Wanderer, Isabella Ison

My boyfriend likes to wander when he’s drunk. Like wander. Far. I remember once, on his 21st birthday, we had to put him in a cab at 8:30 because he was so shit-faced. The amount of
time my friends and I have spent wandering Melbourne’s cobbled streets searching for him, I can’t
even tell you. He’s become somewhat infamous for being found in strange, but wonderful, locations. Finding him is like a strange, adult, urban-scavenger-hunt that more often that not ends up in either running away, or partying harder. There was this one night that especially sticks in my mind. We crashed a house party in Abbotsford. Just off that main street there, the one with all the restaurants. We stopped in at this bottle-o that was far too fancy for the area. One of those Barrel Something’s that stock wine no one can afford and have a serif typeface on the, round, monochrome sign. “What do you mean there aren’t any cold cartons of Melbourne Bitter tinnies?” The house, when we finally got there, with beer we clearly couldn’t afford, made derelict look lavish. The rusting fence was overgrown with vines. The front door was locked, so we tentatively walked up the wide concrete drive on the side. Pallets and old couches, the kind you find on hard-rubbish day, abounded. Hipsters who hadn’t had hair cuts in months, and were wearing just the frames of glasses, no lenses, sat around discussing politics and their latest, free-entry, exhibitions. Not really our scene. But still, we knew these types of parties could get interesting later.

As drinks flowed, these people, who normally put their facade together so carefully, began to
show their real selves. Just uni-kids like us. They stopped faking it; there was no one with enough sense around to fake it for anymore, anyway. I was chatting to an acquaintance, you know, one of those friends-of-a-friend, who are your best friend when you’re the only familiar face. And then it happened. He was gone. Just like that. I hadn’t really realised he was at wandering point yet. Two others were also missing. So he hadn’t gone on his latest escapade alone. He had gone barefoot, though; I found his shoes shoved in the gaping recess of the milk crate I’d last seen him sitting on. Three hours later, after almost calling the cops, I found him staggering along the street with a warm carton of Carlton Draught and blood dripping down his legs. He’d broken into the Carlton factory with two mates, snuck past two guards, cut his foot open on a roof tile and pulled a fresh carton straight off the back of an incoming truck before his bloody escape. Yes, I’m serious. We drank that beer, hot, as I cleaned out his wound with pure Dettol. Hoping each swipe would hurt a little bit more, for making me worry so much. True story… would I lie to you?

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