the concrete man

 (first Published in Australian Goat World, 1992/ Black Rider Press, 2010  )

We’re pouring the slab on Gaille’s new bungalow.  The concrete truck has blown a tyre and The Concrete Man swears and smokes cigarettes.  It is amazing how he can still roll cigarettes when he is covered in concrete.   He pours the cement into the wheelbarrow and I wheel it into a nail and now the weelbarrow has blown a tyre.

The Concrete Man looks at his watch and swears and says that there’s no way you can push a wheelbarrow of cement with a flat tyre.  But it is the only wheelbarrow we have and I am so enthusiastic.

Gaille comes out with cups of coffee, and she watches me trying to mount the wheel barrow and The Concrete Man drinks his coffee snorting, spitting phlegm.   And even though he told me not to even bother, The Concrete Man came and helped me push it.  Calls me an idiot. I don’t even know how The Concrete Man can move he is so covered in concrete, if he tried to smile his face would crack.

So The Concrete Man goes off looking for wheelbarrows.  He takes one from his mate around the corner and he takes one from Gaille’s neighbour across the road.  We pour the slab  and I wash out the wheelbarrows.  Then The Concrete Man tells me I had better take the neighbours’ wheelbarrow back to them.  He says, ‘Gaille, I took your neighbours’ wheelbarrow, they weren’t home.  I hope they’re friends of yours.’

And Gaille says, ‘Well, not really.  No.’

So The concrete Man says I had better get moving before they come home.

‘You’re probably a bit late for that,’ says Gaille, looking at her watch.

So I get behind the wheelbarrow and trundle up their driveway.  It’s a long driveway, the house is hidden away in the bush a bit.  The wheelbarrow has a metal wheel which scrapes the road and sounds like a tiny tram.  They would have heard me a mile away.

A man comes out of the house to see what the noise is.  I say, ‘I ‘spose you’re wondering what I’m doing with your wheelbarrow?’

‘No.’ he says,  ‘It’s not my wheelbarrow.’

‘Oh no.  But you are missing a wheelbarrow?’

He doesn’t know, he has to have a look in the shed.  ‘Um yeah,’ he calls out, ‘it’s not here, but i think our one had a tyre.’

‘Well.  I’ve bought back the wrong one.  I’ll go and get the other one.’  I wanted to tell him about The Concrete Man. All I had done was punctured the tyre of Gaille’s wheelbarrow. It was The Concrete Man that  had come and taken the wheelbarrow without permission. It was him.

I felt like a bloody tool.


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