Dad had put posters up all around our neighbourhood advertising his upcoming fight with me. He’d made a ring in our backyard. The poster was of his face; a photo that he’d taken in our bathroom mirror with his iPhone. He’d set up a folding table where he wanted mum to sell beer, and made it so people could get to the backyard without walking through our house. He told us he didn’t want anyone traipsing.
To explain dad’s poster: at certain angles dad had facial features that resembled the actor Hugh Jackman, but not exactly Hugh Jackman. Maybe something like Hugh Jackman if he’d let things go, in a decade-long slump. A Hugh Jackman who was also out of work, who would also drink late into the night until he passed out in a recliner. A Hugh Jackman you could only see by squinting.
He’d asked me to come up with a wrestling name, but I had just written down my Christian name: Tim.
He’d said ‘I don’t think you share my vision.’
I’d shrugged at him, which I knew would make him angry, and think this is why, on the morning of the fight, he made me walk down beside the house, where he’d put up streamers, and hit me on the back once while we walked, to make me misstep. I did not feel very well. Dad had stuck more posters to the side of our house, which were blown-up version of my school photo from a few years ago, with ‘GET READY FOR THE PAIN, TOILETHOLE’ scrawled across them in what was, unmistakably, dad’s handwriting.
More people turned up than I thought would. They were in our backyard cheering for me, cheering for dad, cheering for what we were about to do to each other in the ring dad had set up, which was really just four cricket wickets tied together with string. Two girls were standing in the front row, holding helium balloons with dad’s face on them.
In the end it wasn’t a very long fight. When dad was pumping up the crowd by trying to tear a watermelon in half, I hit him in the back of the head with one of the cricket wickets. He stumbled onto his knees and I hit him again and again, until he was on his back, looking up at the clouds, bleeding and smiling. He said ‘Thank you’. Or at least I thought he did; it was hard to tell. When people pulled me off of him I tried to make them let me go, by yelling at them and hitting at them, trying to explain that I just wanted him to not look like Hugh Jackman anymore.
Scott J Morgan lives and studies in Brisbane. He has a twitter account but no website @_scottjmorgan.