After I got back from Hawaii, there were fireworks
for New Year, then the cricket, not that I’m complaining,
it’s always a busy time of year – a family time.
I was having a look at the business pages one evening
when the wife said look outside at that will ya?
To be honest I couldn’t see anything much.
The horizon was a lovely pink colour, or perhaps maroon
or red. The sun was a ball of fire sinking into it.
How good is that? I said to her. But she was
on the iPad, frowning. Uh-oh, I thought.
I went into the next room and turned up the air con.
I can read a room! Sure enough she followed me through
and said what about this fire then? Haven’t heard anything
I replied, looking at my phone – of course it was flat.
Then her iPad rang. It was Gladys on Skype.
Where the bloody hell are ya? I heard her crackle.
We’ve all got to get out of town! I’ve just got back I shouted,
people will start complaining if I head off again.
But Gladys told me to look out the window and sure enough
there were these big flames coming over the back fence.
Fuck, said the wife, the joint is going up!
I didn’t say anything but I really can’t bear it
when a woman uses language like that. I’m old fashioned
at heart. She was off like the clappers so I went down
after her, and the security bloke who sits at the gate
was waiting for us in the SUV, in fact he was already
halfway down the drive when the wife waved him down
(the poor bugger nearly ran her over.)
I slipped in the front and gave him a wink
and said brakes a bit sticky on her mate?
You’ve got to use a bit of humour to break the ice.
So we were all in snug and I was fiddling around
with the door when this little compartment opened
and a can of lemonade popped out. Cold as.
I said how good is this! but the wife was still on the iPad.
There was this smell, it was pretty disgusting actually,
and I said to the driver someone’s burned the prawns
but he said nothing, just turned on the lights and sped up.
I knew then he was a quiet Australian – one of my people.
Anyway we ended up down at Bondi. How good is that?
Everyone was down there. Gladys was waving a torch
and came up with a couple of special branch on either side.
Afternoon boys! I said. For God’s sake what are you doing here,
she hissed at me. I don’t like the Lord’s name taken in vain
but she was upset, so I didn’t take it personally.
I could see a few of the punters pointing to me,
they were waving and yelling G’day I think.
I couldn’t see much with all the smoke.
They must have put on more fireworks because
there were all these bangs – very loud actually,
some of the ladies screamed a bit – then a big cloud
of burning stuff went flying overhead.
I thought then it might be a good time to call it a night
but that bloody driver had gone off.
It all got a bit confused after that. We ended up going
for a bit of a paddle and more people started arriving.
I said, is that Kylie Minogue over there?
By now the wife was in a lather and had started crying
so I tried to give her a cuddle to cheer her up,
but she was being difficult about it to be honest,
so I had to really try hard to get my arms around her
to give her a big squeeze. Women can be a bit like that.
God, get us out of here, I thought to myself.
Then just like that the waters opened.
I mean the ocean went out like the plug had been pulled
and I thought someone up there likes you, fella.
I yelled out come on everyone, follow me!
So we walked over the sand and the rock and the mud
where the sea had been, and to be honest
it wasn’t that pleasant since there were plastic bags
and an oil platform lying on its side and all the dead fish,
although not as many as you might think.
At one point all these kangaroos went racing past.
But the flames kept following us, it was like
the fire knew where we were going. Then all the
grey dead coral sitting on the mud went up like kindling
and it was quite hot so I started running
and when I stopped I was on my own. What to do?
I’m a simple man of faith. So I stood there
and raised my hands to the burning clouds far above
and beseeched O Lord give your humble servant a hand
in his hour of need. Sure enough when I opened my eyes
this big crack in the ground had appeared before me.
I thought to myself, twice in one day! How good is this?
I clambered down into the black crevice
where it was warm and quiet so I kept on
feeling my way and finally came around a corner
where spreading out in front of me
was an endless plain of fire.
It was the whole world burning.
I turned around because it would have been good
to talk to someone else or get a hug, or just even
shake someone’s hand, but there was no one there:
just the darkness and the fire.
- 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C SLowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones