Portrait of a Teepee
by Luke Otley
8.41 Sunday morning, Southern Australia.
Inside it is hot and dark. The sun here is like an aggressive drunk. Like the kind that has stayed up all the night and is really proud of himself for doing so. HEY – YOU BEEN SLEEPIN’? HAHA. CORNFLAKES MATE? TRY A SHOT OF VODKA. And here we are. On my back, in a puddle of strewn sleepwear, smelling faintly of dirt and ash. Across from me is Luc. Shoulder length shag of brown hair, uncle eyes peering out of a tan face, and a four month dirt beard which is often filled with food scraps (vanilla wafers and chips (crisps if you’re English) appear to be the most common tenants) and less often with soap. He’s French, and the call for maccas is accented, with a slight intonation as the vibration of the vocal chords disturbs the hangover and the head begins to growl. There is an ongoing rumour that he refuses to brush his teeth (You brush your teeth with that s-? (on discussing floride, Crab and I swallow when we brush in bed) because I am never brushing my teeth. Like, euuu maybe, once every three weeks. I don’t care. (care pronounced keeah)) Crab, who we all know by now, is on the mattress to my right. He begins to cuss and moan without opening his eyes.
Five of us sleep here, on a pentagon of foam mattresses dragged dusty out of storage, clad with itchy faux-wool sheets. My sheet is half off, exposing a sallow mustard underbelly, which reminds me of all the thighs I wish I’d never seen. A box of goon (‘white’ wine, 5 litres) is split, the remainder in the sack spilled sadly onto the wooden foundation. I notice our resident ant, who, like many Australian insects, is unnecessarily large, fighting his way across the six of clubs.
I HATE this S- country
Crab pipes up, grasping at his brow, his fingers porous and thick with sweat and dirt.
No no no Malakaa–
Danny. Spanish English. A cheeky bastard with a hot tongue, thick moustache and a taste for quality steak, begins his morning routine of denying the existence of the outside world (On weekdays – Time? No, it can’t be. Seriously man? Noo- Okay today I get fired I say okay I say f- that man – Interestingly, when I first met him he made claim of a fine work ethic, which I’m yet to see evidence of – man when I work, I work like a dog, trust me brother). He reaches to his right, knocks over an ash tray, grabs a sandal and launches it across the room. In flight, it smashes over an incense stand before clattering painfully into Thomas’ sleeping face.
Thomas (French, pronounced Tomma)
F- you man
Thomas shall we get brekki at maccas no?
Thomas is the youngest, monkey-esque in frame, wiry, with a stereo-typically French passion for cheese which he continues to consume despite complaints of a dairy intolerance. He also aime le chocolat, and is known, on hearing the rustling of a packet, to emit animalistic chimes (Chocolat? Chocolat?) until fed, at which point he settles back into his pillow with satisfaction and gratitude set deep in his face. Luc, who’s head is practically touching Thomas’ due to the positioning of the mattresses, stares with much gravity at the ceiling while Thomas contemplates the proposition (of course by ceiling I mean the hole where the support poles meet, stuffed in a cursory manner with sheets by a previous owner, in a limp attempt to keep the torrents of tropical rain from washing us all away entirely).
Okay we go
And as quickly as the idea was manifested in the brain of one, it has evolved into the actions of many. Us five, in turn, each stumbling into the harsh light of another day, slap the door flap ‘shut’ behind us, and leave our home to the goodwill of the snakes, spiders and scorpions that roam the grounds, for we have begun our pilgrimage towards a better land. A land of thin brown patties, sugar flavoured water, and golden, crispy fries.