I thought I’d try to smuggle the last quarter of my breakfast burrito through customs. Down my dacks. Better not, I’m thin on time before my flight. Aah fuck it, I wanna know how possible it is to smuggle something in my pants, a test run. In the toilet, burrito at my gooch I remember I’m not wearing underpants. Another time.

It’s not until I arrive at the domestic terminal in Denpasar that I realise I have to wait eight hours for the connecting flight. Mega, the man at Garuda’s help desk, tells me their earlier flight is full, the best he can do is put me on the waiting list. When the boarding gate closes I’m to check if there are any no-shows. If not then I’ll just have to wait until the later flight.

Damn it’s lucky there was space; I get to meet Lombok in the sunlight. She’s beautiful. Tess (my sister) runs up from behind me before I’ve even rolled a cigarette. Driving along through rubbish-smoke under banana trees past stalls selling bottles of petrol and snacks, dodging stray dogs and scooters and kids reminds me of South India immediately. After a few kilometres it’s like I never got off the bike. Less than half an hour from the airport we reach the small town of Kuta and Tess directs me down a back alley and through the backyards of some local mud huts to her bungalow.

A dusty sun sets behind a mountain. On the balcony of Full Moon café facing south overlooking a white-sand beach coved by rocky outcrops we toast.




My best friend has a deep pain inside. He gets excited, laughs, jokes, smiles and plays, but between I see slight sighs and hollow eyes. Whether or not he’s trying to hide it I don’t know, but it’s not hidden from me.

I know what’s causing the pain and he does too, but there’s nothing more I can do to help him. I feel the same pain; it runs deep, a gushing undercurrent of anguish. Tears threaten to spill for hours on end, frustration wants to be released in the form of fists thrown into a wall but it must be kept in because you’re in public or around people. When you’re alone the anger turns into alienation and anxiety. I feel the same pain; but it’s more temporary for me, cyclical in nature and slowly spirally upwards to recovery. I know it doesn’t run as deep for me either. I make steady, visible progress while he drags onwards so slowly he looks to be still. I so badly want to help him mend it.

Knowing what is going on; the doubt, confusion and flat depression, but not being able to grab his arm and pull him out affects me on a strange plane. It is not my sadness but a mixture of guilt, empathy and helplessness. I feel guilty for being able to quell it, diffuse it faster than he can. I’m empathetic because I know what the pain feels like, devastating, thorough and evil yet I know he is experiencing it even worse than I. I feel helpless because my advice, my hugs, presence, care and understanding don’t and won’t heal him. Sure, those things help and probably make a decent difference, but this pain is a duel between his soul, mind and heart. No amount of outside assistance can make peace.

So I sit by him. I sit and I watch, nervous yet faithful. There is no place I could imagine I’d rather be, and I’ll be here for however long it takes. If it takes years or decades or a century it doesn’t matter, he will get better and when it’s all over we’ll drink beer and laugh. A long wholesome laugh of relief, of anticipation. We’ll grow old together whatever happens and I can say that with great confidence. There’s no one like him for me. He’ll always be my best friend.



I am a lazy fucker. I want to score well on assignments, bang beautiful women, be one of those people who constantly smile, eat well, go to work even if I’m hungover, exercise, get really mad at writing… But I can’t be fucked. Has my life just been too damn easy up until this point? Am I suffering from a sense of entitlement? Maybe, but I know people who have had things handed to them on even shinier platters than me, yet they’re hard working people. All the things I want just seem like too much hard work. To score well on assignments I’d probably have to double the amount of work I do. To screw hot girls I’d have to talk to them. Going to work hungover? I’d rather eat noodles for the following week than stand in a corporate box, serve a few beers from the fridge, politely smile when a client asks for something and watch about a quarter of a game of football with a mild headache. Thanks. I either don’t want those other things badly enough or I’m scared of failure.

I don’t know which of those it is, but I sure as hell don’t want to be that sad old balding man in an ill-fitting suit driving around in a 1996 Daewoo Lanos smoking half the filter of his Bond Street Red cigarette saying, “If I’d just worked hard when I was young, my life would be so much better,” then turning around to look at the back of a high school girl’s skirt when she walks by. Then again, being a workaholic would be just as bad, maybe even worse. Where’s the fun in devoting a large amount of your life to a noble but ultimately pointless pursuit at the expense of Tuesday nights on the piss, Thursday nights on the piss, bizarre spur of the moment tangential antics that deepen friendships (because you can’t explain what you just did to anyone who wasn’t there), reading books, daydreaming and coming up with reasons to justify why you haven’t done anything productive yet.

I’m in a library. One of my best friends Eli is next to me. He would be equal top but he didn’t pick me up from the airport at 4:00pm on Saturday because he wanted to be drunk by that time. He’s working away studiously, never looks at his phone, clears his throat, flicks through what he’s done so far and gets back on with the job. Appears to be just a lot of highlighting. The library’s old and run down, smells like lint and the surfaces are covered in a thin wax, most likely 100 years worth of dust and sweat and flu coughs. We come here because it’s always empty compared to the fancy new libraries. Not that it helps. I’m supposed to be writing a story on an expanding abalone farm due on Monday but all I’ve done is write this stupid thing. At least I look productive. Sometimes on the plane I write fake emails so people will think, “Ooooh look at that dishevelled, busy young man. He must be one of them proactive Gen Y types.” Probably not though, I bet they see right through it, “Ha! There’s no internet up here, he’s not fooling anyone!”

I probably should try to call the owner of the abalone farm. He didn’t pick up earlier. I left a message; surely he’ll call me back when he’s not busy. It was five hours ago though. If he’s eating dinner and I call him he’ll be pissed. Finally gotten home from working hard on his ingenious multi-million dollar venture to enjoy a crayfish, prawn, artichoke, truffle and mandarin oil pizza his bitching wife cooked for him and some lazy journalism student bum calls him and interrupts. I wouldn’t want that if I were him. I’ll call him tomorrow