Author: Maurice D. Valentine

Admired from Afar – Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Admired from Afar
Albany Creek, Brisbane, Australia

It was BOILING HOT as I stepped out Trine’s home in Albany Creek, Brisbane. The heat was practically unbearable; it was thick with humidity, and with a clear blue sky overhead the sun beat down upon my back the minute I was out of the shadow of the awning. Sweat poured from me like a faucet the minute that wall of heat hit me. I remember thinking to myself, “I hope I don’t pass out on the way to the gas station!” It was only a 10-minute walk, but with the hell I was about to trudge through in order to get there, it really was going to feel like hours. I was glad I wore nothing but a thin tank top and shorts; the heat was just unbelievable.

I crossed the large field in front of the house to enter the small park in the neighborhood. It led to my destination, the BP gas station. Being careful not to step on any hidden Brown snakes that were known to the area, I walked along the path surrounded by thick overgrown trees. The noise of colorful parrots and cockatoos was tremendous. They watched curiously from above and below as I invaded their hangout, not letting me get too close by hopping away.

Occasionally a bearded dragon would dart out from underneath the bushes, only to turn and run back in, startled by my presence. I almost walked into a spider web as well – but I saw it a few moments before I collided with it. The spider in the center of it the size of my hand. It was very colorful, and from what little I knew about colorful insects, that was a warning sign for the clueless that it was deadly.

Despite the heat, it was always interesting to walk through that small park, for it always reminded me of the way Australia used to be before it was settled: full of wildlife, wonder and extreme danger.

Coming out of the park I crossed the busy two-lane street, aiming for the BP station, looking to get my paws on a phone card – my umpteenth on this trip. By this time the guys in the BP station knew who I was – for I had been staying at Albany Creek with my friend Drew and his girlfriend Trine for almost a month. I was very easy to spot too, that’s for sure. There just aren’t that many muscular Black Americans from the Bronx walking around that neighborhood!

I entered the freezing cold convenience store of the station and said hello to Rob, the cashier. He greeted me with the typical Aussie “How ya goin’ mate,” as I had the whim of walking to the back to buy myself a Gatorade, putting the phone card in the back of my mind temporarily. I looked at the different flavors to choose from and chose cherry, which was located way at the bottom of the refrigerator. I stooped down, bending my back, legs straight and arse up in the air, to reach for the bottle.

But then I had a strange feeling – of being watched. I ignored it at first, but soon it became so unbearable that I stood up, whirling my head around to see just who the hell was looking at me. In a second I had my answer: a young mother in the next aisle, with her daughter. She was about my age, and somewhat good-looking. As soon as our eyes met, she looked away, making me giggle. She then said something to her daughter, to give me the feeling that she wasn’t looking at me, but keeping an eye on her little girl. But it didn’t work. My big Black ass was being checked out big time! I giggled to myself, and went about my business.

After I retrieved the Gatorade, I got hungry and went to the hot dog stand a few feet away. Just after I got it, I made a bee line for the counter where Rob was, hoping there wasn’t a line. But there was. Several people were waiting to pay for gas, so I patiently stood there behind them – and then felt a presence behind me again. I turned my head, looking out of the corner of my eyes, and guess who it was? The young mother again, her arms holding a few groceries. I looked at her and smiled, while her child stood there tugging on her pants leg wanting to buy her something. “Now, Rachel calm down, Mummy cannot buy you everything in here,” she said. I looked at the mother and laughed. “Quite a handful, eh?”

“Yeah,” she said. “She’s only 4, ya know? She’s past those terrible twos, but she seems to be getting worse as the years go by.”

Feeling sorry for her, I nodded for her to go in front of me. “It’s all right” I said, “I’m going to be talking to Rob for a little while and don’t want to hold you up.” She thanked me and so did her daughter, and they eventually paid for the food and some gas.

While I spoke to Rob about getting a phone card with my items, I noticed the same woman outside fiddling around inside her car – and looking at me the whole time. She kept staring and mumbling, her eyes really boring into me, and I wondered just what the hell she was saying inside her blue Holden while Rob spoke to me. But I soon turned my attention to Rob and finished our conversation, not wanting to be rude. After a few more minutes I said my goodbyes, and stepped out into the burly heat of Brisbane again, to trudge back to Trine’s place.

As I went to the corner of the sidewalk, I felt a presence next to me again. A big presence. It was a blue Holden – with the young mother at the wheel, waiting for traffic to clear! Her young daughter locked eyes with me and immediately got excited, knocking on the glass of the door – then rolled the window down, hanging out of it, wanting to shout something at me.

“Hey!! My Mummy says you have a BIG JUICY BUM—-” Immediately she was jerked back into the car by the mother, who hit the gas.

I couldn’t stop laughing!