Friday, 20 March 2009

Second Last Episode of 'Paternity' an Original Australian Mystery Novel

This is Episode Eighteen of 'Paternity' in which Con Robson makes a move, and Frank has some good news and some bad news. Just one more episode before Pip's story is complete.


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

The ceiling fan buzzed, in the heat of this afternoon a gigantic insect, mesmerising.

After they returned from their walk and a counter meal at the pub, Joe had gone off to his room to catch up on email and Pip decided to spine bash – a rarity for her.

All seemed well with the world, even though she hadn’t yet got to the end of her quest to discover who her father was. Even though all was still up in the air about the rapists and George’s murder.

She supposed she was relaxed because everything she could do at the moment, she had done. Nothing left but to wait for the police investigation about poor George, with the hope of a DNA test on Robson at the end of that. And wait for the result of Frank’s own test.

The fan moved unnoticed as Pip mused on Joe’s presence.

She was pleased he’d turned up. It was good to feel that he was looking out for her, and things seemed safer now.

It was strange how easily they had slipped into enjoying each other’s company again, because they had hardly seen each other since they split up more than eight months before.
Mind you, there hadn’t been any trauma in the split so far as she was concerned. Simply, Pip hadn’t wanted to commit herself, and walked the other way.

She suspected all along that it was different with Joe. She always thought he was pretty serious, but that was his look-out, not hers.

Pip lay on the chenille bedspread for maybe half an hour, and then made her way down the hall to do battle with the plastic shower curtain in the bathroom. After the shower she did feel better in fresh shirt and jeans, and knew that she could murder a beer. It had been a hot day.

Pip trotted down the carved staircase and into the bar, now filling up with drinkers also anxious to quench their thirst. Without even glancing around the room, she ordered a middy of light and made for the usual round table and high stools which she and Frank had pretty well made their own of late. The old journalist was not there yet, and she expected that Joe would turn up soon.

Feeling the cool film of condensation on its side, Pip raised the glass. The beer froth bubbled against her lips, and for the first time she became aware of others in the room.

Particularly was she aware of one man – the man just one table away from hers.
He was a short tomato stake with a large nose, ineffectual mouth and weak chin. Con Robson was looking straight at her, a leer on his face. Pip made herself stare back.

She would not give him the satisfaction of giving an inch.

When it did seem appropriate she lowered the glass onto a cardboard KB poster on the table. Only then was the link between their eyes broken.

Pip turned towards the window, looking across the street and into the distance. Despite herself, her mind was a whirl.

A moment later, her peripheral vision told her that Robson slid off his stool and took the four steps to her table. He was so short that his eyes were at a level with hers as she sat there on the high stool.

‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get to fuckin’ hell out of town. Now.’ His voice rasped.
And then Con Robson turned on his heel and walked back to his table.

Pip hadn’t even finished her middy when Frank approached with two more – one for her.

'Why’s that prick here, showing himself?’ Frank nodded towards Robson.

‘Being obnoxious as usual. That’s what.’

‘He hasn’t had a go at you again?’

‘Just told me to get to hell out of town. Nothing I can’t cope with.’

Robson could have read Frank’s body language a mile away. He was furious.

She looked towards the door and saw that Joe was coming down the stairs. Pip’s army of guards had all reported to duty at once.

‘I’d say that little threat was Con Robson’s last hurrah,’ said Frank.

The three journos had been in the bar together for an hour, and were making short work of any bar nibblies that came their way.

Five minutes before Con Robson had oozed past them and out the door to the street, as though he needed to be somewhere else. He had been drinking alone throughout, seemingly friendless.

‘Have you heard any more from the police?’ Joe looked towards Frank.

‘Yep. The good sergeant has Gazza teetering on the edge of cooperation. He thinks it’s just a matter of time now before Gaz comes across and that means charges will be laid against Con too. Rape and murder.’

‘That can’t come quickly enough.’ Pip could feel her teeth grinding against one another, and they all became engrossed in their individual thoughts.

Joe was the first to speak again: ‘By the way, there’s some good news for the town, thanks to you Magee.’

‘Really? Has the story brought some results?’

‘Yes, the Minister announced this afternoon that there will be an official heliport established here to cater for health emergencies. Well done!’

Frank went off to interview a local councillor and Joe and Pip were having a quiet time in a little space that was formerly graced with the name ‘ladies’ lounge’, at the back of the pub. The room had a somewhat moth eaten carpet and the walls were adorned with a dozen framed photographs of town luminaries of the past – all men.

There were half a dozen brown coloured lounges and some hard backed chairs, and a television set with a small screen in a corner. In the late afternoon light, dust motes danced in the air – a measure of how little the place had been used (or cleaned) lately. Even so, it was good to be away from the noise in the bar, Pip mused.

Joe handed her a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and they began munching in between sips of light beer.

‘How long do you need to be here now Magee?’

Pip hadn’t thought about when she’d go back to the city; she’d been far too caught up with happenings in the bush town.

‘I’d like to hang around to see what happens with Con Robson.’

‘But we can find out everything we want to know from the Daily …’

Pip shrugged her shoulders. ‘I don’t know. I’d just like to be here when it happens.’

‘If it happens.’

‘Mmmm. If it happens. I’ll stay just a couple more days. You’d think if Gazza is going to implicate Con in the rape, and then the murder, it should be soon. At least that’s what Frank says.

‘Once he’s charged I can start proceedings to get his DNA tested. It would probably be easier to do that here, on the spot.’

‘Okay, I’ll hang in here too. I’ve got some leave coming to me, and I reckon you need a back-up.’

Pip squeezed Joe’s hand in gratitude.

Joe had just come back to the lounge with another couple of light beers when Frank wandered in with a bounce in his step and bearing a middy of his own.

‘Do you want to hear the good news first, or the bad?’

‘I think we’ll have the good stuff first eh? Might make us feel stronger.’

‘Gazza has dobbed in Con Robson on both the murder and the rape, and the sergeant made the arrest not long after Con left the pub. Is that good news or what!’

‘Wonderful. I can’t believe it!’

Pip stood up and jumped towards Frank, almost knocking the beer from his hand in her effort to give him a bear hug.

‘That is just the best news ever. Joe – what d’you think about that!’

‘Amazing Magee. Bloody amazing that’s what it is. Let’s drink to the sergeant of police.’

‘And to a long closeted life for Con Robson,’ added Frank, holding his beer in the air briefly in salute, before tossing off half of it.

Pip sat on the lumpy old lounge and burst into tears. She sobbed and her shoulders shook, there in Joe’s arms.

And when her tears had almost dried Frank patted her shoulder, a tear in his own eye. ‘I’ll get us a bottle of wine and it’s my shout for dinner at the Greek’s. Agreed?’

‘What about the bad news?’

‘That can wait until we get some tucker under our ribs.’

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.

So … what will be the bad news? The story of Pip Joe and Frank draws to a CONCLUSION in our next chapter of ‘Paternity’.

Be sure to watch out for this next exciting and FINAL EPISODE, as all good authors would say. It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for!

What will happen next? Tell me in a comment ...