Bad Debts

Lire ebook Bad Debts
Auteur: Peter Temple

Bad Debts
freely, old sausage.’ Wootton was in a pub.
    I said, ‘Dollery thinks I’m here to kill him.’
    ‘Got him, have you? Bloody spot on.’
    ‘I expect to be warned about the armed and desperate, Cyril. There’ll be an extra five per cent deduction to cover my shock and horror at having a firearm pointed at me.’
    Wootton laughed his snorting laugh. ‘Listen, Jack, Eddie’s a disloyal little bugger with lots of bad habits but he wouldn’t actually harm anyone. People like that think the worst about everything. It’s the guilt. And eating icing sugar with their noses. What’s on the premises?’
    ‘Ladies’ uniforms,’ I said.
    Wootton laughed again. ‘That’s one of the habits. He’s got the stuff on him, hasn’t he?’
    It was starting to rain on Mabberley Court. Across the road, an impossibly white cat had appeared on the porch of the Tomb.
    On my way out, I stopped to speak to Eddie. You can’t help admiring a man who can get the local florist to dress up in Ilse Koch’s old uniform over crotchless leather panties.
    ‘Mr Dollery,’ I said outside the lavatory, ‘you’re going to have to be more cooperative with people whose money you have stolen. Pointing a firearm at their representatives is not the way.’
    Eddie said, ‘Listen, listen. Don’t go. Give me the gun back and I’ll tell you where to find ten grand. Go round the back and put the gun through the window. Ten grand. Notes. Old notes.’
    ‘I know where to find ten grand,’ I said. ‘Everybody keeps ten grand in the dishwasher. And everybody keeps seventy grand in the airconditioner. Wootton reckons you’re short twenty. I’m pushing a receipt for eighty grand and a pen under the door. I want you to sign it.’
    There was a moment’s silence.
    ‘Mate,’ Eddie said, ‘every cent. Tell him every cent.’
    ‘You tell him. Just sign,’ I said.
    The receipt came back, signed.
    ‘The pen, please.’
    The pen appeared. ‘Thank you. Goodbye, Mr Dollery.’
    Eddie was shouting something when I closed the front door, but he’d stopped by the time I reached the car. Across the road, the white cat was watching. I drove out of Mabberley Court. Two hours later, I was at Pakenham racecourse watching a horse called New Ninevah run seventh in a maiden.
    The next day, I went to Sydney to talk to a possible witness to a near-fatal dispute in the carpark of the Melton shopping centre. It was supposed to be a six-hour quickie. It took two days, and a man hit me on the upper left arm with a full swing of a baseball bat. It was an aluminium baseball bat made in Japan. This would never have happened in the old days. He would have hit me with a Stewart Surridge cricket bat with black insulation tape around the middle. Except in the old days I didn’t do this kind of work.

    It was 5.30 p.m. on Saturday before I got back. I listened to a summary of the football on the radio on the way from the airport. ‘Fitzroy started in a blaze of glory…’ said the announcer.

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