Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – A Novel

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23.

The gap between thought and action started to open a little and Pat’s common-sense managed to squeeze through.

“What are you going to do when you get to the pub?” he thought to himself in a voice that, within the vault of his head, sounded strangely like Dr Helen’s.

“I’m going to run in there and hammer them.”

“And how will you explain that to the police when they turn up?”

***

The Punter’s Club was another band venue located on Brunswick Street, about fifteen minutes’ drive from The Re:Public. People spilled from its large, yawning door.

If buildings were people, The Punter’s was the dirty, alcoholic wild-man who owned a house in the best street of a newly gentrified suburb. He was quiet during the day, but the neighbours knew he’d been active at night due to the vomit, garbage and broken glass all over their frontages.

Pat pulled the Regal into a parking space that required twenty-four hour access; it was safer there because no one would park too close and accidentally damage it.

The Punters had no one on the door; the crowd just came and went as they pleased. The music was coming from a D.J, which meant that they must have been in-between bands.

Pat looked around the corner to discover the stage doors were open; a faint light seeped from between them. He strode down and went straight inside. He had removed his number when getting out of the Val, but was still, from his long coat and Kangol hat, quite clearly a bouncer.

The crowd was dense. Segments of light were held in the spaces between them, scalloped into curving, asymmetrical shapes by the shifting silhouettes. Pat bobbed down, took off his beret and jammed it into his back pocket.

By the time he had made it two-thirds of the way across the room, he saw the four guys standing in a circle, bent over their cans of beer. Pat waited until he was positioned right behind them before he stood up straight.

“How are you doing, guys?” he asked. The four turned and one of them dropped his beer, spraying everyone’s trouser cuffs with foam. “Outside – now.” Pat walked outside with the four close behind him, sideways so he could collar anyone that tried to get away.

On the footpath under the streetlight outside, the four looked even younger.

“Okay,” Pat began, “Did you see the girl I was talking to outside the pub?” One of the resident bouncers from The Punter’s Club heard Pat or, more probably, read his body language and started walking over. “The bottle you threw, when it broke, a large shard of it actually went into her eye.”

“She’s now in the Alfred Hospital getting it surgically removed from her eye and the police want to know who to speak to.” He stopped and took in three faces wearing expressions not unlike severe carsickness. “Now give me your I.D.’s”

If Pat inspired sufficient terror, the four would hand over their I.D.’s. He could then return to The Re:Public and telephone the police. By the time the boys figured out there was no girl with any injury, Pat would not only have transferred the responsibility to the police, but he would be elsewhere, most probably asleep in bed.

The sick-looking ones reached for their back pockets. The tallest, who had listened hatchet-faced, said flatly, “We didn’t do it.”

“Give me your I.D.,” Pat said. The question was a lot more basic than it sounded. It was an on/off switch with two outcomes, as rudimentary as a traffic light.

“Don’t mate, it’s not worth it,” said the bouncer who had come over, understanding exactly what was meant. Pat held out his hand. Three I.D.s were hurriedly pushed into it.

Pat actually didn’t want the tall one to comply. He wanted an excuse to punch him; to see his jaw fold up like the crumple zone of a car in a crash-test video.

Slowly, out came the fourth I.D.

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