In the hotly anticipated sequel to Turf War, RubyTwoShoes makes a dramatic exit from the dimly lit café (which unfortunately goes largely unnoticed due to the poor lighting). Rather than attempting to wrestle back her café table territory from the Pack of Five, she turns her back on warfare once and for all, and instead looks towards new and uncharted territories.
But as we will see in this riveting new take on the original, while the rules of engagement have changed, with all new players and a brand new location, the underlying threat remains the same: Territorial Challenge…
In a quest to find new land, I did what any good explorer is won’t to do, I expanded my horizons. I began to imagine what life outside the confines of the café might look like, and unrestrained by the fear that might grip a lesser adventurer’s heart; I set off up the road.
Armed with little more than a backpack, a meagre supply of water, and an unquenchable thirst for adventure (and as it turns out, more water) I made a discovery not dissimilar to Pythagoras in learning that the world was indeed round – that being, I found the local library.
Although a far cry from being uncharted territory, the library was a harbour, a haven away from the cold, cruel winds of the wide open suburban street I had just walked up.
But it didn’t take long before I also discovered that this harbour sheltered not only me, but a rowdy, skanky swag of misfits. My long held belief that libraries represented civilised and stately spaces for quiet reflection and learning was quickly replaced with the knowledge that the local library was little more than a bawdy bar, minus the much needed free flow of alcohol, that housed the many and varied detractors of mainstream society.
After only a few repeated exploratory journeys into this heart of darkness, I knew that I would need to keep my wits about me, for it was here, at the local library, that I had encountered scenes and noises that still haunt me to this day….
…The terrible squealing coming through the paper thin walls of the toddler room, that only proved pleasing in comparison to the noise that would erupt come ‘Nursery Rhyme Time’, when the whole place would hum with the eerie sounds of young children gaily singing about boroughs breaking and babies and cradles coming crashing to the ground…
….the thunderous sound like the hooves of a thousands horses made by children racing up and down the polished wooden floors of the hall directly above…
….Or, more disturbing still, the screeching yelp of a grown man that refused to accompany his carer back down the road to the local mental health facility. (I must admit however, that his howls were somewhat more welcome than his other tactic of avoiding home time, that being sprawling his humungous, ill clothed, body all over the couch, and promptly falling into a deep, sonorous sleep, causing the librarians to engage in loud arguments with his carers about ‘appropriate library behaviour’)….
All of these things are seared in my memory will stay with me for the rest of my days, along with the awkward discomfort of one day foolishly sitting at the end of the romance novel aisle, and having to spend 15 long minutes sharing the narrow space with a middle aged women who was agonisingly selective over the 50 ‘sexy’ romance titles she was taking home to read in the three week borrowing period. We both favoured acting like neither one could see the other, despite us being only one foot apart while she slipped titles off the shelf, and poured over the title, back blurb and opening pages of Each. And. Every. One. Of. Them. before shoving them into her black plastic bag and finally departing with her stash.
Yet despite this harrowing encounters, I returned again and again to this hardened harbour, and then, one day, using the same kind of deft skills that lead me overhear things with my ears at the café, I discovered, by looking with my eyes, an island in this tempestuous sea of library society. A room, without a view, or a door, but with a table.
Like the white man arriving on Australian shores, I chose to see this table as empty, as having no history, no prior owners, no custodians. A terra nullius table, sovereign to no one. But me.
It wasn’t long before I developed a sacred bond The Room, believing it existed to keep me sheltered from the raging squall of society outside it’s door, that was not a door. Whenever I had a free morning I would rush off to The Room and marvel at how quiet a room without a door could be.
But after a brief and blissful honeymoon I began to suspect that The Room was contested land, after one day an elderly man with coke bottle glasses walked and made to sit next me.
The Room being a tiny space barely a metre squared, and the man’s glasses alone taking up a large potion of that, caused my finely honed personal space invader alarm to siren. I coughed nervously, in case he was so blind he hadn’t seen me, then gave him my best, “what the fuck are you doing if you sit here, in this confined, SMALL space you will practically be sitting on top of me and, you know, it is just going to cause discomfort all around, and really, I shouldn’t need to tell you this” look, and he backed out but not before asking me if I was going to use The Room for long.
Ever since that day, I knew I had to keep it crafty (I don’t mean I had to fashion a doll out of crinkle paper, paste glue and discarded egg cartons, I mean I had to extra precautions in securing my territory).
I took to sprawling my belongings all over the table, and turning up earlier and earlier to make sure I secured my spot. Arriving just after opening time, I would breeze in with my take away coffee, make a beeline for the room (I never a walked a straight line to the room just as an extra precaution. Precaution for what ask? My point Exactly.)
But none of my efforts would hold off against the inevitable, and one day, although I arrived close to opening time, I wasn’t early enough, and The Room was seized by a Blond Pirate with a flighty look in her eye.
Forced to sit down the back in cattle class, where two rows of tables were squashed up against each other separated by flimsy dividers that only came up to your nose, I stewed over my loss while my personal space invader alarms went into overdrive.
But it was here that I made a further discovery; Blond Pirate had a partner. Her Man Pirate was on the corner table, and all throughout the day she would flit back and forth between him and The Room, desperately whispering things like, “ Ive done another puzzle. I have done so many puzzles”, before slinking back off while Man Pirate stared straight ahead, not even blinking an eye.
Then she would come back and say, “I don’t know about this library. We might have to find somewhere else”, then scat off again before finally returning at the end of the day and hissing at him, “the kids. The kids. We have to go get the kids”.
Unlike the Pack of Five, these pirates may have only had two members, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in creepiness, under his lowered baseball cap he had a dark glint in his eye, and her flighty frame and pastel pink accessories made me nervous.
But I knew I had to take action….
I woke early, before the sun had even rose in the sky, and then I did some things at home because the library itself wouldn’t open until ten.
Then, just before ten I set off up the road, The Yang and The Boy in tow in case I needed reinforcements. When I got there, my worst fears were confirmed. The pirates were waiting by the still locked library doors
Outside of standing behind them, and then, as the doors swung open, elbowing my way past them and making a sprint for the room, I had no way of getting in before them.
Unless…I used The Boy as a decoy. If I could only get him to run through the doors as soon as they opened, pretend to run in after him, but in fact quickly peal off to the left and into The Room, I would be in. And then I could stay there. And never, ever, leave.
But when the doors opened and The Boy ran away from the library, instead of into it, my final hope was foiled.
I had lost. I limped in behind them but really, I had nowhere to go….