I’m scrubbing the word SCUM off the front door of our house. I wipe so hard that my wrists start to ache, but the red letters remain bold and bright, their edges dripping as if they’re bleeding.
The whipbirds are going mad in the fig tree by the fence, the way they always do before a storm. I turn and look at the dark clouds collecting over the buildings ... More
Alex is watching his wife as she stands at the pale stone bench and raises her canister of Chinese herbal tonic to her shoulder to give it a quick shake. She gives him a game, faintly ...More
Before the ceremony began, the woman with hairy legs and an air of having just abandoned a cigarette wandered as though at a party to the coffin where – though it was impossible and not so – Clelia’s mother, Margaret, was. Three days ago, four days ago, Clelia had said to her mother, ‘Come and see the blossom I’ve brought back.’ She had just returned to ... More
Georgie heard it too. On the very first morning of this story, though so much had gone beforehand. The usual warbling of the typical magpies, if anything so mysteriously complex as a magpie’s song can be called typical. There she’d lie, day after day, alongside Muir in their countless beds, in cramped corner flats and large creaking homesteads, in cold fi ... More
A visitation of Kindly Death is recorded by the Law List in a glass cabinet beside the sandstone doorway of Court Four in the City Courthouse, the sole item for the day’s business, and for many days:
Trial: R v Ali Bashir. (1) Murder (2) Assist Suicide.
The second count, rather than the first, is the reason f ... More
Behind the houses the river slides away all night. Buttery and resinous, the air hangs heavy with the river murk, the wet stink of the mudbank. Across the water, the railway sidings with their abandoned boxcars lie quiet, generations of graffiti hiding whatever colour they may have been. Beyond, the ibises stalk the salt flats, reeking brackish plains filled with se ... More
They were large, stained, rust-coloured. You’d found them in an op shop somewhere. Old men’s trousers. I laughed and wouldn’t believe you when you said they once belonged to Russell Drysdale. So you took them off, right there on the Town Hall steps, and waved them in front of my face, flourishing the tag with the neat red stitching and Russell Drysdale’s nam ... More