In the back of the bar there was an old radio and not much else; I really don’t know what I expected in the “Cool Streak” Gidgegannup roadhouse. According to the owner, we had arrived at a busy time. In the blazing heat outside, a sleek new LNG tanker straddled Tonkin Highway and the bright gravel drive, shielding the bearded driver and his cold sausage roll from the Australian summer.A clatter pulled me from my reverie; Sophie was bending over with one hand on her hip and picking up an old cassette tape with the other. She returned it to the display case and gave it a whirl; the hunks and queens of yesteryear jumbled about with trepidation.“How long d’you reckon these’ve been here?” she said, stalling the plastic carousel with a thrust of her hand and withdrawing a tape with a sepia woman gracing the cover. “This has gotta be at least 40 years old; wait, did they even have these old things back then?”“Isn’t that Gwen from No Doubt? The sun’s got to it and I doubt it even works. Come on, we’re off.”I ducked through the tri-colour linoleum curtain at the entrance and cringed as the gummy tentacles wiped the desert heat over my back.
Whatever it was that had taken Connor over had seized ahold of him pretty good this time. There was nothing behind his eyes but anger, nothing written in his lips but hate. He'd lurched toward her with his arm up high, like some puppet whose strings were being pulled all wrong. She'd sort of crumpled backwards, in as much as you could with your belly all big like that, and that thing that was him had thrown Connor face-first into a wall, strewn teeth and bone all over the place, and hadn't so much as twitched again after that.Every time they'd come to her on the scent of her screams, she'd told them straight up. It's not him. He's not himself. He would never hurt me. Something takes him over. And every time, they smiled that same thin smile and went away again shaking their heads, to file reports that they hoped would cover their asses when she eventually wound up dead. They wouldn't be smiling when the thing came back again for them, and brought its friends. In the back of the bar there was an old radio, and not much else. But it would do, for now. She wouldn't have to wait much longer.
In the back of the bar there was an old radio and not much else.“Your dad’s?” Evan asked, gesturing toward the radio that looked like a tiny chest of drawers in the poorly lit corner of the bar.“His grandfather’s, I think,” the barman said, his eyes on the beer bottle as he opened the lid. His wrinkles on the forehead and cheeks indicated he must be around the same age as Evan.“Nice to have something handed down for generations.”The barman nodded, washing glasses. Evan was about to say something, anything, to continue the conversation when Mark rushed into the bar and cried, “Dad!”“What,” Evan said, wrinkling his brows. “Where’s your stuff?”“On the bench.”“I told you to keep an eye on it.”“No one’s there, it’s not going to get stolen. Dad—““Go get it.”“But, Dad—““Go get it.”Mark stared at his father. His freckles on the teenage skin looked darker than usual. Then he turned on his heel and left the bar for the platform.“Can’t believe he’s going to live in the city,” Evan said to the barman, shaking his head. “But he got a scholarship, so…”“Great.”“But he doesn’t know what it’s like to live in the city.”“No?”“No. Do you have kids?”“No,” the barman said. “But I know kids learn things fast—way faster than we believe.”
In the back of the bar,There was an old radio and not much else.Deep and raspy Moon River gnawed at my old scarYet I was drawn to the voice like it was some kind of a spell.“Bourbon on the rocks,” a limping old man muttered hoarselyAs he struggled to climb onto the stool next to mine.He reeked of alcohol, grabbing the glass in hands so coarse,Turned his head slightly to my side and said, “I’m fine.”Startled, I gulped down my lukewarm vodka, tears left me blinded,The old man asked, “Are you choking or crying?”
In the back of the bar there was an old radio and not much else. And, you could barely make it out under the accumulation of dusty years and the labors of the many generations of spiders who called this place home. There were a few shot glasses from the heady days when everyone along that side of the road would celebrate getting through another week of almost-not-enough but enough-to-get-you-through-the-weekend pay. You could still see the traces where the heavy wooden bar stools were dragged over to the nearly hidden alcove in the back where the cockfights were held – before you had to hide your prize roosters and slip a hood over their heads to quiet them down so you could sneak them over to wherever it was the fights were secretly held for that day. He stood quietly for a few moments, saying a simple prayer to those days and saying a prayer for his death to come quickly with just a quick thrust into his heart.