The Call

Simon turns back inside, walks slowly across his room, shuts his door behind him and descends the wooden stairs.

Once he is inside, in the well-lit shed beside the house, he picks up his favourite hammer and begins smashing plates. They shattter unpredictably, having no grain, and he whacks each of them hard in the centr, or angles blows at their raised edges, big shards clattering into the large wooden box at his feet. His left hand is gloved for protection, a thick leather hand. He reaches down into the overlapping colous and fragments and selects pieces large enough to break again. The trick is to keep the shards big enough to use, small enough to fit on the struts and outward surfaces. The trencardis technique of Gaudi. Nothing smaller than a shower mosaic, preferably a quarter saucer.

It is the habit of months: he selects from a box of reject plates and dishes and even teapots, all of them flawed or chipped or colour-crazy. A rim of red has swirled into the centre of a plate like a stilled aneurism. A green saucer is queasily uneven. Even so, each plate is something made, until he hits it.



He is concerned. He is possibly unhappy. He is rushing.

Smash. Smash.

This is the familiar sound of the backyard in Clough Street. The neighbours know it. The neighbours hear smashing and they hear the cement-mixer growling and the arc welder's ferocious buzz as it burns the air white and hypnotic blue. At night-time he sizzles and flares in the dark of the backyard or flashes eerily from inside the shed.

This backyard has a tower going up like a plane crashed nose-down. This garden is mostly metal. No one could have predicted it: the tail-like thing they've begun to see rising above the roof line. And in daytime, there in full view, this one man harnessed to it, cap on, trowel out, making it up and up. A tower? And then two of them? What were they? And this being Australia, what were they for? They know this is what he does but they don't know who he is. He is a kind of lightening.

There are storms. Recently, lightening hit a crane at Patrick's Stevedores across the bay. A twenty-metre weal of paint was burnt clean into the steel like a brilliant scar.
The lightening might have forked over here and laid its naptha whang on the towers. The towers are lightening conductors, some idiot has said, a safety hazard, calling lightening down towards their houses. Instead, often enough, the rain falls all nightand plain light breaks in sheets against the spires but never once breaks apart. Light is unbreakable.

And yet he has begun to think of the towers as wreckage.

All this he will have to explain to the film crews. And all the questions. He is lightening. He will be on TV. And TV is a kind of endless neighbourhood. He will strike everywhere at once.