Sense of Place

“Where are you heading?” He asked, dabbing his face with a scrunched up bundle of tissues.

He was too wet to ignore, “Central Station.”

We made the kind of small talk that doesn’t commit to the conversation. He told me, “I have this post-card from my sister, she bought it for me at the eighty-eight world expo. I used to use it as my bookmark. Here, careful. Brisbane always seemed a little water damaged. I guess I didn’t help with that impression. I bet ya the city doesn’t look a thing like this, all bright and lit up for the fair.”
I joked in a hushed tone, “We still get electricity.”

“And jokes, I see. The city was very clean back in Sir Joh’s run. I saw his son on the news recently. Running for the Palmer party. I recognised his voice before his face. Sir Joh used to say you could count a city’s future on the amount of cranes you can see on the horizon.”

I felt the flush of politics in my face, “He gutted a lot of buildings though, to make way for that, right? Seemed he liked his name on plaques.” There were a few seconds of silence. “And Cheques” I added, connecting semantic dots.

“Do you not like the city?” he asked.
I imagined people were staring at us, vying for silence, but something pushed me on. ”I accept it for what it is.” I thought back to the postcard, “Even if the reason it has water damage is no-one gets the gunk out of the drain.”

He smiled the smile of a priest, that frustrating acceptance, “Sure Joh might have had some problems, but he did well for city.”
“Plenty of cranes on the horizon.” I replied.

We slid back into small talk and I turned to watch the water running down the window as the train hurtled along the tracks, the blinding flash of the suburbs surrounding us. He looked down at the postcard in his lap and lamented, “Oh, I do hope it hasn’t changed much.”
I mumbled, “Don’t worry, people still voted for Bjelke.”

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