Newcastle Herald short story competition finalist 2018: Street Life

WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short story
competition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Simone De Peak
WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short story competition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Simone De Peak

HERE we go, on the move, trot, trot, slip sliding below the radar, scudding along like an underwater missile, that’s me, in the groove, man - streets slip right under me as I duck, weave and roam around the town. Best time of the day – break of light – no one around to challenge me – no aggro – even the cars are sleeping. Maybe the world’s been new-minted. God’s in his heaven! Yeah, right!

But you can hear the birds singing and hear yourself think. Imagine the world without people or conflict! No more humans! Done their bloody dash! On humans, I heard the PM, Bob Menzies, wants to get rid of all the commos! Well, I’d do the same thing with all the cats! Round them up and drown them! Grin at the thought – –  excited – slip down an alley way – quick piss – get me bearings – careful  … someone’s got there before me – hit a wall of deep stench amongst the shade, right old pong but filled with promise. Young bloke spreadeagled on his back wearing a T-shirt and jeans, stained in vomit. Chundered like a beauty!

Mouth agape – deep gash on his forehead – eyes sealed, snoring like a trooper. A schooner of amber nectar, half full, beside him and a single fly with vertigo floating around. Snap – got the little bugger – protein plus! Glass all mine! Sniff sniff – tongue it right up, warm and gassy, but getting the buzz. Bzzzz! Must be the fly (ha ha!). Do a little Tourette’s jig for joy! Save it for Shakira! Don’t want to puke your guts up like this young bloke. Flip round – swivel – hop over the corpse – back onto Watt. Take a long luxurious leak on the tyre of a stationary car! (Better out than in, eh?) Geez, I just love all my own smells, and, of course, Shakira’s. Feeling groovy, but still hungry. Watch me go, bat out of hell! Vrooom! Hit Hunter Street - like a conqueror – a king - overseeing his dominion, right in the middle of the street, try and stop me – ha ha! Up yours, cobber! Nostrils a-quiver … schnozzle like an aficionado … as waves of lovely odours rise off the pavement and the night before – beer, vomit, hamburger, fried onions, petrol, tomato ketchup, stale perfume, sweat and desperation, follow the clues, sprint towards the Civic and there it is – my reward – a newspaper filled with chips – breakfast sorted, man. Inhale, munch, belch! Chomp, chomp.

Hold it … shiver down spine – what’s that noise? Twist round … eyes dart – human alert … oh, oh – careful, buddy – it’s him again … the old bloke with hair like Methuselah – always in the bins – looks like the victim of a bomb blast … and he’s coming my way. Gnash at the bag quick as a fish! He’s onto me and he pongs something chronic, but I’m holding ground, man.

“Shoo!” he goes, all feeble, and then swipes at me with his dirty bare foot. Snarl back at him – reveal my yellow rotting gnashers and he soon backs down. I only reach his ankles, but I know how to fake it. Bag in jaws and I’m off again, trotting like a greyhound, as he yells and flails and falls silent. Scud through the park where I chomp chips – and then, replete, take in the majesty of Town Hall – before leaping onward to Darby Street to see how the other half lives … cars growling along Darby now. Cooks Hill is where you see silver bowls of water outside all the shops – and inevitably you get a much better class of dog. There they are at the front table of the café … a middle-aged woman with her black tuxedo poodle called Anisette whose inky black coat’s all corded and her nails clipped. She’s groomed and trained to perfection and there’s the very rub! Makes me puke! These high-class dogs are groomed out of their natural state and turned into anaemic obedient pets with no cojones or life force. I’m the luckiest dog on the planet because I’m free to roam the streets and I have a surfeit of cojones. No one’s trained me out of my natural mongrel state. I was with a young couple years ago, but they never took me for walks –  the bowl was always empty, so I split – vowed never to be owned again. No, I’m outta here! I’m free as a bird!

No one’s trained me out of my natural mongrel state.

Wend my way towards the beach … sun, blue sky, emerald green water … clear air – no BHP stench – bound onto Dixon Park … playtime for border collies, golden retrievers, Aussie kelpies, there’s so much talent I’m ready to yodel … then my beady eyes spot Shakira, the vision splendid! Tongue drops to the floor – full boar panting! Her snow-white coat and mysterious face dazzle. Some say she came from the Artic originally and herded reindeer! Her dark set eyes are like jewels and her black nose so cute! This is the morning – with my cojones and heart swelling, I’ll declare myself.

So, I sit near the surf club until her owner lets her off the leash … and that’s when I make my move – sprint towards Shakira, kneel and cry: “Shakira … I howl at the moon and prowl the streets nightly on heat over you.” Then, I pirouette and let out a long howl before embracing Shakira. But as I do, commotion breaks out – a chorus of dogs and human shouts! The owner, a young woman, shrieks and lashes me across the back. “Keep away from Shakira, you dirty scungy mongrel.” I yelp and turn towards Shakira. “Come with me, Shakira – follow the call of nature!” But I see fear in those dark black jewels … and realise, no passion, all’s neutered, cold as ice! “Bugger off out of it!” the woman cries. Slink away.

I’m outta here. But I’m free, the luckiest dog alive!

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