Friday, March 23, 2012



Red and I became good friends, between our weird shifts at work we managed to get together a few times a week to drink a few beers and swap a few tales in the towns roughest pub just across the road. He was in his forties and over twice my age so I knew my mates would have been driving him a little crazy with their immature behavior. (me too) With this in mind I was always careful to keep my mouth shut around him instead of talking the usual rubbish with my mates.
After about 3 months Red had enough of the all night parties keeping him awake and moved out to share a unit with a bloke he met at work in the steel mill, I didn't see him again for a few months.
Out of nowhere he turned up one day with an offer to share his unit, the other bloke has moved interstate so I jumped at the chance because that was pretty much the only way to get a unit back then. If the place was neat and the rent was being paid the landlords would simply keep picking up the rent no matter who was in their unit. That.. and the fact that the White Horse was pretty much a mental health black hole meant that I'd had enough of it too.
I moved in with my entire belongings in the boot of my car.. or would have except I was driving an Aussie panel van back then. (my mum called it the 'fuck truck')
Over the weeks I learned that Red had been a bouncer in many brothels and got some horrifying brothel stories to scare the heck out of me. Stories of knife fights and pay offs to corrupt police and the mob, one of these had gone wrong somehow and he was on the run from people the police would be afraid of.  He was also wanted by the police in every state of Australia except the only one he hadn't been to. (Tasmania)
One day I noticed a tattoo of a Rat on his arm with 'RAT' under it and when I asked about it he admitted it was his nick name. To this day I don't know what his real name was even though we shared that unit for more than nine months.

One hot night I was having a beer or three with a mate when Red's car skidded to a halt in front of the open door, Red ran in the front door and straight out the back door followed by two cops.. A few minutes later they led him back through the unit handcuffed, he casually asked me to lock his car for him as they took him away to be charged for drink driving.
Early the next morning he was back and packing his things like a man possessed, everything went into his car as he told me he was off…. the whole process took less than fifteen minutes. (He'd obviously had practice at packing fast)
He walked out on his job and his fortnights pay, most of his belongings and a woman or two he was seeing. He bludged $100.00 petrol money from me and as he shook my hand I asked him if he had a forwarding address for when the police came back, a broad smile came slowly to his face and he jotted down an address on a beer coaster. He told me it was a brothel in outback Western Australia and the police would get a very warm reception if they went there asking for him.  As he pulled out of the drive I deliberately turned away so I didn't know which direction he went, West toward Western Australia or East to Victoria, New South Wales or… maybe Tasmania.
The next day two young cops turned up with a warrant, they had a look through the things he'd left in his room and left clutching the coaster like it was gold.
I never heard from Red again but he'd been a good mate to me, I don’t know what he'd done but I knew he could be dangerous if he wanted to be.
He probably thought I was some silly kid, because I was!
I sometimes wonder where he is now…

My Panel van as it was back then: 
Any questions about what I was spending my money on?

Yes, the back was 4inches thick with foam  and carpeted...roof, walls..everything!


Belle said...

Interesting story! Red lived a very dangerous life didn't he? Your panel van was wonderful. I've never seen anything like it.

Magsx2 said...

Hi Tempo,
Just an amazing story, I was wondering how you got out of that place you had to call home.

Isn't it amazing when we look back how one thing always leads to another, how everything interconnects, depending on which road we decide to take in life.

It would be interesting to know what happened to Red as the years went by.

I was a bit disappointed your videos didn't work for me. :(

Tempo said...

Hi Belle, The Van was a cross between the Ute and a Station Wagon and very popular here in Australia. I was a green teenager and way over my head.
Hi Mags, I was lucky to have got out of that stage of my life alive..
I think you're right, we are all given many crossroads at various stages in our lives at which we chose our path. You get it wrong at just one point, take the wrong path and terrible things can happen to you. I've lost many friends who made that wrong turn just once...
I still wonder what happened to him.

Windsmoke. said...

Bonza tale and the FORD shaggin' wagon :-).

Argentum Vulgaris said...

The things we did when we were young and silly, now that we are older, but equally silly we look back on them and wonder. That panel van would have been called a 'flagon' or 'shaggin' wagon in NZ, it depended on how un/lucky you were.


Tempo said...

Hi Windsmoke, Yeah they had a few names when the ol' van was popular, looking back it was one of the best cars I ever had. I cant remember how long I owned it but it went from White with gold striping to this dark blue to metallic gold and had two motors.
Hi AV, They were Shaggin Wagons here in OZ too, you'll be pleased to know there will be no nocturnal tales of the vanners life...

Sarah said...

Like Belle, I've never seen anything like your panel van. To me it looks sorta like a hearse-muscle car had a baby, but it grew up to be a badass sexy baby.

Pearl said...

Wow! Look at that car!! Spectacular. Nothing like that around here, I assure you.

I've not known anyone actively running, but I've got a Red or two in my background -- and hopefully they don't knock on my door any time soon.


Tempo said...

Hi Sarah, The Van is Aussie ingenuity at it's best, a cross between the chassis of a Station Wagon, the rear lower of the Ute and a custom top all added together. They were very popular and I cant understand why the rest of the world didnt make them.
Hey Pearl, In the 1970's there was a strong Van culture in OZ with fantastic paint work and plush interiors. It never caught on in the rest of thew world.
I've read your posts on the nefarious people in your past Pearl, some of the most interesting stories I've ever read.