IT’S 1979 AND I’m 15, fucked up and restless. My mother and I are living alone after years of domestic violence with her deranged or drunken boyfriends. Finally, everything is quiet. Too quiet. I’ve long left school, having refused to continue on the grounds that I have no need of a conventional education because I’m going to be an artist. I’ve killed time learning to be a secretary and a beautician, but am hopeless at both. I’m not going to fit into a job or mainstream society anytime soon. I pass aimless hours roaming the streets of Glebe, daydreaming in Jubilee Park, pondering my prospects and the problem of life, planning my escape, searching for a man with whom to lose my virginity. I’m itching to be an adult. It seems to me far better to be one than to be at the mercy of one. During the day, I visit grown-up friends, like the elderly gentleman around the corner who lets me smoke his cigarettes and drink his beer while we play cards, or the household of prostitute lesbians where I eat Vegemite toast and grill the girls about blow-job technique. I have few friends my own age.
Michelle Rutherford is one of the few and she’s my closest friend. The youngest of a large Catholic brood, she goes to St Scholastica’s. I’ve also befriended her brother Pete who lives and works in the district the family has left. He makes trips to the city from time to time. The oldest brothers, James and Jeremy, are legendary, larger than life, and absent. James is a journalist whose career keeps him busy and leaves little time for loitering around home, and Jeremy is travelling somewhere with someone.
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