This ain't no fairytale. Nonetheless, gather round your old Uncle Jon, kiddies (you there, the pretty girl, you can sit on my knee if you like. There's a good girl), and prepare your little ears for a tale off far of and damn strange times, I can tell you.
I have commented before on the curious correlation that exists between regular usage of Melbourne's peerless public transport system and a high incidence of highly disgusting incidents. Everyone's had something unfavourable happen to them whilst riding the rails; due to bad karma (I ate kittens for both fun and profit in a past life), my own experiences on planes, trains and automotive vehicles are ten times more fantastical than anything you can imagine, even taking into account such an appallingly diseased mind as yours. I believe I mentioned in my earlier post that the events recorded therein were only the second strangest to have occurred happened during my career as a commuter. This was the strangest:
Picture, if you will, a young gent about town: dapper, well-heeled, a real toff. Maybe he has had a few beverages in the company of friends; maybe he is me. Maybe. The place is Flinder's Street Station and the time is half past midnight on a Friday morning. 'What the hell did you think you were doing, catching the last train back east at 12.30 - don't you know that they're jam-packed with punks and jerks and crazies, you ninnyhammer?' do I hear you ask? Well where were you when I could have used that advice, hmm? And less of the Victorian insults, thank you very much.
This was around the arse end of the year, and exam time for highschools had just finished. It therefore came as no surprise when a confused ball of arms and legs that slowly resolved itself into a group of teenage boys came tumbling at speed down the escalator. What was a mild surprise was that they were all of them deaf. And they were all of them extremely drunk, so much so that they were slurring their signs.
Each wore a white shirt covered in texta'd scrawl - the usual school-leavers messages of goodwill, and crud like that. They bowled up to me and my party, and said (and here you must imagine me doing a highly offensive impersonation of a deaf person's diction), "Hey! Sign our shirts!" I turned to my companions, grinned in an irritatingly knowing fashion, and wrote on one deafy's back: The Dwarfs Are Coming To Get You.
Now, the obligatory qualifier: I have nothing against little people. I mean, they're human beings too, despite what the Church says. A long time's passed since the Great Midget Uprising of 1893, and though the stumpy bastards gnawed the knees off of many a brave man, including my great-grandfather, we're All Friends Now and it's Water Under The Bridge. Some of my best friends are dwarfs, or would be if I still had friends. What I wrote on the deaf kid's shirt was just the most silly thing I could think of - something to confuse him when he got over the hangover in the morning. He certainly appeared to find it amusing at the time.
However, it turned out to be a poor choice of words. Five minutes later, a second group of deaf teens joined the first. And one of them was a dwarf. And if the other kids were drunk, he was well and truly slaughtered. I turned to my companions, grinned in a worried sort of fashion; they agreed that I was a moron, but that we should sit up the other end of the carriage when the train pulled up to avoid poential righteous indignation from Stunty and the Deaf Boys.
It was about halfway to home when one of my friends nudged me, and said, "Something weird's going on. Look." Down the carriage, one of the deaf kids was hitting the dwarf's leg with a certain degree of vigour. Thwack! Thwack! "Don't worry," I replied, condescendingly, "They're pissed and they're kids. You don't get a much more potent recipe for stupidity. Just ignore them." But the dwarf's leg continued to get pounded with astonishing ferocity: Thwack!
The thing was, though, that the dwarf wasn't responding to the beating, wasn't moving even a hair. "Um..." I said, articulate as ever. And it was then that the dwarf, slowly at first, but with the ever increasing speed and force and above all inevitability of a tsunami, started to keel sideways. His friend hadn't been trying to hurt him, he'd been trying to rouse him from a semi-comatose state. But it was too late... shortarse had caught his head on the edge of the seat on the opposite aisle with a decisively final sounding crack.
Now for some maths: occupants of last train home = fatigue + inebriation + usual background stupidity x one drunk, deaf, now possibly dead dwarf = chaos. Half the carriage and all the deaf kids were on their feet yelling at the top of their lungs. Someone started shaking the mini-man by his collar; someone else shouted, "Hold on, I'll stick me fist down his throat. That'll stop 'im choking!"; someone else realised, "Oh, shit...I'm the most sober person on a packed carriage full of well-meaning idiots and a what may well be a teeny, tiny corpse. Fuck." That last someone was me.
Here's a tip for if ever you're in trouble - don't ever bother to press the Connex emergency intercom system. It may work for ficticious anthropomorphic eggs, but no-one else. Even when he hears a panicked voice on the other end saying, "Hi sorry to interrupt you but there's a deaf dwarf back here and he's hit his head badly and he's unconscious and could you please stop the train at the next station and alert some medical professionals?", the driver will just respond with a bored, "Pff. Yep?" and keep right on going. I mean, incredulity I could understand, but apathy? Unimpressed, I abandoned the intercom, and pushed aside a handful of curious charlies to get to the supine midget, just in time to stop a flannel-bedecked trucker putting deed to word and inserting his fist in the dwarf's mouth.
Shorty had a pulse and was breathing (if fitfully), symptoms which rarely occur in corpses. Whilst I was thankful, I was now surrounded by drunk and wailing deaf teenagers, an enthusiastic but unhelpful trucker (later I found out that he'd just been released from prison, but that's another story entirely), and a small crowd of amused/worried onlookers - all of whom now assumed I, a man who once managed to set his own hair on fire without realising, was some kind of medical expert. I panicked inwardly, but finally managed to remember how to effect the coma position and clear an airway of obstructions - thank you Ms Tricotta, who taught me that in year 9 PE; I take back anything bad I ever said about you, except the bit about you being a man, which was clearly true.
So. That was all well and good, the dwarf was breathing properly, wasn't going to roll about banging into things. But he was still unconscious with his eyes rolled back in his head, the train wasn't stopping, and everyone was still yelling. What was I going to do now, I wondered? "Give him mouth-to-mouth!" the trucker noisily encouraged. Now kiddies, I am no fucking Florence Nightingale, but, well... what else could I do?
Slowly, reluctantly, I puckered up. Ever so, ever so hesitantly, I edged closer to the recumbent dwarf. He had a hairy neck. He had snot crusted around one nostril. "Oh, gods", I thought, "The things we do for our fellow man. Half-man. Whatever." My lips quivered, inches away from my pint-sized patient's, his hot, bourbon soaked breath washing over my face. I sighed, and prepared to lock lips with the hairy, smelly dwarf.
Suddenly, with no warning, his eyes snapped forward, and he shook his head. A cheer went up from the crowd, and a prayer of thanks went up from me, as the dwarf lifted himself off the floor and sat down on a seat... and then began - and I swear I'm not making this up - began to bark like a dog. Slapped his thighs, and began to growl and bark like a dog. And was still doing that when I got off the train twenty minutes later.
Now, here's how you know that this ain't no fairytale. The protagonist in a fairytale is customarily rewarded; traditionally, helping a dwarf in distress gets you three magic wishes. Me? I got barked at. Oh, sure, the other deaf kids thanked me for helping out, but what's gratitude compared with wishes? So: dwarfs can fuck off, so far as I'm concerned (not that I've anything against dwarfs, etc.). What? You were expecting a more meaningful moral? Who do I look like, Aesop? You can bugger off, the lot of you. No, wait, not you dear; you just stay there on old Uncle Jon's knee...