• caseytonkin

Cooper Thomas Dugan pt1

I been seein this therapist for a while. He's got some foreign name I can't pronounce and one day just by accident I went'n called him Dad just by mistake like a habit I never even had. Anyways 'Dad' reckons it's best I don't go looking at how things coulda been different. Reckons what happened happened and made me who I am today and that that's just fine because I'm still here ain't I?

See, I was taken from my parents real young by the Department. Not that I remember much. Apparently me real dad pushed me away from him when I was screamin' too much. At least that's what the documentation says. I'd fallen back and hit me head on the coffee table but the doctor didn't buy the story me real mum'd given that I'd just fallen back on me own. The Department sent someone round for a surprise visit one arvo and musta found me hidden away somewhere while the old man got pissed in front of the telly. Not long later and I was taken away. Like I said I don't remember much from back then. They moved me round a lot from one place t'nother.

Was finally settled on a huge property in the North miles off from anything else. Were always other State kids goin’ through there. Heaps of them bigger than me and used to hit me a lot or do other things I don’t like to think about much. There were a cutla kids from the family there. Shirley and Dave’s kids. She was the main guardian of us, but never let us call her mum.

‘It’s Shirley, darlin’ she’d say. Not usually botherin’ to use our names much. Though when I fouled up n dropped somethin’ or flunked at school she was quick to remind me I ain’t so smart cos me Daddy hit me head so I knew she knew who I was.

School was okay but I never did any good. Often got confused more’n anythin’. Got angry real quick when I couldn’t understand things which Dad says is perfectly normal – he’s good at making me feel normal for all the things I thought were wrong. At the time it just made me seem more dumb.

‘Big dumb Cooper can’t count to four!’

‘Big dumb Cooper can’t count to four!’

‘Big dumb Cooper can’t count to four!’

At the home after school we’d run about in the paddock and play – mostly by fighting or throwing rocks at each other. We’d stand and watch taking turns on the cutla bikes lying around.

I guess it weren’t so bad back then. Couldn’ta been different.

Once high school came on I made some friends. We had a kind of gang together. Drove about smashin’ car windows and writin’ graffiti. I couldn’t drive so I was usually in the back seat drinkin’ whatever we could get our hands on and smokin cones out a plastic bottle bong. I was pretty numb to most of what went on as it happened but the excitement of maybe gettin’ caught.

Turns out I really liked taggin’ shit. Dad reckons it gave me a sense of ownership that I needed since I didn’t have nothin’ meself. Drew up all me own designs. Me and Todd and Bruno – they were me mates – snuck off school grounds most lunch times to get high or just smoke a durrie if we were dry. In class in the arvo I just sat there scribblin’ new tags or dreamin’ up stories and characters for names that weren’t me own.

Anyways one day I’m called in to see the principal. Went to his office all air conditioned and proper it seemed. Figured the whole thing’s gonna be about poor grades not that that mattered much to me. I go in and see there’s this copper sittin’ on the chair across from the principal and he’s riflin’ through me English exercise book. Apparently I musta been sketchin away when we were meant to be doin’ somethin that got handed in and they sat me down to show me the pages. Told me what was here matched up with tags about town and they were sure it weren’t a coincidence this tag was found near where cars’d been smashed up and letter boxes knocked over.

‘You can’t prove shit,’ I said, actin’ real tough.

‘Look, mate. A blind fella could see you’ve got a hand in this, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar you aren’t alone. Just tell us who your mates are and maybe all this can just be chalked up to youthful indiscretion.’

Believe me I never grassed on me mates, even though they swore I did and said they heard I cried like a bitch when I seen the copper sittin’ there. Once I said I wasn’t sayin’ nothin’, the principal led the copper to me locker and opened it with the master key. They tossed around and found this skerrick of weed. No more’n a Bob Marley fart. But it was enough for a good proper fine, the copper said, and the principal expelled me on the spot. I went off with the copper to get written up and they called Shirley and Dave from there.

Back at the home Shirley said she was embarrassed and ashamed and would bloody kick me out if she weren’t such a good honest Christian. Said I’d need to get a job to pay the fine and that she knew someone who could get me one at a factory.

I didn’t mind the work. Just pushin’ buttons really. Made a bit of crust and ended up movin’ out with Freddy from work. I was pushin’ eighteen at this stage so we hit the pubs each weekend with some of his mates from his high school – he was a cutla years older’n me. We went about lookin’ either for a fight or a fuck – whichever came first. Had a lot of fun back then for a while. Maybe a year or so. Workin’ durin’ the week then spendin’ it all on piss and pokies each weekend.

Ended up gettin’ in strife with one of the blokes – Johnno’s his name. Always thought he was a prick. Well I’d taken this bird home. Bit on the fat side but nice enough and a fun root. Turned out she and Johnno’d had some history so he starts callin’ me a dog cunt for fuckin’ her and I’m pissed off cos I done nothin’ wrong I don’t think so I hit him. One big punch in the jaw and he was out cold. Well Freddy weren’t too stoked with me after that. Them two’d been best mates for ages. Whole thing turned into a shit show at home with Freddy stompin’ round the house callin’ me a dog. Sayin’ I shouldn’t be hittin’ mates it’s just not right. And I asked what I did wrong so he called me a big fuckn idiot which just pissed me off more.

So we’re at work one day and I made a mistake. Coulda happened to anyone. Whole line had to be shut down and Freddy starts goin’ off like it was his car’s not been made. He’s up in me ear so I clocked him as well but he could stand up more’n Johnny and took a few hits to keep down. I was fired on the spot. Freddy kicked me out. Had no savings. I was out on me own.