The girl’s name was Victoria Lake. Well, she wasn’t a girl, she was a woman, and everyone called her Vix. Vix had been in and out of bands in Sydney for a long time. Everybody knew her. She was tall, blond, striking ... I mean six feet tall, a big woman with big hair, lots of make-up and a thrilling voice. She was in love with Harry, had been for years. Probably the only reason she took up with me—we were never more than friends—was because she knew I knew Harry, had known him since five years old or whatever it was.

I haven’t described Harry yet. He was tall, lean, rangy, with faded blue eyes and yellow hair which he always wore short, accentuating his bullet head. He went grey early, as yellow-haired people sometimes do, but it didn’t make much difference because he always got a number one anyway. There was something about his mouth, forever framing words he never actually spoke. When he did speak it was in short, abrupt sentences like from the bible. The time I asked him about the scar above his left eyebrow he said: That was when I was in Berlin, as if that explained everything.

Vix said she knew the story of the scar. She knew all sorts of things about Harry, some that she got from him, some from other people. She was like a walking compendium on Harry Graves. I used to tell her she knew more about him than he knew about himself. She’d smile this slow smile and shake her head. No one knows that much about Harry, she’d say.

She told me about his songbook. His legendary songbook, full of words and music he’d written over the years. She’d seen it: an old red foolscap hardback notebook which was originally meant for double column accounting that Harry had written all over. She’d heard him play guitar and sing, which he hardly ever did, at least not in public. She said there was no-one like him. He’d traded licks with Nick and Dave and JJ and all these guys and they all thought he was great too. She hinted that some of Nick’s songs weren’t really Nick’s at all, they were Harry’s. But Harry doesn’t mind, she’d say wistfully. He doesn’t care.

He didn’t care much about her either, which was a great sadness to Vix. Why not? I wondered but never asked. I thought she was great. I would have done anything for her. She knew that of course. The world’s full of people who love other people who don’t love them, she’d say. Vix had a couple of stand-out tunes she always did in whatever band she was singing with. They were Harry Graves songs. One was about a hooker who used to stand with the other girls out on the Canterbury Road just down from the big Mobil gas station. This girl called Dolores. She was Spanish, from South America, Peru. She got murdered. The song was a ballad, it was just called Dolores, it was a song made out of a name, the grief of a name.

The other song was kind of metaphysical. A soul song, simple words that made a complex meaning. Vix used to belt it out at top volume with the band roaring behind her. She could play sax and did her own solo so that her big deep rich voice and the big deep rich notes she blew sounded almost alike. That song was called Everything’s Everything. Vix used to say that Harry copped the lyrics from something written by Wittgenstein but I didn’t believe that. Harry wasn’t a reader.

Or was he ... ?

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