by Michelle Talemaitoga
My girlfriend has wandered off with some guy she earmarked for her night’s pleasure. I am left to kill time with his yokel friends sitting around on camp chairs in the gravel carpark, chugging back warming beers after the Full Moon Dance.
The din of the dance had faded as the quietness of midnight wraps around the huddle. The boys were swapping fishing stories as I sit in silence, listening to their banter.
I had only just been introduced to these people so I had no sense of affiliation towards them, no need for belonging. They were killing time as was I.
Changing the topic, Pete says to the circle of people, “You guys know Claire, don’t you?”
Sam who sits beside me asks, “Claire?”
“Claire from the Kin Kin pub,” Pete clarifies.
“Oh yeah, I know Claire,” says Sam nodding his head.
Greg sits opposite me; he is busy trying to roll a joint. He sits in silence, concentrating. I can tell he’s not the type to be able to do two things at once.
Pete continues, “Geez, she’s a bitch that one.”
Bored, I join in. “Claire? From the Kin Kin pub? Oh, that skank,” I say knowingly.
Sam, who sits closest to me, turns to glance at my interjection.
Pete becomes animated, warming to his audience’s receptiveness, “Yeah, yeah. Her. Boy, the crap she says. The trouble she has caused with my mate. And she spread it around everywhere.”
I ponder for a moment and then reply, “Yeah, I heard about that, your mate is a bit of a worry, though. What a low act.”
Pete defends his mate, “Hey, hey, no. My mate had nothing to do with that. That was all Claire. She’s the one that spread the rumours.”
I ask, “Were you there when it happened?”
Pete falters, “No,” then regaining his composure, “but my mate he reckons it’s all crap and I believe him.”
I add more fuel to the fire, speaking mildly, “You reckon? You know how there’s always some truth to these things. I think your mate had a role to play in that whole debacle. Surely, you can’t lay it all at Claire’s door.”
Pete heatedly declares, “Bullshit, it was all that Claire bitch and her lies.”
I smile in the darkness as silence returns. Sam turns to look at me again, this time for longer. He raises an eyebrow.
Leaning toward me, he says quietly, “You don’t know Claire do you?”
I grin and shrug, “Never heard of her before, but that’s no reason not to go fishing.”