VISIBLE DETAILS OF THE SCENE
When I reached the supermarket, an electrical pole stood burning near the parking lot. Firemen shot water at it while one of them gabbed with a policeman. I asked a security guard, whom I found watching, what had happened and he just reported the visible details of the scene.
“That electrical pole has caught fire,” he said, “Firemen have started spraying water on to it. A policeman stands next to them.” Continue reading
In my area, the city council empties the rubbish bins once a week. We wheel them out to the road; the City of Monash empties them; we wheel them back to our houses and spend the rest of the week filling them up with hotdog packets. Then we repeat the cycle.
My neighbors paint their apartment numbers on their bins. That way they can make sure that each week they wheel out the same bin that they wheeled out the previous week. They have a history with their rubbish bin. Continue reading
TAKEN FOR A RIDE
Royce Millar and Clay Lucas (The Age, January 2011)
Somewhere between Caulfield and Clayton a drunk whom the whole train watched brought his fist, without warning, down on top of the skull of a teenager sitting beside him. While the kid grabbed his head, the drunk turned towards the dumbfounded gentleman next to him and giggled that no other way existed to deal with an Asian.
At the blow, I stood at the other end of the carriage. It took me at least five seconds to barge in, plenty long enough for any of the onlookers to collect their wits and confront him. But no one did. Continue reading
THE FILING CABINET OF DOOM
Swan, Madeleine (Burning Bulb Publishing, July 2013, ISBN 9780692245200)
I got the Murder Cabinet at Vincent Raux Second-hand Furniture on Clayton Road. Inside the shop it looked like any other sheet metal filing cabinet. It had four working drawers, less rust than the Carpentaria, and smelled no worse than the shop itself. They kept it against a wall. That should’ve tipped me off. I didn’t behold the stain until I got it home.
A wide, blotchy stain streaked down the back. Thickest and blackest at the bottom, it thinned into a carmine cracklature at the top. As Colin expressed it, you could never quite convince yourself you looked at something other than blood. From another room you could laugh that your imagination must’ve got the better of you, that next time when you looked, you would just see brown paint. But when you got there, you couldn’t shake the impression that you saw blood. Continue reading
POLICING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: AN ENVIRONMENTAL AND PROCEDURAL EVALUATION OF BUS STOPS
Kooi, Brandon R. (LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2007, series: “Criminal Justice: Recent Scholarship”, ISBN 9781593321468)
One day, some transport minister may decide to give up his car for a year so he can experience the reality of relying on public transport. Unless he and all his mistresses live on a train line, he will sit in a lot of bus stops. Some of these, like the ones in Clayton, will follow the old-fashioned, comfortable design of an ass-width plank with either a straight backrest or one arched to match the human spine. Some others, like the unenclosed seats in Mt. Waverley, leave out the backrest, which does no harm. But if the minister rides out to Oakleigh, his backside will discover special pain benches that replace the backrest with a thick horizontal pole at scapula height.
The benches themselves arch downwards to stop you from trying to perch at the front edge away from the pole. They measure twenty-eight centimetres deep, but the pole overhangs them by twelve centimetres. Continue reading
BOOK OF EXODUS
Chapter 21 (Holy Bible, ISBN for example 9780060649234)
Without any warning, my neighbour put three poodles in his yard. He went from none to three in a single black afternoon. After that he paid them little attention. As far as you could tell, they never left the yard. From morning until night they bombarded the neighbourhood with shrill barrages of barking that tore your concentration in two. They’d cease just long enough to let you collect your thoughts back together before shattering them again with the next barrage.
When home, their owner would bawl at them to shut up from behind his screen door. On other evenings, enraged neighbours assumed the role. It seemed like just a matter of time before some neighbour rationalised euthanizing them with poisoned meatballs. Continue reading
THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
Thompson, Francis (Branden Pub Co; 2011, ISBN 9780828314404)
Mr. Gangjeon operates Lairds Pharmacy on Centre Road in Clayton. Three doors up, a rival pharmacy ply their trade at number 1310.
Mr. Gangjeon’s rival participates in a methadone maintenance program. Mr. Gangjeon does not. On methadone day, his rival often closes early without giving warning. By this simple expedient, they bring a terrible weapon to bear against him. Continue reading
From my backyard in the middle of the night, I can see the cars on North Road whipping past gum trees while five other backyards sleep in silence. In one of them, my neighbour Chen has two identical woollen yellow sweaters drying on his clothesline. Chen has spaced them out so they fill the space, leaving a gap to either side the same width as the space between them. They have crisp black V-necks and no creases or sun bleaching, floating there in a sliver of lamplight in the middle of the night.
REMAINS TO BE SEEN: TRACING JOE HILL’S ASHES IN NEW ZEALAND
Davidson, Jared (Rebel, 2011. ISBN 9780473189273)
In a bum one sees the mystery of how he got there. Seasick Steve ran away from home. Joe Hill fell into the Great Depression. Ours came from a tatterdemalion public library on Cooke Street, where he’d spent the morning chroming petrol from a lemonade bottle. Whomever they’d sent to pick him up hadn’t arrived, so we offered him a lift home in Colin‘s Subaru.
The bum lived in a shelter on a street he pronounced, “flighnay!” Continue reading
Dir. Tony Scott Perf. Tom Cruise and Tim Robbins. Paramount Pictures, 1986 Film.
At Yolande’s insistence, a hairdresser shaved my beard in 2009. This shows what I looked like beforehand:
HOME INSULATION PROGRAM
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (ANAO Audit Report No.12 2010–11; Commonwealth of Australia, 2010; ISBN 0642811563)
When Labor spun open its home insulation subsidy in 2009, a thousand insulation dingoes all across the country started fighting to get their muzzles under the spigot.
When the first one phoned, I explained that I already had grey insulating powder in the crawlspace. When their tradesman came, he found I had too much grey insulating powder to qualify for the subsidy. Continue reading
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Miller, Arthur (Book Club Edition, Viking, 1949; ISBN (1958 edition) 9786700003299)
Timeworn novels and films have left many of us with the rather outdated image of the door-to-door salesperson as a fast-talking cracker in a suit carrying a vacuum cleaner. “Pardon me, madam. I’ve come from Suction King to demonstrate the unmatched effectiveness of our affordable new Super-Vac, which retails for just 29.99”.
In contrast, the solemn modern energy vendor turns up to your door in shirtsleeves. Sometimes he has a speechless trainee with him who just watches as he runs through his routine. He never looks older than twenty-five. More often than not, he confers the impression of having held the job himself for less than a month. He seems uneasy. You’d swap over to his syndicate out of simple sympathy, but he opens his spiel by telling you that he’s come because they’ve discovered that your energy retailer overcharges you for electricity. As if they’d detected an emergency up at Electricity Headquarters and dispatched him to respond to it. “My God, a household in Clayton overpays for its electricity. Send our best man at once.” Continue reading