It’s Youth Bytes, and it’s something familiar if you’ve read any of it previously, but well, it’s changed quite a bit now too…
For those who asked to see it 🙂
Ben Hamilton was a beautiful boy, but dull and simple too, in his own way. Things were fun but they were never going to last. I knew this for so many reasons: the way he whined about things, the way he refused to kiss me when we had sex, and especially the way he called me Charlotte when he was needy. No one ever called me Charlotte, not any more.
“Charlie!” Ben called from behind him, startling me for just a second. Charlie was what I preferred, but sometimes he seemed to forget that.
I turned back to my boy and smiled, honestly, warmly. He seemed to believe my look and his face visibly relaxed, the lines around his mouth disappearing. I leapt across the room and hugged him quickly, pecking him on the cheek with a soft kiss. Ben was back from an errand and I hoped he’d picked up exactly what I needed.
Quietly he unpacked his haul on the coffee table in the lounge room. We’d been holed up in his tiny little flat for days now and while I enjoyed slumming it sometimes, it was starting to lose its allure. In the part of Waterloo that still no one wanted to be seen in, it was part of a short tower block that was filled with a mix of pensioners and new immigrants, and while I had nothing against any of them they weren’t my idea of good neighbours either. But they did provide good cover.
The whole apartment was three rooms only, a larger lounge and kitchen space, a small bedroom and an even smaller bathroom. We’d split our time between the bedroom and the lounge room for the most part, though I know Ben kept his drugs in the bathroom cabinet so he was in there often enough. I would have dropped him in a second if he’d injected, but he had a fair stash of pills. I even tried a few of them.
“You think this will be enough?” I asked with a forced eagerness. Would he be disappointed to know more about me? “It’s got to be a big one the first time. We won’t get another chance.”
Ben smiled and finished the unpacking. There were a dozen small moulded plastic boxes of bolts and screws, and a large steel pipe with end caps, all of which he’d bought from a little hardware store over in Petersham. We’d spent a week looking for somewhere out of the way that wouldn’t have surveillance cameras.
Next, I moved back to the kitchen and opened the cupboards. No food in here.
“Is it all still there?” Ben asked.
“You think I’d actually move it?” I asked.
I carefully moved the white boxes out of the pantry and brought them over to the table, my legs shaking. How could they not? I unwrapped the fireworks slowly and carefully.
“And they say Canberra is boring,” Ben said, laughing. When he laughed he snorted twice between the giggles. Always twice.
We’d spent three days in Canberra the previous month, spending most of the time in our hotel room. Except for the day when we headed out the Fyshwick on the eastern side of the city, battling roundabouts and hidden speed cameras so we could check out the sex and fireworks shops. It was all too easy, but daring as well.
What came back with us was a sight to behold. Eight cardboard canisters labelled “Super Destructo”. Each of them were nearly a kilogram, and were among the largest fireworks available. Alone they were pretty and colourful, but of course they had enough black powder to make some real fun. Especially when you paid under the table and bought in bulk. By law they were supposed to sell us two maximum, but it’s amazing what 100 dollar notes could do for you.
“Lovely, lovely,” I said impulsively as I brushed my hand over the fireworks. At least five kilograms of black powder would come out of these. More than enough for what we were planning.
“Just be careful, babe,” Ben said, pulling my hands away. “You know how fragile this stuff is. I’ve used them before.” He carefully moved them to one side and brought the metal pipe to the middle of the table. He screwed one heavy end cap on to the pipe as he spoke.
I didn’t know whether Ben was talking about fireworks, or explosive, or just making things up to impress me. I leaned across the table and kissed him again, this time just a small peck on the cheek. It was the best way to remove any doubt.
“Whatever you say,” I said, beaming a smile at him.
Without saying anything else I left him at the table and walked back to the only window in the room. I glanced across the view from the low apartment. Just another inner Sydney street. Nineteenth century terraces and the occasional new building. Even the terraces would mostly be fancier than they appeared on the outside now. Like some kind of hipster TARDIS.
“You really think this can work?” Ben asked, behind me. His voice was closer.
“You know we can make anything work,” I said. I didn’t turn around. Didn’t look him in the eye.
“Tomorrow’s the day then?” I could hear his breathing, then a second later I could feel it on my neck.
I spun back quickly and kissed him again, this time longer and deeper. “Damn right.”
The funny thing about planning something like this is that you never really think of what might go wrong. If you’re rash enough to do it to begin with, you rarely think you will fail. Or maybe I knew Dad wouldn’t let me fail. I don’t really know.
But right there and then, everything was perfect. It always starts perfect, doesn’t it?
We rose early the next morning, and our dress would be just a little bit different than usual. I admired Ben in his dark blue business suit, all pinstripe and heavy creases. I’d never seen him in anything like it and at 19 he only just looked like he could even be wearing it. He even had a briefcase.
I checked over my clothes for the day. A blue business suit, clean and sharp, would hopefully let me blend in with the crowd. The plan was to head straight into the centre of Sydney, so acting as if we belonged there started with looking the part. I’ve watched Mum and Dad in action enough times in my life to know how to fake this sort of thing.
If anyone had paid close attention to Ben’s briefcase, they’d think it was a little odd. But nothing more, probably. It was heavier than most briefcases coming into town that day and his arms strained just that bit more than anyone else. Inside was a heavy copper pipe packed with screws, nails and black powder, and we had a destination that deserved every single one of them.
“Can you imagine those bastards when we end them?” Ben said, glancing to his left and right as we strode up George Street from Central Station. He said it quietly but eagerly and I knew how ready the boy was. Did I have any doubts? It wasn’t worth thinking about now, but I knew we were getting in to some serious action.
But you know what? I wasn’t thinking about that then and I still don’t think I want to think about it now. Was it temporary insanity, the madness of love, my own inner demons getting out and partying, or something else in-between or completely different. I could never tell Ben any of this and truthfully I didn’t want to tell him. I loved the boy and I still love him, despite everything. There would be no doubts, not yet anyway.
“I’m ready if you are,” I said. “Lover.” I knew that word was so formal, that no one ever said it except in songs and movies, but it seemed to fit our mood for the day.
We rounded the next corner without checking anything, blending in perfectly with a thousand other young suits and ties, conformists and dreamers going about their daily business. How would the rest of their day be?
And that’s where I stop, for just a moment. You have to understand why we were doing this first. Newberry Mining was a massive international conglomerate that started in Australia and still had its headquarters here, but is now happily mining and polluting the world over. They have a tentacle in every pot you could imagine: gold, copper, aluminium, and they never let a native tribe or a civil war get in the way of conflict. This might explain why they’ve been implicated in 12 bribery scandals, payments to African warlords and uncounted reports of environmental damage. But in this brave new world none of that was an impediment to record profits.
So does that justify a pipe bomb full of nails? I think it does. We’re at war here and nothing is stopping these people. Nothing and no one is standing up for the planet and the little people. (And if you’re wondering who I am for thinking I should be the one to stand up for them, I have two words — fuck you).
Newberry owned the entire building in front of us, square in the middle of Martin Place. A concrete and steel monolith that spread 36 stories into the sky. Newberry took up the entire building as well — I didn’t even know how a mining company could need this much office space, but at least we knew there were no innocent bystanders in the building.
“Ready?” Ben said, gripping my hand tighter. I could see his face harden, his muscles tense as we moved towards the building. I looked at his beautiful and intriguing face, full of a wonder and history that I’d barely even touched, as we entered the building. There was no security here, but there would be a checkpoint further inside.
What I didn’t notice at all was the three men and one women, dressed just like us, blending into the crowd just like us, who had been watching us the whole time and were ready to take us down in moments.