A fraction too much fiction concluded

By skepticlawyer

Chapter One is here; Chapter Two is here.

Rumours about Holden’s planned closure of operations in Logan City were confirmed yesterday when the managing director of Holden in Queensland, Mr Simon Wheelwright, confirmed that the plant would close in a week’s time.

Angry workers staged a protest outside the company offices in Brisbane yesterday. Mr Kevin McGuire, floor supervisor, stated that the move will make two thousand men redundant.

‘Many people who live in Logan City are unskilled or semi-skilled and they will bear the brunt of this decision,’ he said.

Representative of the AMWU, Mr Ante Izbegevic, called on Holden to reconsider its decision.

‘This area has already been badly hit by the recession and this will only make things worse,’ he stated. ‘Some people will have nowhere to go’.

Irene saw men walking out from under the factory gates for the last time, welders’ masks perched upwards on their foreheads, tears streaming down their faces, blue overalls smudged and stained with grease. Kevin McGuire, who was 55 and would almost certainly never work again, sat on the company lawn with his head in his hands. Ante Izbegevic and Slavo Nesic, the Croat and the Serb hugged each other outside the gate. The TV cameras and microphones captured all of this, even the long whistle whine of the factory seeing into the sky for the last time. Reporters said things like worst factory closure in Queensland history and unemployment in Logan City nearly forty percent. Irene thought of Donna and Zoran, doing their best, trying to manage.

Ante Izbegevic sat on Donna and Zoran’s divan, a stunned look on his face. He talked to Zoran in Croatian, his eyes bleary. Donna stood in the dining room and twirled a tea-towel around with one hand, rubbing her feet on the carpet. Since she’d spent so much time around his family, she had a fair idea what they were saying. Ante was worried that he’d never get another job, and felt ashamed that he’d have to get his son to fill in his dole forms for him.

After Ante had made his teary way to the Croatian Club to set up for Friday night, and Zoran had gone with him just to keep him on track, Donna sat at the kitchen bench, drinking coffee and thinking. She looked through the kitchen door at the disassembled rifle on Zoran’s work bench in the laundry. It was a pig-shooter’s rifle, probably Matt Zernike’s. The piggers came to Zoran all the time now. Matt had told his friends about Zoran’s speed and prices; word had spread fast. She thought of Zoran’s skill as he leaned over their rifles. The gentleness of his voice and the tiny movements of his hands frightened her as much as the booming anger he showed when he saw stories about Bosnia on the telly. Matt Zernike and his friends would agree with Zoran, and slap him on the back. They were mainly farmers, from Waterford and Bethania. They seemed to like shooting things.

She thought of Irene at university: clever, go-getting Irene who was going to ‘go far’. That’s what mama always said. Irene didn’t visit often now, and when Donna rang, she was usually at Nick’s – the ‘moneyed Mouth from the South’, Zoran called him. Nick chased waves, Irene told her, and the best waves were here, not Melbourne. He was something flash, an accountant or economist. Donna had never gathered up the courage to ring her at Nick’s. She reached for the phonebook and found

Lewis N 43HawkenDrStLuc

So that’s where he lives. Miles away over there. Expensive suburb like so. She had never been to St Lucia.

Irene stirred her coffee. ‘You’ll have to work out what you want’.
‘He’s so angry. It’s his family. Half of them live in Tuzla. God. I know all about these places now I never even heard of. And since Ante lost his job it’s got worse and worse’.

Irene’s face darkened. ‘He hasn’t hit you, has he?’
‘God no, it’s just… I hate to see him so angry. And he’s going to get into trouble. This Serbian guy abused him in the Kuraby and Zoran beat the shit out of him’. She rubbed her eyes. ‘He just wouldn’t stop. There was beer and piss and blood and vomit all over the floor’.
‘Jesus’. Irene wrapped her arms around her. Donna sobbed now.
‘And when I went to ring you before, I noticed that the only book me and Zoran’ve got is the f***ing phone book! We’ll be f***ing stupid. Forever’.

She remembers when the decision came, and how little it shocked her. The gang rape of an aunt in Tuzla was his reason.
‘I can’t stay while this is going on’.
‘Do what you want’.
‘This is my family… don’t you get it? You know what those pricks done to her?’
Donna fidgeted, thinking of the UN photograph and letter. The woman shocked into permanent silence. The burning village.
‘What about your dad?’
‘Dragan can do his forms for him. It’ll be all right’.
She discovered her pregnancy a fortnight after his Qantas flight left for Rome.

Irene drives steadily, carefully, taking the corners with a gentle sweep, and Donna is grateful. The roads to the city are peaceful, and for some reason she can’t hear any traffic noise or see houses as they would normally appear. Bret Neils said this was what it was like when he got home from Vietnam. Everything familiar, but like he’d never seen it before.

Irene pulls up in the clinic’s concrete drive and parks under a jacaranda for the shade. She helps Donna out of the car and through the glass doors, into the airconditioned reception area. The walls are brick and rough, and Donna doesn’t to lean on them. She looks at Irene, then outside, to the hot light. Fires flare in her mind’s eye. Fires hot enough to melt gold.


  1. Posted November 19, 2006 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Apologies for the delay, people.

  2. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted November 20, 2006 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you – good read.

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