My train pulled into Blackburn Station at about 4:30pm. Every evening at around the same time, Shane, Dad and I converged on this spot from our daily routines, and Dad would drive us home: Me from my studies at Melbourne State College, Shane from screwing together tricycles in the stockroom at Toyworld, Camberwell and Dad from on the road, arriving from whichever factory he was fixing machinery at on that particular day.
I sat on the platform and watched Shane's train arrive. He suddenly appeared through the disembarking throng as the doors hissed open, looking as uncomfortable as ever in slacks with an ironed crease, and a pressed white shirt as he made his way towards me.
'Hello, how was your day?' I screeched in a high-pitched feminine trill, ignoring the disapproving looks of the shuffling commuters as I slipped into our "Mavis and Ethel" routine.
'Good, good how was your day?' Shane screeched back, joining in our well-worn game.
'Oh, great, great', I replied in my regular voice.'I had this child psychology class today, the lecturer was droning on and on about Noam Chomski's "Acquisition of Language" theory or something, it was dead boring, and my mind started to wander'.
'So what happened?'
'That Eno song "The True Wheel" started going round in my head, and I tuned back into the lecture just in time to hear the Professor ask what I should do to get the kids' attention if the class was being unruly. And without thinking, I said I'd jump up on the desk and shout, "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-here we go." (A line from the song.)
'That would've gone down well', laughed Shane.
'You're not kidding', I replied.'The guy looked at me like I'd taken a piss on the Bible'.
'Yeah, well do you remember me telling you the other day how my idiot manager was organising a promotional tie-in for the store with the Camberwell Football Club?' Shane asked rhetorically, as we headed for the underpass.
'Hey kids,come and follow the players into the store for autographs, prizes and giveaways', he chortled, suddenly becoming animated as he mocked the details on the poster in a "Golly-Gee" voice.
'Well, it was today'.
'So, how did it go'? I asked.
'It was bloody hilarious. The manager sticks the players in a trailer on the back of a Ute, tows them down Riversdale Road, and drives them into the store, and not one single kid follows them in. So they're all standing around for half an hour, pens in hand, looking at each other, really embarrassed, it was excruciating. Then they all just leave'.
'God, what did he expect'? I laughed.'They're just a second division VFA side. It's not like they're Collingwood or anything'.
'I know. My manager is so clueless', said Shane.
As we emerged from the tunnel, blinking into the daylight I saw Dad's car parked up ahead. He had the radio turned up really loud to compensate for his failing hearing, that had been ruined by the constant ear-shredding grinding of the metallic cutting lathes he worked around all day long. A big news story was breaking as we slid into the car and said hello.
'U.S. President Ronald Reagan has been shot', the newsreader was saying.'The President has been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after being shot by a lone gunman who sprayed several bullets into the Presidential entourage'.
We sat in stunned silence as we drove home to Donvale. America seemed to be going slowly insane at the moment, I thought. I was still just getting over the senseless slaying of John Lennon just a few monthe ago, and now another nut with a gun had gone on a shooting spree.