The Day of the Jackhole

The Day of the Jackhole

Celebrating 40 years on this earth

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1994. In which the kid bolts.

September 21, 2011

Daydreaming. Again. Standing in a fish and chip shop in Kingston, Canberra, waiting for an order. It’s what copy kids do. Wait. And drive. And wait. And deliver. This order, two bits of fish and some chips, is the last collection on the dinner run. Once it’s swaddled in off-white butcher’s paper, I’ll hop back in the red Toyota and hammer it back to the Canberra Times to deliver these meals in mamma bird fashion to the snapping and eager beaks of journos and sub-editors.

But for now, I’m bathing in the fake yellow glow, thrown off from the lights inside the glass hot food display case as I wait. As the chips hit the sizzle of much-used cooking oil, I half-turn to watch the crazy man outside the shop. He’s been out there a while, ranting at the window. Pacing back and forth, making wild arm gestures and getting spittle in his beard. I can’t work out if he’s ranting at his own reflection or has a beef with the greasy-aproned cook in this fine fried goods establishment.

I turn back to the cook. He looks harmless enough. Ruckus outside. From the corner of my daydreaming eye, I catch the movement as the crazy man throws something at the shop window. At that exact moment, someone inside the shop goes to open the door, creating a fantastic angle of luck and opportunity for the projectile to ricochet off. It hits the glass door with a chink, just as my head swivels, and I catch the object. Right between my dumb eyes.

Knocked back a step, down I sit. Right there, on the floor. People gather ’round, help me up to sit in a booth. I’m fine, though very embarrassed. I rub the spot gingerly. Whatever it was, it hasn’t broken the skin.

And then someone hands me the object. It is a large and heavy bolt. Massive. And it’s just hit me right between my eyes.

The dinners are cold. It’s not my fault. I try to explain. Pipes, the chief of staff that night, looks worriedly at the fast-forming mountain that has appeared between my eyes as I stand there and tell him I don’t feel so great. That I’ve done all the major things for that night, but I think…

“I think I should go home.”

“I think you should go to a doctor,” he says.

The Editor appears at his side. Wants to know what’s going on.

“Well…” Pipes draws it out, “Look at her.” He gestures at my lumpy head. You can’t miss the third head I’m growing right out of the front of my face.

She squints in closer to me. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to the editor and I look deeply into her eyes through her glasses. I never realized how thick those lenses were.

Later, at the doctor’s office, I hear the most amazing sentence. That if I notice a clear liquid coming from my nose I should hurry back. Because that might be brain fluid.

The headache lasts for days. I’m becoming ‘that girl’ at work. That girl is a terrible copy kid. It’s the easiest job at the paper and I can’t even do that right.

 


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