Monday, November 12, 2007

Magenta on George Street

I just finished an online creative writing class. I've never taken an online class, and it was interesting to get my work reviewed without actually speaking to the professor in person, and not get a paper handed back to me with writing in the margins and a grade on it. The class was interesting, and it forced me to be aware of certain things about my writing as well.

I am posting my final essay here for you all to see. Enjoy.


I walked to Circular Quay to pick up a milk crate from behind the snack kiosk. Wearing my flannel shirt, torn jeans, and my magenta dyed hair, and my guitar in a cardboard box tucked under my arm. My straw bag slung over my left shoulder, with a canvas hat inside along with the only key I needed that year I lived outside of Sydney, Australia.

I set the crate down in front of the Duty Free shop on George Street, under an overhang that not only kept out the rain but also amplified my voice. I set up shop by tossing the hat onto the sidewalk, and and dropping a handful of change into it. I took the guitar out, tuned it and began to play. My voice carried up George Street, and people came out of the bars and tossed coins into my hat as they walked from one bar to the next. Some of the people passing by gathered around to listen to me play. For those times I saved Australian classics like “Beds are Burning" by Midnight Oil, or popular songs by bands like U2, so that the crowd could sing along. As the night wore on, the people wandering along George Street were more and more drunk, and looser with the change in their pockets. A man walked up and set a fifty dollar bill in among the change.

I stopped playing, mid-strum, “That is way too much money, I cannot accept that.” I bent down to hand it back to him.

“He’s a millionaire, it means nothing to him,” another man whispered into my ear. I agreed to accept the money in exchange for a song; they listened then walked back the way they came. I tucked the fifty into my pocket, smiling at my luck when not even a half hour later, the millionaire came back.

“I have a fifty dollar bet with my friends that you won’t come out with us,” he said, smiling.

“Look pal, I don’t even know you. Buzz off,” I shot back, prepared to give the fifty back, wondering what expectation was attached to fifty dollars.

“Come on, go to Jackson’s with us,” he cajoled. “You can always leave if it gets weird.”

I shrugged my shoulders and thought, “What have I got to lose. He’s right. If it gets weird I can leave. It’s a public place.” I scooped up my hat, which was half filled with change by now. There's even a key in there that some drunk probably didn't realize they'd tossed in. We walked to the snack kiosk to put the crate away, then we walked to Jackson’s which was a block away from Circular Quay. We walked into the bar, and a group of men cheered for him. One of them opened his wallet and handed the millionaire a $50 bill.

The millionaire tried to give me the fifty, and I refused it. He tried to stuff it into my bag, and I told him I didn’t want it. If I was wondering what his expectation was for $50, now what would it be for $100. I refused the other fifty, and he finally relented and shoved it into his pocket.

“Are you hungry?” he asked me after I’d finished my beer. Across George Street was the Regency Hotel, with its five star restaurant just off the lobby. We walked through the lobby toward the restaurant; the concierge looked me up and down and visibly grimaced at my attire. We sat down at a table by the window, and the millionaire ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir. We spent the next few hours eating, drinking the wine, talking. It turns out the millionaire is chairman of the board on a few banks in Australia and New Zealand. Just that day he’d closed a deal with the government of China that he seemed to be very happy about. I figured it wasn’t polite to ask specific questions about the deal, but I was under the impression that the deal would make him an even richer man.

We finished dinner, and drank the whole bottle of wine. I hate wine, but I politely drank a glass while he drank the rest, downing several glasses of water to kill the taste of wine in my mouth.

“So, wanna go to a club?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said checking my watch. The last bus for home left the QVB at 3:30 am. It was just after 1 AM.

“Great, let’s ditch that guitar, my room’s upstairs.” The thought of going to his room didn’t bother me, though I spotted the fire stairs when the elevator landed on his floor. The only thing remotely resembling a weapon was the key in my bag, which I decided I could slip between my fingers and puncture his skin with it if I needed to punch him.

We went into the room; he sat on his bed and I stayed between him and the door. He asked me to play for him. I finger-picked a Suzanne Vega song, and sang softly so I wouldn’t wake up the neighbors. He dozed off. I looked at my watch, it was nearing 2, and I would have to walk several blocks to the QVB the 2:20 bus, or else I’d be stuck sitting at the stop until 3:30. I began to write him a note, thanking him for dinner, and then I decided that a note wasn’t going to suffice.

“JJ,” I said shaking his shoulder, “I have to go now. I have to catch my bus. Thank you for a lovely evening.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“Huh?” he said groggily, “Wait, let me call my driver, he’ll take you.”

“No, that’s OK. I always find my own way home. Thank you.” I closed the door to his room, pushed the button labeled “Lobby” in the elevator. I walked past the sneering concierge, and onto George Street.



Blogger Unknown said...

What a great story Beej!!! I love reading what you write...I wish I could write like that.

November 12, 2007 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Gypsy said...

Loved it! Have you ever Googled that guy?

November 14, 2007 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Yeah, no kidding. Have you googled him? I wonder what he'd say if you got back in contact with him? Or if he tells other people that story.

November 17, 2007 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

I still have his business card in with my stuff from Oz. I have googled him and didn't see anything that related to him. I suspect that a lot of the stuff he told me wasn't true, somehow. LOL.

November 19, 2007 at 12:06 PM  

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