A group of young Indian guys in boardies and t-shirts, Australian to the core in their attire and manner, walked up the ramp ahead of me.
A balding middle-aged guy in his casual Sunday clothes – jeans, tracksuit top, I forget the details – was walking down the ramp.
As he passed them, his eyes narrowed and he gave the group of Indians one of the nastiest looks I have ever seen. A look of utter revoltion.
I don’t think the Indians even noticed.
I am not talking about a disapproving look, like the kind a teacher gives a pupil, I am talking about a look with murderous, hateful, extremist intention.
Given the right set of circumstances – a dark alley, a couple of his buddies – and opportunity – daytime instead of daylight, no one else around – and I shudder at what might have happened.
I wrote recently about the man accused of raping and murdering Irishwomen Jill Meagher in Melbourne.
What has really shocked people is that he was a stranger, not an acquaintance of Jill’s or a member of her family as most victims of violent crimes are in Australia or in other countries where the rule of law applies.
What has really jolted people and shaken their faith in society is the Jill Meagher was most likely murdered by a complete stranger, an opportunist.
The man who stands accused of this crime was a reclusive character, but by all accounts a polite man, who lived in a granny flat at the bottom of the garden and kept to himself. He had few friends, had fallen on hard times and was a loner.
Nothing to suggest he was capable of a crime of which he stands accused.
But perhaps, when his eyes are shown – his head was buried in his hands when caught on camera in a police car – they will give him away.
I am not talking about eyes as the clichéd windows of the soul, I am just talking about a kind of look full to the brim with evil intent.
I am sure you know what I mean, and maybe you have witnessed it yourself.
The encounter with the middle-aged guy on a Sunday at the supermarket is just one such episode.
I’ve experienced that look on the train a couple of times, usually late at night. The last train home.
Once I saw a bloke looking at another passenger with utter disgust and violence boiling under surface. He did not say anything, just stared. If it were a horror movie the camera would zoom and crop his eyes and you’d see the menace and the rage.
Other times, I’ve seen the way some men looking at pretty women. Usually the man is older, the woman much younger.
Men do look at women.
There is the appreciative look, the glance upwards at an attractive woman.
And there’s the stereotypical backwards look that construction site workers in the city can’t help but do, when a pretty woman walks passed. Hey, even blokes in suits do it. But there’s no malice in it.
But there is another look beyond lust, way, way beyond that. A snarling look, as though the eyes were salivating. A penetrating, black stare.
I have seen a couple of men give a woman this look and I fear, that as with the Indian guys at the shopping centre, all that’s needed is time, place and opportunity.
If you think I have an overactive imagination, take a look at the eyes of these two infamous characters: Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and serial killer Richard – the Night Stalker – Ramirez:
This is in my opinion the most chilling picture of Goebbels, taken by one of the world’s greatest documentary photographers, Albert Eisenstaedt for LIFE magazine in 1933, before the Nazis began their campaign of genocide.
What’s terrifying about it is that Goebbels is not doing anything particulary menacing, in fact’s its a banal photo, except for the way he looks at the camera.
Eisenstaedt says of this photo: “He looked at me with hateful eyes and waited for me to wither. But I didn’t wither. If I have a camera in my hand, I don’t know fear.”
Richard Ramirez killed 13 people around Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. This photo was taken at his trial.