Repeat repeat

September 23, 2008

A man in his late 50s, cropped grey hair, tanned and lined face, classic bushman. New jeans, faded denim shirt, Peruvian-style woven waistcoat, dust-caked work boots. Left hand to right ear, mobile talking. Right hand fumbling for a pen in his shirt pocket. He stops next to a tree in the cafeteria forecourt (I’m sitting at a table 6 feet away, nursing a mocha), kneels, says “Right, go on” then notes down a number on the raised edge of the tree’s concrete planter. He says “Right” again then walks away. 3636 5325, a hospital number, contoured in black fibre ink over the pebbled concrete. Ten minutes later he comes back, sits on the planter’s edge next to the number, rings it; no reply, hangs up, walks away.