Another three gronks out of every seven he met would actively dislike him, claw his face, stab him in the back, by any means stop him in his endeavors, and if they couldn’t control him, they turned against him, abandoned him and he had to exorcize them from his memory, with years needed to heal the wound. And one out of every seven well-met souls would stick by him, stay the course, be there in sickness and in health, and this included women. It wasn’t about success or failure, what he could or wouldn’t do for anyone, it was about caring and understanding and just plain love.
Loving the best that she could, she made him feel he was part of a family, for all his kookiness. She worked hard and was always there for him, even when he was off wandering, surfing, hooning it up with his mates, he'd come home and she'd have dinner waiting. She died at the age of 87 in a Rosebud nursing home from Alzheimers, he sat with her as she drifted further and further into Oblivion, yet she always remembered him, “Artie!” she’d exclaim, “It’s good to see you,” then sink back into her deep reverie. He played Otis Redding, “These Arms of Mine” as her coffin slid into the cremation furnace and cried his eyes out, it’s so very hard to say “Goodby” to your Mum.” It was 2010 and he was officially an orphan.
And he should’ve let the old fellow know, the biggest reason he came back to Australia after his five year sojourn across the world was to keep close contact with his family, to be close-by and live life with them. He could’ve made it to London and learned to live and thrive there, at the center of world pop-culture, but Frank and Elaine's Australian character called him back, to the land of his fore-mothers and the fore-mothers before them. Did old Frank know how much he’d fucked the potential of his kid by beating him about the head so unthinkingly? As well as being working class in the class-bound colony of Auz, thus with a less than zero chance of climbing society's shit-heap, he’d brutalized Arthur into an oppositional defiance disorder.
He could tell her anything, as a nurse she'd heard and seen it all, they weren't shy of each other, even their sexual hang-ups and desires could be discussed. They enjoyed science-fiction movies and books together, and loved going to the drive-in theatre for the latest shlock-horror. It was such a relief for Artie to be best friends with his niece, to have her stand by him no matter what disaster fell, even when lost on the road in India they would ring each other on their mobiles and fill in the gaps of missing personal history.
Still somehow they forgave each other, muddled through the tempestuous squalls and come to an understanding over many years, with companionship, acceptance, patience, enjoyment, the hallmarks of a mature friendship. (Maybe not, their squabbling continued into old age, she was a terrible narcissist, everything had to be about her, she was
greedy and bitchy and Arthur was often exasperated with her, she was a lot of hard work.)
When he moved into Northcott Housing Estate in 1990 he got lucky with one of his next door neighbors, an old woman everyone knew as Dolly, from her years as a barmaid in the local pub. She always had a good word for him, brought him food when he was lonely, poor and ill, and a smile when the world seemed against him. She had brought up her children and grandchildren in that tiny flat, some of whom turned out to be cops, but she was on Arthur’s side and that’s all he cared about. She was the most genuine, kind soul he’d ever had the good fortune to meet, a rock of love and compassion, a force for good that kept his basement abode worth the trouble to persevere with. They were supportive neighbors for 21 years and when she died of old age in 2013 Arthur felt life lost some of its burnish, it reminded him the end of the line was coming up for him also.
She was generous, smart, gutsy, considerate and more rebellious than him, which is really saying something as he had a burning chip on his shoulder. She works tirelessly for the improvement of sex-workers conditions, the education of drug-users and the liberation of the world's downtrodden.
She is a sharp writer and raconteur, Arthur hoping she will one day put together her tales of escapades on the sex-trade highway for they would be as satirically telling as anything he could write, about the human condition, the corruption of Authority and the secret decadence of 21st century life. Though he dubbed her Queen of the Zombies, she was one of the few junkies he could tolerate over a long period of time as she was a giver, not a taker, never ripped anyone off, never bullshitted or presented a false, sycophantic front, was the genuine real thing, a whore with a heart of gold. A stereotype, yes, but when you know and love such a one, life is that much brighter. She hates such cliches, has other, more interesting facets to her nature, as an adventurer, revolutionary, lover, artist, she blew Arthur's mind and was sheer joy to be with.