The young couple with a pram

She came into the shop, but he stayed outside with the pram and the shopping and all their morning stuff. She stood in the doorway and looked out at him, and he looked in at her.

‘Are you coming in?’

‘Maybe.’

He continued looking through the door, comfortable, leaning on the pram, ‘I don’t know. I might go get a bun. A cream one. Shall I?’ He stood with one foot resting on top of the other one, cars cross stitching the air on the road behind him.

‘Maybe.’ She had begun to browse from the doorway, her eyes running up and down the shelves. Their child lay in the pram gazing outward. I could see its dark eyes moving, listening, and not blinking.

‘Ok, I’ll get a London bun.’

‘Mmmm.’ She let the door close and they parted, tranquil.

Why take so long!!!

Zeus and Hera - Athena Fountain by Carl Kundmann, Josef Tautenhayn and Hugo Haerdtl,

Outside the door of my shop, there is shouting. Tradespeople gathering for morning tea, taking all the parking spaces. They wear orange and blue; safety vests, gloves, and there is a helmet on the ground. Next to that, a phone, and a coffee allowing steam into autumn. They lean over utes, sit on the pavement, back against my window, a bookshop. They don’t look in. They are smoking, checking phones, holding paper bags, staring at the ground. Eating.

One worker is outraged. In the bakery there were some old ladies who had Seriously Held Up The Queue. One had argued about, well, nothing, and the other couldn’t see the pies. They had taken a  long time. Mate!

I imagined the tradespeople in the bakery, shuffling in massive boots, watching the savoury slices sliding into other people’s fucking paper bags. Unable to shunt the queue forward because Alice and Gwen were too small for a proper confrontation.

I heard the complaints.

‘Oh my God!’

‘Why take so long? Bring your glasses. Jesus. It was like, 25 mins. WTF! People have to eat.’ The tradesperson speaking, a woman, is glum.

The others, all men, listen politely and nod properly; It Is Not Right.

One man is leaning on a ladder. He has placed all his stuff on a plank that is resting across the ladder in the back of one of the utes. She bangs the plank for emphasis. He holds the plank steady, watching his coffee. He says, ‘Yeah.’

She says, ‘But the lamingtons are good.’

Another person says, ‘Could of eaten three!’

Someone asks, ‘Were you scared of ’em?’

‘Who?’

“Those old ducks?’

She says, ‘Yeah!’

And they all laugh, leaning back, relaxed, looking through my open door and not seeing it, a bookshop.

“Better go.”

But none of them move.

‘Better go’.

‘You go Leo, you dickhead.’

When I next look up, they have all gone. There is just a coffee cup left there, gentle and full.

 

 

Image: Zeus and Hera – Pallas Athena Fountain, erected by Carl Kundmann, Josef Tautenhayn and Hugo Haerdtl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirates

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People came in off the train today.. Possibly all together but I wasn’t sure. There was a doorway snarl…. shut the door Ern, look at the weather…and an argument over roses…let them be, it’s too late to fiddle with them now

They came in and out, looking for the bakery, needing black coffee, strong, and The Readers Digest Book of Roses, holding the door open for other customers, looking for Bob and Ern who have gone off..

One lady talked and talked in the back room. Her husband, leaning on the counter with his eyes closed, suddenly realized he should have been in there, listening. He rose up magnificently, said, oh Jesus, and powered away from the counter, elbows out and a good balance.

There were more voices, calling, fluting, floating, as groups gathered, changed plans and agreed with each other with narrowed eyes…just do as she says…

A young family burst in, the child shouting, here we are, back for more pirates, I already read book one…so we came back, if we ate all our oranges we were allowed…

There are three couples all safely inside the shop. There is a disappointing lack of Roses, Grown the Natural Way. Ern has been found. Violet should go home. Chris has found a book of possibly good poetry.

We’ll come back when we have more time…. good place, good place. Though…

The child with the pirates is under the table, reading fiercely, unable to get up and leave, a divine three dollars spent, he is on book two, book three is breathing next to him.

His mum says to me in a tired way, not sure why he reads so much, his grandpop is the same.

The child pulls his eyes from the page, outraged.

Mum. Pop’s a pirate. He told me it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Wombat

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The tradesmen outside my shop need the bakery. They glance in at me, continue past (‘wrong place, this isn’t the food’) and one of them says, ‘lawn weather!’

The rain is blowing sideways.

Back at their ute, the tradesmen, who are wearing shorts and t shirts, stand there with their food, serene, not hurrying. They watch an orange traffic cone skid past them on its hip.

‘Council! They can afford it!’

On the ute, the passenger side windows are all the way down, swallowing rain. But the drivers lean over the ute tray, examining things, passing things, balancing pies and coffee. One man pulled at a rope, help up the end of it. They all look at it and shake their heads. He thumps it against the side of the ute. They discuss something fervently, probably the rope. One man, the youngest, wraps one end around his waist and performs a kind of dance. The oldest man there turns his back and comes to stand in my doorway. The other two laugh. The rain continues – surely they are getting cold…

They are.

‘I’m outta here.’

‘I’ve seen Wombat drive one of them.’ They all look across the road. ‘Wombat is a fool. I told him, too.’

‘All right, Murray Bridge, it is.’

And they all climb into the ute, wet seats, wet clothes, the rope packed in again.

I think, well, goodbye… good luck to Wombat.

 

Artwork by Pascal Campion

Trying to get across the road

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There’s a man with two children outside the shop. They’ve come from the bakery and they looked through my window briefly but they don’t come in. They want to go across the road and eat their food. There is only one place to cross here and it’s right outside my window. The father has each child by the hand but the little girl wants to walk backwards. This is so she can keep watching the wooden cat in my window.

He calls out authoritatively, stay close.

They start across. The little boy is going to hop across.

The little girl has turned around and is walking low, knees bent, swinging her legs as though on hinges. They watch each other admiringly. Dad is carrying two paper bags in his mouth. The little boy drops his cap.

They get jerkily to the other side, still hopping and rotating and dragging dad steadily downward, and then they all straighten up and turn to look at the cap lying in the middle of the road. I can’t hear what they are saying but the dad is delivering a long speech, possibly about how not to cross the road. When it’s quiet, he walks out and picks up the cap. The little boy waves, pleased with his dad, then drops both paper bags onto the grass, and the buns bounce softly out and roll into the gutter and both children look down at them in amazement.

I can’t find the door

51775654_1494764423988205_520481570201534464_n.jpgThis morning a man came charging across the street and collided with my door hard enough for me to think that he had fallen into it. But he hadn’t.
He was angry though.
He said “I can’t find the door…”
I asked him “Which door…?”
He said, “The door to the bloody bakery, what do you think I meant?”
I looked at him and he looked at me as though waiting for me to find the door on my counter somewhere.
Then I made a mistake. I thought I would be funny, I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t sell doors here.”
He was outraged.  I had not helped him at all. He ducked his head down and stared at the doormat. I wondered what kind of diabolical timetable he was following to make his days so harrowing.
He decided to be patient and kind and to speak more slowly in case it was me who was the bloody stupid one. He said “To  get  into  a  bakery  there  needs  to  be  a  door….”
I said: “The door to the bakery is just around the corner, where the bakery is.”
He hung onto my door frame, and his head snapped to the left. He looked at the bakery tables on the corner in amazement,. He was genuinely shocked.
He said, “Thanks.”
I said, “See you.”

Fucking idiot.

Bathrooms

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There is a white ute parked directly outside my shop. And there are three tradesmen who have climbed out and are standing together, all of them checking their phones, and all of them looking up and around for the bakery. One of them carries a can of coke and a set of ear muffs, and he turns and walks to my door and shoulders his way in, he is still reading his phone. Then he realizes a mistake. He says, ‘Oh fuck, sorry mate!’
His friend, still outside, says, ‘You fucking idiot, that’s not the bakery.’
His other friend, who is on his phone, pauses to inform the others (by pointing) where the bakery is. The tradesman who entered my door gives them both the finger (rather magnificently, because he bends his knees and arcs with both arms and the earmuffs and the coke) this fingered insult over the whole earth and especially over them. He says, ‘But I do need a book, I need the next Game of Thrones before the rest of that shit comes out on screen.’
His friend says, ‘Man, you are not John Snow. You are, like, just a dickhead’.
And the tradesman (who is now John Snow) says that he is John Snow, and that he can read.
The third tradesman puts his phone in his pocket and says, ‘I’m eating now. You two bathrooms can just stay here.’
And then they all move toward the bakery; three friends, John Snow, dickheads, bathrooms, whatever.