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rusty utes and ugly feet

It was confronting.

These days Ballina has a large population of displaced people from Lismore, Wardell, Coraki and Cabbage Tree Island, not to mention a disconcerting number of over-active meth addicts and all due to the recent floods that destroyed their homes and farms.  And what makes this town even more different to Bangalow say, is that where they can still boast of more Porches and Alfa Romeos per capita despite the ruin of the surrounding towns, we now have a sturdy and comprehensive collection of rusted and mud-spattered utes, sun-blistered vans and patched up caravans.

Like the one today, a rusted ute parked nose-in on the other side of River Street with its driver door open and one large unwashed foot protruding so far out a man had to reconsider which path between cars to take to get to the footpath. Then the owner of the foot’s large hairy hand appeared and slowly felt its way along and between the foot’s toes. Take a moment here and remember how it was when you’ve done that and how, until you’ve washed the hand in acid, the smell lingers. Warm and fecund. The smell of rot and decomposition. Everything touched indelibly, invisibly stained. On the pong.

One thing about River Street on Thursday mornings, it’s busy, meaning the Lismore hoon in the low-chassis Torana might clip you with his wing mirror if you don’t get out of the way.

And there’s the foot, there’s the toes and there’s the hand doing it’s despicable work in your way. Squeeze past, holding your nose? Cough slightly, hoping he hears and removes the barrier? No  .. you walk right up to his door and wait for him to look up from his work, then, when he does you say. ‘Mate, I’ve got to tell you, that is the ugliest foot I’ve seen in Ballina all month.’

Because you know the rangy old farmer sitting in there picking the mud out of his toes will laugh out loud. Which he did.

Flood relief.

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