Lenis lay upon the couch contemplating changes in his lifestyle. Most people think they know what they want out of life. Plastic lives with fake furnishings. New cars to match new diets. An assortment of cheap and useless junk to fill that once-small hole that’s developed deep within many of us after years of working long hours for big money. Lenis was proud of the fact he was outside of that system. Lenis wasn’t a part of that sucking up to the man kind of shit. Lenis was 23. He was into abusing drugs and staying at home navel gazing.
He had awoken in the new year to discover 20 days had passed and last year was forgotten. While his neighbours well planned diets and strictly adhered to exercise programs were starting to turn into the fresh asphalt and bitumen to make next years road of good intentions, Lenis was on his own path. He was outside of society and didn’t adhere to the same rules of time. For him it made little difference if it was the 1st or the 31st day of the month, it was still the first month. Therefore today was the start of the year.
And so he was contemplating change and resolutions.
Nothing that would change his lifestyle too much, mind. Lenis enjoyed the fact that he was outside of the system. Capitalism was flawed. Money ruined everything good about the world. The people who didn’t have much of it were usually far nicer than those with a lot of it, like having a lot of money entitled you to increase your self-worth as a person and behave like a cunt. The idea was unsound and the further into poverty that Lenis found himself the more this became an obvious fact to him. He had begun to hate money, to hate what it stood for and everything about it. As he lay there on the couch stoned to the gills he felt like life was just about perfect.
Well not perfect exactly. There were of course a few things he could do, a couple of things that would make his life a bit closer to perfect.
Take his food situation. Lenis had food. But it wasn’t exactly the healthiest food in the world. He made do, putting frozen vegetables into his packet of Mi-Goreng noodles and occasionally cracking an egg into it to create a noodle omelette, but it wasn’t really sufficient nutrition. Especially when you took into consideration the copious amounts of biscuits, chocolates and potato chips he ate.
Then there was his housing situation. Sure, he had a roof over his head. He had a couch. He had a bed. He had a TV and a dvd player. He even had a laptop that occasionally worked and an internet connection that was somewhere between dial up and ADSL. Lenis had called around trying to find better internet service but was told the area needed upgrades. It wasn’t just the internet that needed some neo pizzazz. The area in general wasn’t too crash hot.
Lenis lived in a one bedroom unit within a welfare suburb. Commission housing, tenement accommodation, resentment homes, call it what you would, it meant the same thing. It was a low socio-economic suburb surrounded by fast food joints where people watched their neighbours when they weren’t watching their TV’s. To walk the streets by yourself after a certain hour carried an amount of risk. It wasn’t over the top risk, guns were banned in Australia after all, but there was still some risk.
Despite this, Lenis personally loved it. There was a pay phone on the corner of his street so he never had to worry about being traced by the cops when he placed an order for more stuff. It was a short walk to his dealers house 2 streets away and his dealer bordered the large shopping centre complex with its supermarket and 24 hours access to food. Lenis often went there around 2 or 3 in the morning and hung out with Mike the security guard when he was stoned off his gourd. Opposite that, on the other side of the highway, was a bus stop if he ever wanted to head into the city proper.
Lenis knew that he couldn’t live like this for ever. It was a young persons lifestyle; a simple lifestyle he could enjoy before he met a woman and settled down and grew old or something like that. Lenis hadn’t exactly figured that part of the plan out yet but he wasn’t rushed. There was plenty of time for all of that.
Thinking about growing old with a woman made him think of his own parents. His mum, well he tried to avoid thinking about her as much as possible. She’d cheated on his old man, been caught in the act by Lenis and his dad when they came back early from a fishing trip. Lenis had been keen on fishing. Now he never wanted to go near a fishing rod or a boat. Just thinking about his mum in that moment made the anger rush up inside Lenis like a good line in a dirty stall. It was one thing to be having an affair, quite another to be having some kind of three-or-moresome in the family lounge room.
They hadn’t stopped either. His mum had been oblivious to them coming home, she was on her hands and knees with her back to the door, moaning. The room full of men had laughed when Lenis stepped inside the front door. They had kept going, taunting Lenis and his dad. One man had looked over his shoulder and laughed as Lenis watched him force his cock into his mums gaping arse hole. Another was facing them and thrusting deeply into her mouth. More men were slapping still-dripping cocks against her face and body. There was semen and sweat and blood seeping into the hardwood floor.
Lenis groaned and rolled over on his couch, trying to push the image from his brain. Don’t think about it, think about something else he said over and over, his mantra. It wasn’t the best mantra that was for sure but it was something. Maybe I should start there, he thought, make myself a new mantra this year. It was a start at least.
The one positive thing about reliving that memory was his old man popping into his head for a moment. He hadn’t talked to him for a while now. It had been what, 3 weeks? A month? Lenis began counting on his fingers, trying to do the math. He hadn’t seen his father for Christmas because something had come up. What the hell had it been… the summer shortage! Yes, he had needed to go on a real mission Christmas day with his dealer, Shaun. He remembered Shaun’s logic at the time.
“All the cops and shit are too busy with drunk drivers and family brawls. The roads will be clear, we can get up to New South Wales and back before 24 hours have even passed.”
Lenis had to admit, there was some truth in his logic. That one run had been worth it, had paid for the slight bender that Lenis was only now starting to come down off of properly. Christmas and New Years had blurred into one and he definitely hadn’t seen his dad after Christmas.
Lenis birthday was in October. Lenis knew he had seen him then because he had been pretty strapped for cash at the time. The old man was reliable at least. He hadn’t known what to get Lenis so he’d done the same thing for the past 3 years now. $200. Cold, hard cash. It had been enough money to get him through to the next pay day, with cigarettes and a couple of extra fun birthday treats to enjoy.
Lenis found himself nodding his head. It made sense now, he knew what to do.
He was going to drop in on his old man unexpectedly and pay him a visit. But unlike last time, this wouldn’t be a visit where he asked for something. This was going to be a visit because it was a new year. It was a new year with new intentions. Feeling motivated, Lenis sat upright on the couch and began gathering his stuff. Time to see the old fella.
Lenis pulled a quick bong and exhaled as he stood up, patting his pockets as he did so. Keys, wallet, phone, time to go back home. He stumbled slightly as he walked to the door and at the last moment decided to get a quick drink. He could feel his mouth growing dry before he had even reached the door. He filled an empty bottle up, surveyed his house once more, and headed outside.
The heat hit him with a physical force once he opened the door. Days spent indoors with the blinds down and the air-con on had made him forget just how hot it actually was in the middle of summer. It was sweltering outside. Lenis ignored the heat and began walking towards the bus stop. He was conscious of people watching him. He hated leaving his house during day light hours. The cover of darkness suited him more. Lenis didn’t actually know what the time was but he didn’t think it was too late, probably still before noon or not long after. His dad, well Lenis guessed he would be at home. He had a spare key to his house so even if the old man was out he would be able to get in and wait for him. It wasn’t like Lenis had much else to do with his time. He had learnt that trait from the old man who did little but sit around and watch TV these days.
By the time Lenis got on the bus he had walked past enough people to make him rethink his entire decision. He’d been confronted with too many smiles and warm greetings to make this day anywhere near pleasant. He just wanted to ignore everyone, get to his old mans house, then talk. Lenis loved his dad, despite seeing him so sporadically. He loved him and yet he was always aware of painful memories of how things had once been when he saw him.
The bus began moving through the suburbs, gradually leaving the ghetto that Lenis had taken to calling home and moving in to open streets full of trees and greenery. There weren’t so many chain linked fences and the lawns were mowed. It was a subtle difference but here was a suburb where people began to show a bit of pride for their environment. The bus carried them closer to his dad’s house and Lenis found himself growing ever more cynical as he peered out the window. From manicured lawns to people raking leaves and walking dogs, Lenis felt more and more of an outsider in what had been his old stomping ground. These people didn’t get him, didn’t understand where he was at. There was nothing loud here, nothing ugly or raw. Everything felt clean and fake, dressed up houses to match their painted faced neighbours. Botoxed women who could no longer show expression because their foreheads were stretched so damn tight. Lenis could practically hear them through the bus window. Darling this and you-wouldn’t-believe-who’s-done that. It reminded him of his mother and he did not want to think about her again today.
The entire suburb, now that Lenis thought about it, was the defining feature of everything he hated about capitalism. Here were people who had been born and raised within wealth and had no concept of the struggles of everyday life. These people would look down their noses at him because he liked to smoke some damn cigarettes and enjoyed a bit of pot. It’s not like Lenis was a real drug user, not frequently at least. At least not this year. This year was all about change, new year, new me and all that.
Actually, Lenis corrected himself, now that I think about it somehow 20 days have passed. That’s not my usual. 20 days, when was that last bump? Lenis began tapping his fingers as he tried to count back. Was today Wednesday or Thursday? Well if you counted the week starting from Monday and ignored the late morning post weekend bump, it’s been almost 3 days since I’ve had had much of anything other than pot.
A curious feeling ran down his spine at this thought. Perhaps I am an actual drug user now. Like a proper druggy. He wasn’t sure if the thought gave him fear or comfort. He opted to look for the silver lining. It’s nice to have an identity at least.
The bus pulled up at the old mans stop not long afterwards. Lenis got out and began walking under the shade of the finely shaped hedges that grew in peoples front yards. He had never lived with his dad for long, a couple of months here and there when he was in a tight spot maybe but the incident, as he liked to think of his mothers indiscretion and subsequent marriage breakup, hadn’t happened until Lenis was 16. He’d moved out of home almost immediately, too angry at his mother to look at her and too disappointed at his old man for not having seen the signs earlier.
He’d forgiven his father. He wasn’t perfect but he was learning.
His dads unit was a tiny one bedroom thing in their old neighbourhood. Lenis never understood it. He wanted nothing to do with the fake plastic lives his parents had sold themselves, the mountain of lies they told themselves. Their marriage had been a shambles and for Lenis being back in the midst of these yuppie up themselves people was enough to remind him that he hated it here. He loved his old man though so it was time he pushed aside his hatred for the physical location and made the most of the time spent together.
He walked down the driveway towards the unit. The old mans unit was the third of three, right at the end of the block. He reached the front door and didn’t bother knocking, it didn’t even occur to him that he should. He unlocked the door and let himself inside.
The first thing he saw was the kitchen, straight in front of him. Beyond that was the lounge. Within that he could see his dad lying out in front of the TV in a fold out armchair, as per bloody usual.
Then he noticed that his dad didn’t look like he was the right colour. And there was a certain smell in the house that also wasn’t particularly nice. Lenis tried to quench the panic that suddenly tore up inside him and threatened to overwhelm him. He wanted to vomit. He wanted to step closer and double check. He wanted to run outside and scream for help, to find an adult to fix the problem. Because in that moment Lenis suddenly understood that he wasn’t a man, he was still a child playing at being a big boy, all grown up with his minor drug habit and his lack of concern for others. He was a fucking juvenile when faced with the prospect of having found his old mans body lying there dead in his favourite armchair.
His dad, Raymond, had a different view on the situation.