Below is the second chapter taken from an unfinished short story titled The Tale of Sticky Killer.
I left the suburbs and Melbourne behind at 22. I wasn’t sure if I’d return but I needed something else – and that’s precisely what I got.
After 3 months I was working on McIlroy’s Sugar Cane Plantation in northern Queensland. It was hot and heavy work and my skin showed the signs. Two weeks in, I thought I’d never be able to clean the dirt from under my fingernails.
McIlroy’s was a small farm and they took me on in peak season. After the international help left to drink and fuck on the Gold Coast, I stayed. For one reason: Emma. I admired her from my first day on the farm. Up until the time we first spoke I was convinced it would never work out, my lust would fade before it had a chance to grow and be harvested and then refined. This idea started because of the way she looked, the way I looked, and how strange I thought we would have looked together: A girl with a dark and even complexion given to her by the sun. With rich brunette hair that I fantasized would just cover her breasts. And green eyes that Jimmy and I could have spent an afternoon discussing. Me, a sunburnt kid on the day I first got to know her voice. Pale and fair and white and pink. Light brown eyes, medium height, fawn blonde hair with four days of growth on my chin. I was a dime-a-dozen where I was from – an outsider on the farm.
A simple hello was all it took for a friendship to flower and romance to begin. If only I had known this in high school.
My timeless greeting was given to her at The Station Hotel on a Friday night between the second and third sets of bluegrass music. Emma responded in her perfectly laconic way and made me feel like I was the most recent in a series of advances that were made to her that night… It was probably true.
The Station Hotel on a Friday night listening to bluegrass was where I could be found, for two months straight, with Emma.
We moved in together into a caravan on her family friend’s property just west of the town centre. A short 20 minute walk from The Station Hotel. We lived and ate and sang and made love and couldn’t believe our luck. Our caravan was home for a little over a year. We managed to save a little money and buy a motorbike. We had a simple, happy life and my skin was getting used to the punishment.
The vibrato in my mothers voice the night she called the main house meant the good times were over. A day later Emma was dropping me at the airstrip. I was heading back to Melbourne. My father was dying. The last words I heard before boarding the plane were Emma’s: “Good luck Luke. I love you.”
Written December 2015