Bert – And then there was Tracy. Came out of nowhere. Everyone was on the piss, see, cause it was Christmas Eve. Why wouldn’t they be? Mate of mine, he had a baby girl, one month old, and two little boys, shorter than shrimps. He ripped the mattress of his missus’ bed, you know those big heavy ones with the inner spring, and he carried it over to protect them. Couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Suddenly the mattress just flew out of his hands and up and away. The roof was long gone, see, and everything was saturated.
Damian – Yes. It’s amazing, isn’t it, the force –
Bert – And everything was flattened. Nothing was standing. The boys were fine but they couldn’t find the little girl. Where do you even start looking? The whole city was destroyed. My mate, he checked everywhere. Said it was all horrible. See, they had these metal sheet roofs and the cyclone just picked the roof right up and spun them around. You couldn’t avoid it. They’d tear people in two as easy as that. Just go through them. Anyway, couple of days later they found her. She was up in a tree, could you believe it? She’d been, she was impaled on a branch, straight through her chest. Just like that. Tiny thing. No hope. That’s what happened to my mate.
Damian – That poor girl. I’m sorry for your friend.
Bert – He’s a good bloke. Still around. Still talks about it. His missus ain’t around any more, but he is. The boys, they drive trucks up from Adelaide right through to Darwin. Big three trailer monsters. Too much goey if you ask me, but they do a good job. Their eyes are like lasers at the end of a shift. It’s not good for them. I can’t talk, I’ve been trucking longer than them. Sick of it, though. Hours are too long, it’s too lonely. I’m an old fellow now, I can’t be by myself forever. I need something. Not a sheila. Nothing like that. A place of my own. And then there’s business in England. I’m too old for that. Wish I wasn’t. The boys I was telling you about, they are too old. They aren’t really boys now, they’d be forty if they were a day. All too old. But you? You’re young. What do you think?
Damian – My wife and I are going to London soon. It’ll blow over. It always does. I’d like to say, in a way I wish I was Orwell and it was the Spanish Civil War, but it isn’t, and I’m not. It’s just a holiday. But we’ll be there.
Bert – Orwell?
Damian – A writer.
Bert – Never much got into writers. I think they can be smart little buggers, but I wonder if they are putting one over me.
Damian – Oh, I suspect that they –
Bert – But you’re going there? You’ll be in England? I wish I was your age. I wish I could see it.
Damian – There won’t be anything to see.
Bert – Yeah. We didn’t pay attention when they told us about Tracy, neither.
Part of the Railroad Perfection series