It was a dry hot day in the town of Wingarie. The occasional gusts of wind were creating whirls on the main street kicking up the light sand laid on the road from the dust storm the week before.
The weather is really the only thing that changes in Wingarie. The people remain the same. Everyone knows each other’s business. No stone gets left unturned except the stones that people can’t figure out.
Mystery stones we leave alone.
Here comes Ol’ Crazy. He’s one of them – a mystery. The old man in a tattered suit screaming at the top of his voice stumbling the sleepy main street of Wingarie.
“The whole world is rotten! It stinks! You stink, he stinks, he stinks” he points at anyone he can see. He points to the sky cursing ‘You stink!’. He points to the earth below him sniding ‘You poor son of a bitch!’.
He rubs his dry red face with his sunbeat old hands, looks at his palms “and you my dears, you stink too.”
The few passersby look away trying to avoid Ol Crazy who is smelling like he never took a bath in his entire life.
A group of teenage boys sit on a bench across the road smoking fags under the willow tree.
“Ah. There he goes again ranting and raving, that Ol’ Crazy”
“He’s the one that stinks!” laughs one.
“Will he ever give up?”
“You remember what he says? Always some crazy thing like…”
“Yeah like ‘It won’t stop till you stop!’”
Ol ‘ Crazy, almost as if he hears them talking, then screams “It won’t stop till you stop!”.
The boys mimic Ol’ Crazy in unison “It won’t stop till you stop!.”
The boys laugh.
“Yeah, that’s it. Like clockwork.”
The youngest boy of the lot asks “Why does he say that?”
None of his friends answer.
Still watching Ol’ Crazy they follow him to outside the ‘Popular” milk bar .
“He sure is one crazy bum”
“Do you think Ol’ Crazy wants to save the world?” asks the boy.
“Yeah!” throwing his Smiths crisps bag on the ground. “This world is fucked anyway, what do you care?’
Ol Crazy screams even louder again. “It won’t stop…”
“I dare you” says the friend.
“Dare me to what?” says the boy
“I dare you to dump this rubbish bin in front of him and stay there while he screams at you. That would be really funny”
“Ugh, get out! I’m not doing that. Anybody can do that!”
“Um, well, nobody ever goes near him and plus umm, like, he has bad breath. Dare you to get up close to his mouth! I dare you!”
The boy pretending to be not scared replies ‘”Um sure. Piece of cake. But you wait for my next dare! I’m gonna get you bad!”
The boy begrudgingly opens the garbage bin from the side of the milk bar. The stench was so bad he reeled. He took out the heavy garbage bag.
He walks up to Ol’ Crazy and stops a metre before him. Slowly the boy tips his garbage bag upside slowly dumps all the rubbish in front of Ol’ Crazy slowly, looking into his eyes.
Ol’ Crazy eyes glare red at the boy. The boy catches Ol’ Crazys deep gaze and remains transfixed and paralyzed.
The boy cannot move even though he tries. Ol’ Crazy gets up close to the boy. The boy can smell his fowl breath from his cracked mouth. He wants to run but he can’t.
It is as though he is frozen in his own body and yet can feel intensely the terror within him as the old man advances closer to his face.
The boy can hear his friends cracking up across the street.
All in an instant, eyes bursting, Ol’ Crazy grabs the boy by the arm and howls “EEEOOOOOOHHHAAAHHH”. He yells like a banshee who is about to slaughter.
The boy screams.
In that moment it was if time became suspended in the very cry of terror. They look even deeper into each other’s eyes. Their eyes stay fixed to each other. Messages are communicated. Loss. Pain. Distort. Hope. Time was moving forward and backwards together dancing as if one.
Then Ol’ Crazy lets go of his stare and his grasp, and turns away cursing under his breath. The boy stays in the same position still frozen and dazed.
His friend pats his back from behind “Good one! Ha ha! That was awesome!”
The boys face was white. He remained silent for the rest of the day.
“Come on, what’s up with you? It was just a dare! Say something!”
The boy turned his back on his friend and walked away down the dusty street. Something happened and he had no understanding of it.
The boy had nightmares about Ol’ Crazy every night for a week thereafter. The scream was in every dream and those eyes, that stare, intensified from Ol’ Crazy night after night.
The boy always woke up to the feeling that an important part of his dream was missing. That unless he saw the old man again, he would not know how to stop the nightmares or his confusion about the day of the dare and what happened.
The boy takes some water and some food and goes in search of the Ol’ Crazy’s shelter. He asked the old geezer outside the pub where Ol’ Crazy lived. “Some place out in the bush to the west of the Stoney Creek”.
In Wingarie everybody knows the business of everybody.
Walking for what seems forever in the hot sun through desert scrub the boy finally finds Ol’ Crazy’s tiny shack made of corrugated iron and dried twigs and bark. The sun is about to set.
Ol’ Crazy is there muttering to himself sitting on the ground on the clearing outside his hut.
Ol’ Crazy then catches the boy out of the corner of his eye and turns.
“Ah. I knew you would see. I was waiting for you.” He stares at the boy.
The boy steps nervously steps forward and even though his heart is thumping fast, he is not afraid.
Ol Crazy gets up, walks to the bucket, hands him a cup of water. The boy drinks.
Pulling him gently down to sit across from him on the earth, Ol’ Crazy looks into the boys eyes.
Their eyes meet again. They see through each other. Again it starts. Past worlds and stars, pain and hope.
The boy is feeling parts of himself he never knew existed in that still fixed gaze. He knows there is more to discover and wants to know. Yet he feels uncomfortable with the silence and nervously says “I am sorry about the garbage” says the boy.
Ol’ Crazy does nothing. He just fixes that look.
The boy now feels uneasy with Ol’ Crazys no response, silence and gaze.
“Um, I’ll make it up to you. I’m sure!” the boy attempts to talk.
All of a sudden, Ol’Crazy pulls back and lets loose of the boys hand, puts his head down in his hands. It sounds like he is whimpering.
He cries “Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Worlds too fast.Too fast. What was ours is gone, what was ours is gone. Gone gone! All because no one gives a flying fuck about anything but themselves!”
Boy gets fidgety. He feels he has to fix something.
“What are you talking about?”
Ol Crazy whines…
“No love, no love. New car, new wife, new house. New new new! No respect for the old. No respect for the old! Too fast…too fast”
“What do you mean Ol’ Crazy?” asks the boy overwhelmed by his confusion.
The boy says helplessly “I mean everyone thinks your crazy Ol’ Crazy! You know they call you that! I said I was sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! You cry! You cry! You always cry!! Why Ol’ Crazy? Why do you cry?”
Ol’ Crazy becomes instantly silent and lifts his head to the barren sky and starts his look again to the boy.
“Your grandma and grandpa understand..” he says softly.
“They cry too and all your family who has already passed”
“I don’t understand.” says the boy confused.
“No you DON”T UNDERSTAND!”
Ol Crazy he raises his voice.and stands up. He waves his arms as he hollers.
“Nobody thinks! Nobody stops to think. They are so busy chasing their fuckin tails!
Let me show you something!
You open up a chocolate bar. You throw the wrapping on the ground. Looks pretty the wrapper. Maybe came from America! Yeah, so sweet inside! YOU THROW IT ON THE GROUND for the earth to swallow?
You put clothes in the dryer while the sun is shining! Why? Is the sun not good enough to dry your clothes? Not fast enough?”
“Oh yes, faster faster faster! Drive faster. Eat faster. Dry faster, fuck faster!” accelerating his pace.
Ol’ Crazy is getting louder.
“What do you want? More time? What? More time to go FASTER?”
Despairingly Ol’ Crazy cries,
“Oh it’s over. It’s all over. You got it all wrong. You’ve missed the 5.10 train! You’re on the wrong fucking platform waiting for the wrong bloody train! Guess what? There are no trains! Guess what? The train you are waiting for will never come! Guess really what? You’re waiting on platform 666! Hells Gate! That’s right son. Hells fuckin’ platform!”
The boy starts flinching with the volume of his voice and talk of the Devil.
“Only the Devil is never satisfied! Only the Devil wants more! Man can be God or the Devil! Our choice! Wrong choices! Wrong choices! Wrong choices. You got it all FUCKING WRONG!”
The boy stays silent. Feels his heart pounding. He never had anyone talk to him in this way. He feels alive and yet his mind feels like it wants to explode. He wants Ol’ Crazy to stop and yet wants him to never stop.
Ol’ Crazy crouches down to the boy and gruffles menacingly. He looks at the boy.
“Are you happy son?
Do you want more, son?
What’s your school teaching you son?
Huh? That to be a success is to have money and you need money to go to Uni, so you can get that job and own that car and pick up that blonde with big tits that you get a hard on over every night when you think of ‘er !? Is that success my son?”
“And the women!! Oh that’s another story! And I will tell ya! Do they want love or to be fucked over? Do they invite love or do they want sex?
Do you know the difference between sex and love boy? I’ll tell you boy! Let me start!”
And he takes a breath as he starts.
“Oh way back there was Margie in our class. Every boy had wet dreams in our class about her. She had the biggest tits and a tiniest tightest little waist. And she knew it. She loved turning on the boys. She would bend over on purpose to pick up her pen so all the boys could look up her skirt. She was barely 13. Oh my, I think she became the class tart. I had my chance. Everyone did. Me being young and you know the way we are. You should know boy! Every boy had a go with her! When I had my chance I felt rotten afterwards. Rotten that I used her. Rotten that I didn’t love her. I didn’t love her son! Nobody did! It was fun until I had my way and then afterwards, I felt real bad cos I knew that I used her.
I watched her too all through high school She ended up being so downtrodden that she started to drink a lot. She lost that spark that Margie. I don’t know what happened to her that poor Margie. She gave it away too easy and too fast.”
Ol’ Crazy sat down opposite the boy and looked into the boys eyes. He broke into a smile as he said “But then later, Angel came into my life. And a real living angel she was. Long blonde hair, blue eyes and she loved me. Margie was the only one before her but I’ll tell you the difference boy. When I used to touch Angel, a feeling that was warm and sweet came over me. I felt I just had to give it back to her. I didn’t want to take anything from her! I just had it to give it back! THAT my boy is the difference between sex and love! Sex you want something. With love you want to give it!
One day I hope you will know boy. I loved my wife, my Angel. She’s long gone now. Sent me crazy her death. Long gone now. But what sends me more crazy is the world just takin’ and takin’ like there is no tomorrow AND THAT is what’s wrong with the world today boy! We just all want to take. We don’t want to give! Like it’s our damn given right to take from the minute we are born!
Take the girl, take the car, take the energy, the money, pick up that seashell, pick those flowers, steal them from source so you can own it. Make it your POSSESSION!” He shook his head in disgust.
Ol Crazy then stopped quiet for a second. “And now you. Tell me boy. What do you give? What will you give to your land, your friends, your heart, dear son?
Call me Ol’ Crazy if you want to! CALL ME OL’ FUCKIN CRAZY and fuck you all, you takers of the world! I live simply in this hut! I don’t harm anyone! I sure can fuckin’ scream though if I see little cunts like you taking from the world boy! Do you understand?”
“Do you? Do you…..” He whispered deflated and hopeless.
The boy looked deeper and deeper through Ol’ Crazy’s.
The boy knew Ol’ Crazys words already even before they left his mouth, when he caught his first stare.
Only the spoken words completed the fire in his eyes, that for the first time, he felt as alive and burning with truth.
No one had ever talked to him that way.
Ol’ Crazy relaxed his mad look because he saw a recognition flash on the boy’s face. Something happened.
Ol’ Crazy knew why the boy came. Ol’ Crazy knew why he was alive and he knew that he was for once in a long time, understood.
The boy reached out and took Ol’ Crazy’s aged and rough skinned hand. It felt dry and warm and pulsating.
“Ol’ Cra ..” stuttered the boy “Um. I mean…uh.
Do you have a name? What’s your name?”
Ol’ Crazy looked into the boy’s eyes and smiled.