Down the Mullumbimby Rabbit Hole
It was a Friday, around 3pm, when we had our first glass of Kratom. Jai finished his glass first and placed it on the table.
“I’m going to the tip,” he said as he removed himself from the lounge and walked through the front door.
I was somewhat confused by this. Why would a man who just finished a downer feel the need to do daily chores? Was he that interested in joining society? Did he want to seem like one of them?
By the time these thoughts had gone through my mind, his green Toyota Hilux was already halfway down the street.
I continued sitting on the lounge wondering if it was time to smoke another joint, as my previous one was wearing off and the day was getting dull. I was alone now. Alone with the few different buzzes I had acquired throughout the day.
About an hour had passed and the Kratom had taken its hold. I was slumped on the couch, slowly sinking, becoming one with this thing. My mind was lost on the complete shit that was coming from the television. I continued blasting through the stations in some last-ditch hope that a new channel would magically appear from the depths of wherever the hell it was hiding in this maze of soap operas, Judge Judy, E.T’s Fishing Adventure and some fucking Spanish news.
Is this really where my day has ended up again?
I heard a rustling outside followed by a loud screech of the front door being slid open. I cautiously peered up and over the lounge to see who had joined me.
“Hello my sweet sweet!” they yelled.
It was Claire. Claire is a special person. An honest person. One that manages to find everything beautiful and right within the world, whilst ignoring anything that can dampen the mood or interfere with the sunlight of joy she radiates.
She can walk past the horrible dark places this world can send you and continue on her way like nothing happened, whereas a lesser person sits there for a couple of days wondering where the fuck it all went wrong.
I admire this about her. I often wish I could act similarly with moving past sorrowful moods or things that can cause pain, but for some reason, that’s where I go. My people are there. I can relate to those sickos and freaks.
“What have you been doing?” Claire said.
Now, this was a hard one to answer. The truth was out of the question. I could not simply tell a go-getter like Claire that my day revolved around smoking a joint, drinking a glass of Kratom and flicking daytime television until I was so bored I wasn’t sure if I was still conscious. No way. That could ruin her day. She might think less of me.
I chose a simple and safe reply: “Not a lot… just relaxing.”
“That’s good!” she said
I had to keep this conversation going, and fast. I could not let her see the truth of how slow this man’s mind was moving at this point.
“How was your day?” I asked.
“It was pretty busy: just went to work and went into Brunswick and I also…”
She flung into a full list of activities and jobs that she had accomplished throughout the day. Out in society doing her part. Making money and achieving something. Really working for a good nights sleep instead of bringing one on with a simple mixture of different substances.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love a good chat about a productive day as much as the next man, but not now. Not like this. I needed a change of scene, and quickly. Where the fuck was Jai? Even a tip run of the largest order did not take over an hour from our house.
I began to worry about him. Especially the way this Kratom was making me feel. He could be stuck at the tip too tired to unpack his trailer. Sinking into the seats of the magnificent Hilux. Just stuck there with the tip folk. This idea seemed a lot scarier to me than the possibility of a car crash or being arrested for driving on some strange substance the cops haven’t worked out yet.
By this point, Claire had gone to her room and closed the door. Did we finish our conversation? Did I keep it going?
I could only hope that I maintained a certain level of communication and did not simply doze off into a glimpse of the wild possibilities of situations Jai could be in.
I realised this wasn’t the place for me at the moment. I needed to make a swift movement that would change my surroundings and hopefully make this day something of interest. I decided to go for a stroll.
I walked for about 40 minutes and did not find anything that would be worth telling someone in a drunken rave, let alone telling someone in a written story. This was rather odd, as I was in Mullumbimby.
Mullum is a small town that has been a hiding place for the hippies, freaks, dole bludgers, stoners, drunks and misfits who have travelled here and simply never left. A melting pot of people that any decent working-class person would look down upon. The pub is full by 10am and continues that way until close. The hippies sing and dance on the street on weekdays with a total disregard for the ‘normal’ people trying to enjoy some peace and quiet during their small lunch break between the brutal mundanity of their work.
Even this colourful town fell short of expectations during my walk.
After being rather disappointed in the adventure I’d hoped would liven my day up, I decided to turn around and head back towards the house. The road we live on is a long straight stretch shadowed by large overhanging trees. You can see to both ends of the street for about 2 kilometres if you bother to look that far.
In the distance, I could see a man moving towards me. As he got closer, I could make out his features and what he was wearing. He was a real Mullum type, with dreads and hessian clothes hanging wearily over the top of him. The type of guy who found no place like home until he drove that broken-down van right over those hills and down into the valley that he would end up never leaving.
These types thrive in Mullum: they can dress how they want, dance how they want and talk how they want. They find others with the same hopes, desires and beliefs that normal society deems useless and vile.
As I summed up this man’s whole life in the brief moment that he walked towards me, I noticed another guy come out from the side of a station wagon. This man looked more together. Sure, he was a little alternative, but he seemed together. Someone you could ask for a favour and, if he said yes, you’d know it was as good as done.
He looked at the hippie and waved his arms into the air
“Mate! How have you been?” he said
The hippie slowly turned to him and smiled.
“I have been good… good. Can’t complain. But how is your dream catcher going?”
“Mate, never slept better,” the first man replied.
They seamlessly continued on their paths and did not talk anymore about the dream catcher or anything else taking effect on their lives at that time.
I was confused and somewhat angered by this conversation. A conversation determining if a dream catcher was helping this man throughout the night and nothing more. A conversation that you could only overhear whilst walking around a town like Mullumbimby, and I was living side-by-side with these poor bastards.
My mind wandered from this fairly quickly as I got closer to home. I began to wonder if Jai would have returned from the tip yet and if he was ready to start our Friday night adventures.
As I got to the gate, there was no sign of Jai’s return, no Hilux and no beers in the fridge. Now the confusion of where the hell this man could be took over from my feelings of concern. Anger kicked in. Jai was wasting my Friday night gallivanting around the goddamn tip. It was getting too late for it to even be open – they’d shut up shop well over an hour ago – so I decided to call him.
He answered. “Yo!”
“Mate, where the hell are you?” I asked.
“I’m just heading home now,” he said. “I’ll be there in 10 minutes tops.”
He provided no explanation, but it was good enough for me. I could handle 10 minutes. I could use it to wind down after that grotesque conversation I had overheard on my walk.
“You want some beers for tonight?” I asked.
“I would love some,” he replied.
We hung up and I got in my car to drive 200 metres to the nearest bottle shop. There was no way my Kratom arms could get a case of beer that far, not this early in the evening.
I returned home with the beers and began packing them in the fridge, taking up as little space as possible.
As I was doing this, Jai walked through the door and sat down. I handed him a beer and we began drinking with no conversation about where he had been or what I had been doing; just sitting there, with a mutual understanding that the day was a write-off.
Jai and I played cards for about an hour and continued drinking the case of beers. After a while, we gathered our thoughts and decided we would like to continue drinking at the Middle Pub. Every local around here knows that the Middle Pub is the only place to be on a Friday night because of its famous karaoke.
The Middle Pub is a real spectacle. A local watering hole for anyone who is keen to mingle with the drunks, have a chat with an ex-wife, enjoy a beer with an old friend or share a table with the wild men who call it home after work.
Everyone who is anyone in Mullumbimby will be there on a Friday, but be ready for anything, because anything could happen and you better be ready to act like you have seen this madness before so you don’t attract any attention from the locals. You don’t want to stick out – it will get people worried you might be a straight shooter or worse, a blow-in from Sydney.
We walked in and ordered our usual. After last week’s bender and our frequent visiting, the bar staff remembered us and took the order without any trouble. We turned around and surveyed the room whilst the bartender was getting our drinks. It was a little slower than expected for a Friday.
Were we missing something? Had we come to the wrong party?
Not to worry, we thought.
We grabbed our drinks and took the narrow wooden stairs up to the veranda. The veranda is a great place for a drink. You can see the whole main strip of Mullumbimby and watch the madness below. We felt safe there: our watchtower to see any coming trouble from a mile away, with a constant supply of alcohol just down the hall.
Jai and I sat there happily for a couple of drinks, and were enjoying our night when we suddenly heard a ruckus in the distance. An argument making its way up the staircase, building momentum and noise like a tsunami on its way to land.
It finally crashed through the door and enthralled everything around it, including us. We were stuck there, in the middle of a great Mullumbimby soap opera.
Shit, I thought. This is better than anything on television at least.
The young couple, still yelling at each other, managed to find a seat right at the entrance of the veranda where every passer-by would witness this car crash.
“Yeah, but you fucked her, didn’t you!” the girl screamed.
It was clear now that this was a problem of the heart, a small town Romeo and Juliet that had come crashing down, and we were lucky enough to catch the final scene.
“Yeah, but I didn’t even like her,” the boy explained.
A fair point, I thought. One that should definitely be taken into consideration during a tense battle like this.
“You really are a stupid cunt, aren’t you?” she questioned.
This continued for some time, and we were beginning to finish our drinks. Surely we could not leave now and risk missing the finale – we were in this deep, and to be fair, we were really enjoying the performance.
The girl looked over to us and caught our eyes.
Oh Jesus, we’ve been spotted, I thought. It’s all over. She is going to drag us into this shit.
She paused and looked at us for a second, then yelled, “How many times do you have to tell a deadbeat that he’s a cunt?”
She had broken the fourth wall. She had smashed right through it and brought the innocent audience right into the play.
We did not know how to answer a question like this, and I wasn’t sure if she was expecting an answer or not. We sat there, shocked and dumbfounded, confused about which direction this act was heading in.
Jai and I just shrugged.
The girl seemed pleased enough with the response, so turned around and aimed her attack back at the man who was facing the thunder and lightning head-on without even blinking. A battle for the ages that could go well into the night.
At least in our corner, peace was restored, and the show went on.
Cover via Flickr