The Brookvale Mafia.
Pick up the mail on the way to work was the order of the day. Park in one of the slots behind the arcade, walk through and cross Pittwater Road to the Brookvale post office. Simple enough, except on this day there were two men silhouetted at the mouth of the arcade, the Pittwater Road end, both were leaning against the grimy, curtained windows of the Chinese chopshop that fronted the street.
Big men, unwashed and unshaven, sullen. Watching as I approached. One was clutching a dirty rag, the other had his hands in his pockets.
Eddie Chan was expected to be early today, being Monday, even though his restaurant wasn’t scheduled to be open until eleven. And he knew they would be waiting for him, his window-washers, because his glass would be broken tonight if his insurance wasn’t paid today.
Timing is everything.
The Head Shop.
Someone asked me to by them a hookah, they planned to fill the bubbler with Pernod on party night to see if the smoke came out sweeter.
The Head Shop had a narrow frontage on Pittwater Road and came with an emaciated youth who slouched behind the counter. Everything inside was dusty, the shop dimly lit. His display was of cheap, Chinese made doper’s brick a brac. Tobacco tins, bongs, trimming scissors, seed containers, over-sized cigarette papers, carved wooden hash pipes and the world’s oldest collection of High Times magazine.
‘Before you go,’ he said, ‘I’ve got a photo of a house to rent if you’re interested.’
I waited for him to pull out his wallet and extract a creased photo of the back of an unpainted wooden hovel, a set of rickety stairs leading to an upper level, an unkempt lawn, a couple of misshapen trees and two skinny marijuana plants in the foreground.
I handed it back.
Nothing grows well in Brookvale.