#259 Lines

by Cath Barton

The line in the middle of the road stretched on and away over the horizon where the air shimmered and split in the heat of the afternoon. On the distant horizon rise I saw a big roo lumber out of the bush, too late for the ute to stop. I closed my eyes against the disintegration. When I opened them again everything had settled, like the wind had blown them all away.

I continued walking the line, on it, beside it, astride it, glad now that the ute had failed to stop, that some upstanding citizen hadn’t wanted to pick up an old hobo like me. But my feet were dragging in the heat. There might not be another ute. Then, the heavy clack-clack of a ‘copter, coming from the sun, low and leaden. Energy drove my legs and I was running and shouting.

They were quick, those boys, quick and good. Saved my life for definite. How many times in a year this happens I don’t know. Never makes the news. They don’t care about us Australians of course, those settlers. Apart from the ‘copter boys. Have to hand it to them. I tried talking about it but they said to save my breath. Not interested in politics, says one. But it is politics, says I. Nah man, says he. We’re all people. People is people and roos is roos. That’s my philosophy. Teacher at school told me to write it out 100 times once. Never forget it now.

Things are not always what they seem in this collection of short stories and photographs by Cath and Oliver Barton. For one thing, there are quite a number of angels popping up, and some of them are not very angelic. And what about the gnome and the soup? After reading them, you might feel it's better to stay away from trains and bendy buses—but are you on any safer ground in the pub or at home?

Click on the cover to visit the book's Amazon page.

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