In January, 2024, local Hobart publisher, Forty South, published my novella Nowhere Man and The Roadkill Lady.
Synopsis: Donny Taylor is a hermit living on Tasmania’s remote west coast.
In back-story, we learn he was once a 60’s Coogee Beach Rat and ‘party-hearty seeker of shouting, laughing, people-crammed spaces’ before his marble was drawn and he was sent off to Vietnam.
At the Battle of Coral Balmoral he’s badly wounded, and after months of hospitalisation is placed ‘gelded and resentful’ on a Hercules and flown back at night to Australia.
Suffering PTSD, he seeks out psychological help and enrols at Sydney Uni, where he develops a liking for his studies, ‘to imagine experience through patterns of words rather than incoming mortar rounds.’ He also spends hours sitting on a Coogee Beach bench fixating on waves and memories of his pre-Nam times.
Gradually his PTSD worsens. He experiments with heroin and eventually becomes an addict.
When his mother dies, as atonement to his sister, he vows to end his addiction. Hampered by run-ins with old druggie acquaintances, he flees to Tasmania where he works as a council worker before an encounter with a heroin dealer sends him fleeing again to Tasmania’s west coast and life as a hermit.
One day, decades later, while driving back to his shack he spots an elderly woman shovelling something off the road. Thinking she might be in difficulty, he stops.
She talks. He listens. Eventually she invites him back to her place for breakfast, as women her age have ‘to take a few chances in life…’
Donny has not been inside anyone’s home, nor allowed anyone into his shack in over three decades. In the novella’s second half, that and more will change as Donny’s and Judy’s relationship, largely fuelled by her vociferous manner and their love of animals, develops over ensuing weeks before…