I met roger while travelling from melbourne to Ballarat, in preperation for Rainbow Serpent Festival 2010. It was about five in the morning, and I was sitting on the steps of Southern Cross station, smoking a cigarette and listening to Bob Dylan, relishing the cold morning wind - I love cold mornings awake, and you just don't get them in perth any more. So it was special.
He had a rucksack slung over his shoulder and glasses balanced down the bridge of his nose, so he could glance over them or through them as the situation required. I passed him my pouch, unplugged my headphones and we started to chat. Watching him roll, his fingers movwed twitchily but with practiced confidence, twisting together a narrow, tight thread of a cigarette with no filter. He rolled like he was in prison, or at least, had been for a very long time.
He told me he was catching the train to Ballarat to go and pick up his car from his wife, who had left him two days earlier. He was going to drive across Australia to try and find himself. I liked that. It's the kind of directionless pilgrimage you hear written about in blues music - Not in the words, but in the notes. Blues sounds like you're hopping freight trains across the continent with nothing but a harmonica and a packet of cigarettes.
He asked me what my plans were, andI explained that I was going to a music festival out in the country. I showed him the flyer, and he nodded knowingly. It wasn't long before the conversation turned to chemicals. "I'll bet you're gonna get pretty fucking high this weekend, aren't you?" He laughed with a cough, having just rolled and lit another of those anorexic cigarettes. "Well, that's the plan..." I nodded and laughed a little, relaxing more. This was a man on the right wavelength to talk about the craziness of life with - His hair was cut short and his fingernails even shorter; he smoked like a prisoner and talked like an ex speed freak.
We walked down to get coffee and he volunteered the information that i'd suspected; that he was recently released from prison. I didn't want to probe, but I guess he wanted me to as he then explained that it was for Greivous Bodily Harm. Apparently, several years ago, a lesbian had fallen in love with his wife after meeting her through a work function. Unable to take no for an answer, the psychotic bitch had stalked her, threatening to mow down Roger and her children in a car if she didn't leave him. Roger and his wife reported it to the police, but they did nothing, citing that it was probably an empty threat.
Two days later the woman took her car through Roger's suburban street at about 80km/h, veering sharply towards where his two children were playing in his driveway. Only Roger's quick actions to grab them and tear them out of harm's way kept them from having their teeth, blood and bone mashed across the grill of the lesbian's Pajero, which sped off into the distance and disappeared. The police said they could still do nothing as there was no evidence of who was driving. The next day, Roger went to the lesbian's house and beat four kinds of mortal shit out of her with a baseball bat.
The train ride passed mostly in silence. I wished I had more to say to him, but I got the feeling that he just wanted to tell someone his story, and that he probably wasn't going to come back from his long drive into the outback.
And I don't think Roger's story should ever be forgotten.