Reunion: Spiritual or Materialistic?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two former band members meet after many years, only to find they no longer have anything in common.

Submitted: November 20, 2011

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Submitted: November 20, 2011

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Reunion

He stood outside the house and reluctantly pressed the doorbell. He thought about retreat, but could see through the etched glass a figure approaching. Too late, he thought. A woman in her late thirties opened it.

“It’s Hunter, isn’t it? I hardly recognized you. Come in.” He entered and followed her down the hall. “Karl’s in the study finishing some work. I’ll tell him you’re here. Just wait in the lounge room. He won’t be long.”

He sat down and inspected the room, which was opulent but not ostentatious – tastefully unassuming. He heard voices from another room and then Karl appeared at the door.

“Hunter, you old cunt. How are you? Would you like a glass of wine?”

“Yes please.”

“White or red? I’ve just opened a nice Shiraz, or would you prefer a Chardonnay?”

“ I’d prefer white.”

“Chardonnay it is. I won’t be a minute.” Hunter began to examine the room more closely. There were classical CDs in the rack, House and Garden and home decorating magazines filled the shelves of the bookcases.

“Here you go, mate,” Karl said as he handed him the glass.

“Thanks … mate,” he replied with some difficulty.

“How long has it has it been, Hunt? Eight years?”

“I was just wondering that myself. I think it’s more like ten.”

“Ten years. That long. What have you been up to? Keeping out of trouble?”

“Mostly”

“You know, I was quite surprised to hear from you. Very surprised.”

“I ran into Melanie the other day. I hadn’t seen her in years. She mentioned you in passing, so I thought I’d give you a call.”

“Well, I’m glad you did, mate. It’s good to see you.”

Hunter paused to sip at his wine and to settle himself. He was still a little apprehensive, and found Karl’s nonchalance a little off putting.

“This is a lovely place you’ve got, Karl.”

“Julie deserves the credit, really. She’s a real little doer when it comes to home decorating. I take care of the outside chores and she looks after of all this,” raising his hand to point out his wife’s handiwork. “So, Hunt, what have you been up to? Are you working?”

“Not exactly. I do a bit of voluntary work for the community.”

“What community is that?”

“Wattle Valley.”

“Don’t tell me you’re living back at home.”

“ I moved back to look after mum after dad passed away.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. How is your mum?”

“She’s alright. A bit frail, but she gets by.”

“Good to hear. It must be a bit of a bastard living so far out. I couldn’t go back there, not even to visit. Remember when we were at school, all we wanted to do was to get the hell out of there.”

“I know,” said Hunter nodding.

“I moved into that inner city warehouse so we could play music, drink piss, take drugs and pick up girls. Jesus, we were wild.”

“Well, you were, Karl.”

“You had your moments, mate. The Cutting Funks, Australia’s greatest and only hard-core death-metal syntho-dance band. Those were the days. Do you ever listen to any of the old recordings?”

“No. I didn’t keep any.”

“Not even the CD? I’ve got some spare copies of Funky Cuts if you want one.”

“No. I don’t listen to music anymore. Anyway, I’d left by the time you recorded.”

“They were your songs too. You co-wrote You Explode Me Woman, remember?”

“Only those dreadful words, and it was your title.”

“Yeah, but you wrote the bass line and the middle eight.” Karl begins to sing the riff with accompanying air guitar gestures. “Da da da dum dum da da. It went to number 38 on the Australian charts.”

“Really. Did you make any money?”

“You’re joking? I think we lost between five and six grand all up. But I wasn’t in it fore the money. You sure you don’t want to hear it? I have a copy around here somewhere.”

“No thanks. It’d only depress me.”

“Suit yourself. Julie’s the same. She can’t stand listening to it. I’m only allowed to play it when she’s out. You remember Julie, don’t you? I met her at one of the gigs.”

“I remember. She helped me that night … you know.”

“Yeah, I remember. You flipped out on acid during that gig. Your mum was pretty dark on me after that. I didn’t see why. I never gave it to you.”

“Oh, well. She was upset. She never approved of me playing in a band. She said it was a waste of my talents.”

“She rang my mum and told her that if I tried to see you again, she’d cut my nuts off.”

“She wouldn’t say a thing like that.”

“Maybe not in those words, but that’s what she meant,” to which he added in a tone of mock refinement, “If Karl ever attempts to contact my son again, I shall surgically remove his testicles,” and began to laugh.

Karl’s wife, Julie, appeared at the door.

“Karl, I’m off now. I’ve got a class tonight. If you’re hungry there’s some food you can put them in the microwave. I’ll take the mobile in case you want to ring me.”

“Righteo, darl. Have fun with basket-weavers.”

“Very funny. Try not to wreck the place, and don’t spill any red wine on the carpet. See you later.”

“Bye, love.”

* * **

Karl finished setting the table and began serving up the food. The kitchen cum dining room was small, but functional, with the same practical elegance apparent in the rest of the house. There were framed pictures on the walls, paintings of Manet and Monet, although Karl got the two confused.

“I was never interested in art at school,” claimed Karl, pointing to pictures. “You were for a while.”

“Not particularly. I only studied Art History because I couldn’t stand maths.”

“That’s right. I loved maths,” continued Karl, “music is all maths. You can programme all your tunes into a machine these days. You don’t even have to pick up an instrument.”

“And you wonder why I don’t listen to music anymore.”

“You know I run a computer shop now?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah, not far from here. I thought Mel would have told you.”

“She didn’t mention it,” replied Hunter.

“That’s funny. Her boss is one of my biggest clients. That’s how I met her again. God, she’s aged hasn’t she? Hasn’t looked after herself like Jule has.”

“We’ve all aged, Karl.”

“Yeah, but some better than others, don’t you think. Weren’t you pretty keen on her once?”

“Not really. I thought she was more interested in you.”

“She was interested in anyone who played in a band. How about you, are you going with anyone?”

“I haven’t heard that expression for a long time. No. I think I must scare them.”

“Why don’t you give Mel a ring. She likes you and she’s not seeing anyone at the moment.”

“I don’t think so, Karl. I’ve come to a point in my life where all that seems …”

“What? Are you impotent? You could get Viagra if that’s the problem.”

“No, that’s not it. I’m more interested in the spiritual aspects of life than the physical and superficial.”

“You sound like a Jesus freak.”

“Not exactly. I did live on a commune for a while, though.”

“Hunter the hippie, who’d have guessed?” joked Karl in between mouthfuls of OssoBuco.

“It was a spiritual retreat called Tralfamador. I was quite happy there for a while.”

“As happy as a man can be eating vegetarian tucker and shitting in a hole in the ground, I s‘pose.”

“You’re such a cynic, Karl.”

“I’m sorry mate. Only joking. Then what happened?”

“Oh, I left and travelled around and worked on some farms for a while, and I taught kids in outback communities.”

“I didn’t know you were a teacher.”

“I completed my diploma after I finished with the band.”

“That’s right. I remember you dropping out of teacher’s college. Why don’t you go back to it?”

“I don’t think so. I find it very hard to relate to now. I suppose I just don’t believe in any of it.”

“Any of what?”

“Any of the values we are instilling in our children.”

“They’re not your children.”

“I know. I just think today’s society is too obsessed with materialism and greed.”

“I’m all for greed and materialism. I’m just not too keen on kids. Julie wanted some, but I didn’t want the hassle,” said Karl as he finished the last of his meal. “Can I get you some more wine?”

“No thanks, I’d better be going if I’m to catch the 10 o’clock train. Mum’s expecting me.”

“What, is she waiting up for you?”

“No, but I told her I’d be home tonight and I don’t want her to worry.”

“Well, I suppose if you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. I’ll see you out.” They stood up and walked towards the door. “It’s a shame Julie couldn’t be here. Maybe next time. Can I give you a lift to the station, mate?”

“No thanks. It’s not very far.”

“Well, it’s been great seeing you again, Hunter. We must do this again.”

“Yes, we must. Give my love to Julie.”

“I will.”

The two men shook hands for the first time that evening and said goodbye to one another for the last time in their lives.


© Copyright 2017 Craig Davison. All rights reserved.

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