My brother has been dead for nearly 4 years now. This is how it happened…
It was a dark and stormy night during my first year of uni. But I didn’t know that, because I was drunk off my guts at some underground club in King’s Cross. As is usually the way that these things happen, I found myself staring into the mirror in a bathroom at the Moulin Rouge and wondering who had smeared all my eye make up onto my cheeks.
You’re drunk, my reflection said, Go home.
And so I stumbled up the stairs, out onto the street, and realised that it was 3am (the witching hour, and also taxi change-over time), pissing down with rain, and I had lost my friends at some stage of the night. Unphased, I wandered up and down Darlinghurst Road a few times looking for a cab or similar form of transport, and trying to stay under shelter. Suddenly it began to pour. There was hail and thunder and strong winds. I realised, very abruptly, that my feet were in the worst pain they had ever experienced. I had roughly $7 in my purse, I was too drunk to write a text message without keeping one eye closed, and I was getting yelled at for loitering outside clubs.
Eventually I found a bus stop and sat inside it, in the weak hope that a bus might arrive and take me somewhere dry. Sheets of rain blew inside and soaked me as I methodically rang everyone in my phone book. All my friends were either asleep or too drunk to drive, and none of my acquaintances owed me any favours. I left a series of slurred, abusive voice mail messages, then apologised and begged people to call me back. My parents were out of town and I didn’t have any other relatives’ phone numbers handy. I considered committing some sort of crime so that I could catch a ride with the police, or throwing myself in front of a car in order to get taken to hospital in an ambulance and then tucked into a warm bed by nurses. I suddenly felt very young and small and officially fucked.
As I sat in the bus stop on Macleay Street in the pouring rain and tried not to cry, a transvestite hooker came and sat next to me.
“I’m Jean,” it said, as I shifted away on the seat.
“I make jewellery,” it added, holding out an arm full of bangles and track marks.
“Maybe I can help you get home?” it offered with a wink as I turned away and frantically dialled my brother’s number.
“What?” he answered, awake and sober.
“Chris, I’m stranded in the cross in a thunderstorm in a bus shelter with some junkie jewellery-making eternal question and there are no cabs. Please come and get me. You’re my big brother – you have to do this.”
“What’s an eternal question?” he asked.
“It’s when you can’t tell whether a person is male or female,” I explained, “Will you pick me up?”
“Nah…” he said, “I think I’m just gonna go to bed, I’m pretty tired.” And he hung up.
As I stared at my phone in disbelief, the hooker asked me whether my brother was coming to pick us up.
“I have no brother,” I corrected it, and walked out into the rain.