• Time to read 7 minutes

“This is fucked!” Damian said from the front seat. His hands gripped the wheel tightly and his muscles flexed. He had tattoos all the way up his arms with symbols from New Zealand. Out the front window of the car the headlights reflected off a thick wall of fog. You could only see the road for a car length then it disappeared and there was condensation all over the windows. “Remind me again, what’s so special about the Otways?” Mum didn’t answer; it must have been a rhetorical question. I poked the condensation on the window with my finger. It felt cold and wet. I began to lick it to see how the condensation felt on my tongue. I liked coldness and kept licking in concentric squares covering an increasing area of the window. To reach the top corners I had to kneel on the seat and loosen my seat belt. Damian saw me moving.

“He’s lickin’ the fuckin’ windows.” Damian always left the Gs off words.

“Just ignore it.” Mum said.

“Why’d we have to bring him?” Mum and Damian often talked about me as if I wasn’t there. Truth is most of the time I wasn’t. I could just turn myself off and I didn’t remember much when I turned back on. Sometimes I’d go into a trance for a few hours and wake up somewhere else and have no idea how I got there. Sometimes I woke up with a bruised arm or a cut knee. This time when I woke up we were parked outside a hotel with a red neon sign. The words burned through the fog and I noticed my head was sore and a towel had been placed over the window. Damian got the key from reception and we drove to our room. “It’s supposed to have beautiful views of the valley.” Damian said and Mum laughed. Inside the room was small. It had a single and a double bed opposite a T.V. A kettle and some tea and coffee sat on top of bar fridge and a sliding door led outside to a grassy strip that disappeared into the fog.

I opened a sugar packet and tipped it onto my tongue. I switched on the T.V as Damian unpacked and then checked out the bathroom. The toilet had a paper sash across it as if it had won a pageant. I tore it up and threw the pieces, like confetti, over my head. My face was reflected in the mirror and my hair was still muddy from the fight I’d had at school in the morning. I was happy when Mum had picked me up at lunch time.

I got into the empty bath with my clothes still on and my shoes left prints on the peach surface. It was a spa bath. I stuck my finger into the holes the jets of water came out of. There were mini soaps and mini shampoos on a shelf and the curtain around the bath had dolphins on it. In the other room Damian had unpacked and was flicking through the hotel menu. Mum had put on a furry white turtleneck jumper and was standing on the porch outside the sliding door. I went out to join her. She was smoking a cigarette. It was getting dark and her face was covered in shadows.

“What would you like for dinner?” She asked.

Pizza.” I replied looking into the fog. I always had pizza.

“We’ll go over to the restaurant and see what they have.” Mum stubbed out her cigarette on the bricks and dropped the butt to the ground. “While we go you have a bath and clean yourself up. We’ll bring you back some food.”

When they had left I filled the bath and got undressed. I squeezed a bottle of the shampoo under the running water, stepped into the bath and slid in under the bubbles. I put my head under the water and counted to twenty and then to thirty. Sometime I could go to 50 seconds before coming up for breath. I turned on the spa jets and the hot water crashed against my body. I wasn’t sure if it felt nice or painful. My penis swelled and I began to massage it. Mum told me masturbating was evil so I only did it when she was not around. It felt nice and I levered my body to the surface of the water so I could see my penis growing in my hand. I didn’t hear the front door open and Damian walked in to the bathroom. “Aw fuck!” he muttered and walked back out slamming the door. I slipped my body back under the water and listened to Mum and Damian arguing through the thin walls. Their voices were distorted enough that I only caught every second or third word. I knew I’d caused their fight just by coming along. It was supposed to be Dad’s weekend but he was sick and couldn’t have me. I pulled my head under the bubbles and heard the roar of the jets. I stayed under for as long as I could. Mum poked her head through the door and I came to the surface like a crocodile. “Your food is on the table. We’re going to eat in the restaurant.” We’ll be back soon.”

I came out after they had left and there was a pizza on the table. I pulled on a new hoodie mum had bought me and a pair of trackies that had a hole in the pocket. My hand felt for my balls through the hole. I took the pizza to the single bed and ate in front of the T.V. I felt warm and naked under the new fleece.

Outside the light of the full moon illuminated the fog. Mum and Damian came back full of wine. Mum’s face had a red flush and she was laughing stupidly. They kissed sloppily and went into the bathroom together. The rush of water concealed their laughter and the sound of their bodies slapping together under the shower. I turned the T.V up. Some crap show about customs agents frisking Arabs. Out the window a square of light came through the fog. It must have been a farm house down in the valley.

Mum came out of the bathroom adjusting her robe; a breast spilling out of one side and a quick flash of dark pubic hair. Damian followed in a pair of jocks that barely contained his cock. They slipped under the bed clothes and embraced. “Time for bed, Jeremy.” Mum said and turned off the T.V and the light. I rolled under the quilt and starchy sheet and looked outside the windows.

“He’ll be out in a flash.” Mum whispered. “Then you can do it to me again.”

I stared out the window and wondered who lived in the house down in the valley. Mum and Damian began to move rhythmically; skin slapping, pubic hair rustling like leaves on a windy autumn day. I felt sick and closed my eyes tight.

When it was over Mum and Damian quickly fell asleep. I opened my eyes and lay there looking out at the fog. The digital clock showed 10:50 in red but I felt completely awake. After 30 minutes of tossing and turning I quietly got out of bed and opened the sliding door. I stepped out onto the porch and closed the door quietly behind me. It was freezing cold. The fog had lifted slightly and the farm house in the valley was just visible. I walked onto the damp grass and felt the icy mud surge through my toes. The incline was steep and I couldn’t help but jog down it. I slipped a few times and got mud all over my hands. The mud was smooth and I spread it over my stomach and chest. I kept slipping and tripping down the slope until it began to level out. The farm house glowed through the fog like a beacon and I was drawn inexorably to it. A wisp of smoke came from its chimney. It was an old house with peeling paint and a rusty roof. The wooden windowsills were rotten and a ramshackle outhouse stood next to collapsed chicken coop. Next to the chicken coop was a tree stump with an axe in it. I lifted myself up on a pile of wood and looked through a window. It was the kitchen. There was a small table and floorboards poked through the lino. I could see into the lounge room where a fire burned brightly. An old pair of legs in slippers hung from a couch but from my pile of wood I couldn’t see the rest of the body. I stepped off the wood and walked to the next window. An old man sat on a worn couch. A bottle of scotch and a packet of cigarettes were next to him. I think he was asleep. I knocked on the window to make sure he wasn’t dead. He sprang up from his seat and ran into the kitchen. Maybe he wanted to let me in and thank me for checking on him. I moved closer to where I thought the front door was and the old man appeared holding a shot gun. He fired off a shot and I heard it splinter into a tree. I bolted back around the house and hid next to the chicken coop taking the axe with me. I heard him approach and saw his breath rising into the air. When I saw the gun barrel I swung the axe blindly. I felt the blunt edge connect with the man’s head and he fell into the mud. I didn’t need to look at him to know he was dead. I stepped past him and I suddenly felt like I was going to faint. I went inside the farm house, curled up next to the fire and went to sleep.

When I woke up the fire had died and it was getting light outside. I was shivering. The fog had cleared a little and I heard the far off chop of helicopter blades. I knew I had to leave. In the kitchen there was a box of cereal and I filled my pocket (without the hole) and ate a few handfuls before chucking the box on the lino. I went outside and there was frost on the grass. As I ran the grass crunched under my bare feet and my breath swirled in the air. I pretended to smoke a cigarette. There was a line of trees ahead and I darted toward it. The leaf litter and mud weren’t as cold as the frosty grass. I sat down and rubbed my feet until I could feel them again. I could hear a river and walked along its bank. The cold was in my bones now and I began to feel tired. Voices reached my ears from afar but the need to sleep overcame me. I pulled the leaf litter around me and fell into a deep, foggy sleep.

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