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Cowboys Without Conscience

Page 4

Neil Blick

Ca-Sheeees Jai would silently mimic though bared teeth. Ca-Sheeeees. Trev reckoned it was probably approval. Up half a notch. His workmates would say ‘Shut up dickhead, don’t draw attention’. Mostly Trev just didn’t get it. Reading what blokes’ behaviour was meant to express was hard for him to grasp. Late at night he would replay the boys’ offhand remarks over and over, trying to make sense of them until sleep finally stole him away.

Even though the sun had set Trev left his sunnies on as a shield.  He figured they couldn’t see his eyes darting back and forth to watch what was happening and who was where. Even after half a Hawaiian pizza and another can of beer he was still on high alert. He could feel a slight sway when he walked so he preferred to stay still. ‘Keep yourself a small target’, his dad had said.

The night darkened and the beers kept rolling. Trev felt the thin veneer of niceness crumbling. He knew by the acrid smell of the boys’ sweat and their dilated eyeballs that there was more going down than beer. Their breathing was becoming more laboured, they were getting brasher, and idle banter was now more like halting, monotone jabber. They were making clear pitches to each other for approval of lame jokes and crass comments about blokes who were not like them. Conversations were amplified, more combative. Grunting snarls from some of the boys who were bare-chested and thrusting their shoulders higher from their pumped-up, tattooed torsos. Trev could see their silvery saliva spraying across the firepit’s orange glow.


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