His drill came early – on the morning train
and waited, welcome as the summer, underneath
the ticket window. “Fango’s due”. The message drained
aggression from recess-time. Tongues checked teeth
and those with cavities and caring parents heard
faint burring deep inside – where ears meet, in where all
old noises are remembered. Dampened hands
gripped and twisted phantom chair-arms and
our minds rode tumbrils to the Soldiers Hall.
He caught the late freight down, when inland night
had softened up the country. Then the guard
would ease him down beneath the platform lights,
verandahs and a crucifix of stars
all alien, unsteady now and far
from Wicklow, green and Trinity. We’d heard
that afternoons were chancy and we made
appointments late in mornings when the last
of last night’s shakes had settled and before
his two-hour lunch-time started. Outlines blurred
a little later in the day.
“Rinse please” – the taste of Condy’s – pink and bitter. “Now
you may feel this”. Beads formed, filled, burst and ran.
Eyes wavered to the wall between the names
and flags on honour rolls. A foot began
to treadle up to cutting speed. Hands gripped again
and waited for the understated. Sir,
who wrote our district history, explained
that things like these formed folk-lore and we’d hear
that Farrell and his treadle drill had framed
a legend losing nothing with the years.
They’ve laminexed the bar – bright green. The roar
of races Sanyoes in from Adelaide. “Who?
What name? A dentist? When? Before the war?
You’re asking something mate. No, those who knew
the place back then have gone. Would you believe
a line ran north through here? Closed years ago
and people left. Old Clyde hung on – he’d know
of course, but then the grog got Clyde last year.
He can’t put words together – sits and stares.
It’s no use asking. Hell, a pedal drill?
And fifty years? Let’s face it mate, who cares?”