Posts Tagged With: fiction

Silly little dreamer’s birthday

My birthday in tropical paradise! I rise from my throne with a yawn and a wookie growl. It’s hard to tell whether it is the burn of the sun, or an orchestra of monkeys (and a drop bear) that wakes me from my slumber.

I leave the tree by sliding down the newly constructed flying-fox, which finishes halfway along Monkey Forest Road. It’s the best way to escape the forest without being chased by a white tiger (you sneak back in by hiding behind a tourist). Some of the monkeys follow but I kindly tell them to leave me alone for a little while. Cause I need ME time.

Bitstrip rainbows

I sit down for a refreshing ginger and apple juice at the Three Monkeys Bar. Get a massage. Ride my moped without a helmet on, dammit. Have a copper pull me up, and he recognises me and smiles and sings “Happy Birthday Mr Monkey King” in broken English, then asks for money.

I play soccer with a group of local kids in a nearby village, have Mi goreng for lunch, and get a tattoo of a machine-gun wielding monkey on my back.

I believe a birthday should be a celebration of life. Nothing planned. Nothing set. No sit down roast dinners. I think it should be doing everything on the spot. Laughing when you’re 80 and saying “See this shriveled tattoo of a monkey gunning down Nazis? My 24th! I know!” Waking up and running out of your home and facing the world and saying “I always wanted to do this, so dammit! This is my time!”

But I realised that I just wanted to be with my monkeys. I could imagine that they were sad and lonely, wondering why they couldn’t celebrate my birthday with me.

SONY DSC

Photograph by Carol Boaden

But no, when I got back I found the selfish bastards my friends drunk. It was too hot to dance. Most of them were just chilling on Bali lounges with tequilas and chatting up hot Swedish tourists. Moby was playing so loud on our collection of stereos that I could hear him from the other end of Monkey Forest Road. The traffic was hell, with most of the locals swarming closer, refusing to miss another monkey party. A bouncer (what the? Who hired him?) was blockading the gate, only letting in the chicks.

“You can’t come in!” the bouncer said. “I’ve been warned about you.” Then he chuckled and slapped me on the back and said “had you going.”

I entered, surveying the madness. I stepped over what I first thought was a mutated hedgehog (nothing like Sonic though) but was actually a stoned white tiger with an insane amount of tranquilisers pinned into the fur.

I grabbed a “cold one” from an esky and that’s when all the monkeys jumped up and ambushed me and lifted me. I crowd surfed all the way through the forest and was at last put down onto my throne. The monkeys handed  me presents and cards, blabbering I had to open theirs first.

Well, I couldn’t open everybody’s first, so they helped me do it. Mojo opened Timmy’s present, a Kris (Indonesian sword). “Oh boy!” Just what I wanted!” Mojo shrieked, and ran down the tree with it to show his friends.

Garrett the drop-bear gave me a collection of The Doors albums, Jo-Jo gave me a golden engraved staff and some socks, and Lucy returned my Gossip Girl DVDs.

I opened the cards last. That’s how I do things.

This was my favourite cover:

monkey king card

But wait! There’s more!

Monkey king card 2

 I couldn’t have had a better year, so thank you all for putting up with my eccentricities and crazy dreams. I love you all.

Categories: Humor, Party | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Loving Luce

Luce parked the moped in front of a resort called Ubud Green. She led me through a maze of pathways to different villas. We entered through a door,  walked through a hallway and lounge to a patio and swimming pool where several other people chatted on a Bali lounge.

The patio overlooked the rice paddies. It was silent out there but for the night time insects and amphibians. The unspoiled and hard workers would wake soon.  But in the villa it was filled with talking, the clack of wine bottles, and the doomed voice of Amy Winehouse. Crime writer Joey shared the villa next door with a few other writers, so he kindly went to get me some surf shorts to wear.

We stripped to our swim wear and were in the pool in minutes. Luce and I broke from the others. She swam to the edge of the patio, and I swam casually in her direction. I was her satellite now. Joey sat on the pool stairs and talked with the others, and though he settled on a frizzy haired blonde beauty to talk to during the 3am blues; still he frowned as he watched us both.

SONY DSC

Luce and I talked. There is much to it when you love the sound the words come from, the lips the sounds escape. She told me why she left modelling, and why she liked photography so much. She was reluctant at first, but she spoke faster and her hands would jump animatedly from the surface of the water, often splashing me in the eyes.

“They used my image to represent other products,” she said, sometime during the early hours, when we were the only two left on the patio. “Sure, I felt beautiful when I saw the finished photos. But I suppose I always wanted to record other images to represent how I felt. Guess after a lot of crap that happened, I gave up the fashion. Put on too much weight anyway.”

I wanted to tell her she wasn’t fat, that she was beautiful, amazing, gorgeous. I am glad I didn’t get the chance to reveal my infatuation. She ducked under the water. Resurfaced and spat the water in my face. “Argh!” I groaned dramatically and wrestled her back under the water. She slid away like an eel, poked me in the ribs and swam to the other side for another Bintang.

We sat on the pool stair, she comfortably between my legs, as we watched the sky lighten over the rice paddies. The palms that marked a ravine in the distance began to colour from dark blues to orange and greens. The air warmed. Once we left the pool we would sweat.

“What about you, Chris?” Luce asked as she stroked my tanned, hairy thigh. “We’ve talked about me all night. I’m so sorry.”

Only now did I start thinking of the degree I had left behind. The assignments that were due. I knew I would have to turn on my phone and answer the many messages from concerned family members. I felt tense now, and perhaps she felt that. She spun around and kissed me.

“Do you write much poetry?” she asked. I knew then she believed I was entirely different to what I was. She thought I was a wandering bohemian writing love poetry and down to earth travel fiction as a way to make a living.

“I never wrote poetry before,” I said, “I never performed. I never wrote any stories. I’m not that creative.”

“Everyone is creative,” Luce said. “You just need inspiration. You need a muse.” She grinned. “Write about tonight, where we were, what we did, what we’re going to do.”

It was now hot above the surface of the water. She slowly got out and held my hand. “I’m tired,” she yawned, and took me into the villa, kept on walking till she opened a glass sliding door into her bedroom. The king sized bed was made; ready; prepared on both sides. Her body was still damp as she lay next to me on the bed.

An air-conditioner hummed somewhere above us. I kissed her, and she kissed me harder. Her facial expression seemed angry in the room’s vague lighting, even when she closed her eyes.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hobnobbing with Paul Kelly and Luce

The festival’s closing ceremony was amazing. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

It was held beside a resort on the top of a hill. 500 locals and westerners (perhaps more) danced  to bass, acoustic and Balinese rhythms, as large exotic birds – like cockatoos, parrots and horn-bills – all gathered on artificial branches by the back wall, watching us with disdain.

An experimental acoustic guitarist from Jordan opened the night – he crooned out songs as the crowd got loose. A girl danced with me for a little while, and I made the mistake of dancing too. The surrounding backpackers booed at my moves.

Embarrassed, I slunk away, as men wearing masks and stilts twirled with fire. They co-ordinated their somersaults and twirls in traditional dress, blasting fire over the audience like dragon fire. Instead of terrified cries, there was applause, and another song began.

Someone took my arm, while I was still blushing. “Did you see that?” Luce said (the girl I met in the Bali Buddha the day before). “Wasn’t it incredible?” She let go of my arm. “I love Bali.”

“Me too,” I said, and I just stood, not sure how to keep up the conversation while we had to shout in each other’s ears to be heard. I watched her out of the corner of my eye for a little bit, loved how she had curled her red hair, how the colour suited the low cut black dress. Once again – I kept my eyes from slinking down her body.

“I’m Luce,” she said, offering a hand. I shook it.

“Nice to meet you.”

She smiled. “This is the part where you say your name, isn’t it?”

“Chris.”

“You’re from Australia,” she said, guessing from my accent. “I love Australia.”

“Seems like you love everywhere you go,” I said, and she laughed and pushed her hair behind an ear and said “not quite. I’ve been to a lot of places, and some of them have been hellish.”

Her mouth was dry, so I offered to get us both a bottle of flavoured water (no alcohol at the actual ceremony, that was reserved for the after-party) and when I came back she spoke about her photography, and where she had been this year alone (Iceland, India, Nepal) and that she was going to America in a few days’ time.

A few minuters later there was a loud applause later and the crowd scattered. The 2011 Ubud Writers Festival had closed. Before Luce went to join a small group of writers, she said,“If you’re going to the after party at Bridges soon, I’ll see you there?”

I told her I would.

Twenty minutes later and I was at the Bridges Restaurant. It was unclear at first how large the building was. It was set on a ravine – and by the main street bridge which was obviously it’s namesake. There was a spiral staircase set over three floors but the main entrance was on the second. There were bright lights, light brown polished wood and candles everywhere. Bar keeps and waitresses strode calmly but hurriedly to serve the increasing number of customers. I walked downstairs but a blond Dutch man guarded a doorway which was signed “Writers and VIP guests only” and asked me politely if I was anyone special.

Photograph taken from julieinbali.wordpress.com

A photograph of where the writers after party was. I presume the photo was snapped from the bridge. Taken from julieinbali.wordpress.com

So I sat out the front, sharing a bowl of chips with a few other friends I made throughout the festival. They were nice, welcoming, friendly. But I kept thinking of Luce. I was crushing on her, bad.  I thought our conversation could have meant something. But as I write this I realise that the polite conversation she initiated was a lovely reflection on herself, and not on me.

“Chris!” Luce waved at me as she passed by with her writer mates – who were beginning to walk in improvised swirls that only intoxication can bring with such nonchalant lack of elegance. I recognised the poet who inspired me a few nights before into writing poetry. “Come on! We’re going downstairs! Join us!”

I followed her without thinking as I followed the troupe down the stairs – hoping to pass unnoticed by the bouncer. They all showed badges to the Dutch bouncer and were in the party on the other side.

“Who is this?” the Dutch man eyed me down.

“My plus one!” Luce said, and when he looked sceptical, she held my hand. The skin on her hand felt tough and bony, certainly not soft like the powdered cheeks on her face. He waved us through and we stood on a balcony over the river; surrounded by talented musicians and writers I recognised,  but without PR or security blocking them. I recognised Selina Godden, Geoff Lemon, the guitarist from Jordan, Morris Gleitzman, I even brushed arms with Paul Kelly.

“So how do you make gravy anyway?” I asked the famous Australian musician, who was reaching for chocolate mousse. He smiled at me quizzically.

“Stay cool, Chris! Stay cool,” Luce said.

“Give my love to Angus!” I shouted back, as she led me to a corner to sit under a frangipani tree. And still she did not let go of my hand.

“Thank you,” I said as a waiter offered martinis, and as Luce passed me one, she smiled and said, “you’re absolutely welcome.”

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My life: a prequel

Play the song for the atmosphere, and strap yourself in for the story before I became Monkey King, and how I met the woman who changed my entire mindset about life.

UNTIL two years ago I did not have the chance to be creative. Not really. Sure there were Paint document experiments, and Cowboys and Indians, and McDonalds playground adventures. But that was the limit.

“Study law,” Dad said Christmas morning the year I graduated high school. “And you can use it to gain legitimacy in everything you do, particularly among the lower classes.”

“Sure, okay,” I said, only knowing that I would eventually join the family business. Until then I could do whatever I liked, within reason and as long as it brought no dishonour among the family.

“My son’s going to be a lawyer!” Dad later declared at the Christmas family gathering, the olive in his cocktail falling onto a crab in the seafood platter. Everyone cheered and donated money and cheques into a big bowl for “the cause”.

That afternoon I had enough to study at Bond University (Gold Coast) three times over. I couldn’t get out of it even if I had the willpower.

I blame the stress of exams for the breakdown, and the fact that despite study I just couldn’t memorise anything from the textbooks. At some point I thought overseas travel might clear my head. It might have been the combination of the seven Monster energy drinks, three days without sleep, and dad’s cocaine talking.

I decided to go to Denmark. I bought the tickets and discovered a week later (two hours before the flight) that I had booked to go to Denpasar airport, Bali, instead.

I spent the first week in Kuta throwing money around. I spent time at the pool, the market, in bars, in shopping centres. I tried to get “cultured” by going to the beach. I went on an elephant ride and to the safari park.

At some point I stopped in Ubud. I had tea and a club sandwich at a little tea house hidden behind a building on the main road. Some European women with the brown wrinkled skin of having lived in Bali most of their lives were talking about there not being enough volunteers at the upcoming writer’s festival.

A younger woman joined them. She sat down after ordering fish and chips, in Balinese. She was cute. I was lonely. For two weeks I’d only talked to people who spoke broken English. “Can I help at all?” I asked, and a wicked beam was shared between the three women.

After I finished my club sandwich, Chantelle (the cute woman who I later found out was from Sweden) led me to an old filthy room by the side of the road. I helped other interns scrub down the walls and paint it a bright blue colour. In days we cleaned it and electricity was rerouted from a cord to the power-line so computers could work.

I didn’t see Chantelle much but I think by the way she flirted and took my chips one lunchtime, that she knew I liked her. She toyed with that…And though she was beautiful, she was not the woman I dated. She is not the subject of this blog.

The subject of the blog, well, she saw me perform at an eventful performance poetry competition. Which I will tell you about. Next time.

Categories: How I Met a Woman, Ubud Writers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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