Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Doing The Brow Beating, Heavy Leather Resurrection Shuffle

Dr Davis
Not one to socialise with his lawyer colleagues Daniel Soames preferred to socialise with people in other occupations and professions.  He found the change in the method of thinking refreshing and it gave him a break from the rampant dishonesty that is so much a part of the legal profession.  At a barbecue one Saturday afternoon hosted by a friend he met during his young music fan days Daniel was introduced to a medical practitioner who had had experience in the public sector and in the private sector and was now working in a busy suburban Medical Centre.  Dr Davis told Daniel that often when his patients were professionals or reasonably high achievers, he found the best advice he could give them was to stop achieving and to concentrate upon getting better. Initial response to that advice was invariably tepid or lukewarm rather than it being overwhelmingly embraced, however on several occasions Dr Davis said he has been told by those patients subsequently that it was the best advice they had ever been given.

Dr Charles - Pathologist
It is funny how life repeats itself. Some considerable time after the barbecue and with that advice well etched in his memory Daniel was asked to advise and appear in court for a young, high-achieving medical practitioner, who was having some fairly serious difficulties in his deteriorating marriage. Daniel told Dr Charles what had been told to him by Dr Davis, stop or at least concentrate less on achieving and concentrate more upon getting better. Dr Charles was impressed at the commonsense attendant with that advice.

Daniel is not one to take credit for something he did not do and is essentially humble in his disposition, accordingly he said to Dr Charles, “I am doing no more than repeating to you what was told to me by one of your colleagues. It was advice that seemed good at the time and I believe it to remain good advice today. In some respects it is as if you were consulting your colleague for that advice. For what it is worth I too endorse that advice.”

Dr Charles did his best to heed that advice and he returned to his pathology practice in the knowledge that he had found someone with whom he could talk over his situation, without the complication of it becoming an issue throughout his profession with his colleagues.

Experimental Surgery
Daniel and Dr Charles kept in touch and from time to time got together to chew the fat and ruminate upon the machinations of life.  One such get together saw them both at the house of Dr Charles on a hot Saturday afternoon in November.  Daniel wore shorts, a sleeveless shirt and shoes and socks. Dr Charles was similarly dressed but his shirt contained sleeves.  Without realising it at the time by his choice of attire Daniel provided Dr Charles with an opportunity to see the scar on his back as a result of having a sunspot surgically removed a couple of years earlier.

Upon noticing the scar Dr Charles asked Daniel as to its history and Daniel said he was the subject of some experimental surgery that combined radiation treatment with the introduction of some stems cells to the subject area and that was supposed to treat the relevant sunspot and its surrounds efficiently, effectively and finally. That explanation seemed to peak the interest of Dr Charles who said he had taken an interest in the development of that treatment and was not entirely comfortable with what he read as to its results and more importantly its side-effects.  Daniel noticed that Dr Charles seemed to be considerably more serious during this particular conversation than he had been for some time and he asked him why he found this issue so serious.

Dr Charles told Daniel he had read articles in professional journals that spoke of the aftermath of that treatment and ultimately it was found to be sufficiently controversial for it to be discontinued.  Dr Charles said the combination of the radiation and stem cells were apparently having unforeseen effects on the patients, effects which could neither be controlled nor reversed and unless and until that situation could be contained and controlled, that treatment would no longer be administered.

Dr Charles said to Daniel, “If you do not mind, I would like to keep an eye on you to make sure you are not one of the patients who had any adverse reaction to that treatment.”

Daniel said, “I do not think I have had any adverse effects from the treatment, but I am happy for you to have a look at me and keep an eye on me. You know what you are looking at and looking for much better than me, so I am happy to rely upon your judgement.”

Dr Charles said the problem with that particular treatment was that it facilitated a change at the genetic level and the possibility exists that the intended change may be different to and greater than anything initially countenanced by the treatment.  Accordingly there may be currently no test to measure the extent and magnitude of that change.

Daniel said, “Well Doctor, I feel I am in good hands and I will trust you to look after my best interests in that regard.”

Happily for them both the conversation moved quickly away from that morbidity and onto topics a little lighter in nature.

Shortly thereafter Daniel told Dr Charles “I was once described by a woman I met who seemed to like me as ‘a good, caring, sweet, decent, kind hearted human being’, but relax Charles, even though she found me physically attractive as well, she said we could not continue to see each other because I challenged her and she found that too much to endure.  So there was a woman who told me we could not go out together because I made her happy. Women, we might be able to love them but it is very difficult to understand them.”

Dr Charles said “I agree and thank you for sharing with me that you met a woman who told you that you could not go out together because you made her happy.  That explains to me more about women than many people might expect.”

A little while later Daniel felt it was time to go home, so he thanked Dr Charles for his hospitality and said they would see each other again soon.  Daniel then proceeded to his car and during the drive home he found himself reflecting upon his place in the world.  He thought to himself that for the most part Dr Charles was very easy to talk to.  A conversation with him need not be a complicated event, although he certainly possessed the brainpower to achieve that goal. Ironically the complication in conversations comes from those with whom he is conversing rather than any initial contribution he might make.  Undeniably Dr Charles is very different to almost everyone he is likely to meet.

Once again Daniel found himself concluding that whilst being possessed of a kind heart has certainly had advantages and generally given him a sense of well-being, there have been far too many people over the years who have taken advantage of his disposition in that regard. The sins of the father (and mother) have apparently been visited upon the son, because he saw similar qualities in his parents receive ill-treatment from others as he grew up.  Quite without planning on his part he found that as these episodes occurred in his life, they tended to accumulate initially in the form of a sense of unfairness and then they developed into a gestating sense of rage. Daniel knew better than to act adversely in the community and draw unnecessary attention to himself. He subscribes to the theory of keeping a low profile providing a more rewarding and fulfilling life. However along the way his thought processes have developed along the lines of how one might impose upon those keen to be selfish and inconsiderate an appropriate sense of response or retribution for the offending behaviour.

Rarely do skills appear overnight, usually they take time to develop and that is the case here.  As a result of him ruminating upon the ill treatment and abuse that had been extended to him over the years, Daniel found that he had developed the ability of being able to get inside the head of another and have them do as he wished. It was not something he could do universally nor would he ever wish to do so. But there were certainly people he had encountered in his life who had well and truly earned a little extra-curricular attention, attention which rarely if ever was to their liking.  For example he found convincing someone to think that they were choking was a much more pragmatically effective way to perpetrate a comeuppance than to exact the kind of physical retribution most people might be inclined to consider.  Giving himself an opportunity to leave the scene quietly with his prey prone and suffering or soon to be so enabled Daniel to continue with his wish for a low profile life.

On a Bus
Not long after noticing that he had developed this ability Daniel was going home on the bus one weekday evening after a long, hard day at work, followed by a decent and satisfying work out at the gym. He was lucky enough to be able to take a his preferred sideways facing seat on the bus which more easily accommodated his long legs, as well as the work and gym gear bags he has to carry, than the seats that face the front of the bus.

Unfortunately for him he was seated opposite an overweight young adult male, with long hair that was dyed many colours and who had four piercings in his bottom lip. Predictably clad in black, he was an insult to the Clockwork Orange T-shirt he was wearing.

Whilst not one to abuse his powers and able to resist the temptation to utilise them from time to time merely for sport, there are times when what he sees so repulses him that he feels an application of those powers is appropriate.  Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt was about to experience that special kind of euphoria. Perhaps unfortunately for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt the battery in the music player to which Daniel was listening had run out of energy thereby excluding it as a forum through which Daniel could zone out of the journey home.  Try as he might to avoid the repulsive sight across from him in the bus, his gaze and concentration invariably returned to Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt.  Daniel then focussed his attention upon Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt and in particular the piercings in his bottom lip. Over and over Daniel said to himself that when Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt arrives at his destination, which was presumably his home, he would find that those piercings were also accompanied by significant infection.  That infection would not be minor, but rather major and would ultimately prove fatal.

Daniel figured if this cretin could go through the thought processes to go to such great effort to make himself so repulsive, then that same mind could be utilised to convince himself that he was possessed of the infection, an infection that would be inconvenient, painful and fatal. Absolutely appropriate in the circumstances, Daniel thought.

When the bus arrived at his stop Daniel alighted from the bus and thought no more of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt. It is with some irony that Daniel alighting from the bus was not seen as an act of any consequence by Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt. The low profile life Daniel wished to live was working splendidly for him and Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt had no idea, let alone any suspicion, of the fate that was about to become him.  However the damage had been done and with the help of a little mind realignment, within a week of their “meeting” the infection surrounding the piercings of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt will have killed him.

When it was time for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt to alight from the bus he proceeded straight to his home and shortly thereafter attended to a call of nature. When he was washing his hands after conducting his business his cursory look in the mirror revealed no evidence of the infection his mind was causing to take shape surrounding his piercings.  The rest of the evening was uneventful for Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt and when he went to bed, he slept untroubled by the soon-to-be fatal infection.

When he awoke the following morning Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt again attended to call of nature and again was oblivious to the presence of the infection.  Once again he washed his hands after conducting his business and had a cursory look in the mirror. It was at that time that the infection became apparent to him.  Unfortunately for him by that stage the infection was beyond the stage where any medical assistance could stem its progress and the fate of Mr Clockwork Orange T-shirt had been sealed.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Purple Onions

Purple Onions and What Constitutes a Relationship
Louise is a woman in her early 40s, educated and independent, well travelled and not afraid to speak her mind. Clever men interest her, particularly those who are not intimidated by her capabilities and achievements and are not uncomfortable when told “stop” or “no” when they venture into chatterbox mode. She understands that sometimes a conversation by itself can make the body tingle all over and that tingling sensation can continue for some time after the conversation has ended. Sometimes it can even make trying to formulate anything significant in the form of a sentence a very difficult exercise. Moments like that tend to indicate that someone has garnered a little of your attention.

Even amazing women have to succumb to the realities of life and shopping for the purposes of eating and staying healthy is precisely one of those realities. The demands of her two teenage daughters help to keep her focussed on those types of occasions. Sunday afternoon had arrived and the two day-long seminar organised and run by her friend had come to an end; it was time to return to the demands imposed by some of those realities of life. Whilst purposefully negotiating her way through the supermarket she found herself amongst the fresh vegetables stands and more particularly in front of the purple onions. As she made her selection for herself and her daughters for the following few days she found herself reflecting upon a story told to her just the day before by Imogen, one of her girlfriends.

Imogen had been standing in front of the purple onions at her local supermarket when she had what turned out to be a very pleasant encounter with a man she thought to be wonderfully charming.  They each sought to make their selection of purple onions.  Upon seeing the left hand of Imogen gently clash with his right hand, Dervish softly grabbed the left hand of Imogen and spoke to her.  Dervish said, “If you had been wearing jewellery on that finger (pointing to the ring finger on her left hand) it would have been so discouraging.”  Imogen replied with a smile and they each went on their way.

Unknown to Imogen that was not the only time Dervish had seen her that day. During their respective travels through the supermarket Dervish found himself walking behind Imogen admiring the very beautiful sight before him. Her dress was modest, with a somewhat full skirt and a hemline beneath her knees. However, when she walked in front of him the dress was falling between the cheeks of her bottom, a situation that was augmented by the G string she was wearing and something for which Dervish was very happy. He found himself thinking, I bet her bottom looks great bare. Their paths diverged again, but it seemed that fate was not finished with these two shoppers.

Shortly before Dervish and Imogen were each preparing to leave the supermarket their paths crossed again.  This time Imogen made pleasant and encouraging conversation to Dervish.

After wrestling with the positives and negatives of doing the telephone number dance, Dervish finally decided to give Imogen his telephone number.  He encouraged her to telephone him if she would like to get together again; hopefully to do something more than just grocery shopping.

Louise continued to think of Imogen, rather than concentrate upon her shopping.  Louise, Dervish and that telephone number were at the forefront of her mind.  She wondered whether if the Louise / Dervish incident had happened to her, she would have telephoned Dervish, bearing in mind all that was currently going on in her life.

Having subsequently met Dervish with Imogen, Louise thought Dervish would say, “Those opportunities occur if we give them the possibility to occur. It is amazing how we can find time in our lives to do these things when the motivation exists.”

The analyst in Louise then started contemplating what constituted a relationship? However she did not quite get to the reality that if someone liked you enough, they would go grocery shopping with you and perhaps even enliven the possibility of a purple onions moment occurring.

A Letter and a Kiss
Whilst Louise dithered about her male relationships situation, Imogen was more positive and proactive, deciding to accept the invitation of Dervish and ring him to discuss shopping, life and whatever else might crop up.

After several telephone conversations and the exchange of a few e-mails, Imogen told Dervish that she would like him to write to her again, because she enjoyed reading his writing and liked his writing style. Inspired and flattered by the request from Imogen, Dervish penned and posted her a missive.

Receiving correspondence was something Imogen enjoyed.  She appreciated that with the advent of computers, most correspondence was conducted by e-mail, so when correspondence arrived by ordinary post, it often contained a component of extra excitement for her: reading the envelope, opening the envelope, unfolding the letter and reading the hard copy in front of her. When she saw that her most recent correspondence was a missive from Dervish, the excitement she was experiencing grew even more. A sense of anticipation overcame her as she undertook the exercise of actually reading the piece.

“Dear Imogen,

“You asked me to continue writing to you because it was something you enjoyed and I am happy to endeavour to accommodate your wishes so far as that is concerned. However, focussing upon something concrete and substantive to say to you has been a little difficult, because my mind keeps telling me that a more appropriate response would be to wrap myself around you and go to sleep. Whilst it is somewhat presumptuous to appropriate to you a response in such a circumstance, nevertheless in my mind you comply in a most contented way and a very pleasant night's sleep ensues. Given that this moment is essentially for your consumption, then feel free to insert into the moment the apparel we might be wearing. Either way I will be enjoying myself.

“Upon waking from that wonderful slumber I am reminded that you are a very visual woman and whilst you may have that man still draped around you, feel free to observe that his interest in you continues and it is obvious for you to see and feel. Not a bad way to start a day.

“Continuing with the ‘you are a very visual woman’ theme, it seems appropriate to give your day another couple of pleasant moments. For the purpose of this exercise you live at premises where you enjoy an appropriate level of privacy, you have a male neighbour who meets your aesthetic requirements and is also pleasant company for you.  Later in the day you are going about your normal business and you see that neighbour, all of that neighbour, for as long and as often as you choose to enjoy the moment. He is happy to chat with you because you are pleasant company and more than a little charming.

“Later again in the day, because why do a little when you can do a lot, your male suitor returns to your life to pay you some more attention. There is only the two of you in your house and you are not going to get another visitor for hours. He walks over to you, smiles and without saying a word, takes your hand and leads you to your room. Once inside your room the silence continues, he kneels in front of you and puts his hands on the button of your jeans, about to undo the button. This is not the first time this has occurred, so you have a pretty good idea as to what is going to happen. He undoes the button and then proceeds to undo the zip. Apart from the sound of breathing, the zip being underdone is the only other sound. Of course by this stage your breathing may well be increasing and your heart may well be pounding, but only you will know if that is so. He then takes your undone jeans and pulls them down, leaving you standing there resplendent in just your underwear. Your sense of anticipation is considerable, perhaps even enormous.  The silence continues. Your suitor is clearly happy with proceedings. He then moves behind you so that he is facing your bottom. He then grabs your underwear and pulls them gently to the floor. Your bottom is now completely bare, precisely as he likes it. The silence continues and although you may be able to hear the breathing, your sense of anticipation is starting to blur things a little in that regard. The moment is about to arrive. His lips approach your bare bottom, you know because you can feel his breathing all over it.

“The sense of exhilaration is almost too much to bear. He has done this before and you know how much he likes it. There is absolutely no chance he will rush this because he wants you to enjoy absolutely every moment of it. His lips are now almost on your bare bottom cheek and your knees are telling you this is almost too much to bear. Thankfully your knees do not buckle and finally the moment arrives, his lips are now on your bare bottom kissing it.

“The kiss was gentle and delicate and in reality it lasted no more than five seconds, but for those five seconds the Earth stood still.  Your male suitor told you in that special way you adore that he likes you, he wants you and he loves doing this to you and with you.

“With the kiss all but complete, to the extent that you can think of anything, you start to wonder what will happen next. Will this be one of those occasions where he then puts his hands all over your bare bottom and does so for ages, because you know how much he likes it and how much he likes putting his hands all over it? Or will it be one of those moments where the kiss is the moment and he wants the kiss to be the centre of attention? Either way you are ecstatic it is you and your bare bottom that is the centre of attention.  You are in no hurry for your bottom to be covered. It is bare, being appreciated, probably even adored, and you want that situation to continue for as long as possible.

“Time continues to effectively stand still, your bottom is bare and it is the centre of his attention. Nothing is happening in any great hurry. By now your entire body is tingling. Who would have thought that your bare bottom and a kiss could be so powerful and so effective?

“After what seems like ages, but was really probably only a couple of minutes, your suitor grabs your underwear and starts to pull them up and put them back on you. You realise today was a day about a kiss and him putting his hands all over your bare bottom will be for another day. A kiss, all that for a kiss and not one where you need to tell anyone else in the world about what went on. He continues to properly reposition your underwear.  Whilst you are a little disappointed that your bottom cannot stay bare for a little longer, perhaps even a lot longer, you realise this was a moment about a kiss.

“Time has continued to move slowly, but the tingling sensation does not, it is now in just about every part of your body. Your sense of exhilaration is almost too much for your knees to stand. With your underwear now back in place, your suitor grabs your jeans and puts them back on you properly too. As he does up the zip on your jeans he smiles at you.  You know you have just taken him to euphoria. The sound of the zip closing and his smile at you are two of his many ways of saying to you “thank you for a fabulous experience”. When he moves to do up the button on your jeans, you know that he thinks he is a very lucky man and will want to do it all again in the future.

“So you are now fully dressed again and you realise again that this was a moment about a kiss. He does not need to say anything to you; his actions have said it all. Tempted though he was to put his hands all over you and to have more of you, this time was about a kiss and the majesty it can achieve. You clearly have a fan in this man.

“The tingling sensation is obviously not leaving any time soon and it is taking all the strength and concentration your mind and knees can muster to keep you standing.

“After a little while he tells you that unfortunately he has to leave because there are some commitments that require his attendance and attention. You understand because your life makes similar demands of you from time to time. As he kisses your cheek at the front door and says "I will see you later", you can still feel his breath and lips on your bare bottom, a very pleasant memory indeed.

“You watch him drive away and you realise he came over to see you and to give you a kiss or two. Today was a day about a kiss.

“Have a great day.”

Once Imogen got to reading the body of the letter she found herself struggling to concentrate upon it and having to read it time and again.  She found herself becoming lost in the moment of what the letter was really saying. She had to sit down to read it because her knees were struggling to support her. A strong tingling sensation covered her body and she found herself almost living every moment in real life as it unfolded in the letter. Erect nipples and wet knickers were not part of the story sent to her, but they were certainly a part of the reality experienced by the woman reading the letter and she would not have it any other way.

After about half an hour Imogen had managed to finish reading the letter and she was more than a little surprised as to the effect it had upon her. A very pleasant effect indeed. This letter was for keeping, she thought, and one that she would read privately again and again.

Louise, Imogen and a Catch-Up Chat
Some two hours had passed since Imogen finished reading the letter when Louise rang to chat and catch up with what had been going on in their respective lives. Imogen saw that telephone call as an opportunity to relive the letter experience.  She embraced that opportunity by reading the letter to Louise.

On more than one occasion during that telephone conversation Louise said to Imogen “I cannot believe how lucky you are to have someone write such a beautiful letter to you.”

After Imogen had finished reading the letter to her, Louise said, “It had an impressive effect on me, so I expect it had a great effect on you.”

Imogen said “Yes it had a great effect on me. It took me at least half an hour to read it and my body loved every tingling, dripping moment of it. He can thank me in both those ways any time he likes.”

Louise then said to Imogen, “I wish I knew a man who would do that for me.”

Imogen replied, “I am not going to spoil this moment by having an argument with you, however I will say this, you need to give the men in your life an opportunity to visit that place with you and if you can do that, you may very well be surprised at the results that can be achieved. But enough about you, this occasion is essentially about me and I want to revel in and love every single moment of it.”

Somewhat out of character for Louise, she decided to keep quiet and allow Imogen to enjoy her moment.

Louise and Those Purple Onions
Louise then returned to reality.  She selected some purple onions for her daughters and herself, unaccosted by anyone, completed her shopping and went home.  During her journey in the supermarket and to her home Louise was happy.  She could provide well for herself and her daughters and she had a great friend in Imogen.  These were all things for which she could be grateful.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Rush For The Change of Atmosphere

About 8:20 pm Daniel Soames had had enough of his workout at the gym, so he headed back to his Chambers. He arrived back at 8:30 pm, collected his work gear, locked Chambers and left to go home. As he walked out onto George Street it was a seemingly uneventful Tuesday evening. There were a handful of people walking the streets and some of the shops were doing occasional business. Nothing obvious was occurring in the 7-Eleven shop across the road from him on the corner of George Street and Turbot Street. Traffic was light, so he had no trouble walking across the Road on his way to the bus station.

Unbeknown to Daniel a young man was lurking in the vicinity, planning to rob the 7-Eleven store. The young man waited until there was no one in the store to make his move. Once he thought the coast was clear, he entered the store, produced his gun, took a modest amount of cash from the till and fled the scene on foot. The 7-Eleven store in question had live video surveillance, closed-circuit TV and it recorded this chap in all his perpetrating glory. His face was clear, so identification would not be problematic. With that in mind the store manager did not resist when the robbery was apparent to him.

Evening Fun Run
As Daniel turned the corner from George Street into Ann Street there was little traffic travelling along Ann Street towards the river. He made his way down Ann Street and noticed a young man with his shirt off running unusually fast up Ann Street, in the middle of the four-lane road. The man was constantly looking over his shoulder and looking around, as if he was running from someone pursuing him. Behaviour like that was definitely out of place, Daniel thought. When Daniel was approaching the entry to the bus station, the shirtless man ran past the construction workers working on the entrance to the tunnel and down into the tunnel. He seemed to arouse the suspicion of the construction workers as he did so.

Within seconds of him observing this late night fun run, Daniel noticed two young male uniformed police officers. They turned the corner from Roma Street into Ann Street and were seemingly in pursuit of the shirtless man, Mr Fun Run. As the police officers ran past Daniel he told them "He went down the tunnel". The police officers thanked Daniel and continued their pursuit down the tunnel. Daniel thought nothing more of the encounter and continued his walk to the bus station.

Bus Station
Daniel made his way to his usual bus stop and lined up, as one is required to do at that bus station. He must have just missed a bus because there was no one else around waiting at that stop, he thought. As he waited for the next bus, other people joined him in waiting for the bus to take them home. One of those people was his friend Angela Rosamund-Parish, whom he saw on that bus route from time to time. Whilst they waited for their bus to arrive Angela and Daniel chatted together, taking the opportunity to catch up on what had happened in their respective lives since the last time they spoke.

After about 12 minutes from when Daniel arrived at the bus station, the bus arrived. There was calm amongst the prospective bus patrons and the usual pause before the sliding doors opened, separating the waiting area from the part of the bus station where the buses drive. As he was waiting for the automatic doors to open, Daniel noticed a man in his late teens or early twenties appear beside him and walk through the automatic doors ahead of him, seemingly without any consideration for Daniel and those behind him. Mr Impatient did not wait his turn or apparently give any consideration to doing so. Upon noticing this Angela said to Daniel, “He certainly has lots of manners, unfortunately most of them seem to be of the bad variety.”

Not Quite The OK Chorale
As the sliding doors opened the fun-running, shirtless man that Daniel had seen earlier in the evening appeared in the bus way. Rather than running through the public waiting area, Mr Fun Run was running on the side the buses use and in the channel between the buses and the waiting area. The police who had earlier been pursuing Mr Fun Run also appeared. They were seemingly still in hot pursuit of him.

To the surprise of everyone waiting for the bus there was gunfire in the bus way. Mr Fun Run produced a pistol and shot it towards the police. The police returned fire. Mr Fun Run was apparently astray in his effort and as Mr Impatient pushed in front of Daniel and Angela and walked through the automatic doors, the shot from the gun of Mr Fun Run hit the interloper, Mr Impatient, fatally wounding him. In returning fire, the Police hit Mr Fun Run in the leg, causing him to immediately fall to the ground. Not surprisingly Mr Fun Run dropped his gun. The Police were then able to apprehend Mr Fun Run and secure his weapon.

Confusion, Chaos and Clean-Up
As Mr Impatient was publicly manifesting some of his poor manners, Daniel had been annoyed at him and his actions. However once the gunfire commenced, Daniel thought to himself how lucky he felt that Mr Impatient went through the sliding doors ahead of him, because it may very well have been Daniel who was caught in the firearms crossfire. Angela echoed those thoughts and said them aloud, all the time whilst clinging fairly tightly to the left arm of Daniel.  Seemingly trying to obtain some support or stability from him. By the end of the conversation they were hugging each other in gratitude and relief. There was similar behaviour from other people in the queue waiting to get on the bus.

Watching The Detectives
Having apprehended the anything but delightful Mr Fun Run and secured his weapon and also observed the tragedy in respect of Mr Impatient, the police endeavoured to secure the scene and called for assistance. In what seemed like a very short time both the ambulance and police detectives arrived on the scene to do what needed to be done.

Daniel realised that these events meant there would necessarily need to be some delay in him getting home that evening. Because of the fact that Mr Impatient was shot and killed, the police would likely want to take statements from all those present, as they were apparently witnesses to what occurred. Daniel also realised that this meant he would be a witness, a situation he does not relish, given his occupation as a barrister and one with a reasonable size practice in criminal law.

Whilst waiting for the police to interview all those present at the bus stop at the time this incident occurred, one of the people waiting to board the bus said out loud, “It is more than a little perverse that the criminal who shot and killed a man this evening would receive treatment from the ambulance officers before they tended the dead man.” There seemed to be agreement with his statement from other people waiting with him. Daniel heard those comments and whilst he agreed there was a significant degree of perversity about what had happened, he thought it best he not make any comments about those remarks or the incident. Angela remained similarly silent.

The task of the Police interviewing all the people at the bus stop and taking statements from them took about two hours. Whilst that was an inconvenience for the prospective bus patrons, the overall sentiment was that they were grateful it was not them who had been caught in the crossfire. They were all in surprisingly good spirits whilst they waited for the police to do their duty. Perhaps in part that was because they were so experienced at waiting for buses they thought would arrive but never did or that arrived considerably later than scheduled.

As was seemingly inevitable, given the circumstances that unfolded that evening, the police approached Daniel to see if he would provide a statement to them as to what happened. After spending many years actively participating in the criminal justice system, with its trials, pre-trial hearings and committal hearings, Daniel was well aware how unpleasant life can be for witnesses at times during that process. He also knew that he did not want any more conflict or controversy in his life than was absolutely necessary. However he did not want to make the job of the police that evening any more difficult than it needed to be.  He decided to tell the police what he observed that evening, including the earlier interlude with Mr Fun Run and the pursuing police.  He also provided them with a statement to that effect.

Once the police had finished their interviews at the scene they told the prospective bus patrons that they were free to leave.

The police then turned their attention more acutely to Mr Fun Run. What started out as a seemingly uneventful Tuesday evening turned out to be anything but uneventful for Mr Fun Run. Not only was Mr Fun Run charged with the robbery of 7-Eleven store, but he was also charged with the murder of Mr Impatient at the bus station. He could now reasonably look forward to spending at least the next fifteen (15) years in jail and then even if he is released, it will only be on parole. He would never be the free man he once thought himself to be.

Not long after the police finished interviewing all the prospective bus patrons, those prospective patrons recommenced their wait for a bus to take them home. There were no comments from those gathered as to how much longer they might have to wait for a bus to arrive to take them home. That wait turned out to be not terribly long, as fate would have it, and unlike the previous effort that evening, the process of boarding the bus was uneventful for all concerned.

The Bus Ride Home
For all the passengers on the bus ride home the mood was rather subdued. Daniel alighted from the bus before Angela.  As he was about to leave his seat to exit the bus, Angela hugged him again and said, “I am really glad you were at the bus stop with me tonight.”

As she did this Daniel could see there was a definite look of relief and gratitude on her face. Daniel responded to the hug in kind and said to Angela, “I am glad you were there too.”

He then picked up his bag and walked off the bus. Once he was off the bus, Daniel waited on the footpath for the bus to leave because he had to cross the road in order to get home. Angela waved to him as the bus was pulling away.  Daniel waved back and then walked home.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Selling Secrets

Derek Winthrop telephoned Daniel Soames in his Chambers and said briefly, “I have a rather delicate matter I would like to discuss with you, with a view to briefing you in it. Are you available for me to come and see you about it today? In fact I would prefer to see you immediately, if possible. It is not really something I can discuss with you in detail over the telephone.”

Daniel said “Yes I am available and I can see you immediately.”
“Thank you, I will see you in your Chambers in fifteen (15) minutes and I will bring the client with me.”

Just as he suggested within about fifteen (15) minutes Derek arrived at Daniel’s Chambers with his client, Mr Zurich Lindisfarne. Upon greeting Daniel, Derek said “Perhaps it would be best if I saw you alone initially and then you can have a conference with the client.”

“As you wish Mr Winthrop” Daniel responded.

“My client, Mr Zurich Lindisfarne, consulted me earlier this morning and informed me that he had been charged with what amounts to selling state secrets.  In a few days time he is required to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in answer to that charge. As you may be aware, prosecutions of matters such as this are attendant with great security, in fact almost secrecy and there is very little material available for me to consider and advise my client at this juncture. I am aware that we have discussed this type of prosecution in the past and that we are both reasonably familiar with what is involved. I have obtained from the Crown a very brief summary of the allegations made against our client and I can provide that summary to you now. Other than that, there is very little other information I can share with you in order to assist you in providing Mr Lindisfarne any advice in respect of this matter.”

Daniel said “Thank you Mr Winthrop, might l have a look at that summary now?”
As Daniel was asking that question, Derek Winthrop was already providing the summary to him from his file.

After reading the summary provided to him Daniel said to Mr Winthrop, “Five paragraphs that barely make a page is indeed a brief summary of facts. Nevertheless, based on what is provided here, there seems little room for our client to defend this charge.”

“That was also my impression.” Derek Winthrop replied.

Daniel continued “He works for ASIO so surely in the position of trust in which Mr Lindisfarne found himself, he should have known better than to disclose this information, let alone sell it? Is he in financial trouble? Does he have a gambling problem? Does he have a demanding mistress? Are any of the usual explanations in play here? Or is this just a case of pure unadulterated greed? Mr Winthrop has Mr Lindisfarne shared any of this with you or have you chosen not to discuss that aspect of the case with him thus far?”

“It seems greed and stupidity were the primary motivating forces here, Mr Soames. However I have not canvassed that aspect of the case in any great detail with Mr Lindisfarne thus far.  I thought it was more important to confer with you as to how we should proceed. I have advised him that he is in a very serious situation and if he is convicted of the offence, he should definitely expect to go to jail.  Other than that information, I said to him in my view it would be better to have a conference with you and we could work out a plan of attack during that conference. Perhaps I should inform you at this stage, there is definitely no issue as to our fees. They have definitely been covered,” Mr Winthrop said.

Daniel then said to Mr Winthrop, “All right then, perhaps we better bring Mr Lindisfarne in and have a chat with him about all of this.”

Without delay Derek Winthrop left the Chambers of Daniel Soames, went outside to the waiting area and returned with Mr Lindisfarne.

Conference with Mr Lindisfarne
Whilst their introductions were brief, Daniel could see that Mr Lindisfarne was clearly a very worried man. Almost immediately upon Mr Lindisfarne taking his seat Daniel said to him, “From what Mr Winthrop tells me, you are a man in a very serious situation. At this juncture I do not propose to get any great detail from you as to your version of the facts. I would prefer to concentrate on learning as much as I can about the Crown case, to see how bad it is for you and whether there is any prospect of you successfully defending the charge. Mr Winthrop has provided me with some material thus far and although that information is brief, it does not suggest any defence available to you or any real likelihood of you being found not guilty of the offence.”

Daniel was looking at Mr Lindisfarne as he was speaking to him and it occurred to Daniel that his client did not appear surprised by anything that was being said to him.

“In the ordinary course of our business, when Mr Winthrop or one of his colleagues brings a client to me who is confronting a Crown case that appears to be as strong as the one that apparently confronts you, we generally discuss what can be done to minimise the sentence that is likely to be imposed once the accused is convicted of the offence. Entering a plea of guilty to the charge is usually a useful approach in those circumstances, because it can be said to indicate remorse, contrition and cooperation. The legislation courts must follow when sentencing offenders convicted of crimes indicates clearly that discounts generally apply upon pleas of guilty in those circumstances. In some circumstances it can mean a significant reduction in the jail sentence likely to be imposed by the court. It can even mean the difference between an accused going to jail or staying out of jail. You probably want to know what punishment is likely to be imposed upon you if you are convicted of this offence.”

Mr Lindisfarne looked terrified and simply nodded his head.

“Well Mr Lindisfarne, given the offence with which you are charged and the nature of the information you are alleged to have sold, I do not believe there is any doubt you will go to jail upon being convicted of this offence. Your jail sentence will be significant. Three (3) to five (5) years actual custody is unlikely to be said to be excessive in these circumstances in my view.”

Daniel was looking at Mr Lindisfarne during the conversation, but he also noticed Mr Winthrop when he spoke of the actual jail sentence and Mr Winthrop seemed to nod his head in agreement with Daniel. Daniel then asked Mr Winthrop, “Would you agree with that assessment of the sentence Mr Winthrop?”

“Yes I think that is an accurate assessment of the sentence likely to be imposed”, Mr Winthrop replied.

Mr Lindisfarne was silent and apparently processing the information that was being provided to him. He did not appear to challenge any of the information.  Rather he appeared to be a man coming to the realisation that he was in an enormous amount of trouble and it was all of his own making.

Daniel continued, “Sadly Mr Lindisfarne your troubles appear not to end there. The information you sold is extremely delicate and there will be some people in this community very unhappy about the misuse of that information. I suspect your time in prison will not be pleasant. I expect there will be people who will wish to introduce you to their own form of justice and that is not a threat against which even the protection yard at the prison can guarantee you real comfort. Raising that reality with the judge on sentence is not likely to relieve you of having to serve an actual jail sentence, such is the nature of the offence with which you have been charged.

Unfortunately you have messed with some very bad people and ultimately the criminal justice system may not be your biggest problem. I am happy to do what I can to help you, but the help that both Mr Winthrop and I can offer you has its limits unfortunately. Of course you are free to seek advice elsewhere, but I doubt that anyone being honest with you will give you advice different to the advice you have heard here today.”

As Daniel said that to Mr Lindisfarne he noticed Mr Winthrop nodding and when Daniel finished speaking, Mr Winthrop added, “I agree.”

“If you like Mr Lindisfarne, Mr Winthrop and I can make enquiries of the Crown to see what the present thoughts of the prosecution are in terms of sentencing you for this offence.”

Mr Lindisfarne then said to Daniel “Yes please.”

Daniel then said to Mr Lindisfarne, “There is really no more I need from you at this stage. We can discuss the matter further once we have heard more from the Crown. If you do not mind, I will have a short chat with Mr Winthrop in your absence and then the two of you can return to his office.”

Mr Lindisfarne then got up out of his chair shook hands with Daniel.  As he did so he said, “Thank you for your advice and for seeing me at short notice. I really appreciate it.” He then went back outside Daniel's Chambers to the waiting area.

As Mr Lindisfarne was walking out of Daniel’s Chambers, Mr Winthrop said to him, “I will be out with you shortly and we will then return to my office.” Mr Lindisfarne nodded and continued to the waiting area.

Shortly after the door closed from Mr Lindisfarne walking out of Daniel’s Chambers, Daniel said to Mr Winthrop, “Your client seemed to confirm my worst fears about this case.”

Derek replied, “I agree, he has not filled me with much confidence or given me much comfort about his future.”

Daniel added, “Quite frankly Mr Winthrop, I doubt that the criminal law is his biggest problem. Given what he has done and that he has now been publicly identified or at least sufficiently publicly identified in doing it, his greatest fear would seem to be that someone will want to kill him.”

“I agree Mr Soames. In fact there is no guarantee he will make it to trial and there would seem to be little if anything we can do to stop that occurring. I had better take Mr Lindisfarne back to my office. Thank you for your time and assistance today Mr Soames. I will keep you informed of any developments.”

“Thank you Mr Winthrop. It was a pleasure, as always.”

Two Days Later
About two days after the conference Derek Winthrop telephoned Daniel Soames, “My wife and the wife of our client Mr Zurich Lindisfarne are friends. That was a reason he initially consulted me. Mrs Lindisfarne telephoned my wife earlier today to advise that Mr Zurich Lindisfarne died last night. It was not suicide and apparently there are no suspicious circumstances.”

“I guess ‘no suspicious circumstances’ is a relative term Mr Winthrop.” Soames interjected.

“Indeed Soames and I do not suspect the authorities will be at all interested in investigating his ‘not controversial’ death. The ‘problem’ of Mr Zurich Lindisfarne appears now to have been solved and a criminal trial will not be necessary. Other than that I do not have any further information for you at this time. As other news comes to hand I will keep you informed.”

“Thank you Mr Winthrop. Perhaps you might pass on my regards and condolences to Mrs Winthrop and Mrs Lindisfarne.” Daniel Soames said.

“Certainly Mr Soames. I will talk to you again soon. Good morning.”  Derek Winthrop then hung up the telephone and he and Daniel Soames returned to other work.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ticket To Ride

This is another short story.

Ticket To Ride

Thursday was an uneventful day when it started and as with every day, the question can be asked as to whether it would remain that way.

Happily married to a marketing industry employed wife, Mr Ashley Protherow lived in one of the “better” suburbs in a “significant” house with a mortgage to match. He was the bureaucrat ultimately responsible for the Brisbane City Council bus service. His career had been kind to him: it had delivered to him his current very comfortable job, which allowed him to assist his wife in the care of their home and their two primary-school-aged children. It also enabled him to manage his Diabetes condition without too much drama.  Diabetes did not have to be a significant impediment to his life, if managed properly and if he was fortunate enough to stay on the happy side of the luck divide, it need not be fatal. One of the management mechanisms Mr Protherow put in place for his condition was to have a backup stock of insulin in the refrigerator in the games room. Another was to give his wife something akin to an emergency supply of glucose for him, just in case the supply he has readily at his disposal becomes depleted.

As that Thursday unfolded Mr Protherow and his wife prepared their children for school and themselves for work. His wife told him that she and the children would be attending a function at Aspley after school and into the early evening that day.  He said he had to remember to get more insulin because his stocks were uncomfortably low. Shortly after that conversation ended Mr Protherow drove the work vehicle to the office in the city and his wife drove the children to school and then herself to work.

Presiding over the expenditure of millions of dollars redeveloping part of the city centre so as to create a bus station at King George Square in an attempt to make public transport more attractive for the citizens of the city was something of which Mr Protherow was proud. However not everyone in the community necessarily shared his vision. Daniel Soames found that the redevelopment gave him a comparative education he perhaps could have done without. Still he was grateful for the enrichment his life now enjoyed as a result of being able to compare the bus service his locale enjoyed with that servicing the Ashgrove area.

Pleasant even pretty though the new premises may have been, with patrons of the Aspley route bus service lined up side-by-side with patrons of the Ashgrove route bus service as they waited for their respective buses to arrive, anyone with a modicum of observation skills could notice that since the introduction of the King George Square Bus Station, the preparation and publication of a timetable and making it happen in real life were two very different animals. The buses on the Ashgrove route had little or no trouble observing their timetable obligations. However, the buses on the Aspley route were clearly the poorer cousins and often struggled to arrive and depart in accordance with the published timetable.

After experiencing this phenomenon for some time, Daniel had written to both his local Brisbane City Council councillor and the relevant State government compatriot indicating that the bus service provided to his area was inadequate both generally and specifically. Particularly when compared to that which appeared to service the Ashgrove area. Daniel implored the relevant politicians to reallocate the available resources so as to make the Aspley bus service more reflective of the published timetable and less akin to a guessing game or a round of pin the tail on the donkey.

The correspondence in reply to Daniel from Mr Protherow had been predictably lacking in insight Daniel thought. It said that there was no unusual timetable deviation on the Aspley route and the occasions where delays in the relevant services arriving had occurred were as a result of traffic congestion and / or unavoidable mechanical or personnel difficulties.

Arriving at work Mr Protherow found that his day was busy and was about to get a lot busier. There were also an unusual number of requests for his work vehicle, all work-related and all quite proper, but each one of them contributed to the demands made on his management skills. Two lengthy meetings scheduled for the following week had been unexpectedly brought forward to that day and both required his attendance and full participation. It was shaping up to be a day where his focus would need to be completely on what was in front of him and not on his later social life or recreation time. Whatever may have been his plans for lunch were effectively abandoned as the demands of his job that day would not permit him such an indulgence. Ten (10) minutes away from the office was seemingly ten (10) minutes too long and so the day was spent moving from one task to another and from one meeting to another.

No-one noticed any diminution in the work performance or contribution of Mr Protherow throughout the day. He was handling the demands of him admirably. Unfortunately those inclined to keep a watchful eye on Mr Protherow failed to notice the impact of his falling blood sugar levels because if they did, they would have noticed the tell tale signs of the drop and been able to assist him.

4:00 pm arrived before Mr Protherow had even had an opportunity to assess his progress and productivity for the day.  However the journey was by no means over, there were still two or three more mountains to climb. He thought he might see “daylight” at about 7:00 pm.

The demands for use of his work vehicle continued and showed no sign of abating. At 5:30 pm a request was made of Mr Protherow to borrow his work vehicle overnight, so that the task that required it in the first place might be completed. Mr Protherow anticipated no complications arising, so he agreed to that use of his vehicle. He thought that he could adequately be transported home on one of the Brisbane City Council buses. After all they were a significant part of his job and he was reasonably proud of the service they provided to the people of Brisbane.

So busy was the day for Mr Protherow that he had not even spoken to his wife since he left the house for work that morning. Usually he could find time for some conversation, even if it was no more than two minutes of “Hello, how are you? How is everything going?”  However the only contact that day provided was a text message from his wife at about 6:15 pm saying that the function that was entertaining her and the children would end at about 8:00 pm and then she would drive them home.

Shortly before 7:00 pm Mr Protherow saw his final meeting for the date conclude and as he watched the participants disperse, he noticed that he was the only member of his staff left in attendance. Apparently all of the others had gone home for the day. Upon returning to his desk after the rather long day, he noticed that no messages left for him required his immediate attention, so he too could promptly leave for the evening and do any tidy up work the following day. It was just after 7:00 pm by that stage and Mr Protherow remembered that the chemists able to dispense the insulin he needed would have closed. However, that did not pose any real problem he thought, as his wife had a sufficient supply to not only get him through the evening, but also well into the next day, by which time he could attend the chemist.

Mr Protherow tried telephoning his wife, but only got her voice mail. He thought she had probably turned off her telephone while she attended her function. He then thought if he caught a bus to Aspley he could meet her at the function at Aspley before it ended and go home with her and the children.  He could also attend to his blood sugar levels. I will look up the Aspley bus details, he thought, they will tell me where I might catch an Aspley bus, how long it would take to get to Aspley from the city and when the next bus was due to depart. Armed with that information he thought that he could comfortably get to the Aspley function before his wife and children left.

King George Square Bus Station
Mr Protherow found his way to the King George Square Bus Station and the particular stop where he understood he might catch the bus to his Aspley destination. Upon arriving at the stop he noticed people lined up for both the Aspley service and the Ashgrove service. He also noticed the information available about the timetables of those respective services indicated that they ran every 15 minutes and the difference between the Aspley service and the Ashgrove service was five (5) or ten (10) minutes depending on which way you looked at it. After sufficiently familiarising himself with the timetable for the Aspley service on display at the King George Square Bus Station Mr Protherow concluded that the next Aspley bus was scheduled to arrive in about five (5) minutes and that would have him at his destination well and truly in time to meet his wife and family.

Unbeknown to Mr Protherow also waiting at that stop on that occasion was Daniel Soames, the man to whom he had written earlier that month contending that no relevant flaws existed in the Aspley bus service and no inappropriate utilisation of resources or preference of resources occurred in respect of the Ashgrove bus service. Waiting with Daniel for the Aspley bus was his friend Angela whom he saw from time to time on the bus journey. Both Daniel and Angela were familiar with the machinations of the Aspley bus service by that stage and it did not surprise them when the bus for which they were waiting did not arrive in accordance with the advertised timetable. After the bus was more than ten (10) minutes late someone in the queue for the Aspley bus said “It looks like our bus is late again.” There were murmurs of agreement elsewhere in the queue. When fifteen (15) minutes passed someone in the queue said “Maybe the next bus will turn up.”

This was all new to Mr Protherow because his bus service ran efficiently and not in accordance with the complaints that he received, particularly like the complaint from Daniel Soames. With the 7:10 pm bus not arriving Mr Protherow focussed his attention on the 7:25 pm bus and was confident that it would satisfy his needs. Those needs were increasing because he was starting to feel the effects of his blood sugar deficiency.  It then occurred to him that his blood sugar levels was something to which he had paid an inappropriate amount of attention during the day. If that 7:25 pm bus arrived on time Mr Protherow felt he would meet his wife within sufficient time to take the glucose he needed without any further complications. He tried telephoning his wife again, but he continued to only get her voice mail, so he returned his focus to the next Aspley bus to arrive.

The definition of reliable understood by Angela and Daniel was not the definition of reliable Mr Protherow was expecting when the discussion amongst those waiting with him turned to the Aspley bus service. Angela commented to Daniel that the service was reliable and as usual the 7:25 pm bus was late, if it turned up at all. She also asked Daniel what progress he had made with the correspondence he sent to the relevant authorities about the Aspley bus service. Namely how the Ashgrove bus service does not seem to suffer the difficulties suffered by the Aspley service, difficulties which were readily apparent for the world to see that evening.

Daniel said to her, “It is interesting that you should ask that question, because I got a letter yesterday from a Mr Protherow at the Brisbane City Council telling me that there was no unusual timetable deviation on the Aspley route.  He said the occasions where delays in the relevant services arriving had occurred were as a result of traffic congestion and / or unavoidable mechanical or personnel difficulties. So therefore, Angela, the difficulties that we can see with our own eyes in respect of the Aspley service as compared to the Ashgrove service are not occurring and do not exist.”

Angela said, “Thanks for clarifying that situation for me and explaining that the two buses this evening that have not turned up are normal for this service. A situation not occurring with the Ashgrove service.  I would not like to be someone who was relying on this bus service for a serious situation.”

Daniel said “My sentiments exactly.”

Unbeknown to all concerned that conversation was overheard by Mr Protherow.  It caused him to revisit in his mind the complaint situation raised by Daniel earlier.  He now had a significantly different view of that complaint. By that stage Mr Protherow was becoming concerned as to his blood sugar level situation.  However he noticed the time was 7:30 pm, so he thought the bus would be along shortly.  He would be in a position to deal with his blood sugar levels with the help of his wife.

As fate would have it the faith of Mr Protherow in the Aspley bus service was unhealthy on a number of levels. Like the 7:10 pm bus before it, the 7:25 pm bus did not arrive and the ever-increasing line of patrons awaiting a bus for that service would have to wait until 7:40 pm before a bus arrived to take them to their destination.

On any view the Aspley bus situation was unsatisfactory for Mr Protherow and his needs. The demands of the day had taken its toll upon him and apparently on his thought processes, because his assessment of his situation was nowhere near as serious as in fact was the case. His health situation was deteriorating quickly and apparently significantly more quickly than he realised. Just after 7:30 pm one of the patrons in line with him waiting for the Aspley bus asked him if he was alright because he did not look well. He replied that he thought he would be okay.

Just after 7:35 pm Angela reached into her handbag and retrieved a partially eaten packet of Fruit Tingles. There were two left in the packet and she offered one of them to Daniel, who happily accepted the offer. Moments after those lollies were placed in their respective mouths the situation with Mr Protherow was revisited; he apparently went into hypoglycaemic shock. One of the people waiting for the bus noticed his situation and used the emergency telephone facilities nearby to call for an ambulance.

Unlike the Aspley route buses, the ambulance attended promptly. Unfortunately the deterioration of the condition of Mr Protherow was more serious than anyone anticipated and he died before the ambulance officers could treat him.

Underneath The Radar

There are a variety of things that I do, some of them will see the light of day in this blog. One of those things is occasionally I write short stories. One of those short stories I published on Twitter via @LightningTales. I thought I might give that story another outing here.

Underneath The Radar

In a world where lying is prevalent, so much so as to almost be the norm, telling the truth can prove to be an effective way of keeping under the radar.

Jason Haldis was invited to an annual family luncheon and gathering of the clan Toucan, the family of his friend Henrietta. Theirs was a platonic friendship, not one based on romance. Nevertheless he heartily embraced the opportunity to meet the clan Toucan and he looked forward to enjoying the festivities. Upon arriving at 11:30 am on that Sunday in November 2008 the process of meeting the many and varied members of the clan Toucan began. If the attendees at the gathering were in accordance with the expectations indicated to him by Henrietta, there would be too many people in attendance for Jason to reasonably expect he would be able to remember the names of everybody. The best he could hope for was to remember some of their names and not be embarrassed by any failure to do so.

After being at the luncheon for perhaps an hour, and having met and happily chatted to several of the family members, Jason ventured into the kitchen where Tamara Toucan was holding court and preparing part of the considerable food that was available on the day. Tamara was an attractive woman, who looked no more than her 35 years and was happy to be the centre of attention. Those who knew her might well tell you that she was happy that she had married well, something important to her, and was now living in her recently completed new house with her young son and adoring husband. A woman at ease with holding court and seemingly well practised at the art, she did not miss a beat in her food preparation when she noticed Jason walk into her open-plan kitchen area. Time for a little cross-examination of the newcomer, Tamara-social-style, she thought, for what is the point of a social gathering if available information from it cannot be obtained?

No one else was present when her questioning commenced, but that situation was soon to change. Tamara asked Jason directly, “What do you do?”  This provided Jason with the perfect opportunity to both tell the truth and allow those around think that his answer was comical and therefore not pay it much heed.

“I am a contract killer” he said smiling and without missing a beat, as if such an occupation was as legitimate as a plumber, doctor or house cleaner. By that stage others had ventured into the kitchen and Tamara shifted her attention from the newcomer to those with whom she was more familiar. The comment from Jason faded very quickly and his public confession as to his occupation, whilst made for all to hear, became considerably less important than Tamara being the centre of attention of those who already knew her. Apparently Tamara was able to resist the temptation of potentially adding another admirer to her list. Perhaps it was because the adulation of those who knew her was a safer investment than whatever the new man had to offer, no matter how charming he may have appeared.

With Tamara holding court amongst her friends and paying no attention to Jason, the opportunity to withdraw from the presence of Tamara and rejoin the remainder of the festivities was ideal.  Jason took the opportunity quietly.

The luncheon entertained Jason for another two hours and then he headed home.

Of all the many and varied members of the clan Toucan Jason met that day, Stamford, the husband of Tamara, was not one of them, nor was Fernando Gomez Alonzo, a very close friend of Stamford and his family.

Stamford Visits Fernando
In the week after the Christmas luncheon Stamford visited Fernando and discussed his life. Stamford said, “My life is much better now that I am not keeping the company of women who treat me poorly.” Fernando had helped to put Stamford back together on more than one occasion in the past, after he had been treated in an appalling fashion by the latest inconsiderate woman in his life. That female behaviour was not something that sat well with the devout Roman Catholic values held by Fernando. In fact, those who knew him well from time to time said to Fernando that the Spanish Inquisition would be a blessing for infidels compared to what Fernando would do to them, were Fernando ever to become King.

Those same friends and acquaintances of Fernando knew him to be a remarkable man: resilient, successful and seemingly possessed of an endless supply of accurate information about just about everybody; the kind of information that evokes the response, “How can you possibly know that information?”

Drinks by Invitation Only
In March of the following year (2009) Fernando telephoned four men known to him from diverse parts of his life and invited them to his house for drinks at 5:00 pm that Saturday. Andrew, the stock-broker, accepted the invitation, as did Walter, the reporter, Luke, the athletics coach and Adrian, the renovations manager. All four guests were unknown to each other and did not know of the invitation extended to the other three when the invitation was extended to and accepted by each of them.

On that Saturday afternoon, shortly before 5:00 pm and as if to prove the adage “It never rains, it pours”, all four guests arrived at the house of Fernando at pretty much the same time. Fernando greeted them all and led them to his entertainment area. He told his four guests that there was some business that required his immediate attention, however he did not anticipate it would take a great deal of his time and he would join them shortly. Some drinks and finger food were apparently available for consumption by his guests, so Fernando thought they would be able to entertain themselves, for the time being at least.

In the meantime his four guests introduced themselves to the drinks and the food and subsequently to each other. Initial conversation between them focussed upon the motivation for the respective invitations to this particular gathering. Nothing immediately came to mind for any of them, apart from their connection with Fernando and the conversation soon moved on to other topics. Walter the reporter even speculated that one stage, “If there is a reason Fernando has gathered us all here, then I am sure he will apprise us of that reason in good time. He is not one to beat around the bush.”

The guests seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting along well together. Luke, the athletics coach, walked around the entertainment area seemingly in an attempt to gain a greater appreciation of the premises that were hosting him. Not long after that sojourn commenced he noticed a framed photograph in a fairly prominent position. It appeared to be a fairly recent photograph of Fernando and he was flanked by a man and a woman. The photograph continued to capture the attention of Luke and he found himself paying more attention to it than the conversation that was going on around him. Closer inspection of that photograph showed Luke that the woman beside Fernando was Tamara Toucan, a woman with whom he had had a sexual encounter in the not too distant past. Luke noticed that the Tamara in that photograph was obviously resplendent in a wedding ring. The jewellery being worn by Tamara was not something that had previously come to the attention of Luke and its implications were not something of which he had been previously made aware.

In keeping with the “it never rains it pours” theme, as Luke became aware of the jewellery impediment adorning the left hand of Tamara, he sensed the presence of another very close by. He looked over his right shoulder and saw Adrian the renovations manager also apparently captivated by the photograph in question. After a few moments Adrian and Luke looked at each other and an uncomfortable silence came over them. Perhaps there was more to this invitation from Fernando then they had previously appreciated, they each thought.

By that stage the attention of Andrew the stockbroker and Walter the reporter had also been drawn to the now somewhat infamous photograph. Whilst none of the guests recognised Stamford in the photograph, his wedding ring was obvious and it seemed to match the wedding ring being worn by Tamara. Privately all four men were thinking that they all knew Tamara as a result of having a brief sexual encounter with her in the not too distant past.

The silence in the room suggested that no one was in a hurry to discuss the photograph or its subjects and each man wondered to himself what the reappearance of Fernando would bring. Up until that point the time during which Fernando was absent had passed pleasantly and seemingly without controversy. All four men seemed to be enjoying themselves and did not think that the event was a drag in any way, shape or form. Now their afternoon involved concern and uncertainty.

Twenty (20) minutes later, true to his word, Fernando returned to the fold before that uncertainty could morph into trepidation.  Whilst he is not one to make a grand entrance into a room, the reappearance of Fernando captured all the attention of his four guests.

No one else was apparently in the house of Fernando at that time and it seemed that the only sounds that were being made were the ones being generated from the entertainment area. Fernando did not bother getting a drink or anything to eat upon re-entering the entertainment area; rather he proceeded to where his guests were standing.

“By now you are probably wondering why I invited each of you here,” Fernando said. “It seems to me that you are standing a little too close to that particular photograph for it to be a coincidence. So it is convenient at this stage for me to share with you my thoughts. The other man in the photograph is Stamford Toucan, a very good friend of mine and a man whose family I have known for many years. The woman in the photograph is his wife Tamara, but each of you needs no introduction to her.”

Fernando the Formidable was clearly holding court and each of his guests knew him and his reputation well enough to not interrupt him in this mood.  Rather they knew to remain silent and listen carefully to what he was saying.

“Stamford has had more than his share of women in his life who have treated him poorly and I have helped to put Stamford back together on more than one occasion in the past. That female behaviour is not something that sits well with my Roman Catholic values, as you all know. It is certainly not behaviour I propose to endorse or encourage in his wife.”

“Gentlemen, this need not be a painful experience. I am well aware that each of you has had a sexual encounter with Tamara and that encounter occurred during the time when she was engaged to be married to Stamford. I trust none of you require me to expand further upon the details of those individual encounters.”

Fernando then looked at all four guests and noticed that each and every one of them were shaking their heads, seemingly confirming that no expansion upon the details of the relevant encounters was necessary. The confident men who had greeted Fernando shortly before 5:00 pm that day to participate in his drinks gathering had been replaced by men who wore faces of uncertainty, if not concern. The “By invitation only” audience was clearly attentive by that stage and perhaps even captive.

Adrian the renovations manager was the least comfortable guest with the circumstances in which he found himself.  He was the first of the four guests to speak at that stage.  He spoke during a period of silence from Fernando, brief though that period of silence may have planned to have been.

Adrian said, “I admit that I had a recent sexual encounter with Tamara, but I had no idea that there was another man around and she was certainly not wearing any jewellery on her ring finger when she approached me. As far as I was aware, she was single, footloose and fancy free and there was no harm in me accepting her invitation. If I had known that there was another man involved with her, I would have had nothing to do with her.”

Whether that revelation on the part of Adrian was part of a plan of Fernando was not clear by his mannerisms. However it was a development that Fernando embraced. After Adrian made his contribution to the discussion, Fernando looked at the faces of the other three guests and they all seem to be saying, “That is what happened to me.”  Fernando was a man sufficiently experienced in the world to know that very rarely do people lie in situations in which these four men had now found themselves. He took the view that today would not be a day where a Spanish Inquisition would be necessary.

“Adrian I accept what you say without question and I can see from the faces and the mannerisms of you other three men that you find yourselves in a similar position. I invited you here to enjoy my hospitality. I did not invite you here to play tricks on you. You have each provided me with clarification of the information I was seeking and I do not propose to make any more of the matter with any of you. I hope we can leave the matter there. I hope you can each enjoy the rest of the evening.”

As he finished speaking, Fernando thought he saw a significant improvement in the respective dispositions of all four of his guests. Fernando then got a drink for each of his four guests and one for himself, which he followed with, “Cheers gentleman: enjoy yourselves.”

All four of the guests took the drink offered and stayed to enjoy the hospitality. Fernando asked each of them about interesting or pleasant developments at their work,  managing to negotiate the transition to a happy social gathering rather successfully. No one mentioned Tamara or Stamford for the rest of the evening.

Each of the four guests stayed for about another hour and then one by one left to take up other social commitments they had made for the evening. Fernando saw them off individually and said to himself as each of them left, “They each arrived a happy man and seemingly left the same way. This was a successful night.”

Delivering a Package
At 10:30 am on the following Monday Fernando telephoned Jason Haldis, the Courier.
“Is that Jason the Courier?” Fernando asked.
“Who wants to know?” Jason asked
“I have a package I would like delivered to its final destination.”  Fernando said.
Jason replied, “Be at the Sidewalk Café, West End at 11:00 am tomorrow with an A4 sized yellow envelope containing details of the package.”  The telephone conversation then ended.

Fernando arrived for his 11:00 am meeting with Jason Haldis at about 10:45 am to discover that the Sidewalk Café, West End was more of a stand than a café and not an establishment conducive to significant on-site seated consumption. It was more of a place to place your order, take your coffee and keep moving. His attire and behaviour enabled him to blend well with his fellow café attendees, whilst the A4 sized yellow envelope he was carrying enabled him to be sufficiently conspicuous to his coffee date.

Jason arrived shortly after the stroke of 11:00 am and proceeded directly to the man with the A4 sized yellow envelope under his left arm. He said to Fernando, “I am going to order tea, what would you like?”

“I will have a cappuccino, thank you.” Fernando replied.

Jason then went to the counter and placed his order. Instead of waiting at the counter he returned to Fernando and had a conversation.

“I brought this for you” Fernando said whilst handing Jason the envelope.

Jason took the envelope and casually looked inside at its contents.

The photographs were of particular interest to Jason because they were of Tamara Toucan, the woman he met at the Christmas luncheon of his friend Henrietta Toucan. He remained stony faced and his demeanour gave away nothing when Fernando asked him, “Can you deliver the package?”
After a short pause Jason replied, “I do not anticipate any problems.”

By that stage their drinks were ready and they approached the café counter to collect them.

Jason said to Fernando “I will contact you when delivery has been completed.”

Fernando said, “Fine”.

With that both men went their separate ways.

Confession is Good for the Soul?
Three days later (Friday) Tamara met her girlfriend Sarah Jane for their semi-regular Coffee date at their local mega-shopping centre. Sarah Jane had no significant news to share and was happy to participate in a little girl talk. She was more than a little surprised to hear Tamara make an unsolicited confession of an episode of pre-marital infidelity whilst she was engaged to Stamford.

Completely unprepared for the unexpected news Sarah Jane spoke before she thought and asked Tamara, “Have there been any others?”

Tamara confidently said to her, “No, there have been no others.”

Sarah Jane found the news to be surprising and unsettling.  She immediately wanted to change the topic of conversation. If Tamara was looking for comfort from Sarah Jane upon making her confession, she chose her companion poorly, because Sarah Jane found herself not able to provide that comfort. The conversation soon turned to more innocuous issues and Sarah Jane found her disposition returned to normality fairly quickly. Half an hour later their coffee chat ended and they went their separate ways.

Shortly after leaving Sarah Jane Tamara was walking back to her motor vehicle, doing a little window shopping in the process. Along the way she saw a man she thought was vaguely familiar to her, but whom she could not immediately place or remember his name. Their meeting was no more than a pleasant “Hello” as they walked past each other at the shopping centre. Tamara continued her walk to her motor vehicle uninterrupted, but during that walk and her entire journey home she found herself trying to remember the identity of the familiar male face (Jason Haldis) from the shopping centre.

Upon arriving home Tamara found herself no closer to solving the identity puzzle. She decided to put the kettle on and make herself a cup of coffee.  Maybe then things would be clearer for her. All was in readiness for that coffee; she just needed the kettle to finish boiling. As the kettle whistled to signify its boiling journey had completed Tamara realised that the man she had seen earlier that day was Jason Haldis, a man she met in that very kitchen at the Christmas function she hosted some months earlier. She then reflected upon the conversation they had at that time and remembered that he had told her he was a contract killer.

By now Tamara had a firm grip on the handle of the kettle, which was still attached to its electrical power base. As she did so an enormous power surge travelled through the kettle and in turn her. That power surge proved fatal before Tamara hit the floor.