>OUT STEALING MONKEYS

>There, in the shadows, that sound like a watch-face snapping. A magician’s hammer sound, a deep-sea pressure sound. This is what it’s like out here. Those damn similes of silence. Me in my thick Narrabeen pants, feeling particularly low on beauty. Tonight, of all nights.

I’ve seen others returning, faces pink-flushed with excitement, black grease smeared underneath their eyes, hands clutching those glorious wriggling bags. I would watch every weigh-in with so much excitement and such a bitter, heavy jealousy. Those reports in the paper, the day after, where they’d often spell names wrong but it so didn’t matter—that was what got me most.

And for so long I stood on the sidelines, inventing so many excuses that eventually I just wasn’t asked. For what reason did I hang back? For what reason did I deny myself the possibility of so much pleasure? That was my personality, I suppose. The same reason I spend hours winding paper through my typewriter, not willing to commit to anything more permanent and fallible than a thought.

But now, here I was. Fully kitted out. Rather than face the horror of the main street, I caught the bus to Newport where I knew a few people, but not many. Of course, it would’ve been easier to find the right nets and sacks somewhere on Ocean Street, but then I would’ve been far too conspicuous. So I trawled the shops on Barrenjoey Road for the necessary supplies, taking far too much time and spending far too much money before I had everything I needed.

My fingers twist and tangle in the fine wire of the snare. My eyes never leave the road, lined up army green through my night-vision. I remain sprung down on my haunches, like I’ve seen other kids do. It’s a matter of time, I tell myself. A matter of time.

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