Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – a Novel

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She shifted her hands from his chest to his back. Her nails gently depressed his skin the way a cat uses its claws to establish a precise hold.

She had her eyes closed now, and he wondered where she had gone. Wherever it was, she sounded happy. But that unabashed happiness seemed odd to him. A little foolish. Even ridiculous.

Which was when he felt himself begin to falter. His focus had gone; he felt as if whatever had tethered him had broken and he was drifting away from the moment. His erection began to deflate.

In a panic, he shut his eyes and tried to imagine Rita underneath him, but that didn’t help. When he opened his eyes, he saw a greasy bottle of baby oil on the nightstand with a long black hair looped around the neck of it.

“Oh Jesus,” he said. She opened her eyes, a half smile on her lips.

“What’s up?”

“I’m losing it.”

“Just relax,” she said, her big red mouth welling up into a kiss. She threaded her fingers into the roots of his hair. In doing so, one of her hands obscured his eye. He abruptly pulled his head away like a frighted horse. “Jesus!” she said.

“It’s okay,” he said, reassuring her now becoming his job. “I just get freaked out when people put their hands near my face. When I don’t expect it.”

“Okay… sorry.”

“Sorry. It’s my fault.” She kissed him and they resumed their motion. In an effort to make it work, Pat blurted out, forgetting himself, “Can you tell me you love me?”

“I love you.”

It rolled straight off her tongue, but the subtle, delicate mechanics of that particular sincerity are something that even a professional can’t fake.

**

It was well and truly morning when they drove out of the underground car park and up into the sun-drenched street; a style of winter morning that Melbourne does better than any city in the world.

The air was cold, but the sunlight fell through it warm. Pat felt it descend onto his bare forearm where he had it rested on the windowsill of the Valiant.

“Thanks, Dad,” said Stevie.

“Yeah – thanks, Johnny,” said Wally. “She sure was a big, strong girl.”

“Mine too,” said Johnny. “She looked like a kitten on the couch, but by crikey,” he shifted in his seat, “she may have crushed a disc.”

“How did you go, Patty?” asked Stevie, not knowing to leave well enough alone. The other two had discreetly ignored him, seeing the smoke trickling out his ears from the furnace of his brain.

“Okay, mate. How did you go?” Pat boomeranged the question.

“I’ve had better, but she sure was pretty!”

“She was.”

“Which one did you shag?”

“The Hostess.” Everyone went quiet, the way a group of students do when someone reveals a perfect score on a graduation exam.

“I didn’t know she wasn’t on the menu,” said Johnny. “Come to think of it, she wasn’t on the bill, either.”

“I didn’t have to pay.”

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