‘The scene, the struggle, the after-party’

The scene is the area of Brunswick where my mother lives and where I lived from the age of fourteen. There are cafés that are familiar to me or to my dreams… I can’t remember whether they are real places. I am being attacked. Hopeless at fighting, all I can do is hold on tight. I manage to get the man, who my mother knows, into an arm-lock that effectively paralyses all attempts at escape. This is fine, except that I must hold him in this position forever if I am to escape being beaten up. So, I hold on tight. The struggle goes on a long time. We are able to move our legs. Slowly, the struggle moves from the doorway of one of the cafés to the footpath. And then from the footpath to the gutter. And then from the gutter to the road. We stop the oncoming traffic, the drivers looking from inside their cars at the peculiar way I am pressing his face into the bitumen. It seems necessary at this point to clear the road, so the struggle moves slowly back into the gutter, and then from the gutter back onto the footpath. At least an hour has gone by, maybe two hours. We are exhausted and the struggle must end somehow soon. When I let go, both of us are so weakened that neither attempts any further attack or defence. Instead I find myself slumped in a chair in what appears to be some kind of club. It is dark inside and the music very loud. I am surrounded by a crush of young people. Directly in front of the row of seats where I am is a large console, like an electronic juke box, with a touch screen a dozen feet wide and six feet high displaying the timeline of songs chosen by the people at the club and the thousands of other choices that can be made by anyone who has managed to make their way through the crowd to the screen. I feel out of place, until I realise that everyone is happy and no one seems to mind me being here. The only worrying thing about this place is that its mood seems to be chemically induced. A girl sitting next to me offers me something to take. “It won’t hurt you,” she says. It doesn’t look very nice, though. I take the smallest bite off it. It is chocolate on the outside and has the acidic taste of adrenaline on the inside. “Thank you,” I say, but I don’t take another bite.