It was a quiet afternoon in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Quieter than it would have been any other year, but since the pandemic started things have significantly changed. There was literally no one on the streets, as most people were following the lockdown rules, while others were just terrified of the mystery disease. The quiet beachfront was slightly lit by the street lights as the ocean breeze gently cooled off the air with a touch of salt. Even the waves were somehow affected by the lack of surfers in the water, as they pounded on the sand considerately, as if not to create too much interruption. James and Will walked along the promenade, pretending to be exercising just in case the COVID rangers would pass by.
“Mate, I just had enough of this stupid lockdown, I’m telling you. Stuck at home all day, can’t go to the pub as they are all shut down. Man this sucks so much”, James shook his head in disbelief.
“I hear you mate, I can’t take it anymore either. No footy, nothing to watch on TV, luckily the bottle shops are still open, otherwise we would never survive”. WIll put his hand on his friend’s shoulder, exposing a frustrated smile.
“You’re right about that”, laughed James as he swung a bottle of beer in his right hand. “Luckily they are considered ‘essential services’, right?”.
“Damn right they are!”. Will sniffled his nose and for a moment he was nervous about having one of the common Covid symptoms.
“Hey mate, how’s your mother doing? Is she alright?”.
“No, not really, she’s actually in a pretty bad shape, mate.” James’ voice was a little choked all of a sudden. “She needs a surgery and because of this fuck’n coronavirus they had to push it back a couple of times now”.
“Oh, that sucks. I’m sorry to hear that, mate”. Will wanted to ask if there was anything he can do to help, but he knew all he could do was to stand beside his friend and show some support.
James knew that as well. “Cheers man. She’ll be alright, mum’s a fighter. She never gives up”.
They kept walking in silence for a few moments, when all of a sudden they noticed someone was walking towards them, keeping the recommended distance of a meter and a half away. It was a young man, average height, dark hair. He gave them a smile and a slight nod as he said “G’day”. James raised his head and noted he had an Asian look. “What did you say?” he called out in anger.
“I said G’day”, the guy responded in a very calm voice. “How you going mate?”
James looked at Will with his eyes wide open in complete disbelief. “Did you hear that? He said ‘G’day’. The fuc*’n immigrant is using Aussie slang”.
“Right, where did you learn to speak like that, ha?” Will was determined to get to the bottom of this. “Do you know any other words in English? You bat-eater”, he chuckled and was ready to high-five with his mate.
But James was already on his front foot. “Hey, why don’t you go back to your country, Corona-man”.
“This is my country, I was born in Australia”, the guy responded. “I’m Jason by the way, and for what it’s worth, I actually grew up right here in Sydney”.
“That actually doesn’t worth much, you frickin Feng Shui. It doesn’t make you Australian, does it?” Will raised his voice and looked at James for confirmation.
“Hell no”, James was quick to validate. “Look at yourself, you prick”, he pointed at Jason, “You brought the chinese-virus over here you stupid, because of you and your people, we have to stay in lockdown for so long you motherfu**er”.
“And I just lost my job because of you! We don’t see guys like you lining up at Centrelink… you must be one of those crazy rich Asians, right?”
Their voices got louder and louder, but there was nobody else around. It was only the three of them on that stranded beachfront, with only a dumpling shaped half moon watching from above in distress. James took a step closer.
“Damn you and your Asian family, I bet you got properties all over Sydney, don’t you? Because of people like you, the property market keeps skyrocketing, and Aussies like us who grew up here can’t afford to buy a house!”. There was so much anger in his voice, as he was pointing his finger at Jason, who gently raised his arms and tried to calm them down.
“As I said, brother, I also grew up here, and I’m going to Uni now and struggling to rent a place just like everybody else”. His smile was kind and friendly, and you could tell by his body language that he’s ready to move on and just forget all about this episode. He leaned forward, just about to take a step.
“Did you just call me ‘brother’” James roared in outrage, “I ain’t your brother and ain’t your mate. You ‘immigrants’ fill up all the unis in Australia with your chinese money… you and your lot, you’re taking all our jobs away…”
“Yeah, we don’t want you here ‘bro’, go back to China”. Will was doing an imitation of Trump, clearly pointing out his political agenda.
“I bet you’ve never done anything good for our country”, James was decisive, “and you will never do. You’re a chinese spy!”. They took another step closer, breaching the social distancing rules.
Jason took a step back. “Hey guys, please calm down, I’m just on my way to get some groceries for my parents and my grandma. They can’t really leave the house, they’re too old and it’s too risky for them to get infected. So if you’ll excuse me, I shall get going now.” He turned around and took a step away from them as he shook his head in disbelief.
James was staring at Will. “Fu*k man, three generations of noodle-suckers. What’s wrong with this country?”
“We should have stopped the boats ages ago…”. They both jumped forward and surrounded Jason. “OK guys, I really don’t wanna get into any trouble right now. So I’m just gonna go and let’s just forget about this, alright?”.
“You’re not going anywhere asshole”, James pushed Jason.
“You’re already in trouble”, Will grabbed his shirt and gave him a punch in the head. Jason immediately fell to the ground as the two men kept punching and kicking their prey. He had no chance against these ferals as they kept going on and on for minutes. When the groaning finally stopped, Will eventually said “that’s it man, let’s get out of here” as he had to pull James back before they ran off like ferocious hyenas.