Wake

It feels like I’ve long woken up from a dream and even if I shut my eyes, I can’t go back.

You all look like you did in my dream but you move differently now.

I take the photos down because the memories don’t feel real anymore. It’s too painful a reminder of a warmth and ease that no longer exist.

Sure, we still go places but it isn’t the same. Beneath the surface there is nothing but empty eyes and checking the time.

What did you fill my cup with?

Something doesn’t feel right.

There are more ghosts than ever. Poking around and staring at me.

Everything is bland, the colour isn’t as bright and feelings aren’t as strong. I’m tired.

Night falls. I lay in bed and once again close my eyes. Maybe this is all just a bad dream.

Bitter

——————————————————————————————————————–
Before you read my story below, please keep a few things in mind.

I am recounting something that happened to me many years ago but still continues to have a profound effect on my life to this day.

When I was in highschool I wrote a version of this story which had been lost and so I have spent the last little while piecing together the memories and taking a somewhat painful but ultimately cathartic journey to re-tell my story.


This story is about sexual assault and you may find it triggering or upsetting. I was prompted to revisit this piece due to having an extremely strong emotional reaction after I was approached in a shopping centre toilet recently.

Some of you may know a verion of this story, others may have heard me mention it very briefly and some of you may be learnign this for the first time.

Please understand that this was difficult for me to write, it is even more difficult for me to press the publish button and immensely more difficult to have extended conversation about this with anyone.

——————————————————————————————————————–

It was another scorching summer day and I found myself in Borders searching the manga section to see if they had the latest volume of the Kindaichi Case Files, a murder mystery series I was thoroughly addicted to. There was nothing quite as thrilling as following the adventures of  the two teenagers Hajime and Miyuki finding themselves at the centre of seemingly endless grizzly murders that they ended up solving without the help of the police.
Despite knowing deep down that it wouldn’t be in stock because manga was barely flying off the shelves and Christmas was only two weeks away – there was something comforting about perusing a shelf of books hoping I might strike gold.
Two careful scans and no luck. There was, however, something else that caught my eye. Something I could not let anyone else see me looking at.
The manga section was always quiet, and today was no exception. Looking both ways to check that I was in the clear, I slowly crouched down and located one of the men’s love series called Gravitation. Taking a volume from the shelf carefully as if one wrong move would set off alarms and out me right then and there – I gave the action my full concentration.
Slowly, slowly and safe.
No alarm.  
I flicked through the pages to see if there anything steamy. I couldn’t seem to find anything of interest but every time I heard a muffled voice becoming clearer and louder it made me jump and I would look around me again.
Still no one.
It all felt too risky, so I put Gravitation back. 
Slowly getting back up, I moved to another section I knew I wouldn’t be interested in.
It looked like I was browsing just as I was before but this time my eyes were out of focus as I ran a finger across the uneven spines rippling along the shelves.
I would do this a lot, it felt performative. Often, I would lose myself in this state of this performative nothingness. It was calming.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Mum called out from behind me. My focus came right back to the self-help books in front of me and I turned around to find Mum standing at the far end of the aisle with shopping bags in either hand.
“No, they didn’t have it.”
Mum pursed her lips slightly, “Come on, let’s go get something to eat and then we can find presents for the cousins.”

While I had largely escaped shopping duties since I was, until recently swamped with exams and end of year assignments, now that I was on holidays – I had been enlisted to help.
I didn’t really mind because Mum always let me look at the things I liked as well. Though, she may have preferred it if I was buying less manga.    

We left Borders and walked through from the recently renovated section of Highpoint to the older section which had barely been touched since I was a much younger. I couldn’t count how many times it had just been Mum and I, sometimes my brothers and dad too – walking through Highpoint, on a mission for something. We’d fought, laughed and cried walking through this shopping centre. I had come to Highpoint with my friends, exchange students and even by myself a few times, it was very much a place that had been a constant backdrop in my life.

Mum and I had made our way to the food court we always went to. It had the place she liked to get her sandwiches from and the Chinese place that I liked. Recently, they had also started selling sushi.

Putting her shopping bags down, Mum took a spot at a table by the fountain.  She pulled out her wallet and passed me a twenty dollar note, “Make sure you get yourself a drink too.”
“Thanks.”

Looking at the offering in the bain-marie, I decided the sushi looked more appetizing. Summer never made me feel like having anything incredibly hot anyway. On top of this, I could almost hear Mum saying something about chicken sitting in the bain-marie all day and food poisoning. 
Two hand rolls and an aloe vera drink would do me.

Mum looked at the drink suspiciously, “What’s that?”
“It’s an aloe vera drink, it’s really nice!”
Raising an eyebrow, she took a sip “Not sure about the chunks but it tastes much better than I thought.”
I set myself down and Mum went off to get her food. I was convinced that she would get a salad sandwich and probably some kind of juice. A water was also a possibility but definitely not a soft drink.

Munching away on my sushi, I looked around and wondered if I would see anyone from school. The bright food court was bustling with unfamiliar faces. No one I knew.

Mum came back, she had a juice with her sandwich.

“So, after this, we just need something for the twins. All the others have been sorted. What do you think we should get them?”
I had no idea. I was close to the twins, but we had very different interests. Wondering what I could suggest, I went for the safe option, “What about something from the body shop? They go on holidays a lot so maybe some stuff they can travel with.”
Mum thought for a moment, “You’re right, they’re always at the holiday house in summer. What about some cute beach towels?”
It was totally different from what I suggested but I told myself that I must have helped Mum arrive at this conclusion somehow.
“That sounds good.”
For some reason whenever I found myself in a shopping centre, I always had to go to the toilet frequently and suddenly, “I’m just going to go to the toilet. I’ll be back.”
“I’ll wait here then.” Mum took another bite of her sandwich as she looked down at the water distorting the colourful tiles in the fountain.  

Walking down the quiet hallway to the toilet, the slap of my thongs with each step was much more noticeable. The toilet was empty, and I went to the cubicle down the end, carefully placing toilet paper on the seat before sitting down and staring off into space.
Memories from the year floated into my mind before disappearing again, plans I would make with my friends over the summer break and of course when I would get the next volume of Kindaichi. Slowly I started thinking about the two years of VCE that faced me, how would I do? What would life be like after that?
As I spaced out, I didn’t hear someone enter the toilets and then the cubicle next to me.
“Psst.” Came a voice from above me.
I jumped and looked up to see a man in his mid to late thirties staring down at me.
Unsure, all I could manage was, “What?”
His eyes narrowed and I saw them ogle me where I sat, devouring every part of bare skin he could lay his eyes on. He mouthed something to me that I couldn’t quite make out but instinctively I said no.
Maybe he wanted toilet paper, I found myself wondering.
His head disappeared, and I felt a sense of relief.
Slowly cleaning myself up, I heard him call out to me again. I looked up and saw that this time he was holding a twenty dollar note in his hand.
He mouthed again to me “Suck?”
I shook my head and looked down at the floor. The thudding sound of my blood coursing through my body echoed in my ears and I felt glued to where I was, unable to move. That itchy feeling in my chest and a shaky weakness spreading to every part of my body.
I tried to focus on the tiles of the floor and see if I could find patterns like I did at home sometimes. There were definitely no patterns, but I kept trying. Maybe there was something in the grout. Just focus on the grout.
Without warning, something grabbed my leg and started pulling strongly. For a moment I watched without reacting, as if I had lost control of my body.
My mind was screaming to pull back, but my body wouldn’t – or couldn’t respond.
My shin hit the divider and scraped painfully as a strong grip held it firmly in place. That’s when I felt something wet and warm on my toe – I tried to jerk back but struggled and I realised it was his mouth.
For a moment I did nothing and then as I felt his grip relax slightly, I pulled back and managed to get free.
As quickly as I could, I got myself together and opened the cubicle door.
He was one step ahead of me, waiting on the other site of the door and pushed into the cubicle as I tried to get out, pushing me backwards onto the toilet seat. He towered above me. He held up a finger to his mouth, “Shhh”
The man leaned in close to me and started sloppily kissing my neck, I recoiled and squirmed but I couldn’t move away. His foul tongue scraping me and his hot, putrid breath filling my nostrils. I watched as his hand snaked its way into my pocket and fiddle around a bit.
Slowly he moved back, the saliva on my neck was still connected to his lips.
His crotch was level with my face.  In a swift movement, he pulled down his shorts to reveal himself.
I tried to move backwards, but he used one of his hands and pushed my head towards him, “You know you want it.”  
The smell was strong and repulsive.
I felt like I wanted to cry but I couldn’t.
With one hand holding himself and the other on the back of my head, he forced it into my mouth. That’s when I felt myself leave my body.
I watched from above as my empty eyes stared at nothing and he rhythmically thrusted back and forth. Both hands on the back of my head. The rest of my body was limp.

At the time I didn’t realise it, but this is what it felt like to break apart completely. To be smashed into pieces beyond my control.

It wasn’t clear how much time had gone by. But I felt something hot and bitter shoot into my mouth while he held my head firmly in place. He uttered the word, “Swallow.” As an order.
My mind still empty, I complied.
He moved back and pulled up his shorts before leaving the cubicle.

For a time, I sat there, unsuccessfully attempting to process what had just happened.  
I had slowly come back to my body but not all the pieces were there. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew that a part of me was gone – destroyed.
No longer was my heart pounding loudly in my ear, my body no longer shook, I was numb.

Eyes still unfocused, I stood up and quietly exited the cubicle before washing my hands, face and neck. I washed my mouth out. I then pressed the soap dispenser and put it in my mouth to wash it. I just wanted to get rid of that bitter taste. After drying off, I exited the toilets.

The hallway was quiet, just as it had been and going out back into the food court, everything was just as it was before.
Mum was still sitting by the fountain but her sandwich was long finished, “What took you so long?”
“Oh sorry, my stomach was a bit upset.”
“It was probably that drink.”
“Yeah.”
“Okay, are you ready to go? Let’s go find those beach towels for the twins.”
I nodded.

As we walked back through to the shops, I felt my mind drift. Something about what had just happened felt so unreal. Maybe it didn’t happen. It couldn’t have happened.
I reached into my pocked and felt the note. A sinking feeling, a wave of dread engulfing me.
 
Everything looked the same, but it somehow all felt so different.

Petrified, that it would be my fault, I pushed it down and focused on the towels we had to find.

Dating since 11/21

Stream of conciousness style writing on my reflections of encounters on dating apps and with people I have met and interacted with since becoming single. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t matter what clothes someone puts on, what their pronouns are or which part of the city they live in – we say some pretty interesting things to eachother.

In isolation these comments may not mean much, but built up they take a toll. If this is a summarised version of my experience over nearly six months, imagine what other people must be getting. Doing this activity was both cathartic and confronting for me.

Reflections: Lots of cancellations, poor follow ups, lots of sex, amazing lessons in human interaction, behind anonymity people say some horrible things, people are really bad liars, people often like the idea of you, give it a week and they’ll have forgotten who you are, subtle flirtation is lost on way too many people, great book recommendations, people will come to you for recommendations but not want to hang out with you, people believe what they want to believe, people don’t often mean what they say, no one knows what they’re doing (me included). Never lose hope.

Hi
Hey
Expiring photo received
You’re back?
I haven’t seen you before!
Come over
His loss
I’m open to anything
Come over
Do you host?
Expiring photo received
I can’t believe you’re single
I’d love to see you again
Sweet dreams x
Come over
You’re fucking disgusting
When can I smash that?
How about a drink king?
You’re gorg
Long time no see
Your perm looks shit
I had a great time tonight.
When am I seeing you again?
You must be a real slut
How many other guys are you seeing?
Hey
We met before right?
Hi
Hi
Fuck you
How far off are you???
Take your time, no pressure x
Do you just feel sorry for me?
I’m used to guys throwing themselves at me so it really shakes my confidence when you don’t.
Hi
????
Expiring photo received
If I see you down the street I’m going to fuck you up you little cunt
You’re a really sweet guy but I’ve met someone else that I want to give it a go with
I’m bottom too…
Hey
Hey hi
Suck me
I’d rather have you bent over my bed though…
You free tonight?
I need you…
Looking?
Hey I just got my results and…
I just don’t trust guys who have discreet written on their profiles
You’re gonna break my heart
Where are you taking me tonight?
You’re so cold
Aww thanks, I’ll grab drinks next time x
Your whole narrative thing really fucked me up. That’s such a dark way of looking at the world.
Hey
Why didn’t you touch me?
Where r u?
Looking?
You don’t look queer
There was no connection between us. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
You’re close!
Ah – bit too far from Collingwood…
Come sit on my lap baby x
You’re in footscray right?
I wanna be inside you
Your body is ugly
About tomorrow, something’s come up
Tell me more about yourself
Can you be on all fours?
I would have asked you to come back but I was so tired x
I’m deleting this app soon so if you’re serious about talking to me gimme your details
Hey
When u gonna come to daddy?
Hi
Looking?
Muscle only
Can I eat your poo?
????
Fuck you
I’ll let you know cutie xx
You’re sitting at a café right?
What’s that bar you took me to?
I can see you
What you doing?
Hey big boy
My man
Hosting on spencer street
I’m always SO horn on here, hit me up on insta and we can have a coffee xx
I woke up this morning and I’m feeling like I have a bit of a cold
I promise I’ll make it up to you!
Hey u
Can you tell me a cute date spot?
You’re close
Host or travel?
Just ditch your friends so I can fuck you good
You look cute in those shorts
Expiring photo received
hey x
Ur a slutty one
This is a vibe
Where r u from?
I had a great time
Nice
Too far
Hi
Dialling now
Which level?
Nice
I don’t travel outside of fitzroy
What natio?
Slut
Got more pics?
Did you read my profile?
Liked your message
Last night was magical, thank you.
OH its you
Can we smoke a j together?
You are funny
Defs chat and cuddle
I don’t think I got it from you but…
My house mate came home sick
Slut
Likewise
You like being slutty don’t you???
lol
Hahaha
What do you think of this guy?
Can I use your mouth?
I’ll be in touch cutie x
Hi
What?
Hi
Looking?

Journal 13/01/2022

The reflection of the fan blades on the dark screen of my phone. Is it a [BLANK]? It definitely isn’t but I check anyway.

Trying to break a [BLANK] I don’t wanna break deep down.

I wonder if everyone spends as much time [BLANK] to work as I do. What else would they be doing?

Telling myself once I get through the ones left on my [BLANK] I’ll settle down and be content.

That’s what I call telling myself a goddamn [BLANK]. They say, to be a good [BLANK, you need to first convince yourself of your own [BLANK].

Do you think [BLANK] knows?

When [BLANK] looks at me when we [BLANK] do you think he wants to [BLANK] me?

To be honest I feel like deep down everyone wants to [BLANK] me one way or another.

Yeah, I know – I’m a real [BLANK]. You don’t need to tell me what I already know.

Bored with [BLANK] when I have it but yearning for [BLANK] when I don’t have it. I’m a classic [BLANK]!

Do you follow [BLANK]?

Oh, no I don’t use [BLANK].

Oh…[BLANK]!

I think I’m gonna [BLANK] before I [BLANK].

Night

I don’t know what his name was but it was a great time.

Would I go there again? Probably not.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

My watch tells me I’ve beat my previous exercise record. Yeah, you’re telling me!

Flinders is further than Southern Cross but I decide I can make the train from Flinders. This part of Flinders Street is weird, there are four or five kebab stores right next to each other, some crappy hotels and on the other side some apartments and two rail bridges blocking clear line of site to the Yarra.

Soon enough that lightening bolt building comes up. It’s all black and has a lightening bolt on it. I don’t know what it is but this guy is standing in front of it. The very guy who tapped me before online. We look at each other and he looks away quickly. He’s got a real romper stomper vibe about him, but it’s all aesthetic. All bark and no bite. He’s scrolling on his phone but it’s just the Home Screen.

I play some songs on repeat as I bound towards Flinders Street.

Thinking about a lot of things.

Thinking about how when you have music in your ears that you’d life feels like a music video. Even when a homeless person says something to you as you walk past but when you’ll look, the only words coming out of their mouth are the lyrics to the song.

Thinking about how I feel flexing my freedom.

Thinking about how I get random threats on the app from someone who knows way more about me than a stranger should.

I’m thinking about what lies ahead and I really don’t know.

It’s more of the same but better.

Through the ticket barriers and past a station man helping someone with their myki.

Down the steps and I see an emaciated woman in a loose fitting tatty pink dress peeing on the wall and screaming. But the words coming out of her mouth are the lyrics to the song.

My heart is pounding in my chest.

Up the stairs and look at that, two minutes to spare.

Enemy

This unseen enemy is wearing me down,

Eating away at the corners of my colourful dreams little by little like silverfish at paper.

At first I didn’t even notice and I felt like it was no match for me. I danced around it confidently thinking I was to win but here’s the thing, the whole time it laughed at me and I simply could not see.

Now my dreams are fast fading and my world is looking grey. I’m cold and alone while others dance and play.

I’m shut in and it feels like so many things have been taken away.

Split

It’s been nagging me for years since I came back. That feeling I left something of myself behind.

Because when I go back I feel so alive and I feel myself. Why is that? I could never figure it out.

But today during my session with the psychologist, it came out that perhaps I left a part of myself there, the part of myself I actually like.

So when I’m back there I’m whole again, when I leave I’m not.

If I’m not whole and the part of myself that I like and truly want to be is not here then what is it that came back?

Could it be that my shadow came back and forgot it was a shadow and just took my place? Meanwhile my true self is over there infinitely walking home from the station on a still autumn night in awe of everything around him not realising what has happened.

How do I make myself whole again?

Beep Beep Beep

It’s late afternoon and the faint smell of the foccacia I baked lingers in the air. Sesame is on the bed out of my sight probably sleeping or looking out the window and through the open balcony door in my living room I can hear the symphony of construction machines beeping as they move around.

My eyes sting with a lack of sleep coating my lids like some residue I can’t lift. My dreams were violent last night and the guided meditation before bed made it worse. Rika popped up in my dream at some stage; she didn’t look well and had scabs around her mouth. I wasn’t happy to see this but I wasn’t sad either. We didn’t interact but she was always around, mouthlessly wording things at no one in particular.

I don’t know if it’s a headache or just the drain of dumping my mental state on my new psychologist just now but I pop two painkillers. It’s a packet I picked up in transit at Hong Kong Airport on my way home from Bangkok last year.
I travelled nearly 7 times last year but today international travel has been banned and my predictions of societal collapse seem to be happening a lot more sooner than even I thought they would.

Can I fit in a nap before heading to family dinner?
Honestly, I’ll need to so I can function and not breakdown crying in front of everyone.

The beeping of the vehicles is less frequent now but there is some other power tool, the bang of a hammer periodically. Another lot of instruments have taken over but the symphony continues.

Big Boy

Debbie remembered when she first noticed the crappy, homemade, inkjet printed paper signs clumsily sticky taped to the wooden light poles around Moonee Ponds.

HAVE YOU SEEN OUR CAT?

There was a photo of a black cat perched on what could have been the arm of an outdoor chair. There was grass in the background. Possibly even a hills hoist. 

He’s a big black cat, very friendly and responds to “Big Boy”

Please contact us on XXXX XXX XXX if you find him.

She probably made a joke about it to Audrey a few times because they both lived in the area and they were a bit more on the cynical side. They loved animals and everything but there was something sublimely suburban about the whole lost pet and the home made sign situation that made her chuckle whenever she saw it. She stopped herself whenever she started to think it was pathetic. Too far Debbie, too far. 

It must have been at least two years since she first started seeing the signs and there were still some around.

The particular one she walked past that prompted this whole recall had a chunk missing from the bottom left corner. The paper was warped from rain, sun and then some more rain.  Debbie was surprised that the ink hadn’t run off the paper and completely disappeared in this time.

She pulled out her phone, took a photo and sent it to Audrey.

Do you think they ever found Big Boy?

Debbie kept walking and wondered if the cute guy would be at the cafe today. He wasn’t her normal type but he had these piercing blue eyes and maintained strong eye contact whenever she ordered from him. Debbie unimaginatively called him Coffee Boy because she didn’t know his real name nor did she have the confidence to ask.

Just past the entrance to the station she could see the cafe come into view so she went by the window and peaked in – it was confirmed, Coffee Boy was squirting out his brew today. 

Debbie definitely needed a coffee now. Glimpsing him at work from the window, she felt something rise up within her that made her whole body tremble for an instant.  

As Debbie walked in he was already looking her way and grinned, “Weren’t sure if you wanted a coffee or not?” 

Debbie felt a pang in her chest. If he’d seen her today then he probably saw her every other time she has been looking in like a creep. She went right through his greeting and got down to business, “Hey, have you ever seen that missing cat sign around the area?” 

He tilted his head, “You mean big boy?” 

“Yeah!” Debbie had successfully steered him away from her creeping indiscretions to this more pressing matter. 

“What about him though? Your cat?” He didn’t seem terribly interested but it was probably the kind of conversation he would be used to while he passed the time with takeaway customers. 

“Nah, but I always see the sign around and wondered if they ever found him.” Debbie fiddled with some local business cards on the shelf near the counter and added, “Oh I’ll get a flat white by the way.”

Just as she finished her sentence, his eyes thinned slightly as they remained locked on hers and he placed the takeaway coffee on the counter, “Here you go, it’s already done. That’ll be 4.70.” 

Debbie raised and eyebrow, “Oh, how did you know?” she tried to add a hint of flirtation into her question/. 

Coffee Guy raised an eyebrow, “It’s what you always get. You’re hardly going to change to a mocha all of a sudden. Am I right?”

Was he mocking her? Was he trying to tell her that he remembered her and disguised it in the same kind of way a little boy throws sand at the girl he likes to profess his feelings for her? 

“Gee…yeah okay. Take my money then.” Her card made contact with the little white square. 

Beep.

“Look, you might change milk types? How’s that? Maybe you’re not that predictable.” Coffee Guy added in with a wink before starting on another coffee order. 

Debbie turned around towards the door and gave him a little wave holding the coffee cup in her hand. 

She looked left and then right, which way was she going to go? 

She pulled out her phone and noticed that there was a message from Audrey.

Yeah I hope so…kind of sad right?

Debbie turned left, walked straight and then took a few more turns before she found herself away from the station and in the midst of suburbia. Big houses, little houses, large developments and signs outside quaint houses opposing development. Oh yes, this was middle-ring Melbourne all right. 

The sky was relatively cloudless apart from a few thin pieces scattered throughout the vast blue expanse. Debbie’s eyes went from the sky to the tree tops and then the rooftops with wooden electricity poles here and there. Further down and oh – another sign for Big Boy. 

She walked over to the sign and looked again. Unlike the one earlier, this one looked newer and the whole thing was intact.

Was it new? The text seemed to be jumping out at Debbie. 

The numbers were almost vibrating with energy on the page. A lawnmower in the distance, birds chirping somewhere in a tree, the constant sound of the windless air started fading as she stood transfixed. With little thought, Debbie pulled out her phone and dialled the numbers she saw before her.

Dial tone.
Dial tone.
Dial tone.
Click.

Silence.

Debbie stammered, heart beating in her chest, “Hello?” 

There was only a grainy silence but there was definitely someone on the other end of the line. Then a voice, “Have you seen Big Boy?” 

Debbie was frozen where she stood, transfixed on the image of Big Boy in front of her. 

“Uhh…no. I just wanted to know if you found him.” She realised how pathetic she sounded but the words had already left her mouth. 

“Where’s Big Boy?” The voice sounded ancient and scratchy. Debbie wasn’t sure if the voice was male or female. 

“Uh…I-I’m looking for him.” She lied. 

“Then why are you just standing there?” The voice replied.

Debbie’s neck prickled and she looked around her frantically. The street was deserted yet it sounded so busy. Birds chirped unseen, a child was laughing behind a tall fence somewhere and the dog repeatedly barked. Debbie felt completely alone.

She quickly hung up the phone and went to get back home. Debbie was getting the sense that someone was coming for her.
Her heart started jumping around and her hands became clammy.  The coffee dropped to the ground and she nearly screamed from the shock of it. 

What street was she on? She couldn’t make it out. She felt frantic as she became aware of everything around her.

Get out, just get home. 

Debbie broke into a run and turned into another street hoping to find some other people. If only someone else could see her then she would be safe. But this street was deserted too. Sounds of safety and comfort were all around but there was no one in sight. 

As she continued to run, looking in every direction she could she increasingly felt like a trapped mouse running through a maze.

Just the unseen eyes watching her inaction.  

Debbie was sweating now, she couldn’t seem to find her way back to the station or the cafe. Every street she ran into looked like the one before it. 

The houses all looked the same.
No one was around.
“Help me! Someone, please!” She was screaming out now. 

The lawnmower was whirring in the distance.
A child was crying in a backyard somewhere.
Birds chirping in a tree.
A girl running hysterically down a street not noticing them waiting for the moment she passed so they could pull her behind the fence and through a door which would close tight.  

The street was quiet now, only silent eyes peering from behind flyscreen doors curious about a scream they thought they heard but not concerned enough to leave their houses and check. 

The posters remained on the poles here and there throughout the streets. 

Big Boy was yet to be found.