Last Friday night, Andy, Clay and l met at the park on Old Maryborough Rd. We had organised the finer details of when and what to bring on the stifling bus home after school. Andy would bring the booze, Clay, the weed and I would bring the bong. Clay had even floated the idea of inviting Kim and Tracy but I wasn’t so keen on it. Girls always seemed to bring about trouble; sirens that somehow convince us to sell our souls and loyalty for a furtive hand job behind the toilets at the skate park.
In the dim light of the stairwell Olivia couldn’t make out just where she was. There was an amber gloom as the afternoon sunlight seeped through the orange glass side panels around the front door. Robert groped for one of those push-button light switches that leaves the bulb on for a couple of minutes. He said that his place was on the first floor. He grabbed her hand and cried, “Come on!” This was the first time that Olivia had been to his place, though he’d stayed over at hers a few times since they’d started going out. The rather musty air of the stairs persisted on the landing.
He was attempting to collect his thoughts, to remember why he’d ventured down this way, when he found her standing by the river. She stood with her back to him, staring out at the snake-brown water. Jake didn’t know where the woman was from, or where she was going. He’d never seen her before; yet there she was, lingering on his land as if doing so were the most natural thing in the world.
Wind chimes beat a frantic fractured metal sound, the music lost, against the noise of strained and flapping sun sails. Views to the south had been reduced to 10 meters from the usual 6 Nautical Miles. With a sudden darkening of rain clouds and a drop in temperature from 40 to 22 o C the southerly had arrived. It was early. It was always early. She had told him it would be early. Now all she could do was shut her fear at the thrashing palm trees and the bent branches of the Lilly Pilly as it actively invaded the much older avocado tree.
“This is fucked!” Damian said from the front seat. His hands gripped the wheel tightly and his muscles flexed. He had tattoos all the way up his arms with symbols from New Zealand. Out the front window of the car the headlights reflected off a thick wall of fog. You could only see the road for a car length then it disappeared and there was condensation all over the windows. “Remind me again, what’s so special about the Otways?” Mum didn’t answer; it must have been a rhetorical question. I poked the condensation on the window with my finger. It felt cold and wet.
When the Great Crabs come frothing from the ocean- angry and spitting - it’s Meeko who leaps upon them, shoving them into the rusted tin bucket.
He’s young though. Unpractised.
In the year of Our Lord, 1539, or thereabouts, in a small town in the centre of France, or thereabouts, three middle-aged men sat together in the corner of a tavern, in silence. They were Piers L'Hernault (more secular than religious), Onfroi Parsley (more religious than secular), and Gosse Barnard (majoritarian) – three of the twelve town councillors. When their council meeting began that morning, their town was Champs des Navets (Turnip Fields); controversially, when it ended, Saint Luc de la Chemise.
Bea, where are you? Your mum rang me a few months ago, out of the blue. It was great to hear from her. She told you me you’ve found yourself a new lover (your boss?!) and you’re no longer at your old address. She said you call sometimes when you have the money and you can find a phone. I hope next time you call she remembers to tell you I said hello. She said you’ve been living in your van for a while now, driving around the hills outside Barcelona and working the markets. So all those letters I sent you are sitting on the floorboards in the hall of someone else’s newly rented flat.