Edward Von Satan, very recently retired bassist for faded early seventies Oz-rock one-hit-wonders Töxxik Shökk (the were on The Factory once), splayed across a vomit encrusted ruby pool table, convulsed back into existence, spitting dessicated ochre grue.
Reflexively, emulating innumerable pre-gig green room flame-outs prior, he spasmed upright and heaved animatedly. Shattered, blood smeared glass indicated to him the protection rune scrawled across his shredded, pulsing forehead.
Edward dragged the back of his ruined right hand across his throbbing nose and observed a vivid pink smear.
Not that old chestnut.
He was still clutching a drained Melbourne Bitter.
Where in the sweet blue fuckery was he?
He rummaged for a bit and unearthed a scuffed pewter hip-flask from the top pocket of his ragged, patch festooned cut-off denim vest (no undershirt- why would you?).
Further rummaging unearthed a miraculously intact vial of surgical grade poppers in his left jeans pocket.
A few vicious tweaks and about ninety seconds of sustained chemical mirth later, his nose had ceased to complain and Edward was down to the serious business of figuring out just what in the name of Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn’s mighty beef bayonet was going on.
Outside, the unknowable interior sighed towards him.
Buffalo’s “King’s Cross Ladies” (1974) leaked from the hissing speaker of the Bedford limping into Broad Axe, New South Wales.
The van dash’s left speaker was criss crossed with gaffer tape, singed with innumerable randomly landed blunts, wheezing that proto-stoner louche Oz-rock defiantly.
The band itself, considerably munted, waxed profound yet tangentially as the baked lakes and febrile Min Min Lights pulsed by in the depths of inky, malevolent western NSW night.
Ahead, a dull glowing headache on the horizon, was Broad Axe, population 958, primary industry cirrhosis of the liver (secondary: lead dementia) and very definitely the scene of Toxxik Shokk’s finest and final live performance.
The Bedford trundled in past a dead servo outpost, speed lagging, its cargo reportedly average in bearing yet deluded.
That’s an Aboriginal word for, well- what’ve you got?
Nightmares incarnate, basically.
Rooted in myth, the Bunyip clawed its way out of the Dreamtime, one mean fucker, lethal of hooked claw, immense boar-like tusks caked in crimson clay (or was it?), all slick onyx scales, prehistoric and ravenous.
A bipedal megalodon, a feral anachronism in a baked and blasted landscape.
Death on legs, all lethal instinct and, unwittingly, ironically tentacular.
Surfacing, the abomination’s weird orbital oculars adjusted to surface conditions, pulsing across the dim, sickly crescent moon swathed scrub.
The weird cephalopod bastard issued a single parched cry as it emerged powerfully from the sepulchral Murray and fixated on a throbbing yellow light lancing west.
It sounded a hell of a lot like the reaper announcing its arrival back here on earth.
Edward (let’s call him Eddie) lurched up from the basement of the The Red Flag Inn, for that’s where he’d lain, cactus, and cased the joint. He felt as though the shit had been thrashed right fairly out of him.
He adjusted his aching ballbags and checked his wallet.
Still had a pineapple.
Outside, it was dark as the inside of a dog’s proverbial. The moon was low, the eucalyptuses shushed ominously.
It would be fucking ages until sun up arrived.
Ed (let’s call him that) gazed up at a pulsating orbit of stars.
He felt different.
That pre-gig ‘lude ‘shroom and bump of something yellow and sticky had barely hit the sides.
He was ennervated.
(No, it wasn’t the poppers).
Höni Höden had always regretted his belated decision to move Down Under and front an also-ran Oz-Rock band in the late 1960s.
Palming the vestiges of a disappointing whip-it from his prodigious handlebar moustache, Hani massaged his receding blonde ponytail smooth and briefly acquiesced to memories of the slate grey, childhood whimsy of Gotenberg.
It didn’t take long.
Righteously stoned and rocked by some lesser opioids secured somewhere outside of Nyngan, Hani dozed sporadically, suicidally as he piloted the Bedford into Broken Axe.
Hani’s bandmates in various states of extradimensional disrepair in back, with one last doomed gig in the headlights.
The Broad Axe Voluntary Piper’s Leagues Club, est. 1872, (now The Red Flag Inn, est. 1965) was a pretty cranking venue back in the day.
An overbearing, heritage listed establishment with an astounding, vertiginous ballroom, now band room, The BAVPLC had seen some shit indeed.
Remember the last scene of The Shining?
Drop your pin there and extrapolate, friends.
Sadly, no one these days recalls the Leagues Club as an unmarked 17th century burial ground for Dutch pirates what rocked up prior to Captain Cook and his crew and met some stiff, violent and frankly cathartic resistance from the locals.
As if anyone would have thought people had lived in Australia prior to 1788, right?
Pitiably, Töxxik Shökk rocked up three hours late for a supporting gig- Warrnambool skiffle band The Wayward Children were loading out as the Bedford heaved to a stop, Hani regaining consciousness at the last possible second and postponing disaster by a couple of hours, maximum.
The venue made them play to the sound guy and an unconscious punter perhaps terminally adrift on a poker machine.
Beaten, stolen cowboy boot propped on foldback and precariously off his barely-clad tits, Ed Von Satan choked back thick acid chunder as he fumbled out the bass-heavy crescendo to ‘Nangrowler’, Töxxik Shökk’s underground (only) hit single from ‘73’s ‘Pass The Amyl’.
That LP had sold an entire 178 copies nation-wide.
By way of celebration, the lads had gotten loose on glue, meths and paint thinner for the better part of three weeks.
The Stones they were not.
They had no point.
Less than an hour back, Ed was in the bogs with Mystic Mo (she self-applied said sobriquet, mind you), his long-standing casual how’s-yer-father arrangement whenever he passed through Broad Axe (rarely).
Permanently decked out in an egregious kaftan, Cleopatra mascara and a prodigious array of earth-toned beadwork, Mo had settled into the small regional town as a latter day oracle and profoundly well connected drug dealer.
She was from Dubbo.
Bad chemicals dripped down Ed’s throat as Mo smirked, shelved a powerful upper into his aching coit, withdrew her index finger and smeared something on his panic-sweat dappled forehead.
“For luck” she grinned.
Ed didn’t feel that lucky, or particularly great, at present.
He probably wouldn’t ever again.
Slinging the Thunderbird four-string over his ink-blue shoulder, Ed wobbled upright, hitched his kecks and made for the stage, weaving, that drying black shit-rune utterly forgotten.
This would actually turn out to be the gig of his afterlife.