Based in Sydney, Australia
15 September, 2014
Dead Horse Beach is just around the corner from where I grew up. It's well known that it's a hotspot for homeless people. They're mostly harmless, many of them too proud to even ask for spare change. It must be hard for them, to live right next to the million dollar yachts, watching the happy families spend their weekends together. When they catch a wallaby or a kangaroo, you can see the smoke plume from my old house, as they roast it over an oil drum. I first heard about Funeral Jack in the Australian summer of 2001. Funeral Jack was a story told by older kids who smoked and drank and knew girls who lived near beaches with names like Avoca and Hawksnest. The story went that he'd caught myxomatosis from eating wild rabbits. He was the first human to contract the disease. The flesh on his face had started to rot. The department of health and safety was after him, but if it was your job to catch him, would you really want to get near him? Jack wore a black suit and tie, and a white mask to cover his face. An older kid called Rogey had claimed to have coined the phrase Funeral Jack, because he dressed like he was going to a funeral. His story, which he told anyone that would listen, was that he was hiding in an old boatshed, trying to smoke a few quiet bongs, when he heard someone coming. Paranoid and high and eyes as red as the sun, he made a run for it, assuming it would be the cops. In his haste and general highness, he ran along the shoreline and ended his hot pursuit under a tree at Dead Horse Beach. Hours passed in what felt like minutes. It had been potent weed that season. As the sun went behind the mountains and the Hawksbury River began to turn a dark purple, the Rogue picked himself up by the bootstraps, collected his homemade bong fashioned from an Orchy bottle and hose stolen from Mr and Mrs Vanton's house. The tide had come in and he was walking through the scrub, where he came face to face with Funeral Jack, his mask in his hand and the rotting flesh hanging from his face and tumors seeping puss.
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