When Dad’s motorbike pulled away leaving me at the accident scene I knew this was death, or he would have been saving everyone, not going for an ambulance.
Two shearers in a Holden, heading home and the Ford that had flipped and landed on them, full of people who flopped out in the paddock, laughing as they picked themselves up.
I saw the number plate of the Ford stamped into the Holden’s roof. Under it, squashed flat, two men were dying, one with a gash in his leg full of diamonds, the other drowning in blood.
We were late to the Speedway. Strawberry Fields was playing, echoing over the Tannoy speakers when I climbed off the motorbike behind the stands. I hadn’t heard it before, and when I heard
‘Let me take you down…’
and that falling, slowing-down sound, it was exactly how I felt. I stood and listened, and everything around me jumped out as if I’d never seen it before. The blue smoke in the lights from the corner towers, backs of people sitting on five-tiered stands around the track, black silhouettes of pine trees behind the light. Even the smell, of high octane racing fuel, hot oil, and deep-frying, was overpowering.
‘…nothing is real, there’s nothing…’
I climbed up the stand, to the top where my sisters were waiting.
‘You’re so late, what happened? Mum was getting worried.’ They’d come in Mum’s car; I’d ridden pillion on my father’s motorbike.
‘There was an accident.’ Even my own voice seemed to come from far away.
‘…living is easy with eyes closed…’
‘What happened? Was anyone hurt? You’ve got blood on your cardigan.’
‘We were first there. The car passed us on the corner of Riverbend Road, then we heard a funny thump noise, and when we got around the corner there were two cars upside down and people all over the road.
‘I stayed and helped while Dad went to call an ambulance.’
‘…and you know I know when it’s a dream…’
I looked down at my cardigan. There was blood on my sleeve. I couldn’t tell my younger sisters how the man had died while I was holding him.
‘…Strawberry Fields forever…’