Part Four: Wake Me Up Before You Row, Ro7 June 2017
It was the middle of the night and I was racing alongside Mordialloc Creek – at least, it used to be a creek, before the Apocalypse had transformed it into a wide, flooded trench of sewage – attempting to be stealthy as I hid from the YOMG kids and any other groups that camped out along the water’s edge, while I tried to find a boat that wasn’t a complete wreck.
Eventually I found one; a small rowboat tied to a pole. It was rotting at the edges and I was worried that the wood wouldn’t hold my weight, but it was the only one that I could find that still looked like an actual boat.
I was about five metres away from shore when I noticed George, now fully clothed, running towards the water. It was dark but I would know his hysterical movements anywhere and in any light – he looked between me and the water separating us, pacing back and forth in agitation as I slowly drifted away.
“Ro!” he shouted, jumping up and down and waving his arms frantically, as if he were in a Jetstar ad but all the passengers were having a panic attack mid-jump.
“Go away, George.”
He was offended by this and began to wade into the creek after me. The murky water came up to his waist by the time he got to me and I reluctantly pulled him into the boat.
“What the fuck do you think this is? Lord of the Rings?” I screwed my face up and shifted to the edge of the boat. “You idiot, you’ve got shit all over your – is that a skirt?”
He glared at me. “Don’t be sexist. David Bowie wore skirts.”
I hadn’t studied gender theory since the pre-Apocalypse days, but obviously that Arts degree is deferred for a semester, or a year or… forever. Either way, I felt that George was going to mention Judith Butler at any moment, and I decided that, if he did, I would jump overboard and swim back to shore in Mordi’s collective shit, Tinder Girl be damned.
“Are you really going to start lecturing me on sexism? I was just questioning your choice of style, dude.”
He scoffed and muttered, “I left in a hurry.” He gave me a pointed look, raising his eyebrows in this condescending Thanks for that kind of way. “Why are you taking a boat to find your man-eater anyway?”
Ignoring the cannibal dig I said, “Boats are very practical,” and passed him the paddles. Truth be told, it was more because our bike had been left at the beach.
I put George in charge of rowing seeing as he forced himself onto my expedition. He was shit, but not any better than I would have been, and – slowly but surely – we made our way towards Aspendale Gardens.
What might have been a short boat ride in the days of the pre-Apocalypse quickly became an excursion that drifted into drowned trolleys and downed tree trunks for most of the night, our coordination and sense of direction more awful than usual in the dark. I couldn’t tell how far we had gone, or if we were even outside Mordialloc yet, but after getting sick of George bitching about how sore his arms were, I suggested that we return to shore.
As we approached land, George pointed out a guy who had stumbled out from behind some trees, waving his arms and shouting something at us.
“Is that your Tinder match?” asked George.
I was starting to think that George’s cannibal theory was correct, and that this Tinder match thing was just a lure. “Jesus, I hope not. What the hell is he saying?”
We both paused to listen. The man shrieked, “Stop the boats!”
“Is that… is that Tony Abbott?”
George sighed. “And I thought that man could sink no lower.”
I mean, we thought it was Tony Abbott, but really he kind of looked like… Gollum, if Gollum was taller and wore speedos. He was hunched over and scuttling along the edge of the water, beginning to push us away once we made it close enough to shore.
“No!” he spat. “No more boats! Go away!”
George and I jumped out of the boat before he pushed us into the water, then backed away slowly.
“Uh – Mr. Abbott. Tony. This is a creek, mate.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think he understands us. He’s deranged or something.”
Tony Abbott grunted and turned back to our rowboat, continuing his attempt at pushing it away and muttering, “Must – keep – Austraya – safe.”
He had a Country Road bag slung awkwardly over his shoulder, and as he bent over to shove the boat, onions began falling out of it.
There were many thoughts going through my mind in this moment – mainly, what the fuck is Tony Abbott doing in south-east Victorian suburbia – but there wasn’t really enough time to process anything or try to grasp at an explanation.
I turned to George. “I say we take his onions and run.”
“I hate onions, but okay.”