Barricades
by Chris Quinlan 08.04.03


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Barricades

by chris quinlan 08.04.03

she cancelled then uncancelled the wednesday night meet on the other side of his town .... a late meet at a bar near her flat .... she turned up 40 minutes late ... he did that usual friendly first time "peck on the cheek" and felt as though she was pushing him back with her hand on his shoulder ... "hmmm, he thought, his cheap aftershave?"

they sat down ...... she wanted a wine and sampled three before giving up and settling on the last (he had a coopers pale ale and was happy, you couldn't fuck with a pale ale) he could tell the bar lass (who he had already had a bit of a chat with re: interest in his kinky friedman book on the counter) was getting a little testy at the fact that three samples equaled a near free glass .... asked if he wanted to start a tab ... he politely replied yes ....

"i started to watch your show last friday" she started "but my flat-mate came home and switched channels after four minutes" ..... "was it that bad?" he asked, "no", just that consensus won out" .... some inane banter about her night out with some work meet and drinks she had previously attended ... then he asked "would you like to have a meal, i haven't had dinner yet? "no, but i'll watch you eat" she replied ....

he had to eat ... three beers on an empty stomach and the captain of the "hmas testosterone" was watching his flagship sink in shark-infested waters ....

"i'll have the "indain" curry with cous-cous (he thought all curry was indian, but maybe "indain" was special from the way it was spelt on the menu) ..... "i might have a salad" she starts then says ... "no, i'll pass" she settles back on the cushioned bench, he at the rickety chair .... the bench sits high, the chair sits low .... knowing that chair placement is an important part of any first meeting, he quickly ascertains that they are not in a condusive positioning for a nice chat, she and her solitary red were holding court .... she continues .....

"so how do you resolve making an episode dealing with the iraqi war on a music show?"

"soundscapes .... how what is currently happening in the world affects the music you play on your instrument ..." he bravely and foolishly continued .... "what i wanted to show on "when words fail ...." was a post-apocolyptic melbourne, the opening piece was a typically stiff army march ..... the opening shots were of the character saying to somebody "i can't remember the last time i saw this part of melbourne" the person he is talking to says "if you look over there, you can see a part of melbourne as it was before white settlement "

.... looking down at him from her cushioned bench she takes a puff of her gasper and says "yes, i saw the football bit just before we changed channels, i couldn't work it out ..."

his indain curry had arrived, it looked like it wanted to be eaten as quickly as his confidence ....

.... more questions .... it wasn't a chat anymore it was two people behind barricades, he wanted to finish this, but he wanted, needed a coffee, two beers waiting and one with this company, all on an empty stomach hadn't been a good idea ....

he defended his work, knowing that his look and demeanour had changed from that of a friendly first meeting to a misunderstood artist looking for some kind of comprehension from a heartless critic versed in only the first four minutes of a twenty-six minute labour of personal love ...

"then it goes on to footage of a local footy match ..... then a plane .... apocolypse and then melbourne ostensibly in desolation with the character wandering in a mad-max like post-nuclear haze, the drumming is now middle eastern and the final piece is a mix of that and the opening march" .... he thought he waxed lyrically under the circumstances ... he knew he had always worked fairly well under pressure ... but as the alchohol effect rose, the confidence waned, he could feel his vocabulary shrinking away quickly .....

..... she may well have felt like her words were like the talons of a hawk coming in for some kind of female kill, but as his respect for her phd letters disappeared as fast as a cynical lecturer's first scotch ... to him ... she resembled a one-legged seagull squawking irritably for the last morsel of a dropped chip.

.... somehow author ayn rand bobs up and her book "the fountainhead" is discussed, she has it at home but hasn't read it .... he tells her about how the hero of the book, howard roark is said to be based on architect frank lloyd wright, he also mentions ayn rand's personal philosophy of "obectivism" .... she thinks it was a trashy 70's type novel ..... in telling her it was written in the forties and gary cooper played the hero in the 1948 film, he gives her a look of disgust .... his first small victory in a dying war .... "oh, i will read it then, i didn't realise" .....

the waitress walks toward him ... he tries to get her attention, "excuse me, could i ....." she keeps walking past him ......

somewhere there was mention of intenet dating etc .... she starts "if i wanted a fuck, i would just go to a club .... " he replied "women can do that easily, it is a lot harder for men, i don't understand that you didn't think internet was any different, i am in it ostensibly for friends and beating cabin fever, as i work from home, if something happens romantically, so be it, but my prime reason is not sex"

.... she takes another puff of her gasper ..... "maybe i'm naive" he hears it as she says it while turning her head .... he could have pounced on that line like a red-headed orphan but he let it go, he needed that coffee ....

the waitress walked past him again .... "excuse me" .... she kept walking ...... then she walked back ..... "excuse me, waitress......." ..... and past ........

"FUCK!"

she said "she heard you that time .... "

"a flat white coffee and the bill please"

the coffee was quick and the bill was apparently all his .......

****

she had made the date for wednesday night but he wasn’t finishing work until 8.30pm and coming from the other side of town, too late a night she thought so cancelled, then a work meet at the university, lecturers getting together, so “oh well” she thought “i’m out anyway, and the bar is around the corner from home” ... she rang him back and uncancelled ....

the university get together was nice, an excellent bottle of merlot and “oohh now i’m running late, i’ll text message” it was 8.50pm ... “make it 9.15 ok?” ..... he was already at the bar .... “ok” was the reply ...

walking through the bar door at 9.40pm she saw him sitting at the bar talking to the pretty bargirl, he was showing her something from a book ...

“hi’ she said “hey” he replied, the girl behind the bar waited ... he rose from the bar stool and leaned across to make the obligatory opening peck on the cheek, was it the cheap after shave or the smell of the second beer?

“can i try a nice merlot? .... i had a bottle tonight that was excellent” she asked the waitress .... he looked on, the bargirl brought a glass, a bottle and poured a sample “hmmmm, that has a real tang, something a little smoother?, the bargirl fetched another bottle , he looked on, another sample from another bottle “no, that’s worse than the first one” the bargirl said nothing, brought a third bottle and poured a sample half the size of the others .... “oh, i just can’t get the taste of the one i had earlier, i’ll just have that” she settled ..... he looked on, the bargirl asked him if he wanted to start a tab, he said “yes” wondering if he was going to be charged for the three samples.

"i started to watch your show last friday" she started "but my flat-mate came home and switched channels after four minutes" ..... "was it that bad?" he asked, "no", just that consensus won out" .... some inane banter about his night at work, he was a teacher, he was talking about a student he had with learning difficulties and was happy he had made a breakthrough that night ... then he asked "would you like to have a meal, i haven't had dinner yet? "no, but i'll watch you eat" she replied ....

she was starting to think this was a bad idea, she had a glass of wine in front of her she didn’t particularly care for and the bargirl had given her a look she didn’t like, he had gone a litle quiet and seemed a little uncomfortable, she lit a cigarette, she noticed he didn’t smoke .... the wine was making her sleepy.

"i'll have the indian curry thanks” he said to the waitress "i might have a salad" she starts then says ... "no, i'll pass" she settles back on the cushioned bench, he at the rickety chair .... the bench sits high, the chair sits low .... as she settles back into the comfy cushions, she notices he has a bit of trouble with the chair, she thinks “this guy seems a bit shorter than i thought”

"so how do you resolve making an episode dealing with the iraqi war on a music show?" she asks

“soundscapes” he replied “how what is currently happening in the world affects the music you play on your instrument” .... he paused seeming to fumble for words ... “what i wanted to show was a post .... ummm apoplectic melbun” he trailed off, she thought “did he say apoplectic???”

“he said apoplectic” she laughed to herself “i think he wanted to say apocolyptic, but he’s on his third beer”

his curry had arrived and he was eating it very quickly, he had told her earlier the workings of the station he produced his show for, and how he made the show himself, working solo.

“you know” she started “i think the best work is put together by commitees’ referring to her work at the university ..... “the thought that a solo creation is beneficial to society as a whole is i think a thought forced on us by overachieving males.”

he took a long time to answer, he slowly looked up and said “have you heard of an author by the name of ayn rand, her best known work is the fountainhead?” she had, so he continued “she has a philosophy called objectivism, a loose description would be enlightened self-interest” he continued “by doing what you want to do or following your heart, you are doing the best for yourself, so, you are being the best you can be for society, the hero is howard roark, based on famous architect frank lloyd wright apparently ..... “

she took another drag of her cigarette and noticed the glare he gave her, she continued anyway ... “i have that book, but haven’t read it yet, i thought it was some trashy 70’s novel .... but how can an architect be an individual, surely they must pander to the design set by the people who eventually live in the building?”

“if you read the book” his voice was slow, measured and slightly slurred “it describes how artists, in this case an architect, finds like minded people, the girl and the sculptor who is in the book but didn’t make it to the movie”

"oh, i will read it then, i didn't realise" ..... she looks away then looks back over his shoulder, studying the remaining people at the bar, wondering if they were having a better time than she was.

the waitress walks toward him ... he tries to get her attention, "excuse me, could i ....." she keeps walking past him ......

somewhere there was mention of intenet dating etc .... she starts "if i wanted a fuck, i would just go to a club .... " he replied "women can do that easily, it is a lot harder for men, i don't understand that you didn't think internet was any different, i am in it for friends and beating cabin fever, i work from home, if something happens romantically, so be it, but my prime reason is not sex"

.... she takes another puff of her gasper ..... "maybe i'm naive" but thought to herself “bullshit, all men want a fuck if they can get one .... i’m tired, this isn’t going anything like i thought” the conversation is now stilted and the words and phrases are casually thrown out behind barricades like opening jabs from two nervous young boxers trying not to be further hurt in a bout they didn’t want to fight in the first place.

the waitress walked past him again .... "excuse me" .... she kept walking ...... then she walked back ..... "excuse me, waitress......." ..... and past ........

"FUCK!"

she smiled to herself then said "she heard you that time .... "

"a flat white coffee and the bill please" he asked

she hoped that the coffee would be quick ....

..... the end






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