HOW COULD YOU FORGET YOUR YELLOW BIRD?

18 Sep

Outside of here, not far away, there’s a cluster of drunks on the stairs of a grand old building. They get together every day; eight in the morning sometimes.

This one guy’s the leader. King o’ the Dogs. Whoof! But what type guidance he gives I couldn’t say. King Dog has a bum leg, can’t bend his knee. I’ve seen him many a winter morning, hopping up La Trobe St. His head darting side-to-side like a lizard looking for breakfast. King Dog and his partner. They have a cask, a bottle, a can. Sundry others come into orbit, spinning away at various angles. Ruined comets from which no fire’s come for a long time now: just cold hard rocks. Cops drop on ’em, shoo ’em away. They always come back.

There’s a woman, only one. Call her Pink Tracks. Years of harsh bleach and bad nutrition’s made her hair a net of frayed and brittle yellow wire. Pink cotton track-suit getting greyer every day: she’s on the street. The King Dog’s arm’s always ’round her but sometimes it’s some other guy’s. Seems okay with everyone. I passed her once with one of these randoms. His arm ’round her in a way that brought to mind Nazi posters depicting African-Americans as apes. This particular dude looked Mongolian if that means anything. They came to a halt as I passed. She’d stopped and drawn away. The vibes all business now. ‘Drugs first’, she says, ‘I got to have the drugs, first‘.

Sometimes the group limps off somewhere together. I pass ’em crossing the street in tribal formation. King Dog having a good few yucks. His mouth’s open/shut convulsions like carnivorous plants that live on the sea-bed, only faster. His eyes, understand, his eyes always like a crocodile. The source of his mirth: his partner, his second-in-line-for-whatever. The guy’s standing tall over and right behind Pink Tracks. His index finger stabbing her airspace; his mouth a discharge of brutal vitriol. Her face is blank like a cat watching the evening news. Doesn’t hurt y’see. Her heart’s a long-time calloused little muscle.

Across town there’s a place I know where an old man works. We’ve had words, he and I. Something about me he doesn’t like. I’m not sure what, but every once in a while he bursts in on my cloud and hassles me for being alive. And when I look him in the eye, I want to know when it was the little boy who lived inside him died. Did the old man just let him starve? Did someone else, or something else, kill that boy? When it happened, did he notice?

Inside us all, so I’ve been told, there’s a spark of divine fire and it’s the only thing that’s really yours. Your body, your mind, your heart, your sex; your phone, your shoes, your fucking car – none of it! It ain’t really yours. But that fire, that ‘child’, that sacred… whatever within. That belongs to you. So these people. What gives? Did they sell it? Was it stolen? Crushed beneath a boot, walled up in the dungeon below the castle? What happened?

Don’t be distracted by King Dog’s desolation row scenario; he’s got the bottle, the cans, the cask and first thing every morning. That’s why he’s The Man. So maybe he sleeps rough but realize the old man’s owns a house in Glen Iris and still his eyes are windows to something that smells of mortality. And then there’s… well I call her Ratwoman. Might seem cruel to you but it’s a term of endearment, and accurate. She’s as rough as guts and truly doesn’t care what we think. Pees on the corner in the full glare of freeway-bound suburbanites.

Someone’s always ripping her off. Her shoes get stolen, her blanket. So she carries the blanket where-ever she goes wrapped ’round her like some Highland Woman when the Romans were a rumour. At night she has ferocious domestics with men who aren’t there and says things like: “I don’t wanna hear that kinda language in this house. Cunt!” It’s carved in her face; she’s had it hard, hard, hard!

She never asks for anything: no change, no cigarette. And I’ve never seen her be rude to anyone who didn’t bother her first. She who walks each day expecting nothing. Once in a while, she likes a busker. She’ll sit down wearing her blanket and her brave little smile. Suffering deepens the love for music and she knows the wheat from the chaff. If she likes a busker you’ll like a busker too.

If you do, you may look across at Ratwoman and meet her gaze. Her eyes are pale and they know the monstrous truth, but still it might surprise you to see how uncommon the kindness that comes forth…

Yellow Bird

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2 Responses to “HOW COULD YOU FORGET YOUR YELLOW BIRD?”

  1. AC Stewart June 12, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    To whoever read this today, thanks.

  2. The Gargarean July 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Your a very good writer, I know of these characters.

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