They walked and walked, at first along tiled and bleakly lit corridors under electric lighting, and then along dusty carpets in dark shuttered places, and up a stone staircase and then further up a winding wooden stair, cloudy with dark dust.2 With each step the landscape unfolded and named itself.3 It was grotesque.4 They were cold and wet, exhausted and bereft.5
–Then we won’t be home tonight?6
–There’s no question in my mind.7
–I must be crazy.8
He might have left it there, on that note of appeal to what was intimate between them; but some imp of irritation in him, some wish to register, at least, the hurt he felt, made him speak again.9
–This place is a fuckin’ nightmare if you leave too late.10
Here, the farmyard animals are savagely slaughtered; life turns into a farrago of madness, drunkenness, superstition and whoring;11 and on an otherwise silent Monday afternoon, men detonate on the street from the sheer force of their rage.12 This was a town of scars.13
They didn’t make small talk, and they didn’t stop to rest.14 After a while he reached across and tenderly brushed a loose strand of hair away from her face, tucked it behind her ear.15 Yet even here there was an enormous gulf between them.16
1 Pasolini, P. P. (1959). Una Vita Violenta. Milan: Garzanti
2 Byatt, A.S. (1991). Possession: a Romance. London: Vintage Books.
3 Bail, M. (1998). Eucalyptus. Melbourne, Victoria: The Text Publishing Company.
4 Attenborough, D. (2002). Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster. United Kingdom: BBC Books.
5 Smith, R. (2009). Shipwreck in the Forbidden Zone. National Geographic, 216 (4), p. 126.
6 Carey, P. (2000). True History of the Kelly Gang. St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press.
7 Law, B. (2009). Sodom and Gomorrah in Suburbia. The Monthly, November 2009, p. 20.
8 Belt, D. (2009). Shadowland. National Geographic, 216 (5), p. 70.
9 Malouf, D. (1994). Remembering Babylon. London: Vintage.
10 Forster, R. (2009). The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll: Collected Music Writings 2005-09. Melbourne, Victoria: Black Inc.
11 Dessaix, R. (2009). Daytime Nightmares. The Monthly, December 2009, p. 72.
12 Teague, M. (2009). The Other Tibet. National Geographic, 216 (6), p. 55.
13 Grenville, K. (2006). The Secret River. Melbourne, Victoria: The Text Publishing Company.
14 Hessler, P. (2010). Restless Spirits. National Geographic, 217 (1), p. 113-114.
15 Leigh, J. (2008). Disquiet. Camberwell, Victoria: Penguin Books.
16 Goldsworthy, P. (1990). Maestro. Pymble, New South Wales: Collins/Angus & Robertson.
Written on Sunday, 6 March 2022