- Here Is Where
Jim Carlyle drove down Glenmore’s main street looking for a parking spot in a manner that suggested he’d never burned out a clutch in sixty years of driving and wasn’t about to start now. He found a place and swung the Utility’s wheel so that he rolled in perfectly against the kerb. Nothing wrong with his reflexes. He just drove at a speed that let him count steers in a paddock or check where a branch might have dropped over the fence. Always had. Never put a car into a ditch, never lost control on some back road, not in sixty years. Sixty-three, more like. He didn’t even have to wear a seat belt now—that was the new thing the doctors had worked out for him when he’d had the stent put in, after that little scare he’d had. Not a stroke exactly. They’d explained it to him, drawn a diagram. A small bleed, so that his brain had taken a while to repatch its circuits and relearn the old connections. Wearing a seat belt might have put pressure on his carotid artery, so he was exempt. Had a sticker on his license and all. He’d driven around for a while half hoping one of these young coppers in town would pull him over and try to book him so he could bring out that sticker, but to his secret disappointment, so far nobody had.
He paused a few moments after turning off the ignition, just watching a mother herding her kids into the library. He’d been at the opening of that library. Good few years back now. He still liked the architecture. That had been a good era; the biscuit-coloured bricks with the square banks of windows, things crisp and clean and full of no-nonsense right angles, which suggested that tasks were being sorted and accomplished inside. Jim had been on council when they approved the new chamber of commerce too and still had a book at home showcasing towns of the district with a black-and-white photo of that chamber taken the year it was finished. The chairs all squared up round the table. What had that table been? Danish wood, maybe. Or teak, back when Malaysia was still Malaya. The caption. Give him a second. “State-of-the-art style in Council Chambers just completed in Glenmore” and by God, he could have put his hand on that book right now if you asked him; he could see it on the hallway shelf exactly where it was, stacked on top of all the [End Page 91] lp records the kids had left behind, all the hardcovers tidily together, and as he sat there he could smell that hallway, the faint dust in the hall runner and Margie’s little bowl of rose potpourri scenting the air.
Jim had one of the faint foundering moments he sometimes had, a burring, churning minute where something in the calibrations seemed to lift and judder. A short blank hole he needed to rouse himself from, but easy to ignore, apart from bracing for the jagged little spurt of nausea that followed. Half a block back to the hardware. Yes. He’d have a poke through the bolts and find one that would do the job for the gate at the stockyards, a job that would need predrilling first, so he might get Jack onto that because something about that new cordless drill, the grip and pressure you needed on it, just didn’t suit him anymore, he couldn’t get a firm enough grasp. Some bolts and maybe a length of chain, if they had something that wasn’t from China.
He eased himself out of the cabin, countering the nausea with a calculation of how many years it had been since the day he’d walked into the hardware store to find Vince had started there. 1964, so fifty years. Vincenzo Geroni. His English hadn’t been good and hadn’t he been made to feel it, standing there fresh off the boat, 1964 and the country full of...