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
NEW CYCLIST HANDBOOK
Hewitt, Ben (editor; Rodale Books, November 2005, ISBN 9781594863004)
Winter found me cycling down a service road on the Princes Highway, in the calm of the middle of the night, when two men leapt out of their car and chased after me on foot.
“Oi!” yelled one, “Oi! Stop you bastard!” Continue reading
A SCANNER DARKLY
Dick, Philip K. (Doubleday, 1977, ISBN 0385016131)
My grandfather bought the Volkswagen in 1968. He imported it direct from Germany and shifted the steering column over to the right-hand side.
A year later man set foot on the moon. Continue reading
THE HIGH COST OF FREE PARKING
Shoup, Donald (APA Planners Press; Updated edition, June 21, 2011, ISBN 9781932364965)
When I pulled up outside Avi’s, a man ran out of his apartment to watch me park. He wore a singlet tucked into a pair of yellow slacks. He had his hands up. While I reversed in, he hurled anxious glances back and forth between the front and back of my car.
This makes it harder to park. 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
BOOK OF SAMUEL 1
Chapter 17 (Holy Bible, ISBN for example 9780060649234)
A few days after Scott started housesitting at a penthouse apartment on Exhibition Street, a mob of us went around to visit him. An ancient tomcat lived in the laundry room. I remember it as Old Pukey. According to Scott, if anything startled it, it could vomit, and anything might startle it.
Old Pukey’s fur had started to fall out in patches. When it tried to purr, it made this awful gulping noise that sounded like it trying to clear its throat and not quite managing it. Continue reading
Sinclair Lewis (Bantam Classics, ISBN 978-0553214864)
Clayton’s households divide into two genera: proletarian families (and students) who accept Clayton’s wonderful seediness and property-amassing twenty-first-century Babbitts who resent it.
Amongst the latter, Bill Pontikis stands out for his efforts to assemble Clayton’s residents and businesses into a community. As one who has experienced Mr. Pontikis in person – sometimes at distances as little as five feet, I must conclude that rather than acting from any humanitarian motive, he simply wishes to enlarge the opportunities for commercial rapine. Nonetheless, the fact remains that unlike the majority of Clayton’s other petty napoleons, Pontikis has shown himself willing to take a hand in civic life. Continue reading