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Street Conversations: Wires.



You okay?

Not really.

Yeah… Smoke?


Mind if I sit?




That was one fucked up thing, man. I’m going to have to go back to therapeutic painting and hide the reds after this. Maybe get drunk or something. You want a drink, let me know, I’ll buy you one. It was a good thing you did. Would’ve been hard staying with her until we got here through that morning traffic. Reckon it saved her, though.

You cut off her legs.

They were mashed into the frame of the car. Shafts of metal had pierced and shattered the bones. They were all tangled up in the mess. She was bleed—


Sorry. It’s just all in my head, you know? Still, you did the right thing.

I’m sure she’ll send me a card when she wakes up without her legs!


Sorry. Just. Fuck. I’m sure sending me a card will be the first thing she thinks about doing once she finds out what happened to those kids. To her kids. I’m sure she’ll think, I should send that guy who stayed and talked to me a card. Good thing I still have my hands.

A fucking card.

Maybe not a card.

You should’ve just let her die.

That’s no easy call to make.

Sure it is.

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

You ever make it?

Couple of times. Sometimes it’s easy. When half their head is missing and everything exposed is blood and bone and the eyeball is somewhere near the spinal column. It’s just cruelty to stop nature then. Just let them slip away.

When it’s like this, it’s different.

Couple of years back, I came to a wreckage a lot like this. Semi trailer, station wagon, woman, kid. All kinds of fucked up. Kid had lost her head. Pipe went right through the neck. We came upon it first on the street like it was a bad movie prop. In the car, the Mother had caught the same pipe. It turned her shoulder to dust, severed her spine up at the neck. Some other debris had speared into her right eye and left it a pulpy mash. Was ugly.



She could’ve been saved. Her quality of life though—her quality of life would’ve just been shit. So my partner and I helped her along. But the whole thing got stuck in my head, you know? I could’ve saved her, but I—but we—decided that her life wouldn’t be worth anything.

She’d thank us if she could, we said.

Spine breaks like those don’t have long and happy lives, we said.

The two of us had all sorts of reasoning after we had done it. Eventually, I just decided I needed to go to the funeral, so I did. After it, I introduced myself to the family, told them lies about how I wished I could have done more, about how sorry I was.

That go well?

No. That did not go well.

The family wanted her back, didn’t matter how hurt or broken. The loss of two generations was just too much. It was too big. Too intimate. Like someone had just ripped through all their flesh and removed a vital organ from each of them. Every person in that family was bleeding from an identical wound that would never heal. All they wanted was her. They needed her. Didn’t matter what kind of state she was in.

Can you imagine that? Here I am, standing in this tiny reception hall with cordial in a plastic cup, wearing my best suit and trying to have my conscience soothed for easing this woman’s pain. But that isn’t happening because they’re all lost in their pain—which I didn’t even think of as I sat on the curb and loaded the syringe.

I didn’t think of any of that.

I wouldn’t have wanted to live.

Me neither.

But it’s not the point, is it? Making that choice fucked people up. Maybe if they’d made the choice, it would have been different. They would’ve seen her, seen how horrible it was… But they didn’t. My partner and I did. Just a couple of strangers, really. No matter how you look at it, a stranger deciding what’s quality for someone hurt and if they should live or die, that’s fucked up.

Yeah. Maybe.

No maybe, man. That’s for family.

I keep seeing those kids.

She was taking kids Bibles some place. There were three boxes in the back of the car of these tiny, colourful books. Each was full of reds and oranges and purples and greens. God had this amazing white beard.

When I got there, the books were everywhere. Mixed in with the blood and flesh and metal of those three kids in the back of her car. Oldest couldn’t have been more than ten. I just stood there looking at these really simple sentiments about a white bearded God loving us and—and just three kids, you know?

I saw some scraps of paper. Didn’t know they were Bibles.

I couldn’t stand looking at them. Chucked what I could.

You religious?


Me neither.

Don’t suppose I ever will be.

Yeah. Even if I did, I don’t reckon I could work up into believing in an interventionist God.

You quoting Nick Cave at me?

Yeah, in a way.

I never did like Nick Cave.

Me neither.

(Street Conversations is an eight part series, updating every Wednesday (or so I say). Photos and text. This has been Part One.)


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Feb. 9th, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)
Thanks, Ben. Absolutely chilling.

Also, can I have my shoes back now?
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:43 am (UTC)
i told you what would happen if you left them here.

anyhow, around my streets, shoes are getting tossed onto lines. it's kind of odd. you drive through the streets early in the morning and the only things out there are shoes.
Feb. 9th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)

Chilling and raw.

Where are the next seven?

Feb. 9th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
who knows?

but thanks, anyhow. hopefully i'll be able to get the next seven to work.
Feb. 9th, 2005 02:49 am (UTC)
I like. Muchas.
Feb. 9th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
Feb. 9th, 2005 04:16 am (UTC)
Phooey. No one I quote Nick Cave at _ever_ catches on.
Feb. 9th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC)
have you traumatised them beforehand? maybe that's the trick ;)
Feb. 9th, 2005 07:08 am (UTC)

i see shoes on power lines everywhere.

and have i told you lately that you have one of the most disturbed imaginations i've ever met?

keep it up.
Feb. 9th, 2005 09:54 am (UTC)

me, i don't reckon it's disturbed. it's all normal far as i'm concerned. possibly why everything seems kinda bland.
Feb. 10th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC)
actually, i suppose it is rather healthy. although you conjer disturbed images. and that is what is healthy.

but don't pay attention to me right now, i'm drunk.

ah, yeah. 3 more good aussie bands: Grand Silent Sytem & Architecture in Helsinki & Machine Translations. all from melbourne i believe.

also your stoy reminded me of a freinds tale. he went for singing lessons at an old ladies house. she resides in a wheelchair. any way, her hubby was changing a light bulb using a step ladder which was placed on the kitchen bench. needless to say he slipped, mashed his head against the bench. my freind sat there holding a towel on this old guys head. he could see brain and after the ambulance came he cleaned up shards of skull from the kitchen floor.

he never went back for a second lesson.
Feb. 10th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC)
i don't reckon i'd go back, either.

anyhow, you know what i reckon i need: female bands, or female lead singers. just, you know, not missy higgins or sarah blascoe. (i've seen the latter live twice, as an opening act. it's a real shame she has that keyboard thing going on.)(and missy higgins seems to be australia's answer to tori amos, but i'm not convinced i could go an album yet.)
Feb. 10th, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
ok, Grimoir & Fur Patrol both have female vocalists. one of these bands is actually from NZ. they are both kind of grungy in a magic dirt kind of way. Machine translations have both male and female vocalists> serious sugar coated pop, with very intelligent musical textures. dunno if that's the kind of thing u are looking for tho.

i saw a band, erm, duo at woodford called Stringman Sassy (which might be one word). i think they are from byron area. the guitarist plays insanely chilled out jazz. while the vocalist has an awesome vocal range. they played a cover of aparticular Sting song and they began it with him playing a few random notes with spacey digital delay and she was warbling like a magpie or currawong. it actually sent shivers from the base of my spine, up my neck to the top of my head. damn awesome. there album title has something to do with dragon flies.

see if you can find it. i've seen it at rockinghorse (Brisbane's best alternative record store)
Feb. 11th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC)
yeah, stringmansassy. one word. having a loko through their wesbite now. i bet they don't have any downloads. tsk. thanks for the tip, anyhow.
Feb. 11th, 2005 12:50 am (UTC)
no, i was wrong about those downloads. they've got a few samples. she's got a real lovely voice, doesn't she?
Feb. 11th, 2005 07:43 am (UTC)
fricken amazing. like i said; they blew me away. they tour around a bit. very worth seeing live if you get the chance.
he's quite the guitarist too. the first person i've heard play "dance of the sugar-plum fairy" on a nylon string guitar.

also, Ariel may (or may not) be worth checking out. i've only heard one or 2 of their songs which i found agreable. kind of a Yin version of John Butler trio from what i remember.
Feb. 11th, 2005 09:50 am (UTC)
cool, i'll keep an eye out.

but, you might be able to help me with this. i heard a band a couple of weeks back called tah-coma (that's how it was pronounced, and i can't figure if it's the spelling). they're out of darwin, i think, and have a fine song called 'fear of heights' i believe.
Feb. 11th, 2005 01:01 pm (UTC)
sorry can't say i have heard of them. Takoma maybe?

where did you hear them? if it was live, i'd sugest checking last weeks gig-guide/street-press. if it was on-air then a call to the radio station might prove fruitful, providing of course you can remeber what station it was ;)

oh yeah, you mentioned in your top-5 that you were once a metallica fan (like most of us were at one stage or another). if you have ever got into the beatles then here is a website not to be missed: http://www.beatallica.com
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:26 am (UTC)
hmm, web search didn't work on that name, either. it's becoming a bit of a quest, really. suppose i'll have to give the radio station a try.

i was never a beatles fan. dunno why. they just gave me the shits.
Feb. 12th, 2005 08:16 am (UTC)
then you'll probably appreciate the link all the more.
Feb. 9th, 2005 08:32 am (UTC)
Very cool.

How does the shoe actually end up on the telephone line? I mean, everyone I ask, they have no idea. So, any ideas?
Feb. 9th, 2005 09:55 am (UTC)
it's actually two shoes. you tie the laces together on each shoe and toss it up, and it catches and hangs there.
Feb. 9th, 2005 11:34 am (UTC)
But why do you do that?
Feb. 9th, 2005 11:37 am (UTC)
well, if they're not your shoes, to piss someone off.

if they are your shoes... um, cause they're old? i honestly don't know why. just one of those things that people do, i guess. i've never had the shoes to spare.
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:06 am (UTC)
This makes the published dross I was reading this morning seem all the more inferior.

Great picture too.
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:17 am (UTC)
heh. published just means someone paid for it. doesn't mean it's good. but thanks for the niceness.
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC)
That's a scary and intriguing pair of conversationalists there, Ben. Good stuff.

In fact it made me look at the shoes on the wire and instead of thinking, "oh look, more shoes, why do people do that", I thought "shoes hanging from a wire. They're like a metaphor for relationships. You hitch yourself together, you soar up into the bright blue sky with all the world at your feet, then one day you realise you're just hanging on day by day over a vast abyss of hard, cold concrete. Eventually, you let go and fall."

So again, well done. :-)
Feb. 9th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC)
okay :)

that's not what i was thinking when i took the photo, but i like it when people can put their owning meaning and context to something.

glad you liked it. seven more to go.
Feb. 9th, 2005 11:53 pm (UTC)
I like very much. For some reason Francis Bacon kept popping into my head, which is odd, as i don't like Francis Bacon but i always dig your writing.
Feb. 10th, 2005 12:19 am (UTC)
well, i guess there are worse things than francis bacon references. not, i must say, that i've read any francis bacon.

anyhow, glad you digged it. seven more to go. hopefully i can get the level of them to improve.
Feb. 10th, 2005 12:33 am (UTC)
Francis Bacon was a mentally beligerrent painter whose followers seem be pseudo-intellectuals seeking a tortured aesthetic to cram their tongues into.

Phew. That felt good.
Feb. 10th, 2005 12:37 am (UTC)
wait, wait.

are you saying i could have some pseudo intellectual followers looking to cram their tongues into me?

i mean, y'know, that doesn't so bad.
Feb. 10th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
Wait till you get published - you'll have tongues jutting every which-way.
Feb. 10th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC)
i have been published. many times, actually. i've even been nominated for awards.

where are my tongues!
Feb. 11th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC)
You know, I had a horrible image there of some Nobel literature prize winner taking the money, turning to the audience and saying TONGUES NOW I WANT MY TONGUES and then leaping over the audience and slobbering over them and reaching desperately for their tongues.

Maybe cutting them out, too.

Probably not the tongue image you were going for, though.

Feb. 12th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
maybe that is what i would do at a nobel prize ceremony. it'd be pretty weird to even be there.
Feb. 11th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
Ben, I meant to comment on this the other day when I read it, but ran out of time.

Good thing I did, because now I've had the pleasure of reading this a second time.

Nice work. Thanks for giving it to us :) I'm hanging out for the rest now.
Feb. 11th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
thanks. it's always nice to hear nice things.

i'm actually feeling kind of good on the other seven, in the raw form i have them. it's going to be interesting to look back at them in eight weeks and see if they hold together. even if they don't, i got to do something different. something someone wouldn't pay me to do.
(Deleted comment)
May. 7th, 2005 03:30 am (UTC)
hey, thanks.

feel free to look round. it's a public blog--meaning i kind of write it to be consumed by anyone who passes by. so look round, do whatever. it's that kind of place.
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