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Finally we decide to play some pool. The poolroom is dark except for the table which is bright green. I’m partnering the Prawn man against Bob the Balloon man and a bloke who says he owns a steakhouse down the street.
My steaks are that thick, he says, holding his thumb and forefinger apart. Everybody stops for one of my steaks.
But why aren’t you cooking steaks now? I ask. Surely there are people waiting to eat your steaks right this minute?
The man shrugs and looks shifty.
I don’t feel like it, he says. Sometimes I need a break from my steaks. I’m my own boss.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned...

I try to relax and play my natural game. If I do a good shot, everybody says ‘Good shot!’ and if I miss a shot, they say ‘Bad luck’. The balls go clack-thunk into the pockets. The Steakhouse man sings along with the jukebox.

’Cause there’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone...

Over in the corner, two blokes are playing the pokies. The soft glow of the lights slides across their faces and when they slap the buttons, the beeps and whirrs of the machine blend with the chunka chunka clink of the coins. Next to the pokies, there is a man playing a pinball machine. His body jerks as if wired up to the electric lights and bells.
How are you going buddy? I ask.
Good, he says but doesn’t look at me.
You from round these parts? I ask.
Yeah mate, he says. He pauses and then starts to speak in time with the twitching of his body:
Always lived here. It’s my... whole world. Grew up... here. Went to school... here. Got a job. Married. Kids. Tried to leave… once. Soon came back. Wasn’t the same. Couldn’t settle. Won’t leave... now. Not so bad. Not once... you know. Could be... worse. Got me mates. Got me house. Got me everything... really...
The man misses a shot and slams his fist on the glass top but it doesn’t break.

Our final ball drops and everybody cheers spontaneously. We shake hands and say ‘Good game’ and ‘Well played’ or simply ‘Played’. Then there’s an awkward lull while we wonder what to do next. I reckon it’s time to go and dig up Kate. She’ll be wondering what has happened to me. If we don’t make tracks soon, we might never get away.

The front bar is chock-a-block with blokes now. Everybody is pressed together and there’s a lot of shouting going on. For a moment, I wonder if this is the right place but then I see the telly and manage to get my bearings. I’d know those colours anywhere. I look round the room but it’s hard to see anybody through the tangle of check shirts and hairy forearms. I can’t see Kate anywhere. My first thought is that maybe she has gone off and forgotten me but when I go outside, the car is still parked on the street. The air is cooler now and there is a soft golden glow which reminds me of country farmhouse butter. I think about getting in the car and going to look for her but I don’t know which way to go.

I go back to the pool room. The Prawn man, the Balloon man and the Steakhouse man are still there, circling the green table. Even the blokes on the pokies and the pinball man are still there. I don’t suppose they expected to see me again so soon.
Have you seen her? I ask. Have you seen Kate?
They all turn and look at me but seem quite distant and wary, like strangers in the street. Nobody knows anything about Kate. In fact, they all have trouble remembering her and seem to think that I arrived here alone. Eventually they say, oh right, that woman, yeah, right. Then they give each other puzzled looks as if they can’t quite believe that she slipped their minds.

I continue my search. The pub is a warren of dimly-lit corridors and tiny rooms. I could become lost here. Eventually though I find my way into the beer garden and straightaway see Kate and one of the cowboys sitting beneath a gum tree. The cowboy has dusty boots and a big hat. He is lighting a cigarette which he passes to Kate. She takes it and starts to laugh, a slow, deep sound which rises up, filling the space of the garden, and then falls away, finishing with a sob of contentment. She turns and smiles, as if looking at me from a distance. It’s a smile I’ve seen before, somewhere, although I can’t remember where.

So there you are, says Kate. I was wondering when you’d turn up.

She looks at me again, as if half-expecting an answer this time, but I have nothing to say. The only thing I can do is stand there. Smoke spirals up into the tree.

It’s dark when we eventually say goodbye to the cowboy and walk up to the service station on the highway for a bite to eat. There are no street lights in this part of town but most of the houses are open and brightly lit like stage sets. I can hear the sound of televisions and washing up. A powerful aroma is coming from the bag of prawns in my hand.

At the service station, we eat fat hamburgers beneath the glow of a neon sign. There’s another couple there – just kids really. He’s playing an arcade game and she’s leaning against him, hanging onto his shoulder, watching what he’s doing. They look like one person standing there, or a two-headed monster, two halves stuck together like someone’s been messing with body parts. And they’re really still too, glued to the video screen with only the boy’s fingers moving over the console. It’s like everything they’ve ever done and everywhere they’ve ever been has brought them to this point and if they never moved again (and I can’t ever see them moving) then it wouldn’t really matter.