Cracker by Damian Christie


Okay, so I got a few stories from you eventually, and the results are interesting. Out of 10 contributions, two are about masturbation, a few involve illegal activities and one has a papier-mache volcano. Pretty much what I expected.

I'll print five today, and the rest early next week. One has been withdrawn for legal reasons, namely an outstanding Federal Warrant in the US.

If you think you can do better, it's not too late. Book prizes include the critically acclaimed Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, a great little book called The Meaning of Tingo and for the more edu-ma-cated amongst you, Noam Chomsky's Imperial Ambitions – conversations with Noam on the post 9-11 world.

So here are the stories, largely unmolested by me, save for the odd glaring spelling mistake.

Vote for your winner from each bunch. (The crap headings are mine by the way. It's late and that part of the brain that comes up with bad puns has shut down.)

by Vanessa

I was boarding a train in Amsterdam going to the airport, on a Friday afternoon. These trains are beautiful, clean and on time - often to the second. Some of them are also double deckers, so I made for the top empty carriage and spread out..

Then I remembered I had bought two intricate little woollen scarves that day - one blue, one white... they were a steal at 4 euros but way too small to wear - even to to flip once round the neck.. It was a rare purchase that was deemed useless even at the till - and I was thinking this as I pulled them from their bag and examined them again. I barely noticed the dude who sat to my right, across the aisle by the other window... and I kept battling with my irrelevant scarves... stretching them out and thinking - who would make them this small ? are they really scarves ? could i put them on a cat ? and force the cat to sit in a pram?

As I do this I hear a sound coming from the dude. It's not a typical travelling sound. It takes a few seconds to realise that this sound can only be one thing.

So I look over to see I have indeed apparently stumbled into his bedroom and he's busy - cock completely out, giving it a fairly rigorous wanking, as if that's what most people do, get on the train, send a few texts, jerk one off, and read the paper.

I didn't stay for the finale... just moved downstairs and tried not to touch any doorhandles.

That was last month, and I still haven't done anything with those stupid scarves.

by Jen

Back in 1999, I decided to order a special "Year 2000" LCD light-up T-shirt from hideous London trance-den Cyberdog for the Millennium Gathering on Takaka Hill. Come New Year's Eve, I spent a good 15 minutes wiring it up in my tent, ensuring all the wires at the back were connected in the right order and the timer was set to the right time for liftoff, so that the display would impress and astound all around with its awesome LCD countdown.

Fast forward to witching hour, and I was jigging my arse off (being filmed dancing extremely badly by TV3 as I recall), with my T-shirt revving up for the countdown with a rather excellent "59 down to 0" sequence - waiting for the midnight hour when my cybertastic T-shirt would go mental and flash '2000' in glorious technicolor to the wonder of all surrounding me.

At two minutes to 12 I noticed a young raver looking forlornly on. He was wearing the exact same shirt - except he'd omitted to take the time to connect the wires correctly. All his flashed was "76... 76... 76...".

(Buying an LCD-display Millennium T-shirt: £50. Seeing the look on that young man's face: priceless.)

by Rohani

So when I was five we had this cat, Cadbury – we called him that cos he was black but with brown bits and we wanted to be a bit more inventive than blackie, sooty, milo, other chocolate references, etc. I suspect these days we’d have intellectual property lawyers on our case.

Anyway Cadbury would’ve been about a year old at this time, little did we all know he only had three more years of life before becoming a smush on the road up the hill. But I can say with certainty had I known he’d be smushed on the road three years later I wouldn’t have acted any differently for this story.

My older sister and I were playing with Cadbury in the lounge one day and in the lounge we had these big cushions, about a metre square, that we used to lie on in front of the TV. Dad was sitting in his chair and as we frolicked he said from behind his newspaper, ‘Did you know cats always land on their feet?’ and we said ooh, really and he said ‘yes, you can drop a cat from anywhere and it’ll always land on its feet’. So we tested the theory by dumping Cadbury from a small height onto a pile of our big cushions and it was really true.

A few days later, returning from my gymnastics class, I was out of the car before my mum and sister. I saw Cadbury as I got out of the car and chased him up our back steps to pick him up for a cuddle. Nobody was around. I peered over the rail of the steps to our back door – two storeys up. I patted Cadbury and said his name soothingly as I tipped him over the rail to see if he would land on his feet. Cadbury held on. For dear life. To my arm. In cartoon fashion, as I screamed the neighbourhood down, Cadbury’s claws made trails down my arm as he slid down it before finally dropping to the ground. His teeth made little punctures near my hand. As he fell Dad made it to the back door and opened it to find me standing there in my leotard in hysterics.

Now I don’t recall actually telling anyone then and there or even after any version of what happened. Cadbury scarpered, hid under the car with all the noise and was the recipient of a smack for his actions. A sign went up above my nine year old sister’s bed, ‘Cats are people too’. I was shipped off to the doctor and had to endure several days of band aid changes all along my arm and hand. The official version somehow became that I had seen Cadbury fighting and stuck my arm between the two cats to break them up.

More than 10 years later, in fact closer to 15 years later, the family sat round the dinner table and for some reason was discussing the Cadbury incident. Mum mentioned something about trying to break up a fight. It was the first time I’d heard this explanation in a long while. ‘That’s not what happened!’ I said. ‘I dropped him off the deck!’ Horror ensued. More family members were told. I was laughed at. I still get laughed at.

And yes, he landed on his feet.

by Emma

So, once upon a time... there was this friend of mine I'm going to, for a number of reasons, refer to as Alex. None of the reasons is "because that's his name". Alex had this homicidally jealous girlfriend, whom I shall call Kristen. Because that was her name.

At this point, I shall mention that I'll be talking about things that I wasn't actually there for, in which case the events were related to me by Alex. For instance, Alex's mother didn't much like Kristen, and used to tell her interesting things like how I was pretty and nice and had very large breasts. Alex told me this.

Aaaanywho... there was this night that Alex and I and another friend decided to settle at my place for drinkies for the evening. We drove out to Alex's to pick up some stuff, including a change of clothes so he could drive back home in the morning when he was sober. We invented a bloody nice cocktail and after a few drinks, we decided that Alex would collect the massage I owed him. This was pretty normal behaviour in our little 'group' at the time, a lot of non-sexual touching that probably wasn't sublimating for anything. No, really, given the amount of sexual touching going on as well.

While we were doing that, our other friend disappeared. (Okay, yeah, we didn't notice for a good ten minutes.) We decided, in that drunken way you do, to go look for him. We couldn't, however, find Alex's shirt, so he wore one of mine. It had red roses embroidered down the front.

We searched my flat thoroughly, including the places where we'd lost people in the past, like the ceiling and the large kitchen cupboard. Then we went to this guy's house, but he wasn't there either. We ended up at another friend's flat up the road.


Kristen rang Alex's place. Alex's mum cheerily told her where he was and what he was doing. The vengeful fury descended. Walking straight into my flat, she found Alex's bag in the lounge, with clothes in it. She grabbed all his stuff and threw it off the balcony of my flat into the driveway. Then she stormed down the hall and burst into my bedroom.
Which was empty. Except for that shirt of Alex's we couldn't find, all tangled up in the sheets on my bed. Devastated, she fled to a friend's flat to cry on her shoulder.

As the great god Co-incidence would have it, Kristen's friend's flat was downstairs from the one Alex and I were in. On the way in, Kristen happened to hear what she described as "that woman's inane cackle". She went straight up, and found Alex, drunk, wearing my shirt, smoking my cigarettes. He'd made her give up smoking. I think at that stage we'd found a wire coathanger and we were doing Joan Crawford impressions.

Well. He went home with her. I'm buggered if I know how he talked her down, but he did. He even dragged her back to the flat the next day to 'socialise'. She used to check his clothes for my hairs. Alex and I have the same colour hair. Once he drove me home and we were sitting in the driveway talking when she drove up behind us and shone her headlights into the car until I got out.

Finally, he dumped her. And went out with someone else, which pissed me off no end.

by Anthea

My granddad, being a WWII veteran, was heavily involved in the local RSA. Being in the engineering corps during the war, and also being a very talented artist, he was the ideal choice to build the RSA's float in the annual Henderson Christmas parade. Or so you would think.

The theme was an Auckland Christmas. So my Granddad came up with the idea to build huge volcano, reminiscent of Rangitoto complete with papier-mâché pohutakawas, yachts sweeping past in the ocean, seagulls etc. It took a month or so of hard work each weekend, but eventually the chicken wire, newspaper, glue and wood creation was complete. Being somewhat on the dramatic side, granddad decided that the volcano could be improved by adding a realistic eruptions and lava. Pyroclastic flows were ruled out as being too technically difficult to simulate. So in the end he was persuaded to a more traditional molten magma effect.

Various feverish experiments were conducted with blow torches and paint etc, but it was decided in the end that the easiest way to proceed was with fireworks. Someone would be crouched in the bowels of the volcano, and would push them up through the crater top to simulate an eruption. Periodically, small cans of red paint would be surreptitiously poured down the side to suggest red hot magma. Must be due to his experiences during the war, but Granddad didn’t feel at all uneasy about this volatile mix and was rather dismissive of the potential dangers.

I was a wee girl at the time, but even I remember being just a little scared of Granddad’s backyard volcano. Turns out I had great instincts.

On the day of the Christmas parade, it was warm, sunny and windy. Granddad, funnily enough, couldn’t find any volunteers, so he crawled through the little hatch in the side of the volcano and dragged his box of special effect tricks through after him. At the last minute he succumbed to pressure from my Grandma and Dad, and agreed to wear a welding glove and goggles to hold the fireworks up with.

At first, everything went spectacularly well. The fireworks provided just the right amount of wow factor, and the magma was, well, painty but had a pleasing effect. Many people exclaimed afterwards how it was the best float of the entire parade until the unfortunate accident.

Just on half way through the parade, the volcano suddenly seemed to give off a very realistic smouldering smoke, which everyone ooed and aahed over. Then came a small lick or two of fire, which apparently was only seen for a few short seconds before the volcano was engulfed in flames and fireworks starting shooting out in all directions, punching through the side of the papier-mâché mountain, in a scene eerily reminiscent of Mt St Helens. The crowds of families scattered, causing a mild stampede, which added a realistic touch as if they were witnessing an actual volcanic eruption. For those who didn’t have their back to the volcano, fleeing for their lives, they would’ve seen my Granddad, crashing through the side of the mountain, goggles akimbo, beating off the flames before the entire float was engulfed. Not so much towering inferno, but definitely a low level minor 70’s disaster flick all the same.

The crowds were then treated to a display of the local fire truck, complete with Santa on board, charging up through the parade from the rear, scattering other floats, marching girls, and boy scout troops, to put out the fire and my Granddad.

My Granddad was a little charred in places, but otherwise fine. He was never again asked to do the Christmas parade float.