a lot of freedom compared to some kids I know, like Malik, but Dad’s also got little things he gets serious about. Leaving the bong out is something I’ve heard him yelling at Shaun about before and I don’t want to cop a lecture off him. I put Malik’s bag on my bed and head back out to the lounge room. Malik’s blowing smoke rings. He’ll smoke weed with me, but he doesn’t smoke cigarettes, and he’s always trying to get me to quit smoking them and stop putting spin in the mix. I tell him “Your not in Kansas anymore.” Which is what I say whenever he tries to get me to do something the way he thinks things should be done. He didn’t get it at first, so I had to explain the whole Wizard of Oz reference to him. I need a new line, cos it’s not funny anymore.
I sit down and pack a cone and hear Dad coming out of the bathroom and going into his bedroom. He has to go and take his methadone and collect his take aways for the weekend so he’ll be gone for about an hour or so soon.
I smoke my bong and pack another cone for Malik and ask him if he wants something to drink. I’ve got a dry mouth cos I’m still really stoned from those few cones I smoked this morning with Tina.
“What have you got?” Malik asks.
“Juice, cordial, water.” I say. “Unless you want a cup of coffee.”
“I don’t drink coffee.” He says, packing another cone. “Have you got any Coke?”
“Nah.”
“Just juice then.” He says, and lights up his third cone.