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Written by Kage-Ryu - I'm really thirty six, male and balding. Honest.
We lived on the edge of town. Sometimes, sitting on the fence as the summer twilight faded in the background, you'd swear you were sitting on the edge of the world - Sale ended abruptly. Behind you, the claustrophobic comfort of town, ahead the flat, darkened paddocks gave the impression there was nothing in the universe except this.
I remember roughly when it started to fade away. The air force base closed down due to funding cuts. The oil mining company packed up their equipment and left the skin of earth behind in a move to the outside. Once employed families slowly faded out, their houses taken up by the Housing Commission. Charming boutiques gave way to discount shops peddling their glitter-crusted wares. That's when the Pokie People slithered into town.
The Pokie People, walking jamborees of moccasins, pressed-stud tracksuits with ciggie cases outlined in t-shirt sleeves - they kept to themselves mostly, attatching to automated games. Their faces touched by light, hands tensed into points to jab at the screen, they grew into our lives like mushrooms in dark places.
We didn't talk about it. I had the dubious honor of attending the private school in the area, where numbers silently diminished. Fewer children enrolled, many faded out and a hush fell over our priviliged class... Within this safe hush, it was easy to ignore it all. We didn't talk about the government forgetting us, but most of all we didn't talk about the Pokie People.
It was probably for this reason that I, being young, was so intrigued by these nomadic families. Shopping was a highlight of my week, as I was free in the centre while my mother lamented the lack of cuisine in the supermarket. The teenagers belonging to the Pokie People would drape themselves over benches, loitering in inappropriate places and smoking the stuff grown in backyards. I was fascinated with a foreign world.
It was inevitable, then, that our paths would cross. I in my new party outfit, thinking myself so sophisticated on my first night out. A disco at the scout hall, a real watery cordial and broken strobe light affair. They arrived late, a group of boys and girls in exotically trashy clothes and, for at least the girls, bright makeup. To be honest, I don't recall how we got to talking. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we did,