of the West
investigation is a funny old game. Weeks can pass when nothing much
comes up and then the drought breaks, the phone rings relentlessly,
and people with troubled voices leave long desperate messages on the
last week, all the calls were from Perth. I was packing to go when Stan
from the ACTU rang me.
are getting nasty on the picket line up at Port Hedland. The cops are
using batons. It's like the bloody wharves dispute all over again. Rio
Tinto are selling at $16 a tonne and BHP are selling for $20 so they
want to rip the extra four bucks out of the workers' hides. Those grubs
from BHP are planning a pretty big move. I don't want to talk about
the details on the phone, but can you get over here pronto?"
won't believe this, but I'm booked on this evening's plane. I got a
call yesterday from the Agriculture Department there. They've apprehended
a cane toad in Attadale. There's a wild theory some bastard might have
released it deliberately. And I put the phone down and it rings again
and an insurance company wants me to look into the break-in at Rose
laughed like he hadn't had a decent laugh in weeks. "So you'll
be mixing a little pleasure with business then. Do us all a favour willya?
If you manage to get hold of the nude photos, we could print thousands
of them and airdrop them on the scabs. Terrify the bastards into submission."
be sexist", I said "An innocent citizen has been assaulted
and humiliated and their humble abode burgled. The whole incident was
a most serious and disturbing one, and it should not be made light of
... or compared to the exploits of Robin Hood. Anyway, how do you know
the nude photos exist?"
mean there mightn't have been any film in the camera?"
one possibility. Let's hope it's true. You wouldn't want stuff like
that falling into the wrong hands. But don't fret, I'll get you a photo
of the cane toad. You can print a caption under it: 'This man is just
27 and already showing the early symptoms of a rare incurable degenerative
disease brought on by scabbing".
laughed and hung up. I went down to the cafe, said goodbye to Joadja,
and caught a cab to Mascot.
have always enjoyed the evening flight to Perth, chasing the sunset
across the continent. It finally gave us the slip somewhere over the
Nullabor, three hours after we left Sydney.
we flew west the sky gradually darkened behind us, and pinky-orange
tones glowed in front. While the sun was low on the horizon it sliced
horizontally through huge cloudheads piled up like shifting spectral
mountains. They were bright on top, all creams and greys washed with
a luminous pink. Beneath, they deepened to velvety blue.
a while I could make out the landforms ten kilometres below. They were
thrown into relief by the last glancing rays of the sun, but suddenly
and almost imperceptibly they vanished in a blue haze and cut us adrift
in a fantasy skyscape. It was all impossibly glamorous.