4 Apr

Sunday afternoon, still early enough in Autumn for the sun to break out late and make a difference. You can tell the season by looking at the lawn, if the sun’s shining and people are on it, it’s not summer.

The skanks hit the streets on Sunday afternoon, hungry. There’s the guy I don’t know what to call him. He’s short, compact, wiry. He has no lips, his mouth is like a faultline under pressure. He’ll sidle up to you, glares from the corners of his mean little eyes; says: ex-ccooose me… d’ya hava spare dollar? Translation: I hate you and want to tear your head off, pay me to go away. I never gave him shit, and I ain’t gonna. I don’t know what his story is but if you want to be free you must stand up to coercion with vigilance. And anyway, who owes him a fix.

Sunday morning I saw Ratwoman, you remember Ratwoman. I’d seen her Saturday morning and said hello. I’ve been meaning to a while now. She asked if I had 50 cents and I said maybe later. I had it, just didn’t know if I could spare it. Even tho’ I drink too much coffee.

So Sunday morning I give her a dollar. And there’s three early morning skanks. They have a bottle, some mixer. They’ve got a new pouch of tobacco. Must’ve scored some moolah. Big moolah to them, a trip to Woolworths and two plastic bags’ worth a goodies: 4 litres coloured sugar water and two types intoxicating substances with addictive qualities. Yeah they scored and big. I hope no-one was seriously hurt.

They have a new pouch still one of ’em asks me for a cigarette anyway. Habit I guess. I just shake my head firmly, no. Been doing it for years, stern, harsh, the stainless steel thick face you wear at street-level. Then they go over to Ratwoman.

I’m checking it out, what are they doing? Are they gonna hit her up for money? She’s a target for all of ’em. But she just leaves. Before, when I gave her the dollar, I saw her hand shaking. Parkinson’s? The cold? Such big blue eyes, wise and kind and forever glazed over. I gave her a dollar, so what? How does someone end up like this? I can guess I’ve seen the smudgy, artless home tats on her arms. Inept pictures of who knows what from early in the Collingwood 70s. The days of the Blue Collar Stampede to the heavy metal thunder and gunga vibe. They dropped acid and saw Ragnarok.

Ah she’s got the mullet and the very contemporary chemical creases from her eyes down the worn-leather flesh of her face, framing the mouth that still somehow resists the entropy that drags it down to the comfortable slackness of permanent bitterness. Goodbye Ratwoman, ’til we see each other again. Don’t ask for change next time. Let’s just talk.

Well I’m alright Jack, tho’ I don’t know it half the time. What a whingy white boy shit I am. But still stiff upper-lip’d, it all happens on the inside. Sunday was good, shit doesn’t get to me anymore. Sunday afternoon I go for a long walk and end up on a bench discussing politics with a young dude. Night has fallen.


He thinks over-population is The Problem. He advocates a strong state to handle the problem. But then he also sees that the solution to the energy problem is a free market (?). he doesn’t like labels, he likes Socialist Iconography. He believes in the re-assertion of tradition. He knows there’s a good chance a war is coming. He doesn’t understand how people can back Israel’s actions.

We click, we talk for quite a while. He’s writin’ stuff down, Michael Oakeshott’s “Rationalism in Politics”, Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom. But we talk Marx and Nietzsche. And Machiavelli. And how you can’t hold Israel’s actions against them but how it’s still fubar anyway. That’s what I think, I don’t think he agrees.

Then this guy approaches, in ordinary street-wear. Instinctively I harden my face. It’s Sunday night, and they hit the streets in the afternoon. Sometimes it takes ages to get what they want. This guy he doesn’t look like he’s on the streets but not all of ’em do. And he’s got hunger in his eyes.

Now when he rocks up my new friend and I’ve just got to the Subject. We’ve done that ‘click’ thing both realizing significant encounter, maybe. And this dude shows up, I think he’s intruding so I give him my thick face. But he’s known to my young companion and I do the cordial acceptance thing and turn back into the conversation. In this town, you wanna be included in the discussion you’ve gotta be a contender. You have to impress.

In other words we’re all stuck-up arseholes.

We were talking tradition. So I’ve got my art out, it’s about tradition after all. And my friend’s not all that impressed but the new dude… He flips out! He’s really into it. I haven’t had a fan for a while, not for my drawings. And some have seen it and aren’t much impressed. So I felt the warm buzz inside…

Oh but he needed help. This city’s harsh. The guy’s come all the way from the states to drink latte with Disappointment. I don’t know what. We didn’t get to that. He needed help and I couldn’t give. Yet.


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