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.


  1. reactions differ according to our involvement in the facts...

  2. Yep Shadow - perspective is central. Thanks for the visit.

  3. Perspective is like a shadow it shape changes with the light

  4. I would have to know. She has come this far and wondered all her life about her mother's secret. No matter how bad it was I would think she could not control the desire to know the whole truth about something that had been a mystery to her for as long as she could remember.

  5. Yes Confused
    I do think the elephant in the room is the character/emotional need of those involved. And as you infer this can change with circumstances.

  6. Hi Judy
    Yes, this need does seem to have been a constant with Pip doesn't it? I am one of those people who likes to know what truth they're dealing with and then decide on how to work with it.

  7. Some secrets are best left uncovered, but I personally would rather know the truth. I can understand both decisions though.

  8. please come and have a look at this...

  9. Hey June: just finished reading pt. making them shorter to deliberately tease us?!

  10. I would want to know if only to silence the past and to move forward. Cheryl

  11. I agree June, I not only would want to know - I would need to know ! For instance, I really have a need to know about my Dad and how he came to be brought up with another family. I need to know too why his name was changed - weird ? So I definitely, like Pip would 'need' to know. By the by my Sister in law and her husband are going to Oz in 4 weeks to spend time with her friend of 40 years and she's going to Sydney, I'll pass on the photos on yer blog to give her an idea of what it looks like, though to be honest it kind of reminds me of Edinburgh and Oslo in Norway.. only the sun is shining in Sydney - we're stuck here with grey skies and cold mornings (with frost on car windows)... I had to scrape the ice off this morning when I took Rob to the Doc's.. Cheers for now 'cos it's now nearly midnight again and I've got another appointment with Rob to rub his gel on his back and pass him his Diazapam at 7 am tomorrow. (to relax his muscle spasms in his back) Methinks he is acting up a bit like most men his injured back is Broken - aye right! (typical man - he exaggerates ) ! Bye, Kate x.

  12. Jeannie that's the point isn't it? To each his own ...

  13. Thanks Shadow - much appreciated. I left a message on your blog ...
    I had a look at the other links too and I agree they're beauties.

  14. Sorry if it looked as though I was teasing - not true!
    Thing was I posted last moment before I set off to a conference for three days and wanted to leave all of you loyal 'Paternity' fans with SOMETHING, even though perhaps a little shorter than usual.
    Will make up with the next episode ... as soon as I come down to earth again. Life does get in the way of blogging occasionally.
    Did you enjoy ep 4?

  15. This last remark was for Braja ... Thanks mate!

  16. Cheryl - I'd certainly go with that myself.
    Next post very soon.

  17. Kate
    I do hope Rob is better and that you're getting more sleep!
    I will post some more pix of Sydney very soon - to prove that it has a character of its own.
    I wish (how I wish) I still lived within cooee of Sydney so I could visit more often - and then I could have met up with your friends.
    About your Dad - I do think your own writing of his story will make a difference. I may have said to you before - it's a bit like writing a letter about something that bugs you and then not posting it. The writing is the thing ...

  18. oooops, sorry, didn't see it. consider it a 'thank you' for a story-in-the-making i'm loving so far...

  19. Hi again Shadow
    Gosh don't be sorry! I appreciate it. It's just that blog awards were taking up so much time and I need that for writing. See ya soon.

  20. PS for Shadow
    'Paternity' is already a full novel that has gone through many many drafts. However, as is The Way of Writing I have now discovered a way of creating a better ending.

    What's happened of course is that the new ending will require other changes in the text so I am having to be very careful about anything I post.

    I didn't want to spoil things by giving everybody a read that was half baked. That's the reason for the shorter episode posted last time when I was going away.

    I'm sure you will be happier with the result though. It's worth the hiccup!

  21. You are amazing! I can see this kind of story on American television show Law and Order SVU (special victims unit). Thank you so much for sharing your writing with us and Happy New Year June.

  22. If you have powerful friends Laura - I'd look at any offer!
    Thanks for enjoying Pip's story.

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Thanks for leaving a comment. Its good to know who is having a peek! I will certainly send a comment in reply.

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Also, you may like to have a look at my other blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.

Cheers June