Smith Street Monday

Something is always happening on Smith Street. I'm sitting in the window of an internet cafe, and the people who are walking past are looking back over their shoulders at some kerfuffle up the road that is out of my line of sight. A crash, a bang, an angry man's voice - more heads turn to see what's going on. I hope I don't hear the sound of plate glass breaking.

Fights aren't uncommon on this street, though mostly verbal and often contained to private business, they sometimes erupt into physical altercations that cause outsiders like me to take a wider birth. A few weeks ago, a man who was trying to escape a violent encounter with two acquaintances and sought refuge in the Supermarket. His tormentors weren't deterred by the bright lights or the crowds of evening shoppers, pinning the man against the perspex dividing wall between the supermarket trolleys and the aisles inside the store and pummeled his bare back with fists that left red marks on his pale skin. Their victim crouched, offering his back in favour of his face and head.

The incident didn't look or sound much like fights do in the movies - there were no clean punches, no cracking sounds breaking bones. No one took turns hitting each other. It was just a free-for-all like it is when kids scuffle in the play ground - but bigger, and more urgent. It was extremely difficult to know what to do - mostly shoppers just walked past.

Jet and I were outside the store while Fox was inside buying ingredients for dinner - I kept a keen eye out for her but it was all over by the time she came through the checkout. Shoppers walked around the splashes of nose blood on the hard linoleum Safeway entrance - eventually one of the store employees placed one of those yellow "caution wet surface" signs next to the splatters.

The Police have driven past a number of times in the last few minutes - the same Police panel van back and forth. Someone's called them in but they've missed whatever was happening up the street. People have stopped craning their necks and things are back to normal on Sunny Smith Street.