Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds

BOOK: Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds
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Gregory Day's debut novel,
The Patron Saint of Eels
, won the prestigious Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 2006. His previous books include the poetry collection
Trace
(in collaboration with photographer Robert Ashton). He lives in Victoria.

 

 

Also by Gregory Day
The Patron Saint of Eels

A NOVEL

CONTENTS

TITLE PAGE

COPYRIGHT PAGE

PART: I

ONE: DUCKS IN THE DARK

TWO: THE WORLD THROUGH HEXAGONS

THREE: LOOKING AT THE KOALA

FOUR: CHECKING THE SURF

FIVE: AFTER THE MUPPETS

SIX: A HANDSHAKE WITH DOM KHOURI

SEVEN: THE NEW ACOUSTICS

EIGHT: FEATHER-LIGHT AND HEAVY AS LEAD

PART: II

NINE: A BONAFIDE PRIEST

TEN: LIZ AND CARLA GO FOR A WALK

ELEVEN: SON OF A PIONEER SURFER

TWELVE: THE SNOUTCAT AND THE TINWHISTLE BIRD

THIRTEEN: CRAIG'S BIRTHDAY WISH

FOURTEEN: SAD MUSIC FOR THE RABBITS AND THE THRUSH

FIFTEEN: FEEDING THE BRISTLEBIRDS

SIXTEEN: GOING TO SEE THE BORGS

SEVENTEEN: A LETTER FROM THE QUEEN

EIGHTEEN: RIVERBUST

NINETEEN: LIZ TURNS THE CORNER

TWENTY: THE NEW SPIRITUALITY

TWENTY-ONE: LIZ'S PILGRIMAG

TWENTY-TWO: BATTY THE TRESPASSER

TWENTY-THREE: AUCTION AT ‘THE ORCHARD'

PART: III

TWENTY-FOUR: MIN AND THE SEASHELL

TWENTY-FIVE: THE RUST FALLS AWAY

TWENTY-SIX: A CLIFFTOP BURIAL

TWENTY-SEVEN: OLD SON

TWENTY-EIGHT: THE BIG GIFT

TWENTY-NINE: CRAIG PAYS RON A VISIT

THIRTY: UNDER THE GLOOMP

THIRTY-ONE: THE TIP-OFF

THIRTY-TWO: A PORTERGAFF CHAT

THIRTY-THREE: DIAMOND BOAT AT NIGHT

THIRTY-FOUR: KIND OF BLUE

THIRTY-FIVE: DROPPING OFF THE PAPERWORK

CODA

Ron McCoy's Sea of Diamonds
is a work of the imagination. It should in no way be interpreted as a factual version of any real event. Nor should any character in this book be mistaken for any actual person, living or dead.

 

 

‘The Sacred Way' by AD Hope is reproduced with the kind permission of
The Estate of AD Hope, c/- Curtis Brown (Aust) Pty Ltd.

First published 2008 in Picador by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
1 Market Street, Sydney

Copyright © Gregory Day 2008

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Day, Gregory.
Ron McCoy's sea of diamonds.

ISBN 978 0330 42332 8 (pbk.).

I. Title.

A823.4

Typeset in 12.5/16 pt Granjon by Post Pre-press Group
Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group

Papers used by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd are natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.

These electronic editions published in 2009 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
1 Market Street, Sydney 2000

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the publisher.

 

Ron McCoy's Sea of Diamonds

Gregory Day

 

Adobe eReader format

978-1-74198-043-1

Epub format

978-1-74198-044-8

Mobipocket format

978-1-74198-045-5

Online format

978-1-74198-046-2

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www.macmillandigital.com.au

Visit
www.panmacmillan.com.au
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for the children, and the child inside,
love the earth . . .

 

 

‘What's water but the generated soul?'
W. B. Y
EATS

 

 

I
ONE
D
UCKS IN THE
D
ARK

N
oel Lea had been up late at night for a week, creating what he hoped would be a series of pictures on the marks that cars and other vehicles made in the unsealed rose-gold roads of Mangowak. He lived alone in the riverflat, at the corner of the Dray Road, on his family's ramshackle acre full of outbuildings and strewn farm gear, and when he wasn't labouring on various building sites around the area, he spent his time working on pictures in a big slab-bark barn at the northern end of the family block, just beyond the shadows of two pine trees that towered on either side of his driveway gate.

With carefully applied gouache, textured with sand and iron-bark pollen fibres, he would depict in loose outline the road and its verges before allowing himself no more than a dozen quick strokes to represent the variations of marks he'd catalogued when wandering and studying the roads: scuffs, slides, zigzags, donuts, spinning-wheel troughs, crisscrosses, scrapes, skids, worn shoulders, splashes, sprays, u-ies, and something he called ‘chat-marks':
a four-line horizontal or diagonal configuration which was created when two cars going in opposite directions braked in the middle of a road to stop and pass the time of day. Never would he have imagined that something so incidental as these marks could be the subject of a whole exhibition but with the gradual sealing of roads in Mangowak a visual quality that he had always taken for granted had become something on notice, something withering away, a passing beauty, a disappearing pleasure.

The town was settled on the sunrise side of a small river, amongst tree-clad folds and reedy gullies, and more noticeably on an iron-bark ridge running south above the riverflat towards high cliffs along the ocean shore. The roads were covered with local gravel, and, like the town's ocean cliffs, this gravel had a honeycomb tone that when thrown on the inclines and curves and fat stretches of the roads would glow and give off its rose-gold effect. On a day of summer sun and blue sky the colour of the roads became emblematic and vivid, whilst in winter, under a grey doona of cloud, when wattle and tiny heath flowers were the only bright colours around, the hue of the roads would provide a welcome contrast. As the Brinbeal shire had begun a policy of kerbing and channelling in Mangowak, Noel had come to see the unsealed roads not only as canvases for a painterly traffic but as thoroughfares representing open ground, textured with the days, soft, bushcrafted, and imbued with a distinctive palette from the local earth. They had become a creative obsession for him and also a helpful way of furthering his experiments with gouache.

It was about 3 am on a clear Monday night when he heard Ron McCoy's ute idling in the road alongside his barn, followed by a knock on his wall.

He climbed down his ladder from the loft where he worked and opened the double doors to find Darren Traherne standing under the stars near the parsley patch, smoking a cigarette.

Noel knew what he was there for but when Darren said, ‘Ducks,' Noel raised his eyebrows and replied, ‘Bit dark, isn't it?'

Darren just shrugged, scratching his neck under a long brown ponytail, and Noel disappeared back inside to get his boots and gun.

The two young men climbed into the cabin of Ron McCoy's idling ute and the three of them set off along the Dray Road heading inland. Not far along, as they approached the bend in the river that ran closest to the road, Ron put the ute into neutral and slowed down, peering across his two passengers towards the dark water. The ute rolled to a standstill, its engine quietened to a tick, and he waited a few seconds, checking for jumping trout. The river-top was still, uncrinkled. Frogs were clacking on the grassy banks. Noel looked towards the river too but Darren, sitting in the middle, watched as a kangaroo crossed the road in front of them, in one easy bound leaping the roadside fence into the riverflat paddock and away. Ron put the ute back into gear and slowly they picked up speed again.

They drove along the Dray Road, through the valley in the night.

‘Are you good, Noel?' the old man said, adjusting the cushion he had behind his back in the driver's seat.

‘Yeah, good, Ron. You didn't even have to wake me up.'

‘Some people keep strange hours,' said Darren.

Noel and Darren were the sons of two of Ron McCoy's oldest friends, Wally Lea and Norm Traherne. Though Darren's grandmother, old Rhyll Traherne, was still fit and living in her house on the westfacing slope of the ridge, the boys' fathers, Wally and Norm, had both died within months of each other only a few years back. Missing their company, Ron had not long after begun taking Noel and Darren out with him on the occasional night's hunting.

The ute turned left at the back of the riverflat, climbing up the
Dray Road and into the heavily timbered hills. As they rounded the high shoulder of the Mexico Bend the road grew rough and stony. The windows rattled as they descended on the other side, shuddering across a stretch of washboarded road near the entrance to the Birdsong brothers' small quarry. When the road grew smooth again, Ron McCoy leant forward and turned off his transistor radio, which had been parroting subliminally on the dash. With one gloved hand on the wheel he began to speak intermittently through the bumps.

BOOK: Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds
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