Nightmare on Siege Street
A Short Story of Fiction?
Monday morning of this week was not a morning I will forget for a very long time. It started off as just the beginning of another day. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, slipped into my red suede slippers and wearily made my way to the kitchen for my morning injection of caffeine. My good wife had already left on a shopping expedition, leaving me alone in the house but for the company of my two best friends; my teacup Yorky bitch Molly, and my goldfish Ned. I let Molly out through the back door to partake in her morning constitution, and proceeded to remove the fluff that had settled on the Phantom’s masked face that was embroidered on the pocket of my black silken but sheer pyjamas. After removing the fluff from the “ghost who walks,” I strolled casually over to the fishbowl to feed and to say good morning to Ned. The horrendous sight before me caused the cup to drop from my now paralysed hand. I stood frozen in sheer disbelief. My old mate Ned was lying motionless at the bottom of his domed glass dwelling. With his little round eyes all bugged out, he seemed to stare up at me as if to ask the question; Why me Al?
The tears streamed endlessly down my cheeks as I gently lifted Ned’s limp and lifeless fishy frame from his watery accommodation. Holding him for what seemed like an eternity, I said my heartfelt goodbyes and reverently laid him out in his white Fowler Ware porcelain coffin. With the reluctant press of a simple chrome button, his lifeless little body was soon speeding down the twisting pipes, onwards and on to the peace of a sewered paradise. How on earth will I make it through the day without my old mate Ned? After my spirits had fallen to an all time low, I was devastated when I later read of plans to build a replica or façade of the Ann Jones Inn for the upcoming Kelly Country Festival to be held on Sunday the 8th of November in Glenrowan. It went on to say that the replica was essential when the Kelly Gang and their captives perform their part of the show. Surely the organisers are not thinking of building this construction on the actual site where so many lost their lives? Surely they could not be so thoughtless. With the continued digging up of this sacred site in the so called name of archaeology and television entertainment I was not so sure. What with the demise of my mate Ned, and thoughts of this bloody replica inn, I could think of little else to do but simply…. GO BACK TO BED.
It seemed like only seconds when I suddenly found myself standing in the main street of Glenrowan. I was dazed and could not believe my eyes. How the hell did I end up here? The scene was that of total bedlam. An endless line of buses filled to the brim with excited tourists from all around the world lined the streets. The footpaths were over flowing as thousands of shoppers waited impatiently outside the little souvenir shops for their turn to enter and buy up big on their Ned Kelly snow domes and soap on a rope. People were spilling out onto the streets outside the animated theatre, all waiting impatiently for a chance to see the motorised dog urinate against the bar and to stare in awe at the rubberised and distorted death mask of Edward Kelly as it utters silent words of welcome.
Across the bridge at the siege site, a replica of Ann Jones Inn had been constructed of plastic mouldings of a good quality. Motorised figures of four armoured outlaws waved their guns menacingly from the inn’s front verandah. The once sacred place where so many souls had tragically lost their lives was now fully transformed with wondrous things to accommodate and entertain the multitudes. Its centrepiece was the Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre with its cafes and eateries and a phallic construction that soared high into the Glenrowan sky for all the world to behold. Japanese tourists gathered at the tower’s telescope to take in the surrounding beauty of the countryside and poor old Mrs Higginbottom hanging out her bloomers on the clothesline in her backyard below. A merry-go-round blasted out The Wild Colonial Boy from its crackling speakers as eager children lined up for their turn to ride on the back of a dead outlaw’s horse. Hot dog and fairy floss stands were scattered throughout the siege site, while punters tried their luck at rolling ping pong balls into the open mouths of policemen as their fibreglass heads moved back and forth. To the delight of the applauding crowd, the bearded wizard of all things Kelly had donned an outlaw’s helmet and was now standing on the railway line and busy holding up an approaching passenger train.
The mayor of Wangaratta was pleased with The Kelly Country Festival and Glenrowan’s long awaited prosperity.
The $2.3 million he declared over the loud speaker that the council has so generously given has been well spent. The narrowing of the main street with its oversized lighting and magnificent rustic wood pole lined angle parking bays had worked a treat. The keeping place of the Kelly legend has been saved. Social and economic benefits brought about by these magnificent offerings could be seen clearly on the beaming faces of the mayor and members of his Wangaratta council. Glenrowan was clearly a sight to behold. The government’s job had been done.
The loud ringing from my alarm clock brought me swiftly back to my bed. My wife was leaning over me and wiping pools of sweat from my forehead. ‘Al, wake up; you must have had a nightmare. Your black silken but sheer Phantom pyjamas are soaked with perspiration’. I cared not, everything that seemed so real, I was relieved to find, was just a terrible nightmare and a figment of my overactive imagination. My spirits now lifted beyond belief, I leapt like a child from my bed. My mind was now filled with a sense of relief and joy. I could hardly wait to see my old mate Ned again. This day is going to be one great day I thought, that was, until my wife’s unemotional voice from the kitchen cut me like a knife. . ‘I wouldn’t worry about saying good morning to that stupid goldfish of yours Alan…… He’s dead!
Alan Crichton web site Ned Kelly Tales