Brisbane Artists – Randall Kamp & The Secret Life

An old friend of mine, Randall Kamp, got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago after a hiatus of several years. In the course of getting reacquainted, he told me he’d produced a series of drawings based on a short story of mine called The Secret Life for Drawing Day 2011.

I wrote the story twenty years ago (give or take) and toyed with the idea of self-publishing it as an illustrated book. I had in mind Huckleberry Finn or the illustrated Charles Scribner’s Sons edition of The Old Man and The Sea. Whatever you think of my conceit, you have to agree Randall’s drawings (presented below with excerpts from The Secret Life) are superb.

Mr L in Townsville

    In Townsville, drunk and sweating on the floor, lies Mr L from Brisbane. His skin, white, slaps the bare boards while the landlady’s clock chimes 9 pm. And she, the landlady, is in the far kitchen, where – secretly smelling of beer and lemonade – she weeps and kisses the cat…
    …Later, but for the sound of the landlady’s clock, the house is in silence. Mr L rolls drunkenly on one side. To the dark reflection in a louver, he says, “Satan I see you.”

Is Mr L a young man, Mr M?

    In the yard, midmorning, Mr L strains in a crooked cane chair. He smokes a cigarette, fiddled from a packet in his lap. The cat, Princess, comes from green shadows by the fence. it’s fur black and white, the cat is a ghost train through the daylight. It comes smoothly to a halt, and sitting, assesses Mr L.
    Mr M, in the backroom with Mrs U, watches the pair while describing vigorous circles on the fat lady’s thigh with his hand. There is silence in the room, save for the steady ticking round of flesh. Then Mrs U asks breathlessly, “Is Mr L a young man, Mr M?”

In Mrs U's room, the light is on...

    In Mrs U’s room, the light is on, and, with the fan going, the curtain stirs in the languid air. Mrs U, her face fevered, has spittle from each corner of her mouth. Her breast shivers. There is a rattle near her heart, and every indication that she will die. She wakes, however, and shows it by the closing and smacking of her lips. Air whistles in her nostrils and croaks from her mouth. Her eyes open. Blindly, then they watch the ceiling fan, and the shadows it throws as it goes drunkenly around.

Cicadas sing inside the head of Mr L.

    On the front steps, the last light lost, cicadas sing inside the head of Mr L. He drinks from a six pack to fill the dark incision of madness that they make. “Oh,” he says, then sips. Mr L is fearful. He is waiting on devils and dead friends.

A black shape slips from the table into a frame of moonlight.

    …Going through the screen door to the kitchen, Mr L finds the landlady sitting in the dark. “Mr L,” she says. “Please, it’s such a hot night. There is beer in the fridge, join me. Princes and I were talking.” A black shape slips from the table into a frame of moonlight, startling Mr L.

The shadows were locked outside.

    There is a knock at the door. Mr L stiffens, holding in his breath. He counts to five, then relaxes. Finding the light, he flicks it on. The shadows are locked outside. Mr L, in old slippers, pads to the door and opens it…

    …He steps further into the hallway. “Mrs U,” he says. “Someone knocked. I was asleep.” Still smiling she turns her face to his room. “Yes,” she says, finally. “It was me.”

    Her hand, the one that she had trailed on the wall, now rises from the folds of her dressing gown and softly caresses the side of his face. The hand is cool and rough. When Mr L does not pull away, it lingers. “Yes,” says Mrs U, again. “It was me.” She follows Mr L into his room, closing the door behind her.

This entry was written by admin , posted on Wednesday July 06 2011at 06:07 pm , filed under Australian Art, Australian Artists, Brisbane Art, Brisbane Artists . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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