I woke up from the loud banging next door and looked around. The brick walls of the cold store room were still staring at me. The winter wind was still chilling me to the bone.
Was this some kind of joke?
‘Yes,’ said the guy next door.
He just won’t stop banging the wall.
He must know that it annoys me.
Since he moved in next door I’ve not got a wink of sleep.
And the junkie in the house has threatened to kill me if I don’t supply him cigarettes.
He only likes smoking weed mixed with good tobacco.
I’m paying good money to stay in this store room.
When the guy next door isn’t knocking, the police are knocking.
‘What are you doing here?’
I show them my passport.
‘Valid,’ I’d say, ‘I’m the only one who isn’t a criminal at this place.’
‘Now don’t give us lip,’ said the male copper, while his female buddy took down my details to crunch in the machine.
‘He’s clean,’ said the female copper.
They were looking for another inmate of this madhouse. He apparently broke into a chemist and stole a bunch of Valiums. He’s on the run now, say the police.
Bali can’t be far away, I think.
‘Not very far away at all,’ says Bernhard who popped into see if I was still alive. He helped me do a runner from another mad house.
‘You can run as much as you like,’ he says,’ or come to Bali with me and finish off that crappy book you are working on.’
I admitted, the book needed some major re-direction.
‘Either throw it out the window or get sensible and write about stuff that common folk can follow.’
He was right. Even I couldn’t follow it.
‘And stop pretending to be other people,’ he added. The guy next door was tapping even louder.
‘Pack your gear,’ says my Kiwi mate, ‘we got a flight to catch.’
I packed in five minutes flat and once I left this place, I would never be returning.
Bernhard has a way of saving me. He’s not around often but when he is, his help has saved me from a fatal stabbing or bashing a few times.
‘Time to switch off,’ said Bernhard.
‘You’re on,’ I said to Bernie who is always bitching to me to cut the Bernhard crap.
We switched off for the three-hour flight to Bali.
This was traveling.
“It beats worrying about petty little threats.’
Someone had sent me a message to leave Perth.
You can run but you can’t hide.
The plane nosed down towards Bali flaps up and landing wheels out.
‘If I got a dollar for every threat I’ve had in my lifetime, I’d be rich.’
‘But the cunt hid behind a fake account and made a threat.’
‘Let them,’ he says, as the plane landed in paradise, ‘you are here now, not there, and more importantly, you are still alive.’
The threat was a month previous. Bernie told me to hold my ground.
‘They are more scared of getting locked up for assault,’ he said, ‘so they’ll make the threats that they can never follow up on.’
But who the fuck was it?
‘It was me,’ said Bernie, who lit up a cigarette as soon as we left the arrival hall. I lit up Dunhill I bought at the Circle K just outside the arrival hall, that was my brand.
You cunt, I said.
‘No,’ he said, ‘you needed to learn that threats are just that. It doesn’t come close to two men barging into your room in the middle of the night and bashing the shit out of your head in with an iron bar.’
I smiled. Bernie had a broken nose too.
‘Yep, we have more in common than you’d believe,’ he said.
We didn’t linger long outside. Our next Wing’s Air flight was due for Bima in twenty minutes.
‘Being bashed up isn’t a bad thing,’ he continued , as we checked in and boarded the plane. ‘It toughens you up. It prepares you for humanity. It’s a cruel world out there. And if you survive, you’ll survive a lot more shit. Detecting danger becomes second nature.’
Forty minutes later, the propeller plane was landing on the East coast of Sumbawa.
‘Only five hours since we left Perth,’ said Bernie, who lit up a cigarette outside the arrival hall, if you could call it that, that was beating down with a tropical sun. Not a cloud in sight.
‘Reminds me of the shit hole airports out in the mines,’ said Bernie, who was wearing a colorful Hawaii shirt.
We had left tourist central. Far away from the hordes of Bali, we could actually call this traveling.