“Are yer married, man? Ever been married?” The young man drew on his roll-up, creating his own personal fire show. “I thought about gettin’ married once. But she f***ed off with another bloke. Then another, and another after that. She was skanky but she had power over men. Pussy like a wet vice. Last I heard she was in Europe or Japan or somewhere. Wouldn’t surprise me to see ‘er down here. She’d be a better stripper than most of the girls in the clubs. At least she’s really a chick even if she is a skank. Too many trannies in this place. I rooted one once. Man, was she dry! Thank God for Vasso. But at least I knew she wouldn’t get f***in’ pregnant.”
“My wife died of breast cancer a few years ago. It was quick, thankfully. She did not suffer for an extended period. I suffered for both of us.” The old man realised he had disclosed too much. A secret piece of himself had become a conversation piece in a chance meeting with a stranger. It shocked him and he lapsed back in to a contemplative hush.
“Cancer’s a c**t. But it’s funny yer mentioned breast cancer. Me muvver’s sister had it. Doctor cut one of her tits right off. I walked in to the lounge room one day and she was showing the scars to me muvver. F***in’ terrifyin’. I dunno ‘ow ‘er husband could root ‘er after that. Must ‘ave really loved ‘er. Either that or ‘e was just a mad rooter. They saved up for ‘er t’ go t’ Thailand to get a new boob. She looks normal in clothes now. Dunno what it looks like underneath though. Too f***in’ expensive to get done here apparently. Makes yer glad yer not a woman.”
The old man marveled at his young companion’s ability to talk on and on about anything without actually communicating much information of any identifiable use. However, the constant parade of unconnected anecdotes was amusing him in a weird sort of way. The situation made the old man think of Ronnie Corbett doing one of his famous rambling monologues where he feigned losing the thread over and over again and then somehow returned to his original joke and delivered an hilarious punch line. He decided to inject an observation of his own.
“Men get cancer too you know.”
“Yeah. I know. Killed one of my footy coaches. Great man ‘e was. Taught me more than all the other bastards put together. Salt of the earth. Like a father to me. Better than that. Better than my own f***in’ father anyway. The coach went slow too. But ‘e never let on. First at training every day and last t’ leave. And we’re all a bunch of know-all teenagers who didn’t know shit. He said we all ‘ad potential. Probably the only thing ‘e was wrong about.” The young man flicked the spent cigarette on to the grimy footpath and threw his head back. His eyes were searching the citified blank sky above him as if he expected a message from some celestial deity.
“What type of cancer was it?”
“F***in’ forget now. Perstroke? Somethink like that.”
“Yeah. I think so.” The young man reached for his tobacco, papers and matches again. Halfway though the assembly task he stopped as if he had seen a great light. “What the f***’s a prostrate anyway?”
“It’s pronounced prostate. It’s between your legs, behind the shaft of your penis and scrotum, but before your anus. “
“F***. Ain’t you posh! Penis, scrotum, anus! You mean it’s between my dick and balls and my a***hole. I know the little bugger. It sometimes feels a bit sore when yer’ve been f***in’ all night. Why don’t they just cut it out?
“They do if the cancer is operable.”
“Then we should get ‘em cut out anyway. Like yer appendix.”
“Well, there’s a problem with that solution. Removal of the prostate gland can make you impotent.”
“Yer mean, no rootin’? What about Viagra?”
“I don’t know where Viagra fits into the equation. Some men used to have to inject their penises with medication to get a sustainable erection.”
“Yeah. I’ve ‘eard of that. Wouldn’t get me sticking a f***in’ needle in me old feller.”
“What if you or your partner were desperate for sex?”
“I’d l*** ‘er out and get ‘er to s*** me off.”
“I’m not sure that would work. Have you heard of testicular cancer?”
“You mean when they ‘ave to cut one of yer balls off?”
“Yeah. That’s gotta be better than the other one. At least yer still got enough equipment to keep rootin’ without needles and Viagra and all that shit.”
“There are other things in life you know.”
At that point a flashlight shone into the old man’s face. Two police officers on bicycles were in front of him. The beam switched its attention to the young man.
“OK, please move along gents. You’re blocking a doorway and a narrow footpath. This will be a pretty busy stretch later on tonight. It’s for you own safety. We don’t want to see either of you caught up in a brawl or assaulted by someone who’s had too much to drink.” It was a woman’s voice. Her male colleague said nothing. He was listening to some incomprehensible jabber on a walkie-talkie.