Guido messaged to say he’d “been off air”, so he didn’t get messages until he got home. I was welcome to go to him, but he would be doing a good deed for his sister during the night, not that it matted because his boyfriend, Junior, would be at the house. When he told me he was incommunicado tomorrow, and that we could meet at Melbourne Cemetery in the morning, his first stop anywhere in the vicinity of my place, I decided to drive to the fringes of the city to get it myself. Too cloak and dagger for my sensibilities otherwise. Guido, naturally, found it hilarious. He loves playing the part.
Buddy didn’t want to come downstairs at 6.45pm when I was leaving, so I left him inside with Andy. It was very gratifying when he jumped about, happy to see me, when I got home. (I didn’t think I suffered from any dog owner’s insecurities?)
So off north to the “boonies” to visit Guido in his lair. Out passed where the trams end and the giant second hand car yards begin. Out passed the bright lights, the music, the kebab shops and the fusion cafes. Passed the pesky fucken bike paths filled with their angry bike riders. Passed where streets have people on them. Out passed where the evolved narrow streets become the planned wide roads. Out passed the service stations and the Seven Elevens, and the Maccas and the KFC’s, which seem to morph into generic roadside stops where punters can be drained of their hard earned cash in a multitude of ways. Out passed the mega shopping centres, the multiplex, the Cinemaplex, The Northern Central Jumbotron, the 2 ache Woollies. Out passed the road intersections that look more like aircraft landing facilities more so than the humble red, amber and green light configuration. Out passed the car stripping joints, the spray painters, the secret warehouses, the junkyards, the scraps for sale, the gaudy mosques and the northern boy’s gyms, sweaty T’s and discarded jockey. Guard dogs, CCTV, security. Drag strips. Late nights.
Of course, every slow cunt was in front of me for the entire trip out there and the entire trip back. Naturally. Tapping fingers on the steering wheel. That goes without saying. This is when Sam tells me that the only person being damaged by my constant flow of abuse from the drivers seat is him. He says I have a special form of Tourette’s that I save for driving. It is only his ears that bleed. Would I mind cutting it out?
I tell him that they are the words of a non-driver. It is just a little bit rich coming from someone who spends his entire life being chauffeur driven around wherever he may want to go. I tell him that while he is prepared to sit his arse down in the passenger seat never having bothered to put in even a scintilla of effort towards driving a car, he has no right to criticise. It is very easy to be a pussy-arsed passenger seat criticiser, but do the pain and then come back to me.
To the house. Where the bright lights stop, where the street lighting mysteriously dims to something that looks like it is gas powered. Once you are away from the main drag, every street looks the same, every intersection like the one before, kind of run down display home, circa middle of last century. The prom queen still in her prom dress fifty years later, post kids, post divorce, unemployment and drug addiction. It gets confusing, sometimes I laugh to myself that it is like an episode of Doctor Who, no matter how far I drive I keep coming back to the same intersection. So I have a safety word now that, funnily enough, covers the street names I have to look out for. (I’m not going to tell you what that is, well, there has to be some semblance of cloak and dagger about it all now doesn’t there?)
The house, it is more like a compound now. Guido has bought up the neighbouring houses in the street. Great, big horrible houses, dark and shut up, what the Greeks of the fifties did with their illegal casino money, but the wogs moved out years ago. There are matching Lyons, one decapitated. Balustrading that looks like mouths with teeth knocked out, dry fountains, more likely to be filled with a possum carcass than water. Wrought Iron Gates with fifteen rusty chains attached, some semblance of order obvious in the now faded-to-the-same-colour once colour-coded chain covers Windows with bars displaying broken blinds behind. Curtains drawn. Shut up. Closed down. Dead orchards, the trees bare sticks against the grey sky. Concreted gardens, entire concrete yards. Car bodies in the driveways. Giant work utes. Hatchbacks on the nature strips, parked up against super cars of the 80s, long since broken down.
“It ain’t no big deal, the land out here is cheap.”
He now has a cluster, the Guido Cluster. In Guido’s driveway sits a brand new WRX and a brand new 86. Both black, of course.
Junior was there, as mentioned. Guido was being a man with a van some where in the neighbouring suburbs, doing a good deed. Junior gushed about their new lounge suit that was arriving tomorrow. Guido was playing Good Samaritan? Bullshit! Guido was dumping used furniture.
It is always a fretful moment when the Dobermans rush in. They always seem to rush too, glide silently, blink, and they are there, 3 Doberman’s suddenly sniffing you silently. It is so sudden sometimes, I am sure I know what divers feel when they are suddenly surrounded by sharks.
Pepper, Bruno and Hussein. Hussein is the really big one, but Bruno isn’t far behind. It is Hussa for short, which seems all together more disturbing than Hussein when it is given as a directive. Hussa can sound like the death command to an efficient killer, when it is spoken all breathy in your right ear. “Hussa!” Kill.
Guido breeds champion Doberman Pincers, who’d have thought. Well, not me, but I already knew. I’ve been patted down by the three of them many times. He shows them and all. He plays it to the hilt, camp, rich, dog expert, apparently, according to Guido, as I have never been to one of Guido’s dog shows. “Oh, it is soooo much fun.” Apparently, he is good at it, well, again, according to Guido.
“Good dog. Good dog.” I pat their grey, leathery skin as they swim silently around my legs. Their pointy noses brush across each of my hands, almost simultaneously, like it is part of the training. Bruno and Hussa. Pepper sticks her nose into my arse, just in case I’d, some how, missed her presence.
Junior acts all sweet and blonde, like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, like he always does. He’s lovely. Mr Business Analyst just mucking in and lending a helping hand in one of Guido’s business enterprises. I’m in and out in minutes.
There is a fourth one too, Beau, apparently she is with pups. When it is four Dobermans against the humans, ground space is very hard to find.
Junior is your All Australian, blond boy (ed note – he is thirty, so no letters please) every mother’s dream son, as sweet as the day is long. He kind of has this slightly ditzy routine he goes into, but I have never heard him make a mistake, or be wrong.
And four guard dogs.
That is Guido’s life, if it isn’t some kind of mind fuck, he is just not into it. I’m sure in his mind he is just playing one great big game of cops and robbers. Good guys. Bad guys.