V/Line Vignette 11

The driver’s voice crackled over the two-way.

“Bombardier approaching Bridge over Troubled Waters. Repeat, Bombardier approaching Bridge over Troubled Waters, estimated viewing time fourteen hundred hours. Roger that.”

“Yeah yeah…”

Roger was on his 5th ‘tour of duty’ but could still not work out if Vince (the driver) was taking the piss because of his name or really thought it a military operation, though to be fair to Vince, there was manipulation of the masses and a political agenda involved— it was an assault of propaganda and faux-cheer on holiday makers who if the ruse went well, would be future investors, so one might as well call it a war effort and use military parlance.

Once alerted to the train’s approach, Roger checked his watch and did the math. It would be fifteen minutes before the train would glide over Crescent Fields Viaduct which ran parallel to the campsite of settlers 1497a. Like clockwork, he gathered dried dung from his stockpile, placed it on a retro barbecue and carefully positioned sticks on top of its grill. From the vantage of the train riding audience, it would look like sausages or even prawns, if they squinted and used their imagination. It was normally a two-person effort, but due to an incident on the worksite below that was spoken of in hushed tones, this time, Roger was alone. A substitute for the merry scene was Verity, Roger’s AI mannequin and confidant. Roger positioned Verity on a sun lounge, certain of the convincing act of her ready smile and silent complicity while on ‘standby’. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 10

Metro Minutia 27.8.19

The littlest one’s arms were yanked by his mother who’d had enough of the noise and restless energy of the still-in-nappies tot, together with probably half the carriage- a conservative estimate based on neatly rounded and made-up statistics, that only half of the half who didn’t have headsets on cared (about the noise) and that half of those wearing headsets had their devices switched off but were primed and ready for their sensory limit to be reached setting their trigger finger to hit play and transport them into an aural cocoon, avoiding the very noise they contribute to in the overcrowded carriage with their generic tinny orchestra joining dozens of other leaky headsets, proving that sometimes the whole is worse than the sum of its parts, but I digress. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 9

09.07.19 Mr Farrow’s Parcel

The bell painfully warbled Green Sleeves, only just powered by its almost-dead battery, with no consolation of Mr Whippy approaching. Faye looked up from her stack of boxes and saw the last digit of the wall mounted clock flip; 6:13 AM, the first for the working week. She pulled open the metal hatch on the early collection window. The heavy opacity of the wrought iron hatch kept out the cold and the peering eyes of passers-by while she sorted, stacked, and amused herself with a life-sized game of Tetris. The window was narrow, taller than it was wide, meaning she saw most people with spliced faces, depending on where they stood, until she found their parcel, and if it was too large for the window, she’d open a side door and see the whole person. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 8

Nineteen Ninety Nine 12.08.19

‘Forget gelato, donuts, boiled lollies, bread—even bread Ned!’

Dorcas’ alarm wasn’t helping Ned’s paralysing fear of living out the rest of his life on a sugar restricted diet; he’d only spent the past 47 years perfecting his gelato recipe, having picked up secrets on the Mediterranean trade route with the Merchant Navy in the 1940s. He didn’t know what was worse— giving up his one pleasure in life or warnings about the Millennium Bug that could impact his sales and inventory software, threatening absolute chaos to his careful stocktake of flavours for his sweet enterprise. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 7

Digging 11.06.19

George was on his way home from an interview with a construction firm. It was the first interview he’d had in over 37 years and he had to admit, he was rusty. What did diversity and inclusion have to do with laying reo and pouring concrete? He’d been given ‘voluntary’ redundancy following the merger of LH Kirby & Sons with a conglomerate that was buying up all the work along the northern sprawl out of the city and unsurprisingly, squeezing all resources to maximise profits. He didn’t need the money, but after 18 months spent excavating then backfilling his backyard, he decided it was time to return to the workforce.

To remain ‘in the game’ as he put it, he woke at 04:35 each weekday, donned his work gear, fed Henry his green parrot and meandered to the shed where he kept a bar fridge full of supplies for work lunches and smokos. Cranking the pie warmer on the bench was his first task for the morning, then he’d walk the length of the drive to the front lawn where the rolled-up paper lay waiting in its blue plastic sheath. To make up for the lack of banter, he’d turn on 3WAWA and listen to Robbo and Jonno talk about the traffic, sport, weather and the latest political and or celebrity scandal. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 6

Actual Stream of Consciousness. Literally, Really 03.06.19

I entered the carriage and immediately registered the smell of curry and the many faces looking tired, dishevelled and defeated by the wintery Monday. They’d done their time and now the journey home was as comfortable as their fellow passengers would make it. There was the annoying whistling sound of two women speaking quietly, wet umbrellas without a designated place to rest till their owner disembarked, and the smell of snacks and early dinners. A four – seater was waiting, only steps into the carriage so I took it and removed my coat, placed my bags in the overhead compartment and got comfortable before realising the curry was coming from the seat opposite and diagonal to me. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 5

Traveller 27.05.19

The walk across the elevated platform then down the escalators was messy. Rob and Elaine had been playing tag on the phone all morning so when he rang again, despite the awkwardness, she cradled her phone on her shoulder and pressed her left ear against it while tackling a pillow under that arm and with her right, dragged her two-wheeled cabin luggage and tried to not spill a freshly pressed juice that was filled to the brim with a week’s recommended dosage of sugar, no more wholesome for the antioxidants and ‘super’ ingredients optimistically touted on the colourful disposable cup. Her cabin luggage was the cheapest option at the Reject Shop that morning after her heavy rucksack’s flimsy stitches unravelled at the straps before she made it to the station. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 3

Cloakroom 6.5.19

She adjusted her cloak then pushed open the heavy arched door. Of course, the cloak wasn’t real, but neither was the door, yet when her phone lit up and ‘mum’ flashed on the muted receiver, it was what she did. Her parents were of an age now where L dared not risk ignoring The call. The one she’d imagined all her life. As a child, she’d pictured herself living in a large, echoey house, all timber and marble with generous servings of sweets in crystal bowls and lots of room to pace while having long conversations with friends on the phone, or if she was done pacing, she’d sprawl out on a soft shag pile carpet that would be used solely for late night talks that required the phone to be dragged on its extra long cable, the curly cord draped beside the round of carpet like the tail of a poodle, but longer. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 2

The Drive 29.4.19

‘It’s not over till it’s over’ he’d said. If it hadn’t been such a heated conversation and had she not been walking out on him, D would have burst into song, repeating his lines and adding ’till I’m over you’. It was 5 years since that day, also his birthday. The reminder had been in her phone up until last year, but by then the date was lodged in her mental calendar. She’d felt horrible doing it on his birthday, but there was hardly an opportune moment to talk with him, and he’d given her his full attention in anticipation of being showered with gifts and adoration.

‘Shit!’

She slammed on the breaks, bringing her ricocheting into the present. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 1

Golden 1.4.19

Pauline’s husband died on the eve of their 50th wedding anniversary. A heart attack. It was no surprise as he had been one of a dying breed. A smoker  who over the years had to trade the convenience of smoking anywhere he chose for surreptitious drags in the shadows wedged between the looming office tower where he worked and the adjacent apartment block where he kept four walls for late nights at the office, doubling as a faux bachelor pad for the high class hookers he was dependent on. He’d work late into the night, billing clients for time that would never be his again. Pauline had been busy with arrangements for their anniversary party that coming weekend. It was just another of a long list of projects that kept her occupied through the course of their marriage. Their secret for longevity, they’d only half joke to anyone who cared to ask, was that they were both too busy to have any marital discord. This was of course not entirely true. There was discord, but it was spoken of in the hushed tones of their body language, separate beds, and dreams on divergent paths. Continue reading