Enjoy reading the 27th Instalment in the series surrounding the Cases of the Murder Squad Detective Joseph Lind and his young partner Shelley Shields.
The right to guard, to protect the property and belongings that you have taken all your life to accrue, is a basic right of Law.
But in protecting that Property, or belongings, when does such action endanger your life? And is those Belongings and Property worth the fight to the death? Your death from the hands of some drug fuelled or addled mind hell bent on finding funds for the next fix.
When does "Reasonable Force" in the meaning of the Law become more than that?
Culpable Homicide or even worse?
Is those actions to protect hearth and home worth the risk of injury, imprisonment or death. Is that the real worth of worldly goods?
The Murder Squad Team have opposite opinions on culpability and the innocence or guilt of the person who may have been purely trying to protect their own property.
investigations proceed into three separate Cases.
It was an unusual situation.
We didn't have one ongoing investigation.
An open Case.
Sure, we had Trial Appearances pending and several scheduled meetings with the DPP Reps on the 'Bush Graves' and 'The Hammer in the Head' Case that occurred in Ballina recently. Both cases we had just wrapped up. Forensic, Autopsy and Toxicology Papers had all been received, signed statements and witness documents and the final full Reports given to the relevant DPP Rep for their perusal.
Apart from that, we had a clean slate.
It was never likely to continue for long.
A full moon was schedule before the end of the month.
That usually saw a peak occur in the madness of some of the population!
So instead of the sporadic visit to the Hospital when work time permitted, we had begun to visit our old partner Dallas Courtney three times a week helping him in his rehabilitation process. Encouraging him and supporting him.
The advance that he showed was incredible and astounding.
With a smile on his face and a cheeriness that was never there when he had been the third member of our little trio for just over a year, he approached the slow and painful process of learning to support himself and walk unaided with zeal and bravery.
"I've promised myself that I will walk unaided up the aisle in fifteen months' time!" He beamed as he told us.
"You're getting married!?" Shelley squealed. Rushing him to hug him. Almost causing him to over-balance.
"That's usually the only way that you can walk up the aisle with your new wife." He countered. "That I know of." He added, laughing at his own joke.
I had never seen such a change in a person who was enduring daily pain and continuous slow, painful and unending exercise regimes.
The mysteries of love in unlocking a hidden personality foreign to me!
"Congratulations to you and Bennie." I slapped him on the back. Gave him a hug which didn't seem out of place.
Julia 'Bennie' Anderson had been the girlfriend of one William 'Billie' Dean Worseley, a Cross-dresser who had been violently killed by his Coordinator and co-worker just over a year ago now. Bennie had at one stage been a POI in the case and as such, should have been 'out of bounds' to any Investigator involved in the investigation. But there was something almost palpable between the two and it seemed only several short weeks before Dallas and she were living together.
A big no-no! Especially while the Case was an ongoing exercise.
He and Shelley, as a team of Murder Dees in their own right, had been on 'Slip Team' Duties that particular week-end when Dallas was involved in a horrific accident on his way home after doing a 36 hour stretch.
If the particulars of his living arrangements had come out and with whom, he could have been in all sorts of strife, not the least, instant dismissal thus losing all his benefits including the compensation and Workers Insurance Cover under which he was receiving this intensive rehabilitative process. It was scheduled to go on for a lot more years yet!
Our illustrious boss, DS John Clifford James Church aka Abbey, was a freak with names and all the detritus of all the cases being handled by his Murder Dees. He must have known the connection...he must have, but chose to remain tight lipped.
God bless his cotton socks.
"Um...your parents? Do they know?"
"Mum hasn't come to see me at all...I'd say she's made the decision in favour of her religion...Bennie being a... hah... a fence-sitter...well, really, she's denounced any interest or belief in any religion. Dad? He's been a couple of times. Talk is rather stilted, as you can imagine. I can't keep making excuses for their bigotry. If that's their decision, then they'll be the ones who are missing out, though it would have been nice to have had their backing...this is going to be a slow trip and we could have done with the extra help...oh well...such is life and the ways of the world, especially when religion is involved, unfortunately...you'd think that it would be the opposite, actually, eh? The God of Love, Mercy and Forgiveness and all that sh*t!"
My Mobile plucked out the opening bars of the instrumental hit 'Bombora' by the Australian band, The Atlantics.
"Joe? You and Shells? You're on an afternoon flight out to Coonabarabran. A body has been found this morning. Identified as one Stanley James 'Jimmy' Albright. A farmer on a property about fifty kilometres south east of the town. He and his neighbouring Property Owner...a Mister George O'Lachlan, have been feuding for some time. Bad blood between the two. Albright? Found beside the property line of his neighbour. A bullet to the head. The dividing fence near his body was found cut. O'Lachlan has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The Station Commander at Coona? You'd know him. Bernie Holden from Night Shift? 2IC under DS Barry Bellamy a couple of years back. Remember him?"
I nodded my head as though he was standing beside me.
We had spent one or two late nights crying into our beers on the subject of Night Duty responsibilities versus those of the Day Shift guys. Bernie was suffering the long-term effects of night duty and what that was doing to his health and to his family life.
I had heard through the grape-vine that he eventually bit the bullet a couple of years back and applied for a Senior Detective Grade in his old home town when it became vacant. Coonabarabran. His application had been successful, so I recalled.
Hendo cut across my reminiscing.
"He's a relative, apparently, of the murdered man. That's why he's called us in... the three-thirty flight out of Mascot. Go home. Pack a bag. Your tickets will be waiting at Check-in. Both of you are booked into the Town and Country Motel in town. A car at Coonabarabran Airport. You're booked in for the rest of the week...if you like the place, you can extend your stay over the week-end. See you next Monday. Cheers."
There go my possible week-end plans.
I immediately rang Tellie, my better half, to tell her of my arrangements which would possibly wreck our week-end with my father and step-mother up at Port Macquarie. They had moved up to my half-sister's property just outside Port, out along the Wauchope Road. Both were becoming less able to care for themselves, and as Dad was wheelchair bound, Step-mum was finding it more and more difficult to cope. It was their fiftieth Wedding Anniversary and a complete family re-union was organised to celebrate. A rare occurrence where all my half-brothers and sisters got together. Seven of them with each now having a tribe of kids each.
A real tribal gathering!
- - - - -
"If it's okay by you, we'd like to have a look at the crime scene first. The alleged Perp isn't going anywhere. He's still in lock up, I presume?"
We'd gone through the usual procedure of shaking hands and exchanging germs. I always headed to the toots after such procedures to thoroughly wash my hands.
Maybe...I like to think it has more to do with general personal hygiene!
My first encounter with my old mate 'Knackers' Waszackinack, the undercover AFP Officer flashed across my mind. Meeting him for the first time after I had skilfully avenged my wife's death. Meeting the guy in the Male Toilets refusing to shake his hand until he had washed them!
The memory brought a smile to my face which I found hard to disguise.
"No. That's fine. We'll get out there around the time of the shooting about, according to the Forensic Pathologist from Dubbo. The body is being transported back to the Dubbo Base Hospital Morgue Laboratory now. A possible post mortem tomorrow or the next day. Before the week-end in any case. How about we follow you to your digs. You can book in, organise your meals. Leave your car there and come with me and my Station Dee in our 4WD out to the site. There's a fair bit of dirt road travelling in any case, so our vehicle would be better suited than that little Hatchback. OK?" The Station Commander, Bernie Holden suggested.
Bernie Holden and I had history.
Bernie had been an old style country cop out of Coonabarabran where his entire family was from. Some say it was his family who made the decision for him. He could stay in the Big Smoke or follow them back home. He had come to the City to further his career. Night Duty responsibilities could be a fast track for that goal. He was a lot like DS Barry Bellamy, his boss. A larger than life character, a big man physically and in presence, who would never take a backward step and always said his mind regardless. To his credit, his first thought was always for his Officers on Night Duty. This made him enemies in some circles and there were those who whispered that his relocation back to Coonabarabran may have had political overtones. Out of sight, out of mind. He took the job offer of Coonabarabran Station Senior Detective which had become vacant at the most opportune time for him. From there it was but a short step up to Station Commander. The most senior cop in the district.
We'd occasional lean at the bar talking over a Case that straddled night and day shifts. I always found his company good for the soul as his slant on life, love and the worse of cases was similar to mine. The funny thing was that like his Boss Bellamy, who I had a great deal of respect for, we never stood over a BBQ in his or my backyard. A beer or two? Yes, any time that either of us thought about it, but never more than that!
I hadn't seen him for a number of years.
He looked better for the move.
In fact, he hadn't looked healthier for all the years that he had been on Night Duty as a good Boss and cop.
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: