5th February 2019.
For someone who opts for public transport the spun out closure of the Frankston Line had me huff-puffing at the resultant PR. The blooming nerve. “Metro sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused.” Words now empty as the missus and my time-worn renter. Little did Metro know the true nature of aggro its tinkering of sleepers, ballast and whatnot had had on us. Though happenstance can ignite effing and blinding, by sheer self control I capped a sailor’s gob. The day’s Herald Sun, however, got a scrunch.
Finding Pad-Toes the garden gecko gawping across the threshold, I offered consolation. For his inexplicable loss – the latter part of the tail. “Look on the bright side, wee fella. You’ve got off lightly,” I soothed.
A week ago, hidden in the unruly lawn, the spotted turtle-dove had sun-basked. Peacefully. ‘Coo, de-grass’ offered itself. A naff word play on ‘coup de gras’. Instead I tapped: The grass is high as a galah’s eye. Then closing the laptop lid I left the device amidst my desk clutter. I’d be back to the topic of backyard angst later. After a rare business meeting. In CBD. For which, due to a rare lack of trains, I took the car. Leaving the house an abandoned look.
At a cramped pavement table outside an anodyne laneway cafe near Flinders Street Station the Gippsland high-flyer chuckled prettily about cute echidnas and catching yabbies. An awkward distraction from her having no real project budget and me flatly unwilling to do owt for nowt. The tweetup fruitless, the coffee on her, I wended back home.
Where, from the leafy alder tree, the small bird’s long, tinkling staccato, a piping, turned to explosive twittering. Wary of what had got up the spinebill’s fine, curved bill I looked to the ajar front door. And saw the wood splinters, the confetti of paint scabs and a kaput latch. A big bash for sure. One separate to the Aussie professional Twenty20 cricket circus meandering towards a conclusion with its Hurricanes and Renegades.
Inside, violation. Seismic. Berserk Vikings couldn’t have done a better job on Lindisfarne. Nor the marmalising Mongols in Xi Xia. My knees went wobbly. My chest tightened. I dialled triple zero. For police rather than ambulance. Though it was a close call. Then I rang the missus at work.
“Shit,” she quavered. “How bad?”
“First glance? Passports-all laptops-art tablet-all external hard drives-so past fifteen years of my life-TV-CDs-Have I said passports?-your driving licence-camera with the Queenstown and Tuscany pics-bank cards-credit cards-your jewellery-your handbags-wallet-purse-the Caribbean dollars-euros-smart phone-UK dumb phone-the tequila-the Baileys—in fact, every liqueur-and-my-pair-of-trainers. Can you believe that? My trainers! Like the bloody Watsonia fox’s joined a robber mob.”
Oh my, oh my, how the media love that particular Reynard. The suburban vulpes vulpes had air time on 7 News and Channel Nine, and tabloid column inches, for sneak-nabbing Melburnian footwear. Two-legged thieves, however, remain unmentionably small beer.
Bare to the waist due to the heated arvo my pot-tummed neighbour Bruce popped round. Wonderful of him. A talking witness. With helpful info for Crime Scene officers Senior Constable Adele and Leading Senior Constable Trevor: “Saw a green car pulled into the drive. I know it was green because I’ve been a motor mechanic for forty years.” So not much to go on really.
“Anything else?” asked Adele.
“A bloke got out and shouted.”
“What did he shout?” Trevor’s turn.
“Anything else?” Adele again.
“Heard a noise. Thought nothing of it.”
Adela turned to me. “Don’t take it personally… the break-in. You’re our third today.”
Or to put it another way, the home nest of the missus and I was but one the 4,742 reported Bayside heartbreakers within the twelve months.
My restless thoughts in that twilight time between sleep and wakefulness said no self-respecting fox however oddball could cause such sadness. Except in a hen house. And I fret on who out there in Viceland is aware that ‘the grass is high as a galah’s eye’.
A passing train makes its rhythmic ta-ta-ta-dum. ‘Sincere apologises,’ my ar…dvark. Least the city’s Renegades remain sporting Big Bashers, from which without passports there’s no escaping.
Illustrations & text © 2019 Zum Beamer/Charles Wood