Naylor's Canberra
freshly squeezed pulp noir

Monday, February 21, 2005  

Installment 60: pages 246 - 247 [Elliot is dining with David Carmichael and the Minister, who has just made a surprise resignation announcement]

“Everyone knows I’m treading water. I’ve gone as far as I can. I gather Marina told you as much. It’s best this way,” throughout the Minister’s calm, kindly uncle expression didn’t flicker.

The press story had been simple: Murderer and brothel-owner shot by police. The man responsible for killing a ministerial staffer in Kingston had been tracked by police to a small town in Jervis Bay, where he had taken hostages in a local cottage. Confronting police with a knife, he was shot, the wound proving fatal. Police have not disclosed the identity of the hostages.

There had been an official investigation, of course. But the statements taken had kept to a very narrow line. The coroner’s inquest had been brief, unilluminating and unreported.

“But you volunteer to go,” I continued, “just so the scandal never surfaces. After you crashed and burned in banking, it was Jack Ryder who gave you the financial backing to get into politics, wasn’t it? And you repaid the favour by tipping him off about the raids.”

“The poorly informed could get that impression, yes,” said Dawes. “It’s best for the Party if I go. That way, if a story like that ever surfaced, it would have no real traction.”

“The poorly informed? So inform me differently,” I said.

“You don’t get that,” said the Minister sharply. “My family is not up for discussion.”

“What do I get?” I asked. “If a lure’s going be dropped in the water here, let’s be honest about it.”

“If you applied to the Supreme Court for admission again,” said Dawes, napkin daubing his lips, “I wouldn’t anticipate there being any further problems.”

I laughed: “I’m owed that, Minister. It’s not a gift.”

“What we are here to establish, Elliot,” said David softly, “is your attitude towards pressing charges …”

“Against Jack Ryder?” I asked. “Is that what this is about? Me not dragging everyone through a trial? You know I’d never get half the story out in court – it wouldn’t be deemed relevant.”

It hadn’t occurred to me this might be about Jack. I was scared of him. He’d torn apart the flat next door, nearly killed me. True, he was less unpredictable than Jeremy had been, but he was all the more dangerous for that.

“How does your mother feel,” I asked the Minister, stalling, “having inherited all the businesses Jack put in Jeremy’s name? Must be a bit of shock to her, owning brothels and an adult entertainment company.”

“She doesn’t,” said the Dawes, coldly.

I nodded. Jeremy had had a will, or there’d been a trust, or a deed. Jack had full control of the empire now. He was being cautious.

“I want to move to Melbourne,” I said.

“What?” asked David.

“I’ll apply for admission, but then I’m looking for jobs in Melbourne.”

“A woman, eh?” asked Dawes, smiling faintly.

“It’s not up for discussion, Minister,” I replied.

“The National Crime Authority is being dissolved and amalgamated with other agencies,” he said after a moment. “The new Crime Commission will need in-house criminal lawyers and legal analysts. There’ll be a major office in Melbourne. You should apply, Elliot, when it’s advertised. You might like to list David and myself as referees.”

So, there it was. The payoff.

“Are we done, Elliot?” asked the Minister.


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