Friday, 4 October 2013

A Basic Desire

by Denis Fitzpatrick, (c) 2013


     Simultaneously splendid and utterly decrepit the half burned shell of 23 Lexitor Avenue, Standmore, in Aus’ usually sunny Sydney, was just the spot for the wandering Audric. Here was the much needed house, half charred, overgrown ruins, and with its other half well retaining the aspects of a modest mansion; a veritably perfect mirror to his opposing, clashing thoughts.

     ‘Yes, indeed!’ There was no-one around to tell Audric, only twenty-three, that he shouldn’t talk to himself. In fact, Audric had often to rely on his own conversations within this chosen life of wandering, vague searching. ‘Yes, indeed! We can solve this problem once and for all!’ Audric also tended to use the royal singular in these conversations with himself.

     Soon after M. Audric Dearl Beauchene had discovered this house he had come back often to wistfully stare at its two potent halves: one, a blackened destruction, the other, an open promise of easy living. This half had a leather armchair and the water in the adjoining kitchen still worked. He had checked once, the only time he had been onto the property. He didn’t notice the police station nearby when he was leaving, water refilled. It would be nice, thought Audric, to just cross the warning tape and sit on that armchair. Cook a little on the stove, listen to his radio or plug in his portable CD player, recharge his mobile the more easily. But no, the electricity is probably cut off. At the end of the evening he could head up to the only remaining room on the first floor, apparently a bedroom.

     ‘The fresh air! The view!’ Such were some of the possibilities he imagined in that distraught domicile, believing he could think from the prominence of that bedroom, think clearly and finally name that thing worthy to spend one’s life in striving for.

     Audric was once again outside this house on the first day of Sydney’s colder than usual 2012 winter, idly imagining its balanced possibilities, but this time he had his swag with him. He smiled, and looked around, preparatory to trespassing. It was then he noticed the police station. He continued his survey around him and decided to assume that because he could see no officers no officers could see him.

      He entered confidently and assuming himself to be still undiscovered he placed his swag in a shattered bedroom and had a good look around the place. He settled in easily enough then and read until evening in the perfectly good leather armchair, in his warm dark overcoat, a glass of water beside him on a small table, outside under broad, leafy banana trees, jacaranda trees, and tall, stately eucalyptus trees.

     He passed his first night without bother, and drifted off thinking that a large crisis had been averted. More likely though that it had just begun.

 

*

 

     Audric set about the final stage (or was it just the middle?) of his aim to wrest meaning from Life methodically, keeping track of, and keeping more or less equal, the amount of his time spent in the dark, listless half, and the alluring, elegant half of Lexitor Avenue.

     His plan was simple: spend the first twelve hours of the day in the charred, ruined section, the time spent in foreseeing an easy life, no commitments and absolutely no worries. His first whole twelve hours among the ruins he began with an expensive bottle of Shiraz, completely letting himself go.  

     The times amongst the sheltered and fairly intact reign of the nightly twelve hours was spent without alcohol. He used part of the twelve hours to write in his journal, and in drawing. In his journal he would often suggest goals, aspirations that had always inspired him as a child, in an attempt to reawaken this prior motivation. To no avail. The entries invariably ended on a hollow note, promising him something that should really already be here.

     Audric had been at Lexitor for a little under three weeks when the local police paid him a visit. Audric was cross-legged among the charcoal and soot drinking a coffee, black, when they called over.

     ‘Need to have quick word with ya, mate,’ said the lead officer, lifting the warning tape.

     ‘Sure thing,’ replied Audric, standing up from the rubble. They met on the veranda.

     ‘You know you’re trespassing, mate.’

     ‘Yes, officer. I’ll leave now.’

     ‘Hang on a minute.’ The officer waited until his partner returned to his side after a quick survey of the premises.

     ‘Would you like to stay here, mate? Free?’

     ‘The place is helping me think.’

     ‘Think about what?’

     ‘If there’s a purpose to my life.’

     ‘Well we can give you as long as you need.’

     Audric looked at him sceptically.

     ‘My partner here, Laura, spotted you here yesterday and after informing the owner of the land he’s offered you a deal.’

      ‘What’s the deal?’

     ‘You can stay here rent free as long as you act as guard.’

     ‘Guard?’

     ‘The owner, a Councillor, plans to develop the site into a boarding house and wants someone onsite to ward off the inevitable protestors.’

     ‘I can’t keep them all off.’

     ‘If things get bad he’s given me a number for you to call. Do you have a phone?’

     ‘Yes.’

     ‘Well, mate?’

     Audric considered for a short while.

     ‘Can I think about it,’ Audric asked the officer.

     ‘Sure. We’ll be back in three days either to evict you or to give you that number.’

     ‘Thanks, officer.’

     The Police left him and Audric returned to his pile of ash.

     ‘Yet more to think of,’ he said to himself, sipping his still warm coffee.

 

*

 

     The immediate benefit of this newly offered job, often thought Audric over his next two days of wandering from one side of the house to the other, is that it would give him a palpable sense of certainty. He could then afford to sit back and give the matter of his life’s goal the serious deliberation that it deserved. And when he had finally achieved his revelation he could just pack up and set off in the suggested direction.

     He  had decided by the time he awoke on the third morning of his bequeathed grace: he would take the job. But only on the proviso that he was free to leave at any time. Thus, after begging up the morning’s two dollars for some hot chips, he headed off to the police station in search of Laura, the other officer’s name not being offered and he wearing a badge with a number instead of a name. He duly received the phone number quickly, enthusing him unexpectedly.  

     Upon returning home he instantly headed for the bright half of the house and made himself a coffee. He was still enthused. Maybe it was time to clean up the other half of the house, bring some semblance of order into it? The place really just needed a good sweep and some furniture here and there. It’ll shine up a treat in the summer; a splendid place to sit and read of an evening.

     ‘Yes, it does need a clean. We’ll have the coffee first.’

     And when he was sweeping up (the house already having a broom) he realised that his life was not that bad after all. He too will assuredly come up shining if he sets his mind to some noble goal. In fact, from now one he would spend all of his time in the bright half of the house. He would choose several goals, to be a painter, a sculptor, maybe finish off his Science degree, and try each out for a few days. He would by sheer elimination, and sheer steadfastness, come across a vocation, a calling, which he was just naturally good at.

     The protestors never arrived and Audric spent the next six months in attempting a lot of careers, starting off by busking his own canvasses, all of which he painted in the bright side of Lexitor. He enjoyed the novel experiences of all of his experimented careers, usually done through volunteer work,  and also enjoyed having to shower more regularly now that he was more engaged in society.

     His ‘lease’ ran out, naturally, the Councillor’s personal assistant telling him that the house was to be demolished in a week. That was three weeks ago today and Audric had packed up and left early. He hasn’t found a worthwhile life-goal yet, is still searching, but his searching has brought him many unexpected achievements. He is currently volunteering at the local vet’s. He has also often told friends that Lexitor was his favourite squat despite it being a husk.

     ‘It was the perfecting sounding board for my angst.’

     He has also now taken up meditation and spends such time in imagining himself continuing to be comfortable and motivated forever. He invariably smiles while doing so and that same smile comes back of its own accord throughout the day, the days which he now spends fruitfully.

   

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