Phil Brown -  journalist . writer . poet


Phil Brown

journalist . writer . poet

articles . books . poems

TOUCHY  FEELY

Short Story by Phil Brown

 

When Johnny saw the busker coming it was already too late.
The guy, some sunburnt backpacker with way too many earrings, had been working the tables at Tamari café and bistro in Surfers Paradise and he was now honing in on Johnny and Gino who were drinking their coffee in relative peace.
Gino Lugardi didn’t like to be disturbed when he was having his morning coffee.
He was a towering, giant of a man with a huge head and one lush black eyebrow that spread right across his forehead. Tufts of thick black hair sprung out from under his t-shirt along the neck and chest line. That shirt could barely contain a bulk honed by years of body building and steroid abuse. Everyone told him he looked like Lou Ferrigno (he liked that) and he had recently painted himself green to attend a fancy dress party as The Hulk. He was, needless to say, very convincing until the green make-up started to run.
Johnny shook his head at the busker who was now zeroing in on the big fellow.
Oblivious to Johnny’s gesticulations,  waving his tinny guitar around, the dickhead  danced towards them, in the shadow of the Valley of Death, leaned over the table, behind and a little to the left of Gino’s shoulder and started crooning …”Knock, knock knockin' on heaven's door.”
How fucken appropriate, thought Johnny, as he waited for the shit to hit the fan.
Gino sat there impassively for a few moments. He did impassive pretty well.
Then he slowly raised his right hand, turned a little, like a statue coming to life (turning wasn’t easy for a bloke that big) and then he reached up and grabbed the busker’s shirt-front, pulling him down until his head was on the table, cheek down. The busker looked up, terrified.
“Go … away,” Gino said, his voice booming out across the street and rolling beyond it onto the beach like a deep, sonorous, sonic wave.
“Vot is your problem, you don’t like music?” the busker asked, proving that though he had no brain he certainly had balls. He spoke with an accent, possibly German.
“Wrong answer kraut,” Johnny said, squinting and bracing himself slightly, waiting for Gino to make his move.
“Whatsa matter you no understand English?” Gino said. “I said … go …a-fucken …way.”
He pushed the guy then and the busker seemed to dance backwards for about eight or nine steps before he collapsed in the middle of the mall. His guitar hit the paving stones and the sounds of the jangled strings reverberated. Gino turned back to the table, picked up his coffee cup and took a sip.
“Fucken coffee’s fucken cold,” Gino said.
Johnny caught the proprietor’s eye.
“Hey Lou, two more flat white’s mate, these are stone cold,” he said.
“Yeah, sure boys, no worries,” Lou said coming over to the table. “What’s the problem Gino? That guy bother you. You don’t like Bob Dylan?” Lou laughed.
“Gino don’t like music in the morning,” Johnny said, speaking for his boss, as he often did. “Except for that Italian shit.”  
“You mean like Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce, that kind of thing?” Lou smiled.
“Hey Lou,” Gino drawled. “Coffee. Okay?”
“Yeah, work on your stand-up act some other time and give us some fucken caffeine mate,” Johnny added.
“Yeah, yeah, two flatties comin’ up,” Lou said and he went back inside.
“Kala,” Johnny said using one of the two Greek words in his vocabulary.
When the coffee arrived the two men sat sipping at it, shielded from the glare by dark sunglasses. They hadn’t been up long and it had been a big night.
Gino owned a dingy nightclub, called Backstage, in nearby Beach Road. Johnny was his sidekick, ran errands and looked out for Gino who was what some might call a colourful identity. The police might beg to differ but what could they do?
Gino ran a legitimate business, as he told anyone who asked and that business was in his blood. His family had run nightclubs in Melbourne among other things and Gino had grown up in a dynasty which was often on the wrong side of the law. His father and his uncles always claimed to be businessmen and in their own minds they were. Depends what you mean by business.
Gino was actually a bit of a rebel because he had left the clan in Melbourne and moved to the Gold Coast to start up his own branch of the family business. The family had always holidayed in Surfers Paradise and Gino just liked the joint. It was a town where he felt like he was on holiday every day and that appealed to him. The nightclub was the public façade of his endeavours which included importing and, occasionally exporting certain goods further north.
Being in the nightclub business he was up late every night and he slept late.
When he wasn’t sleeping in or pumping iron at Big Steve’s Gym he could be found back at the club, sleeping on the couch, talking on the phone - short, monosyllabic, obtuse exchanges mostly -or propping up the bar at night, keeping an eye on things. And girls.
Gino had an apartment overlooking Surfers Paradise beach and Johnny lived there too in a much smaller room at the opposite end, like a live-in butler.
When they got up each morning, late, they usually made their way to Tamari first for a heart starter. Now, with the caffeine coursing through their veins, they were starting to feel awake.
“Ah, I needed that,” Johnny said, draining his cup and wiping his hand across his mouth.
“Why don’t you use your fucken napkin Johnny, you got no manners,” Gino said. He dabbed at his mouth with the napkin like someone at etiquette school, an incongruous gesture for a bloke who resembled the missing link.
“Oh, mi scusi,” Johnny said. “La de fucken da.”
As he did he saw Gino look away over his shoulder and he raised a finger like something out of a Michelangelo and pointed.
“Hey, look, Johnny …is that Phil over there?”
“Where?” Johnny said turning. “Oh yeah, fucken Phil. With a beautiful girl.”
“Yeah,” Gino said. “That babe is hot.”
“Wait a minute, what’s wrong with this picture?” Johnny said. “Phil with a hot chick, that ain't right.”
The pair had met Phil at the gym a couple of years ago and since then he had sometimes worked as a bouncer at the club. Occasionally Phil did other stuff for Gino too but he was always running his own capers as well, scams that inevitably sent him broke and back to the club for extra work. Phil was, well … he was no Einstein. Maybe that was why Gino liked him. Johnny thought he was a fucken idiot but he kind of liked him too.
Gino and Johnny both gave a royal wave and Phil waved back and then he and the young woman he was with went back to talking.
“Not very sociable,” Gino said.
“A bit preoccupied,” Johnny said. “But I guess ya gotta respect a bloke’s privacy when he’s on the job.”
“Yeah, but the guy can’t come over and say hello? What’s with that?”
Johnny got up and went over to Phil’s table.
“Hey buddy, what’s doin?” he asked, shaking hands.
“Nothin’ much mate,” Phil said. “Just chillin’ and chattin’ about life, the universe and such.”
“The what?”
“Never mind,” Phil said. “Johnny, I’d like you to meet Anna.”
“Hello Anna,” Johnny nodded. “How do you know this muscle bound meathead?”
“We met at a spiritual retreat,” Anna said.
“A what?” Johnny asked, surprised.
“It’s a kind of New Age thing,” Phil said. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh that’s deep,” Johnny smirked. “I’m a sensitive New Age guy too, in my own fucken way.”
“Phil’s an old soul,” Anna said.
“Yeah, so was Old King Cole and look what happened to him,” Johnny said. He laughed and went for a high-five with Phil who gave him a limp palm.
“So what did happen to him?” Phil asked.
“Fucked if I know,” Johnny laughed.
“Anyway, I’ll leave youse two lovebirds to it,” Johnny said. “Let you get back to your deep and meaningful.” Johnny raised his eyebrows a few times. “Pleasure Anna.”
She smiled up at him patronisingly, he thought.
Johnny went back over and sat opposite Gino again.
“Phil’s an even bigger flake than I thought he was,” Johnny said. “The guy’s losing it, big time.”
“Still talking that New Age shit?”
“Yeah, worse than ever.”
Phil had gone a bit touchy-feely since his mother died. He’d joined the local spiritualist church for a while in an effort to contact the old bird. He’d tried to tell Gino and Johnny about it at work but Gino just looked at him, the way he tended to.
Phil was still putting in hours at the gym but not as many as usual because he was also spending time doing weird personal development courses and reading all sorts of flaky books about getting in touch with yourself and healing, shit like that.
But Gino and Johnny figured he’d hit pay dirt now.
“That New Age shit can’t be all bad if it helps you pull pussy,” Johnny said as he and Gino left the café. They just got up and walked off because they weren’t required to pay the bill, ever, nor was Lou expected to pay cover charge at the club, ever. One hand washed the other in this town.
As the two men were leaving Phil came over to them.
“Hey boys, how about coming to a party on Monday night?” Phil asked. “The club’s closed; you can relax a bit and meet some new people.”
“I fucken hate new people,” Gino said.
“Where’s the party at,” Johnny asked.
“At Anna’s place,” Phil said. “She’s got a place on the Isle of Capri.”
“What’s a hippy doin’ livin’ on the Isle of Cap-fucken-pri?” Johnny asked.
“She’s fucken loaded man, “ Phil said, smiling. Then he went serious again, adding “Not that money is important.”
“Money huh, “Gino said aside to Johnny. “Who said Phil was stupid?”
“Hey, I resemble that remark,” Phil said. “Come on guys, you never know, you might enjoy yourselves. And Anna’s got some pretty foxy friends.”
“We’ll see,” Johnny said.
At the gym Gino and Johnny ate some protein balls, then grunted and sweated through their routines to the sound of clanking metal. The proprietor, Big Steve, a massive Maori with Polynesian tattoos all over him, wandered through the little crowd of muscle-men presiding over the workouts.
It was a little United Nations of beefcakes with a few beefcakettes. Plenty of international; body builders dropped by when they were visiting the country. Hell Arnie had even worked out here once, back in the old Pumping Iron days. There was a signed picture of him on the wall and the inscription read ….”I’ll be back.”
There were a few cops in the mix too and Gino and Johnny knew a couple of them better than they should. Those guys never paid cover charge or for drinks at Gino’s club.
“Queensland’s got the best cops money can buy,” Gino had boasted to his brother in Melbourne more than once.
Gino moved slowly through his workout now and was just finishing a massive squat when Johnny came over to him from the other side of the room.
“So do you wanna go to this party of Phil’s boss?” he asked.
“Maybe,” Gino said, the veins on his neck still bulging. “I dunno. A party is a party.”
“Profound,” Johnny said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Gino asked and he was serious, he actually wanted to know what it meant.
“Nothin’ at all,” Johnny said. “We can get the details from Phil tonight. It’s an option boss, just an option. Might spice your life up, you never know.”
“I wanna spice my life up I get some Indian take-away,” Gino said.
“Bada bing,” Johnny responded.
Sunday nights were slow at Backstage. The crowd consisted of losers who hadn’t been able to hook up with anyone on Friday and Saturday nights - which was a surprise considering some of the desperados who frequented the joint - and a few hapless tourists who wandered in looking for action and sometimes ended up face down in the gutter outside minus a few teeth. Gino didn’t tolerate drunken yobbos behaving like they were out on their buck’s night.
Gino spent much of the night in his small, air conditioned office. Gino reckoned the climate in there reminded him of his hometown, Melbourne.
“It’s like the fucken arctic in here,’ Johnny said when he came in around closing time.
“As if you’ve ever been to the Arctic,” Gino said. “Anyway, where the fuck is the Arctic?”
“Up north,” Johnny said. “Way up north. Hey boss, I was just talking to Phil and I told him we'd be at the party tomorrow night.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” Gino said. “I just remembered how much I hate parties. All that talk and noise.”
“What are you talkin’ about, you run a nightclub for Christ’s sake,” Johnny said.
“But this is business,” Gino said. “You know I like it quiet when I’m not at work.”
“Yeah, well Phil says it will be mellow, very mellow.”
Gino shrugged his shoulders.
“Whatever,” he said and went back to counting money.
Next morning after their coffee Gino and Johnny went to the gym as usual.
Phil was there, wearing his tight shorts and a sweat band on his head.
“You look like fucken John Travolta or somethin’,” Johnny said.
“What’s that smell?” Gino said.
“Patchouli,” Phil smiled.
“Isn’t that for girls,” Johnny said.
“Don’t go fag on us now Phil,” Gino said, stretching.
“It’s good for my mental state,” Phil said. “Anna recommended it. Patchouli has got certain properties. You rub a bit here, a bit there, on your pulse points and shit. Bewdiful.”
“Yeah, I know some other shit that’s got certain properties too but you put it up your nose,” Gino said and laughed, pleased with his own joke.
“Bada boom,” Johnny said.
“Anyway I’m done and dusted, so I’ll see youse guys tonight at the party?” Phil said.
“Yeah, I dunno, maybe,” Gino said. “I might have to wash my hair tonight though.”
“We’ll see how we go,” Johnny said.
“Sweet,” Phil said. “We’ll be expecting you.”
That evening Gino and Johnny ordered in a pizza and Gino fully intended staying in.
When the pizza delivery boy arrived Johnny went to the door and found the guy staring at the ground. He was looking at Gino’s runners, which he had kicked off outside the door, something the neighbours’ had complained about once, but never again.
“Who lives here, bigfoot?” The delivery guy said. Gino wore a size 15.
“Watch your fucken mouth kiddo,” Johnny said. “You just blew your tip.”
 They chomped pizza and slurped diet Coke.
“Maybe we could look in on Johnny’s party boss?” Johnny said.
“I dunno,” Gino said. “I guess. Not much doin’ here. Yeah, what the fuck. Maybe an hour or an hour and a half max.Capiche?”
“Sure,” Johnny said.
They showered and then dressed in their usual outfits, black suit, black shirts open just enough to show some chest hair. Both reeked of cologne.
They caught the lift down to the basement car park where their equally black BMW sat shinily waiting for them. Then they drove the short hop to the Isle of Capri in about five minutes flat and pulled into Amalfi Drive, a long curving road that followed the Nerang River around. There was some impressive real estate along that road and not everyone who lived there had necessarily earned their moolah honestly. The house they were looking for was towards the end and the street was almost parked out from people obviously attending the party.

“Boss, I’m gonna drop you here and park,” Johnny said.
“Sure,” Gino said. “But don’t be too long. I don’t speak hippy.”

Gino waited out front for Johnny.
“Hey boss, you look like security,” Johnny said when he finally came back.
“Feel fucken stupid standing here like this, everyone givin’ me funny looks,” Gino said. “I frisked one guy just for a laugh. He seemed to expect it.”
Johnny laughed and slapped his boss on the back, gently.
The front door was open and the two sauntered in. Incense wafted on the air and weird music could be heard drifting down the corridor. They edged between the party-goers, found their way into the lounge room and there they spotted Phil and Anna talking to a couple who looked like they had slept in their clothes.
“You came!” Phil said.
“Obviously,” Johnny said. “How ya doin’ Phil. Hiya Anna.”
She smiled up at them.
“What the fuck is that music?” Gino said.
“Whale song,” Anna said. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Sounds like they’re in pain,” Johnny said.
“They’re making love,” Anna insisted.
“Yeah, well, could they keep the noise down a little,” Gino said.
“Come on over and get some drinks,” Phil said ushering them away. “I’ll be back in a minute Anna.”
“This looks like a pretty weird party,” Gino said as they went.
”Yeah, so when do the strippers get here?” Johnny asked.
“Ah, well, it isn’t that sort of party fellas,” Phil said. “Want some organic beer?”
“Organic beer?” Johnny spat. “You’re shitting me?”
“Have you got any organic vodka?” Gino asked.
“I don’t think there’s any such animal,” Phil said “But there is some Stolly here somewhere.”
“We’ll both have that,” Johnny said. “For purely medicinal purposes.”
Phil fixed their drinks.
“So, Philster, are you serious about his girl?” Johnny asked.
“I sure am, she’s great, isn’t she?” Phil said. “She says we’re spiritually connected.”
“Is that what they call it?” Johnny said.
 “Sounds religious,” Gino said. “Does that mean you’re not allowed to bang her?”
“Oh, take it easy Gino,” Phil said. “It just means we’re on the same wavelength. We may have even been together in a past life. She’s teaching me about all sorts of things.”
“So, are you working your way through the Kama Sutra together or what?” Johnny smiled.
“You guys,” Phil said. “Hey, listen, why don’t you just mingle and I’ll catch up with you later.”
Phil left them standing in the corner with their vodkas.

Johnny looked at his boss who frowned, his impressive eyebrow dipping in the middle of a furrowed brow.

“I don’t fucken mingle,” Gino said. “You know that.”
“I know you don’t boss,” Johnny said. “C’mon, let’s go out by the pool and take some air. I’m gaggin’ on this incense. It smells like a Chinese brothel in here.”
“Now that would be something,” Gino said.
They went outside into the cool, fresh evening air. There was a sprinkling of people out by the pool which overlooked the river. Lights from the houses across the water played on the glassy surface as the New Age music drifted from the house.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” A woman sitting on the grass nearby had seen them standing, staring into nothingness and for some reason felt moved to engage them, even though they looked like they had wandered into the wrong party, which, in a way, they had.
“Yeah,” Johnny said. “For a price.”
“Pardon me?” The woman said.
“Anna must be loaded,” Gino said. “This waterfront property is expensive.”
“Yeah, welcome to the Costa Lotta,” Johnny said.
“Her parents left it to her,” the woman said. “They passed over last year.”
“So they were Jewish?” Gino said. The woman smiled again, patronisingly.
“I wish my parents would die and leave me something,” Johnny said.
“Hey, that ain’t nice, Johnny” Gino said. “Take that back.” Whatever Gino’s moral ambiguity in some areas he was Italian and he respected his parents at least.
“They moved up here from Victoria and had just settled in when her mother passed,” the woman explained. “Then Anna’s father died of a broken heart not long afterwards.”
“I can hear the violins starting up,” Johnny said out of the side of his mouth. Then he noticed the woman had something in her hand.
“What you got there?” Johnny said. “Is that a joint?”
 “Yeah,” she said. “I was waiting for someone to smoke it with.”
“Will we do?” Johnny asked.
“Surely,” she said, putting it in her mouth and lighting it with one of those mini Bic lighters.
“You know I don’t like weed,” Gino said to Johnny “Weed makes Gino choke. But hey, I need something so I’ll make an exception just this once.”
They passed the joint back and forth a few times pretty soon they all agreed that the lights were, indeed, very pretty, the way they danced on the water and shit. Soon they were sitting there like stunned mullets, saying nothing, staring out at the water.  Johnny broke the silence eventually.

“Hey boss, you had enough?” Johnny said.
“Yeah, we should split,” Gino said. “No offence sweetheart but I don’t think this party is our scene.” She smiled again.
“Wherever you are that’s where you’re at,” she said.
“Yeah, right,” Gino said. Johnny nodded.
“Well, we gotta be at someplace else, Johnny said.
“Arrivederci.”

She waved vaguely as they dusted grass off their trousers and went back inside to look for Phil who was nowhere to be seen.

“If you’re looking for Phil and Anna they are in the bedroom.”  Neither Gino nor Johnny had asked but it must have been obvious they were looking for their hosts because a bloke with a beard, wearing one of those Indian prayer-shirts, volunteered the information. Gino raised his eyebrow.
“Jesus, couldn’t they wait till later?” Johnny said. “Like bloody rabbits.”0
“No, it’s nothing like that,” the bearded bloke said. “Anna has a headache and Phil is trying out his Reiki on her.”
“His what?” Gino asked.
“His Reiki,” the man said. “It’s a healing technique. You do it with your hands. Like this.” He held his arms out, palms outstretched. “Jesus used Reiki.”
“Sounds like some sorta Japanese food,” Johnny said.
“I went to a Catholic school and I never heard of Jesus doin’ Rayeekee,” Gino said
“You wouldn’t have,” the man said. “But come on, I’ll show you. They won’t mind.”
They went along the hallway off the lounge room and the man prised the door open.
There was Phil standing over Anna – she was sitting in a chair with her eyes closed – with his outstretched hands hovering just above her head. He noticed the door had opened and looked over. Then he retracted one hand, put his finger to his lips in a shushing gesture.
“What the fuck?” Gino said.
“Exactly, “Johnny echoed. “Great stuff this Rayeekee. You get to meet girls and get to not quite touch them.” Gino laughed
“It’s Reiki,” the other guy said.
“Now I’ve seen everything,” Johnny whispered. “Let us know when he’s walkin’ on the fucken water will you. Come on Gino, let’s go home.”
He gave Phil a sarcastic little wave.
“But you just got here,” Phil whispered.
“And we’re just going now, bye bye,” Johnny said.
Phil shrugged, waved back and mouthed the words “See you later.”. The bloke in the prayer shirt pulled the door shut.
“Phil was never the full dollar,” Gino said.
“There’s a falcon loose in his car park, that’s for sure,” Johnny said.
They went to the car and drove home.

“I think I’m still a bit stoned,” Gino said as they drove the short hop back to Surfers Paradise.
“Me too, “ Johnny said. “I’m getting the fucken munchies something fierce.”
When they got home they sat up watching cable television and polished off a carton of Homer Hudson ice cream.
“Man I love this Hoboken Crunch shit,” Gino said.
“Yeah, you’ll have to do some serious crunches tomorrow after that lot boss.”
“Or I could make you do them for me.” They laughed as they sat in the darkness, the room lit only by the glow of the television set and watched Chuck Norris dispatch another baddie.

Phil was missing in action for the next couple of weeks. Had to go to Sydney to see a man about a dog, he told them.
“I reckon he’s off somewhere with that chick Anna again,” Johnny said. “They’ve probably been meditating together on top of some mountain somewhere, sipping magic mushroom soup.”

When Phil turned up again he was away with the fairies.
“You’re face looks different,” Johnny said one night when Phil was back working the door at the nightclub. “What have you had a fucken facelift or somethin’.”
“No, I’ve been on a juice fast,” Phil said.
“Any fries with that,” Johnny asked, laughing.
“I’m totally cleansed,” Phil said. “And you have no idea how much gunk comes out when you have an enema, it’s ….”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Johnny said. “Too much information Phil, way too much information. Let’s just go easy on the New Age health stuff, okay? It’ll give Gino the shits … no fucken pun intended. And by the way you’re being way too fucken nice tonight. See those two guys over there that you just let in?”
“Yeah.”
“Well they’re banned, so let’s forget about the good vibes for a while and throw those bludgers back out into the gutter where they belong,” Johnny said. “This isn’t a fucken kindergarten.”

A few nights later, in the wee small hours, Gino and Johnny were in the office counting the takings and waiting for some friends from the south who were delivering some goods – goods that nobody should know were being delivered. It was so late that it was actually early and old Sid the cleaner had turned up to do his chores.
The old guy had been a friend of Gino's father’s from the old vegetable market days and Gino paid him a pittance to do some clearing up a couple of times a week – empty the rubbish bins, clean the shithouse, stuff like that. Sid was in his seventies and had been a world War two digger, fought in New Guinea and later Borneo. He spent half his time at the RSL club nearby where he drank far too much for a man of his or any age. But Gino and Johnny respected him because Gino’s dad had impressed on them that Sid had once been a bit of a hero. He had never really recovered from the war though and had a nervous twitch that Gino’s dad told them was shell-shock.
“You boys pretend you don’t notice it, okay?” Gino’s dad had suggested.
“Gees, dad it’s hard not to notice a guy whose left arm has a life of its own,” Gino had said. His father had slapped the top of his huge sons head.
“What did I just tell you?” he said. Gino’s old man was half his size but could still make his son cringe. So Gino and Johnny, under instructions, ignored Sid’s gimpy arm and let him go about his business in peace, slinging him a bit of black money for his troubles.

On this particular night Sid wasn’t feeling too good, however.
“Jesus, if he was moving any slower he’d be standing still, “Johnny said.
“Leave him alone,” Gino said. “He’s alright. You’ll be old one day.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Johnny said.  Actually Johnny was right because Sid had stopped and was just standing in semi-darkness in the middle of the darkened nightclub.

“Hey Sid, you okay?” Gino asked. All that came back was a moan.
“Hey Johnny, go over there and see what’s wrong with him.”
Johnny went over and saw that the old man was a white as a ghost. He shepherded him over to Gino.
“Jesus Sid, you look crook mate, come into my office and sit down.”
They led him into the small icebox of a room and Gino sat him down in a chair.
“You just sit there for a minute and catch your breath old mate,” Gino said.
Sid nodded and groaned, faintly.

Then Gino and Johnny hard someone outside.
“Maybe it’s the boys from Sydney.” They went out to find that Phil had arrived.
“You’re early,” Johnny said.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Phil said. “I’ve been up meditating all night.”
“You’ve been up masturbating all night,” Gino said.
“Meditating I said!” Phil said, miffed. “So is the shit ready to go?”
“Nah, the boys aren’t here yet,” Johnny said. “You made all the usual arrangements?”
“Yeah yeah, its’ sweet,” Phil said.
“Haven’t let that New Age shit get in the way of a good business deal, that’s the spirit,” Johnny said.
“Man’s gotta make a living,” Phil shrugged.
“But listen Phil, old Sid’s sitting in my office and he’s feeling a bit crook mate,” Gino said. “Maybe you could try out your watchamacallit on him. You know, with the hands and shit.”
Phil looked serious all of a sudden.
“You really want me to?” Phil said. “It should be pretty powerful on account of all the meditating I’ve been doing.”
“Give it a fucken whirl,” Johnny said. ‘Knock yourself out.”
They went into the room. The lighting was dim and Sid just sat in the chair, a little slumped. Phil went and stood behind him and held his hands over his head.
“Now Sid just relax,” Phil said. “You may feel a little heat coming off my hands but don’t worry about that, it’s to be expected. It's all part of the process.”
Gino looked at Johnny and he shrugged. Phil concentrated his efforts until his hands began to shake a little.
“Hey, don't fucken zap him too much, you’ll cook the poor old bastard,” Gino said.
 “It doesn’t work like that,” Phil said. “I’m just channelling universal power.”
“Channelling bullshit,” Johnny said and he looked at Sid who had slumped further even more.
“Hey wait a minute,” Johnny said and he went over to the old man and looked at the old man’s face. Then he sort of poked at him and then, suddenly, he jumped backwards.
“Holy fuck,” he said.
“What? “ Gino asked. Phil was still holding his hands outstretched.
“I think he’s fucking croaked,” Johnny said.
“What?” Gino said and his mouth stayed open after he'd said it.
Phil turned as white as Sid.
“What are you talking about? He’s probably just asleep,” Phil said and he went around and looked into Sid’s face too. Then he picked up one of the old man’s hands and felt his pulse.
Phil stood up, a look of horror on his face.
“You’re right, he’s dead as a doornail,” he said.
“You sure?” Gino said. Phil felt his neck for a pulse just to be on the safe side. He looked at Gino and nodded.
“Oh no, “Gino said. “What the fuck are we gonna do now?”
 “I’ll call the boys and tell them to steer clear for a few more hours,” Johnny said. Gino nodded. “And then I’ll call a fucken ambulance.”
“Let’s get him outside though first,” Gino said. “I don’t want anyone wearing a uniform coming into this office.”
Phil was ashen faced and helped them shift the old man out into the nightclub that smelt of cigarettes and grog.
“He’s a dead weight,” Johnny said, adding. “I didn’t mean that.”
Johnny went back into Gino’s office and made his phone calls. About ten minutes later the paramedics arrived. They must have been parked nearby waiting for trouble in Surfers. They bagged and tagged the old man and the trio watched him wheeled out of there.
“Well that’s some powerful shit you’ve got in those hands of yours Phil,” Johnny said.
“What do you mean?” Phil asked defensively.
“I mean you fucken killed him, man,” Johnny said.
“I didn’t kill him!” Phil said, a little hysterically. “He was already dead!”
“You’re supposed to heal him and now his’ turned up his fucken toes,” Johnny teased.
“Gino?” Phil said, imploringly.
“Give him a break, Johnny,” Gino said. “Sid’s had a weak heart for years. His number was up, that’s it. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.”
“Thanks Gino,” Phil said and Johnny laughed.
“How are you going to tell your girlfriend that her Rayeekee didn’t work,” Johnny said.
“Reiki,” Phil corrected him. “Anyway, Anna and I broke up.”
“What happened,” Gino asked.
“I found out she was having it off with her yoga teacher,” Phil said. “Reckoned I wasn’t spiritual enough for her.”
“She got that right,” Johnny said.
“Whatever,” Phil said.
“I’ll call the boys and tell them the coast is clear,” Johnny said.
“Good boy,” Gino said and they both looked at Phil.

by Phil Brown

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