The shop was pretty ordinary, situated on Exhibition Street opposite the Comedy Theatre. If you blinked, you’d miss it. They sold crab claws, the best in Melbourne so the sign in the window outside stated. Mrs Cray stood facing the red and gold oriental door and wondered if she should try them, rain pelting her, clothes soaked to the skin. It was an hour before her lift to Barbara’s house, her complaining sister-in-law. Well, thought Mrs Cray, I suppose John’s death five days ago has finally given you something to really bloody complain about. Cruel thoughts about Barbara given the circumstances…but true none the less, Mrs Cray believed.
Revisiting a murder, in this case, my father’s murder is not an easy thing to do. There must be something deep inside of me that wants to set the record straight. Usually when a loved one dies their secrets are buried in the ground with them, never to resurface. We want to remember the dead fondly in coloured portraits or grainy black and white photographs of yesterday. Imagine years later, standing in your sister’s kitchen and being handed something as simple as a faded letter, about the death of your father, dark memories come floating back. How do you deal with pain hidden-away since a child about a winter’s nightmare, in a hotel car park, a long time ago? It’s a mystery, like a classic crime novel only with the final chapter ripped from the book. This is my father’s story and also mine. Because believe it or not I was there, just a kid drinking raspberry lemonade.
December 24th 2015 - It's been 38 years since the full moon last appeared on Christmas Day, 1977 in fact.
The young waitress drops a fork, kicks it under a nearby table and totally breaks my train of thought. I look up from my cup and I think. The restaurant is full and the day warmish. I'm sipping coffee dressed in shorts and T-shirt, Melbourne colours of black and grey, while happy Queenslanders dressed in flowery clothing, chat over large serves of pancakes, bacon and eggs.
When someone dies that’s close to you a piece of you dies with them. Death of a loved one can often throw up unanswered questions, things about that person and their life you never thought about when they were alive, or perhaps never even knew. What you are about to read is a true story. I know because I was there. This is my dad’s story, and also mine. It’s a chance for me to remember a winter in Sydney a long time gone.
I arrived in a clap of thunder and knew immediately that this was not going to be an ordinary Mardi Gras. I opted out of staying with friends in Sydney because I felt I needed to open my stay up to new experiences. ‘Let 2017 inspire you’ my mantra for the year. I booked into Central Hostel (hotels had inflated their rates over Mardi Gras to a ridiculous prices like $900 a night) and upon arrival immediately unpacked. Sydney was in full Mardi Gras mode, rainbow banners lining the streets and arcades. I felt like the prodigal son returning home for the first time in years, slightly wounded from my experiences in Melbourne but stronger for every bullet hole. I had arranged series of appointments and catch ups with old friends, watching the parade, and a meeting with Hayes Theatre about the possibility of bringing Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets up to Sydney. Audrey being my pet musical theatre project. A nine year journey, a project that saw me through tough times including 18 months of therapy.