Tuesday, January 15, 2013

AKA... The Railway Hotel Pub

Clive the landlord uncapped another Strongbow for me. Bugs swirled through the steamy Railway Hotel Pub. They tapped off lights and people in a dizzying dance throughout the humid air. Hundreds of them - little ones swirling together, big ones crawling up backs and shoulders. The closeness of the bar area left a hazy trail above our heads, creeping just below hanging lights from the ceiling. I got off the train here 2 days ago - alone in the midday sun. Most passengers had gotten off at earlier stops like Toowoomba and Roma. The kid I shared a sleeper with got off at Roma after a drunken week in Brisbane. I got off at Charleville because it was the last stop. There wouldn't be another train for a week and then some. Tonight, I was doing my best to fill the time until the next train. They all knew I wasn't local. They stared and glared and made time filling chit chat until I went outside for a fag. They would then convene like a committee, "Do you know?" "No, do you?" "I think he's South African." "No way, a Brit." I stood outside and watched the stillness of the Outback night. Not a breeze, not a feeling of oxygen seemed to pass my face as I exhaled a drag. "Hot one tonight," a voice out of the stillness surprises and my subtle daydream ends with a "yea, it sure is." "Where you from, mate?" I sneer a bit, but not in a smug sort of way, more at the commonality of the current situation. I knew the question was burning in all their pockets and I imagined them drawing straws to see who got to ask it. "New York City!? Crikey, you're a long way from home mate! What brought you all the way out here, to our little Chaz-Vegas?" Truth be told I just wanted to see what was out here. The answers I usually got of serial killers, poisonous snakes, and a few kangaroo of course wasn't good enough. Although seeing a kangaroo for the first time, live and in person, is when I truly realized I was a long way from home - and I fucking loved it. News spread quick and Landlord Clive came up to me as soon as I got back into the pub, "New York, eh? I was there nearly 30 years ago." "Oh yeah, our Clive is quite the world traveller," said another listening in. "Yeah he's been everywhere, mate - New York City, Brisbane." The pub erupted in laughter. Clive himself laughed aloud, turning to continue the joke, "Yeah, well the plane left from Brizzy, mate. Charleville Airport doesn't fly to New York on Tuesdays." Again the pub erupts into shoulder chuckling laughter. The uneasiness surrounding my prescience passes with every story. They bought rounds and talked toward me as they told stories. You know the sort, ones told a million times before. "... and then the hog jumped on his back!" The climax of the story shouted into the advancing roar of laughter, so that even the outside stillness feels the presence of life.


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