Friday, August 25, 2006

Easy Street

An ibis flies between the towers, looking anxious and out of place as it glides down towards Hyde Park. Two Arab cabbies are doing standing jumps onto the round, fixed metal pillar where you're meant to drop your cigarette butts and your ash. The tubbie Indian from the cab behind mine smiles and says: They happy, they making good money. It's about, oh, 9.15 pm on Tuesday. I think. Could be Wednesday. The Park Street rank in the City. Outside the all night convenience store, in the bright white light, a kid in a green school uniform and an adolescent in torn jeans and T shirt are kicking an undersized soccer ball around. One of the happy Arabs decides to join in. All three of them start kicking the ball with what seems like excessive enthusiasm. It skitters past the legs of passers-by then cannons into the bags of rubbish piled outside McDonalds, spilling coke and hamburger mush onto the footpath. Everybody laughs. I'm thinking about Easy Street. I told the Ambassador there was one in Randwick but, although I've seen the street sign flash by, I've never actually worked out where it is. I crush the last of my Gudang Garam out into the free standing ashtray and get back into the cab to check in my Sydway. Turns out there's two, the other one's in Rozelle. But, this is disappointing, the Randwick one has been eaten by the Prince of Wales Hospital and is now entirely contained within the insititution while the other, in Rozelle, is a service road running between White Bay and the Glebe Island container terminal. Does this mean that nobody actually lives on Easy Street anymore, I'm wondering, as I move my cab up the front of the rank, point as it's called? What a shame. What a fine address to have, either in Randwick or in Rozelle. I see someone in the rearview mirror walking towards me with that oddly determined gait people have when they're going to catch a cab. I can only see the midriff, the tops of the legs, a suit, can't even say right off if it's man or woman. A woman. I have an absurd premonition that she'll ask to be taken to Easy Street. She's Scots and wants to go to Bondi, Francis Street ... that's fine. The kid picks up his greasy soccer ball and looks around for someone else to play with. The ibis will be splashing in the Archibald Fountain by now. Or maybe it's down at the ponds in the Botanical Gardens. The Scottie is pregnant and spends most of the trip on her mobile phone, calling people back home to tell them how Junior's getting on ... s/he's 23 cms long! Also relates in detail some fairly arcane vaginal exercises learned in a class, which her husband refuses to help her with. Insert two fingers and rotate, she hoots. Maybe their kid will live on Easy Street? Now I've got lines from Tom Waits in my head, the song from Small Change called The One That Got Away:

The jigolo's jumpin salty
ain't no trade out on the streets
half past the unlucky
and the hawk's a front-row seat
dressed in full orquestration
stage door johnnys got to pay
and sent him home
talking bout the one that got away

could a been on easy street
could a been a wheel
with irons in the fire
and all them business deals ....