Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Ballad of Tyler Cassidy

The footy ends in a draw, very exciting. Essendon blow it in the last 10 seconds, Bradshaw kicks his only goal of the game after Fletcher gives him a bath all night.
One team celebrates getting out of jail, the other despairs at leaving the door open.

I'm on the train coming home after the game.
The 11:01 Upfield train.
The Heir has gone off to Yarraville to see his cousin's band play.
I'm reading an article in The Weekend Australian Magazine about Tyler Cassidy, a 15 year old boy shot dead by Victoria Police eight months ago.
It happened in Northcote. My Nan and Pa lived in Northcote. It makes the story more personal.

There are two teenage girls sitting near me, giggling and laughing and making a lot of noise.
They're slightly annoying but happy and not hurting anyone. Their mucking around escalates into slapping and hitting one another with a bag and a strap of some sort. Their hilarity increases. Now they're chasing one another, sitting on top of one another, getting louder and louder. And more annoying. People are starting to look at them with the sort of looks that say "why can't those kids be quiet and behave?"
The girls are oblivious, caught up in their own little world of laughter and silliness.

The train stops at a station and two women get on. One has a bike and is wearing a helmet. The other is holding a stubbie of VB. She starts talking loudly to no-one and everyone.
She's drunk but happy. Loud. A little intimidating. What will she do?
Will she get aggro?
Will she throw up?
Bike woman engages her in some chatter.

Suddenly the teenagers are quiet. They exchange looks, smile, and laugh but not loudly. They too are wary. They're no longer the centre of attention.

VB lady starts up again. Repeating snatches of something that sounds political, anti-establishment, angry, a warning. Then to my surprise, she says "Tyler Cassidy was shot. The police killed him. Shot him four times in the chest"
The words come out in a drunken rambling messy sort of way but it dawns on me she's reciting a poem. It could be called The Ballad of Tyler Cassidy. The words and pictures in the article I'm reading are coming to life in the drunken poetic ramblings of VB lady.
I feel slightly surreal.
A part of me wants to keep my head down and keep reading.
Another part wants to ask her about the poem; who wrote it? where did she hear it? did she write it?

People are getting off the train. Bike woman is gone. Disapproving looks have gone. The teenage girls have moved seats and started playing their own games again.
VB lady sits down but keeps reciting and repeating snatches of the the poem.
I don't talk to her but I secretly wish I had the words to her ballad.

We stop at Fawkner station and VB lady says to no-one in particular "I could get off here and go and visit all my dead friends" and I suspect there are a few of them to be found in Fawkner cemetery.

I suddenly realise I've missed my stop.
I should have gotten off at Merlynston and now we're headed for Gowrie, two stops farther on.

I get off at Gowrie and ask the station attendant when the next train back toward the city is.
They're all finished for the night he tells me.

I walk home, thinking about the teenagers and VB Lady and The Ballad of Tyler Cassidy.

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