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Authors: Sam Carmody

The Windy Season

BOOK: The Windy Season
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Sam Carmody is a writer and award-winning songwriter from the town of Geraldton on the central coast of Western Australia. He is a previous recipient of the Mary Grant Bruce Award as part of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) National Literary Awards and his short fiction and non-fiction have been published widely online and in print.

Carmody's first novel,
The Windy Season
, was shortlisted for the 2014
Australian
/Vogel's literary Award. He is currently living in Darwin on Australia's Northern Territory coast lecturing in creative writing at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Higher Education.

Shark Fin Blues

Written by G.Liddiard (Mushroom Music)

Reproduced with kind permission

First published in 2016

Copyright © Sam Carmody 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian
Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or 10 per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to the Copyright Agency (Australia) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin

83 Alexander Street

Crows Nest NSW 2065

Australia

Phone:
(61 2) 8425 0100

Email:
[email protected]

Web:
www.allenandunwin.com

Cataloguing-in-Publication details are available from the National Library of Australia

www.trove.nla.gov.au

ISBN 9781760111564
eISBN 9781952534614

Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Cover design: Christabella Designs
Cover photographs: Cihan Terlan / Shutterstock

In memory of my grandmother, and first reader,

Freda Vines

Standing on the deck watching my shadow stretch

The sun pours my shadow upon the deck

The waters licking round my ankles now

There ain't no sunshine way way down

I see the sharks out in the water like slicks of ink

Well, there's one there bigger than a submarine

As he circles I look in his eye

I see Jonah in his belly by the campfire light

From
Shark Fin Blues
, The Drones

THERE ARE THINGS OUT THERE
worse than sharks.

He had been told that so many times. The German enjoyed reminding him. Three months he had said it and Paul never knew what it meant. He suspected he didn't want to know, that it was wiser not to look that hard. After all, there were ten thousand kilometres of coastline, from the Northern Territory border right down to the South Australia border. Most of it unpatrolled. All that ocean to the west, the Indian Ocean. There were bound to be things moving about that you didn't want to come nose to nose with. And Paul never did, not until the twenty-mile crucifix, when Paul saw the body tied to the marker above the old shipwreck. Unrecognisable from weather and sun and birds.

There are things out there worse than sharks. He would know that in the end.

Contents

I

Missing

Victim or criminal

II

A spectator enthralled

At sea

Ghosts in the water

Stark

Shadow

Hidden

Circus

Deadman

Jester

Torpedo

Twenty-one

Pantomime

Headwind

Parachute

Undertow

Locksmith

Life after God

Fever

Moby Dick on a handline

In the dark

Containment

Runner

The living dead

Spinning over and over, like a plane going down

The dam's broken

Atomos

Outpost

Talk

III

The windy season

Afterglow

The swimming speed of sharks

Arm in arm with a hippy

Angela

Deluge

Wake

Big room

Off-the-boat

In the void

Jack-in-the-box

Memories for ghosts

Snagged

Filthy ugg

Falling through a building turned on its side

Scavengers

A sun that never comes up

Stripped

Like letting a glass fall from a counter

USS San Jacinto

Land of children

Zach

Leviathan

Witness

Twenty-mile crucifix

IV

Tornado

The Professor

Mirage

Whitebait

Poppy

Communion

They're all ghosts

Troy

Abatement

Big Shit

Barcelona

Through the heart of everything

Acknowledgements

Missing

PAUL WAS WORKING HIS SUPERMARKET
shift when he first heard Elliot was missing. It was a Wednesday morning. Seven o'clock. The dairy delivery had just come in and his fingers were blue from freezer cold. The floor was empty of customers when he saw his mother, crossing the fruit and vegetable section, tugging at the sleeve of her sweater. He waved to her but she didn't smile when she saw him. She wasn't wearing makeup. It was rare to see her outside of the house without makeup on.

Has Elliot called you? she said before she got to him.

Paul shook his head.

Shit, she said, stepping backwards as though she'd been pushed. Has he said anything to you? Was he going anywhere?

What's wrong?

I don't know where he is, she said. His mother was almost shouting. She looked into the misted glass of the fridges and
seemed to catch her reflection. She put a hand to her face and looked back at Paul. He saw the panic in her eyes, how in that moment it changed her completely, made her seem like a teenager. We don't know where he is, she said, quieter. It's not like him.

With that she turned and walked towards the checkouts.

Paul spent the rest of the shift moving between the storeroom freezer and the supermarket floor carrying crates and sodden, frost-covered cardboard boxes. The store manager, Bec, had her word to him in the delivery yard. As usual she made him stand looking west, squinting at the ocean torn by the sea breeze, white with sun. Far out in the sea lane, freighters queued, their black flanks shrunken and blurred in the glare. He watched the ships as she recited some new complaint about him. He had been getting that speech most days, Bec's hands jammed in the back pockets of her black pants, belly out towards him. She told him that he wouldn't get checkout duties again until he looked customers in the eye, like a man. He needed to speak up. He needed to know that everyone thought he was a pervert. He could think about sucking clit in his own time, she said. He apologised. Paul didn't tell her about Elliot, didn't mention to anyone what his mother had told him.

The shift finished at midday and when he reached home on his bicycle his father was already back from the university and his grandmother had arrived and installed herself in the kitchen, fussing over the few dishes at the sink and preparing food for no clear reason. She cornered Paul when she saw him and filled him in.

Elliot hadn't been seen for days. He was last seen in Stark, the fishing town where he worked. His phone was going straight to messages, as though it were switched off; or he could be out of
range, somewhere even further up the coast. He could be hurt, his grandmother said. Could have got himself into trouble on one of his surfing or fishing trips. Could have crashed his car or been washed off rocks by a king wave. His grandmother clenched his wrist as she said these things, not really looking at him. Then she let him go, returning to her post behind the kitchen counter to scowl into a white plastic mixing bowl.

Paul found his father upstairs in his study, still in his suit jacket.

Paul, his father said, and straightened his glasses. He was standing beside the wall-mounted bookshelf, leaning back on his heels. He held a large ring-bound document. You know, his father said, leafing through it, I met a student's grandfather today. We had a morning tea for our doctoral grads and this very good student of mine had brought along his family including this grandfather. Ninety-two years old. First time I ever saw the man but then I remembered that the same man had died six years ago. Six years ago I gave an assignment extension to this student because one Mr Horsley, his grandfather, had died. But there today at this morning tea sat Mr Horsley definitely alive, and in reasonable health. Paul's father smiled. A miracle, he said, and ran a hand through his clipped blond hair.

As usual, Paul didn't know what to say to his father. He had expected that maybe this one time the Professor might even be angry, having to cancel a lecture, arriving home to bad news and patchy information. He had expected that he might be aggravated by the unproductive fretting of Paul's grandmother, impatient with the whole thing, feeling all the same things Paul did. But the Professor stood there in the study as absentmindedly as a man standing in a park.

And I thought to myself, his father continued, that is dedication. To be willing to do-in your grandfather for a one-week extension.

Elliot, Paul said. The word echoed darkly in the study.

Yes, his father replied. Your mother is making calls.

Paul waited for more, but that was all his father said on it.

Where is Mum? Paul said.

Maybe try his room.

Paul waited a moment longer, watched his father's back, turned to the door.

Paul, his father called after him, removing his reading glasses.

Yeah.

I don't like you going on my computer. You know that. I have a lot of work on here. I can't afford to lose it.

He didn't answer as he left the room.

Paul's mother spent the afternoon in Elliot's bedroom on the phone. She tried to call Tess, Elliot's girlfriend who had first reported him missing, but she didn't answer. She spoke to the police in Stark and the city police. An officer told her they would send someone out to see them.

It wasn't like Elliot. Paul's mother repeated that phrase a number of times on the phone with people—to Elliot's small circle of friends and their parents, in the phone calls from his aunty Ruth, and to the dozens of other concerned or curious people who phoned, some of whom she hadn't seen in years. And she would repeat it to herself.
It's not like him
. And it wasn't. Elliot called regularly. Even when he was on his trips up the coast he had always been clear about when he was coming home. Paul didn't think of Elliot as secretive. He was reclusive, but not shady. But no one knew where he had been for three days.

BOOK: The Windy Season
4.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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