city sizzled in a heat so intense, spontaneous combustion seemed plausible.
Banjo eased the damp waistband of his pants away from his sticky skin. He
flapped his shirt, showing flashes of whiskery milk-white belly. A woman
“Sorry, lady.” Banjo looked at his dog. “Smell like you, I reckon.”
An Aboriginal family had overflowed from the burnt-grass verge to lay
sprawled across the pavement. Their buckled supermarket trolley stood guard.
Banjo stepped off the kerb to skirt around them.
Banjo kept his eyes down.
He kept walking, eyes averted. Their spiteful cackles pursued him. The
familiar depression settled on Banjo like a bruise. He should find a kinder
His stomach rumbled. The dog pricked its
ears. Banjo’s face creased into a smile. “Tucker time?”
They kept to the shady side of the streets. Banjo didn’t attempt to
enter the Mall and the allure of its air conditioned aisles. He knew he’d get
thrown out quicker than a blind wallaby. Instead, he meandered through the
pedestrian area, checking the bins. The council had put little cutesy tin roofs
on them, making it awkward to do a quick rummage. Banjo sighed and sat on an
empty bench outside the hamburger outlet. The dog busied himself, snapping at
flies and nibbling at fleas biting his rump.
It was a good spot and before long a whining child had thrown her
polystyrene burger box in the bin. Banjo scooted along the bench and reached
into the bin. Bingo! He shared the flabby half eaten burger with his dog; it
tasted good. He tilted his crumpled hat forwards and closed his eyes. The dog
fell asleep first.
Banjo snorted when a foot nudged his leg. “You can’t sit here, mate.”
Without opening his eyes he guessed it was someone from the hamburger
outlet. The police would have addressed him differently. Banjo knew better than
to argue. The dog knew better than to growl. They rose and shuffled away
without looking up.
now late afternoon and the heat hadn’t abated. Banjo drifted towards the
Drop-in Centre. He didn’t like the place; the sour smell of people without hope
made his depression spiral. But he knew he wouldn’t be hounded out. And he was
Pete handed him an egg and beetroot sandwich. “Hotter’n hell out there
“Know something? I’m leaving. Heading south before I go troppo
Bloody rat-trap place.”
“Holy Dooley, I wish,” said Banjo.
“Ah look, no offence mate, but if you clean yourself up a bit I’ll give
you a lift.”
Pete poured tea from the huge aluminium pot, giving him time. Panic
scrabbled at Banjo. With an unsteady hand he scooped too much sugar into his
tea and stuffed the sandwich into his pocket.
He finally spoke. “I’m a bit busy right now. Thanks anyway.”
“No worries.” Pete swabbed the counter with a raggedy cloth.
Banjo wandered out into the stifling heat to share supper with his dog.
Eames left England over twenty years ago to explore the world and dive its
oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three
continents. She is currently arranging a move from Fiji to Ireland.