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Brisneyland by Night - Part One

by Angela Slatter

It was a gypsy cab in every sense of the word: battered and beaten, everything grey, the vinyl of the seat sticky, the rubber floor mats so thin as to be almost transparent ... I imagined they were the only thing stopping me from seeing the road speeding beneath us.

Instead of an air freshener, a gris-gris hung from the rear-view mirror. Scratched along the inside of the doors were protective symbols even I couldn’t read, and occasionally marks made by fingernails. I didn’t want to think about that too deeply. And it smelled. Not bad, but of incense, sickly sweet and cloying.

There weren’t too many cabs like this in Brisbane, although as the population grew so too did the demand.

The single eye in the back of the driver’s head examined me while the other two on his face dealt with the night-time traffic. I wasn’t his usual client, neither Weyrd nor wandering Goth. I didn’t use gypsy cabs much or at least not until the accident. Now I was a regular victim of public transport. Environmentally friendly but sometimes my fellow bus and train commuters were creepier than the gypsy cab drivers. Bela had given me the number. He was going to get in trouble for it, but I guess he figured I might do some good before that happened.

It wasn’t my usual kind of job, but then again, once upon a time I didn’t ache inside and walk with a limp. Bela thought this might keep me amused and, with my sick pay almost gone, I needed money. Besides, he knew about my dad. I might see something no one else would, hopefully before someone joined dots and people in high places started digging where a whole lot of worms hid from the light of day.

‘What you looken for?’

‘The Winemaker.’

He got quiet then. This was one of those times when you learned about people, how they react.
Most folk, Normal or Weyrd, are law-abiding. But there’s a market for everything and the law of supply and demand. In the usual course of things kids cry, right? But enough to fill a standard wine bottle? Enough for a large dinner party?

‘Okay,’ he said slowly. ‘I got some ideas. Name’s Ziggi.’


‘I hearda you.’

‘I bet.’ I looked out the window; the lights of the Story Bridge swam in the blackness.

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