Monday 1 October 2018

Seeking Paradise

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2016

“‘I could not wish for that which I have not yet experienced,” he said.’ Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov

It was, and still is, quite understandable that when June came back from death, and the ensuing Paradise, she should have a dominating fervour to return to this Paradise she had so lightly touched. After coming back from this death, and Paradise, she slowly blinked a few times and shook her head.
     ‘It’s okay, miss,’ said a young and pleasant female. ‘You’re in an ambulance. We’re going to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. You were hit by a car.’
     June closed her eyes, and remembered the accident.
     The accident, unexpectedly, though, had led to the entrance into Heaven for her, and this was the only thing she could focus on, feeling blessed. She thus soon came to view each day as a possible path back to this Paradise, Its actual presence being the justification for her sentience. She could, of course, suicide, and attempt Heaven that way, but her instincts told her she would just return forever to the moment of her suicide.
     Then she began to consider living rough, just leaving everything, all the modern clutter, to better find some semblance of Heaven here on Earth, hidden somewhere in the wild, or to enter It once more. The prospect seemed exciting. She could have a real adventure where she would both be on Earth, and either close to Heaven in the urban wilderness, or once more having found her way back There. She also jokingly considered taking up some illicit drugs while she was on the streets, and so making her search for Paradise even easier. And when she arrived There she’d be able to celebrate in such sweet, fine style, hopefully with enough drugs to share. Indeed, maybe actually something seriously to consider.
     When she did decide to ‘go homeless’, three weeks after dying, she also decided she must do so instantly. She also had to literally burn all of her bridges behind her; she had to enter the jungle virtually naked, the more ready to robe herself in the vestments of Heaven.
     So she burned her house down. The one that she had inherited from her mother. The one where she had lived very quietly and very well, without needing to work for all of her twenty-one years, another legacy of her mother’s.
     She left her old life, to seek an eternal life, when all of the curtains in the front living room were ablaze. She was not there when a crowd began to form and she was not there when the fire brigade eventually arrived. And none could ever trace her.


June didn’t know it at the time but she had terrific luck in finding squats around the inner city suburbs of Sydney. Counterpoint to that luck, however, was the fact that the squats always had tenants already, which tenants would not let her move in. They, without differing, all said that she ‘looked like a cop.’
     In fact, her ill luck became so bad that she soon had no choice but to sleep in parks. She tried a few, and had bought a sleeping bag for the occasion. She was looking for a park that seemed to have the quickest path back to Paradise. She eventually came to choose Royal Prince Alfred Park, Redferne, to sleep in. The park had a massive fig tree at the entrance, an obvious, massive hint for the searching June.
     Sleeping in the park was initially the great adventure that it promised to be to June. It was a month or so after the start of a very hot spring, 2015, and she went to sleep each night easily, after staring at the stars for a little while, wondering which of them held Paradise. She was warm atop her sleeping bag every night, and seeing that her only expense was food, she was saving most of her trust monies.
     Sleeping in the park, however, also soon became unbearable. It was the rain. She had been camping there a week or so, contentedly, very contentedly, feeling Paradise’s sure pull, when suddenly the heavens heavily rained upon her sleep. She was drenched, awaking in a panic, feeling attacked and abandoned.
     The shock also made her realise that there was one squat that she could live in: the burned wreck of her home. She didn’t know how badly her former home was burned but it seemed a surer thing than remaining here to get thoroughly more drenched and maybe catch pneumonia.
     Luckily she was within walking distance of her former abode and soon enough returned. It was not too bad. For a squat. The roof had partially caved in and the place was now basically just a charred box, littered with ashes.
     She moved under the safety tape fence and entered her childhood home.
     A lot of the things survived the fire, a clear call that they expected her to return. There was one sofa that was usable, all of the plates were fine, blackened, but washable, the large, glass and metal dining table was similarly blackened but washable. There were also a lot of other useable things. All a clear sign that her journey must begin here.
     She was so comfortable in her home that she was not surprised when she was gently shaken awake on the first morning after her return. She awoke expecting an angel.
     ‘Hey,’ said a gruff, bearded, and unkempt man with a gruff voice, ‘who are you?’
     ‘June what?’
     ‘What are you doing here?’
     ‘This is my home.’
     ‘No, it’s not. Me and Stewey live here. You’re pretty obviously a cop.’
     ‘I’m not a cop. I get that a lot.’
     ‘Well, cop or not, you’re leaving. Now. Cop.’
     ‘Look, this is really my home. And I’m really not a cop.’
     ‘Then why do you want to find out where Stewey and I get our heroin?’
     ‘Can I somehow prove I’m not a cop?’
     ‘By getting out. Especially since Stewey’s less mild tempered than me.’
     She really had no choice. She quickly packed and left, rudderless.
     While she continued idly wandering though laneways and streets in Redferne she was thinking of heroin, prompted by the squatter who had evicted her. Maybe it was time to try some drugs to better reach Nirvana? Indeed, they seemed like the only answer left that would fulfil her desire. Going back to Royal Prince Alfred Park with a very nice friend in her system, and taking the chance of being awoken again by the rain, seemed to her like a sure way to attain Paradise. Indeed, the only way.
     She didn’t know where to get any heroin but she did know that one could get marijuana, maybe, from a pub. Pot may be the only drug she could get, at least for now. She was willing to try as many pubs as it took, also asking if she could get maybe some heroin whilst also getting the pot. She had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
     She got her pot at the first pub she tried, and with the first guy she asked. He had long blond hair and a fulsome, waxed, and curled moustache, a dark leather jacket and dark jeans, altogether of the bohemian set, nursing a schooner of dark ale. She had no idea how to smoke it and, after handing over the requested twenty dollars, explained her situation to the guy, the fact that she was trying pot for the first time. He was obliging, telling her to get a hash pipe from a tobacconist and then to chop up the pot finely into a bowl. He recommended she only have a third of a pipe to begin with.
     So she went back to the park, after buying scissors, a small bowl, and a hash pipe, and followed his instructions. It was the worst experience that she’d ever had. The pot came on soon after she drew it in, and she felt nothing but anxiety. The pot made her feel horrible, fleeing Paradise and its fundamental meaning instead of reaching It.
     She felt so terrible that she had to be taken to Rozella Psychiatric Hospital. She rang an ambulance, after throwing the pot away, explaining what she had just done. The Hospital discharged her after the second day, the hospital not realising the address she had given as her residence was a husk.
     She didn’t leave the hospital altogether though for she saw potential in the many nooks and crannies of the hospital’s extensive, natural grounds. She could live easily in one of those crannies, sheltered from the inevitable rain.
     She had spent six weeks there, never once discovered, and eventually met a patient that could introduce her to someone who sold heroin. She still felt that drugs could easily take her back to Paradise, or very close. She easily learned to inject herself, after the patient was paid with a shot to show her how, and never had any problems with getting clean needles from chemists. The heroin was the closest she ever did get back to Paradise and she was eventually found overdosed, the needle sticking out of her left arm, by a hospital domestic. She was located by the stink of her decay.


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick has also had a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing, available on Amazon.