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Red Centre Dead Centre: The true story of Peter Falconer!

Chapter One

Jeezus, did ya see that?

See what?

The Nullarbor nymph, there was a sheila on the side of the road back there, stop.

Stop for Christ’s sake.

He put his foot on the brakes and the truck came to a screaming standstill. Then he reversed back. He could see in his revision mirror somebody standing on the side of the road.

The truck pulled up beside the person and they could clearly see the outline of a female.

Anything wrong, the passenger asked?

Get out ya bloody moron, can’t ya see she’s not a hundred percent right, screamed the driver of the truck.

He got out and was accosted by the hysterical woman yelling: Peter is missing; we’ve got to find him. Peter’s missing.

What’s she saying, yelled the driver?

She’s a bloody Pom, gone troppo, something about Peter. Whoever the fuck he is, yelled the passenger over the truck’s engine.

Bloody backpackers, the country’s overrun with flaming poofters. What, the poofter boyfriend gone missing, after having a piss on the side of the road, typical ain’t it? Dunno, said the passenger.

Hang on, I’ll get down. The driver then got down out of the truck. He left the lights on and they pieced the darkness one hundred and fifty meters ahead. As he walked past the lights he lit up then in an instance he was black again as he came up beside Leanne.

What happened, dear? The driver asked.

Leanne blurted out: Peter’s been shot and I was attacked by a madman. I sat in the bushes until he had gone. We’ve got to find Peter immediately, he’s badly hurt.

Where is he, asked the driver?

I honestly do not know, he was behind the van then he disappeared, maybe the man took him, Leanne whispered as she sobbed.

Look dear, we can’t find Peter if you don’t know where he is. Look at the night out there, as he pointed off to the side of the road. It’s as black as a nigger’s arse, he added.

Please find Peter, I know he needs help desperately. Please look for him, she whimpered.

OK, I tell what we’ll do. Jim and me we’ll have a look around and if we don’t find nothing we’ll take you back to Burrows Creek and you can ring the police. Is that OK with you, the driver asked hoping the problem would go away?

Yes, thank you she said in a resigned voice. I just know that Peter is hurt bad and we need to help him, she added.

The driver and Jim walked to the back of the truck. Right nutter here, Jimbo. I think the boyfriend’s dropped her and made a run for it.

Yeah, replied Jim, doesn’t make sense. Who’s this other fellow, she doesn’t seem knocked around much? They must have wanted a fuck and she wouldn’t come across so the left her on the side of the road.

Yeah, you walk down that side of the road and call out Cooee, while I walk up the road on the other side. Don’t get off the side of the road. I don’t want you lost as well. We’ve got to get rid of this sheila; she’s bad news. Could be a druggie, you know, she could have walked off a plantation after a fight of some sort and got separated from the other sitter, Peter.

They both walked off yelling out Cooee, Cooee and occasionally Peter.

The driver came back and said, look love, we better get you back to Burrows Creek and you can organise a search from there. We’ve got to be in Darwin by the morning so we can’t wait round here all night.

But what about Peter, she pleaded.

Look he’s not here or he can’t hear us, so it makes sense to go straight to Burrows Creek where you can talk to the police.

So they got into the truck and the driver made an elegant three point turn in the massive monster. He turned on all his running lights and put his headlights on high beam as he made the turn. The bush lit up like a rent boy’s arsehole on a pay night as the halogen beams ripped the night apart and you would have thought that if someone was out there they would have risen up and run towards the lights; even more so as the driver sounded the klaxon repeatedly deafening all and sundry as he manoeuvred the goliath.

As they barrelled down the highway, Jim and the driver were deep in thought as they stared at the highway, little was said. Each thought, how could they have got mixed up in such a crazy situation? Leanne sobbed and sniffled.

Hey mate, where’s the owner we need to see him quick? We’ve got a problem here. The truck had pulled up right out the front of the Burrows Creek pub.

Dunno mate, replied a sun dried, anorexic, lounge lizard lazing in a squatters chair on the pub veranda.

Leanne struggled down from the cabin with the help of Jim who thought it better to say nothing as he felt uneasy in Leanne’s company. The driver turned the engine off and got down, wincing as Leanne slammed his door, muttering, another cockhead.

The driver marched into the bar and asked could he see the owner. The barmaid gave him the third degree which irritated him further. He was after all trying to help but he was getting fucked around by another dumbarsed woman.

Look Missus, I’ve got a woman outside very upset, rambling on about murder and abduction. I have no idea what she’s talking about and I’m not in a position to really deal with women’s problems, maybe she’s suffering periodic chemical imbalance. Why I want to see the Boss is so he can see if he can help and see if we can get the Alice Springs police so they can take over.

Excuse me, I don’t need your shit; I would like to see the lady first.

Be my guest. Jimbo bring the girl in will ya?

Leanne walked in looking very distant and somewhat vague, not responding to the barmaid’s initial questions.

Eventually the publican walked in and asked: What’s up dear?

These people want help with contacting the Alice Springs police, said the barmaid. Ok, Eileen, please take the young woman through to the kitchen and see what you can do for her.

You two come over here, said the publican with authority that comes from running a remote roadhouse in outback Australia for over thirty years. Now what do you want to do? He added.

Phone the bloody police, mate, said the driver.

Yeah mate, we’ve had enough of this dozy bird, chipped in Jimbo, feeling he had made a significant contribution to the advancement of the matter.

Look, said the publican, we’re three hours from bloody Alice Springs so if you two are going to drag the cops out here on a wild goose chase you better be sure of your facts.

Sure of our facts, said the driver very indignantly, sure of our facts. Look, we just picked this sheila up on the side of the road from nowhere saying her boyfriends had been shot and she’d been abducted by a maniac. What did ya want us to do?

Have you got a minute Fred, called Eileen? The publican left for a moment and on his return he said the phone’s over here and the police number is on the wall above the phone; go ahead and call the cops.

The driver picked up the phone and made the fateful call that would lead to a chain of events he could little imagine nor would anyone else be able to guess.

Alice Springs C.I.B. here, what can I do for ya, hey?

Can ya send a car up here please; we’ve got a bit of a problem.

Wait a minute mate, what’s the problem?

Look mate, how many times have I got to tell ya what happened? I’ve already told the first fellow who answered the phone; he put me on hold, I thought he would have already given ya the facts?

Just run it past me one more time will ya?

Once again the driver spilled his guts about the incident and as he spoke he could hear himself repeating a set of facts that even he could not comprehend let alone believe. Eventually he came to the end of his narrative.

We’ll be there as soon as we can. I am afraid I require you to remain at the roadhouse together with your mate, Jim. Forget it that is a police direction.

So Jimbo and the driver went out to the rig and sat in the cabin and played a few truckie tapes by Slim Dusty.

What about a few rumbos, eh? Jimbo said with some enthusiasm.

Are you fuckin mad, retorted the driver? Adding, the mug cops will be here any minute.

The tape played away to the rhythmic beat of the baleful tune, Lights on the Hill. Jimbo thought about Leanne. Into the night he stared and her image appeared spectre like on the windscreen of the truck. He had never been so close or spoken to a pommy sheila before. Her skin was white, a type of white he had never seen before and wondered what it might be like to touch. Her features were fine and delicate and she looked small but wasn’t really short. Her hair was dark and he wondered why she didn’t have blonde hair because he thought Snow White must have looked like Leanne.

Her speech puzzled him, soft and he had trouble hearing the end of her sentences as she seemed to drop her voice. All round she was a complete puzzle. Then he thought of Alice on the Todd. Lady Todd was an English woman and he wondered if Lady Todd was like Leanne. If she was, Sir W Todd must have seen the Todd River when it had water in it with some vegetation growing.

The Todd to Jimbo was a red dirt sand pit or was it a cockpit; scrape dem Marys, eh, he thought. The old gins had skin as rough as crocodile scales while the young Marys were as soft as velvet and smelled like flying foxes, a sweet sickly smell which was addictive.

Then he thought of the white woman he had known and they seemed rough, bags of mullet gut, untidy, churlish. Why did they have such big arses?

They were shrill and loud, high voiced uppity, hairy armpit bitches. He didn’t like any of them. Now that he had seen her he could only think of how white her skin was and how he wanted to stroke and touch it.

A blue falcon sedan turned off the highway into the paddock in front of the roadhouse. A marked police car followed it in.

This was it. The truck driver wondered if he would now be able to get to Darwin after all. Keep ya mouth shut; I’ll do all the talking, the driver snapped at Jimbo.

What did he care? Jimbo thought. They both got out of the rig and walked towards the veranda of the pub were the police stood.

Detective Senior Constable Purvis, he said. They all shook hands and nodded. Then the driver sat down on a pew against the wall of the pub and began again to retell his story of the night’s events, occasionally interrupted by Purvis. Finally, Purvis said to the uniformed police to get the particulars of everybody associated with the incident. Also directing the uniform police to forensically bag all of Leanne’s clothing that she had had on that evening and all or any possessions she may have brought with her; further indicating that he and his partner, together with the truckies were going back to the scene of the crime for a look see.

The uniformed police confronted Leanne who in turn threw a mickey and refused to hand over her clothes, most definitely they were not getting her underwear. Eileen intervened and helped Leanne, letting her chose items from her wardrobe. Luckily she had brand new panties she had bought from Target only a month ago. They were still in their store wrapping. Did the police give a shit about some cranky sheila cracking a mental over a pair of underdaks, when she reckons her boyfriend had been murdered? Not these two male pups, chasing Marys white or black was all the same to them.

Purvis told his driver partner to note the odometer and let him know when they had done fifty clicks. The truck driver sat in the back of the car with resigned fatigue thinking when will it ever end? No more stopping for crazy sheilas on the side of the road, bad news.

This is the spot, Purvis’ partner said. They all got out of the car. Purvis said you two come with me, while you have a look on the other side, motioning to his partner. Dutifully the truck driver and Jimbo followed Purvis. The driver soon picked up his tyre tracks where he had made the turn around to go back. Purvis decided to walk back down the highway towards the roadhouse against the truck driver’s strong protestations. Nevertheless, Purvis marched on assiduously shining his service torch on the ground looking, looking. After another protest from the driver saying they were too far south from where he had turned, Purvis found a large wet gooey mass in the red powdery dirt on the side road. He knelt down and pick up a sample which he rubbed between his fingers and deduced it was a mixture of blood and red desert. He quickly stood up and yelled at his partner who was some distance away. He came running, gasping for air when he finally arrived; telling him to walk straight into the scrub directly from here in a westerly direction for ten minutes. They checked their watches as his partner set off.

Purvis kept watching his partner as his torch bounced around in the bush in a fashion akin to some form of scientific procedure-up in the trees, then in a wide arc to the south and then back to the north; why Purvis wondered, did he think there were Jap snipers in the trees. Purvis wanted to yell: wake the fuck up and look ahead but he stayed silent. Eventually the ten minutes expired and he could hear his partner yelling out: what was he supposed to do now? Purvis was still on a big high from the blood spot. So he yelled, Look harder something got to be there. Then his partner put his two bob’s worth in by saying, if there were no tyre marks, what did he expect to find? Purvis yelled: Come back will ya.

They stood in a group round the wet spot waiting for Purvis to say something. The pause was irritating the truck driver mightily; he wanted to get away from the lot of them. Then Purvis yelled get a forensic bag from the car and take a sample. Then barked, you two come with me and the three of them walked across the road into the bush. Not a word was said. Eventually, the driver said, how many wild goose chases are you going on? Get fucked, yelled Purvis. Then he shone his torch to the north and they could all see to their astonishment, an orange kombi van quietly sitting in the bush all by itself, looking as if nothing had happened at all.

Purvis yelled for his mate to come quickly, which he did. Purvis apologised to his partner saying he was sorry but he would have to leave him to protect the site and the van. He would do his best to get relief up here as soon as possible.

They walked back to the car. Purvis noted the times in his police notebook and tried to use the radio in the car to call for back up but Murphy’s Law was well and truly operational. So they turned the car round and drove back to the roadhouse at top speed, Jimbo could tell Purvis was creaming his jeans with the finding of the van. But what was the big deal, thought Jimbo, they didn’t find a dead body and as far as he could see he’d come to the inexorable conclusion that the only good thing to come out of all this to-ing and fro-ing was that Leanne would be good root. Buy At Amazon Kindle @ $4.24

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