The heaviness of keys - Page 3
From Griffith REVIEW Edition 22: MoneySexPower
© Copyright Griffith University & the author.
Written by Edwina Shaw
WE DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO the boys' files, but you usually find out what they're in for anyway. You can tell a lot of things by the way they carry themselves. Bank robbers are cocky and always top of maths class. They still have some manners and know how to play the game for points, but they do whatever they want anyway. Big-bodied, small-brained stand-over men try intimidation tactics in the classroom, using their size to threaten the teachers and get out of doing fractions. Sex offenders stink of cum and make excuses for constantly having their hands down their pants. The violent give themselves away with tight lips and reddened knuckles.
Murderers are a mixed bag. Some are easy, especially those who've graduated from assaults – like the top dog Derek, nineteen and still in the boys' prison. He was under-age when he beat a man to a bloody pulp with numchuckas on the last train to Liverpool. He pushed the still-breathing body out the sliding doors and laughed as it thumped on to the tracks and the train rattled on. Derek likes to talk about it over and over again, getting excited, nostrils flaring, pupils dilating.
Then there are the boys like Ray (Pussy Ray, they call him) who fell into it all by accident. When he was tripping on acid, he stabbed some poor old lady thirty-two times. He has recurring nightmares about it and cries for his mum. He's thirteen.
And then there's Dylan. Dylan who loves me. He came home from work early one afternoon and found his best friend in bed with his girlfriend. They say he tore them both to pieces, broke their bones, snapped his girlfriend's neck like a chicken's. His hands are so big they could cover my face. His upper arms are as thick as my thigh.
As part of a fun day, I read the boys' palms using a book I picked up in a second-hand store. I'm careful to only tell them the good things, to give them positive readings, some little taste of hope. They make a line and wait patiently for their turns, all eager for a brighter future.
Derek's calloused fingers and nails chewed right down to the quick can't hide the way his lifeline starts way up on his ambition mound, the mark of a cold-hearted killer, I read to myself. ‘You're very ambitious,' I tell him. Pussy Ray has no such marking, just a criss-crossed headline and a too-short lifeline.
Dylan's hand is warm, and as he sits beside me he presses his thigh along mine. I don't move away. His short thumb and matching stunted fingers reveal someone who bottles up emotions till they explode in acts of violence; crimes of passion. This is the Dylan who says he loves me. The Dylan whose eyes I feel on me as I set my jaw and stride across the quadrangle every school day. Dylan, whose warm hand I still feel in mine long after I've locked the last door and gone home.
I usually tell Maureen everything on our long drives home back to the eastern suburbs. But I don't tell her about Dylan. The boys never play up for her. She has the advantage of height and age and super-padded bra-lifted pointed breasts that she uses like weapons. With one drum of her bright red fingernails on the desk she silences the class. She'd fix Dylan. If I told her.
I can't tell Maureen because I keep finding myself gazing back at him – caught in the intensity of his stare, mesmerised by his aqua eyes and the strength of his shoulders. He's part Koori (one of the many Kooris inside), from a small town in the north. His skin is perfect honey-coloured satin and his long creamed-honey hair begs to be stroked. And those eyes. Those eyes will me to love him back, tell me everything I need to know without him ever saying a word. I feed on his eyes and the passion behind them, gorging my loneliness on his dreams of me.
It doesn't help that he has a grown man's body. Like most of the boys, he pumps iron every afternoon and has developed into a teenage Samson. Sometimes I'm rostered on for gym supervision, so I watch him lifting weights in all his sweat-gleaming beauty, perfectly sculpted, his eyes daring me to look. My tongue swelling with longing.
He only ever touches me with his eyes. But I can't stop myself touching him. I tell myself it's a natural part of my teaching style, and that if I exclude him from the touches I give so freely to everyone else it would be unfair. The boys need touching – gentle hands, just to show them such a thing exists. My fingertips linger on his shoulder. Perhaps I brush against him once too often, or is it that he arranges himself so that I have no choice but to squeeze past, touch flesh to flesh? I try not to catch his eye and get trapped there, but by not looking am I playing coy? At night in my room, in a Surry Hills terrace house that reeks of cat piss and whisky, I lie awake listening to the orgasmic screams of my ballerina flatmate, and relive each touch, allow myself to sink into the peculiar pale green of his eyes, put dream hands on his body and slide them down, lower and lower.