Anticipation

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“Getting a birds-eye view is unusual for me. I’m usually talking to a specific person, even if I don’t know who that person is,” I said.

“Unusual, is right!” said the detective with a mustard stain on his well-worn suit.

“If you don’t have anything intelligent to add Detective Johnson, then shut it,” said the Inspector in charge of the investigation.

I hadn’t worked with her before, and I was surprised to be asked.

From what I could ‘see’, she was driven, recently separated and was hopeful of having children. All of that was true for now, but over time, some would turn out to be accurate, and some would not, only time would tell.

My eyes told me that she was about five foot five, stylishly dressed, heals, no earrings (but her ears were pierced), trim with wide hips and a commanding personality. She didn’t have to raise her voice to achieve authority.

“This is a first for her,” said the female detective who’d led me to the squad room, “don’t fuck it up.”


Requests for my services had been constant but sporadic. I gave my time when I could, and the cynical attitude of some of the force was tiring.

My favourite contact is a lowly sergeant in homicide. He’s worked his way up through the Tactical Response Group. His abilities are as good as mine, but he sometimes likes to have a second opinion.

I asked him once about the dangers he faces, especially in the Tactical Group.

“I listen when I get the feeling that it might be terminal if I go down that alley alone. They look after me.”

I was getting nervous, but I ploughed on.
“From what I can see, it’s night time. There is some sort of orange light coming from my right as I look at the scene. The body is lying on the ground, and a man is standing next to it. The ground is free of vegetation, but I can see small trees a few metres away. There is evidence of a stream off to the right. I don’t think the standing person is the assailant. He can’t take his eyes off the body, but he doesn’t touch it. He’s lightly dressed. Too lightly dressed — it’s cold out there. The victim doesn’t look like someone who has fallen or been pushed. She looks like she’s sleeping. The young man is unsure whether to wake her. Does any of this make sense?” I said.

Silence.

I look at the Inspector, and I can tell she is trying to figure out how I know these things. This happens every time. Inevitably, I’ll be asked where I was on the night of the fourteenth — it never fails. 

There are only two ways I could know these things — either I really can ‘see things’, or I did it. 

It’s why I almost stopped being involved in homicide.

“Yes, it does. Very helpful,” said the Inspector.

Several of the detectives had been taking notes as I spoke.

“This is all complete bollocks,” said Detective Johnson.

The Inspector turned in his direction, and I put my hand out and stepped slightly in front of her.

“Detective Johnson. Is that your name?” I said without waiting for a reply.

“You are still married, but only just. Your wife used to iron your shirts for you, but not any more. You don’t believe in any ‘mumbo-jumbo’ as you put it (two detectives laughed) because you grew up Catholic and your faith let you down. Father Patric? Tall bloke, young and very friendly. You wince inside anytime someone uses the word faith.”

“You’re just making that stuff up. Could apply to anyone.”

As a rule, I try not to hurt anyone with the information that comes my way. This bloke was making me rethink that rule.

“Your girlfriend, —?” I noticed the young uniformed female at the back of the room stiffen in her seat, “do you want me to go on?”

Detective Johnson remained silent.

All eyes were on me as I took a step back. They were probably hoping I would complete the sentence.

“You all have your assignments. I’d like to thank Mr Page for coming in to help us,” said the Inspector. 

She turned to me, “The officer will show you out.”

I’d been dismissed.

I may find out if my information helped, but maybe not. Once you are no longer useful, you don’t have their attention — until the next time the trail goes cold.

“How did I go?” I said as we walked back to the front desk.

The young police officer put her hand out to take my security pass.

“It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t comment,” she said without emotion.

“You don’t think he did it, do you?” I said.

The young woman looked me in the eye but did not answer.

“Your family are very proud of you. They want you to know that. They don’t want you to worry about them.”

The young woman was still looking at me, but now there was a different expression on her face.

“Thank you,” she said, and her hand touched my arm.

I knew that touch.

It’s almost involuntary in those who have caught sight, ever so briefly, of the ones they love.

I didn’t go straight home. I needed a moment.

I don’t know any of these people, alive or dead and it isn’t my job to worry about them, but they leave their mark on me. A stiff whisky and a bite to eat helps me to come back to earth.


The police officers I deal with see it as their duty to find those who kill. They don’t understand when I tell them that those who have gone won’t tell me who took their life, sometimes because they didn’t know that person when they were alive, and sometimes because it doesn’t matter to them.

The living care about death — violent and otherwise.

The dead have other concerns, but they take pity on us and share some of the details.

I stand in the middle of all that.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are just things I have to endure.

If you are wondering why I didn’t ask the young police officer out for a drink?

She has a boyfriend and three kids.

Not now, but in her future and he is the right one for her.

I listen when I’m told.

Another whisky and I’m off home.

No, they don’t tell me what’s in store for me, and I would not want them too.

Anticipation is half the delight.

For What Seemed Like Forever

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“Charlie Varick? I’ve been working for him for about four years, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

The question came out of nowhere, and it really pissed me off. It’s a job, what difference does it make? When I go home, I leave work at work.

“What difference does it make? He’s a fucking private eye, and he uses you as a decoy.”

“I’m his secretary, and the decoy stuff only happens every now and then. Mostly, it isn’t dangerous, and mostly I answer the phones and make appointments. Of course, there is coffee and dry cleaning, but mostly it’s answering phones.”

My parents were in town for a couple of days, and I was glad to see them; well ‘glad’ is probably too strong a word, but it was good to see them. Parents should be kept at a distance that is directionally proportional to the amount of shit they put you through as a kid. Mine weren’t that bad but using this formula they should be at least 427 kilometres away at all times.

I’m 26 years old, gorgeous and leggy with long black wavy hair that men hold on to when they are making love to me. Not that there are that many of them.

I like men, just in small doses.

Not small in the way you are thinking, just small in the sense of time I have to spend in close proximity. Charlie’s different, but he is old, at least 47 years old, and he is taken, but he treats me like I’m someone. Like I count in the grand scheme of things. I guess he is so relaxed because he is old, and old people don’t worry so much about stuff.

My dad was wound up, but I know it was my mum who put him up to it.

“We just want you to be safe; safe and happy. That’s all your mother, and I have ever wanted.”

“I know dad.” Things seemed to be calming down now that the shouting had stopped.

It was still early. Hotel restaurants tend to wind down around 9:30 pm, and it was now way past that, so we had the room to ourselves except for the girl at the bar and the waiter who was doing a little shuffle that was Morse code for ‘they don’t pay me past 10:00 pm even if you are still here drinking coffee, and I have a home to go to, and my dog misses me’.

It was a complicated dance.

My father, mother and I talked about nothing for another fifteen minutes before my dad signed the bill, and they went up to their room. I stood and watched as they walked up the staircase. My mother clung to the handrail as though it was saving her from a sinking ship. My dad negotiated the stairs easily enough because he never used elevators unless he absolutely had to.

I asked him about it once, and he said that it was his small concession to keeping fit, but I think it had more to do with the stories that his father brought home.

 

 His dad was a fireman, and he would be called out to rescue cats and people, and sometimes he was expected to free individuals who had been trapped — sometimes these people had been stuck in elevators, and he delighted in terrifying his children with stories of people who had gone insane after being stuck in an elevator for six hours.

“One bloke tried to chew his arm off, which seemed pointless to me. It wasn’t as though they had him in handcuffs — he was trapped in a lift for fuck sake. Now if he had tried to eat through the door, that I could understand, but his arm — that’s just nuts.”

I sat on the overstuffed couch in the hotel’s foyer and tried to collect my thoughts.

I still had half an hour before I was to meet Charlie at Bar Alfredo on Little Collins Street. I walked the short distance up Collins and turned left onto Exhibition. Little Collins was the first on the left, and the bar was about two hundred metres down.

This end of the street had been disrupted by building activities for nearly two years, which made it difficult to negotiate on foot, or by car. The street was already very narrow, and its name gave a hint. ‘Little’ Collins Street was originally an access road for the rear of the more significant and grander edifices on Collins Street. Deliveries would be made, and tradesmen would be admitted.

It was best to keep the grubby people out of sight.

These days the ‘Little’ streets were home to trendy bars and eateries as well as exclusive apartments and the occasional clothing shop.

The footpath on both sides is extremely narrow, and I was forced to step out onto the road to let a large, rude man pass by. He looked vaguely familiar until I remembered I had not seen him before — he was exactly how Charlie had described the man I was supposed to ‘distract’.

 “He’s big, about 40 years old, always wears a dark suit with a red handkerchief in his top pocket, and he smells like lemons. He will be sitting at the bar because he always sits at the bar. Third stool from the far end as you come in the front door.”

I had the feeling that these instructions and this description were going to go to waste.

To get to Bar Alfredo, I first had to walk past a narrow laneway and at this time of night, the laneway was in complete darkness. Being a female living in a big city, I avoided dark laneways because I wanted to go on ‘living in the big city’.

As I looked into the darkness, I saw Charlie lying in a pool of his own blood.

I say ‘saw’, but that’s not what I mean. I didn’t see him with my eyes; I saw him in a vision. The dark laneway was like a giant projector screen, and on it, I saw Charlie’s exact location, as though it were daylight.

I used my phone to light the way to the spot that I knew Charlie would be lying. He was behind some boxes with a single knife wound in the middle of his chest.

I would love to say that he lived long enough to look into my eyes and tell me who had killed him. I would like to tell you what his last words were and that he had smiled before he died, but I can’t.

He was gone by the time I got to him — warm but gone.

I sat next to him for what seemed like forever and thought about my life and wondered what Charlie thought when the large man in the dark suit took his life. I wondered what my life was going to be like from now on. I wondered if my mum and dad had gone to sleep yet.

I don’t remember ringing anyone, but I must have because an ambulance arrived closely followed by the police.

The weather was warm, so why there was so much fog? And why did my voice sound funny, and why was the police officer mumbling?

When I came to, I was sitting on the back step of an ambulance with an oxygen mask on my face. A young policeman was trying to get my attention, and the ambo wanted him to give me a break.

“Give her a minute mate; she’s had a rough night.”

The policeman ignored the world-weary ambulance driver. The brash young policeman considered civilians to be annoying. They kept passing out or screaming or generally being uncooperative. He just wanted to get a statement so he could get back on patrol. The homicide detectives would be along very soon, and they would shoo him away like an unwanted blow-fly.

“Miss? Miss? How did you know he was in that alley? Did you hear something? Did you see anyone come out of the alley?”

I was trying to decide which question to answer first when it occurred to me that this was all very strange.

“I had a vision, which was weird. I don’t normally get visions at night-time. I always get my visions in the morning.”

The police officer stopped asking me questions after that, and he and the ambo were looking at each other with the strangest expression on their faces. I don’t think that they believed me, and I wanted them too. This was a first for me.

A pair of plain-clothed detectives arrived and scooped me up heading me towards their car, but before I got in, I gave it one last try to convince my interrogator.

“I really did see him lying there, in the dark, which was weird. I always get my visions in the morning.”

Whispers Under The Wing.

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This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

Five is the perfect number; any more than that and bad things happen.

I was a white fella living in a house with a bunch of blackfellas; a whole family in fact. Uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins, with a few aunties and a distant cousin thrown in for good measure. Fortunately, the house is huge. It was built for some mega rich bloke a decade or so after the gold rush. Melbourne was awash with gold money and grand houses were all the rage. Pointless being rich if you couldn’t show off, and a huge house on a big chunk of land was the best way to show that you had more money than the next bloke.

Over time, most of the land had been subdivided and sold off as various owners needed cash. The house needs a bit of work, but it is in amazing condition considering it is about one hundred and forty years old. It stands four stories high with large majestic windows. Every bedroom has its own fireplace and a carved wooden fire surround with scenes depicting Australian flora and fauna. There are many other carved pieces throughout the house and it is these features that are said to have influenced Billy’s grandmother to choose this house.

Billy was the first to make his mark; the first to make his fortune, and in the tradition of the blackfella, if one member of a Koori family makes it big, all members of the family share in that good fortune.

Lightening struck many times with this family and soon Billy’s brother’s followed in his musical success while his sister’s paintings found a market. Many of the cousins are musicians, and painters, and potters, and you name it; if it is creative, at least one member of this huge family is into it, which is just as well as it costs a small fortune to keep this house running. Koories don’t go nuts when they come into money, not like whitefellas do, but even so the house eats up a big chunk of change.

Kooris are an accepting lot but even so, bringing me into the house caused a bit of tension; the only whitefella to be seen.

The neighbours are all white, of course, and they are patiently waiting for this huge family to sell up just so they can get their property values to rise again. I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.

The way we got together is way too long a story but the important part is that we did, and it only seems to work if all five of us are ‘under the wing’ at the same time. I’m always on the end, which is the worst place to be if something goes wrong.

Back in the day, back when the family members discovered this ability, the younger members experimented with the idea of adding more people to the wing. Trouble is, just like the rest of life, if you pick the wrong people, shit happens.

Someone thought that the ability would get stronger the more people you added, but as I said before, five is the magic number, and the right five at that.

So, the young ones kept adding more and more people until one day they found this bloke lying in a ditch with symptoms just like someone who had been struck by lightning.

The Elders stepped in and forbade any further experimentation, but you know young people. Every now and then some teenager is found all dazed and singed, with his hair standing straight up and smouldering.

Billy always takes the centre spot with his brothers on each side, the annoying cousin gets the end spot on Billy’s right and, as the newcomer, I get the spot on his left wingtip.

The truth is that they need me and they know it, although you would never hear it from them, not out loud. My ability brings something to the group that they have never had before, and they like it.

The only part of the process that gives me the shits is the ‘whispering under the wing.’

When we wrap our arms around each others shoulders our individual abilities are multiplied by five to the power of two. Basically, that means that as a group we are twenty-five times more powerful than any one of us on our own. Now, that is really something, and that magnifying factor only arrived when I joined. Add to that our combined ability to remote view at a huge distance, and you can see why they put up with the whitefella.

Part of our responsibility to the wider community is doing readings for individuals, couples and families. We do this once a week, and by appointment.

The problem, as I see it, is that as soon as we link, the whispers start. I call it ‘bitching under the wing’ and it makes me uncomfortable. Our combined ability means that we can see all the weaknesses of the people we are reading for. The whispers are all telepathic, but it still gives me the shits.

Being in this house, doing these readings, is as close as I have come to feeling like I’m part of something.

No one watches television in this house, there is always too much going on. Every night someone is playing an instrument. There is always someone preparing food in the huge old Victorian kitchen, and the cooks are artists in themselves. I’ve gained a bit of weight since I moved in here. My room is on the top floor and was probably one of the servants quarters. The irony is not lost on me. I have a magnificent view of the city in the distance, and I get to walk up and down the majestic staircase, every day. Some nights I lie on my bed and listen to the sounds coming from this ancient house. I doubt that it has ever been this alive in its long history.

My past is full of confusion and pain, but since Billy brought me into his extended family I have a home and a purpose, as well as a family.

Under the wing, my life is amazing.

I Always Get My Visions in the Morning.

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This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

 

“I’ve been working for Charlie Varick for about four years, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

The question came out of nowhere and it really pissed me off. It’s a job, what difference does it make? When I go home I leave work at work.

“What difference does it make? He’s a fucking private eye and he uses you as a decoy.”

“I’m his secretary and the decoy stuff only happens every now and then. Mostly, it isn’t dangerous, and mostly I answer the phones and make appointments. Of course, there is coffee and dry cleaning but mostly it’s answering phones.”

My parents were in town for a couple of days and I was glad to see them; well ‘glad’ is probably too strong a word, but it was good to see them. Parents should be kept at a distance that is directionally proportional to the amount of shit they put you through as a kid. Mine weren’t that bad but using this formula they should be at least 427 kilometres away at all times.

I’m 26 years old, gorgeous and leggy with long black wavy hair that men hold on to when they are making love to me. Not that there are that many of them.

I like men, just in small doses.

Not small in the way you are thinking, just small in the sense of time I have to spend in close proximity. Charlie’s different, but he is old, at least 47 years old, and he is taken, but he treats me like I’m someone. Like I count in the grand scheme of things. I guess he is so relaxed because he is old, and old people don’t worry so much about stuff.

My dad was wound up, but I know it was my mum who put him up to it.

“We just want you to be safe; safe and happy. That’s all your mother and I have ever wanted.”

“I know dad.” Things seemed to be calming down now that the shouting had stopped.

It was still early. Hotel restaurants tend to wind down around 9:30pm, and it was now way past that, so we had the room to ourselves except for the girl at the bar and the waiter who was doing a little shuffle that was Morse code for ‘they don’t pay me past 10:00pm even if you are still here drinking coffee, and I have a home to go to, and my dog misses me’.

It was a complicated dance.

My father, mother and I talked about nothing for another fifteen minutes before my dad signed the bill and they went up to their room. I stood and watched as they walked up the staircase. My mother clung to the handrail as though it was saving her from a sinking ship. My dad negotiated the stairs easily enough because he never used elevators unless he absolutely had to.

I asked him about it once and he said that it was his small concession to keeping fit, but I think it had more to do with the stories that his father brought home.

 

 

His dad was a fireman and he would be called out to rescue cats and people, and sometimes he was expected to free people who had been trapped; sometimes these people had been trapped in elevators and he delighted in terrifying his children with stories of people who had gone insane after being trapped in an elevator for six hours.

“One bloke tried to chew his arm off, which seemed pointless to me. It wasn’t as though they had him in handcuffs; he was trapped in a lift for fuck sake. Now if he had tried to eat through the door, that I could understand, but his arm; that’s just nuts.”

I sat on the overstuffed couch in the hotel’s foyer and tried to collect my thoughts.

I still had half an hour before I was to meet Charlie at Bar Alfredo on Little Collins Street. I walked the short distance up Collins and turned left onto Exhibition. Little Collins was the first on the left and the bar was about two hundred metres down.

This end of the street had been disrupted by building activities for nearly two years, which made it difficult to negotiate on foot, or by car. The street was already very narrow and its name gave the hint. ‘Little’ Collins Street was originally an access road for the rear of the larger and more grand edifices on Collins Street. Deliveries would be made and tradesmen would be admitted.

It was best to keep the grubby people out of sight.

These days the ‘Little’ streets were home to trendy bars and eateries as well as exclusive apartments and the occasional clothing shop.

The footpath on both sides is extremely narrow and I was forced to step out onto the road to let a large rude man pass by. He looked vaguely familiar but I was not sure why until I remembered that I had not seen him before but he was exactly how Charlie had described the man I was supposed to ‘distract’.

 

“He’s big, about 40 years old, always wears a dark suit with a red handkerchief in his top pocket, and he smells like lemons. He will be sitting at the bar because he always sits at the bar. Third stool from the far end as you come in the front door.”

I had the feeling that these instructions and this description were going to go to waste.

In order to get to Bar Alfredo, I first had to walk past a narrow laneway and at this time of night the laneway was in complete darkness. Being a female living in the big city, I avoided dark laneways because I wanted to go on ‘living in the big city’.

As I looked into the darkness I saw Charlie lying in a pool of his own blood.

I say ‘saw’, but that’s not what I mean. I didn’t see him with my eyes, I saw him in a vision. The dark laneway was like a large projector screen and on it I saw Charlie’s exact location, as though it were bright daylight.

I used my phone to light the way to the spot that I knew Charlie would be lying. He was behind some boxes with a single knife wound in the middle of his chest.

I would love to say that he lived long enough to look into my eyes and tell me who had killed him. I would love to tell you what his last words were and that he smiled before he died, but I can’t.

He was gone by the time I got to him; warm but gone.

I sat next to him for what seemed like forever and thought about my life and wondered what Charlie was thinking when the large man in the dark suit took his life. I wondered what my life was going to be like from now on. I wondered if my mum and dad had gone to sleep yet.

I don’t remember ringing anyone but I must have, because an ambulance arrived closely followed by the police.

The weather was warm so I was wondering why there was so much fog around and why did my voice sound funny, and why was the police officer mumbling.

When I came to I was sitting on the back step of the ambulance with an oxygen mask on my face. A young policeman was trying to get my attention and the ambo was trying to get him to give me a break.

 

 

“Give her a minute mate; she’s had a rough night.”

 

The policeman ignored him. To him, civilians were annoying. They kept passing out or screaming or generally being uncooperative. He just wanted to get a statement so he could get back on patrol. The homicide detectives would be along very soon and they would shoo him away like an unwanted blow-fly.

“Miss? Miss? How did you know he was in that alley? Did you hear something? Did you see anyone come out of the alley?”

I was trying to decide which question to answer first when it occurred to me that this was all very strange.

“I had a vision, which was weird. I don’t normally get visions at night-time. I always get my visions in the morning.”

The police officer stopped asking me questions after that and he and the ambo were looking at each other with the strangest expression on their faces. I don’t think that they believed me, and I wanted them too. This was a first for me.

A pair of plain-clothed detectives arrived and scooped me up and headed me towards their car but before I got in I gave it one last try to convince my interrogator.

“I really did see him lying there, in the dark, which was weird. I always get my visions in the morning.”   

Feed My Cat.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

No matter how hard they try, they cannot hide from me.

If this were a movie, the government would be searching for me because they had discovered my ‘gift’.

It doesn’t cause me any discomfort, and you cannot tell I have it by looking at me.

I haven’t always had it, but I’ve got it now.

I can tell by looking at you what kind of person you are.

It doesn’t sound like much, I know.

 

Television would have you believe that certain policemen can tell if you are lying just by watching you and observing how you answer questions. Some say that they can read your body language, and that is partially true but not to the extent that they claim.

 

Scientists have studied policemen and body language experts and found that they are no better than you are at picking who is lying and who is telling the truth.

 

So, the next time the cops have you in the hot seat and they are shining a bright light in your eyes and telling you that you are lying you can tell them it’s all bollocks.

 

On the other hand, there’s me.

I can’t tell if you are lying either, but I will know what kind of person you are. I need to spend a little time with you and then it all becomes clear to me.

It’s like I have met you before.

I know how you will act in a given situation and I know how you feel about the people around you.

 

I’m a writer, but on the side, I do the occasional job for my friend; he’s a Detective Inspector. I owe him big time. If he had not believed my story, I would not have lived as long as I have. I try to repay his kindness by helping him out from time to time.

I like the bloke, or should I say that I liked the bloke.

I’m not completely sure, but I think I might have gotten him killed.

 

My policeman friend called me in to witness an interrogation. I need to be in the room to work effectively, so I dressed like a detective and sat in on the questioning. I wasn’t concentrating on the suspect’s solicitor, but I think I should have been because it looks like he recognised me.

 

It wasn’t hard for me to tell that the suspect was a bad guy; worse than bad.

My detective friend asked me to put the man I had witnessed into a series of situations and predict his reactions.

 

If I’m given enough time with a subject, I can predict their reactions to a given situation with 100% accuracy.

 

Something I said to my detective friend must have sent him to a particular address, and he came up dead.

 

I’m not sure if he likes being dead; probably not, but I think I’m going to find out what it feels like, very soon.

 

The person who was being interviewed was a career criminal and a very successful one at that. My friend the D.I. asked if he was the kind of person who would do his own dirty work and I knew that he would. Despite the risks, under certain circumstances, I knew he would pull the trigger himself rather than have one of his people do it.

 

I’m hoping that if I wind up dead someone will go through my computer and find this.

 

Check the bullet you found in my friend’s body with the one you take from mine and then check Victor Enselmo’s gun.

 

I can guarantee you they will match.

 

Oh, and by the way, give that solicitor a good kicking for me, will you?

Good.

 

And, can someone feed my cat?