Sparkles and Dust

I live in the suburbs, the homes jammed between the sky and earth, the floor and the ceiling.

The town where my father grew up is now an open cut coalmine. The school where he taught is sold off to pay state debt and then ploughed back into real estate.

In our hearts we’re not sure we belong. The next bulldozer, the next drought, the next bushfire… we’re dust.

Last month we had a horrid stench. A rodent had scurried in from the southern winter to be warm as it died. It had been heard under the floor, in the walls and ceiling.

In the ceiling all I found was a flaky insulation and dust.

Under the floor, through the still and lifeless dust, I found a ducted heating pipe that had come away from a vent. I shone my torch into the tube but found no smelly carcass.

I now needed duct tape to re-attach the pipe.

At the hardware store I asked the attendant where I could find what I need. Aisle 28. Rush. Rush.

I passed a clown. A clown in a hardware store! She was entertaining some kids with balloon tricks.  I joined the queue with the cutest checkout chick.

A flicker of recognition.

I had recently been trawling through old family photos and found one of dad at a company Christmas party. A long forgotten memory that only a photo can bring back. My father, a quiet and dignified man, was never one to stand in front of a crowd and draw attention to himself but at this party he was having his face painted by a clown. The clown had picked him out of the audience.  I remember being embarrassed for him and admiring that he did it without being embarrassed, even though I knew he was hating it.

The same clown. Not only that, I had the photo on my iPad stowed in my man-bag. The conversation went…

“Excuse me”.

“The father I take it”

“No these aren’t my kids. I was just wondering, is this you?”

“I’ll need my glasses…. that must have been the early 80s. I remember that. Is he still with us?”

“No, he passed away. Anyway I’m happy to see you still doing it.”

“Yeah I’m in the Yellow Pages under Sparkles.”

“I work for the Yellow Pages mob now.”

She frowns.

“Anyway, thank you”.

I returned home and climbed beneath the floor again.  The mouse still eluded me. The wife found it later on.

I needed Sparkles the Clown to connect me to the past when everything else seemingly had turned to dust.

Duct tape, dust and sparkles.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. rleask
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 07:19:14

    I can recall two “dead rodent” incidents from my past…

    The first was in a small weatherboard “Brunswick Edwardian” that I shared with my girlfriend and my best mate and her best mate (who were also a couple – married now). Something small, but clearly mortal, died under the floorboards in our room, I suspect a rat (some say I always suspect a rat) or, less likely, a possum. There was no floor cavity of sufficient depth to get under the house. Basically there was headroom under there for something small to get under the boards and, essentially be safe. Evidently, not totally safe. It was a wretched summer.

    The second involved a rat and a refrigerator. The rat found somewhere warm (under the motor) to hold up during the ugly South Australian winter. Unfortunately, at some point, the rat broke the cardinal rule. Under no circumstances chew the wires leading to/from your heat source. When I finally found it, it was barely recognisable, par cooked but strangely serene looking (amazing for a rat)… This was much later (winter of 2003).

    Nice one Craig.




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