A J Thompson | Andrew Thompson, Rockhampton Australia

The Gabba Under Lights, a short story by Andrew Thompson

©1997 Andrew Thompson

The TV's staccato blue-grey glow casts strobe-like shadows around the room. The old man sleeps on the floor where he stumbled, the quiet midnight world outside meaningless in his drunken, sweet oblivion.

The Gabba Under Lights, a drawing by Andrew ThompsonBelow in the pitch black alley, a youth puts his hands on the wall, his mind possessed by the crisp new twenty in his pocket and not the trembling hands that fumble with his jeans. He squirms in feigned anticipation and casts a supportive smile at the trick. He knows the kind, a rich man's son, a virgin, a Gucci in the slums. He presses back and takes the trick inside him.

Fifty metres away out on the lighted street, a bunch of kids play night cricket. Each assume the name of their hero. A budding Ian Botham holds up his hand in warning, and Dennis Lillee stands aside begrudgingly to let the passing car through. A yelp of surprise as a blue light flashes atop the car, and Rod, Ian, and Dennis scurry down a side street.

Inside the car, a portly policeman grunts.

"It's OK, they're white."

His protege nods in understanding.

In the alley, the trick freezes mid thrust. In his mind he sees his beaten body lying in front of him, then a jail cell. He shuffles behind the dumpster, away from the car's probing light.

Still impaled, the terrified youth starts to sob and a ring encrusted hand covers his mouth to silence him.Dennis pokes his head out of the side street to see the police car disappearing down the road. The night falls silent and the Gabba is at peace once more.

In the alley, the trick thrusts one final time then slowly eases away. He wipes off on the youth's shirt then zips his designer jeans. The youth just stands there, pants around his ankles, and watches the trick's retreat. Not a word. Nothing.

The youth's eyes turn grey again. He'd hoped for something more this time. Not even a name, but then again, there never was. What had he expected? A saviour? There never would be. He was nothing more than a hired fuck, and he had to learn to accept that. He leans against the wall and cries.

"Game On!", Dennis calls out to his friends. In the upstairs room, the old man turns off the TV and slams the glass-less window closed, grumbling drunken Australian obscenities at the children. They laugh at him and the innocent sound carries on the still night.

In the alley, the youth wipes his eyes then peers out into the street. The coast is clear. He covers his face, scurrying from shadow to shadow until the sound of innocent children is gone. Only then does he dare to lift his head, and gaze across the river toward the city. The night was still young.

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