Sydney 1995

The photo takes up less than one-eighth of the magazine page but fills my vision and rocks my fifteen year-old world: a shirtless man in charcoal leather pants. Dark curls hanging over his forehead, a look in his eyes that makes all my muscles contract.

Above the photo it says, ‘Jim Morrison of The Doors.’

Below the photo it says: ‘Reminder: the only man who could ever get away with leather pants has been dead for years.’

In the space of thirty seconds I’ve gone from being bored to horny to a tragic figure whose only true love is dead.

Within a week, I’m an expert on Jim Morrison and The Doors. Within a month, my room is a shrine: Jim posters on every wall, Jim’s poetry books scattered across the floor and Jim’s voice coming from my tape deck every moment. I write quotes of his all over my school bag and books, all over my arms and legs.

My friends quickly tire of my obsession. One tells me I should talk to her dad since he loves old- fashioned soft rock too. I am furious. I’m not into soft rock. This is bigger than the music. This is a profound connection. A meeting of minds and souls across time and space and…

Even as I’m saying it I know I’m a fraud. What I care about, what I am literally losing sleep over, are those goddamn snake hips in those goddamn leather pants. My passion for Jim’s drug-induced philosophical poetry is fake; my grief, though, is real:

I will never get to fuck this guy.

This is the condition I am in when Joseph slinks into my life. Hair longer than mine, black eyes, the beef jerky physique and haughty demeanour of a late sixties rock star. Joseph breaks into houses and shops and, one time, our school’s front office. He’s poorer than anyone I know but he doesn’t keep the things he steals, just smashes them on the street outside.

At parties, he nods at me and I follow him to the nearest dark corner, leaving my friends mid-sentence. One rainy night, he sneaks into my room, soaked to the bone, strips off as though we aren’t fifteen and my parents aren’t a scream away. It takes me some time to notice his calf is ripped open. Guard dog, he grunts, falling on to my bed.

It’s midnight and the rain is pounding and his blood is seeping through my sheet, soaking into the mattress and I lie beside him and say This is like a Doors