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It s all about killing and death. We call it beautiful. It s one great
bloodbath out there, the strong killing the weak, the weak outsmart-
ing the strong, acts of God sweeping out whole civilisations as we
speak. And we call it beautiful. It is beautiful.
Still glued to the pastel colours of the Keno screen, I felt a cool
wave of relief rise up from my toes, through my legs and body until
it brushed over my face, like a shroud, like a snake s skin coming
off. I poured myself an OJ and thought of the oranges in the groves
down south, the bugs and aphids in the orange groves, going on as
serenely with their business as ever. Did they care about me? Did
they care about Brock McCabe? As little as we cared about them. In
nature s indifferent pebbly eyes, Brock, me, each little fruit fly we
were all equal.
I got dressed. My energy had returned, and with it the crispness
of the day. I could see lucidly what I had to do. So much no longer
mattered; it was as if a divine hand, a benevolent providence, had
reached down and chiselled away what was unnecessary for me to
do or even to worry about. Everything was simple: one step at a
time. I would pack my bag, one thing after another, then go to recep-
tion and pay, then walk to the car and put my bag on the passenger
seat, check the gun where I d left it last night, turn the engine on,
drive back to the Kangazoo, return the gun to Mick s study, talk to
Sheena, visit Rod, and so on, each day following the other, and then
book a flight to Perth and kill Don Simpson.
It didn t matter how I felt about it. This succession of events just
was. It was as if I was remembering it all, before it had happened.
Maybe it had already happened! Maybe I was doing something I d
done before. Nature is like that: it lives and relives, it goes in cycles.
As I drove home up the Gold Coast Highway (there was more
detail on the radio now Brock McCabe had died in a gruesome
accident, asphyxiated after his hand became caught in the Wonda-
door of his  palatial home , still no foul play suspected), I felt
renewed. I was past halfway now! If you counted Glenn Mellon and
Steve Heath, I was two-thirds of my way to being the only remaining
option for Pioneer, the Last Man Standing. Four down, two to go.
Even if you didn t count Glenn and Steve, and just gave me Sharpie
and Brock, I had two behind me and two to go. As terrible as I d felt
in my room that morning, I didn t have the choice to stop here, did
I? If I stopped here, it would all have been for nothing. This road I
was on, as dreadful as it was, only had meaning if I followed it to the
very end and eliminated them all. It had to have meaning. Otherwise
those men, brave warriors all, would have died in vain. I had to
prevent that happening. I was over the hump now, I had to finish
the job. And I had to finish it quickly. If I got it done in a couple of
weeks, Pioneer would sign me up and I could get an advance from
Phil to take care of Rod, the expenses to go to America, fill up the
bottomless pit of medical bills. I also had to be quick because you
never knew these days when some fresh talent would emerge. The
latest craze meant everything in television. Who knew? Maybe at this
very minute, some new wildlife star was emerging on YouTube. The
pipeline between unknown and star was so short and quick now:
you could film yourself catching a snake today and be signed up
by an American network tomorrow. It happened literally that fast.
I couldn t rest until Pioneer had signed me up my own series, my
own show. Until that happened, I was at risk, not only from Deano
Rudd and Don Simpson, but from the army of would-be celebrities
out there, the million-faced army of hopefuls who wanted my job.
If things were fraying around the edges, my mood veering between
ecstatic relief, crisp resolution and heavy tearful shame and despair,
I discovered when I arrived home that things for my family were
going much better. There were clear markers of happiness and
normality. Sheena was sober and straight and brisk and purposeful,
Rosie was her usual happy self, and Rod was improving so fast that
his rashes had all but disappeared and he was breathing without
medication or other assistance. When I saw him at the rehab place,
he was running around the playground like a normal little boy,
getting into everything. I slumped, almost fainted, with love for
him. He was getting better.
Maybe we wouldn t have to go to America? Maybe we didn t
need the money? Again my mood swung: seeking any excuse I
could find to stop the killings, I braced myself to raise the question
with Sheena.
She was in the playground, watching Rod climb a complex and
demanding chain bridge on which he had to coordinate his hands
and feet to stop himself falling. Then he slid down a slippery-dip,
squealing and landing in a sandpit, before picking himself up to
recommence the circuit. While she watched him, Sheena pushed
Rosie on a swing. I stood beside her silently, hands shoved in my
stubbie pockets.
 How well do you think he s going? I said.
Sheena pushed Rosie thoughtfully. She wasn t considering how
to give me a straight answer.
 How do you think he s going?
I sighed.  What have I done now?
Sheena pushed doggedly, as if working on a production line,
pushing Rosie all the way out of infancy.
 If you d been around a little more, you wouldn t need to ask
how he is.
I nodded, watching my toes kick figure-eights in the sand.
 Sorry, love.
I could have reared up. The tables certainly were turned. For
as long as we d had children, it was always me who was the
responsible parent, while Sheena flaked off on her various enthu-
siasms. Now that she d straightened out she was over-playing it.
All I d done was go to Tweed Heads for one night. I d told her I
was in Brisbane again there seemed no point complicating the
lie. She knew where I was.  Brisbane had become an understood
code for me going to do what I had to do. Sheena showed her
acquiescence by not asking me another word. I d assumed she
was by my side in this. The last thing I needed was for her to
waver, or go against me. Was this what she was doing by ticking
me off?
 You re sorry, she repeated harshly.  Well, why don t you tell
that to the detective who came over.
 What? I grabbed her arm. She shrugged me off, so she could
keep pushing Rosie.  What did you say? I felt a hot flush race back-
wards and forwards over my head and face. My knees turned to
waves, heartbeats on a monitor.
 A detective came over this morning, while you were in the zoo.
 Why didn t you tell me?
 I m telling you now.
 You haven t been around. So now I m telling you. A detective [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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