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'It's all here,' he said.
'Come,' said Milan. He moved his head and his hair was like a silver cap in the moonlight. 'Come here you piece of s.h.i.t.'
Marco climbed onto the jetty, head down.
'Treat you like a son,' said Milan. 'You steal from me, you wh.o.r.e.'
'I'm sorry,' said Marco.
I could barely hear his voice.
'Get on your knees, c.o.c.kboy. Put the bag down, get on your f.u.c.ken knees and say you sorry.'
Marco knelt, head down.
Milan gestured to Olsen with the machine pistol. Olsen came over, took the weapon, gave the pistol to Milan. 'I'm sorry, Milan,' said Marco. 'I'm really sorry.'
Milan went right up to him, dragged Susan with him.
'Okay,' said Milan, 'I forgive you. Look at me.'
Marco looked up slowly. Milan shot him in the face. One shot. He went over backwards, not quickly.
Susan made a noise, a terrible noise.
Milan pulled her head back, stuck the pistol in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
'Okay,' he said, handing the pistol to Steve. 'Wipe it, stick it in her hand. Lovers' f.u.c.ken quarrel, hey.' He laughed. 'Let's go. I'm thirsty.'
I walked backwards, slowly, very scared, turned, went quickly down the alley. Hide. I should find somewhere to hide until the helicopter left. Somewhere dark, somewhere to hide my head in shame.
I could have done something. Anything. Shouted, distracted Milan.
Where to hide?
I came out between the buildings, saw the big door of the workshop slightly ajar.
Dark. It would be dark in there, in the huge s.p.a.ce, high as a church.
I was inside in a second. It was dark, but not dark enough for me, moonlight coming in through the front entrance. I could see the old cradle piled with drums, 44-gallon drums.
The helicopter started.
Drawn forward, I moved up until I could see the helicopter below, at the water's edge.
Milan was standing on a pontoon, getting into the cabin. Steve and Mick Olsen were on land, waiting for him to get in. Steve had the sports bag. From ski jackets to sports bag, I thought. Sporty stuff, the South African cocaine.
I could have done something. Anything.
These men were going to fly away, fly to warm climes, refuel somewhere, Sydney perhaps. They'd be in Milan's sitting room long before midnight, lounging in the white leather chairs and sofas, drinks on the gla.s.s-topped tables, having a good laugh. I thought of the huge picture above the fireplace, a picture of a red rose lying on stone steps, its decaying petals holding drops of dew.
I could have done something.
I went to the back of the shed, went behind the cradle, put both hands on the base of the frame, tested.
Too heavy, probably rusted into the tracks.
I pushed again, put some effort into it.
The cradle moved. Moved a few centimetres.
I changed my grip, put my shoulder against a drum, felt the cold metal on my cheek. Put everything I had into my push.
Moving, the cradle was moving. I found more strength, this was pointless, they would come up here and kill me, put the pistol in my hand.
I could have done something.
The cradle was running, running freely, rumbling along, picking up speed, getting away from me. I stumbled, went to a knee, got up, gave it a final shove...
Steve was the only one outside the helicopter. He was standing on the pontoon, looking up, he'd heard the rumbling sound.
'Go!' he screamed. 'Jesus Christ, go!'
A drum dislodged from the top of the pile, fell forward, hit the concrete, bounced high.
I could see the pilot's face through the open door. He'd seen the cradle.
One pontoon lifted, the helicopter moved.
The drum bounced again, hit Steve, smashed him into the cabin. I heard his scream over the whup of the rotor blades.
The whole cradle slammed into the helicopter, tonnes of metal travelling at speed, a screeching, crushing sound, a string of sparks as the rotors. .h.i.t metal, drums. .h.i.tting the top of the cabin, flying into the air.
Sound like a car backfire, another, a flash of orange in the chaos below.
The blast pushed me backwards, took my sight away, took away my hearing. Instinctively, I turned my head away, turned my body, almost fell over. I didn't look again, willed myself to leave the shed, go across to the jetty, to the bodies.
Susan was dead, no pulse in her neck.
I went to Marco, put my hand to his throat, thought I felt something.
No, my own hammering pulse.
I leant down closer, trying to detect breathing.
From his mouth a sweet, clean smell. His toothpaste. French toothpaste.
The second time I'd smelled it today.
I pushed down the neck of the sweater, saw where the swing chain had bruised him.
Then I ran, down the path between the buildings, across the moon-pale clearing into the trees, down the dark road, not stopping until I reached the car, got in, couldn't get my breath, fumbled the key.
The engine started.
On the hill crest, I looked back. There was a yellow glow at the end of the peninsula. Dead Point was burning. Mick Olsen's enemies in the drug squad would be pleased. All they'd had to do was slip me some surveillance clips and I did all their dirty work.
Surrounded by the silent faithful, some with tears in their eyes, we were watching a slaughter at the Docklands stadium when the starter at the Valley sent them off: eighteen hundred metres, cla.s.s six for four-year-olds and upwards, apprentices claiming, going heavy.
I'd said I'd take the Youth Club to the football. I'd done it.
Four men with small radios held to their heads.
Number eight, the Kiwi horse, was called The Return. We'd stopped at the TAB on the way to invest our money.
'This thing doesn't come with a guarantee,' I said. 'Could run stone motherless last. Be warned.'
Norm O'Neill laughed. The others laughed.
'I don't think I'm getting through to you,' I said. 'I don't want your families coming around to see me.'
They all laughed.
Now, we all heard the caller say: They've strung out at the thousand, Pelecanos leads by two lengths from Armageddon, Caveat's poking up on the inside, unruly mob following, bit of push and shove, going's terrible They've strung out at the thousand, Pelecanos leads by two lengths from Armageddon, Caveat's poking up on the inside, unruly mob following, bit of push and shove, going's terrible...
He named seven or eight other horses before he got to The Return.
We all looked ahead, mouths downturned, eyes on the game. An Essendon player, bandaged like a burn victim, was about to kick another goal. Some people don't know when to stop.
I closed my eyes, opened them quickly. If I closed my eyes for long, I would have to be slapped awake by a paramedic, encouraged to breathe.
On the bend, Caveat's gone up to Pelecanos, Armageddon's struggling, Portobelle's edging into it now and coming very wide is The Return.
Four sets of eyes flicked at one another. Too soon to hope.
Hird kicked the goal. A dog could have kicked it. His teammates came up and patted him. Just another career statistic, what did it matter that it broke hearts?
At the four hundred, Caveat and Portobelle, and coming at them in the centre of the track is The Return, the Kiwi, could be a surprise packet here at big odds, very ordinary recent form...
Heads down, no interest in the scene before us.
The Return's coming at them, Portobelle stopping under the big weight, Caveat's a fighter, won't give in, it's The Return and Caveat, it's going to be The Return, she's clear, the Kiwi raider's going away...
Four men stood up, hands in the air, making animal sounds of satisfaction in the midst of the grieving St Kilda faithful, who looked at us, murder in their eyes.
We sat down.
'No surprise, Jack, me boy,' said Norm O'Neill. 'Had the pencil on the animal this mornin. Put me in mind of a certain Kiwi horse...'
'Say the b.l.o.o.d.y name Dunedin Star and I'll kill you,' said Eric Tanner.
We made the collect on the way back to the Prince. It frightened me to see how much money was handed over to the Youth Club, fifties dispensed, repeatedly.
In the car, after crossing the city and listening to a great deal of hilarity, I said, primly, 'I'd never have mentioned it if I'd thought you were going to put that kind of money on.'
Silence. Rain on the windscreen. The Stud had had a long day. The Stud and the Stud's owner, who couldn't remember when the day had begun, remembered, and tried to shut it out.
'Jack,' said Wilbur, low voice.
'It's our b.l.o.o.d.y money.'
The wipers needed replacing. So did the door seals. The clutch had that certain feeling too.
'Point taken,' I said.
'You b.a.s.t.a.r.d,' said Eric. 'Had the oil.'
'Well,' I said, 'the study of cla.s.s, sectionals, draw, going, trainer, jock, track, barrier, weight, these things help inform a decision.'
'The oil,' said Eric.
I pulled up outside the Prince, a s.p.a.ce waiting for us.
'And then there's the oil,' I said.
The men in the back seat attacked me, beat me around the head with rolled-up copies of the AFL Record AFL Record.
We went in, had a few beers, no e-people in, didn't talk about the Saints' failings, too numerous to count, concentrated on the positives. All two of them. From Stan's office, I rang Linda's home number. Answering machine.
'Jack,' I said. 'I'll be home by six. Do with that information what you will.'
I said goodbye. The lads were in the process of shouting the bar, not an expensive exercise this Sunday evening. In the street, thoughts of sausages and mash and bed uppermost, my mobile rang.
'Listen, I could use a hand.' Cam.
'Yeah. Can't wait.'
I wanted to groan. 'What?'
He told me where he was. I did groan.