Bad Debts

Lire ebook Bad Debts
Auteur: Peter Temple

Bad Debts
to push the button and thought, bugger it. Tomorrow.
    I finished the whisky, made some Milo and took it to bed, feeling tired and lonely. It took six pages of a Bolivian novelist to put me away.

    On Sunday I fiddled around, doing nothing, restless, vaguely sorry for myself. I spent an hour writing a letter to my daughter in Queensland. Claire was cooking on a fishing boat out of Port Douglas. In my mind, I saw her, a beautiful stick with wrists the size of some men’s knuckle-bones. She was circled by large males, blond men with permanent sunburn and the eyes of dead sharks. I thought about the first time I saw Claire’s mother, on Bells Beach. She had been surrounded by testosterone-crazed surfers, all lying belly down to hide their erections.
    I reread Claire’s most recent letter. It made too many mentions of the boat’s skipper, a man called Eric. I ended my letter with some delicately phrased warnings about the distorting effects of propinquity on judgment. Still, at least Eric had a job.
    I walked to the corner to post the letter. The sky was low, the colour of misery, wind whipping the naked trees. There was no-one in the park except a man and a small boy sitting at a table near the playground. The boy was eating something out of a styrofoam box, his eyes on the table. The man was smoking a cigarette. He put out a helpless hand and touched the boy’s hair.
    I went home and the winking light on the answering machine caught my eye as I came in the door. I pressed the button and slumped on the couch.
    Jack, Andrew. Thought you’d be back by now. Listen, I’ve pushed a little lease thing your way. Bloke called Andropolous. I just got his cousin off a couple of obtaining-by-deceptions. Andy’s all right. Cash in hand. Pause. By the way, Helen’s fucked off. Give me a ring when you get back. Cheers. Oh, my secretary says a guy called McKillop was around here today looking for you. Ex-client, I gather. See you.
    The machine’s deep voice said: Thursday, July 23, 6.20 p.m. Andrew Greer, former law partner.
    Jack. Mate, it’s Danny McKillop. Pause. Danny, y’know, the hit-and-run? In ’84? I’m out. You said ring you, like if there was something? I’m in a bit of strife, mate. You reckon you can give me a ring? It’s 9419 8432. Tonight if you can. Cheers.
    The machine said: Thursday, July 23, 7.47 p.m.
    I stopped the machine. Danny McKillop. Y’know, the hit-and-run? It meant nothing. A former client? A client who went to jail. Plenty of those around. I pressed the button again.
    Jack, Laurie Baranek. Look, this agreement needs a bit extra, know what I mean? Can we stick in a coupla other penalties? I just want it so he understands he don’t deliver, he’s in big shit. Get my meaning? Ring me. Not at work, I’m on the mobile.
    Friday, July 24, 2.28 p.m. Laurence Baranek, vegetable merchant and property speculator.
    Jack, it’s Danny. McKillop. Get my message? Listen, ring any time, doesn’t matter what time. Pause. Jack,

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