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‘I think you should take Carl home,’ I said. ‘It ends here, Grey.’

Grey looked at me steadily. I could feel my control going; my face was cold although the air in the room was warm and I was ready to start shaking inside. I didn’t have much talk or authority left in me.

‘The video,’ Grey said.

‘I’ve got it. You keep your bloody operation out of Sydney for six months and I’ll mail it to you.’


I had to hurry; I could feel myself unravelling. ‘Right. Australia Post. I’ll send it to Mr John Grey, General Delivery, Perth GPO. Okay?’

‘Why Perth?’

‘Perth’ll do. You’ll manage.’

‘Yes,’ Grey said. He took out a handkerchief and wiped the tapes. Then he put them in a pocket; he kept the bloodied handkerchief in his hand.

I gestured with the gun. ‘On your way. This is the big city. I don’t think you fit in.’

Flabby shuffled towards the door. Peroni tore his eyes away from Kelly, and looked at Grey who nodded. They moved after Flabby.

‘I want my gun,’ Peroni said.

‘Tell you what I’ll do, Carl. If you piss off now, I won’t leave it here for the cops to find.’

They went down the hall and out of the apartment. I closed the door and listened for their steps on the gravel, and finally the sound of a car engine. A little fresh air had come in while the door was open, and I leaned against the wall and breathed it for a while with my eyes closed. Then I collected Peroni’s gun, the video and Mountain’s manuscript. I wiped the glass I’d used, doused the lights in the apartment and went out through the french windows at the side.

There was a promise of dawn in the sky, and the light night breeze already had a touch of warmth in it. There were a few lights burning in the apartments, but no sound or movement. Ginny Ireland’s silver VW was standing crookedly in its parking space and one mudguard was a crumpled ruin. There was a pair of shoes in the middle of the path to her door. I walked out to the street, and it took me a long time to get the key in the lock and open the door. My hand was shaking, so the ignition key jiggled automatically and the engine started sweetly.

I drove home watching for a tail and not seeing one, and so tired and shaken that I could hardly keep the car in top gear. I approached the house carefully, went in quickly with my two guns, and found the usual still emptiness. With the doors locked, I treated myself for shock and fatigue with aspirin and whisky, and slept for a couple of hours in my clothes on the couch. I woke up with the video cassette in my pocket digging into me and a shaft of light shining into my eyes.

The phone blipped briefly, but the machine picked up the call. I cleaned myself up, made coffee and sat down to look at Bill Mountain’s book. It was typed on yellow A4 paper, double spaced and with wide margins. There was no title page and the pages were unnumbered. I leafed through it, page by page at first and then turning them over in ten page batches. The typescript had no chapter divisions and no headings. There was no punctuation. The lines of type switched from upper to lower case at random. It was written in English, French and German and at least half of it was in no language at all, gibberish.