The Raven

2016

Winter

Homecoming

Sam Joyner, Year 11

James is coming home. He’ll be here any minute. Mummy says I haven’t seen him since I was three. I don’t remember that. But I’m five today. And James is almost twenty-four. Other kids at my day-care think it’s weird when I tell them that my brother is a grownup. I don’t have any other brothers or sisters so I don’t know if it’s weird. Mummy didn’t have any other children after James because James’ dad was accidentally killed in a protest rally. I don’t know what a protest rally is, but it sounds scary if people can die there. James was younger than me when his dad died, but mummy says he moved out when he was a teenager because the house reminded him of his dad. She says he was just going through a phase. Now he has his own apartment in Orlando. I don’t know where Orlando is, but Daddy says it’s in Florida. I don’t know where Florida is either. Maybe it’s on the other side of Australia. Daddy would know. He’s very smart. Daddy also says that turning five is an important day and that’s why James is coming back. I think that’s nice of James.

The doorbell rings as Mummy finishes putting out the plates and knives and forks and food for dinner and a man walks in.

“Hello, James,” Mummy says. She doesn’t seem very happy. Maybe she is still upset that James has moved out. But shouldn’t she be happy that he’s here?

James looks kind, but upset. Maybe he is upset that he’s back in his dad’s house and he’s reminded of him.

He nods at Mummy and says, “Hello, May.” That’s Mummy’s first name. James is a grownup so it makes sense that he would call another grownup by their first name, but I don’t think I’d ever call Mummy by her first name. It feels wrong.

Daddy walks up and shakes James’ hand. “James,” he says.

“Bill,” James says back. That’s Daddy’s first name but Dad isn’t James’ dad so it makes sense that he doesn’t call him Dad. It would be weird if I called James’ dad Dad. Even though he’s dead. I guess I’ll never have to call him anything.

James looks at me and says, “Happy birthday, Jess. You’re getting big now.” He smiles for the first time since he arrived and hugs me. I don’t know what to do, so I hug him back. I don’t know how I feel about James. He seems nice, but Mommy doesn’t seem to like him.

“Thanks, James,” I say back. I try to make conversation because Mummy and Daddy haven’t said anything else, “Mummy says I haven’t seen you since I was three.”

“What?” he replies. He seems distracted. “Oh. Yes. Well, it just gets difficult to come back sometimes, what with work and all.”

“What’s your job?” I ask him, trying to keep the conversation going. Mummy has never told me what James does, and she doesn’t seem happy that I’ve asked James now.

“Oh, uh, I work in the lobbying industry, trying to get state senators and various businessmen and women to support…” he looks at Mummy and pauses, “…equality throughout Florida, and to hopefully pass legislature through Congress that will allow…” He looks at Mummy again and then sighs. “I try to make the world a better place,” he finishes.

“That sounds good,” I say back.

Mummy looks upset, like she wants to yell at him, but she stays silent for a few seconds before she asks him, “And what’s the situation with you? Are you still…” she stops and looks at me. People seem to like doing that today. Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday. But then Mummy smiles sadly at me. Maybe it isn’t because it’s my birthday. She only smiles at me sadly when something is wrong. She looks back at James. “Are you still experiencing a certain genetic predisposition?” she asks him. I frown, trying to figure out what those words mean and what she’s asking my brother.

James sighs and tries to smile, “I’m getting married in a few weeks.”

Nobody says anything for a minute. Mummy seems frozen and Daddy is looking back and forth between James and Mummy. Suddenly Mummy starts happy-crying, smiles, hugs James and says, “Oh James! I’m so happy for you! What’s her name?” but Dad only frowns. James doesn’t say anything and Mummy’s smile fades. “James? What’s her name?”

James still doesn’t say anything. James doesn’t seem very happy that he’s getting married, which doesn’t make sense. Mummy and Daddy always told me that a man and woman getting married is the best thing that can happen to them, apart from having children like me.

Dad then says, “What’s his name?” I frown again. I always thought that marriage was a thing only between men and women. But I’m always learning new things.

Mummy stops crying and hugging James and steps away from him. James looks at Dad and says, “Robert.”

Mummy seems upset. Is it because James is marrying a man? That doesn’t seem fair. But Mummy is much smarter than me. She would know if it is right or wrong to marry another man.

Mummy looks very angry now. I haven’t seen her this angry before. “Get out of my house,” she says. Dad looks nervous. Maybe he hasn’t seen her this angry before either.

I realise that if James leaves he can’t give me my present. “But James hasn’t given me my – ”

Mummy stares at me before I can finish and I stop talking. James looks at me and Dad, smiles, and then walks out the still open door before he even sees the food on the table.

Mummy slams the door loudly and then doesn’t move; she just crosses her arms and stares at the door. I look up at Dad, but he just smiles and says, “Go to bed, Jess.”

My birthday must be over.

One Being, Inseparable: A Horse, and a Man…

Bailey Vanderzanden, Year 11

A gleam of sweat hung tentatively at the end of Trooper Snow Matson’s untrimmed moustache. He wiped it coolly across his face, squinting across the desert. His eyes were full of needles. Months of sand, dust and the glaring sun had eroded them to their bare foundations. Hooves pounded like clockwork across the sea of sand, a repetitive drum that both gave him comfort and caused his insanity; but all clocks eventually stop. He pushed his slouch hat firmly to his head as a strong gust of wind blew, raising the sand to the clouds.

He felt the familiar figure of his trusty steed, Sandy, solid between his legs. The ironic name of his oil black horse gave the war a bit of humour. Sandy’s muscle flexed under the weight of Matson as they made the slow journey out of camp. Pyramids stood looming in the distant haze, like priests administering the last rites. It was only a five-minute trot, but it felt as if it was hours for Matson. Trotting next to Matson was Willy, a good friend from back in Katanning.

“Best of luck to you mate,” said Matson solemnly. He looked around and saw his own fears, in the face of Willy; the fear of losing something.
Willy replied tentatively, “You know it shouldn’t have to be this way.”

“I don’t want to do it – just like you, but orders from the top mate. We need that ticket home.”

“Yeah but for God’s sake! Just let us bring ’em home as well.”

Matson saw the face of Willy melt into the sandy dunes. The futility of his anger realised. Turning away, Matson couldn’t continue to deal with the grief of his friend that piled on top of his own; dissolving him from the inside out.

For just over four years Matson had known Sandy. From Gallipoli to Gaza, the Holy Land, Beersheba and to Damascus. The asymmetrical shape of a galloping horse and rider; it seemed so symmetrical when it was Matson and Sandy. Like one being, they rode into each sequential battle, with energy and courage beyond that of their foes. The screams of “Allah” from the Turks that seemed to burst the eardrums of his comrades were no match for the courage of Matson and Sandy.

He slowly dismounted Sandy, placing each dusty boot on the soft sand that crawled up the sides of his ankle into his already dirty socks. Matson gave Sandy one last good rub up his neck and up to his head. His oily black coat framed the white ribbon that ran down Sandy’s forehead; the shining light on a dark day. Matson said with a nervous stutter, “He-hey mate, just think, I’ll see you back home one day. We always knew it was ’gunna be like this”. Sandy’s ears twitched in acknowledgement. He grabbed the worn leather straps that held the saddle on Sandy, pulling the heavy device off his back. He looked back at Sandy. Without his saddle he possessed the innocence of child; yet they had gone through so much together. Those reassuring eyes stared back at him, just like Matson’s mother had when he left the gate of his home in Katanning. He had promised to return, but now Matson couldn’t offer that same guarantee to Sandy. When he left, he left with his mates. Not all of them survived. But now the one who stood by him all the time, looked so calmly back at him.

The hourglass of time seemed to move at a snail’s pace. All the sand around him, yet only one grain seemingly fell for each of his heartbeats that erupted from his chest. He reached over his shoulder, for his rifle that hung in the groove of his weary back. One bullet in the chamber, but he had learned that one bullet was all it took. He made five arduous steps backwards, never leaving the gaze of his horse. Matson had trusted his horse, and his horse had trusted him. Charging the trenches of Damascus, facing machinegun fire, Sandy had trusted Matson’s courage, and Matson had trusted Sandy. Those same trusting eyes still calmly looked back at Matson. His arms were shaking. Every bone, muscle and ligament shook with the force of an earthquake. Looking down at his rifle he saw the reflection of his face in the polished steel shaft; he looked carefully into the eyes of the executioner he had become. He lifted his rifle, never lifting his gaze from Sandy. He held back the tide of emotions. The clock stopped. Eye to eye, Matson placed his finger on the trigger. Taking one last breath, one last moment with a mate, Matson slowly pulled the deathly cool trigger.

In pulling the trigger, Matson’s heart was pulled in two. One half was left in the never-ending sands of Egypt, with his friend. The other, to return home to his family; they never really knowing what his eyes had seen and what that half heart had endured.

The tide turned into a tsunami that crashed over his mind, polluting it with the images of his deadly actions. Standing still, deathly still, he looked off into the endless sand dunes. As Matson turned around it seemed as if his whole world was slowly crumbling beneath his feet. One step at a time, the sand that he had become so accustom to seemingly drew his soul into its never-ending casket. That same distance that he walked with his mate only minutes before now seemed like a marathon. The quietness was deafening. The clock was no longer there; it would never be there again.

From sand to sea he travelled. One life, for one ticket home.

Eternity: a moment standing still forever.

The Aftermath

Frans Buys, Year 10

I ran away from the schoolyard as fast as I could with tears running down my face. Scout had beat me up bad and I hurt all over. I didn’t wanna get her in trouble; I kept saying as she hit me, it ain’t my fault. But she didn’t wanna hear a word of it and kept goin’ until her brother pulled her off me. I slowed down as I reached the same old bushland filled with them juicy oranges and pecan nuts that I loved to death. But this time around I didn’t notice ’em ’cause I was thinkin’ about what happened in class today. I reckon it ain’t fair that other people judged me just ’cause my family’s poor. I’m sure that we ain’t the worst kind of folk that Maycomb has to offer. I’ll be damned if we weren’t better than the Ewells. Nobody liked them Ewells ’cause they just didn’t fit. I reckon they did wrong lots more than we did, even though we were poor, because they didn’t like to follow rules. Lived like animals they did, them Ewells.

My thoughts were stopped by a flock of geese flying over my head. I realized I was starvin’ and walked faster. Over yonder I could see a faded path that led to our house a few miles away. As I got goin’ again, I thought about how some people in Maycomb were better off than others. You could say that the Ewells were the worst off all round, ’cause they didn’ have much (like us) and nobody wanted to lend ’em a hand ’cause they didn’ like to follow the rules of the town. Then we were just above ’em (but only ’cause we were polite and didn’ give the other folks in Maycomb a hard time) while people like the Finches were sittin’ at the top ’cause they weren’t poor, but they wasn’t rich either and they were respected folks in the town. But why did we have to be the poor family in Maycomb? I asked myself. I guess life ain’t always fair when it comes to who’s doin’ well and who ain’t. I don’t really know that much about Maycomb anyway. Maybe I’ll ask my daddy when I get home; it ain’t that far to go now anyway. I walked onto the crunchy, wet gravel path that led to the edge of the land we lived on. Then I saw our house. It was real simple, with a small, cramped porch and a leaky roof. Faded and scratched red paint was the only bit that was sorta interestin’ about the house, except for them tall, crazy weeds in the garden that was all around the place.

The rusty old gate creaked open as I crept in, soundin’ like it was gonna fall apart soon. The broken step on the stairs creaked again like they always did. Walking inside, I didn’ see nothin’ out of the usual. Just a bare, squalid room with a table  – no chairs but instead we had some crates turned downwards. My daddy walked in the back door, probably back from pickin’ duty.

“Hey son, how was your day?” he asked me, smiling just like he always did.

That’s the thing ’bout my dad: he was always dandy no matter how bad his day was. I looked up to my daddy ’cause he gave me advice and made me feel good after I had a bad day.

“Alright, I guess,” was all I said ’cause I didn’t wanna talk about what happened at school. But he knew there was sumthin’ wrong, probably by the sad look on my face.

“Something wrong, son?” he asked me sympathetically.

“I got someone in trouble at school today,” I said droopin’ my head.

“Did you mean to?” he asked me.

“Well I couldn’ help it.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“Well, it’s like this, see. I got Scout in trouble ’cause I’m poor,” I looked up again,  ashamed of myself.

“How?”

“I didn’t have no lunch money like usual an’ she tried to tell the teacher, but she got sent to the corner.”

My daddy looked at me for a good while, like he was thinkin’ ’bout what he wanted to say. “She doesn’t know how Maycomb works, son,” he said softly.

“But it shouldn’ matter, should it?” I asked. “She didn’ hafta make Scout get in trouble just because of me.”

“She doesn’t understand the ways of the town,” he said again.

Then I remembered the question I wanna ask my dad. “Daddy, why’re some people better than others?”

He looked at me strangely and said, “Why’dya ask?

“Dunno, I was just wonderin’,” I replied.

He was quiet again for a bit. “Well son, I reckon that no one’s ‘better’ than anyone.”

“Well what about them Ewells? Ain’t they the worst people in Maycomb?” I asked, confused.

He was quiet again. Then he spoke up an’ asked, “Why would they be the worst people in Maycomb, Walter?” with an interested look on his face.

I thought for a bit. “’Cause the Ewells don’ like followin’ rules, so ain’t no one likes ’em. And they’re poor, like us.”

“They’re just different to normal folks, son. That doesn’t make ’em worse people,” he said.

“So you’re sayin’ that bein’ poor doesn’t make us and them Ewells worse than other folks like the Finches or Sherriff Tate?”

“They may have a little more than we do, Walter, but we all came from the same place and live in the same town, so I reckon we’re all the same on the inside,” he said thoughtfully.

“So ain’t no folks better than others, is what you’re sayin’?” I asked.

“I’m sayin’ that we are who we are, no matter how little or how much we’ve got, an’ we gotta be happy with where we are in life, son. Sadly not many people in Maycomb have realized that what we have don’t matter; it’s how we act towards others. Get it?”

I took this all in and after I was able to see Maycomb in a new way that I haven’ seen it before. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks Dad,” I said smiling.

Pseudo-realism

Andre Avila, Year 12

So much complexity, endless perplexity;

A straightjacket for my frontal lobe.

The path to freedom is in front of me;

I’ve lost sight of what I think I see.

 

I drift steadily into the fabricated depths of the night;

Flaunting my life on mechanisms of exposure,

Connections of immeasurable distance or sight,

My insubstantial energy is beginning to spill over.

 

The slow mechanical heartbeat, losing contact with the living,

Forging the prism of synthetic, corrupting the impressionable eyes of children.

Hypnotized by authority and brainwashed by austerity;

Assembling the fragments of a deadpan design.

At what point do we stare blank with influenced belief,

Into a faceless construction of bones and flesh,

Our reflection stands, open from the inside,

To show us what advocate they let us believe.

 

The evolution from pages to pixels,

Touched by the ancient hand of God,
To the initial spark of excitement,

Lessening the foreseeable new wave of darkness.

 

The increasingly late nights of bright lights,

All I see are mountains of wasted hours,

And forests of misspent energy.

Force-fed ideas of popularity and propriety.

To end up with the sounds and sights;

Of confusion and misinterpretation.

 

Maybe if I look like that…

I might just be happy.

Maybe if I buy this…

I might be fulfilled.

 

The slow mechanical heartbeat, losing contact with the living,

Forging the prism of synthetic, corrupting the impressionable eyes of children.

Hypnotized by authority and brainwashed by austerity;

Assembling the fragments of a deadpan design.

At what point do we stare blank with influenced belief,

Into a faceless construction of bones and flesh,

Our reflection stands, open from the inside,

To show us what advocate they let us believe.

To show us what we’ve really become.

 

The judgment that was fabricated;

So mindless, pointless and spineless.

Caught with supplementary culture,

What happened to embracing ourselves?

Erase the manual, starting from scratch,

The way we’re meant to be dispatched.

Pull focus on the blur between,

And embrace the humanity;

Regardless of colour, regardless of capacity

Now institutionalized, we’re in this boat together.

 

So stare with pride and gratification…

To know that the disposition has been melded.

 

But how do we walk? And how do I talk?

Blank blueprints are drawn with chalk.

The point in which we stand alone,

This conformity is yours to atone.

 

The slow mechanical heartbeat, losing contact with the living,

Forging the prism of synthetic, corrupting the impressionable eyes of children.

Hypnotized by authority and brainwashed by austerity;

Assembling the fragments of a deadpan design.

At what point do we stare blank with influenced belief,

Into a faceless construction of bones and flesh,

Our reflection stands, open from the inside,

To show us what advocate they let us believe.

 

Darken the room,

Embrace the doom.

And thus they’ve said;

Freedom is dead.

 

Dead. “Buy this, buy that…”

Dead. “Fear them, love them…”

Dead. “Believe me, they’re wrong…”

 

Hit the switch and sever the glass;

Nothing can break, and let nothing transcend.

The rawness of the world and culture that exists.

Through the beating mechanical heart that speaks to tolerate,

The all seeing hands of eruption and pain;

Hands of corruption and hands of power,

Hands of fatality, hands of juxtaposition,

Grabbing my eyes and strangling my throat!

 

A censor on what matters; growth, contribution, and compassion,

The world is burning, turning upside down from disbelief,

Every corner, every crease; typifying conflict of two sides.

No one is ever right, no one has the answer,

Stab the throats of those who really care,

Let those sing, who thought they were right,

But let those sink who yell loud enough to reap the rewards;

Of pain and constriction to a deathly confliction of opinion and belief.

 

The hands of edifice and empowerment, advocating the movements,

Waves that crash on the populous like a plane crashing into a mountain,

A mountain of freedom and expression, of growth and idealism.

Censor the creative license to opinionate a crux of conviction.

A division between all forms of classification,

Amputating the limb of an entirety.

The all seeing hands of a faithless entity strike a line of hate,

Between friends, family, acquaintances, of distinction,

To deliver a seed of fear-mongered uncertainty and incompetence,

It germinates into a flesh-ridden cluster of immolated abhorrence.

 

Brothers against brothers,

Sisters against sisters,

It is a no-man’s land for how to think,

I’ll take my chances in silence.

 

The slow mechanical heartbeat, losing contact with the living,

Forging the prism of synthetic, corrupting the impressionable eyes of children.

Hypnotized by authority and brainwashed by austerity;

Assembling the fragments of a deadpan design.

At what point do we stare blank with influenced belief,

Into a faceless construction of bones and flesh?

Our reflection stands, open from the inside,

To show us what advocate they let us believe.

 

Silence does not exist and never will,

Silence cannot grow nor can it nurture.

Instead is noise, spreading like plague,

It is visual clutter, behind our visors;

Sitting comfortably, an image of forgery,

It appears in your hands, and in your homes.

 

What we really care about is not what we care about;

Hearts and hands are like clockwork,

They tell us what is real;

Yet, what we care about is pseudo-real.

Commie

Andrew Briggs, Year 12

“What is this crap?” a furious Laurie Adamiak stated to the party room. On the front cover of the newspaper was a large picture of Laurie with the headline “Communist Party Considered a Threat to Everyone Says Leading Expert”. Laurie protested, “We may be communists but at least we have standards”. Laurie threw the copy of the Daily Mail into the air. The crowds of furious workers gathered in the hall promptly shredded it. The air at that time was filled with the stink of angry workers wanting to see a significant change in the political structure of the nation, feeling that the Labor Party had failed them in their time of need.

It was the mid-1950s and many of the people had gathered in the hall to protest about the growing ‘bourgeoisie influences’ in the Labor Party. Laurie, as leader of the proud Communist Party of Australia (CPA), felt that in order to show the social change that was desperately needed there would have to be some form of industrial action.

“The Daily Mail,” he continued, “has dared to say that Communists are the cause of all the social problems in this nation.” Laurie found himself growing angrier as he spoke the words. The use of the word ‘Menzies’ had been banned in the party room for obvious reasons due to its nature to spark a full-on, hate-fuelled frenzy. Laurie lamented, “The 1951 referendum was an attack on the Australian worker and therefore an attack on Socialism.” This sparked cheers from the crowd but deep down Laurie knew that they were fighting a hopeless cause. He found himself pausing more frequently, “If the media wants to portray us a psycho, godless, child-killing atheists then it is their right to, but if they continue to do so then they will experience a revolution of a magnitude that they could not have foreseen.” The fighting words made even the most cynical Communists up the back of the hall get to their feet.

After the 52nd annual meeting of the CPA was over and the workers went home, Laurie met his dedicated right-hand man Malcolm. “The media wields far more power than what is healthy,” Malcolm remarked, “Those idiots at the Daily Mail have society rapped around their fingers.”
As much as his comrade’s bravado impressed him, Laurie knew that it was the opposite and that most of society already hated the Communist Party but they weren’t prepared to violate the constitution to kill it. “Who can we turn to?” he asked instead, knowing that if he told Malcolm the truth it would get out eventually that he was an ‘unbeliever’.

“The Labor Party may have voted with us but they have distanced themselves from the left as of late,” Malcolm commented. “As usual they are too scared of losing their support base.”
“We have put them in an awkward position of late,” Laurie conceded, “but ultimately they are controlled by the Bourgeois.”
Malcolm interjected, “While they are controlled by the upper class bourgeois they cannot be a friend of the proletariat.”
Laurie knew that he was fighting a losing battle with his more radical firebrand. He cursed himself for associating with such a difficult and naïve party.

Strictly speaking Laurie had almost been forced into this position two years earlier with the surprise ‘retirement’ of the previous party leader. Laurie had assumed the position on the premise that it would be a temporary position. Members of the CPA had other ideas and he had been in power ever since.

Ironically the CPA had always been seeking media attention in order to build on their small membership numbers. This was not the publicity that they had hoped for if they intended to make the next election intact. Smoking a cigarette, Laurie pondered his options. He could reform the CPA to be more ‘media friendly’, whatever that meant. The CPA was having a serious media issue and the 75 year old Laurie was in a crisis – dinosaurs like him were meant to retire and spend their time in the country.

Laurie had always pondered the issue of recruiting ‘new blood’ to the party. Maybe that’s what the party needed, he pondered to himself, new blood. Malcolm was the obvious choice as his successor. A man who is wholly committed to the Communist ideals and one who the workers would support. A man who would take the party seriously and ignore the absolute joke that the Communist system had become.

Laurie found himself in the coming days to be the target of the news. Headlines became more and more ruthless as they sought to outcompete each other, “Is CPA the New Anarchist?”, “Death to Menzies?” and “Adamiak secret KGB killer?”. Laurie under different circumstances would have fought the allegations, but when it came down to his age and his status as a respected politician, he couldn’t care less.

Livin’ in Leinster

Roko Radman, Year 11

BHP Company town

Not much goin’ down

Set up for sale to the Chinese

But they just said barlees

 

Mining still on

Nickel and gold

Stockbroker’s con

Good shares to hold

 

FIFO

They come and go

Safety BS

Miners say NO

 

Desert sun

Lying low

45 degrees

Heat never goes

 

Rocks and red dirt

Dusty and dead

4wheel driving

Car just gets red

 

Bright stars come out

When the Sun goes down

Magnificent mining lights

Bloom in the night sky

 

The town’s almost gone

As miners depart

Perth’s my new base

But Leinster’s in my heart.

Australia: She the Land who Welcomes

Timothy Carter, Year 9

I, man of white,

Child of this land,

Am Australian.

Though not native nor founder blood,

This land welcomes me.

Around me the land flaunts her beauty,

Her birds who laugh and sing,

Her beaches of shiny sand and crystal clear oceans,

And the rest of her majestic and gracious

Flora and fauna.

 

Though not perfect, Australia is the best for me.

The Wheel Stand

Lockie Vos, Year 11

The bitterly cold air of Mundaring National Park, hands aching with the cold wind bashing over them. Flying down the hollow woods with wind smashing at your eyes.

The orange beast glows in the sun reflecting onto the trees, piercing your eyes as you try to stay focused on the road. As you squint, the road gets thinner. Listening to the engine ring at high-end speeds.

The sound of a car trailing your rear end, roof racks are whistling in the wind. As the large wheels rumble and start to speed up to try and catch you.

As you turn around to look back the wind catches the visor of your helmet smashing your head back and jolting your neck. Struggling to turn your head, you start twisting the throttle and listening to your motor bike’s engine wind and gain speed, making your whole body tense up while you fight to hang on.

Flicking up to gear five the bike takes off throwing the front wheel in the air like a feather through the wind. As the wheel slowly touches the ground and your bars are shaken, you slam your brakes on as you see a large No Through Road sign. The bitumen road finishes and gravel sends your bike into another world. Smashing your brakes harder and harder the back wheel starts to slide as you try to slow your momentum down. A large boulder is appearing extremely fast making your body tense like you have a full body cramp.

The intense feeling that you might not be able to slow down quickly enough pierces your head in a way no one would understand unless you’re sitting on this armourless bike completely exposed.

Pack of Cards

Alec Garkaklis, Year 12

You can relate life to a card game. A clichéd metaphor I know, but stick with me on this one. You sit down, and you’re dealt a bunch of cards, doesn’t matter what game you’re playing; Blackjack, Poker, Go Fish; these cards, they’re your lifeblood and you play them, shuffle them, place bets, but whatever hand you’re dealt, you have to stick with it, and you try to make the best out of whatever situation you get yourself in. But you know this, because you’re there as well, sitting across the table from me, cards in hand, poker face on, waiting for people to make a wrong call. I can’t blame you; we’re all doing the same thing.  And so it goes round, placing bets, bluffing, etcetera etcetera. All it really amounts to be is a waste of time, because when it comes down to it, you still need to show your hand; make a risk; play the game. I place my bets, sort out the cards and I’m ready to line up that coffee shop in the CBD. Nice place, quiet, relaxing. Good way to end a tough round, you know; relax and just let go of the lost bets and bad strategies. But you’re too quick, and your 10 pm Royal Flush beats my Straight any day. I sit there, watching my life spiral into the pot that you’re raking in. A good sum, one that will definitely be able to shout you and some mates a night on the town.

And I feel like an idiot.

I try to talk, but the cut and run says it all. I’m left there, three cards in my hand, and I try to flimsily put together something, but everything is going too fast, and by the time I’m able to string my hand together you’ve already left the table; winnings packed into a briefcase.

I stand in the middle of the oval. Alone except for the man and his dog. Even then, they keep their distance, running from the boy in the hoodie, the one that reminds them of the curse of 20/20 hindsight. Now it’s just me, and the memories from another crappy game. But then Pandora’s box hits me, and I think maybe you’re the hope that fluttered out. You know, that hundred lost into the depths calmed the Tsunami that would have destroyed my thousands. I don’t know what is going on with you now; will we ever play again? I don’t think so, but I’m grateful, in some sick way, for the experience. Because I know my next moves, strategies, cards, everything, and I know the pain of a hundred. You were just playing your hand, like we all were. I wish I never sat down at that table with you, harsh as that may be, but I can’t deny that breaking even still feels better than the loss of a hundred. But even so, life goes on, the cards go back into the deck. This hand I’m ready. Experience is the ace in my sleeve, poised to strike when that Flush comes around again.

Milligan – V – The State of Truth (2016)

Charlie Mills, Year 12

Jonas Hill-Wilson was the first client that I handled independently. He had approached my firm, specifically me, to aid him in a high-profile murder case. The prosecution notice read:

HILL-WILSON –V- THE STATE OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2016

Jonas David Hill-Wilson, of 32 Aberdare Road, Shenton Park, Western Australia, 6008 is accused on 3 counts of violating section 302, subsection 1(a), of The Australian Criminal Code on April 14th 2016 near Robb Road, South Fremantle, Western Australia, 6163.

Section 302 was the section detailing murder…premeditated murder.

The notice had been left precariously in my email, along with a short note from the accused:

dave, run into a bit of trouble. think you can help me out? i got bail so can I come to your office and have a chat?

I was struck by this. I had gone to school with Jonas Hill-Wilson. He had been quiet, almost dull. He was charged with murder, but I could not recall him being aggressive or violent at school.

I was tempted not to take the case for various reasons, mainly out of fear, yet I decided against it, letting my curiosity get the better of me. I emailed him back.

Mr Hill-Wilson,

Thank you for your email. Please come to my office on Wednesday, the 1st of June 2016 at 11:00 AM, and we will discuss the case. Please bring any materials and evidence necessary in considering and preparing a defence.

Kind regards,

David William Milligan

Whitney & Davis Partners

I had cornered myself into a situation. I had agreed to meet with a former peer, and now accused murderer, and defend him against the State. Against the justice system itself.

***

On the day of the meeting, I found myself becoming more and more agitated and stressed, to the point that I had consumed, from what I can remember, four cups of coffee, black. My hands were sweaty and bile rose slowly through my gut. I sat in my office and waited for my alleged murderer to arrive.

When I finally laid eyes on the fellow, he was different from what I could recall. He stood less tall, his hair was longer and less kempt than determined by our mutual school, and his face had aged considerably, in the eight years since graduation.

We sat down in my office, alone and restricted. We were haunted by tense silence for a while until I broke it by saying, “Did you do it?” He looked at me, then at the floor, then over his shoulder. “Don’t worry. Legally, I’m not allowed to divulge anything you say to me unless you authorise me to,” I assured him.
He took a deep breath. “Yeah. I did. But I want to plead innocent.”

“Not guilty, you mean,” I said, correcting him.

“I guess.”

The silence was deafening. I could have, should have, retorted that I would not defend him, citing my inexperience.

I didn’t.

“Very well. I shall prepare a case defending you.”

He seemed distant. The discourse that I used with him over the next few hours was operational and legalistic, whilst his was colloquial and familiar, almost casual. He could tell that I had changed significantly. We prepared his alibi, and I sent him home with instructions to ‘lay low’, as he phrased it, and wait for communication from me.

I was left with a case that seemed… unwinnable. As I looked at the evidence I noted one thing. That he was objectively guilty. I realised that my only chance of winning this case would stem from my ability to manipulate evidence and truth.

They certainly teach you a lot in law school. I learnt about property law, commercial law, family law, criminal law and everything in between. But all of that was objective… given… they only taught what a student could grasp. Now I was in the ring, and I wanted my guy to win. I wanted us to win.

What they don’t teach you at law school is the nature of truth. Whilst I was preparing this case, it became clear to me that truth is a fluid concept. Truth is a tool for lawyers to manipulate. Truth is a consequence of perception. Truth is a social construction.

I was left with a choice. The choice was whether to compromise the values I had developed in order to help my client, or work the system to help my client. For any lawyer, the choice was clear. Crystal clear.

Slowly, I sank under the paperwork, legalistic discourse and points of evidence. It engulfed and consumed me. Several times, I implored him to change his plea, but he remained steadfast. When we spoke, the line remained silent for a while, then calmly and assuredly, Jonas replied, “You were always smart – I’m sure you’ll be able to find something”. The line went dead and I returned to my work.

I was left with a striking case. It was not the case of Hill-Wilson –v- the State of Western Australia; it was my own case, one where I was the prosecutor, and the defendant was truth. I now had to prove that truth was guilty of lying, slander, and misinformation. Milligan –V- the State of Truth was certainly a difficult one, yet it had to be won. At all costs.

***

I began to despise Jonas for what he was doing to me. I promised myself I would never take on a case like this again. I knew I had taken on too much and was out of my depth. I felt anxious and ill. I couldn’t sleep at night and then struggled to get up in the morning.

I could no longer email him. It wasn’t safe. I sent him a text from my clandestine phone.

I think I can skew evidence that may apportion blame elsewhere and give our alibi credibility. Are you comfortable for me to proceed in this manner in your defence?

Maybe, if he said no to me, I could still have faith in our justice system. I could carry on believing that truth is a constant, a universal necessity and an inherent element of humanity.

Jonas replied very simply:

do what you need to do.

And so I did.

Justice in Maycomb County

Matthia Au, Year 10

The house in the summer seemed to droop like a wilted flower, its life and beauty stripped away. The porch sagged like a lifeless body, accompanied by the screeches of the cicadas. The ash strewn across the road was ever present, a grim reminder of Maycomb’s so called ‘Great Justice’. It all started when I was washin’ them clothes for Jem an’ Scout.

‘Cal!’ hollered Jem running from down yonder. ‘Cal, ya hear about the news ’round the Ewell’s house?’

‘Naw,’ I hollered back, ‘What about it?’

Jem came to an abrupt stop as he entered the yard, the dust blowing out like the smoke from a gun.

‘Well,’ he puffed, clearly tired from his run. ‘Them Negroes havin’ a protest out there Cal; they’re angry about something, they’re burning it down!’.

Shock overcame my body as I stood there, the laundry blowing about. ‘Go get Atticus, ya hear? Go now, hurry.’

Jem sprinted off towards Atticus’ office as I hustled inside to tell Scout of the mishap at the Ewell’s house.

The white folk were anxious as they cautiously shuffled themselves into the courthouse. It was late into the afternoon; all eyes were on them Ewells, Mayella, Burris and the five other siblings. The atmosphere was so tense you could cut it with a knife.

Judge Taylor stood up, breaking the silence. ‘Citizens of Maycomb we’ve all assembled here to address an urgent problem.’ The Judge paused, bracing himself as if he knew what would follow. ‘As most of you are aware, the coloured folks have begun to band together and protest against the death of Tom Robi – ’

The crowd erupted, myself and a few other maids decided to stand back and ushered ourselves towards the entrance. ‘How dare them niggers rise up to us!’ ‘Lynch them all!’

‘Bring back the Klan!’ were among some of the outcries as the enraged mob rose up.

The Judge tried to maintain order but to no avail, until Atticus, of all people, calmly checked his watch and stood up to the crowd.

‘Silence’.

Waiting patiently for the crowd’s anger to die down Atticus proceeded to push himself towards the front of the seating. ‘What the Negroes did may not have been right, but we have to see things from their perspective’.

Murmurs grumbled from the crowd.

‘We’re all human; where’s the kindness and compassion God has taught us?’ Atticus scanned the crowd for a familiar face. ‘Walter, my good friend, the other day, God knows how long ago, I was walking to my office when you ran and asked for my help.’

Walter Cunningham nodded. ‘Yessir yes I did,’ he whispered.

‘And what did I do? Did I leave you without a word? Did I reject your call for help?’

‘No Sir, no you didn’t.’

‘Exactly my point, by helping you out did we not both benefit?’

‘I don’t quite understand..’

‘Well I solved your problem and you got me firewood for a month.’

‘Not quite getting it Sir.’

‘Walter, don’t you see, by both of us helping each other out we both gained.’ The concept finally hit Mr Cunningham as his eyes lit up. ‘If all citizens of Maycomb helped each other out we would all benefit.’

The crowd, thank God, seemed to agree with Atticus. Until that damn Mayella Ewell and her sympathizers broke the peace. ‘No No NO! Them blacks will pay for their crimes, they raping and protesting and now they have rights? They’ll all be strung up, y’all see!’ as they stormed in a fit towards the exit pushing us maids, spitting and hurling abuse. ‘Ain’t that right,’ snorted Mayella slapping my face. Shame and embarrassment followed.

Later that night, we should’ve saw it coming, as us coloured folk mindin’ our own business as usual, they came. In the hundreds, men dressed in white came smashing and burnin’. ‘Whip em, lynch em, burn em, I don’t care let this be a warnin’ to y’all blacks.’

The pillaging was barbaric as them white folk dragged men and women alike from homes and beat them mercilessly. Men ran across with torches lighting the street up like the 4th of July.

I rushed maself to Atticus’s house as my windows were shattered. ‘Mr Finch, Mr Finch! Help us y’all!’

Atticus came running out followed by a bewildered Jem and Scout. Horror filled his eyes as he saw the dancing flames from down near the coloured church. ‘There’s nothing we can do…’ trailed Atticus, he hurriedly ushered me inside before closing the door. And there I sat in disbelief as the neighbourhood burned.

‘It don’t matter no more’ I sighed, ‘It don’t matter no more …’

Atticus returned from the kitchen, ‘Calpurnia you’re staying here tonight’.

After rearranging the settee into a makeshift bed, Atticus bid my pour soul goodnight before leaving to his own room. In the morning the aftermath of the arson was evident. Lingering smoke filled the air as I trudged maself back home. Them ashes from burnt houses littered the area, accompanied with the cries for loved ones and homes. Then I saw it, a body, hanging from the pine, scars and cuts lacerated throughout his back and abdomen. Unspeakable horror as it swayed in the wind, still bleeding.

It was so long ago but I would never forget that night when they came. Sitting down on the verandah, I gazed out towards the neighbourhood. The Maycomb weather was nice, as I slowly walked maself inside to the rhythm of the creaking floorboards. Jem and Scout are grown up now, going to God knows where, bless ‘em. I heave my old self onto my bed, the frame squeaking. ‘Zeebo won’t you bring your mama a glass o’ water?’

‘Comin’ Ma.’

Hopefully he would bring them chillun’ to see their gran again. The bed is so welcoming, so warm; I drift off towards the darkness; I can see him now, that man hanging from the pine, waving me goodbye.

A Prayer to Man

Jesse Witts, Year 12

Forgive me, mankind, for choosing to believe.

For believing is all that I know.

 

From the very day I was born I was taught to believe

And at the age of eight and again sixteen I chose to continue believing.

 

One hundred times a day I repeat a perfect phrase

To defend myself against the endless misconceptions

And the creative criticisms carved from a mind intolerant;

You need not understand, you need only respect.

 

Since when did conflicting ideas have to give way to conflicting people?

Why did we let the pressures of popular culture define us?

Why portray our interest with what is popular?

As one that is true and real

When just below the surface you, as an individual being, couldn’t care less?

 

Forgive me, mankind, for choosing to believe.

For believing is all that I know;

As a man who’s prayed to God all his life,

I now direct my prayer towards you.