Almanac Fiction – Daz Cooper Chapter 5: Hip and shoulder

Hey! Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
— “Heart-shaped box”, Nirvana



It’s a leading edge. It’s flown straight up in the air. And at 2/120, they could do with a wicket.

-Cooper’s ball! It’s yours, Coops!

Daz takes racing steps at mid-off. Short, sharp racing steps; readying steps, as his brain computes the trajectory of the cricket ball (a bit to the left, back a bit, left a bit more…)

It’s a warm day. But overcast. Bleak, almost. It’s weather like he’s never known at this time of year.


Here comes the ball now. It’s gone a long way up. Daz readies his hands, fingers pointing skywards as Ian Chappell advocates.


And he pouches the catch. Beauty. Teammates surround Daz; back-patting, whooping.

-I thought you’d drop that, Coops.
-Did you, Lehmmo?
-You’re a real expert, Lehmmo.
-That was a good catch.


It’s a fine catch.

A heroic catch even, Daz thinks. A match-turning catch.


And they win the game.

They go on to win the game.



Daz Cooper’s contribution: did not bowl, did not bat, one catch.

-At least I’ll get a trophy.



Daz Cooper sits in his darkened bedroom; at a desk in his darkened bedroom, facing the window. It’s late.

His curtains are open and, if the sun was up, he would now be looking out across the suburban street. As it is, his eyes meet only his reflected self, illuminated by a warm spill of light from his desk lamp, from his iPad.

Daz Cooper knows he probably should be writing a list now. A list of the things that crowd his head. For his head is crowded.


-Make a list, work through it.

That’s what his teacher, Mr Collins, would say. As would his Mum. As would his Dad.



They’re arguing again now; his parents. That’s new. Pretty new. In the last week or so they seem to have stopped speaking with other about the house. Only to argue when Daz and his sisters have left. As if it’s hidden. As if, despite all evidence, he and Martha and Jo will fail to notice that something’s amiss.



It’s Snapchat.

No, it’s Facebook messenger.

Daz has a few windows open: these as well as Instagram, Twitter, whatsapp, a few others. The school channel, too. And there’s the old SMS and email vehicles ticking away.

-They’re at it again.

It’s Martha. She’ll be in a room with Jo; both listening to the escalating row downstairs. Daz admires the spelling. The absence of text terms.

-It will pass.


This is his mantra presently. Daz feels the need to present as a Yoda-like figure of calm and wisdom for his younger sisters.

And it helps him, too, if he’s honest.


But writing a list. It seems too adult. It feels like the writing of a list is too sensible; something to be avoided.


What would he include on a list of Confusing Things? Well… There would be: parents fighting, anti-differentiation, cricket and his place in it, footy, Rachel, that girl from the beach, …probably life and his place in it.

-Ahh, pass it will, Master Yoda.


Martha there, taking the piss.

Daz laughs out loud.



That maths test had not gone well.

It was scary, really, the things he was expected to know. So many rules. Rules, patterns, knowing which rule to apply to what. So many rules.




Snapchat this time.

It’s Rachel.

Rachel Spinks.

Incredible that she and he would be ‘seeing each other’. Is that what they’re doing? Daz is not sure. But he does spend a glorious amount of time thinking about her. And they’re in touch almost constantly. And she kissed him. So… Probably.

Maybe he should be organising a trip to the movies. Is that what people do?

Ping. Ping.

-Nah. Just roll with it, Daz old boy. – he tells himself.



The messages. Four of them now. Daz reads them. From Rachel. Rachel Spinks. (Incredible).

-Hey Coops.
-Guess wot?


Daz laughs now, too. Not quite “roll on the floor laughing,” but with anticipation of something funny. She’s brilliant.


As he sends the question mark, Daz feels a warm shiver down his leg; the inside of his left leg.
-srsly. smh.


Now she’s seriously shaking her head. This is wonderful. What a woman.

It’s Martha now. On Facebook
Messenger again.
-It’s getting worse. We should do something.


Ping. Rachel.
-tomo, coops.


Ping. Martha.
-What do you think?


Daz switches his computer speakers off. Nirvana’s In Utero.



Camp. A pre-season footy camp. It’s the first week of school holidays. Late March.

The camp is alright. Staying all together in the Sunnybank Surf Life Saving Club. Great spot. Lots of running on the beach, games, physical challenges. Not like those ‘Survivor’ challenges; not like eating a live scorpion. More like the other sort of ‘Survivor’ challenges; shuttle races up and down the dunes, dragging a car tyre along on a rope.

And they’re playing a practice match against a local Sunnybank Under 17 side. It’s a twilight game. Under lights. The lighting is terrible, but still. Under lights. It is pretty cool.



His Mum is raising her voice now.

Trying to sound calm, but not.

Speaking slowly. But very loudly.

Just like she does when the kids are in trouble, when he’s in trouble.



Last quarter now. He’s had a fair game. No, a good game. He’s had a good game. Daz has been across half back. A man to mind, space to find, attacks to launch; you name it.

Here comes the pill again. These Sunnybank guys bring it out the beach side wing every time. Daz flicks his head around to find his man. There he is. (- Shite. Got away.) And runs hard and well to cut off any space; any opportunity for his man to lead, or to take an uncontested possession.

-Macca, back here! -Daz yells the instruction to his speculative wingman teammate of front-running tendency.

Macca drops back; fills a hole.

The kick comes in, high and wide. It’s way out in front of Daz and his opponent. They’ll be racing for it now. Daz imagines a facile TV commentator (“it’s a foot race”).


They’re side by side, ball bouncing flukily out wide; in the gloom.
-Carn Rex! -a Sunnybank bloke chirps. Sounds ridiculous when said with a gob full of mouthguard.
-Coops! Yours Coops! Here mate!

Daz clocks Howie running over.


Time slows now as Daz watches the strides of his opponent; long, fast. And Daz times his crashing hip and shoulder to hit CRASH! exactly as the opponent steps onto his outside foot.

He’s down. It’s fair. Legal. And Daz lopes unattended onto the free bouncing footy; collects it. Kicks with precision to Robbo, leading up from centre half forward.


Howie pats Daz Cooper on the bum.
-Good hit, Coops.

-Good hit, Coops. -Daz says to himself, jogging away.



Things are getting worse.
Martha is spot on.

-I’ll pop down now.


Daz types it. Hits send. Opens his bedroom door, and walks to the top of the stairs.

He’s careful to do it all noisily; he wants his parents to know he’s coming; to alter their behaviour. He wants to fix things. By being there, he reckons on fixing things.


And sure enough, as his moves down the stairs, the arguing abruptly stops.


Reaching the bottom, he finds only his Dad in the kitchen.


-You ‘right, Daz?
-Can I give you a hand with something?

And while many responses pass through Daz’s mind,
(-Howabout you stop with your arguing?)
(-Can you tell me what the hell you’re doing shouting at each other?)
(-Be nice to each other.)
(-Make everything alright.)
he says:

-Nah. I just need a drink.
-You sure?


Daz Cooper, as big brother, sees this opportunity to fix things. He doesn’t want or need his Dad to help him with anything just now. No school work, anyway. But he reckons that separating Mum and Dad will probably return peace.


-Well, I’m still a bit stuck with that anti-differentiation.
-Let’s have a look.


They head upstairs. And so a temporary peace does indeed return. It’s a false peace; a frosty, unremarked peace, under the guise of exponential function- enhanced parental separation.




Change rooms are enormous.

-J-boy, you’re a legend under lights, man.
-Fk off, Thommo.
-No, I mean it. You’re a star.
-Are you alright?
-You were gleaming out there. Sunnybank has a new hero.
-Get yer hand off it.
-It’s that oil you use.
-Yeah, OK. Do you want to buy some?
-I mean, you’re so shiny out there.
-Here you go, Thommo. Free. Knock yourself out.
-Arms shining under lights. Muscles rippling.
-Did you get a photo?
-I’m getting all sweaty thinking about it.
-You’re only human.
-I need a cold shower.

Mr Collins walks over, clipboard still in his hand.

-All right you two – get a room.

And the room dissolves into giggles.



They’re upstairs and into his bedroom.


The laptop illumiates with the incoming message. Daz should have changed his screen. But he wasn’t expecting his Dad to be with him.


Daz and his Dad, both, can easily read the messages.


It’s Martha.
-They’ve stopped.

And then.
-About time.




This is the fifth chapter of a wee series featuring yer man Daz Cooper.
Chapter 1: Summer dreams
Chapter 2: Back to school
Chapter 3: Swimming sports
Chapter 4: Cricket training, dreaming

Chapter 6: Rivers of suggestion

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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Dave. Daz has a bit going on. Look forward to the next chapter!

  2. G’day Luke.
    Thanks very much.
    Daz has, indeed.

    I’m imagining the life of people I see around- friends, families, on public transport, out and about.
    It seems a demanding world.
    And teenagers have a lot on their plates.

  3. I reckon Daz is the universally admired “good lad.” I’m keen to see how he’s going to navigate those approaching storms. Well played Er.

  4. Wistful wondering – and wandering. Your everyman Daz is getting into Deeper Water these days ER. Beautifully daubed. Makes me think of Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game:
    “Yesterday a child came out to wonder
    Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
    Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
    And tearful at the falling of a star”

  5. E.regnans says

    Thanks Mickey.
    Thanks PB – I don’t know that lyric.

    Exploring. Wondering.

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