But for now, I walked into the slightly mournful light towards Jack’s house, avoiding looking in the place where my house had been.
There’s nothing there, mate, Sheridan said, nothing but the chimneyin the middle of a lawn. I can’t go there.
Jack’s rebuilt house, being constructed in true de Selby fashion, still had no more walls than the previous model. Its one solid wall was blind and windowless, politely turning its back on its neighbour. Jacks’ place faced out towards the estuary, and thus, sitting on the steaming hot tub, I was able to look down to the mangroves, up to the high darkening escarpment, but to have no physcal reminders – if you can discount the silhouettes of dead trees on the clifftops – of all that had been lost in the fire.
Years later JL rebuilt the house. He devised a system of shutters sowe could batten down against the brutal westerly but, being a follower of de Selby, he also, worked to remove any barrier between the room and the world outside. The shutters and the windows all slid back and tucked away as if they were not there. The railing slid down too, so when the building inspector had left there was no physical or visual separation between inside and outside .
What about mosquitoes? Even as I asked it , I wondered if Jack really understood. He had always calmly coexisted with mosquitoes, tics, leeches. (fifteen years later, by the lantern light out on his deck, I would see Jack and Brigit’ four years old bravely attack his own foreskin with a pair of tweezers.
Well said Jack, it would be criminal to put flywire over that.
Jack, I’m not paying all this money for mozzie bites. … as I lay in bed and looked through the jacaranda to the water while Brigit’s gossamer curtain just …. breathed.
The room was a civilised abstraction of Jack’s camp on Pittwater where , once the tick had been safely removed from the foreskin, we sat feasting on the crabs he and the kids had brought in from their trap.
You always hated the westerly, Jack laughed. S you tell the story of the lamp flying across the street, I’ll tell you the story of the southerly, and we’ll be square. But i think we should do it in the boat and I also think you should what it’s like to catch a kingfish. No book about Sydney is complete without a kingfish.
from Peter carey’s 30 days in Sydney, a wildly distorted account