bertieblackman bertie blackman melbourne Bertie dropped onto the bench and took a swig of, what? Could have been whiskey, could have been juice. She’d peeled all the labels off a long time ago. Dusk. It was her favourite time: the orange eye of the sun, bored and falling fast, the empty streets, the smell of the dark winding round her legs. She curled her spine and pressed deeper into the wooden slats of the bench, like an attic ladder against her back. She settled in to watch. This was the time for shadow chasers, when hurt was in the air and the bins overflowed with silent hopes and crumpled dreams. She flicked through the menu on her iPod. Headway, The Only One, from the soundtrack of Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, Black, Secrets and Lies and a cover of Peek-a-boo by Siouxsie and the Banshees. And this new one, Pope Innocent X. Her thumb hovered over the button, one cracking eye to unleash the loneliness of everything. She hesitated. Took another swig and winced as she swallowed. Probably not juice. She pressed play and reached inside her coat for the book she’d stolen last time she went home, A Travel Guide for Foundlings with Nowhere To Go. On the title page, in red pencil, someone had scrawled ‘2009 ARIA Breakthrough Independent Artist of the Year’ and ‘2009 ARIA Best Independent Release.’ Bertie laughed as she tore out the page, flicked her lighter open and set the paper alight. She pulled out her bookmark - a dog-eared card embossed with ‘Francois Tetaz – Producer at Large’ – and started drawing the mourning light of the looming stars onto the pages. It was dark when she’d finished. And cold. And she was thirsty. Out of the corner of her eye, she could feel the world come alive with the fiends of the night. She fixed them with her unblinking eye and whispered I know where you’re hiding and I’m coming to get you.