Dale Plazina was practicing his Herrmann Pass and his Tenkai Palm for the third hour in a row when Brian called. Sometimes he got frustrated and bored, but you didn’t get anywhere without practice, he knew that. Especially sleight of hand tricks. You only got the hang of them after hours and hours, if you were lucky. He was startled by the phone the first time it rang, making him drop the deck of cards over the side of the bed. He swore, leaned over to pick them all up, wiped his nose with a well used hunk of tissues, and tried again.
The third time it rang, he gave in and answered it. ‘You know I’m sick, yeah?’
‘I really don’t give a damn, Dale.’
‘Well, fuck you then.’
Brian laughed. He sounded weird, more excited than usual. Probably had too much coffee again. That was a problem with him.
‘Listen,’ he was saying, ‘I really want to see everyone this weekend. I found something awesome in the park and you all need to see it as soon as possible. Like, tomorrow at the latest.’
‘You found something in the park?’
‘Trust me, man, this shit is worth seeing.’
‘What is it?’
‘I can’t… really tell you. It’s one of those things you have to see to believe, you know?’
‘Fuck off! What is it?’
‘All I can say is… Okay, I found a book in the library, and the book was written by a guy who lived here and he said there was something cool, uh, hidden in the park, right? So I went to look for it and turns out it was actually there!’
‘Seriously. What is it, buried treasure?’
Brian paused and Dale sat up in bed, dropping the cards in his lap. ‘Brian?’
‘It’s actually better than that.’
‘What is it? Come on, wanker.’
‘Well. Help me convince the others to come for, say, drinks in the park tomorrow, and I’ll show you. We can meet at the cliffs.’
‘Doesn’t Matt have to go to church on Sundays?’
‘Yeah, at like ten in the morning.’
‘No way his parents are gonna let him out of the house on a Sunday, man.’
‘I don’t care, we’ll sneak him out! Just tell him, alright? And Steph as well. I’ll talk to Elyse.’
‘I’m sure you will.’
‘Shut up, dick. Twelve o clock, yeah? Midday.’
‘Yeah, yeah. This better be good, Brian. I feel like shit.’
‘If you regret coming, I will buy you one bottle of the finest whisky you desire.’
‘Aaaalright buddy. I believe you.’
‘See you there.’ He hung up.
Dale stared at the phone for a few seconds and then dropped it on the blanket and lay back, staring at the ceiling. His vision swam. Some unseen force used his skull to hammer nails through concrete. Outside his room, his mother tapped endlessly away at her computer.
‘Hey, mum!’ he yelled. ‘I’m going to the park tomorrow arvo.’
‘Dale, are you stupid? You’re sick.’
‘I’ll be back for dinner.’
‘Yeah, you better.’
He snatched up the phone, wiped his nose with the back of his hand, and called Matt.