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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Works For Me

26th April 2008

Twelve Views Of The Auckland Harbour Bridge [FICTION]

Posted by: David Herkt

1: ‘I Am Furious’

I am furious but I am also trapped here in the car with him as we begin the climb up the Bridge from Curran Street. He is driving. It is a summer afternoon. I am wearing sunglasses. I will not look at him now. I refuse. It is the only act of rebellion available to me, seat-belted in the passenger seat of his car. With my elbow on the window ledge I look out across Watchman’s Island and the Upper Waitemata towards Whenuapai, all sunshot in the glare. I flick my cigarette butt out the open car window, viciously. ‘Mmm, Pollution’, he murmers from the driver’s seat.

2: ‘Bouyant, Optimistic’

Buoyant, optimistic, we are headed for Takapuna for a long night night out. I know we won’t get home until 4 or 5 am. I know I will probably drink too much. I know I’ll probably eventually behave badly. I know there will be both of us in the mix of his friends, circulating in that crowded Hurstmere Rd bar, standing outside on the street smoking, arguing and making-up, listening to the DJs, coming together at intervals to share observations or just standing together companionably. ‘Do you know, I say, as we reach the Bridge’s ultimate height at speed , ‘that this is the only place in Auckland where you can somehow feel yourself lifting off and being launched.’

3: ‘In The BMW’

In the BMW, he turns the radio up so we have a Christmas song filling the car while the balmy air of the mid-December night is coming in through the open windows and the lights of Auckland at night are stretched out to our left - the Sky City Tower, Westhaven - broken into shuttering frames by the girders of the Bridge.

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun…

4: ‘It Is 5:00am’

It’s 5:00am and we are driving home and the dawn is warm. I’m sulking. ‘I can’t keep on going on like on this. This week has been too much.’ I’m saying. ‘You’ve been impossible to be with,’ I add. ‘ Poor Baby,’ he responds, automatically, with no consideration for his words, or mine, as we curve in from Esmonde Road onto the deserted motorway, moving smoothly towards the Bridge.

5: ‘I Thought I’d Told You’

‘I thought I’d told you,’ he says, sounding absolutely sincere while knowing full-well that he hasn’t mentioned anything about it. And from Onewa Road, in a stream of red-brake lights, across the Bridge in the midst of the midnight city-bound traffic, all the way to the Cook Street off-ramp, he haltingly explains the story, gradually revealing to me a series of incidents that I find do not want to know, facts brought home to me that destroy the comfortable equilibrium I thought our relationship had become, opening up everything again, and rousing emotions in me that I know will take us both weeks to overcome.

6: ‘In The Drizzly Morning’

In the drizzly morning, I am still in yesterday’s clothes, unbreakfasted, unshowered, but light-loined from the night’s long sexual encounter, his small nipples and neat buttocks easily recalled. We are trapped in the stream of North Shore commuter traffic. Even on the Bridge there is no real flow. ‘Is this working for you?’ he asks, flicking on the windscreen wipers. ‘No, I have to say it isn’t,’ I respond, knowing I’m going to be late for work.

7: ‘His Car Has Overheated’

His car has overheated and it wouldn’t restart. We are both tired from the long night. We call a cab and leave the car near Tristam Ave in Forrest Hill. He makes the cab-driver pull into an all-night service station to pick up the Sunday papers. I’m so drowsy I can’t read them. And in the back seat as we are driven through the clear dawn light across the Harbour Bridge, we’re both finally falling asleep, my body pleasantly sensual from the night’s dancing, my knee resting against his.

8: ‘Play It Again?’

‘Play it again?’ I ask and he leans across to the car CD player, flips back a track and pushes play and The Cranberries singing ‘Dream’ begins again. It is one of those radio-play tracks from our shared past. I do not know why or even how it has become significant. It’s like ‘Colourblind’ by Counting Crows or ‘Let The Sunshine Thru’ by Richard F Featuring Samantha Stock, tracks that niether of us have chosen from the great body of music that surrounds us but have come to mean something to both of us. And ‘Dream’ by The Cranberries somehow takes us back to a contented period in our involvement when things were still young and fresh.

Oh, my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way…

‘I just wanted to hear it as we crossed the Bridge,’ I say in explanation as if explanation is necessary.

9: ‘He Used to Take a Break’

‘He used to take a break from work and he’d just get in the car and drive across the Bridge, turn around, drive back across the Bridge to his office, and then start working again,’ I say, describing a self-employed friend’s former habits as we are heading towards Birkenhead. ‘Really?’ he asks, frowning as he lights a Dunhill with my cigarette-lighter. ‘He used to keep a bottle of amyl in his glove-box so he could snort it as he got onto the Bridge,’ I add helpfully, ‘just to make the whole experience more profound.’

10: ‘As We Are Driving’

As we are driving into the City again, I reach across the space between our seats with the intent to push my hand into the warmth between his thigh and the seat and leave it there companionably as he accelerates up the slope of the Bridge. ‘Don’t be so gay,’ he says, with pretended annoyance.

11: ‘Already I Am Exasperated’

Already I am exasperated. I have only been in the car for five minutes and already he’s pushed all my buttons. It’s not boding well for our night out in Takapuna. I’m already contemplating a $40 taxifare home. I pick up his packet of Dunhill and pull out a cigarette. ‘Why do you smoke?’ he asks, as if he is annoyed. ‘Because I can,’ I say nastily, lighting my cigarette with his lighter. I look broodingly out the passenger-side window over the Bridge railings at the rich Auckland evening and the lights on the calm Harbour water below us. We are both silent. ‘Anyway, hi there,’ he says. I exhale. ‘Hi there,’ I answer, and somehow, by this exchange, a balance is restored.

12: ‘Sometimes I Do Not Know’

Sometimes I do not know why I still want to be with him. Looking at him in profile as we cross the Harbour Bridge I want to tell him how I feel, but I know it will not come out right. It also will not help. He exists in action rather than introspection. Words are useless with him. We’re reaching the Bridge crest in the winter afternoon. ‘Why are you so quiet?’ he asks, one relaxed hand on the steering-wheel, looking not at me but straight ahead. ‘I’m thinking,’ I say. He doesn’t respond as we go over the top and nor does he say anything as we begin the long downward slope back towards the city.

An anthology of recent New Zealand Gay and Lesbian Fiction can be found at

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Alan J.Thomson Esq. // Nov 1, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    What a great idea —- and it works so well —- and could be spun into a book ….. viva la gay mini-story tied to a national icon on our doorstep …

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