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Authors: A. S. Patric

Las Vegas for Vegans

BOOK: Las Vegas for Vegans
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

www.transitlounge.com.au

Copyright © 2012 A.S. Patri
ć

Published by Transit Lounge Publishing

This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Inquiries should be made to the publisher.

Cover and book design: Peter Lo

Cover photograph: Robert Venturi photographed by Denise Scott Brown on The Strip in 1966 from
Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form
, a book that describes their seminal study of Las Vegas in 1968.

Printed in China by Everbest

This project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

9781921924514 (e-book)

A cataloguing in publication entry is available from

the National Library of Australia:
http://catalogue.nla.gov.au

For my darling daughters
Summer & Nevena Patri
ć

CONTENTS

Beckett & Son

The Mirage Inn

Below Zero

Boys

The River

Hungry Moths

nothing to do with anything

Full-Scale

Minerva Blues

The Interior

The Professional Mourners

Guns N' Coffee

Measured Turbulence

Elysium Zen

One in a Million

Daughters of Vesuvius

Murmur

The Manx Heart

The Bronze Cow

Sunlight

The Eternal City

Cinders & Bugs

The Wife

Birthday

The Slow Fall

Exit

Ana Schrödinger

Fragments of a Signal

Camelot Toys

Scarring Wood

unSubstance

Voice of the Bee

Cigarettes & Balloons

Las Vegas for Vegans

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

•
‘Beckett & Son'
Best Australian Stories 2010, Black Inc. 2010 Overland
, #199, 2010
•
‘Below Zero'
Miscellaneous Voices
#1, 2010
•
‘Boys'
Southerly
Volume 71, Number 3, 2012
•
‘Minerva Blues'
Small Wonder
#1, Spineless Wonders, 2012
•
‘The Professional Mourners'
The Diamond and the Thief December
, 2010
•
‘Guns N' Coffee'
fourW #22
, 2011
•
Winner of the Booranga Short Story Prize 2011
•
‘Measured Turbulence'
Meanjin
Volume 71, Number 2, Winter 2012
•
‘Elysium Zen'
Geek Mook, 2012
•
‘One in a Million'
Stop Drop and Roll #2
, 2010
•
‘The Manx Heart'
antiTHESIS #22
, 2012
•
‘The Bronze Cow'
The Lifted Brow
Issue #7, 2010
•
‘Cinders & Bugs'
Small Wonder #1
, Spineless Wonders, 2012
•
‘The Wife'
Etchings
#9, 2010
•
‘The Slow Fall'
Untitled #2
, 2010
•
‘Exit'
Island
Islet, October, 2011
•
‘Fragments of a Signal' Antimater #4, Dot Dot Dash, 2010
Escape #1
, Spineless Wonders, 2011
•
‘Scarring Wood'
Page Seventeen #7
, 2009
•
‘unSubstance'
Going Down Swinging
#28, 2009
•
‘Voice of the Bee'
The Diamond and the Thief November
, 2010
•
‘Las Vegas for Vegans'
Sydney Morning Herald
January 2, 2012 (short version)
New Australian Stories 3
Scribe 2012 (full version)
Winner of the Ned Kelly Award: SD Harvey Short Fiction Prize

BECKETT & SON

Devon's father had a heart attack. Devon was at home with him when it happened. They were having breakfast and Roland's eyes blinked and blinked as his mouth opened wide. He tumbled as he tried to find a hold on the kitchen bench. He hit the ground but he looked like he was falling on down through the floor, even though he was still there; back to the tiles, his mouth open, working with soundless air. His legs moved spastically and his arms reached out for something to stop his fall. Their eyes met with everything that was part of the complicated sum of Devon and Roland Beckett.

Devon went to the phone. He stood there—then bent down to take a hold of the phone jack and carefully pulled it from the wall. He walked to the front door and made sure it was locked. He went to the back door and made sure it was locked. He walked around their large family house and checked every window, making sure they were all closed. He pulled the curtains. He could faintly hear his father struggling in the kitchen when he came to the stairs that led up to his bedroom. He climbed the stairs and then he turned on his stereo. A band called Fireside Bellows played a song called ‘I Ain't Gonna Fall'.

Devon had already showered and shaved. He and his father both had. The rule was to come to the kitchen table already prepared for work. So Roland was dressed in his crisp white shirt when his heart faltered and failed. The only concessions to comfort were that he hadn't put on his tie and his top button was left undone.

Roland's hand had tugged open that shirt and popped two perfectly white buttons out onto the tiles. They'd reminded Devon of teeth. There was a little white thread bound within the holes of one of those buttons. Nothing in the other. The buttons had looked lovely lying on the spotless off-white tiles. He had paid attention to them as he listened to his father's body writhe—the backs of his shoes squeaking as they moved uselessly on the kitchen floor. He'd made himself look at those two buttons on the tiles, and at nothing else.

Devon listened to Fireside Bellows play another song, and for a few moments considered not going in to work. But that choice was so distant it didn't feel like a possibility. It felt like the idea of suicide. He couldn't imagine calling Mr Waterston in the mailroom to tell him he wasn't coming in. The problem was Devon couldn't lie very well. And the truth was another kind of suicide.

He was almost late getting to Brighton train station. He was usually five minutes early. Today the train was waiting for him at the platform like it was there just for him. He stepped inside the carriage and had the pleasant smell of aftershave and perfume wash over him.

There weren't many seats available. He looked at his choices and saw a group of three, dressed in business clothes. There was one seat among them, though there was barely any space to get into it. They shifted their briefcases and moved only the minimal distance they could to accommodate him. Devon didn't mind. He wanted to be as close to them as possible. He always chose men like these to sit near. He could see their faces had just been shaved. They looked so smooth and clean, all of them. They smelled of shampoo and deodorant, dry-cleaned clothes and shoe polish.

Devon had his iPod playing and couldn't hear what they were saying. He listened to Ian Curtis sing ‘Twenty Four Hours'. It amazed him how many times he could listen to a song and not really hear parts of it. It was like all those parts had to find a way to fit into his mind. That they had to wait for him to be ready before they could enter him and leave their gifts. The next song on the album was ‘The Eternal'. He didn't like it and turned down the volume to zero. He wanted to hear what the three men were talking about.

He'd watched them become more animated. They were a few years older than Devon—maybe in their mid-twenties. It was possible they were even older but the gusto with which they attacked each other in their arguments made them seem just out of high school. Men who worked in his father's firm would rarely show this kind of excitement in public. And they would certainly not allow themselves to look this earnest.

The one with perfect teeth in front of Devon was saying, ‘… and of course you're going to go and lay it all at the feet of Greenspan. Doesn't matter, I suppose, that he tugged the US economy through the '87 Crash and post 9/11. That means shit. He was supposed to predict that the banks would start playing fast and loose. That's what he should have known, hey?

BOOK: Las Vegas for Vegans
13.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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