Las Vegas

The freeway sounds like a rolling train. Something is whining over it, a high pitched grind, perhaps a plane or a helicopter. It rises to a migraine roar and fades as a jumbo climbs away. A bad-bearing whistle crosses from left to right under the canopied entrance to the lobby. Another plane grinds into the aftershocks of the first. A siren honks. Honks again. The incoming plane sounds like the long plaintive roar of some great sea beast that I cannot quite call to mind, perhaps a sea lion, perhaps a whale. A two engined jet rises impatiently almost as the other drops behind the low-rises, or perhaps it is my mind, stalling between instances of sound. The rising jet has more of a whistle than the 747. The sound wavers as is it cuts through layers of wind and turbulence, like someone playing with an ancient volume control. Yet another plane rises, this time like a woodsaw. A bird chirrups and cheeps in a moment of quiet. A distant dog barks insanely at the silence. Another bird phirps in the palm trees. The machine starts up again like an old and broken machine. Cars. Planes. Helicopters.


Sydney, Street.

On my left there is modern jazz. On my right there is relentless bass over chatter from the next table. A light breeze blows the giant umbrella back and forth. A jet rumbles overhead. Tyre noise rumbles from cars in batches of four and five measured out by a traffic light. There is no engine noise from the small city cars. Then there is the throaty roar of someone who needs their car to be heard, betraying the light perhaps a hundred metres away. There is a hole in the soundscape the shape of a lady looking at her phone as though some pressing business is preventing her from entering. Perhaps she is waiting for a date. Someone pitter-patters into the road after a male voice. There is the chatter of plastic and keys on the asphalt and she laughs, embarrassed, and steps back. Four or five more cars pass. There are soft steps passing, no one is in a hurry. There is one step louder than the others, like a clog. But only one. I look up and a young woman in a tight long skirt has the faintest of limps. One of her legs is metal. Someone makes a phone call like half the world has gone silent. It starts soft, thunders past, fades. "I love you like a brother." "No. No." "You know that's true." Tap. "Looser." A greeting is tossed at diners like keys onto a bowl. Stilettos click. Hard boots skuff. A child skips its joy at being out late. Another greeting is like a moon landing, long silence and then breathing can start again with a buzz and hugs and slaps. The passing kid explains something in the way that only a kid should, all cheeky un-tested logic. Singsong. Expansive. He stops and shouts "Pizza!" "But you wanted Chinese. You wanted fortune cookies." "Oh yeah." Slap insensible shoes slap slap on the pavement. Tight acrylic swishes and crackles. A hi is drawn out until it lies sensless in the lap of the waitress. Hey Now clicks in. I like this song and it pulls away my senses. When they return I can hear Spanish, English, Italian, Korean, not in that order. A drawn squeal of laughter is stopped with a hand in the street. I grind my empty glass toward the edge of the table in the timeless signal that the drinker feels neglected. On my left the empty frontage of the modern jazz restaurant echoes and is sad. Four more cars crinkle past. Three skateboards trundle, though their riders look like bankers in camouflage. Further to the right is a small hotel, The first 'M' of its name is strangely italicised so that my brain reads the part-word, then the full word and the one becomes two: Organ Morgan's Boutique Hotel. Which name is more evocative than it has any right to be. A man walks by coughing so that people will pay attention. Another showgirl smokes noisily on the way to work, perhaps waiting to be intercepted with a better offer so that she can call in sick, if that's what showgirls do. The clink of a car door lock. The distinctive four-way patter of a dog - a fat boxer - obviously known, snuffles under the tables. There is a cadence to the walk of two men arm in arm where one is walking faster than the other would like to go. There is the elegant slide of a hard soled, high heeled shoe as an indian woman in a slim fitting dress tries to go one way and her date wraps his arms around her waist and half pulls her the other. Not forcing her, but stopping her. She says "sorry" twice and says it in a way which says all of: she isn't sorry at all, he should be sorry himself, let's come to a compromise and also who's in charge here? She cups arms with him and they walk his way. She says sorry again, in victory and he sighs. It's not entirely his night, but a dance has been danced as it has always been danced. A smoker coughs onto a tree and waves his cigarette drunkenly. The owner chases someone who has the wrong pizza with more sorrys and these mean 'let's pretend you aren't a thief'. The waitress laughs hmmm hmmm like it's time for me to go. My boss calls and though I ignore the call, I'm muted for a time. Between the two of them I decide to order another glass of wine. Things are just warming up. The coughing man is returning and now he sniffs as well as coughs. The smoker hawks back. Someone staggers past and tells me to smile. A convertible roars past hammering the red metal of the night into something curlicued, fast and hard. Both showgirls are in the back, looking pensive but smiling. One has a bottle. Weeeeeeey says the cigarette man, spinning to follow and bumping two elderly ladies with a fat terrier of some sort between them. It yaps. He engages it in conversation. For more cars pass. The man who instructed me to smile comes hurrying back. The women glare icily. A plane rumbles overhead. Wine plinks into my glass with a rythmn of annoyance.



The pokies sing their songs behind me as I wait for my wine to slop into its glass. They whirr and whistle as each game is played and then thunk saddly into quiet. No one speaks, but there are sighs. Grimy metal coins meet shimmering metal slots to be swallowed by plastic esophagi, one after the other, gulp, gulp, gulp. Crisps are snacked, nuts are cudded, coins rustle again. Some with resigned clicks, some with angry snaps into the slot. My wine stops glugging into my glass. The till slides open with a soft whirr and closes with a click. The coins drop into my hand with a rustle. I notice that my change is in Australian dollar coins where a note would have done. I cram them into my pocket. Behind me there is the sound of a win paying out, like a series of gunshots, bang, bang, bang, it goes on for what seems like minutes. Each retort a tiny bullet of endorphins into one brain and the sound of cowardice and regret to the rest of us.

Someone is winning.

It's not you.

What are you going to do about it?

What are you going to do?


will you birth a better moment ...

... and kiss it on the head

One of a dozen lines from Freckled Ocean by The Mike and Ruthy Band which have been spinning in my head since I started listening to that song.


Raised by wolves and other beasts...

Bros, Wolf Alice