VOICE BROADCAST FRIDAY (I think?)
Well good morning to all of you in Dyall’s Ford, or at least those able to hear my mellifluous tones.
It’s Friday, they tell me, for those of you to whom it still matters. Still no update on a date, the Voice tell me it’s one step at a time!
Oh well, it’s another beautiful, sunny day in our glorious town. Just kidding. A top of forty-six Celsius is forecast by the ahem, “Weather Guru”. (that’s one-one-five on the old Fahrenheit scale, for those who remember it.)
The Voice have announced that the southern road is no longer safe, so please avoid it. And for those of you who are allowed and can drive, The Voice have also published an updated forests bulletin, based on the latest intel about fire damage. Apparently the north-east – which was hit pretty badly a few months back (again, I’m guessing that was October, but I have my doubts) – is becoming impassable due to burnt trees across most roads. The warning extends to the forests themselves, where our dear departed fallen tree comrades are making life difficult for the brave soldiers of the Voice collective protecting us.
Otherwise it’s the usual shit storm of Bushfires, Sinkholes, Tornadoes, Landslides, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Dust Storms and even more visitors from another planet, according to some of our less-stable denizens. Ha ha, a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean.
This is the voice of The Voice, Dylan De Saunt, wishing you another wonderful day in God’s little oasis for the chosen saved of humankind! Or as another voice from long ago in that wonderful TV show Monkey said: “Perhaps”.
The old SUV rattled and shook as the engine died. Nowadays, Senior Sergeant Gary Keemon always parked on the street. Plenty of reserved parks behind the station but why bother going up the narrow side alley and squeezing in between the lines he’d always said were too tight for these battle trucks. Anyway, these days you could park a cop’s car anywhere in town – near the edge of town or out of it was a different matter – and know it would be safe.
Stepping onto the first landing he scowled at the red dust that covered everything. No point really clearing it away, just hope for a clean rain next time. It was something they were obviously going to have to get used to.
He went in the front door as one of the juniors came out, forcing him to brush the doorjamb. The curling paintwork grazed his arm below the short shirt. He swore and turned on the apologetic Constable.
“Watch where you’re going, idiot!”
“Sorry Sergeant. In a hurry, bit of trouble with the UT in town.”
Keemon brushed some of the dried paintwork off his arm and scowled. Just as well there were still tetanus shots available for the people who mattered in this town.
“It’s Senior Sergeant to you, don’t forget it! And what the hell are UT doing in town?”
Some sort of protest outside the Newsagents. Usual bullshit, free press and all that stuff.”
“Well, get on your way then.”
The constable took the first step away before he turned back.
“Oh, by the way, the Super wants to see you.”
Keemon nodded. “Off you go, then.” There was no sense asking a junior what the impending meeting with Superintendent Rory Morgan was about. He watched the young man trudge around to the back car park where his SUV would be waiting, crammed in the allotments reserved for the lower ranks.
The air inside the police station was stifling, as usual. Oh for the good old days of Aircon!
“Sergeant, just the man I want to see.” Rory Morgan had poked his head out the Superintendent’s office. “Come in.” He said it in a friendly way that worried Keemon. Brisk, brusque and formal was more Morgan’s style.
Rory Morgan closed the door behind them. Another bad sign, Keemon thought.
Morgan pointed to a chair. “Take a seat. We need to talk.”
That was more like it, the friendliness had vanished as soon as the door closed.
Keemon dropped his butt into the chair, waiting for it to start.
The Super came around the large desk and sat in his own chair. He put his head on side and took a long breath before he spoke.
“Well, Gary.” He gambled that the drop into first name basis would unnerve the man. “There’s been complaints.” He let it hang in the air to gauge Keemon’s reaction.
“About me, I suppose.” It was a snorted response, not a question.
“Not just you. Friendly has come in for his own share of criticism. The Voice are definitely unhappy. That is to say, the people have been complaining to them, and that makes the Voice unhappy.”
“You hired us to do a job, that’s what we’re doing.”
“I agree with the first part of your statement: we hired you to do a job. It’s the way you do it that bothers me, and of course the other members of the Voice.”
“Ah yeah, well you know what, boss? Fuck them! It’s all very well for limp-wristed fools to decide how we deal with dangerous situations. I’d like to see them go out to face some of the psychos we meet.”
“Show a little respect, you’re forgetting yourself. You’re talking about Voice. That includes the Chief Magistrate. And you and me are members of the Voice as representatives of the police, you’d do well to remember.”
“I wasn’t talking about us, I was referring to those idiots like Moran and Osborn. And yes, you can include De Saunt in that category as far as I’m concerned, whether he’s the Chief Magistrate or not.”
Morden’s eyes narrowed. It was always a question of balance, dealing with Keemon or Friendly. He took a deep breath and was about to talk again when Keemon cut in.
“Look boss, in case you hadn’t noticed things have got hard, and you need really hard men like me and Friendly to keep the town in line.” Keemon paused a moment to let it sink in. “You could always get rid of us.”
Morgan had heard this threat before. He didn’t believe Keemon and Friendly would ever make good on it, not unless they were pushed. On the other hand, he couldn’t risk being the one to make that push. The last thing he and the town needed right now was having two rogue vigilantes running around in total freedom to make up their own rules and pursue them as they saw fit.
Still, he couldn’t let this insolence pass, either. Respect for the senior ranks had to be maintained, it was the basis of law and order. He scowled and remained silent, his angry eyes boring into Keemon. They both knew what Superintendent Rory Morgan was waiting for. In the end, though, it was Rory Morgan who relented. The conversation had gotten too heated, to the point where it was useless for any kind of resolution. And besides, Keemon wasn’t going to give in. He never would. Too stubborn and stupid and arrogant. It was going to be the older and wiser head that resolved things.
Morgan leaned back in his chair and sighed.
“Alright, Gary. What do you want? Just what in Hell do you want? We keep having this conversation and it keeps coming around to this: you threatening to leave. If you make that threat often enough without conceding anything, eventually it becomes worthless. I don’t want to lose you – or Friendly – but it’s becoming a situation of diminishing returns keeping you on the force. It won’t be long and the decision will be taken out of my hands, the Voice will make it for us both.”
“Your choice, their choice, all the same to us. Just let us know.”
If Keemon had meant to make the superintendent back off it didn’t seem to be working. Morgan was smiling broadly now.
“What if I told you the Voice have suggested I promote you?”
A flicker of interest.
“Promote me to what? And do you mean both of us, me AND Friendly?”
Morgan’s smile faded to a smirk. He knew Keemon and Friendly were in competition. There was just enough of the psycho in both for them to abhor the idea of one being promoted above the other. He gave a short laugh. The place was becoming like a bad Western, he could almost hear a gunslinger muttering, ‘This town is too small for the both of us…’
“No, just you. We only need one Field Commander. Two would just be, I don’t know, competitive?” The smirk broadened into a grin.
Keemon grinned too.
“Field Commander? Nice.” It was a job that carried far more power and responsibility. You could go virtually anywhere and do anything to anyone at any time. And you got to drive one of the top line bullet-proofed SUVs, since the job entailed forays into any area at all, even those beyond the accepted limits of Dyall’s Ford. Yes, that was nice. A man could make the kind of connections out there that would take him far. Out there where the gangs ruled, and any kind of Ordnance was available for the right exchange. But you needed to get there safely, hence the bullet-proof SUV. But there had to be a catch, what was it Morgan was angling for? Keemon decided it was better to offer something upfront, something small.
“And in return you just want me to ease off a bit?”
“Exactly. I know you’ve got a hard job, but sometimes diplomacy cuts through better than physical confrontation. That’s only getting people offside, and we need them onside.” “A hungry populace is a dangerous populace,” he said, not bothering with the reference to the Roman general who’d first uttered the statement. That would be beyond Keemon’s education and the man would only think Morgan was showing off.
“Alright, but I don’t see why you’re doing it, frankly. It makes sense to put someone in charge I guess, but why me? Ever since I started here you’ve been on my back. Why the sudden change of heart?”
“Not a change of heart. I’m employing an old army tactic. When you’re faced with an insubordinate who has valuable talents you don’t want to lose, promote them to a position where they have to take more responsibility. I know it’s a big risk with you Gary, but I’m willing to take it to give you one more chance. You blow this and the Voice will have your balls and my head at the same time. So, please, DON’T blow it!”
“Do I get a Rhinoz?”
Morgan kept the smile to himself this time. He knew the offer of one of the souped-up SUVs would appeal to a bullet-head like Keemon.
More satisfied nodding.
“Okay, so, anything you want me to take care of first?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. Don’t know if you’ve heard but were having more trouble with those so-called ‘Urban TERRArists’.”
“We’re always having trouble with UT. What’s changed?”
“For starters, they’re trying to get the townsfolk riled up. But that’s okay, I can handle that with the regular cops. I need men like you and Friendly to go after the source of the trouble: Hugh Godswold.”
“Him? I’ve heard of him. Never thought he was a great danger though. Lives out of town, raves a lot, socialist bullshitter. Still, just a bag of wind if you ask me.”
“Well, Gary, you and I have not been asked. We’ve been told by the Voice. They want this Godswold character brought in. The Voice were happy enough to let him do his thing when UT were just a bunch of hippies spouting off about Permaculture. But it’s got out of hand. Seems they’ve gone from sprouting beans to spouting rebellion. There’s been rumours of him getting large shipments of weapons.”
“What kind of weapons? There’s lots of people storing weapons these days, even hippies living out near the gangs. It only makes sense to protect yourself.”
“Not these kinds of weapons. Think ordnance.”
Keemon sat up straighter.
“Ordnance? You mean like cannons, rockets and so on? How in hell does a man like Hugh Godswold get stuff like that?”
“We haven’t found out yet, and it doesn’t matter. We don’t even know if the rumours are true, but until we bring him in, we can’t find out. Someone claims to have seen armoured vehicles out there.”
Keemon was very interested now.
“You mean like, tanks?” Now, a man could REALLY go places with one of those.
“As I said, we’re in the dark except for rumours. So, there’s your first job: nail Godswold.”
“Sure, consider it done.”
“And there’s another one, some character called Bowman and his girlfriend Caylen. Proper commies from all accounts. I don’t know much about Bowman, in fact I don’t know much about either of them yet. They only just moved into town from the bush. So naturally the Voice – and me – are suspicious. I need to find out more about these two.”
Morgan made to continue but Keemon interrupted.
“So, which one do you want me to go after first, Godswold or this Caylen and Bowman pair?”
“Start with Bowman. You know him?” It was a routine question, all the cops made it their business to know everyone in town, at least by sight.
“Yeah, never had anything to do with him yet but I’ll recognise him when I find him.”
“That’s why I want you to start with him. I found him for you. I just saw him drive past in that beat-up old heap the girl – Caylen – drives. He’s heading out the North Road. Apparently he’s got a job working for Terry Osborn.”
“Oh yeah, Osborn, that would be right: a lefty working for a lefty.”
“Be that as it may, I want you to go easy. Just go out and ask him to come in and introduce himself. No rough stuff, Gary!”
Keemon nodded and got up, extending his hand.
“Okay, it’s a deal. I can’t promise you I’ll be a saint but I’ll try to talk first, shoot later!” He laughed. “Just kidding, I’ll do my best.”
Superintendent Rory Morgan rose and shook Keemon’s hand. “Your best is all I ask, Gary, and it’s what I’m waiting to see from you.”