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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

When The Fundraisers Came To Visit

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

When The Fundraisers Came To Visit

Andrew Ryan

A Very True Fiction

The boys from the environmental charity came to the house. One was from Canada: he’d been in Melbourne for three weeks. The other was from country New South Wales, he’d been here a few months. They both got the only job that would accept them without experience: door to door knocking, fundraising for a campaign to save as many threatened animals from extinction as possible. There were orang-utans, and tiny little rock wallabies, and turtles, and some other animals I can’t remember because they weren’t as cute as the others, or maybe I wasn’t as knowledgeable of their plights as the others, or as knowledgeable of their environments as the others, or I hadn’t seen as many videos of them as the others, I can’t remember, because I’d just woken up.

Cosi and I were sitting on the couch, the long couch set up out the front, outside Pete’s bedroom window. We were having our first morning coffee together, our first morning cigarette, getting our friendship on in the haze of the morning after something, though it may not have actually been morning, and who knows what happened the night before. I can’t remember, because there have been many other mornings and afternoons and night befores since then.

The boys from the environmental charity approached us on the couch and asked if we minded them telling us about their campaign. I said “Not at all”, and Cosi smiled, and so did I. I would have preferred not to because I knew we both had to refuse giving them money because neither of us have very good regular incomes. I knew we would have to tell them eventually, but the Australian guy, who must have been training the Canadian guy, started up his big practiced spiel about all the animals who are suffering because of the various globalised industries that function only through the destruction of the animals’ natural environments. We puffed on our ciggies and drank our jet-black coffee with a spoonful or two of white sugar with concerned looks on our faces, nodded our heads in time with the carefully structured movement of information within the spiel, made eye contact where we felt it fit well for the emotion and the reality of what the information meant, puffing ciggies, craving another one straight away.

It came time to tell the nice boys that we had no money to donate to the cause, though we do care deeply about it. We’ll like the Facebook page, we’ll get numbers up, we’ll help in the only we can with our personal economic situations. The nice boys understood, they said they understood and they asked if we were musicians or something? Because there was an acoustic guitar sitting next to Cosi you see, and I was dressed all in black, and Cosi had her wild hair all out and wild and was wearing a large fur coat. They didn’t ask if the fur was real. I have never asked her either. We both nodded at the questions, Cosi said “Yeah I am” and I said “Yeah and I am something” and the nice boys smiled and wanted to know more about it. We ended up writing them notes about some gigs she and Pete were doing in the coming days, and I wrote down my photography Facebook page name on that same piece of paper. Get the numbers up, yeah?

So they left. We giggled at our self-promotion, and rolled another cigarette. I opened Facebook on my phone, and saw that someone in the know had confirmed that Gavin Jones had indeed committed suicide after the Abbott government brutally cut Indigenous funding. I grabbed my face. I swore. I tugged my hair, and squinted at the sky. I swore some more. I cussed at the concrete beneath my feet. I cussed at my country. I cussed at my government. I cussed at my European ancestors. I sent psychic apologies to my indigenous ancestors, and my indigenous countrymen and women. A tear of frustration came to my eye, which was certainly not the first one for situations such as this.

Further down my news feed, a friend proclaimed to the world that she and a bunch of other lawyers were working together to bring the Australian government to justice for their disgusting mistreatment of people seeking refuge from dangerous situations in their home countries. I rolled another cigarette and let the pride I felt in my friend’s actions and drive and beautiful, beautiful mind wash over me, and smiled. I sang the chorus of that Bette Midler song to myself in my own head, and then wrote the lyrics all in capitals in the comments section of her Facebook post: “DID YOU EVER KNOWWWWW THAT YOU’RE MY HERRRROOOOOO”, so that she knew just how pleased I was about this, giggling as I went. Cosi showed me a video on her phone of cats falling asleep in funny positions and we laughed out loud together and decided to make more coffee.

The sun was out, and it was rare for the sun to come out, so we shirked our responsibilities and sat in the sun and kept smoking ciggies and drinking coffee and chatted about her band’s imminent trip to Perth to play some shows, gettin’ all excited. We put on Gonjasufi and talked about what the album reminded us of. We forgot about the world’s ills.

And then a woman with an expensive haircut, a short skirt and a young, blonde haired blue eyed boy by her side walked down the driveway, smiling an expensive, clean white smile at us. She asked if we had a minute to spare. We sighed. I said “Sure”, and Cosi nodded and gave a smile that was a bit forced. The woman walked up to us, picked up the boy, and laid him flat on his back across the legs of Cosi and I. She took a deep breath, grabbed our heads with her hands and yelled “HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE CIVILIAN PLANE THAT WAS SHOT DOWN BECAUSE OF RUSSIA?!” and then punched us both in the face. The punches knocked us out.

When we awoke, we were in rubble. We were on the Gaza strip. Bodies surrounded us, and we were being shot at. I took a bullet in the chest, Cosi took one in the back, and we died. Then our civilian spirits went to Syria and they got killed all over again.

The end.