A sentimental journey through Sydney, six
Migration in all its manifestations means a change in migrants' lives, uneasiness. In 1950s newcomers are Europeans. White Australia receives displaced persons, and many escapees after World War 2 who can occupy places once inhabited by Aborigenes.
A sentimental journey through Sydney, six
Fernando García Izquierdo
The Kimberley Range of mountains, as pure and torrid a desert as one could ever fancy, situated in the north-west of the Australian continent, is the most isolated of all the isolated huge portions of the earth, and it has always been so. Even the stones overthere reach burning temperatures, and when one of the few expatriates, who there have settled, throws away his empty bottle of liquor, say, GORDONS GIN or JOHNNY WALKER, the sun begins at once to cause its struggles, moulding the glass into successive different forms, as when one is playing with plasticine; and, from transparent containers, they become small statues of a pinkish hue or, more often. lapis-lazuli.
At the time we are considering, there were no towns or villages there, no highroads or railway lines. There was nothing apparently of much value in the soil, in the way of agriculture, forestry, grand prairies… or along a littoral of thousands and thousands of miles. The youngest of the continents to be inhabited and known to civilization, it is however the oldest geologically speaking, ordinarily primeval nature, I should say… it contains life – how could it be otherwise - vegetable and animal, only in many respects it is life of another nature.
An Australian author who is not very well known, George Johnston, the author of the printed text of a book entitled “The Australians”, wrote of the lost continent of the south that “It was never intended as a place for people”. It would be quite a different story if we were to consider the continents eastern fringe, a limited coastal land. I consider as one of the most delightful spots on earth the piece of land around Sydney and the magnificent bay of Port Jackson.
Now that he had found a job which he liked, Luis Galvao seemed satisfied with the way his life was shaping. He liked his post at Hutchkinson and Whyte’s, he liked the persons with whom he worked and the people he met right and left as he moved in the streets of the city and near suburbs, he loved the sun which nearly every day now shone overhead and that most colourful city life; numerous trees, which before had nothing extraordinary, now shone red and yellow like the tongues of a raging fire: the very leaves looked like flowers; to say nothing of the sky, pure cobalt blue, or the deep blue of the sea, the light green and the dark green, the multicoloured flowers of numerous private and public gardens, and the National Parks.
He adored his wife Malgorata, as he called her, with whom he shared his happy existence, as if they constituted a married couple, ready to have a big family. Happy months, happy years ahead! Once more, who would chose solitude? Because the former obstacle was no more.The husband had been swallowed up by the barren earth of the desert. Moreover, she was again a first rate artist, who was giving violin lessons to young players, their neighbours in Ultimo and lately in the City itself. Everything seemed to be going well for the couple.
He was now contemplating from the window of his new office the city he had come to love, the city-dwellers and commuters, all Sydneysiders, the wealth and splendour and other aspects of Australian life, so characteristic: the City’s new skyscrapers, some hundred yards away, and the majestic old buildings English style; the street, Kent Street, down below, a woman running to catch her bus, the beginning of the Bradfield Highway pointing north, the Harbour Bridge looming high, a crew of cute uniformed girls coming out from the High School, two men in flannel suits and hats, balancing their leather briefcases as they bounded forth, young women entering the building in patterned cotton dresses, almost certainly barmaids, to go and work in the cafeteria in the entry-hall of Caltex House, an old man on a bench eating his lunch out of his sandwich box… when the intercom rang behind him. He picked it up.
He was being summoned to the managing partner’s office, where he was met by Mr. Hutchkinson and Mr. Whyte, both standing up. He observed there was another person in the room who had stood up at the same time as the partners.
Mr. Kim Hutchkinson made the presentations. The third man was Mr. Sheldon Pariente, a New York lawyer who had just joined the partnership. The name was not unknown to Luis Galvao, who had had some professional correspondence with him, the newcomer having come directly from the firm of Salomon, Green and Salomon, of Manhattan, which had acted for many years in Australia through the Sydney firm in the name and representation of United States corporations, always in matters of patents, trade marks and the transfer of technology to developing countries. The American was a big man, of forty-five or forty-eight, with black hair and pronounced features. He smiled at Galvao and looked quite friendly.
The first time the two men had a conversation in the premises, Mr. Pariente spoke to the junior lawyer about the Kimberley Range of Mountains, which surprised the latter not a little, for he had never given a thought to the region or had ever thought the Australian desert could be a motive for devoting a moment’s intellectual or professional work. Though intelligent and at times an interested person, he was stubborn and rather limited when it came to interests in life. The American added that he was planning to fly to Western Australia and asked Galvao whether he would be prepared to accompany him, if need be. The Spaniard gathered that a multinational was interested in the subsoil of the region, kind of starting an exploration programme on mining, or perhaps oil extraction. But what about, Mr. Pariente did not say; nor did Galvao learn the name or the actual nature of the company or persons that might be involved in the case.
Their offices were contiguous and Mr. Pariente, instead of using the intercom to summon him, walked out into the corridor and entered the jumior’s office, which Luis took as an act of great consideration, never seen in the other partners. One day Luis Galvao saw a copy of The Sydney Morning Herald on the partner’s desk and, rather tactlessly, made a remark about the struggle going on in the Middle East. It was his great defeat. He had to talk about political affairs when he knew people were not worried about what happened, say, in Palestine. This time it was about the picture on the paper. Houses bombed in Gaza.
Mr. Pariente did not like the remark and. after a short silence produced a long monologue to the effect that Jewish people had suffered a good deal during the war and they had the right to have a home of their own. ‘Now, you tell me, Mr. Galvao,’ he shouted, ‘are we a people condemned to be the eternal wanderers upon the earth, without a home; besides, the foundation of Israel was approved by the United Nations.’
Luis Galvao could not resist the challenge. ‘No man,’ he said, ‘has the right to enter another man’s house and send him packing.”
Mr. Pariente turned very pale. “Okay, Mr. Galvao,” he murmured between his teeth. “Let’s leave it for today.” He rose from his armchair and left; leaving the other on his seat.
To Galvao’s surprise, no word was said about that conversation when they met again. But in his heart of hearts he was not satisfied. That is, he knew he had been tactless the previous day, and wanted to correct his stupidity. In doing so he compounded his mistake, complicating the situation still more.
They gone out to have lunch together at a posh restaurant in town, ‘Le Chalet Suisse’, where the world of finance and commerce often met to talk and make plans in a world in constant growth: succulent “working lunches” and “working dinners” that had the added advantage of being nearly free of charge, as the bill was passed on to the house accountant and at least part of it was paid by the Revenue.
When the meal was over, there was still some Burgundy left in the bottle; and they drank Mrs. Pariente’s health and Malgorata’s health, for the partner had already been acquainted by the junior lawyer of his present family situation. It was the moment chosen by Luis to sing ‘mea culpa’ concerning his unnecesary remark about Gaza on the other occasion.
‘Pray, Mr. Pariente, let me show you,’ he began.
‘Oh, please, call me Sheldon,’ interrupted the other, “and I’ll call you Luis, agreed?’
‘Of course. Quite pleased. But let me mention… to show my lack of prejudice… that one of my four grandparents descends from a line of Hebrew Spaniards. Castile. You said the other day your own origen is also Castile.’
The other looked up, but said nothing.
‘You know, those Jews that, in preference,… that preferred to convert… to the christian faith, rather than leave the country. My grandmother on my father’s side. She’s now passed away.”
‘What was her maiden name?’ was all the other said.
‘Yes,’ said Pariente. He looked at his watch. ‘Twenty to two. Time to go back and do some work.’
One other day, after a long afternoon working together, he invited Luis and Malgorata to his home: a barbecue party he was giving next Sunday, he said. Never had any other of the partners, or senior members of the firm, even talked to him of his home or family, never mind inviting a New Australian to his home.
Arriving home in the evening, he said to his Malgorata that they were invited to a barbecue party, and showed the partner’s visiting card: ‘Sheldon and Helena Pariente - 9, Kurraba Road, Neutral Bay.’ This was a suburb in the northern side of the bay, the nearest by ferryboat to the City, as the crow flies.
On Sunday Luis and Malgorata were the first to arrive at the Pariente party, and after the first greetings and presentations, Mrs. Pariente took Malgorata by the arm and proceeded to show her the house, a two-storey brick building with an attic, surrounded by lawns and gardens of great beauty, with an iron-roofed garage. A small property, compared with those properties in districts way north (Pymble, Turramurra), where the really rich and powerful of society lived in houses of modern architecture with very large grounds bordering the primeval eucalyptus forests of Bobbin Head and Ku-ring-gai.
Sheldon Pariente took Luis Galvao with him to the brick barbecue at the other end of the garden, behind a large poin-settia. He opened a big ice-box with a varied assortment of victuals: joints of red beef, T-bone steaks and steaks of other sorts, as well as veal and lamb chops and other bits of expensive edibles, all of which he began laying on grills and wire trays which, once full, he slid on into the brick construction. The fire was already on, for a while Luis shoved some trunks of hardwood in the fire, and when he had done, he simply stood gazing, making figures in his mind like abstract drawings, meaningful only for him: tongues of raging fire, turning right or left with the wind, bright and colourful in the murky sky above around the barbecue, an ugly firmamment enlivened by the constant presence of ashes and sparks. He was very hot, but did not seem to notice anything except that he passed the sleeves of his teeshirt over his sweaty brow, intoxicated as he was by the smell of burning wood and the picture he constructed in his mind. Quite unconsciously he brought out his hand to remove from one of the walls of the barbecue a loose brick, which he must have thought was disturbing the harmony of the colourful picture he was witnessing.
‘Stop it!!’ Mr.Sheldon Pariente screamed. Galvao stopped short at once and turned round to his colleague, who said: ‘Had you touched that brick, dear Luis, you would have been unable to work for a few days, for your fingers would have been badly burned.’
At that moment they heard voices in the house, indicative of the arrival of some other guests, and Mr. Pariente turned round and hastened off towards the building, while Galvao stayed by the barbecue, where the noise of burning and cracking from the barbecue was growing. Seeing the meat in the grill slowly but surely changing from red to darkish brown, ready to turn into black, all the pieces dripping grease into the fire, he began to worry, lest Sheldon did not come back soon.
He was passing the time, holding a barbecue fork in his hand, absorbed in the contemplation of the colourful fire, getting hotter all the time, when who should appear, walking forward from the house but his good friend and solicitor Alexander Scziadovo.
‘Alex!’ he exclaimed, ‘You know Mr. Pariente, then!’ They rushed to shake each other’s hands; after a brief moment, Alex grabbed the fork and took command of the grill and burning meat. Then they sat side by side at a metallic picnic table, both watching the fire.
‘I’ve known him since the end of the war, Alex answered his friend’s question. ‘Met in Hungary, escaping to the West. You know the confusion reigning in “Mittel Europa” then. I came from Poland with my Mum; he came from Ukraine with his. We four were more dead than alive. We became friends’
At length they saw their host coming back, who took over the task of sorting out the burnt pieces of meat from the chunks only reddish and still dripping. The shrubbery was now full of people, all approaching in the most friendly attitude towards one another. In an instant everyone was around the barbecue, devouring pieces of burnt beef, holding in the other hand a pint of frothing beer (if a man) or else a glass of ginger ale, or gin-´n-tonic which a female servant was duly serving.
Luis and Malgorata thus made that evening new acquaintances. Luis was asking himself why the Parientes, just arrived Down Under, knew more Aussies than themselves. He and Malgorata talked most of the time with Alex and Giselle, the two couples exchanged interesting observations about the new country, the younger couple feeling jealous hearing stories about the other couple’s children.
They were joined by othe couples, all great talkers. Among them a Swede Stig and his girlfriend: they were in the same boat as they were, that is to say, the woman, Sade, was an escapee from Estonia married to a Russian, with a child whom she had left behind. Actually, Scziadovo was also studying the possibility of filing for Sade’s divorce.
For the rest, there was that evening in Kurraba Road an abundance of everything, proteins and alcohol as well as plenty of conversation. Luis and Malgorata were the first to leave the party, as they had been the first to arrive. There was a reason for that. Early in the afternoon, when they started the trip, they had had in mind to drive the whole way to North Sydney and Kurraba Road; but on arriving at Circular Quay, before hitting the Bradfield Highway and then the Harbour Bridge, they had changed their mind, left their Holden in Caltex House and went by ferry, to cross the bay in no time.
Leaving the party, they just managed to catch the last ferry at Neutral Bay Wharf. The boat was practically empty, at that hour, and the bay free of maritime traffic. A great spectacle opened before them as the ferry advanced on the soft surface of the water, the great spectacle of the City beyond the sea, the lights of the traffic on the thoroughfares descending to the Quay, the lively colourful advertising floating as it were on the murky air as they approached the jetty. At Bennelong Point, on the left, they saw a lot of activity and high lights where the new Opera House was to be built.
They walked up to Caltex House, got their car out of the first underground carpark, and drove through the main thoroughfares of the City to Ultimo and home.
That autumn, through interesting and very instructive conversation, both on the one side with his Spanish friend, Manuel Suárez, and on the other with associate and chief, Sheldon Pariente, Luis Galvao learned things that, combining actual knowledge with the use of a good imagination, told him a good deal about the man who had been his landlord and husband of his adored Malgorata.
The man he had come to know as Leonidas Krappov, male nurse first in Callan Park Mental Hospital, and then a foreman at the Portland Cement factory at Penrith, an escapee from the Soviet Union and member of a gang of escapees from communism, had been a general in times of the young Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, founded after the successful bolshevic revolution. At eighteen he had joined a regiment formed and subsidised by international capitalism and made up of very tough elements (in his case) of the Don Region in southern Russia, a tough unit of very violent fighters who were regularly paid (quarterly, to complete the information) by agents of the Bank of England, London happening to be then the centre point of imperialism, and destined to foment civil war in the land, and on the side to commit act after act of terror and various other counterrevolutionary activities, specially in Ukraine and southern Russia.
The man had reached, at thirty, the rank of general in the famous Union of White Russians, aristocrats most of them, most of whom were wiped out in 1934, the year when the bolshevik revolution of 1917 became strong enough to impose its programme of collectivism. At that point (1934) he took refuge in a catholic convent, in Kiev, from where he emerged when the Germans occupied the country. Henceforth the Ukrainian became a collaborator of the fascist invader, specialised in the most horrendous crimes of nazism, until he became an escapee from communism, in 1944, wandering like a scared devil through Poland, Austria and Germany, until he found refuge, with others, in the Head Quarters of the American Forces, in Orleans, France, U.S. Armies, which as is well-known were led, as Chief Commander, by General Dwight Eisenhower.
To Australia they took the savage murderer, avoiding thus to have to hide him in free-loving America, the more so as the sane elements in the land were already organising the Nürnberg Trials for war criminals, from which he could not have escaped.
‘Weren’t we supposed to journey to West Australia,’ Luis asked Sheldon one morning of the month of March. ‘You told me to be ready to fly one day to the Kimberleys. I thought a client was starting an exploration programme.’
‘No, Luis, not a client. The trio was a special intention. And no, it is longer on the cards,’ said the other. ‘I’ll let you into a secret,’ he paused. ‘Because you were to help me to trace a certain General Ladislav Cruczcsov, now ex-general, I was asking you to accompany me, since you know him.’
‘Me?’ asked Luis, surprised, ‘I know no general, nor any Cruczcsov.’
‘Aren’t you trying to get that divorce? Malgorata, you knoow. Well, that’s the man,’ Sheldon paused. ‘There has been a countermand.’ He said no more.’
… no need, Sheldon Pariente to say which was the interested party in tracing and catching that ex-general. Israel pursues those terrible war criminals.
… nor do I lack imagination when making up a story. A veiled interest in Cruczcsov. Recalling those days when the Senate voted for the start of World War III, while the United States held a monopoly on the Bomb. General Mac Arthur.
… when Dick Nixon roared in the Senate: unleash Chang-kai-chek’s Formosan divisions on China! and an army of White Russians upon the Soviet Union?
Waking home in the evening, Luis became worried, in that he still did not know, after hearing Pariente about a conflict of interests. Tel-Aviv might still win, and allowed to judge and hang the Bear. Or whether other objectives might not prevail: the Pentagon, the Cold Wat. Would warmongering prevail and the Bear would be kept in safety by the Gringos in Australia? To carry out plans to unleash thirty or forty legions on… would the Bear be caught and hanged?
Also in the autumn some Americans came to visit the new partner Pariente at Caltex House. Luis Galvao had been dictating to Maureen all that morning, mainly letters to be typed in the afternoon, and was at present standing by the window, preparing to going out for lunch, when he saw two men, arriving in a large limousine, at the entrance of the builing down below, marching in with great precipitation, martial step like two soldiers though their wearing apparel was that of businessmen, with broad-brimmed Stetson hats.
He came out of his office into the corridor, passed the reception hall and, going towards the lifts, nearly bumped into the same two individuals, who happened to come into the premises of his law firm, patents and trade marks.
He caught his own lift down. ‘No,’ he mused. ‘Either soldiers or cowboys, but not lawyers or anything to the like effect.’ And later on, eating his lunch at the usual café: ‘Obviously, bloody Gringos. Everywere. Like an invading army!’
Coming back to the office he asked Ivy, the receptionist, about the mysterious visitors. ‘They are American by their accent,’ she said. ‘Came to see Mr. Sheldon Pariente, Mr. Galvao. ‘With whom they’ve gone out for lunch, I should say.’
In the evening, going back home, Luis chose to walk all the way along the waterfront. Though not a beautiful thoroughfare, Sussex Sreet was unusually wide and well-paved. Full of workers at the rush hour. A huge poinsettia which he liked. Towards the end. Swordlike leaves, a vivid red at this time of the year. He entered Pyrmont Bridge Road on the right, and who should come up the stone steps from the docks of Darling Harbour if not Heribert Wormser. The German passed a friendly arm around his shoulder, laughing, and both directed their steps together towards Ultimo and Harris Street.
‘How are you doing,’ greeted Luis, ‘aren’t you on strike?’ (In effect, the Communist Party had ordered the wharfies to stop all work, protesting against the Menzies government which had just joined the United States in the Vietnam war).
‘No. Only Pyrmont 13, the overseas terminal. It’s different, yes,’ the German said, giving an evasive response. Then quite choleric: ‘I’ve nothing to do with Vietnam nor with the fucking commies. Besides, I need the money.’
‘What do I care,’ Luis shrugged his shoulder. ‘Heribert, I’m worried about Krappov coming back. Malgorata, you see… she’d fall back, the old illness, you know? We’re so much in love… sorry to say. Damocles Sword, sort of thing…’
‘Bother Krappov. The fellow’s not interested in Malgorata. Didn’t you know? A Ninny! Really, never a woman in his life. You should have been in Ultimo, old boy, as long as I have, yes. Manuel and he, as I say, two Ninnies.’
‘I’ve heard he was an important soldier back home. An agent in the service of America, too… or the West. The same. With all that gang he calls his Rangers.’
‘Not surprised,’ the German replied. ‘Aye, Luis, you can never be sure with that man; when not an spy, an agent paid by someone, the CIA may be. By the way, I did not know your Malgorata herself was connected with the Angels of Hell.’
‘What do you bloody mean?’ asked the Spaniard, getting nervous at once.
Whereupon, the German told a story about a limousine arriving that morning at Harris Street, as he was leaving to go to work. Two strange guys wearing Stetson hats. They knocked. Malgorata opened the door I’d just banged closed. I can’t tell you anymore; except… I believe to have seen one ov’em when I was escaping to the West. Berlin. He was one manning Check-Point-Charley. Yes’
Luis was no longer listening. He did the rest of the way running like the wind, ahead. On getting into the house, he dashed into the bedroom. He found Malgorata lying on the bed, not lengthwise, but broadwise, legs and head hanging on the sides. ‘Malgorata, my Malgorata, darling!’ he screamed, flinging himself forward, grippng her precious wavy head and lifting it upwards with both hands and kissing her, imploring her to talk... oh, what has happened, pleassse!’
He had fallen on his knees and his beloved’s face was now touching his shoulder, motionless: she was not responding to his calls, nor his kisses, howling, screeches. He felt himself going mad. It had happened before in his life. And all the time Malgorata kept silent, listless, unloving and very cold like in a state of complete unconsciousness. Still holding her in his arms… oh so weak, so trembling! and kissing her hair, her brow, her cheeks, her gaping mouth, he reached the state of madness himself, the state where he could longer reason, a madman. With a difference. At that point, he knew he had to calm down, and he did calm down. He knew he had to pull himself together. There was no alternative. And he sure did what was necessary to do, in the circumstances.
… two unlucky beings we are in love, such unfortunate parallel existences. I see her unseeing open eyes. Distorted. One blue and the other hazel, like that first night when we came across each other in the communal kitchen, under the neon light.
Walking along the bridge like a soul in pain, Luis reached Market Street, passed Kent, and into Clarence he stumbled, like a drunkard, like a body without spirit. He had had no breakfast, having run at seven o’ clock to see Silwia, their Polish friend. She would be a better nurse a thousand times better than he could ever be, poor unhappy husband without a wife, alone, always alone. At the corner with Erskine Street there was a big Chemist’s shop which he entered. He talked to the pharmacist, who made him sit down and rest for a minute before giving him a tranquillizer. Luis Galvao arrived very late at the office. Maureen found him very pale and worried, abnormally trembling. She instantly knew he needed help, her help. In the afternoon, she advised him to see a doctor very soon and then go on compo for a few days.
Those were very bad days for poor Luis, and worse for Malgorata, who recovered only very slowly: and he became pessimistic; he came to the conclusion that it was all his fault. He should have understood and followed what had all these days been in her mind. They should have long ago flown to London, or New York, Toronto, Chicago.
One day he went to see his friend Alex at his office in Barrack Street. Irina came out to say ‘Hello! Mr. Galvao.` Seeing the state of depression in which the young man found himself, she did not ask any questions; except that remembering perhaps he suffered from hay-fever when they met at her wedding, she very discreetly said he should see a doctor and, like in the spring, he talked of the Royal Alexandra Hospital. ‘A bus at George Street, all the way to Parramatta Road.’ He saw she was in the family way, and found her very pretty, always smiling. ‘And Vitas, always well?’ he asked. ‘Such a nice man.’
Sciadovo and Galvao stayed together one hour and a half: the lawyer let the other talk and thus open his heart; then he explained that, from what the Spaniard had said, the fellow was bisexual, the savage Cossack! ‘Don’t fear him,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘Now, you’ve talked of a conflict of interests, Israel and the United States.’
‘That’s how Sheldon presented the case to me,’ Luis replied.
‘Looking for the Bear, to make him face a court and pay for his crimes. Or else to take him t either to the Kimberley Range of Mountains or the Woomera Rocket Centre. Calm down, Luis, Israel never loses.’
‘But why should the Gringos want to take my Margorata with them?’
‘The Americans are a queer lot. It suffices for the Commander of the Woomera base to be a new-born christian. They do not tolerate homosexuality, as you know. The Pentagon is sure in that case to force a woman upon the bastard. The Commander will then turn a blind eye on the case. Pure hypocrisy!’
They went on talking politics. Alexander Sciadovo had been a member of the Socialist Party until the split, caused by Bishop Santamaria. He had never forgotten his own family had suffered badly in Europe in the hands of the Germans, and hated fascism and nazism.
Luis Galvao who loved Manuel Suárez as a friend and as a romantic link with the student days of Madrid, had been seeing his countryman regularly in a pub at Haymarket. To him he turned because still not sure of anything he wanted to clarify the mystery of the Ukrainian’s behaviour. On the solution of the quandary depended the continuance of his happiness, perhaps even his engagement with the woman he loved. The Israeli secret police were after the bear (he told Manuel); if they got hold of him, he would be shot for crimes against humanity, but the Gringos were hiding him. Kimberley!
Manuel knew he was in the West Australian desert and further that he was going to be transferred to South Australia, but nothing more. After the encounter Luis went back to Ultimo. Malgorata had been daily getting better, though she had not recovered completely. She was very thin and pale and had suspended her violin lessons to all but Sylwia’s two daughters. ‘My adored wife!’ he sighed. She had really been frightened by those two U.S. Army men masquerading as businessmen who came to tell her to be ready to join her man.
Luis Galvao hears the sound of the bells of St. Chatherine’s, inviting the faithfull to Mass, and sits up on the bed and stands up. He dresses himself and standing again by the bed, looks at Malgorata, who is still asleep.
They had planned to drive to Surfers’ Paradise and spend a fortnight there, to strengthen their nerves and Malgorata to improve and get back her health on the beach all day, swimming and doing all kinds of sports and having a good life. They had already booked a hotel and made other plans for the duration of the holiday. He now knew that it was his stubborness which had caused perhaps his ruin and Malgorata’s illness. He should have left with her long ago, gone to the blind side of the moon and be happy, the two together.
Now it had been decided. They would fly to America as soon as she had recovered her health. Sheldon Pariente had arranged for him to enter Solomon, Green and Solomon, as an associate attorney. He had left Malgorata asleep in bed and was going to give the final touch to the packing and make breakfast.
Suddenly, as he was nearing the kitchen, the street door was flung open, and Krappov (as he still called him) entered the house, with great precipitation. Galvao stopped still and the two men came facing each other. The Ukrainian growled and proceeded to the bedroom. At once the Spaniard jumped on the Ukrainian to bar his way. His enemy jerked a gun out of its holster from under his armpit and pressed it on Galvao’s brow, pushing him backward with great brutality.
More dead than alive, standing against the kitchen door, Luis saw him enter the bedroom. At length, half-knowing what he did, he entered and stumbled to the long wooden table, letting his arms lie on it, sitting on a wooden chair. Like in a distant background, he heard noises, the exchange of voices: a man asking, a woman answering with a monosylable, and a prolonged moan. He was paralysed, incapable even of thinking. If he had been an able man, at this moment, he would have asked himself why he was unable to think, to move. He was a living image, a statue of hard wood, like the table, the chair on which he sat. He heard a horribly loud sound which turned out to be a prolonged terrifying scream and, almost simultaneously, the sound of an object being smashed against a hard object, accompanied by a discordant musical note or two, the man roaring and after that only a sigh and a whimper.
Next Malgorata stumbled into the room. She looked wan and unearthly holding in her hands the destroyed body of her violin. She sat at table, but not near him. Hearing the man approaching, she stood up and entered the adjoining laundry, where she found a bundle of clothes in a wicker-basket; she lit the copper-boiler, then busied herself for a few minutes throwing the clothes into the boiler.
As the Ukrainan went to the table, a black kitten walked to meet him mewing, only to have the monster give it a tremendous kick in the stomach that made the poor thing fly, yelling, all the way to the back yard.
‘My breakfast!’ howled the master, sitting down. ‘Double quick!’
Malgorata dashed back into the room followed by a shroud of white vapour and a terrible smell of cheap soap. By then the Ukrainian, who had taken a bottle of vodka from the cupbard when he entered, was comfortably settled in front of the Spaniard. He pulled the cork of the bottle out with his dirty teeth and, applying the nozzle to his lips, took a good swig at it, gurgling the vodka as if washing his teeth.
The young woman, meanwhile, tumbled right and left, fulfilling her obligations as married to a savage Cossack. Once Luis getting out of his lethhargy or immense fear, lay his hand on Malgorata’s as she passed and the beast pulled his gun out and gave a tremendous thrust on the table with it. Malgorata pulled away throwing a pitiful glance upon Luis, who was unable to trace any sentiment in her distorted look. She had opened her mouth: ‘Oh no, no!’ she whispered... and proceeded to prepare her husband’s breakfast, hobbling between the fridge, the cooker and the table. Her man started eating: sausages and fried bread, rashers of bacon, and went on drinking.
Luis Galvao, in a a state of utter wretchedness lived the rest of that morning like a soul in pain. A descent to hell, a nightmare, all his life was a disaster; he thought of grabbing the knife his girl had brought for the beast to eat the sausages; and commit muder whatever happened… suicide most likely suicide.
It was not pusillanimity that stopped him, but the knowledge of the inutility of all effort, and Margorata’s silent plea; the anguish reflected her pale visage, her violet lips, that beautiful row of white teeth: ‘Oh no, no!’
And those dirty teeth, those tiny grey eyes darting on hls, the bushy grey eyebrows that nearly obliterated his narrow forehead and the cruel menacing, thick lips surrounded by his scraggy blond moustache. On his khaki military-clothes there was a red badge, with some letters and symbols he could not read or understand.
The monster was pricking his fork most fiercely in the sausages, taking them to his mouth like an ogre about to devour his victim, splashing grease and blood over his mustache, and washing down each mouthful with vodka from the bottle. When he had done, he shouted into the Spaniard’s face: ‘Tú, hijo de puta, has estado jodiendo with my wife?’
Before Galvao could reply, the unhappy woman, swift like wind, stood up and placed herself behind her husband’s chair, her hands clasped together, telling her beloved without words, imploring him with her lips not to do anything rash.
The copper-boiler in the corner had begun throwing up steam, and although the netted door and windows were open a sickly smell now pervaded the whole place. The Ukrainian went on eating his bread and drinking his vodka, with an occasional leer to the Spaniard, and Malgorata continued to serve her husband like a slave addressing herself to the master in a stifled tone of voice which told of her state of mental anguish. This paralysed Luis along with other fears.
When at length he stood up and moved to the sink clearing his side of the table, Krappov too stood up. Entirely drunk by now, he shouted, babbling,. ‘¡Hijo de puta! ¡hijo puta! ¡hijoputa! ¡ideputaaa!’
Strong sunlight was streaming in, though stronger on his side of the kitchen; for near the laundry a sort of mist had risen and Malgorata, who had gone back to the boiler, came floating in the resulting haze like a vanishing angel. She again silently beseeched him to stay put. But Galvao could not choose to ignore the man’s bestial attitude, the insults directed more offensively in Spanish.
‘Now then,’ he shouted in a tone that shook Krappov. ‘What are you up to, nazi bastard?’
Whereupon Malgorata uttered a cry of grief, and the monster, looking wildly round, clutched her by the wrist, dragging her forward to confront the lodger. ‘Son of a bitch!’ he growled with a deadly look at the lodger.
In a moment Galvao fell upon his enemy with a boldness and passion which made him draw back in surprise. ‘You bastard, nazi scoundrel,’ Luis screamed, catching hold of Krappov’s throat, ‘you traitor, you valiant torturer of defenceless women and children, foul murderer!’ But the Ukrainian was a giant of a man, and he easily got rid of his attacker and at once threw himself upon the Spaniard, pummelling him with all his might, and finished driving him against the wall, where he would have strangled him had not Malgorata got hold of the khaki coat, then placed herself between the two men, screeching like a person possessed. Her husband, without looking, hurled her to the floor with a powerful backhand. Then he grabbed the bottle from the table and turned to Galvao once more, grunting and foaming; and he stumbled forward, going for his enemy.
The other swiftly moved aside, and Krappov found only the wall and fell with a crash upon the floor, where at once he dropped off into a drunken slumber.
All this had been witnessed from the passage by the German lodger, who happened to be going out of the house at that very moment; he now stepped forward to kick the fallen drunkard, until the body was lying face upwards, and they discovered that it was stained with blood, for the bottle had been smashed to pieces which were now covering the floor.
A commotion was heard on the stairs and soon Manuel rushed into the room in a state of terrible agitation. ‘Oh, dear me!’ he wailed crouching, kissing and tenderly stroking the landlord’s cheeks. ‘Oh, no! Leo, Leo!’ on his knees, looking at the ceiling. ‘The Coroner will come now, absolutely! Oh Jesus!’
The other three, who had turned to look, were dumbfounded. And Manuel standing up and grabbing the lapels of Luis’s flannel jacket, howled: ‘Madman! It’s all your doing. Tell me, what d’you think‘s going to happen now?’ And embracing his friend in tears, he went on: ‘Oh Luis, dear boy, you’re in great danger, absolutely. Be off at once! There’s a commando come from the bush, stopping at the Toxteth. I’ve heard they want to teach you a lesson, precisely.’ And turning to Heribert: ‘Oh, please, take this dear crazy man away at once. There’s going to be murder in this house, oh, my God, oh my God!’
Luis had in the meantime turned to Malgorata and was now holding her in his arms, intending to remain with her, come what might. But she was no longer a normal woman, but the submissive wife of a wild murdering Cossack.
‘Sweetheart, let’s go away,’ he implored, ‘directly!’
‘Wait! Luis!’ Manuel was pulling at his elbows, ‘it’s you who must escape! I’ll try to hide her from Leo now.’ He turned round to get hold of the girl, who was at that moment falling down, dismayed.
‘But he’s going to take her to the mountains,’ said Luis. ‘That’s why he’s come.’
‘Go, please, go!’ cried Manuel, while on the floor Malgorata was coming to. And Heribert was calling everybody’s attention to Krappov. ‘He’s moving’.
Heribert and Manuel, coming together, confronted a defeated Luis Galvao manu militari, who was quickly dragged away by the German. ‘Go away, dear Luis! Go!!’ Manuel implored.
As Heribert was pulling him out into the street, Luis Galvao caught sight of his beloved through the lounge window, her eyes opened spasmodically… and she was gone.
A door opened down the road, and a woman appeared on the stone steps, calling: ‘Has anything happened to Malgorata?’
‘Aye!’ Heribert said without stoping. ‘Go and see Manuel. Yes?’
Half-consciously, a thoroughly defeated man, Luis shambled along following his German mate, who no longer had to pull him forward.
Vehicles on the roadway, people striding on the footways as Harris Street turned into Pyrmont Bridge Road, a loud hooting from a nearby factory and workers sauntering onto the broad road to have their midday break at Pyrmont Hotel enjoying a tavern luncheon and a pint of beer.
White clouds of smoke upon the blue sky over the Pyrmont Power Station as they turned right. They stopped on the middle of the bridge facing the bay called Darling Harbour, clasping their hands upon the grimy iron bar, and Luis shaking badly, bending backwards and forwards on the rail. Behind him, the sound of running engines, fast: motorcars, utility vans, lorries, double-decker buses. In front, the docks, Pyrmont 10… 12, Pyrmont 11… 13, and liner just arrived from foreign parts. He feels like vomiting right into the water down below. From time to time the surface of the sea ripples, a rowing boat, or the HARBOUR POLICE launch.
Through his tears Luis Galvao saw the cargo ships being loaded or unloaded at the various docks, and thinks his mate daily works there, at the most irregular hours. The busy cranes, the trucks and tractors, the bustling wharfies no longer striking as the communists had decided.
‘What d’you intend to do now, yes?’ he heard the German ask.
‘I don’t know. I know what I should have done.’
‘I’d have killed that bastard, taken his gun from the table, fired it on his ugly mug.’
‘Damn him!’ Heribert exclaimed. And after a pause, pointing towards one of the wharves where a P&O ship was seen: ‘Take my example, mate. One of these days I’ll be sailing away on one of them liners, see? Southampton, England, then West Germany, to Hamburg, the train to Köln. Oh, yes!’
‘I know,’’ the Spaniard said, ‘I’ve seen you crossing out the dates on that calendar of yours. I wish you well, my friend, returning migrant.’
Heribert gazed at one of the wharves. ‘Pyrmont 13, the overseas terminal,’ he said, knowing he would never come back Down Under.
‘Who knows what the future reserves us,’ thinks the Spaniard to himself.
Heribert just remembered he had come assisted passage. Otherwise he would have returned long ago. His own land was growing, a prosperous nation again. The West German Miracle. Two years on the wharves. Plenty of money. He was also bending over the rail, like his mate, and observing him. His companion was not looking, having half closed his eyes, full of tears… falling… down upon the floating dirt beneath, around the stone pillar and the barriers of the euchalyptus hard-wood on either side.
‘The day is approaching,’’ said Heribert, without the other listening, ‘and I’ll say, Aye! Not a day too early. And when I arrive at Hamburg, I’ll heave a big, big Oof! No parting tears, I assure you’; roaring with laughter, he stamped his heavy working boots on the ground.
Galvao said nothing.
‘Come on! Don’t fret,’ the German said, rousing up. ‘Now, are you going to cry like a baby, yes?’
Still Galvao said nothing. He was holding the iron railing with both hands, crying and shaking backwards and forwards.
‘Friend, pull yourself together!’ Heribert shouted, with Germanic strength.
‘But they’re going to murder her!’
‘Not at all. Haven’t you seen Silwia? She’’l look after her. Manuel, too, they’ll hide her in the Polish family’s place.’
Luis Galvao again lamented himself. His usual phrase, ‘Soy un fracaso rotundo’. I have failed… because I lack… I am not a man.’
‘You’ll need some mettle and that’s all. Get back your strength for when you confront the bastard this evening, yes. For you’ll be back, at least to collect your things.’
‘And I’ve lost… oh, lost, lost!’
‘I don’t know, I don’t know anything, I don’t know what’s to be done.’
‘Listen to me, you intend to go back, yes? You must go back. Need your pyjamas and so on, yes? If not, how and where are going to spend the night? And never mind that ugly monkey. He was dead drunk when we meted out that well-deserved banging.’ He won’t remember a thing.’’
‘But he’s got his chums in the Toxteth Hotel, didn’t you hear?’
‘Bah! Inventions!’ said Heribert, swaying his pear-shaped head meditatively. Don’t pay any attention to him. Manuel is a born lier. I’ll tell you what. We shall confront him together, that Ukrainian bastard. Look here, I finish at six tonight. Make sure you don’t go back before seven. We’ll meet at Silwia’s, yes?’
Galvao was again swaying, hanging his head quite low, down upon the railing.
‘Cheer up, my friend! You’ll soon get over it. As she will. Damn the bastard, hang the whole bloody lot! Not contemplating suicide, are you? Nothing exists in this fucking world worthy of such a step.’
‘I’ll have to accept defeat, I know. The game is over,’ said Luis, shaking awfully.
‘Luis!! Mate, pull yourself together!’
‘We’re losers, Luis, you and me. You see. The wind blows you somewhere and you miss the things you left behind. Love a woman, and in the due course of time you lose her to someone else. In any case, life’s a perpetual change, didn’t you know? Winning or losing means nothing.’
Luis did not respond.
‘But enough of it, Luis. I have to get going. So long. And remember, at ten to seven in Harris Street. I’ll be waiting for you at Silwia’s. Or viceversa.’
After that the two friends parted company, Heribert going down left towards the docks, and Galvao turning right along the bridge, then left into Sussex Street, along the warehouses. Until he reached an open space, facing the harbour.
The surface of the sea glittered towards the east, and in the middle of a streak of sunlight, he saw the bluish silhouette of a man fishing, enjoying as it seemed the bliss of solitude. He approached the angler, striding upon the long jetty. The man, on a folding stool, was holding a rod, almost invisible in the shining beams of the sun, more a silhouette than ever, surrounded by a light-blue sky.
‘Hullo, mate! Are they biting this morning?’ he asked, shading his eyes with one hand.
The long slightly curving rod firmly in both hands, his gaze still fixed on the glittering surface of the sea, the floating cork, the angler replied: ‘I mike the best ov it.’ The intruder puts out another question, short and to the point. And after due consideration, the solitary figure replies: ‘My word.’
And again, the noise of Galvao’s clanking boots on the wooden planks of the long abandoned jetty. He strides on and eventually bumps into an animated crowd of religious citizens. A crew of Salvation Army officers in their blue uniforms, fluttering red ribbons, songs and music. For nearly an hour, the sound of trumpets and tambourines, an officer with his trombone, the banging of drums big and small, and singing.
Leaving the group he reaches and passes under the stone South Pylons of the Harbour Bridge, sees in astonishment the silky seagulls going from one side to the other of a complicated set of iron girders.
In Circular Quay, at a stand on the way to the ferries, he buys a steak-and-kidney pie, which he eats on the move, while it is still hot. A man asks him to buy a ticket for the National Opera-House Lottery. He crosses the square and stops for a beer at a bar, then crosses back into the jungle of grimy cement columns, which hold up the expressway and railway station; but he boards no ferry. Instead he plods on and on among cranes, bulldozers and other machinery until he reaches Bennelong Point, lies down on a patch of grass and soon falls asleep.
… crossing a river on a long high iron bridge, a deep gorge and a high cliff at the end. I could hardly glimpse the water flowing down below, plodding, plodding but only advancing a few yards.
… two lovely silky seagulls overhead, swaying, flying together, I could not see any difference in them, I love both passionately and – how I cry when the two disappeared inside a bundle of steel girders in the blue sky.
… a ruinous castle on the cliff, a stone wall, a barred window, and down below the seaweed-covered rocks, the waves battering the stones, the rocks, the wall, the ocean, I’ve lost my freedom and so has she, my beloved.
… only the wind on high breaks the great stillness, until there is a sudden outburst of laughter, loud and frightful, coming from above, the sky, the heavens. ‘Kooka, burra, hooh! hurrah, hah! Hooh hah, hooh, hah, hawwww!’
‘Oh, dearest love!’ Luis Galvao murmurs, opening his eyes. He looks at his watch. Seven o’clock. He stands up and runs until he reaches Circular Quay. where he catches a bus to Central Railway.
The last rays of the setting sun are shining on the length of the street; on the horizon, above the grey chimneys of the power house; a dark line of cirrus-clouds is cutting the prussian-blue sky in two. Luis is rushing all the time, off from the corner Broadway- Harris Street, trembling and out of breath.
Further up the street, seven big men, on motorbikes are scudding away towards the setting sun… Parramatta, Katoomba, the bush, the desert.
Another big, powerful bike with two Americans wearing Stetson hats.
‘Dago, hurry up!’ he hears a screech coming from above and sees old Amy. ‘They’s takin’ yer girl awiey!’, gesticulating on the protruding balcony above the corner store.
‘Jesus!’ he exclaims, ‘Hell on you!’ and later on: ‘The bloody Gringos!’ For he has just seen that among the Rangers of the Ukrainian devil there are the two United States citizens who came one day not so long ago to Caltex House.
Just then, a door opens on the right, the house where he lives. A man of great bulk, in black, comes out upon the pavement, carrying a struggling Malgorata over his shoulder. A piercing shriek is heard.
‘Luis! Oh Luis, bye-bye, my love!’
There is on the roadway a huge bike (with the engine running) and a sidecar in which Krappov straps Malgorata, then jumps upon the saddle, and… run! run!... ruuun, speeds away, after the half-dozen odd rangers, already out of sight.
Then Luis Galvao, who has been running in pursuit all the time, stops short, breaking into sobs, bent in two. A torrent of tears. Dodging the traffic a man crosses from the other pavement and helps him to stand up and leads him to the door of the boarding house, which is wide open. Luis Galvao enters, goes down to the lounge and comes across a hysterical Manuel, pacing up and down the whole length of the drawing-room, which is unlit, for the televison set is on. Galvao can hardly hear what the other is trying to convey.
‘Leonidas just gone is furious, absolutely, never seen him in such a state,’’ mumbling on, throwing his arms around Galvao’s neck. ‘’Oh dear! Worse than… a calamity! You’ve brought all this upon us. You, you you! He’s selling the property. What am I going to do now?’’
Galvao pushes his friend into a chair, and it’s only then that he sees Heribert lying full length on the sofa. Falling on one knee, he gets close to the German, who appears to be badly hurt.
‘We… we agreed to meet… at ten to seven, yes?’ he hears a feeble voice.
Luis instinctively lifts his left arm and looks at his watch. A useless gesture. He knows far too well he broke his solemn promise. ‘So… so… so sorry, Heribert,’ is all he is able to utter. He now perceives the presence of a third person, sitting on the sofa near the television set, a blond lady who now stands up. Luis had forgotten altogether about Silwia. She’s there to attend to the wounded German and Luis tries to help her. ‘But… what’s happened?’ he asks.
It is Manuel, from his chair, who answers for the lady.
‘Oh, he lost his mind. You ought to have seen him, struggling in vain! Seven against one. We all are crazy in this house!’ Manuel was clawing his temples with his fingers. ‘Heribert was not a man in his senses or he… oh, he should have minded his own business, absolutely. And this is the result.’
‘What made him do that?’
‘You did not know he was in love with Malgorata?’ the woman whispered in Galvao’s ear, ‘he tried to save her. They entered my house like a gang of bandits and brought her here. The husband must have guessed.’
Heribert had fallen into a swoon. It was Luis who, hopping round to the kitchen, brought the bandages, hot water, ointments with which the Polish lady dressed the wounds of the German who soon regained consciousness. The two Spaniards led him upstairs and into the bedroom, where after taking some tablets which Manuel had provided for him, he fell into a peaceful sleep.
Luis Galvao, for his part, unable to withstand the sight of his own room any longer, wounded in his conscience and his heart, went downstairs and into the lounge, where the Polish woman was no longer. He took his jacket from a hook and entered the big bedroom, where he took two suitcases which had been prepared the nighf before, added a few things and walked with them down the street. He passed the corner store, turned into a side street and got into his parked Holden, drove down to Central Railway, then right into the City, and parked the car in Caltex House.
The air was rather cold as he started his walk down the hill towards the town centre. He passed a small square, where there is the oldest remaining hotel of Australia, the Wentworth Hotel, was situated, long lines of neon light under the low terracotta roof. And down to the main thoroughfare George Street. He turned right, no longer feeling cold, and ambled for an hour observing the people, and the traffic which was no longer dense. The double decker buses going to Circular Quay were almost empty, while those leading back to the suburbs had a dozen passengers or so downstairs and only one or two on the first seats upstairs.
The walk did calm his nerves a little, without making him forget, and sometimes, lining his forehead on the large glass of a shop, he murmured. ‘I was born never to obtain what I most love, destined to fail, I must accept it, I have to admit I’m a failure.’
The shop windows all along the street were illuminated, multicoloured neon bars on the façades of the houses, and inside the shops an abundant display of commodities, wealth, bad taste and light. And that in spite of the fact that the establishments had been closed for the past twenty-four hours, this being the Day of the Lord.
He shuffled aimlessly for an hour or so, and his nerves got a little better. watching solitary men stalking like himself, perhaps, to no purpose; and now silently reading the names of the establishments: STERNS, NOCK & KIRBY’S, DAVID JONES, BEARD WATSON, COLE’S, WOOLWORTHS, BEBARFALDS, ANTHONY HORDEN’S.
Stopping at the height of St. Andrew’s Cathedral which looked dark and mysterious, surrounded as it was by black trees, he turned back.
And again striding along the main street… oh, of such a rich city. Only on the opposite pavement, this time to the Quay, stopping first before the great shown-rooms of THE ELECTRICITY BOARD. In a grand display of light so many commodities among which to choose… cookers, refrigeratos, heaters, washing machines, shower-cabins, radios, televisons, and all (as widely announced) with offers of EASY CREDIT, up to twenty years, and TRADE-IN.
Two hours have passed. A few stragglers are still seen like himself under the overhangings full of light. Once a big obese man with unsteady step comes jerking as if to talk and Luis crosses to the other side of the street to avoid him, and reaches Circular Quay, which he is used to seeing in the morning full of people: now it is empty and looks frightfully dangerous. Only a few stragglers. A solitary woman approaching brings the image of Malgorata back to his mind. He gets again very nervous. He knows he shall never forget his girl, his dear wife. The great horror that is his life!
It was very cold, but he was drenched in sweat. He dashed all the way to Grosvenor Street, which is the little lane that leads from George Street to Caltex House.
Suddenly he hears the sound of a siren and sees a Black Maria coming swiftly from the waterfront. Frightened by the noise and by the police he hides in a telephone booth. The Black Maria arrives round the corner and stops, two policemen come out and grab two drunkards lying on the ground and hurl them into the van like two rag-dolls, and a moment later the Black Maria disappears in the distance.
Though the little side-street is not overilluminated, and previously Luis Galvao disliked most of all being in the dark, he now hates the idea of being caught under the last remaining spots of light. He must be looking like a perfect tramp, delinquent or no-gooder.
He starts running up a litle street, fleeing from all the strange shadows he thinks must be phantoms from the underworld. In his mind the disastrous events of the day.
He should have been with his Malgorata in a room already booked in Surfers’ Paradise!
Confusion or low spirits made him feel out of sorts. Hell! he had to find a hotel at once; he panicked, but calmed down when he saw the reflection on the murky heaven of a light green light, four or five hundred feet up the hill, and he remembered the Wentworth was there on the right.
After booking a room for a night he runs up the marble stairs, enters his room and goes precipitously into the bathroom. When he comes out into the bedroom, he proceeds, without switching on the light, to the window, attracted by the soft emerald light in the little square outside the hotel. Holding on to one of the curtains, he lifts his eyes: the building with a slate roof and a little tower with a clock, the silhouette of other house, and Caltex House on top.
And he now recalls that, before he had asked for a holiday, his boss had invited him to join the three partners in a meeting to be held this Monday with five Japanese executives of the very important, most modern Nippon corporation, which Mr. Kim Hudgkinson had succeeded in making clients of the firm on Patents and Trademarks.
He lies of his bed, without undressing, his fingers intertwined under his head. Despite the fact he has drawn the curtains, a certain soft green light has invaded the ceiling. Luis Galvao thinks deeply: the two loves of his life, his present solitude, his profession.
All useless thought, false plans and false ideas. Twenty-eight years of age. He has studied, worked, travelled, seen, analysed and all to no purpose! A free man indeed! Throughout his life he had always taken the wrong decision. It could not be otherwise. He had made the wrong choice, studies, politics, women and what not. All his fault! One thinks he choses freely, and choses again, and again freely. And it is not true, a solemn lie. Life is a tremendous nonsense. The uselessness of all effort.
‘All for nothing!’ he wails. ‘Nothing comes out of it, but utter failure.’
He again thought of the managing partner’s successful journeys to Tokyo and other Japanese cities; remembered that the Japanese were coming to Australia for a week. It was tomorrow that they would be in Sydney, Caltex House, Seventh Floor. The culmination of great expectations. Thinking of many contradictory things, but all related somehow with innovation and profits, he fell asleep. Sheldon Pariente, who had come to understand him very well was telling him in his ear: ‘ Now, forget it, my friend, forget about everything and concentrate on the law, a few years’ intensive work, loyalty to your employer and very wealthy clients, and in a couple of years you will be the most appreciated attorney on the speciality.’
… yet he was dressed like a tramp, dirty and covered with sweat, a wound on his forehead; now, how could he ever appear before the senior partner and the other members of the firm? For an interview with the all-powerful Japanese Industry? in such state and apparel?
… not even when he was a simple labourer, working in the soap and detergent factory in Sussex Street was he so badly dressed and in such a horrible state of health and manner.
Luis Galvao wakes up, jumps out of bed and scuttles into the bathroom. When he comes back he stands once more by the window and looks out without drawing the curtain, just holding both sides with firm hands. In a way Galvao has just changed into another man. A man, in any case, is always a contradiction, and our sad Luis is only a human being, drawn by the circumstances, like other humans. He has just come to know that he likes (why not?) to succeed in life, develop his own potentialities, make money.
He sees Caltex House and knows where he belongs. With all certainty tomorrow he will be there. As soon as another day dawns, he will book the room for another day.
For a while he paces up and down the room, clenching his fists, goes back to the window. The narrow tall brick building. About the middle of the twelve storeys. Now rather in the darkness.
He now knows exactly what has to be done. He will lie on the bed a little longer. Later on, he will dress himself, go into the street and run down little Grosvenor Street and into George Street. He will make sure he reaches the DAVID JONES store before opening time, nine o’clock exactly to be inside. Third floor, men’s apparel, where he will buy himself an entire suit of clothes. Running back to the hotel, he will have a good shower, shave himself, ‘Alpine’ after-shave, a new tie, a quick breakfast and ready to go. He would invent some story about not having been able to go to Surfers’ Paradise.
Sure enough he would arrive at the office, before Mr. Kim Hutchkinson’s spacious quarters in good time for the encounter with the magnificent Japanese capitalists.