This is the 40th Instalment in the series on the life and career of Murder Squad DetectiveJoseph Lind. His long-term partner Detective Shelley Anne Shields, due to a confrontation with a fleeing felon, has not been able to carry out her normal duties and has been ordered home on Sick Leave.
Joseph is now paired with the young and enthusiastic Detective Grade 1 Sasha Blayney who had been mentored by Lind and Shields at an earlier time.
Lind and Blayney are relieved of two murder investigations in a row much to the chagrin of their Boss, DI Clive Butler. The cases involved multiple deaths of illegal immigrants. People who have out-stayed their Temporary Visas of certain classes and been used as nothing short of slave labour. A situation that exists in this day and age and in a country such as Australia!
The cases are taken over by the AFP and Border Protection and Customs.
Detective Lind is sequestered to a Special Operations Unit as the Team Leader investigating the shooting homicides of a sitting Criminal Court Judge, a high-standing Criminal Lawyer of some repute and a man thought to be one of the 'Godfathers' of Australia's Mafia.
While Lind has misgivings on the move, there are others who see it for what it is, a feather in his cap and an indication that the Hierarchy are optimistic concerning the Detective's abilities as a number one Detective able to bring the case to a successful conclusion.
The political pressures and ramifications for a successful completion have Lind in two minds about accepting the role, but he plainly is told that filling the position is an order, not a choice. He relocates to the AFP Headquarters in Redfern a little concerned that he may be but a pawn being used in a higher game of chess.
"We can't stay here too long as we're bound to get pinged with a Parking Ticket."
"This is a commercial vehicle, isn't it? Besides, it's too early as yet. The Parking restrictions don't commence until eight-thirty, dude and then we have half an hour to legally park here before we run out of time...so chill, man!"
"Yeah, but that doesn't allow you to park here indefinitely. We can still get a Parking Ticket which will identify us... locate us and ping us on the false plates that we have on the van! Remember to take them off as soon as we leave here and put the right ones back on. The cops have that photographic equipment now in their cop cars that automatically reads the Number Plate and tells them if the Plates belong to this vehicle, or are false... or stolen."
"Stop f**king rambling, man. No need to panic... cool it, dude. Okay?"
He turned his head to glance at his mate with an angry scowl on his face.
"Just chill, mate. Okay?" He repeated. "If you didn't think you could stomach the call, then you shouldn't have agreed to it. I'm the sucker who'll go down big time if this falls outa the tree... no worries mate, here the dude comes now."
"You sure it's him? It's kinda early, isn't it. We were told that he normally gets to Court just before 'show-time.' It's almost an hour earlier than we expected."
"Jeezus! Cool it man. Why are you so bloody nervous? You're just driving the van, dude. It's not important what time it is. I told you we had to get here early to make sure that we got a good parking position for a clean shot... Yep... it's our target for sure, man. I've seen the man... looked at enough photos of the dude to remember him in my sleep! Just take it easy, will you. Stop wriggling around."
"It ain't me. It's the bloody wind.... it's blowing a gale outside and we're broadside into it."
The shot was extremely loud inside the van, seeming to bounce endlessly off the smooth metal shell of the interior.
"F**k, we're wearing these ear plugs yet my ears are still ringing!"
"Shut the f**k up.... Bugger!! I shot high!"
"What!? Bloody hell... you've always told me that you were an ace shot. Yer gotta get the guy otherwise we'll not get paid... all this bloody planning and work will be f**king worthless. Have another go. Quick! One last shot before we get the hell outa here! All right?"
It felt like a hammer blow to the chest.
It hurt like all hell.
He felt as though he was being flung backwards by some invisible force, completely out of control. Having no say in the matter, no matter how hard he thought he tried.
His body awkwardly hit the steps behind him, his head hitting hard against the stone step edge.
He felt more than heard a slight crunching sound and he didn't seem to register that he had fallen heavily onto the hard surface of the wide set of steps.
He remembered to grip on to his Briefcase... he wondered hazily why that was important and what it was that had hurled him backwards. What-ever it was, it had hurt like hell!
It never occurred to him that he had been shot... he felt himself starting to tremble. He absent-mindedly registered that he had wet his pants... and voided his bowel, yet there was no emotion of embarrassment, just that thought.... and then it slowly went dark to black.
Nothingness, though that didn't even register in his brain.
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: