When the tyre blew, there was no explosion of rubber. No extended hiss.
No sudden slump in the cab, or grinding of rim on rock. Nothing to indicate that the wheel had put up a fight. Only an unsatisfying and noiseless wobble, an deflationary apology for having left me perched perpendicular to the descending mud track, and enveloped tip to toe in mountain forest.
Short chapters inspired by my new, coming of age novel, Sandbanker, available at no bookstores near you (yet)
The bell at St Christopher’s was not a real bell, made of brass or anything, but electric — it droned, like the torpedos in River Raid. (I didn’t actually have an Atari 2600 to test the theory, and didn’t really know anyone who did, at least someone who I could ask, but that’s what I’d heard.) Whoever they’d gotten to ring the school bell on that Friday afternoon had morsed-coded ‘S-O-S S-O-S’, and everyone had a good laugh about it, but I would’ve bet a case of chocolate frogs they had no clue what it meant. Continue reading Tales from Shelley Beach – The Bus Ride home
There I was: cloaked in a Victorian coat and tails, in thirty-five degree heat and waiting for my sausage dog to finishing squeezing one out under a tree.
All around me, thrashing like a school of tuna in a whirlpool were makeup artists, their assistants, camera crews and their assistants, boys chasing tangled chords, girls driving racks of plastic-wrapped suits between trucks, small men in yellow caps who seemed to do nothing but else but run up and down the set with coffee cups, and us – the extras – standing helplessly in the broiling sun, waiting for instructions from the loudspeaker. Continue reading Scene 24
When I pulled into the street, I saw him leaning against the ash-grey trunk of a eucalypt in front of the courthouse—faded collared shirt and jeans wrapped loosely around his hunched frame, a cigarette cupped in his hands.
He was following the progress of a ute in the middle of executing a reverse parallel park, calling instructions to “swing harder” and “back out”. The driver seemed not to hear him. I pressed and held the horn until he, and everyone else on the street turned to face me. Another stranger in town, they said with desiccated squints and scowls that suggested limited access to dental hygiene.
He rubbed his cigarette into the tree trunk, waited, then crossed the street, scraping his sneakers on the road as he approached the car. Continue reading Waterfall Way
The sun was pinned to the horizon and flushed the sky orange like an electric stove.
Ray was loading the last of the gear from the landing. He squinted at each bundle to measure its dimensions and weight, before tossing it into the boat.
“John says the weather will be calm ‘til four. Looks alright to me. We’ll be out over the port, up to the north there, across from the headland. There’s a trough full of bream and snapper out there John says. He and the bigger boats aren’t allowed along, they’re out further where the billfish are and we’re not after them.” Ray dropped the plastic tackle box onto the floor with a muted thud. The box’s claps popped open, releasing a spurt of lead sinkers over the ribs of the boat’s floor. “Damn it!” he spat and as he crouched down his brown toes splayed in his rubber flip-flops.
“Leave that and help me get these. I told you to close the thing properly if you take things out. Didn’t I tell you?” Continue reading Sky fishing
Introductory ‘pilot’ chapter to Orphans of the Salt – a novel in progress
“I repeat—we have arrived at Tract 16.”
Captain Dinh’s announcement was still crackling through the public intercom as Rosco Haymarket hopped three steps at a time down to the zeppelin’s observation deck, a warm bowl of aphid jelly balanced loosely in his hand. “The Royal Caucus” had spent the last six weeks flying over the New Pacific and he was eager to see something other than the curve of ocean and sky. He threw the bowl into a refuse chute and collected a set of scopes from the equipment racks. Two recovery engineers were already at the windows, their heads pressed hard against the reinforced glass. Continue reading Orphans of the Salt
The Middle Beach High reunion was minutes old and already abuzz: the girls giggled as they arranged white garden chairs in rows along the walls, they nattered while they adorned sand-filled bottles with yawning posies; the men cleared their throats and rehearsed the success stories of their lives.
Some glanced over their shoulders in between sentences or peeked from behind their plastic cups of supermarket prosecco. Carlotta Cunningham was coming, expected to arrive just after nine—or 21:00 as she had written in the email—directly from the international airport, probably by cab if she couldn’t find a decent hire car, (who knows if I still know how to drive on the left!) and maybe, although not definitely, accompanied by an upcoming poet from Barcelona whose work everyone just had to get to know. Continue reading Three Fantasies for Carlotta Cunningham
The man stood at the end on the pier, a giant oak barrel balanced on two carrot sticks, one hand punched into his hip, the other tugging nonchalantly on a fishing reel.
It was the morning grey – before the insects, before the million fragrances and feathery winds – when the mist was still rising from the lake like steam off a mirror. The abattoir trucks wouldn’t be raking up and down the roads for at least another hour and, as long as the sun skulked behind the fringe of trees, the world was his. Continue reading The Cats of Butcher’s Road
I’ve seen them. Oh, yes. I’ve seen them alright: dozens and dozens of them flittering from tree to tree, shaking figs onto the paved ground, flashing their technicolour flaps at the wind, and trilling like a bag full of whistles. And I give them my best every day – I pant and yap and shake my collar until I’m wet at the blaze; I practise my plucky bounce over the prickly fern and attack the wall right under their green-feathered underparts. Continue reading Why I, a Papillon (or Continental Toy Spaniel), wish to become a Rainbow Lorikeet