Almanac Fiction: Swifty Taylor and the Dead Coach (Episode 6)



The cool of autumn really was starting to bite now, giving off too many vibes that the fast-approaching winter would be frigid at times. Before departing my digs, I glanced at myself in the mirror. Hmm, I thought, not too bad considering the lack of maintenance I had been performing on myself lately. Or maybe I was like the budgerigar whose mirror in the cage is far too close to ever get an accurate reflection.

The previous night, I had returned Laura’s call. I admit that I was taken aback when she suggested dinner, and it had taken me a moment or two to regain my equilibrium. Again she suggested The Cup and Crumb – and who was I to argue. I had spent a sleepless night wrestling with the memories of my long-finished relationship with Laura. Really, from the get-go I could never understand why a girl as classy as her would be interested in a bloke like me. We spent two great years together, with people constantly telling me how lucky I was. I hadn’t treated her badly; it was just that I could never quite conquer my insecurities. The lack of effort that I put into our relationship hung over us like an executioner’s axe. And when she’d gazed into the future and saw a life of playing second-fiddle to footy and socializing, she had wanted out. And who could blame her? Certainly not me.

When it dawned on me how stupid I had been, years of destructive and anti-social behaviour followed. Every woman I had ever met suffered in comparison to Laura May. My then wife was appalled when I accepted a Facebook friend request from Laura – I could have refused, but I was too intrigued. I felt a strong desire to learn about her post-Swifty life, and who she was sharing it with. I was surprised to find that she had had her share of relationship troubles, too. It mystified me even more so when I peered through the window of The Cup and Crumb and saw her sitting alone at a table for two. Damn, if I only had the ability to turn back time.

“Hello, Swifty,” she said, as I sat down opposite her. “A dinner date, hey? Does this bring back any memories?” I assured her that the only memories I had of our time together were positive. But I knew she could not say the same about me. Back then, a romantic night out for us would less likely be a dinner for two than to go parking at the Williamstown back beach to watch the submarine races. It was time for me to start cutting to the chase, so I asked her if she resented me. “You didn’t treat me badly, Swifty. You were always sweet. It was just that you neglected me. I wanted more, but you could not give me more, you were too immature.” The words swung in the air like a pendulum, and I considered whether or not the intervening years had granted me more maturity. Or was I just the same old knucklehead?

“Any news on the death of my brother?” Now she was also cutting to the chase. “Not much since the last time we had coffee here,” I admitted. I did not tell her that I was awaiting a phone call which may or may not shape the future direction of my inquiries. “But I promise you that I am still looking into it.” She smiled that smile of hers. And my heart began to ache all over again. “This was fun,” she said, at the end of a meal which I thought was, at best, adequate. The company had been more than adequate. “Yes, maybe we could do this again?” The best I can say is that she did not reply in the negative.

As we bade each other farewell, my phone buzzed. It was a text message from an unknown number. “Swifty Taylor. Meet me for a drink on my boat tomorrow night at 8pm. I hear Jameson is your drink of choice. Cheers, Jack Shepherd.” Well, well, well. A meeting with big Jack. On the walk home through the back streets of Williamstown, I was deep in thought. And I kept circling back to the conclusion that the barbarians never really took hold of a city unless someone held open the gates for them.



You can read more from Smokie HERE

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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Mickey Randall says

    RDL may have been (rightly) awaiting Laura (great name for a femme fatale) but I’m eager to now see what lurks beneath the surface of Jack Shepherd. Thanks Smokie.

  2. Roger Lowrey says

    Damn right I am Mickey. And her “I wanted more but you could not give me more” has me screaming at my laptop in frustration “well pick me then sweetheart, pick me, pick me, pick me!”

    Mind you, “yes maybe we could do this again” cleverly leaves the door just a tiny bit ajar for the author to have his readers eagerly anticipating Episode 7.

    BTW Smokie, “the budgerigar whose mirror in the cage is far too close to ever get an accurate reflection” was the image that got my three votes. Very cruel but very apt.


  3. I got a bad feeling about this pending rendezvous, Swifty. Reckon you better take a mate … Great work Smokie — you’ve unearthed a Western Suburbs successor to Murray Whelan and Jack Irish. Looking forward to the next nail-biting episode.

  4. Rulebook says

    Superb Swifty I reckon you’re still a chance with,Laura it could be – C Marsh B Dawson if you can survive the meeting with,Jack

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