On the urn downstairs someone's stuck up a newspaper clipping.
UFO SIGHTING ON NULLARBOR
In a place like this, you always have to wonder--has someone put there for a joke, or to share information? I make myself a cup of tea and take it into the dining room. Neil the nightshift supervisor is smoking next to the open window.
"Who put the thing on the urn?" I say.
"The UFO thing."
Neil looks at me like I just insulted his mother. He stubs his cigarette out and stalks off into the kitchen. He's sort of sensitive about anything to do with UFOs. No one knows why. One of the residents probably stuck up the clipping to get at him. He probably thinks I did it.
"It wasn't me," I call.
"It wasn't!" Everyone blames me around here. Maybe because I'm the youngest, and the newest. That's what I tell myself, but really, it's because I'm the King Midas of bad luck. I pour out rice bubbles and milk. The rice bubbles looks just opened, but someone's taken the toy out of it already. Neil comes back in and burns the news article in an ashtray right in front of me.
"Lighten up," I say.
He just glares. Okay, so he has no sense of humor, but I knew that.
"Someone was moaning upstairs," I tell him.
"Fuck off." But he fucks off himself to go check. I pull a finger sign behind his back.
After I finish my breakfast I retouch the line I've drawn in blue pen around my wrist. Then I fix up the red pen around my other wrist, and the green and the black on each of my ankles. I know it looks nuts, but I've been on the straight and narrow for five months, so I'm not messing with any of my charms.
Shell necklace, check.
Charm bracelet, check.
Next, I check all the charms in all my pockets, even though I checked three times already before I left my room. I keep forgetting if I really did have my Ace of Spades in my other pocket. Not forgetting, exactly, but just not trusting. I'm sure it's there, but how can you *know* for sure? That's hard to explain to people, because most people are very sure about
everything. They do something, and it's done. They don't doubt it. I doubt everything.
Neil comes back and lights up a cigarette, watching me. It makes me nervous, so I go out on the front porch. Lurch is there, standing under the roof-bit, his duffle coat buttoned up to under his chin. We call him Lurch because his name is really George and there's two Georges. So George 'Lurch' is the big fellow who lives 16 hours a day (sometimes more) on the front porch; and George 'Orwell' is the skinny codger with the fetish about hidden cameras in the light fittings. George Orwell doesn't live here any more. But that's another story. I sit down on the top step and check my stuff without negative karma supervisors.
"You going to the clinic?" asks Lurch.
"Yeah. In a moment."
Paper rustles as he notes this fact in his notebook. Lurch takes his notes very seriously. As seriously as I take my charms. Neil's replacement arrives. Neil leaves. I want to leave, too, but I
still can't get my charms straight in my head. Two more residents leave. I'm out of time.
"Hey, Lurch. Did you see what I just did with the Ace of Spades?"
"You put it in your pocket, there."
Independent verification. I'm still not sure, not knowing-sure, but if I miss my appointment I'm sunk. I decide to walk in, even though the bus is free this close to the city. Buses in peak hour are full of business suits who cram away from me like I'm infectious. They can sense I'm bad luck.
When I arrive in the city centre most shops along the Hay Street Mall are still closed, and office workers are still homing in on the Terrace like abductees toward a spaceship. I've got a few spare minutes. I know I should go straight to the clinic, and wait for it to open. I know I'm
dangerous left to my own devices.
While I dither on the street corner, I'm attracted to the shiny posters in the DVD store near me.
This is the point where I fuck up.
This is all set up.
Nothing REALLY happens.
Of course I want to read on.
The reason this works is that the writing (which needs a good polishing) is vivid. We have the sense here that there is impending doom, and we get confirmation early ("this is the point where I fuck up"). The uncertainty of "what's going on here, who are these people" is GOOD.
The hook made it sound comical, but this doesn't sound comical at all. It sounds like we're inside the head of a functioning fruitcake. I'd read a partial on this to see how it works, but I'd have an eagle eye on that synopsis for plot.