Monday, 19 January 2009

What a Picnic! - Episode 15 of 'Paternity' an Australian Mystery Novel


This is Episode Fifteen of 'Paternity' in which Pip goes on a picnic and support comes from a mate in Sydney in her quest to find out who her father was.


And please leave feedback in a comment at the end of this instalment.

The bedroom door swung back and Frank stared at her from the corridor. ‘What is wrong Pippin? You look terrible.’

Pip hadn’t given a thought to her appearance. She had simply wanted to see a friendly face.

She turned into the room and glanced at the dressing table mirror, hardly recognising herself – red face still with an expression of fright, and hair on end.

They sat on either side of the bed and Pip told Frank what had happened with Robson and Gazza, including the sighting in the bar and the ambush at the dark end of the main street.

Frank became obviously furious. He began pacing between the bed and the door, not saying much, but with jaw set and fists in a ball. He was probably resisting lighting up a make-your-own cigarette.

‘Those bastards must be stopped!’ he roared suddenly ‘They have been terrorising people for too long.’

‘Yep.’ Pip was looking at the carpet, not noticing the stains, but thinking of the long line of people these men had damaged with impunity – beginning naturally, with her mother Violet Selene. ‘Yep. They must be stopped.’

Frank said he’d heard over at the District Court that the sergeant was working on implicating Robson in the rape. He had hopes that Gazza would succumb to pressure as his own assault trial drew near, but Gazza had been given bail.

It occurred to Pip that Frank did not know about George’s death.

‘You don’t know about George do you?’

‘George? In Westmead Hospital?’

‘Frank … George died.’

Pip nodded.

‘Irene Rouse told me today that he died only hours after he was taken off the helicopter. The road trip and the flight had been too much for him.’

Stunned, Frank was silent for a full minute, struggling with his feelings.

‘Poor old George.’

Then he turned to Pip. ‘Mate, that makes it murder! Those blokes are facing murder. That certainly raises the stakes. I wonder if they know.’

‘Oh I reckon they’d know and I reckon it’s quite likely that Gazza will be sitting in a cell again real soon.’

'We can only hope,' said Pip.

‘And my police sergeant friend will be working on him about the rape as well.’

Frank said that splitting on Con could become a matter of self-preservation for Gazza now that the assault charge was one of murder. The police will say ‘You help us, we’ll help you,’ and make a deal, he said.

‘Gazza will have a lot more bargaining chips if he gives evidence against Con on the rape matter as well as the murder. He’ll be sorely tempted, and that would sure bring down Con’s little deck of cards.’

Pip felt full of beans next morning and beat Frank to the dining room for breakfast. She was chopping a banana to give some flavour to her bowl of cornflakes when the house maid came in from the kitchen and walked straight to her table.

The cook had just relayed the news that Gazza was in gaol after being re-arrested overnight and was likely to be charged with George’s murder any time soon.

‘It’s the best thing I’ve heard for months!’ Maisie the maid had no time for Gazza.

The heavy young woman was making off with a pile of dirty plates from the next table when Pip’s mobile rang.

It was Joe in his office at the city daily.
‘G’day Magee. The agencies are saying there’s been a murder in your favourite country town and that the mechanic fella Gazza has been charged. Didn’t you think he was the rapist?’

‘Yes Joe. One of them …’


‘Yes and the man who was murdered was another.’

‘Another of the rapists? How did you know about this?’

There was a silence but Pip seemed to feel that Joe’s brain was whirring, making connections.

‘This hasn’t anything to do with those investigations of yours? You haven’t stirred up a hornets’ nest?’

‘You could say that Joe. You could say that there may be a connection.’

More silence. More imaginary whirring.

‘Pip. Where are you? You’re not …’

‘Yep. I’m here Joe. Right at the scene of the crime.’

‘You are mad!’

‘It’s where I want to be mate.’

‘Please Pip. Please have some sense…’ Joe seemed to be almost in agony, ‘Hey. Just how many rapists were there? One’s in gaol and one’s dead. Is that it?’

‘There were four all up. Another one dead and the fourth is the local solicitor here. He’s the cutest of all.’

‘Shit mate … Are you there alone? Do you have anyone helping out? I mean how long do ya reckon on staying?’

‘Joe I’m okay. Do you remember Frank Rolls?'

‘The old chief of staff?’'

‘The same. Well he’s come a bit of a cropper and is the editor of the local rag here. He’s with me – and helping out.’

‘I can’t believe you sometimes! He’s a good bloke but he’s past it - no help at all. You need a keeper. I’m comin’ down.’

‘But your job …’

‘I’ve got some time off coming to me. And I could file a story or two anyway. I’m coming down!’

Pip stared at her suddenly silent mobile. Joe was in his mood that will not take no for an answer.
She took hold of the little phone and placed its still bright face against her cheek, remembering Joe’s blue eyes.

She found the proximity very comfortable.

Frank had finally made it down to breakfast and asked her if she’d come for a drive with him, as he had something important to say. He didn’t want to discuss the matter where they could be interrupted … and that excluded the pub and his office.

Pip’s theory was that he had news about police interrogations of Gazza.

Later that morning Frank picked her up in his Holden and turned north, leaving the pub and the town in their wake.

The old journo seemed a bit on edge and remained quiet except for an occasional bit of stilted small talk. They drove for probably five kilometres and turned down a track that led to a meandering burbling creek in a little valley.

Here Frank pulled into a clearing.
It was a beautiful spot, and the day was blue with a gentle cooling breeze.

To Pip’s great surprise, Frank opened his car boot to extract a picnic table and two canvas directors’ chairs. He set them up under a sprawling gum tree and spread out a check tablecloth from a hamper. Then he laid out a bottle of red wine, two glasses and some soft cheese and crackers, and invited her to be seated. There were even table napkins to match the cloth.

It was an understatement to suggest that Pip was astonished.

When Pip was settled on one of the chairs and facing the sparkling creek, Frank sat on the other, opposite her.

He uncorked the Cabernet Savignon, poured a regulation amount into each glass and placed one in front of Pip and left one for himself. He placed the cheese platter within easy reach of Pip.
Frank leaned forward until his green eyes looked deeply into hers.

‘I .. .. have some news.’


‘I’ve been over at the District Court as you know.’


‘And doin’ some research in between my stories.’

Frank shuffled his feet and re-settled himself on the director’s chair.

‘This is very difficult.’

‘That’s okay. Shoot.’

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.

Do you enjoy picnics?



  1. June, Why in the hell are you asking about picnics? Who cares about picnics? We want to know what he is about to tell her! Criky, or whatever it is you all say over there! Talk about leaving us hanging! You sure did this time. I could not believe that was it for this episode. Guess I have no other choice but to wait till next time. You devil

  2. You are so FEARCE Judy! I'm ducking for cover in case you get out that six gun you told us about recently. Crikey!
    Even the heading said it was about a picnic.
    No care taken, no responsibility for people who don't take things literally (literary?) here.

  3. June, I hope you know I am just playing with you and this was all in fun. You know how involved I am in this novel. It is one of the best I have read in years! I don't usually read fiction and can't believe how I am enjoying this one. Just goes to show what a wonderful writer you are!!!

  4. Dear Judy, of course we both wrote our comments in absolute fun. I was chuckling as I wrote mine. The bit that may have had you questioning was probably meant to be a smart (?) play on words.
    We could never really misunderstand each other.
    I really love the fact that you enjoy the story and thanks for telling us about that. Sorry if I caused even a moment of anxiety for you.

  5. Er is a treasure..he is one of my favorites too..:)

  6. Love your comment confused - there is something special about 'er'.

  7. Hi June,
    You are the mistress of leaving us hanging! My mind just spins.

    If Frank has taken her out there to tell her he had an affair or even one night stand with Selene- he better have a darn good reason for not mentioning this up until this point. (I’m going to be real mad at him!)

    Great Chapter, June. You’re just wonderful.

    And-yes you can use my near ‘carjacking’. That kind of crime is really quite common in L.A.

    None of us know how we’ll react when something like that happens. What I learned in later self defense courses is that I did the right thing. If he had made his way into my car, God only knows.

    I was actually a bit more traumatized by it than I shared. It took me some time to get past it- but I did with the support of some good friends.

  8. Hey Judy- I'm not playing with June and you have a point. This is the way we do it in L.A.:

    We want longer chapters!We want longer chapters!We want longer chapters!We want longer chapters!We want longer chapters!We want longer chapters!

    Big hugs Ms. June.

  9. VIKKI my girl: Take around the hat - $100 bills only - and we can chat about bigger servings.
    I will withstand the pressure!

    As for Frank - he can answer for himself. I'm not buying into this.

    Seriously though Vikki - that was a horrible experience and at first I wasn't sure that you weren't having a lend of me - it happening in Hollywood and all. I can absolutely understand that you would have felt creepy about it for some time.


  10. ‘That’s okay. Shoot.’ OoooohHhh... what is Frank about to divulge??? (I can't believe you ended it on that note (lol)) June - another strong, well-written chapter. p.s. I absolutely love picnics and with strawberries and cream to finish off too!

    Thanks for the nice words.
    I don't know whether Frank would stretch to strawberries and cream - but he is full of surprises.

  12. Oooooooo, what is he going to tell her? I must know! Brilliant June! I love it,, keep going! :-)

  13. A short one but a goodun ! Now the plot thickens, hhmmmmmmmm Cheryl

  14. Yes Cheryl - quality rathr than quantity! I wonder what will happen next?


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Cheers June