Max’s Eyes

It was one of those spring days when the sunshine falls like golden rain and it seems anything is possible. Max left his house at three minutes to nine, as always, and set off for his ritual morning walk. There were three or four different routes he could take but that morning he chose the nature strip between the Logan Motorway and the backs of the housing commission houses.
It was a surreal little walk passed the graffiti covered fences on the left and the chain link that caged a little patch of bushland on the right. A few trees adorn the strip of public space, as does the rubbish that has been thrown over the fence by people trying to remove the stink from their lives.
Discarded soft drink bottles filled with paint litter the ground, left behind by the Chromers that frequent the space at night. Yet on a spring morning such as that, Max saw only the beauty that poked its head above the chaos that other people had left in their troubled wake.
To his eyes the world was full of magic and it filled his eyes. Wattle like a flag of green and gold waved by the birds that played among the branches. Wattle birds and noisy minors chased each other while the rainbow lorikeets postured noisily or hung upside down like colourful clowns performing just for him.
As he passed a bloodwood tree he broke off a little of the sap, powdering it to a pink dust that glittered in the morning sun. Max had used the sap as a dye in the past, dissolving it in Metho to make a blood-red wood stain. The tannic smell was unlike anything else and the dry powder made a good styptic to staunch the flow of blood.
After one hundred metres or so, the trees gave way to a cleared area of grass, with a basketball half court and a dog off-leash area with its long missing gate.
Max hated that barren square. There was so little to distract him from the broken bottles that lay like mines in the unmown grass or the stench of decay and dog crap. Black crows ripped at the scraps that lay scattered next to a burned out bin, now a molten rotting lump glued to the concrete. The whole scene was like a piece of modern art entitled “All that’s wrong in the world.
The nature strip continued beyond the forty metre square and he decided to focus on it instead. He allowed the red flowers of the bottlebrush guide him across the emptiness like a beacon. The air between havens was full of unnatural sounds, the roar of the truck engines as they thundered down the road and the metal pounding rhythm of the industry on the other side of the motorway. All that cacophony confused his senses but he kept his eyes on the bottle brush beacon, and made it to the other side.
As Max reached the far side the trees whispered soothing words to him and he became calm once more. A butcher bird whistled a sweet morning song and the sounds of the outside world faded away to nothing. It was then that he felt it, a darkness in the morning light. Not an evil but a desperate product of the man-made world. He looked around to see the young hooded boy who stepped from behind a tree his eyes and face hidden from view.
“Hey mate, you got a smoke?” the young boy asked.
Max scrutinised the young man as he approached and said “I don’t smoke. Never felt like killing myself, sorry.”
“That’s okay, “the young child said as he pulled a flick knife from his pocket and threw back his hood.” I can buy some with your money. Hand it over.”
Max looked deep into the mugger’s eyes and laughed with a deep throaty laugh that was devoid of any fear. The hood tightened his grip on the knife as he stared back into the eyes of his laughing victim. It was a mistake to do so. He was in Max’s world now.
“Doesn’t that hurt?” Max asked pointing to the rose that now lay in his hand where the knife had been.
The young assailant looked down at the flower to see a trickle of blood from the deep wounds inflicted by the thorny stem. He dropped the rose like it was a snake. The thorns had been driven into his hand hard by his nervous grip and he held his open palm before him rendered speechless by the sight of his impossible injury.
Max reached down and picked up the knife, steel and grip replacing the stem and petals.
“It’s all about how you hold it.” Max said spinning the knife deftly between his fingers. “You have to hold it with your fingers if you’re going to avoid getting hurt.”
“I’m sorry,” the young hood stuttered, “I just needed the money.”
“You could have asked,” Max said and without so much as a gesture the knife became a furled up twenty dollar note which he pushed in the young man’s undamaged hand.
“Who are you?” the young hood asked.
“Come back tomorrow without your darkness, and I’ll tell you then. Now put some of this on those cuts,” Max sprinkled the powdered glitter of the tree sap onto the wounds and the thorn’s damage was erased like it had never happened. “Come tomorrow and I’ll let you see through my eyes again. Bring your light and I’ll set you free”
As Max turned to walk away he added, “I might even tell you who I am?”
And the next the hood blinked and the strange man was gone.

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