Postcards from the End of the World/ Chapter Five-Music

Crying

To the sisterhood of lesbians and dykes looking for another victim.

Even thought the End of the World has only existed for fifty years we still have some traditions of our own. Every birthday we throw garlands of roses over the edge of the waterfall. When a woman makes love for the first time we must bury a strand of our pubic hair in a matchbox. I buried mine near where my pet dog Ralph was buried. Some people would say that this tradition symbolises our lost innocence. But that’s a crock. I do it because everybody else does in the same way that most girls have tattoos or have their navel pierced. Another tradition is that when we break up with our boyfriend we always take them to the Diner at the End of the World to tell them the news. Sort of like the Last Supper. I told Colin I was breaking up with him because he was too much of a shrinking violet. He shrugged his shoulders and started humming. I told him to stop and be a man and say something but he just hummed the song even louder. After a few moments I said I knew that song from somewhere. He told me it was called ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison. I scoffed at him and said, ‘I suppose you are going to tell me it’s some sad story about a man who can’t stop crying because he lost a girl. If you are trying to emotionally blackmail me that’s a pretty lame trick.’ ‘I’m just humming,’ he said, ‘because I like it that’s all. Whenever I am depressed I hum a song, any song and it makes me feel happy. This is a beautiful song that’s all.’ He closed his eyes and kept humming and when he opened them I think he expected me to be gone but I decided to stay. I don’t know why really. I sat there unable to get that song out of my mind. He was right about one thing. It is a nice song.

From the sweetest girl,

but don’t you dare cross me.

Radio

To the blond woman dying her clothes, black

I moved to the End of the World in nineteen eighty two. Six months previously I had been living in Melbourne, Australia in a two bedroom flat with a woman called Michelle. It was my first serious relationship. She was wild and reckless and I was convinced I was the mature one of the two of us because I had a career in sales and many material possessions. Sex was the problem. I had never suffered from premature ejaculation before but her wild stories of her many lovers made me nervous and I felt I wouldn’t measure up. During one hot night in January we were in the kitchen and Michelle was frustrated and angry. ‘You are not a man,’ she screamed. ‘You play those old records and live in the past. All those stories about your sex life and being able to please women are a lie. You are a fraud. You think you are cool, but you are a wimp. You don’t clean the toilet bowl after you are finished. You’re disgusting. You’re not a man. You are just a silly little boy.’ I looked at Michelle standing there in the kitchen with her long wavy blond hair and her sparkling blue eyes. I laughed and said, ‘you forgot to mention I have a little dick.’ She picked up a dinner plate from the sink and threw it to the ground and said, ‘You think you are so funny. You make jokes about everything. Can’t you be serious, just once in your life?’ She picked up another plate and threw that against the wall. I walked away from her and into the lounge room and turned on the radio and sat down on the couch. At that moment there was a song being sung by Gordon Lightfoot about, ‘ghosts in a wishing well… and when you reach the part where the heartaches start.’ Six months later I moved to the End of the World and I will probably never se Michelle again. The End of the World is the place where if you have to remember, you come here to forget.

From the singer
standing on stage
sneering at the audience.

Song

To the hundred year old groupie with the star struck eyes.

I saw Lisa for the first time in ten years. We spoke briefly and when I left her I remembered the two of us living in a bed sitting room. One afternoon I was lying on the bed reading a book as she sat across the room, at the table, injecting speed into her forearm. She wore only a pair of light blue panties and a matching bra. There was a cassette recorder on the table playing loud punk music from a band called Grievous Bodily Harm. She had several tattoos. On her right arm was a tattoo of a snake curled around a blue dagger. Above her left breast was a tattoo of a skull and crossbones. On her left ankle was the name of her last boyfriend. The music was too loud and I was in the wrong room with the wrong woman. I watched her throw the syringe I the waste-basket. At that moment a new song played on the cassette recorder. It was a much slower song than the others and had a haunting melody Paul McCartney would have been proud of. The singer sang of a woman called Suzanne Strange who had many lovers. One day her body was found riddled with bullet holes in a garbage dump. A thousand men mourned for her. When the song had finished I asked Lisa to play it again. She refused. I asked her again and then she threw the cassette recorder against the wall breaking it into several pieces. I never did hear that song again. Ten years later I am walking away from Lisa. She hasn’t changed much, still wild, still living her rock and roll dreams and getting drunk every night or bingeing on drugs. I wondered if any one will mourn for her, or me when we die. I walked away from Lisa into the crowded street and then caught a tram to the End of the World, humming a once forgotten song to myself.

From the survivor of an affair
shipwrecked in the
Bermuda Triangle of Love.

Music

To the woman who did not follow her heart.

There was a man at the End of the World who was in great jeopardy. He had tried to help people but was being swallowed up by lies. Although he was a writer by trade he carried song fragments in his head: ‘This time Lord, you gave me a mountain, a mountain I may never climb.’ He organised cabarets at the End if the World and was regarded as an entrepreneur and self-promoter. He thought to himself, that like in ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina,’ he had never invited fame and fortune in, though it seemed to the world, they were all he desired. His closest friends were the only ones who could save him, but he hated needing them for this reason: ‘They say every man needs protection, from the west down to the east. Any day now, any day now I shall be released.’ He walked around the streets at the End of the World thinking he was alone and then he would notice others: ‘Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from?’ He walked to the Waterfall at the End of the World thinking about how cruel women could be: ‘Your kisses on my bruise like iodine.’ He sat down at the café at the Waterfall at the End of the World and began talking to Monica, the woman who told the time for everyone. They spoke for ours and here was a woman who liked helping people not for a reward but for the pleasure of making people happy. He thought about all the publicity he had organised for his cabarets and though he was famous it meant nothing to him. He walked the woman home to her apartment and she invited him in and he thought to himself: ‘You ain’t nobody till somebody loves you.’ and this brought a strange smile to his face as he kissed her.

From the woman
with the big dog
that everyone patted.

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