Thursday, 5 January 2012

Luke's daughter answers the door

I knock on the door. My knuckles against the varnish is the most contact I have had all day with anything that does not belong to me.

"Is Luke there?" I say.

Luke's daughter is topless apart from a sash she has made from bin liners. She performs some kind of ritualistic dance while leaning on the door to keep it open. It looks like she has oil on her forehead.

"This is what we have to do," she says as she does an angular hula. "When the trains come." Her breasts bat from side to side as if trying to guide down a particularly confusing aeroplane.

Luke has been afraid of trains since his childhood in rural Australia. He didn't see one until he was eleven and it put the fear of god into him. A god he has been worshipping since.

"You're a chip of the old, er," I say. Luke's daughter is making suggestive ovals with her mouth.

"Do you want to be my ventriloquist?" she says.

This is why I do not contact people. This is why I spend my days reading articles about tower blocks and Icelandic geology. I keep the television off because it is full of people. I fade to white behind my curtains and I am happy.

Luke's daughter prays to her god as I follow her into the kitchen. She has been making hot dogs. They look disgusting, like tongues severed from the mouths of diseased old men. Walking into the small kitchen feels like walking through a one-way force field. One way in, no way out. I look at the narrow window above the sink.

"So is Luke here?"

"This isn't a dungeon. You can't have your way with me." Luke's daughter puts on an orange t-shirt and turns her back to me.

"I wasn't... Is that what your god said? That we can't be together?"

Her reply is a wordless sulk.

"Because I wasn't thinking of that. I appreciate the dance and all."

"No you don't," she says and begins tuning an imaginary mid-air radio.

"This is why I don't speak to people." She is not listening. She is concentrating on getting a signal. "The dancing, the nudity. You were wearing a bin liner. I really can't be bothered with people."

I think I am speaking to the window. I can see part of my face reflected in the glass.

She looks towards me. "I'm trying to get Christian rock," she says.

"Here." I take the radio from her and turn it upside down. I give it a shake. It bursts into the sound of a well-spoken American introducing a new reality radio show. I can sense the despair behind his professionalism.

She puts a hand on my chest and mouths the words 'thank you'. The static from the radio smells like hot dogs and I can sense it in the tips of her fingers.

I am aware of a deity standing in the room with us. She or he is bending down because the kitchen is small. I try to catch the extra reflection in the window, but I cannot see the window any more.

"You're a chip off the old block. That's what I meant to say before."

"You're not so bad yourself." She smiles for the first time since I arrived. "I don't know what that means, but I mean it anyway: you're not so bad yourself."

I make ovals with my mouth and it feels good. We anoint each other with oil and listen to her radio. Luke is here. We are happy because Luke is here.

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