Selected for Best Australian Stories 2006
SHE WAS FIFTY-NINE, rich, divorced for a year, and out alone on a Saturday night. She told the taxi driver to head for the Cross; she wanted to do something different, and she decided on the bar where Leon had taken her as a treat the last time he had been in Sydney. On reaching William Street, the traffic slowed to a crawl and Marie looked out the window, fascinated by the gaudy scene. A woman as big as a man stood out from the shadows of a building like a fruit-vendor, holding her enormous breasts to the passing cars. A prostitute half her age and size teetered past in spike heels to a companion propped against a pylon, head lolling. They leant against one another like slivers of cardboard with fluff for hair, trying not to blow over in the wind. A group of English boys lurched down the footpath shouting drunken songs. All of this had to be endured like a thicket of lantana that had grown across the path, as the taxi struggled onwards. The rawness of the street not two blocks from that sumptuous bar with designer chairs and a billion dollar view amazed Marie. As the taxi paused at a red light, some Aborigines sauntered up from Woolloomooloo screaming with laughter then stopped to stare directly through the window at her.
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