What had begun as a reflex, a seemingly banal decision influenced by curiosity, had swallowed me whole.
As the months passed, then years, the exit doors became less frequent, and one phone call led to another email led to another interview led to another discovered document, clue, theory, possibility and conspiracy to the point where it felt as if I had created a map that nobody had ever seen before.
Sometimes, in the early evening, I could smell from the kitchen the bilious odour of lamb’s fry or boiled chicken or cabbage.
I was always comfortable in this dark space, with my own company.
Then again, this house had always been my romantic Brigadoon and forever opened that little drawer of hyperbole in me.
I left the cool of the garage and walked down towards my car.Going up those stairs and through the front door was, for me, like pushing back time, through decades, thrashing and flailing through the accreted detritus of experience, of life, to the beginning of my existence.But it was just a house on this hot and glary Saturday, with a real-estate agent in attendance, and some perambulating couples quietly assessing whether this might be where they would settle and raise their own children.I remembered trying to scream whenever I saw the Dark Man, but no sound issued from my child’s mouth.I went downstairs again and drifted into the garage area under the house.Matthew Condon does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.One recent Saturday morning, I once again drove my children to the street in Brisbane’s west where I grew up as a boy. I had been her age in this strip of red-brick and weatherboard houses, part of an exciting new “estate” where the edge of the city met the bush and boulders of western Brisbane.We become writers, I think, because we intuit from a very young age that the picture we see around us is not quite right.That windows stick and doors don’t close smoothly because everything is slightly off balance. With the story of Queensland crime and corruption, I had accidentally found my fissure. As a child in the 1960s I was free range, exploring my immediate neighbourhood by foot or by bicycle.Early on we are riddled with questions that we can’t answer. I knew every square centimetre of my immediate landscape, every tree and ant nest, every gutter and drain. Around 1968, in Barkala Street, immediately parallel to ours, I was fascinated by one particular vehicle that was often parked out the front of a small house.I found the house curious because its garden was bulging almost exclusively with cacti.