Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits.

Lazily sunning himself in his surf coast home, Glenn Druery* thought about getting another creamy soda from the cooler. Dire Straits was playing on the five-CD boombox — Money for Nothing, not that earlier, pointy-headed stuff — and, man, he really wanted that creamy soda. The waves crashed slowly on the beach. “We got to install microwave ovens,” Mark Knopfler warbled.

Glenn cracked the can and the sweet beverage foamed over the push tab. He looked around and admired the fruits of his labour. The plastic ikebana in the lacquered black plastic vase. The Chinese-made porcelain-look jaguar in the hallway. The poster of the dude in the armchair being blasted by speakers. “Desiderata” etched on a shaving mirror. A genuine Ken Done on the wall. Look at that blue and pink. You could just see the harbour. That was art that was. Later, he would treat himself to a gnocchi carbonara and tartufo from the pizza joint, and listen to Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required. Like he did every night. The sweat-banded one warbled, “Money for nothing and your chicks for free”.

Cheques for free? No, I work hard for the money, he thought. He was Melanie Griffith on the Staten Island ferry, a regular working girl. Yoking those yokels toge- sorry, he corrected himself, providing a consulting service for small parties wanting to take full advantage of our democratic system.

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Small parties that then spontaneously organised themselves into an eight-region carousel, one for each player, with all the micro-party preferences flowing to one party in each. Getting eight, 10, 12 up in a 40-seat Victorian upper house chamber. How could he help it if they did that? All he did was a bit of the maths. How could he help it if they all got up? How could he help it if instead, it all went wrong, and one party got the lion’s share — four seats maybe? How could he help it if that party turned out to be Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party? How could he help it if he worked for Hinch? All he did was the maths that no-one who paid him could begin to understand. The CD player clicked over to Kenny G. Smoooooth jazz. Ah, that man could play. And wear a calico pant. Kenny G could really wear a calico pant.

Smooth jazz, thought Glenn Druery, shaking some baked chicken shapes into a souvenir Caribbean Gardens plate. Sure would be smooooth jazz if one micro-party — say, for example Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party — became a minor party, with four seats. Labor would improve their standing, get say 14, 15 seats, the Greens would slide down the ranking. Then, Labor could either scrabble for a majority among five or six different groups. Or it could go to the new minor — say Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party — as a one-stop shop. Depending how the numbers fell, they’d have to go to that party to get an upper house agenda through. Smoooth jazzzzzzz.

Dipping a tiny rooster into Kraft French onion dip, Glenn Druery turned to the Victorian Election Commission results on his Nokia. “Arggghhhhhhhh!” His creamy soda clattered to the floor! Labor were on track for 19 seats in the upper house. Nineteen frikkin seats!

Shaking, Glenn Druery went to the wet bar and poured a pina colada pre-mix into his Fred Flintstone glass, too shocked to unfurl a paper umbrella. Nineteen seats! Two short of a majority! They could — oh no. Druery checked the other results. Aussie Battler. Local Jobs. Sustainable Australia. Animal Justice Party. Some were his, and some weren’t. But they had all ridden the carousel. Now Labor could go to any of them, and get some sort of deal on pretty much anything. The wackiest, most unfocused desperadoes in the whole circus would run the table. It’d be no fluoridation and underwear on dogs before we knew it. Some of them wouldn’t be too happy with Glenn if — by pure coincidence — the party he worked for got four seats, and it happened to look like that was the point of the carnival all along.

Outside, storms built over the surf. Creamy soda was dead to him. Soon he might have to hit the Midori. Shut up, Kenny G! This was turning into a Nickelback evening. He wouldn’t be watching Wild Things 2 again tonight now. He sure as hell wouldn’t be wearing calico pants tomorrow. What would Derryn think? His Nokia started humming with the dedicated ringtone. “Baaaaaad to the booooone. Bababababa bad”. He would soon know.

*creatively imagined. We would like to stipulate that we have no knowledge of Druery’s tastes in music, movies or pasta choices.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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