Saturday, 22 November 2008

PATERNITY Episode 4 - an Aussie Mystery Novel

Here is Episode 4 of my ongoing mystery novel Paternity the story of a determined young Sydney journalist's quest to discover who her father was. The search takes her to an outback Australian town where she renews the friendship of a former workmate and daily editor, now reduced by the demon drink to a position as hack on the local newspaper.


Pip didn’t go back to the Guardian office that afternoon: she couldn’t face any questions. Instead she bought a hamburger from the take away counter at the pub and ate it in her bedroom. She drank water from the crockery jug. Pip wanted to think.

So. Selene was raped as a virgin, according to the paper, at the age of 22. June 24 1975. Almost nine months before Pip’s own birth.

It looked as though her father was a rapist.

The thought scorched her.

How can I reconcile
These men —

Animals of the night —

With the human being                                                                                                                              Who is my Dad?

Was he gang leader

Or gutless follower,

Too weak
To say no?

Did he even look at her?

Note terror in her eyes?
Feel the rush of her breath

as he crushed her?

Or was she just

A space

To fill?

Did he hear screams

As he pierced her softness,

Invaded secret places

Where none had been before?

He must have felt involved

In some way
To leave …
His seed.

I hate him With a fervour
Whoever he was.

There in the town where it all began, a single tear trickled down Pip’s face, followed by a flood.

The pub pillow
Soft and white,

Cradles my head.

But Selene’s secret

Sucks my soul

Into a vortex

Of regrets.

Other kids
Had fathers.
Not me.
I used to think ...
What’s it like

To have

A football hero Dad?

Or one who turns his hand

At making a swing

To rock me                                                                                                                                                 With love?

If things were different

Would my Dad

Have played ball
And taught me to swim?

Would I be so fond of reading

And writing

As now I am?

Or would rock music be

My passion?

Or climbing mountains?

Part Six

Frank took his feet off the solid old desk and walked out of the office to meet Pip at the Guardian premises. She’d seen him through the dusty window and it looked as though he had been slumped on his chair, deep in thought.

‘Pippin … the page with the photograph that you left on the desk last night ... when you went out in a rush. Was that what you were looking for?’

Pip wanted to roll into a ball. Instead, she nodded and lowered her body into the chair she’d been using the day before.

Frank picked up the file and stared at the faded old picture. He too was dredging it for information, and seemed loathe to speak.

The ticking of the big old clock in the corner filled the room, and the second hand moved a full sweep of the Roman numerals on its dial.

‘Is this the personal bit you wanted help with, or part of your commission?’

‘The personal bit Frank.’

‘Yeah? You know this woman?’

Once again Pip felt her body curl inwards on itself. Her eyes were damp when she looked up.

‘She was my Mum,’ Pip choked.

Ever the comforting bear, Frank engulfed her in his arms.

‘My god,’ he murmured.

‘Come on, we both need a drink.’

The foregoing is excerpted from Paternity by June Saville. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.


Put yourself in Pip's shoes - how would you feel about all of this? Would you want to know? Or do you agree with me that we all have different reactions to situations and that one person's needs may be another's nightmare?

Please tell me in a comment. Next episode coming up.