Thrill City by Leigh Redhead

By Leigh Redhead

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Birches and spruce and maple and pine. She felt vaguely unpatriotic preferring European trees, but the Australian bush was so coarse and prickly and such a washed-out khaki colour that it made her mouth dry just thinking about it. She wanted deep lush greens and rich mahoganies, and fields of grass as soft and verdant as billiard table felt. She wasn’t sure why. She’d only been to the UK and Europe once, as a backpacker, fifteen years ago. Perhaps it was a collective, Anglo-Saxon, unconscious thing?

She opened her mouth wide, trying for shocked and hurt, but there was a sly look in her eye and I knew I’d hit the mark. chapter four Chloe and I headed off to the writers’ festival in my pale blue ’67 Ford Futura. It was good to be driving The Beast again, zebra-patterned seat covers, dangling mirror ball and all, much more fun than the boring, innocuous Laser I used for work. I’d even added a new sticker to the bumper that read, in Western-style script, Country Music Is Not a Crime. It was another hot day and I was wearing my usual summer uniform of faded, ripped hipster jeans and a top with the sleeves cut off.

He wasn’t ugly exactly—in fact, with his sandy, slightly curly hair, boyish face and putty nose some people might have called him cute—but he’d always seemed like an annoying younger brother to me, even though he was thirty-three. When we’d first met, Curtis had worked for Picture magazine and had been the proud owner of a mullet-style haircut, a host of flannelette shirts and Dunlop Volley tennis shoes. After moving to Melbourne, becoming a crime journo and dating Chloe, he’d changed his style, going to the other extreme: natty shoes, slicked-back hair and shiny ties that made him resemble an extra from The Sopranos, albeit an albino one.

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