I love digging around through hard drives crammed with things forgotten.
For some reason or other in 2004 over a three hour period I recall sitting in the St. Vincents Town Council library after drinking a very strong coffee in Leederville, Perth Western Australia and writing three short stories....or perhaps they are spoken word lilt speak or maybe they are part of another body of works I've forgotten about.
Anyway, 2004 seems to have been a year of living life and then living life of 5 years crammed into one. Here are those short stories for your enjoyment as I have no idea whether they constitute a chapter or not...but perhaps they do because they paint a picture of hanging out in the artists quarters of Perth, Western Australia or getting up to mischief with the Fremantle arts crowd.
Tenth and Beaufort
Mother’s Day and people are rushing home from the eating-houses in Mt. Lawley and Northbridge. It’s late, raining and the roads are slippery with grease and oil. Reflections swirl everywhere with solvent slick.
Across the road nestles a trendy little cafe with a newly refurbished resturant-cum-café. The café used to be the storeroom for a small garden nursery crammed with junk and cobwebs. It now boasts a fully equipped kitchen and eight staff. Punters can now mix gladioli and daffodils with a divine Caffe’ Latte.
The doors of the Café’ have been locked against the gale of a wind that howls down busy Beaufort Street. Winter has arrived and so has the Fremantle Doctor. Any given Saturday this little establishment is packed with early risers. The eggs Benedictine are simply ‘to die for darling’ according to the menu. Darling has been emphasised in capital letters on the chalkboard of specials.
The council workers who were working on the pavement all week have now gone home and the chef of the small café’ mops his brow while the waitress mops the floor. They have forgotten to bring the ‘now open’ sign in from outside on the pavement. A potential customer battles with the locked front door until the hand signals persuade him to come back another time.
An old lady across the road toddles past the tyre retreading shop intent on beating the rain, hurrying from her double brick and unkempt three bedroom post-war house two blocks away on Ninth to the local supermarket. To get to the supermarket she has to negotiate the broken pedestrian thoroughfare littered with ‘Watch Your Step’ signs and the odd golden retriever deposit. Her street has one light at its entrance and she is forced to walk in darkness another 300 metres until she reaches her door. The Council has never replied to her last letter because she accidentally posted it to herself in 1986 and has never got around to re-writing another letter.
Dewson’s has a steady stream of customers arriving and departing and the old woman hurries inside clutching her umbrella like a cudgel, as if ready to belt whoever comes within its swing. She has already been charged for assault twice according to the security guard at the Chemist opposite.
He shuffles from sore foot to sore foot as he recounts the story of old Mrs. Underwood. He becomes more animated as he tells of car break-ins across the road at the supermarket car park and the increase in youth buying ‘fit-packs’ to shoot up before going out for the night. He looks over the road at the recently kerbed thoroughfare and shakes his head in bewilderment as an Asian backpacker couple jaywalk and almost get bowled over by a EH Holden filled with local bogans crawling down to the local for a pint. Three hotels including the Leederville are within five hundred metres and they will be at home soon amongst the Perth Glory after match revellers.
Signs litter every shop awning for as far as the eye can sweep. A motorcycle shop has a huge billboard plastered across it mantle declaring that VirginBlue is now complete with sweet deals at “dot com dot ay you”. The awning closest to the road has been knocked off so often that the effort has been made to widen the road and at least try and take some of the bend out of it – at great expense to the public. Patterned pavements and pretty petunias poke their pert bulbs from the blackened soil beds.
The malt coloured fully licensed bistro closest to the bottle shop remains closed and empty on one of the busiest business days of the year. So do another one-in-ten shopfronts on this stretch. An empty cardboard box sits in the dusty window sill filled with unopened mail. An oak tree planted at least a century before spreads its wings over the bistro roof. A liquid amber tree nestles alongside. A small alley way is shuttered with a swing to gate and a black cat pokes its paws through the gaps toying with the weeds that grow on it’s insides. No one dares cross it’s path and passer’s by visibly avoid the cracks in the concrete pavement slabs.
The flashing lights from the wine cellar shop illuminate signs that have been hastily tagged over by passing youth intent on being seen amongst the cacophony of signs that litter the vista as far as the eye can see. A powerful utility pulls up into Dewson’s car park and screeches to a halt narrowly missing two teenagers who have crossed from the Community Centre thoroughfare. The father of the teenagers berates the driver who in turn raises a middle finger as he walks over into Brumby’s. His tattoo’s extend from his neck to his knees.
A sign declares that Dewson’s is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm. A young couple drag a golden retriever through the garbage strewn garden that is adjacent to the carpark which services the photo developing shop. Cars come and go from the supermarket carpark. Doors slam and clouds roll over the electrical appliances shop.
Mrs Underwood emerges from the supermarket cat food under arm and cudgel-cum-umbrella under the other. She tucks her purse into her underpants elastic. The rain looks like it will hold off for her journey home. She crosses the four lane road during a lull in the frantic traffic. A siren starts wailing in the distance. A Commodore hurtles down Beaufort Street at twice the legal limit. It barely makes the corner and disappears towards Galleria.
Mrs. Underwood disappears into the pitch black of Ninth.
Behind closed walls sit three elderly cigar smoking Italians.
Music plays quietly inside and they argue over who is going to have to “ fuck Mario up”.
John’s fish and chip shop next door has had three customers in 6 hours. A single light globe illuminates the black-and-white signage declaring fish and chips for ten bucks on a Friday. The service station next to John’s has been closed for years and is now a squatter’s spot complete with graffiti and broken windows.
100 metres away kids play of a day time on grassed playing fields and the average real estate value is three hundred plus. Cross over Beaufort Street and it drops by one hundred. The irrigation shop has got its kerbside sprinklers on despite the fact that it has been raining all day long.
A change in Council saw the back of the Inglewood Garden Centre get chopped off and used as a dumping ground for road work signage and vehicles. A member of parliament hides in an office adjacent and for the next two hundred metres video shops ply their trade. In the old days street walkers came this far up till the containment laws pushed them over into James Street. The closest brothel is on Guildford Road.
The pizza shop is a frenzy of fat lovin’ feeders and the carpark is bathed in a neon spew. A huge hotel across the way has three people playing pool in the back room and the front gig guide says “Peace, Love and all that stuff” in taught vinyl. Two phone booths stand empty. Neither of them work as some bored and no doubt pissed punter has jammed paddle pop sticks down the coin chute. Maybe the card facility still works.
Mille Café’ is packed with punters and a small child throws a bunch of flowers to the ground in a fit of “ I-want-to-go-home-now” grief. Tears stream down her cheeks and get washed away by the soft drizzling rain. The guard dog at the car yard opposite barks and the girl’s mother scoops her up into her arms.
The dickhead at the bottle shop overcharges his customers and eats KFC with a scowl. It’s either that or some other grease ridden meal knocked down with a bourbon chaser. Backlit bus stops signs blink and the video shops bulbs blind . The streetlights sway in the wind.
Further up Beaufort Street old home units four deep start to creep. Sabrina’s clothing shop has always got the trendy size eight chicks hanging around it and if your not into second hand anything then your in the wrong part of town.
An old man tries to operate the keycard facility and asks a passer by for some assistance.
The Inglewood Library and old post office collide with tilt up and fast brick technologies. Real estate agents start to rear their ugly heads and the odd parka wearing beanie covered-goth-cum hippie might cross your path