LISMORE CBD is pretty quiet on a Sunday. You can actually get a car park.
I parked in about three different prime spots just for the hell of it. There I was - right in front of the bank. Cool. There I was - right outside the post office. There I was - right outside The Echo office. Of course, the bank, the post office and The Echo were shut, but you wouldn't believe how often I dreamt of parking right outside The Echo when I was working there and running late.
On Sundays, the Lismore CBD is empty. There are more people in local national parks.
You could stand here near Fawcetts Bridge, fire a rifle down Woodlark St and, probably, not hit anyone.
Okay, you may hit that old bikie bloke with the long white beard, crew cut and large earrings walking his little dog (aww) past the real estate joint, smoking a roll-your-own. He leaves little puffs of blue smoke hanging in the air behind him like an old-fashioned train... with sunnies. And tatts.
You may hit the three young fellas hanging next to their newly polished Corolla parked in a centre parking spot. The car has illegible Gothic writing on the rear window, and a red P stuck behind the number plate. The lads are drinking Coke, playfully stealing each other's expensive caps, listening to a, um, metronome, and making a lot of noise with their deep voices newly broken in.
It's a chick trap. What young woman could resist three young blokes and a '95 Corolla?
Across the street, two girls in short shorts and high heels momentarily lift their eyes from their phones to check out the noise, see the boys' mating display, then go back to texting. And keep walking.
Or you might hit the young mum with two little boys in hand, dragging them across the road to a huge silver car. The boys are dressed in a sports uniform and are munching on pies. The trio has come from Woodlark St's new bakery. It's open. There, a smiling Asian woman makes coffee with smiley faces drawn in the froth. Laughing lattes. I have one in my hand.
Look, I know "firing down a street" is an awful and cliched way to describe emptiness, but this particular activity (Recreational Hunting in Towns on Sundays) may soon be considered by the State Government as a way to control ferals. And let's face it, national parks are inconveniently located out in the bush - the kiddies get tired and grumpy even before they're shooting stuff; the 4WD gets scratched...
Apart from the pie shop and the pubs, everything is shut. I need a chemist. I've done the block and I can't find a chemist that's open. After business hours, Lismore is more deserted than an "I like Kevin Rudd" meeting.
Despite the funky-looking second storeys above every shop in the CBD, hardly anyone lives in them. Lots of restrictions and regulations apply, apparently. That's a shame. Having people live in the CBD would get Lismore's heart pumping. Most cities and towns in the world have that.
I imagine a Lismore with lots of CBD residents. I imagine older residents walking their grandchildren through the parks; students and business people chatting in cafes; musicians jamming in the laneways; teenagers flirting around their cars, and me drinking smiley face coffee. All this on weekends and at nights. There's safety in numbers.
The bikie bloke is puffing his way towards me and I ask him if he knows where there might be a chemist open.
"The Square," he says.
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