Installment 61: pages 248 - 249 [In which Elliot makes a decision]
“Yes, Minister,” I replied. “I think we’re done.”
He nodded, and left.
“I think you’ve made the right decision, Elliot,” said Carmichael.
“I wasn’t aware I’d made a decision, David,” I replied, getting stuck into my steak. It was rare and bled as I cut into it. Carmichael kept his eyes from my scarlet on white plate. He seemed to be having trouble with the sight of blood.
“I hope you’re not contemplating anything hasty,” he said. “Take some time to think over what we’ve said.”
“Oh, I’ll take my time,” I answered. “What’s the statute of limitations on suing someone for personal injuries these days? Six years?”
“Three,” said David, uncomfortably. He’d checked. So had I, but I wanted to hear him say it.
“How’s the family?” I asked. I was enjoying my steak knife nearly as much as the meal. It had a good grip, and pared the meat away from the bone easily.
“I’m out of Tall Trees, if that’s what you mean,” he said. “I took rather a loss on it.”
“Amended environmental impact statement hurt the valuations, did it?”
Carmichael was silent.
“Would you like me to move your admission again, Elliot?” he asked after a moment.
“When I went up to your office for my final cheque, I couldn’t help but notice Sharon was no longer on reception.”
“She’s gone to work for a different chambers,” he said coolly.
“Ah,” I dabbed my lips with the napkin, which came away a little bloody. “Well, I should just give you the mobile back now.”
I put the little black tongue of plastic on the table between us.
“Keep it,” he said. “I’ll cancel the plan. Consider it a bonus.”
I shrugged and pocketed it. I’d grown used to it. I wondered if I’d be able to keep the number.
“And your admission?” he asked.
“I’ll get a friend from Peepers to do it,” I said. “You might remember him, junior solicitor who handled most of the Tall Trees stuff. John Ireland.”
I left David with the bill. Left the restaurant and started walking towards the Wig and Pen. I called Danielle.
“Still there?” I asked redundantly, shouting over the clamour at her end. There was the noise of her getting up and stepping outside onto the pavement as she spoke.
“Eva and I were thinking we'd move on for laksa in a bit, but Trish and Ted and Sarah have just turned up.”
“How’s Sarah doing?” I asked.
“How would you expect?” Danielle replied. “She’s out of the house and trying to hold ordinary conversation at least. Anyway, they’re all getting some drinks in.”
“Sounds a good idea. Any chance you could get me in a pint of the Redhead?”
“Cheeky. The doctors said you should go easy on that.”
“I’ll go easy, but I’m celebrating.”
“Us, I suppose. Freedom.”
“What did they offer you?”
“Nothing I wanted. Get me that drink in. I’m two minutes away.”
We hung up and I breathed out into the warm twilight air. I walked slowly towards my beer, past the slow-budding trees, thinking of Melbourne, and love and second chances.
A final word from Doug: It's been a long, long trip and I hope if you've read this far you've enjoyed it. If you have any comments on this first draft of Naylor please do leave a comment or e-mail me at reallyquiteunlikely AT yahoo DOT com DOT au.
In fact, please leave a comment even if you're just one of the silent, regular readers. It would be great to know how many people this has reached.