At 02:47 Derrick rolls over in bed, grasps Jude by the hand, and says, ‘I’ve got a business idea.’
Jude starts and lifts her eye mask. Derrick is breathless.
‘I want to run tours of Sydney’s craft breweries. I’ll drive people to the breweries and tell the story behind each beer.’
He’s recently turned forty.
‘Whatever you need,’ Jude says, terrified of losing him again, of loneliness like a strangling riptide.
Derrick sighs into her chest. Jude remembers being twenty when TV panels debated her Olympic prospects in the 200m butterfly and Derrick was her stable therapist.
At 04:50 she drives her usual commute to Ashfield Hospital and changes into green surgical scrubs.
On her break, Jude outsources salads from Louisa’s Deli and dines with upbeat Francis Corbett, who needs new heart valves. He reminds Jude of her grandfather, who raised her until she was twenty before a current at Whale Beach took him beyond resuscitation.
Corbett’s chances of longevity aren’t good. Ashfield buys porcine heart valves cheaply from a disease-ridden cage farm near Bathurst. If Corbett had private cover, she’d wheel him to St. Augustine’s where they import titanium valves from Munich.
Jude’s phone vibrates. It’s Derrick. He’s told his patients they’re cured and closed his practice. He’s at Hunter Holden considering vehicles for his new business venture. He wants her opinion.
When Jude arrives, Derrick’s running a hand over an opaque black van that looks like it should belong to a SWAT team. He can already see it emblazoned with the logo, Derrick’s Brewery Tours, and a phone number that people will call.
Jude suggests browsing the rest of the dealership. Derrick glares the same way he did when she denied him a motorcycle at thirty and he went off with a waitress from Doyles.
He buys the van.
Weeks go by and there are no brewery tours because there are no customers. Derrick parks the van on Epping Road to promote the business but beyond that doesn’t know what to do. Jude buys him a copy of Modern Marketing for Small Enterprise. Derrick leaves it by the toilet to read and never picks it up.
At Ashfield, there’s no surgery yet for Mr. Corbett due to a missing delivery from the Golden Bathurst Piggery. Corbett is sallow and instead of guffawing can only moan when Jude tells old jokes from Seinfeld.
He turns to her with a gaping mouth and she recalls her grandfather on the mortuary slab.
At 00:19 Jude skulks into St. Augustine’s and brokers a deal with a serpentine orderly: $1000 and a below-the-neck nude for clandestine supply of two titanium heart valves. She downloads a sordid picture from a Scandinavian website to pass off as her own, and the two circular prostheses are flawless.
Post surgery, Jude enjoys a cigarette out back of Ashfield. She considers the adaptability of the human heart and envisions a house where she could live alone. Perched defiantly on a headland above the sea.