I don’t really remember much of the drive to Orange, the only town in Australia who’s name doesn’t rhyme with anything. I do remember seeing the only difference between QLD and NSW. It’s the rocks. You don’t get a lot of rocks where I come from, and the ones you do get are big and sharp and dirt coloured. The rocks in NSW are old school. Grey and smooth. There were outcrops. I had never seen a proper outcrop before. It blew my mind. Considering the state my mind was in it was easily blown.
The animals were different too. Instead of big horned ones there were little wooly ones. The grass was green and the hills rolled. In Queensland the grass is brown and the hills stick upwards like mother nature flipping you the bird.
I told my brother all this and he didn’t reply.
I tried to get back to reading The Lord of the Rings but I couldn’t. As far as I was concerned I was living it. So I got out my notepad and pen and started doing something I had never done before. Planning a novel. At that point I had no idea how long it should be, how I should break up the chapters or even whether to do it from first or third person. I hardly new what any of those meant. I hadn’t read a lot of novels, not a good start for a writer.
I didn’t even think about all these things. I just got lost in the story. It seemed the right way to go about it. Later I would discover a lot of things and techniques and skills that would be used to write well, but I would never lose that way of thinking. To me the whole point of writing was to tell a story. Whether you wrote simple or complicated, well or like a two year old, the story was the most important part.
The novel I was writing was dog shit. Terrible. Some fantasy story set in a medieval version of Australia. It was more a shitty Dungeons and Dragons campaign than a novel. I didn’t give a fuck. I was enjoying myself.
We got to Orange. It was a nice place. About the size of Ipswich but with less drugs and stabbings and youths yelling. About thirty degrees cooler as well. We had only had a four hour drive so we had plenty of daylight to kill. We did our usual thing where we don’t call ahead so we end up driving around for hours looking for a place to stay that won’t cost us our food and petrol and booze money. We eventually found a small caravan park next to a wrecker’s. We got a cabin instead of a camping site. It cost us 700% more. We did not care. We were as sick as a Victorian waif.
We sat in the cabin with the heater on full. We were on our fourth cup of tea each. The television was on and showing something terrible. We decided that this was not the way to go about things. We did not drive hundreds of kilometres to sit and watch television. We decided to go out and do something. It turned out to be a Sunday. None of the shops were open. No-one was on the streets. We didn’t know where any pubs were. The only thing we could find was a shitty movie theatre that was playing movies we had seen before and movies we didn’t want to see. We ended up watching “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” in a deserted movie theatre, sitting a seat apart so if anybody did turn up they wouldn’t think we were a couple.
We got up from the movie seats before the credits rolled. We walked out to the street, ignoring the looks from the guy behind the counter. We walked to where we parked a few blocks away in a cold and bitter wind. My brother shouted something above the wind. I yelled back at him.
“I said that chick in the movie was pretty hot.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
We went back to our cabin and slept the rest of Orange away.