Tuesday 1 September 2015

Maria d'Israeli

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

Maria d’Israeli, when she joined the underground, alternative scene in Sydney, Aus (such a wonderful land that simply must have a parallel in another Universe in order to fully share its glory), never guessed that it would result in her being involuntarily locked up with only one phone call separating her from a possible incarceration. When she did find herself in this predicament she almost entered into a state of shock. How had things become so bad? She had grown up in a good family, with loving parents and a noble, elder sister, so, again, how had things become so bad? She had just made a bad choice, and now she wanted out of its consequences. At least she wasn’t addicted to heroin, or acid, or speed, any of those avenues of apparent expansion. Although, her pot use was starting to get a bit out of control. Better do something about that.
     ‘Okay, missy, your turn for a call,’ said the officer who arrested her, idly fingering her shirt. ‘Long distance?’
     ‘No, a mobile.’
     ‘That’s fine. You’ve got five minutes from now.’ The officer then led Maria to the phone, distancing herself somewhat so that Maria could make her call in private. Maria called her father. The phone picked up after five rings.
     ‘Hi, this is Elijah. Just leave your name, your number, and a short message and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Thanks. Goodbye.’ It was a recording from her father asking her to leave a message. She had no choice.
     ‘Hi, Dad, this is Maria. I’m in trouble. I stabbed someone and the police have me here in lockup. It’s all went wrong, Dad, so wrong. I was trying to run away from being forced to help out in dealing speed. That was just way too heavy. Dad, can you get me out of here? I swear I’ll give up all the drugs, I’ll get a job, just make sure I don’t go to gaol. Please help, Dad. I’m in Newtown police station.’ Maria then hung up the phone, and hoped for the best when she was back again in the cell.
     She remained awake all through the night, eventually no longer perking up when the station phone rang. Her father wasn’t going to call. And if he did it would probably be too late. Everything’s gone wrong, so wrong.
     Over a breakfast of a baked bean sandwich the next morning at five am another officer asked her her father’s first name.
     ‘Elijah,’ she replied.
     ‘Okay, he’s on the phone for you now.’ The officer then let her out, jumping to his right while Maria dashed to the phone.
     ‘Yes, sweetie, it’s Dad, everything’ll be fine. Just tell me what happened.’ Maria then told him how her choice to leave home and lead the obviously interesting drug cultured life meant that she got sacked from her casual supermarket job. Then she almost had no money. Then she gave up food to reserve her small monies for the drugs. Then she gave up the rent. She realised, eventually, many late, late years later, that she had made a devastating error of judgement in choosing the druggie life when one night she returned to her squat after eating her sole meal for the day from a garbage bin and being told she had to be a speed runner or get bashed. Repeatedly. The offender was named Rufus, a real psychopath, whom Maria was assured carried around a top quality punching bag from squat to squat. Punching that bag was how he woke up and how he went to sleep. During the rest of the day he would randomly get up and give it a good workout. His dialogue too was aggressive, never framing any statement positively, always taking the negative, hostile viewpoint. A real bastard.
     Unfortunately, Maria found herself alone with him one night, the other flatmates having left the squat permanently, only leaving her a curt note. Maria never really did get on with them anyway, all in their own snug clique. It didn’t take him long to stand over her, thinking here was a ready slave for a small speed dealing enterprise he had just begun. Easy.
     So Maria stabbed him. She was sure to impale his thigh, twisting the blade. Then she ran. The bastard must have called the police straight away. And she was easy to track down, having nowhere to go but the main street of Newtown.
     ‘Sweetie, if you turn evidence on all these drug dealers the police are bound to protect you. You scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours. If you dob them in the police’ll take you under their wing, not throw you way.’ That was sure tempting.
     ‘Are you sure?’
     ‘I’d bet my kingdom on it, sweetie.’
     ‘I’m not so certain, Dad. I’ll have to think about it.’
     ‘You don’t have that luxury, sweetie. You’re about to be gaoled. But turning in these ‘friends’ could well save you. And you have to decide now.’
     She really had no sane choice. ‘Okay, I agree. They’d probably do the same to me, the scum.’
     Naturally, the police were delighted to take Maria on board, the officer speaking to Elijah giving him his personal guarantee that Maria would be duly guarded by the New South Wales Police Force for her valuable revelations. Unfortunately though, Maria was barefoot, ill clothed for the winter, and had nowhere to immediately go. Lockup was her only safe option. Elijah though offered to immediately buy Maria clothes over the phone from the nearest Salvo’s store, awaiting her arrival. The officer was then happy to release her.
     The clothes were indeed awaiting her in the store, the police having driven her there, and telling her they’d contact her father tomorrow to arrange all the details of her informant status.


Maria, put two drug kingpins away, thanks to her information and a bit of undercover work, with which she was happy to participate in. Her parents remained in the Northern Territory, where they were motor-homeing after their retirement, after Elijah had come down with a very bad case of the flu, and thus was a danger driving on the road. Janette was eager to drive down to see her daughter but she and Elijah both knew that she just couldn’t handle driving that massive beast of metal. Janette was naturally opposed to guiding such large mass.
     She finally returned to the family fold, in NT, a week after her testimony. The police gave her a new identity and paid for her first six months’ rent, in the form of six signed blank cheques, as a reward for Maria’s eager and fervent assistance leading to a terrific result. Her parents recognised her, of course, as did Blanche, the elder sister, and they all spent their first reunion in a blissful whirlwind of conversation that none of them could remember the next day.
     At breakfast, patrolled by a healthy looking black cat, Maria filled them in on the details of her life since she had disappeared from them. She told of how she had grand plans, that she had all of the answers to all of the world’s ills. She told of how she had become gradually filled with an immense love for all sentience, clearly able to set it upon its own glorious path. But the opposite was true. Through her search, by using illicit drugs as a guide, she had met with only unremitting selfishness. She still meets that unremitting selfishness. So Maria eventually learned to take her own life back, to look after number one. As everyone does.
     Also at breakfast the next morning Maria informed her parents and sister that she could not live with them if they continued their wandering life, preaching Elijah’s unique vision of Christ, and its ancillaries. Maria told them that she had had quite enough of an unstable, vagrant life and that she wanted something more permanent. Couldn’t they all settle down, in a nice house or flat somewhere, working together and earning their daily bread as a coherent team? Maybe buy a franchise?
     Surprisingly, her parents were not unamenable to her suggestion. The truth be told, they had had enough of the grey nomad lifestyle and its incessant demands. What they both wanted, what they both really, really wanted was to spend the rest of their days reading and visiting art galleries, amongst other novelties. They eventually decided.
     ‘Okay, Maria,’ began Elijah one night over dinner, ‘if we all buy a franchise and work together we all really should have no real problems. We’ll have money, food, company, diversions, it really is a brilliant proposition, sweetie. But, honey, we really do need a secure base, a reasonably secure base, at our age, and we can’t afford the rents in Sydney, where all the money is. It just can’t be done.’
     Maria came up with the solution instantly.
     ‘We can use the motor home. We really can. All’s we need is a laptop, a printer, and the internet.’ Her parents instantly saw the point.
     ‘Those drugs must have taught you something after all, Maria,’ said her father. ‘That’s a real genius thought. The forest for the trees.’ Maria smiled.

     For their last drive they drove to a caravan park not too far outside of Uluru and parked there for the remainder of their lives. They celebrated their new plans, new hopes, over a choice bottle of bourbon and each surprisedly met the next day completely clear headed. They knew what they were doing.


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