don't usually spend any time in the Sydney Hotel; it has none of the
quiet elegance and civilisation of the Brushtail Café.
old pub has gone downhill over the years. Once, they had jazz bands
on Saturday night and you could have a quiet drink at other times, but
that was before the poker machines. The clientele has changed too. Now
they're a strange lot: pimply currency dealers and sleek yuppies from
the merchant bank clump together up one end of the bar and layabouts
and lumpens hung around near the pokies.
carpet is sticky, the furniture has seen better days and somebody has
scrawled "Phonecard -- helping ugly young men have sex since 1994"
on the wall next to the public phone.
sometimes it's a good place to meet a certain type of contact. The constant
tinny jingle of the pokies makes it difficult to be overheard, so I
was waiting there for a man who said he could tell me more about Paul
Reith's London job.
was nursing a cider and watching a man work his way from one group of
drinkers to another. I remembered him from a police line-up a few years
back, but now he was wearing a very flash suit, and he looked like some
sort of Canberra spin doctor.
couple of the local heroin dealers smiled at him but shook their heads.
He looked over in my direction, vaguely remembered me, and ambled over.
Your name's Possum, isn't it? How'd you like to earn a lot of money,
real quick, and make the world a better place?"
sat down, pulled a couple of photos from his pocket and shoved them
under my nose.
course I did, It was Peter Reith and Peter Collins. I nodded.
a client who'd like to persuade these motormouths to keep their cakeholes
shut. Permanently. Made trouble for the boss ... know too much."
mother of Darwin, I thought; coming in here is getting to be like a
night out in Cabramatta. "How would I persuade them?" I asked,
can give you all the arguments. But it has to be a good job ... permanent
solution you understand". He reached into his coat pocket and pulled
a big stainless steel Smith & Wesson semi-automatic half-way out,
where only I could see it. After a couple of seconds he pushed it back
I dunno", I said. "I reckon I might have a conflict of interest
on the bald one. Nobody'd care too much about him, but it'd be messy,
and this other job's looking a bit stale. He's already written his memoirs,
and dumped on everyone in the Liberal Party from Kerry Chikarovski to
Nick Greiner. It'd be a bit late to, ah, persuade him. Any other
got a contract for this fella and a few of his mates. No trouble. Overseas
job. Pays well."
pulled out a snap of a mean-looking young man wearing a camouflage shirt
and a mullet haircut Eurico Guterres.
seen him on TV", I said. "A real a charmer. Clearly knows
too much. Who's the client?"
of Javanese politicians in Jakarta."
then, the contact I was waiting for came through the door.
for giving me the chance to put in a quote, but I think I'll give it
a miss", I said. "Why don't you call the Indonesian Army,
I've always found them helpful and very professional".