A Lovely Bullet Part II



Tribes and Family.


The function was a ripper. My fiancé and I were drunk and in love. Despite it all.

I remember dancing with her. How good it felt. She was all happy and shy about it. A tiny woman, or, maybe, in hindsight, girl, surrounded by all us apes. Big donks and loose units everywhere. Loggers on the tear. Married couples slotting into each other. Good people, letting off steam, being alive.

And there she was, safe, on a dance floor, intoxicated, surrounded by me.

The thing I remember about our functions most is that they were always dark. The old weatherboard hall was poorly lit, outside there was one street light. The pub was a half moon of a thing, down the road, near the river and river mist. The rest was black valley walls.


I was in love then, in that moment. With a woman, or girl, who had not just come to the bush, but loved it. Who didn’t just come to the footy, but loved it, too. Who played netball, as if it was one half of the club, not something tacked on.

Who mixed with my tribe.

She wasn’t of us, or ours, but here she was. The game had been hard. I had, in the thick mud, had a real dip. The night was earned.

Eventually, she’d had too much, so I took her to the car, pulling the doona out. She hid under it and bolted upright, looking confused.

“Head-spins,” I whispered to her.

Even the way she did that was so damn cute.

Watching her be drunk for the first time was the sweetest, most protective thing.

After two or three goes at fighting gravity she flopped down again, pulling the doona over her head once more.

Dovie, Cobbledick and a few of the others boozed on by.

“What’s going on here, then? “ Dovie said, looking at the doona, her head under it, in my lap.

“All right. Old Dog’s getting a bit,” he said.

“Party in Dog’s car!” Cobbledick said, leaping up and dancing on my bonnet. Thrusting his dick all over the air.

“Cobbles, ya clown,” I said, far from giving it my all. But for her, I didn’t give a damn.

“Ohh, take another grab, Zurbo!” Cobbles baited me. “Ohh, take another grab!”

“C’m’on, let’s go,” Dawsie said.

We were all mates and teammates. But Dovie and Cobbledick were the grunt. The knuckle. Dawsie had no say in it. Not at all.

The big man looked hard into the car. I was pinned by her. He figured out what was going on.

“Let’s go,” he said, pulling Cobbledick down, onto the wonky bitumen.

“Ohh, ohh! Zurbo’s precious now, is he?” Cobbledick hammed it up.

Dovie ignored him.

“Is she okay?” he asked, all human-like, because, take away the tough, the fearlessness, and he was one of the most human people I’d met.

A great bloke, who walked the line between rough and good, swinging hard. Not caring what anybody thought.

“Yeah, gravy,” I said, and he dragged Cobbledick, pissing and moaning “Ohh, Zurbo! Ohh, dear, Zurbo!” past the mouldy old church and cows, and they were gone.

“Ooohh, is it safe…” I heard the doona moan.

Are you okay?” I asked, stroking her hair.

She sat up, all wobbly, giving me the best, tired, sloppy drunk hug I’d had in my life. We were tanked.


She stared ahead, at the stars. We both did, in one of those moments that are so still, so quiet, despite the chaos spewing out from the hall, you almost have to risk it all.

“Babe?” I said.

“Mm?” She was onto it. Wanted it. The stuff we had to sort.

“Your religion? You’re going to hell for being with me…?”

She said nothing, because she knew it wasn’t really a question. We’d already gotten that far.

“I don’t get it. Everybody here tonight is going to hell. You are for drinking. And for having sex with me. I am. The footballers, the netballers. The mothers and children. Everybody you work with where you do your tour guiding. The people you take on the walks, the kids you teach…”

She said nothing. There was nothing to say.

Fuck her father and his unhappy marriage. The misery her mother endured because her religion had no concept of right and wrong. No idea of good or bad. Of love. No respect for any other religion.

Like the worst footy club, they had no morals. Get on board, or go to hell.

“I don’t get it?” I said, softly, full of hurt, almost pleading, in the dark. “My Dad is the nicest, friendliest, softest, most generous little bugger you could ever meet. How can you tell me he’s going to hell?”

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” she said. She always said.

I watched her watching the night. I felt lonely for her, walking with the condemned, talking and playing sport with the condemned. Being friendly and eating and even drinking with the condemned. We were everywhere. In my world, we were her world.

A great family, who all knew her religion situation, and despite how tough they were, and they were tough, gave her space on it. Both as respect to me, and simple respect.


Behind us, Bob was using a goon bladder to take speckies over the girls and teenagers out front of the hall. Two or three more people drifted past us towards takeaways from the pub. Somewhere, down one of the logging tracks, maybe at Bart’s, or up on the Ridge, at Gee’s, surrounded by pine plantations, the night would not stop. Sunrise would be a hiccup.

A few of the dairy farmers made for home, several couples headed back to town. Parents drifted into the dark, looking for their babysitters and kids.

“Get it up ya, Old Dog!” one of the young drunks shouted.

Two or three others gave him a whack on the back of the head.

“Have a good one, Matty,” Scratcher said, in passing. “You played well today, mate.”

“’Night Scratch,” I said.

“’Night, Ross,” she added, with the best, little smile.

She was always friendly, always beautiful, the most superb person, even to the damned.

Eventually, she left me to save herself from hell. Then returned. Then her family reeled her in by convincing her our children would go to hell, too.

Her old man played a lot of footy. I assumed we might have things in common, a leveler to meet on, but was wrong.

In hindsight, we were doomed before we began.






  1. There are a few women who passed in the night more because of their family than anything between us.. I hated that…

  2. Matt Zurbo says

    Not an uncommon story.

    [email protected]

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