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Bill In Bloom, by Monique Cocca

I used to know this guy. He had one of those unisex names, like Taylor, or Regan, or Alex. His name was Bill. Bill had large, strong hands, hands that looked like they could row a boat or shear a sheep...

 

I used to know this guy. He had one of those unisex names, like Taylor, or Regan, or Alex. His name was Bill. Bill had large, strong hands, hands that looked like they could row a boat or shear a sheep. But Bill’s hands were always wrapped around skinny pens, or hovering over laptop keyboards.

Bill was an investment banker, and this was no accident: Bill wanted to make money. Lots of money. Bill dreamed of yachts and expensive champagne, and fast cars on winding roads. Bill was also a talented musician, but he’d always viewed music as something to do when he was older, richer and more indulgent. 

Bill was bored. He hunched each working day inside a tiny windowless box crunching numbers, and his only reprieve was to run out of his office to the gym across the road in his lunchbreaks. The hot receptionist was also a happy distraction from his monotony. Bill worked hard and did the job well, but he couldn’t escape the truth: his career was going nowhere. 

Bill took a leap of faith, moved to Melbourne, and got another investment banking job. This was unfortunate for the hot receptionist, as they were in the midst of a rather intense love affair, which died a painful death not long after Bill left. Bill was okay with that though, because he got a new girlfriend remarkably fast, and a career change to keep him busy. Through his growing pool of contacts (Bill was a charismatic, good-looking fellow) he got a new job in recruiting. Changing careers was scary for him, but moving to Melbourne had given him more confidence than he’d ever had before. So again, Bill leapt.

Bill kicked arse in recruiting. In a year he’d earned more income for his company than any other employee ever had. He earned a shit-load of money of his own, and had the admiration of everyone in his field. 

But Bill wanted more. Bill wanted to be extraordinary. 

Through his ever-growing pool of contacts, Bill started an internet company that helped people with their careers. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was successful, and gave Bill a source of income that pretty much earned itself. In the years that followed, Bill started up another internet based company, which was even more successful than the last. He took on other projects, helping like-minded professionals to become successful in their careers, and earning a tidy profit for himself in the process. 

At the age of thirty-five Bill had succeeded. He owned a townhouse in St Ives and a winery in Yarra Valley. He had a beautiful girlfriend and an engagement ring in his pocket. He had a yacht, a cellar filled with over-priced champagne, and a car that went so fast it got him more excited than any woman ever had: Bill had it all. 

But when Bill looked in the mirror he saw a tinge of grey in his face that he’d never noticed before. His hair was gone and he didn’t laugh like he used to. Bill knew something was missing. 

Bill started thinking about the hot receptionist. Bill had always had the belief, lurking deep down in his belly, that they would end up together one day. He was surprised that she hadn’t been the destiny he’d always imagined. After one fine evening of frivolity and wine with guests that shone and tinkled like bells, Bill sat on the front porch overlooking his vineyards and came to a decision: he was going to find the hot receptionist.

Bill flew to Adelaide the next day, much to the alarm of his beautiful girlfriend. He told her he had a meeting and was surprised to find the lie didn’t bother him at all. While two businessmen on either side of him tapped furiously at their laptops, Bill stared out of the window with an ethereal smile, imagining the reunion to come. He knew the hot receptionist would be so proud of what he’d accomplished. He would see her smile and his chest would fill to bursting. 

Bill arrived in the hot desert winds of Adelaide. He googled, phoned, and emailed for three days. Bill did not find the hot receptionist, but he did find her mother, who smugly informed him that his girl had gotten married three years ago, moving to Sydney with her husband and their two children. The hot receptionist’s mother took great pleasure in explaining to Bill that the new husband was in fact that ABC journalist. The one who was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize, among other things. 

Fate had shit on Bill’s perfect world. He took his broken heart to the Adelaide hills, nursing a mug of congealing coffee in his large, fluttering hands. Bill sipped and shook and wondered what the hell was wrong with him for five straight months. He thought he was having a nervous breakdown but was too embarrassed to give the theory any real consideration. Bill’s investments took a turn and his websites were flailing in a rapidly changing marketplace. Bill was running out of cash, and his beautiful girlfriend was long gone. But Bill’s only concern was immediate needs, like expensive red wine and Foxtel access. 

Bill sat and listened to the wind rushing through the treetops. The faint rapping of leaves against one another sounded like childish applause. Bill heard a distant rhythm and began tapping his feet; he started to hum a little. The next day Bill bought a piano.

Bill started small, with a notebook and a WEA course in music technology. He began giving the local school kids music lessons. Bill sat at the piano on his back veranda and started writing songs, and as time went by his talent grew and bloomed like ink spilling across a page. Bill released an album and it was good. Not so good to send him spiralling into another whirlwind career, but good enough to fuel his passion and his confidence. 

Bill fell in love with a woman who served him the best coffee he’d ever tasted. She didn’t have the heart to tell him it was her business partner who made the coffee; she just bought it out on a little tray. Bill married the coffee-serving woman; she was beautiful and bright and quick to laugh, and even quicker to give him children. They had three girls and a house full of music. They had happiness.

I think of Bill now. His hands full of things that thrum and move. Drumsticks, mixing decks, guitar strings, microphones, running shoes, steering wheels, doorhandles, cricket balls.

I look down at my own hands, tiny in comparison. And I know that someday they will hold something bigger than I’ve ever known. 

And they’ll be full.

 

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