Monday, 6 May 2013

Pirates

By Reg Elliot

In my families six years at Leverton Street, Ponsford, I learnt three things about my seven year old next door neighbour Robert Hedges. Firstly I recall his extreme allergic reaction to animals, dogs in particular. His allergy meant that my family were the recipients of a black Labrador that I subsequently named Rufus. Rufus was for three days a birthday present for Robert’s seventh birthday. During those three days Hedges nearly stopped breathing twice. Hedges sister too was gifted a cat for her fifth birthday only for Hedges again to have a reaction to the cat which was subsequently palmed off, this time to the neighbours of the other side of the Hedges house. There were no more pets for birthdays for the Hedges children.

Secondly, Hedges was a thief and a bad liar. His lying improved with time as I recall and his thieving was in decline as our years at Leverton Street drew to a close. I myself thought Hedges was in reality just getting better at not getting caught which of course went hand in hand with his lying improving.

Lastly anyone that remembers Hedges from those days will recall the constant wearing of Pirates outfits from a very young age. He was all eye-patches and rubber swords from an early age and his mother constantly wore pink welts upon her legs courtesy of said rubber sword. Hedges thieving ways were uncovered early and in keeping with his pirate-persona, he buried his spoils. My father came to my rescue after I had misplaced my favourite yellow toy earth-mover confronting Robert and cleverly tricking him into showing us where he kept his buried treasure.

Those days were a million years ago, still through an old friend I recently learnt Hedges and I have a little in common. Hedges, still apparently on the wrong side of the law and me, supposedly upholding it. He probably hated the Police, from the outside. I’d been in the force too long, so I hated it from the inside. Truth be known I hated myself for not having the guts to leave. Recent events had me thinking I was playing a dangerous game in staying. Still If I had not given a ticket to most of the female drivers I’d slept with that probably would be a crime. Assaulting a motorist was much, much worse but highly enjoyable at the time. But pocketing some evidence from a crime scene was pretty dumb even by my recent standards. Still, in my defence I had a mates buck weekend coming up and it was my job to arrange the gear. Since I was policing soooo hard and diligently recently I’d had no time to contact my normal source. It was justified.
I was kind of waiting for something very bad to happen really. Something that would force my hand and have me leave the force. Probably in disgrace. My conservative middle-class upbringing meant I was concerned for my parents if this was to be the case.
In my spare time I was working on my daring escape from the NSW public sector. I likened it to digging a tunnel to the real world. I now had various pieces of Painted art, stained glass and even some sculptures all forming a body of work that might sustain me if I made the leap to full time artist. I had my eye on a metal-work course as well. But after three years my tunnel was getting long and a break-through to the surface had to come soon.

I thought of Hedges a lot. His misplaced birthday present caused an incident that altered the fortunes of my family forever when my father tripped over the jet black dog in the dark of night to fracture his back badly ending up in a wheelchair and jobless. The ramifications were untold. Hedges had his freedom and independence. My mother brother and I all had to work like slaves to help the family. Mostly I felt for my mother. It was an existence none of us had envisaged.

Mid way though my twenty ninth year and on an otherwise unforgettable day on the job, I was en route to deliver a hand written apology to the victim of my assault (a condition of the settlement) when my Squad car was diverted to assist in a routine arrest. Arriving moments after the suspect was apprehended I was chatting to colleges in the high end kitchen of an obviously wealthy family home when a family photo caught my eye. There was Robert Hedges, unmistakable as an eight year old Pirate, holding his fucking rubber sword so high it nearly defied the laws of one dimensional photography and stuck me in the eye. Next to it was Hedges as a leather-clad biker perched upon some great dark beast of a motorbike a shit-eating grim plastered across his face. It was a grin of a man getting away with something. I looked around the house stunned to reach the top bedroom floor and seeing his sumptuous rear garden and pool. It was immaculate right down to the carefully presented headstone-like cross stabbed into the dark soil of a well manicured garden bed at the rear of the yard. The cross was at the head of a tiny grave. The whole house and garden were incredible. I guess Hedges had made it.

I left felling empty, cheated and angry. I hope Hedges was found guilty of whatever it was he did to get arrested. I was crossing the sandstone threshold of his front door reflecting on all manner of things when I thought of the grave. You don’t burry people in gardens? Well Hedges might? Most people would bury pets. Hedges and pets didn’t mix.

By 5:45am the following morning I had left the grave as it was, washed my shovel and was seated at my kitchen table. I had drafted my resignation and counted out eight hundred and thirty nine thousand dollars in cash. I guess Hedges wasn’t the Pirate after all.

1 comment:

  1. "In my spare time I was working on my daring escape from the NSW public sector."

    AAACHH! Its me!

    ReplyDelete