Roulette by Larry
Jack Batstone is sitting there at the table with a plug in his ear and hardly any hair on his head – sitting there crouched over an A4 pad and scribbling on it with an intensity calculations so dense, so miniature, so scribal – it reminded me of Priests and Temples and The Holy Writ of Mysteries scribbled in arterial blood by some starving zealot hallucinating in a stone room chuckled out of a granite cliff a thousand feet vertical above a river centuries dry in a country ruled without Kings.
Jack Batstone, last seen haggling with Scott Dillon about the price of a water-heavy and yellowed balsa pig at South Bondi.
Last spoken to in the Astra Hotel one Saturday morning when the girls would sling a sheet between the tills behind the bar to catch the uncounted money and drunkenness stood for joy.
Ejaculated out of Waverley College with a perfect Leaving Certificate Maths III paper and naught else but memberships to the School of Arts Snooker Room in Bondi Road and the South Bondi Boardriders.
Sitting on a stool in Jupiter’s Casino tonight watching the luminant roulette scoreboard above the wheel that has red-eyed the last dozen winning numbers and every time another is added he bends to his pad and adds another five lines of minute script and every twenty minutes he bets and even when the croupier pushes over another stack of winning chips Jack is figuring newer moves.
Winning the money is nowhere near the spike of getting the sums right.
The plug in his ear plays Koyaanisqatsi; he lives in a two-room motel room in Broad Beach and sometimes he will take home a leftover hooker for breakfast when the temple is empty of tourists.
Jack is nearly sixty five and his two stale rooms ache with neglect.
He sits on his unmade bed, on his crusted sheets, and risks another rebuff, this time from an old friend whose only intimacy is a handshake goodbye.