Another tale from Jaycee – and I’m delighted to admit I’ve deferred to his judgment. He thought it should be a two-parter, and so it will be. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy!
(Image Credit: Your Story)
The story goes that Jim, on visiting the dentist to have his mouth-full of rotten teeth attended to, promptly told the dentist they would all have to come out…
“I’ll be the judge of that!” the dentist hastily replied. Then asked him to open up. “Good lord! They’ll have to come out!” and Jim smiled … not for the fact that he was going to lose all his teeth, but, you see, Jim was right again! He regaled us with this knowledge that same night at “The Cliff”. Jim was a specialist at “regaling” people with his stories, for that’s what they were – fictions of a very fertile imagination. But getting back to his teeth for a moment. It was a good job he attended to them when he did … he was fast losing friends from the mere sight of that “cavern of broken and blackened stalactites” as someone (I forget whom) once said: “It’s enough to put yer off yer finking,” someone else (I forget whom ) remarked (maybe it was Jeff Otto … it sounds like him!).
Jim was of dark-haired medium height, but he looked taller than he was through being rather lanky … he was one of those blokes who could hold their pint of beer and cigarette in the one hand while gesticulating a point with the other. He was always there on the fringe of a discussion, willing to make his contribution whenever he could … not by butting in, but by picking the right moment – for good yarn-spinning demands a damn good sense of timing – it is in using the accoutrements around one as props, like long-drawing on a fag, or pausing to lick the paper when rolling a cigarette, or polishing off the dregs of a beer and calling to Noela for a refill. It gives the listener pause enough to “get ahead”, in their minds, of the story-teller – but the story-teller is really always in control. Jim was a natural.
However, as much as I can make out, Jim’s career as the local bullshit artist began when he was employed with the district council on an unemployment relief scheme. Jim and his mate, Mark, with whom Jim used to board, were both working up near the old golf course, widening the road. A lot of the local riff-raff of the community were employed on these schemes and this project was no exception. There were a few members of the notorious “Barbarians” motorcycle gang working the same stretch of road as Jim and Mark. These “youths” were known to possess a rather cruel streak within their ugly facades of greasy, unwashed grottiness … otherwise, they were rather nice chaps.
One day at smoko, Jim decided to endear himself to the nearest “Barb’” with an example of his fiction. We’ll take up the thread at the ending:
“…Well, there I was – broken down truck, no food, no water, no road out … the middle of the desert … the middle of summer. I knew I was in a fix, so I started walking south … (a drag on his cigarette, slow expelling of smoke). I walked for three days, no food, no water … on the third day I was standing under a gum tree, resting, when suddenly an aborigine appeared before me. I thought I was hallucinating – I don’t know where he came from as there was nothing but desert all around – but there he was, a full-blood, dark as a pint of stout and armed with spears and things … (pause for meaningful reflection and another drag). I couldn’t speak his dialect and he couldn’t speak mine…he gave me a drink and some chewy-meat stuff, then we sat down cross-legged in the red sand and he drew some wriggly lines with his fingers which I took to mean water, and he turned his head to the sunset and pointed. Then he made three strokes in the sand – and sure enough, I walked three days in that direction and came across water.”
All through this extraordinary tale, the gruesome bikie was suitably impressed with Jim’s courage in the face of such odds and his calm demeanour in the retelling of the adventure, so that with every pause , he would punctuate the story with “Yeah!” or ”Really!?” and even a proud “Bloody hell!” so that Jim returned to work a hero in one man’s eyes – that is – until the bikie repeated the yarn (replete with amazed interjections) to Mark.
“Oh, he was just bullshitting to you – he’s never been further north than Wheatland Street !” (the street leading to the Seacliff Hotel).
“Yeah?” the bikie raged,” I’ll kill the bastard!!” It took Mark another half hour to calm the man down. Mark frequently had to follow behind to undo the damage that Jim innocently wrought. For, however outlandish his stories, he never meant any harm by them. They were, as I said, figments of a very fertile imagination.
But there was method to Jim’s madness. He would mostly relate these Munchausenish adventures to someone of influence …and as Jim spent a good deal of time in the clutches of poverty – and the front bar of the Seacliff Hotel – that “influence” usually centered around the financial capacity to purchase more beer, or as in the case just mentioned, a toke on a joint or two of “Barbarian” weed!
To keep up his supply of stories, Jim would clip out articles from newspapers to file away in this little notepad he kept he kept in a top pocket. Occasionally, he would be seen to write something in this pad, but never was he known to show anybody its contents. I suspect there was little to show, but was “played upon” to increase the mystery surrounding his person … there was a rumour (no doubt started by himself) that he was in Sth Aust as a kind of modern-day remittance man from a wealthy family back in Sydney. Jim would draw upon those clippings and notes with suitable embellishments to concoct another outlandish tale with himself as hero to impress whoever had the generosity to maintain supply …
An Example …
You may have read in the papers many years ago about the discovery, in the sea north of Darwin, a sunken Japanese submarine from the Second World War that contained a fortune in mercury. However, the Japanese government pressed for the wreck to be left alone as a war grave – which, eventually, it was. Well … a couple of evenings after that story broke in the papers, Jim had buttonholed some unfortunate, and was relating to him the details (between draughts of the old amber), of how he, Jim, and some others had dived for and retrieved canisters of mercury from a Japanese sub sunken out in St Vincent’s Gulf. “… if you follow that sunbeam on the water there straight out ‘bout five mile …” and sold it for a fortune which was used to buy arms for gun-running to Timor … oh!, pardon my slip, I forgot to tell you that Timor was at that time in conflict with Indonesia, which also made the dailies, and Jim’s notepad.
Most of these tales were good entertainment and people didn’t mind paying the price of a beer or two for such. However, Bruce (The Pinball Wizard) made the mistake of believing one of Jim’s creations and he never lived it down!