Friday, August 24, 2007
A precise relationship with money is both a condition and a lesson. Perpetual. And ... intermittent. Last night, needed another $20.00. Never mind why. Was on the stand at Park Street, after 10 pm. One more ride, I thought. Two blokes from Melbourne, going up to the Travelodge in Kings X. Ten, max, probably less. It was seven. Drove through the strip, hoping I wouldn't get hailed. Hookers standing in the road, dealers, spruikers, punters, desperados everywhere. Just like me. In Wolloomooloo, pulled over for a stitched up looking fellow. Going to West Pennant Hills. Sixty bucks, maybe more. He was drunk. I demurred. You're just not fucking interested, are you!? he snarled, and slammed the door again. Well, no. On through the City, my usual haunts. Nothing. Market Street. Outside the QVB, a young chap, polite. Epping. Forty, fifty bucks. Didn't want to go to Epping. He was OK about it. Could see, up ahead, a couple, waving, frantic. Try them. Already a whiff of the familiar. Pulled up, thinking, yes, know these two. He was the younger brother of an old friend. A thirty five year old friendship. But we fell out, couple of years ago. Have seen each other since but the intimacy has gone. The brother is a public figure. Union official. Lefty. Heard him on the radio, just the other day. We've had Christmasses together, we've got drunk in each other's company, a few times. I looked him in the eye as he piled in the back seat. His wife after him. He didn't know me. Didn't look at me. Not really. Drunk, not wrecked. Functioning. There was a moment when I could have said, hey, it's me. Didn't. Weird. Heard all of their conversation, in the back, knowing far more than they would have thought I knew. Mostly about their kid. The logistics. Busy lives. She was going to have to pack two identical suitcases next day. One for the red car, one for the blue. Felt myself drifting, further and further out ... into anonymity. Nobody. Own fault. Coulda been someone, coulda been me. Going to Leichhardt, a tricky route, had to confirm it with him. Surely he'd know me now? No. Dropped them off in Catherine Street. He was very sincere, the union guy standing up for the working man, doing the right thing. Impeccable. I should have felt terrible but I felt ... nothing. Nothing that $14.80 wouldn't fix. Pulling into the servo, the radio offered a job to Padstow. Thirty, forty bucks. Didn't take it. Gassing up, a fellow came out with a pie and a drink. Going to Peakhurst. Ditto. Guess I just wanted to go home. Just wanted to be ... me. Not the cabbie me but the other one. This ... one.