The girl on Belar Street
Belar Street. I always used to think it was “Belair” or “Bel Air” misspelled but I was told it was intentional and that it stood for something in an indigenous language. I don't know what, exactly. Perhaps one of the gum trees or wattles so common in this area. So it wasn't “good air” it was just something else. Anyhow, for years Belar Street was simply a location in the periphery of my mind, across the other side of the park up from my street, running curved yet perpendicular away from the far side of the park. I'd never been down it in all my years of being in this suburb. I never had a reason to – I had no mates or relatives who lived on it and it was the other side of the way between my place and school or the shops. Out of the way, and out of mind.
Today is a bad day. In fact, the last few days have all been bad. On Monday in our first-floor bedroom, I sat on the edge of my bed and watched my missus get into another man's car and disappear for the night. We have nice big sliding doors that lead out to a balcony and I go out there to smoke. Not on Monday though. I couldn't open the door and ask what was going on. I didn't have the nerve. I think I just wanted to watch it all play out – the garish little melodrama. Without a care or a backwards look, she just got into the passenger side of an old XC Falcon and off they went. She came home on Tuesday, about four PM. I didn't see how she got home as I was out the back of the flat, hanging up clothes. She appears at the back door and nods at me; a companionable greeting that belied the betrayal I knew had gone on. I want to ask her what she got up to but it's a painfully superfluous question and she wouldn't give me an honest answer anyway. They never do.
I pretend nothing's wrong, though I can't condescend to have sex with her. I feign headaches and tiredness; the sorts of things that women stereotypically throw when they don't want a bit of their men. I roll over and go to sleep, and she does the same.
On Wednesday I rise about seven AM and go into the bathroom. She's already in there taking a shower. We don't have curtains, instead we have one of those frosted glass enclosures with a sliding door. The ones which make it look like there's a living mosaic behind them. That's what she was now – a tessellated and pixelated female human, quietly humming some top 40 song. I hesitate before I say anything to her. It wouldn't be anything more than a morning platitude; a waste of breath for me to utter and for her to listen to. But I slide open the door and there she is. Her hands are stuck in her wet, lathered hair, shampoo froth smeared across her face. She doesn't see or hear me there. The front and left side of her neck is covered in lovebites. So is the bare flat flesh between her navel and pubic area.
I should be at work but my thoughts are disordered, my mood dark. Armed with a half-full packet of smokes and my Raybans, I walk up the lane that leads from our street to the one that parallels the park. Normally I'd head off angled to the right, toward the shops, but today I shatter the habits of a lifetime and angle left instead. In a few minutes I'm at the verge of the park looking across the road to the end of Belar Street.
I suck in lungfuls of Peter Jacksons, my eyes unfocused as they gaze meaninglessly up Belar Street. The angry suspicions of before are now cold steel realisation. I've been fucked around on, cuckolded. Made the fool of, second best, second rate. Some guy – Johnno I've heard him called – has been sticking his dick in my missus and biting on her neck and pussy. The same guy who owns the souped-up XC Falcon, that he's so keen on revving up when he's around.
I'd leave my missus but there's too much tied up in both her and our flat. Besides, where would I go? None of my mates can take me in and my folks live a day's drive away in Brisbane. I'm stuck – inertia. My life and my work exists nowhere else but this shit suburb. Every day is a mostly inflexible routine. When I'm not working, I'm at home doing whatever needs to be done. Occasionally, I do what I want to do. Often, I do what she wants me to do; playing pliant games with her, keeping her happy. I guess that has ended then – I don't keep her happy enough, it seems.
I've called in sick and here I am on a Wednesday, as wacky as Wednesdays can be. I'm staring up this anonymous street somewhere in Shit Town, New South Wales, smoking my smokes, wondering if tomorrow's going to any different or better. Maybe I should just end it all – chuck myself under a train or jump from a great height. There's cliffs up in the State Forest a few klicks down the road. I'd bet I'd die if I launched myself off them.
Fuck, I hate my missus. If I thought she was worth it, I'd go home and kill her. Screw her first of course, just for the sake of imprinting that close encounter in my mind, then...I don't know. Knife her? Tear up a sheet and strangle her? I remember reading that a man can come if he's strangling someone. That's how excited you can get sexually.
No, I wouldn't do any of it. It takes a certain kind of sick courage to murder somebody and I'm neither that sick nor brave. I'll just go home and grin and bear it and when Johnno comes over in his hoon XC, I'll be upstairs, pretending everything's all right. I'll put on a Tangerine Dream record, probably Phaedra or White Eagle and just pseudo-relax. Make believe that all's good with me, the missus and the world...fuck, I'm glad we don't have kids.
There's something interesting walking down Belar Street now. A girl...two girls truthfully, one a teenager about eighteen and one a kid, probably six or seven. The older one is shapely; wearing a loose green sun frock that catches the morning breeze. Right up the middle of Belar Street they're walking, the kid holding on to the teenager's hand. Coming my way.
I'm staring at them, so I turn aside and pretend to look away, occupying myself with the business of cigarette smoking. They're still there in the corner of my eye and I glance at them. They've turned into a house on the left side of the street, the second house from the end. The teenager hesitates at the gate and I swear she gave me a lingering look. My hopes are raised, the concept of revenge has been kindled. My imagination flies – I wonder what it's like to screw this girl, what she'd be like to go down on? How good is she at giving head? Is she the marrying kind?
The moment was fugitive. She's gone into the house – I can even hear the door close. I toss away my smoke and light another, hands shaking. There's a bench farther back in the park so I head off to that, before someone calls the cops on me for loitering. I sit down but my pulse is still racing. Would the girl want me? Would I be good enough to catch her eye; good enough for her to want to drop her drawers for me? If the missus wasn't there, I'd go home and have a pull. That's how bad it's getting.
A car is reversing out of the girl's house. I don't even pretend to look somewhere else no; my eyes are riveted on the yellow Datsun Sunny that's edging it way out of the driveway. The girl is in the passenger seat and she's watching me. The car backs up Belar Street, ready to come down toward me. It gets put into gear and I can hear its four cylinders belch as it lurches forward. It turns right at the T-junction and the girl is watching me still. I raise my free hand and wave, like she's an old mate I've known for years. Was that a wave she gave back to me? Could've been a one-up too, flipping me off. I can't tell and I'm left to ponder it as she and the car move away.
I want to know who she is...but I don't. I want to be part of her world, but I'd just kill it for her. We'd end up like me and the missus, I can see it. The fucking would be fun for a while then life would enter the nowhere land I'm currently living in. The girl would meet her own Johnno and drive off with him into the night. I'd be silver medallist again.
Where did I go wrong? What is it that Johnno has that I don't have? Is it the thrill of a new dick? Another guy to chalk up on the fuck list of life? What am I doing to my missus that turns her to another man? Or is it something I'm not doing? I could just ask her but I doubt I'd get a sensible reply. I know one thing though – I'm being weak not confronting it head on. Maybe I will get up and leave, and fuck the consequences. A few days of pain and homelessness and things will sort themselves out. They always do. There's the catharsis and then there's the new dawn, to use a bit of poesy.
I chuck my smoke away and get up. Maybe I'll meet the girl on Belar Street again too.