Eternities : Dangar Place

One Saturday in June I was walking through Chippendale on the way to the Post Office on Broadway, hoping for good news : a cheque perhaps, one did arrive there once. I can’t remember what mail there was, nothing probably, but on my way back to Thomas Street felt a peculiar stillness in the air.  A waiting. Not unusual in the deserted parts of the streets of Sydney in those days but most of the time you never heard anything more about it. This day was different. 27 June 1981. The sixth anniversary of my sister’s suicide, it’s always on my mind, not that it matters. No matter, never mind. I went on home wondering why there was that miasma of threat hanging like a toxic cloud over the warehouse district and then forgot all about it. Didn’t hear shots or anything like that. Did not go out again that night. Stayed home listening to music and watching TV. It was a period of great boredom in my life, I do recall that. Another city, knew hardly anyone, not exotic enough really to seduce: a Nightmare Version of Auckland, Arthur said, with Capitals. Little did I know that this was the quotidian, that aweful silence, that palpable sense of menace that hangs unspoken over everything . . . unless, or until, the explosion of gunfire. Which everyone waits for then deplores. Anyway. What happened in Dangar Place that afternoon in June was this: a small time heroin dealer called Warren Lanfranchi who’d transgressed upon a police operation was meeting Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson of the Armed Hold Up Squad to hand over a recompense that most people reckon to have been about twelve grand; but when Lanfranchi reached into his pants for the money, Rogerson shot him. Dead. No money was ever found and the gun, allegedly Lanfranchi’s, that police produced at the inquest was a replica that could never have fired. Well they buried him. And, five years later, when his girlfriend, Sally-Ann Huckstepp, would not shut up about it they killed her too. Drowned in Busby Pond in Centennial Park by Arthur ‘Neddy’ Smith. Not the Arthur quoted above, an other. He stood on her back until she went and after said it was the most satisfying thing he had ever done. He got life but not for that. My former agent represented him when he was having his autobiography ghosted, Rose was excited about it, I remember that, before she got Alzheimer’s and forgot. I was around at her office in Balmain one afternoon when he was expected but left before he arrived. I’ve always been grateful for that, seeing him in the flesh would have changed things for me. Just as seeing Warren Lanfranchi shot would have changed things. Maybe a lot or maybe not much, who knows? When you walked that way from Golden Grove to Broadway, just after you passed the mouth of Dangar Place on the left there was Chippendale Cellars on the right, still extant and open for business on Abercrombie Street, and one Saturday around that time we bought four bottles of Long Flat Red with the plain yellow label for $2.00 each and drank them all before we were done with the evening. The only other person I remember being there was Diana. And the nightsweet flowering in the fragrant street afterwards. It doesn’t matter. Never mind. It will happen again, and again, and one of those times we will see it, all of it. And after that never again.

pic Mark Johnson, Chippendale, 1978


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One response to “Eternities : Dangar Place

  1. Pingback: A palpable sense of menace « Parallel Words

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