‘Silver Swan’
The Best of the Lifted Brow (Volume One). Melbourne: Penguin Books, 2013. (Originally published in The Lifted Brow Issue 11, 2011).

Edited by Ronnie Scott

An Excerpt

Night was in the financial streets. Everyone glistering and hungry. Claws claws claws. Everyone slid down the skyscrapers screaming to hide out the dark in the basement bars. Some of these people stood in great semicircles, tapping codas to trade or catalogues needful with vice onto their hand-held organisers. Some of these people were called by formal suffixes of which they were not aware. “_ _ _ _ The Greater,” “_ _ _ _ The Elder,” “_ _ _ _ The Vegetarian.”  The claws were really out.

My shirt was three days worn, my ex-wife Ramona was in the bathroom with a large sum of money and it had been twenty-seven hours since I begun the Silver Swan Crushing Circuit deal. The places I was going were clear. That is, the places I was going were going to be wet-walled, abundant and exclusive. Places to get murky in. I had that type of wristwatch.

“Where’s the client gone?” I said to a man I knew on a lounge. I knew most people here, not by their names, but by what they were called. This man, for example, was Nicholas Witless from Approvals. He had a faceful of teeth.

“What client?” he replied. Chomp, chomp.

“The Silver Swan guys.”

“I only know those guys with science,” he said “those science guys who discovered, what was it, another sun? Another moon? Underground. They’re here.”

Ramona appeared with bad news carried on little breath.

“The Silver Swan people have left,” she said, lining it in a gluey red ring.

The pokers with their gleaming communication machines paused to murmur, to curse, to watch how I would do what I would do. A few started to wave their organisers in the air as if to snag a broadcast from the future or else the departing vapour of the deal, some sweatful proof.

“That,” Nicholas Witless said, “is why you’re better off with science.”

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