New Years Eve on Botany Bay 2010-2011
By Albert Megraw
A tongue moves around sticky spittle, and bile, along with unnamed bits of … something not identified; acid tinges run over filmed over teeth, which feel furry, and belonging to another. Stale beer mingles with sweat, and pungent urine that creeps into these nostrils. He shakes his head to drive away these unwanted intrusions, the motion causes my head to explode, and throb, which brings my stomach to heave letting loose the contents that sit within. Wet sticky fluid, and half digested food runs down my open shirt front matting my hairy chest, and sitting their warmly caught within their curly strands.
These limbs have lost their marionette strings, and just won’t lift or move at all, a puppet without a hand to set it in motion, lying discarded, cold, and useless to anyone.
The earth beneath this body is cushioned with deep lush grasses and a hundred flies swam over the regurgitated stomach contents as though at a new years’ feast and drinking at the cool damp moisture from my flared nostrils and scurrying into my open mouth from a dropped chin that won’t stay up to keep my mouth closed.
Ants in their thousands march from their nests in long lines scurrying one way and then the other as they set about collecting up food scarps and carting it back to their nests. Fingernails scratch at the bites from the little critters driving me from this delirious state into the present where the sun is blinding with its brightness causing me to slip back into this stupor state of insensibility.
Laughter fills these ears bringing back memories of the night before. My teen friends and I gathered at Brighton beach to watch the fireworks and welcome in the New Year with a six pack of coke and various packets of munchies raided from our mum’s cupboards. Tents were pitched close to our group; and slabs of beer are unloaded from a hotrod car, (the bottoms must have been scraping the road with the load it carried) the cases are stacked as like bricks on a building site creating a wall that protects their space...
Eskies already filled with clicking glass bottles are spaced around and bags of ice are dragged out of a red hotrod car with enough bits and pieces attached to make it fly. A large white defect notice sits boldly across the windscreen left there I am sure by the defiant owner as his badge of righteousness. This seems to elevate him amongst those around him, a constant source of storytelling from him causes bellowing laughter as he re-enacts the scenario of getting his trophy that is now his pride and joy.
The poor bugger spends the next two hours removing the highly prized seat covers soaked by the wet ice bags, pegging then into the tree branches well out of the way of grasping hands and drying the Camira seats with a beach towel complaining “Oh My God “ as a statement before every sentence uttered.
The small space my friends and I have between their slab wall of beer and several tree trunks gets encroached upon as more and more of their friends arrive and ease themselves into their growing space and half of ours gets taken too. I tackle who I think is the ringleader about them taking over our already small space and he arranges the slabs of been into an L shape wall that we sit behind. That’s ok but we loose more space than we gain. However we sit with out backs against the cold beer boxes that keep us cool as the night goes on. We dare not all leave our staked out area together for a swim or we will loose it to the thousands that keep arriving and hunting for a postage stamp size piece of real estate that is a premium tonight. An arriving rickety Ute is pushed between the two souped-up cars of our neighbours and four burly guys slide the barbeque out the back and set about getting it operational. All the while we had been sipping our cokes, and munching on packets of chips and stuff. The smell of cooking chicken from skewered kebabs permeates the air around us, and the sounds of empty beer bottles landing in the back of the old Ute rings out every few minuets.
It is now close to nine o’clock and the crowds are now really packing in around Botany Bay’s water edges to the roadway for this firework extravaganza. The humming chat of a dozen languages floats in the air mingling with laughter, kids chattering, and cries from awoken babies.
Our encroaching neighbours offer us food and demand that we join them. As soon as we accept, that wall of beer cases shift to claim the space we have just vacated and the hot rods are adjusted and like a wagon train our internal space is walled off from the masses on the other side. We sit atop of the wall of beer cases as the first of the fireworks loudly explodes into the night sky and the oohs and ahs loudly erupt from thousands of voices and then all becomes silent waiting expectantly for what is to come next.
A cold bottle is shoved into my hand and those of my friends. “Drink up” a youth my age demands as he drains his own bottle and flings it to land with a hundred other in the back of the old ute. “Get it down yah” my close friend Greg tells me as he drains his own bottle and Jeff follows suit. I sit there…I’m not sure this is right, never had this stuff before, my folks would never have offered me a beer and would never condone me drinking it either. “Come on” Greg banters me into taking my first swig and then the bottle is empty. I wonder what all the fuss about drinking is; I don’t feel any different.
The fireworks dance across the bay and waltzes across the skies and the grand finale is quite something to see. It may not be as grand as the fireworks in the city and the bridge tonight but from what I see of the smiles and laughter, I think my fellow viewers are well contented with the result.
More Kebabs are passed around along with another cold bottle for each of us, and so the night goes on and Happy New Year is passed around, backs are slapped happily and another cold beer ends up filling my empty hand. We empty our bladders between the Ute and the Red Hotrod. Being uphill a little river has carved its way down hill, and I wonder who is copping it down there. I laugh at my own thoughts, and giggle a lot more than I usually do, but hey; it’s New Years Eve I convince myself, let your hair down. We dance, we sing, and even though the music is weird at times it all becomes part of the fun.
Another beer is pressed into my other hand, and I stand there with one in each. I down one, and then the other, once more sending the bottles onto the heaped up pile that is building in the back of the old battered Ute.
The crows have thinned out, and now there is a clear track to the waters edge. “Let’s go swimming” shouts out Greg, getting most of the group shuffling and sliding down the sand dune to the water’s edge. Greg drops his pants and is off into the water, his naked pink bottom shining in the light of the far off street lamps. In a flash, I find I am the only one standing there on the beach. Wading into the water I join in the antics of our newly made friend’s clothes and all, acting like the rest, a real idiot. Our happy laughter ripples across the waves and unknown strangers join the merriment. Leaving the water I make my way back to our four walled stockade, where the beer runs freely and our wall of slabs of beer gets smaller and smaller.
He shakes me and through blurry eyes I see one of my new friends. He sets about cleaning me up… “Oh my God man you stink so badly.” He tells me as something wet rubs over my face and chest. “That’s looking better.” He tells me and then a hiss of something and then the smell fills my nostrils. “What’s that I ask of him?” “CK1 summer dude, that should hide anything we haven’t cleaned up.” His laughter is infectious and I find myself joining in. I feel a lot better but a little wobbly. He takes me home in his souped-up red hotrod with the defect notice. I made a new friend and I hope we see more of each other. I don’t think I will be drinking again after this.