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the yellow kombi

The old man driving the yellow kombi followed me home. We might have known each other in another life, old men are hard to recognise behind their beards.

The woman was still on the side of the road, this time coming towards me: the woman in black with a black dog, walking through the knee-high grasses that flower and spread by the roadside. Not many homes out here in the hills, and what there are have long approaches.

She didn’t look up as I passed, only a man does that, sometimes. She was dressed in black, slacks and blouse. A wide-brimmed black hat, tied with a red ribbon.

A black dog, tethered to her hand with a leather strap, a red ribbon tied to its collar. Listening at the cars, the few that passed them by.

The bottom half of her face was porcelain, unblemished, even in the second it took to pass. Red lipstick, pale skin.

Eyes downcast.

Walking, on.


Cyrus came by: he was out walking, he said, at his place – from the house to the shade-house where two sleek, black hunting birds are feeding on the wren chicks.

Cyrus wears boots and jeans, and when he goes about this time of year he carries a dutch hoe. He is partial to keeping it clean and sharp, snakes for the use of:

He trod on this one, clanked down about half-way along its moving brown length. The snake whipped up and around and wasted a good bite on leather before Cyrus got the blade down onto its neck and sawed him into two parts. Not so much saw, the dutch hoe is a straight blade, but bear down, and cut through, using the edges.

The head still bites, he said, you can watch, or stamp the life out of it.

Cyrus used to cook at a little Italian restaurant in Five Dock. He never told anyone why he left in the middle of service, and the three dark men who had arrived that night, and hadn’t ordered, came back twice more.




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