I spotted the poster as I walked on Lambton Quay near the railroad station. I ran across the street and looked at it up close. Another WINTER poster torn, hanging for dear life while other posters hung strong on the Kiosk, glad that it wasn't them. I examined the tear, it was fresh. A young man on a skateboard skidded at my heels. He pulled his headphones from his ears but I could still hear the familiar sounds of The Phoenix Foundation crackling in the earpieces.
I saw who did it, he said.
Did you get a good look at him?
Yeah, he was bald, old, fat. But so is my Dad and my Dad didn't do it.
He skated off, turned, and looked over his shoulder at me, without slowing down his rhythm. There was something about his look, something familiar. He caught my eye, turned on a dime, flipped the board, and skated back to me. "Oh, one more thing," he hesitated but then quickly said, "I don't know if it's helpful because I hear it all the time from my Dad's mates."
What is it I asked, trying not to look too hopeful.
He mumbled something under his breath when he ripped it.
Could you hear what it was?
What did he say?
He said, Bloody American cunt*.
It felt like someone punched me. The young man smiled with his lips pressed tightly together. He jumped on his board, said cheers and skated away towards the harbour. I I took a picture of the poster on the kiosk and walked to Newtown. When I got to the shops I felt a coffee jones coming on and stopped at the People's Cafe, even though I couldn't afford the $3 for a flat white. I sat outside next to a table with six cab drivers from Africa and listened to them talk about home. I studied the photo in my camera. I took out my journal and wrote, 'Bloody American Cu*t. Next to it I wrote three words: Old. Bald. Fat. Was there a connection? The young man said his Dad was old, fat and bald, but he didn't do it. Was that the clue? If it wasn't his Dad, could it be someone else's father? A priest? Or a monk? Was there a religious connection? Or was he an ordinary man.
...to be continued....
*Note: I did not say cu*t. My character says it because a NZ writer recently said this word is now cool, that everyone said it, that it's so yesterday to be offended by it. So I thought I would put the word in a Kiwi mouth. I have never used the word in my writing before. I still think it's offensive, and so does the narrator, (which is why I, the writer, and the narrator both say cu*t; but the character says 'cunt.')