street life

the pickling palace

the pickling palace
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

The people across the road are drunk and two of them are planning to have sex together tonight for the first time. That’s at this stage, it’s not even dark yet, we’ve still got the Fight that Blows Up Out of Nowhere and Falling Asleep in the Pizza up our sleeves. Their voices carry and then the Friday afternoon traffic will surge up the hill again to carry them away. He says something and she says, “You are fucking kidding me.” “No,” he says, something something. “You’re just making that up!” Her incredulity is a dare. Climb this tree for me and bring that fruit. He says, “No, I’m deadset serious. Anything you like.” One of the other blokes says something and then the girl begins to sing, or chant, like she was at a football game: “Je-sus, Je-sus, Je-sus, Je-sus.” The positive guy sings something over the top of her, harmonizing. He’s making it up. He’s fucking-kidding her. Their verandah falls apart in a seething heap of laughs just as a truck roars down the road. When the noise clears he is saying, aggrieved, “…been doing it all my life.” I know that feeling, I have too. I have just got home from a delicate day of negotiations in my unconscious and as we swept over the bridge with its hanging-lantern streetlights and banners I felt a song unbrew in me. I sang it out the window in handfuls of confetti and as we pulled away from under the biggest fig tree, that the road goes around (the greatest kind of road), I said, to my long-legged companion who was driving, “Did you see that girl on the corner, the beautiful girl, with the guy who’s just so in love with her?” “Yes,” he said, his voice warm as if fond of them. “How she was just standing there in her little purple dress,” I said, “holding the orange flowers he brought her. He’s looking at her so carefully, he’s in love with her every little gesture. She’s not even noticing, telling him something, he’s in love with the way that she says it.” “So is she in love?” he wanted to know. I said, “Could be. But she’s not thinking about it, she is remembering something that happened and telling him. So it was hard to tell.”

We drove round a sweeping corner prickly with pedestrians. We had watched a giant ibis as it took off from a street sign and flew the length of Charlotte Street, its white wings insignia. The prosperous tropical colonialism and sandstone and big bunches of trees made me feel at home. I wound my seat back and propped my foot out the side window. I said, sentimentally, “Both of them standing there with their bicycles.”

5 comments on “the pickling palace

  1. Ah yes! I did not think of that but, it must be. That October festering that lasts all the way until June.

    Cathoel Jorss October 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm
  2. Exquisite , thank you!

    mark October 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm
  3. Thank you, Mark!

    Cathoel Jorss October 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *