There used to be a man, a hobo, who drifted in to our town.
He was selling peepholes from a brown burlap bag.
It was like a lucky dip.
You gave him a few coins and you’d reach in
& pull out a peephole.
You might get lucky, the man said.
You might pick out the one that looks into the universe the moment it was born
or the one that sees who took the Beaumont children
from Glenelg Beach on New Year Day, 1966.
Everyone wanted to know that, especially the parents.
But mostly we got ones that looked at the tree behind it or a flock of black clouds roaming like sheep
in the pasture of the sky.
One day he fell asleep against an old gum in the park
and we looked through his peepholes.
They were all the same,
None peered into a secret place.
They all looked at what was the other side of the peephole.
The man began to wake up.
We shoved the peepholes in his bag and ran off.
We didn’t need a peephole to see through him..
What seems to be the trouble , he asks .
I cough and splutter all over the place .
He gets the message .
Sits down to write the certificate .
There , he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick .
I peruse it quickly .
There’s something missing, I say, why I had time off .
That’s right . If you had Alzheimers or a social disease would you want
people to know ?
Certainly not .
My point exactly .
But I thought you had to put something down .
No , he says . And if they ask , tell them to take a running jump . Better still , tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms .
He stands up . Shakes my hand .
The next day at work I hand in the certificate .
He’s right .
They see the blank space but no one says a word .
I push it a bit further .
On the official form , the one you fill out yourself , where it says Illness I put down ‘See Certificate’ .
It feels good . It really does .
I’ve found a new way to treat with the world .