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yin and yang


This fellow crossing the road. About 70 plus. Almost crossing the road, deciding to throw a lefty and walk down the middle for a bit, totally unmindful of the dust-covered Subaru tailing him. Me. In town for a few drinks a little business and a feed. Hoping he’d get out of the way before giving him a toot. Blokes this old need a little care, a sudden horn blast can have consequences and I don’t want to add to his laundry bill.

So I chewed up a rev or two  ..  enough to give him a nudge.  He turned as I slipped past, window down, and I said to him, ‘You were born in the country, weren’t you, mate?’

He stopped. I stopped. Middle of the street.


‘How’d you know that?’

‘By the way you crossed the road.’


A couple of Italians run an eatery down by the wharf, pizzas done right. Everybody in the kitchen a smartarse. Only the Greeks do it better but they haven’t got this far up the coast yet.

This time I’m doing the walking, two hot-boxed Margheritas under my arm as I step it out along the river boardwalk. Heading to the hotel. The dark river boardwalk. Someone killed someone along here a little while ago so it’s eyes in the back of the head after sunset.

The only light on this dark passageway is on the corner where I have to turn to get to the hotel entrance. And I’m clipping along. Who likes cold pizza?

And just as I steam around the corner two local Koori lads coming the other way roll up right in my face. One of them as big as Greg Inglis*. The other a shorter fellow, both are carrying fishing rods.

Everybody stops. Dead.

The big bloke reels back, puts a big hand on his heart and says ‘FUCK!’

‘Mate,’ he says to me, after a breath. ‘You scared the shit out of me there.’

What can a man do?

So I stuck my hand out, said, ‘sorry about that mate. Me name’s Pete.’

He took it like a drowning sailor does a hand that would help him back onboard.

Then we all walked away from each other, laughing.

Ballina. My kind of town.

*Go the Rabbitohs.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hippy #

    Byron, 1986 ish…. Pizza store downtown, crust looked good from the window.

    “Medium Cheese, please add extra sauce”

    The lady looked at me with a question mark for eyes.

    “Extra sauce”

    “You mean the tomato sauce, you want extra or the cheese”

    “No ma’am, no extra cheese, just extra sauce”

    “Very well then, but the chef has his ways….”

    Pizza arrives at the table, I lift the mass of cheese up to see a faint red painted across the interior of the crust.

    “I told him twice about the sauce request”

    “Is it possible that I talk to him please ma’am”

    “Why are you calling my ma’am, my name is Peg”

    She led me through a light curtain to the “kitchen” where an unsurly cook was placing pepperoni the size of hamburgers on another pie. We were introduced, he wasn’t thrilled that I was in his realm.

    I was about to ask him about the sauce when I saw a large can of Tomato Soup, opened next to the pizza doughs.

    “I put extra sauce mate, what’s your issue”

    “Is that your sauce?” I said pointing to the can of soup.

    “Your point?”

    “Is that what you put on your pasta too?”…. I couldn’t believe he was using something that would evaporate in the oven.

    “Nah mate, I use a fine marinara” he growled pointing to a boiling pot of amazing sauce.

    “Bro, could you make me another pizza using the marinara for sauce, put on extra, and I’ll pay for both pies”

    The man looked perplexed, but shrugged in agreement. The pie was baked and delivered to my table. I had given the other to some scratchies sitting outside rolling tobacco.

    First slice was like heaven, the rich tomato and garlic filled my senses with joy.

    A curious chef peered out from the curtain and Peg was watching too.

    I gave him an enthusiastic smile, waved him over. Peg sat down too and we ate pizza together, it was awesome.

    Two days later, I entered the store near closing with a box of beers. On the chalk board opposite the register was all I needed to see.

    American Pizza, highly recommended. Marinara Sauce and plenty of it.

    March 21, 2019
    • Next you’ll be teaching us how to cook a hamburger ..

      March 21, 2019
  2. Hippy #

    Your story had me reminiscent of a time in life and the memory typed itself. How you doing amigo?

    March 22, 2019
    • That was a good read, Hip, and am doing fine over here. Like you, still putting it down but now all the boards are in the rack. Ballina the place to be, river and sea. Brew still leaves a footprint here from time to time. And you, how goes it?

      March 22, 2019

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