Peter Wise’s career began in the
Queensland Public Service and later in the Commonwealth arena. He has
retired to the
A sea-change – and the pearl in the sun became his new home. He paid forty
thousand dollars for a caravan and a permanent site at
They kept a secret, which set them up in their now different lives: the split of the kidnap money Bella took from Tiddy as he lay dying. The police believed it burnt in the forest fire because of the evidence supplied at the time by Bella and Sage. He started a new business, far from the hustle and stress of a Private Investigator.
Suntanned, and wearing a pair of red Speedos with Broome printed in white
across his arse, he worked his beat on the white sands of
The Broome Council let him set up a stand in front of the new life-savers’
clubhouse. He paid his license fee on time, and there were no complaints, as far
as he knew, about his work. He wore a black Akubra and sunglasses and the
locals referred to him as The Mayor of
Today he looked at the gent with the grey hair and the gut. At his side a woman in her forties with cleavage and a body shape to be envied by women half her age.
“How much for a spray?” she asked.
“Five bucks to you, Madam.”
“Have you got five dollars, darling?” she said to her partner.
“Don’t worry; I’ll pay for both of us.” He looked at Sage and asked, “Can you change a fifty?”
“Can do.” Sage reached into an ice cream container and counted four ten dollar notes.
His blood-red Jeep Wrangler four-wheel-drive stood, gleaming in the sun, beside him. It looked the part with all seats covered in cream-coloured full sheepskin seat covers.
On Tuesday, he received a call on his mobile around one o’clock in the afternoon to drive fifteen minutes along the Nudist Section of Cable Beach. There he would spray a dozen women who, he knew, belonged to a select club. A rest day for them and coming all the way from Port Hedland, a six-hour drive. They paid him in cash and even offered him their favours free of charge. To date he had declined all offers. What is wrong with me? I should take up an offer. The dirty water on the chest starting to overflow. A bloke, around his age, approached him wearing black Speedos and a white T-shirt and said, “How are you, mate? Give me a cover of suntan oil please.” Sage took his money and did his job.
“On holidays, are you?” he asked.
This bloke appeared to be physically in good shape with a muscular upper body, huge thighs and calf muscles. The shaved head and the grey-coloured goatee gave him the appearance of an old bikie. “Yeah, doing a trip down memory lane; came here in ’85. Nothing like it is now.”
“What did you do here back then?”
“Worked in Coastwatch. Set up an office here in town.”
“The town I believe has changed since then?”
“To tell you the truth, I couldn’t believe me eyes when I arrived here. In ’85
“And I suppose you are going to tell me land here went cheap?”
“Yep – twenty-five thousand dollars and you owned a building block on a new
estate along the
The bloke left and walked away towards the straight beach leaving Sage to think
about the past. Sage breakfasted daily at Zanders at Cable Beach Reserve. This
popular family restaurant overlooked the surfing beach; he found it a glorious
place to eat pancakes lashed with honey. Sometimes if he felt crook from the
golden nectar which he drank the night before, he ate bacon and eggs, toast with
baked beans. Into the water for a surf for an hour before commencing the day.
Evenings he ate at the Divers Tavern at
Two months had passed since Sage overheard the conversation of the men at the
hotel. A remark from one of the men still stayed with him. As he turned on the
radio at around six one morning, busy boiling the kettle for his cuppa, he
listened to the ABC six o’clock news. He was shocked to hear the reader say,
“There has been an explosion at the TTP Iron Ore Plant at Point Nelson, Port
Hedland. Police have cordoned off the site. Details will be updated as further
bulletins come to hand – There has been a fatal road accident on the
Sage sipped his tea and thought of what he had heard on the news. The day would be busy, he thought, as he looked outside to the cloudless sky and the start of a fine day.
At the same time Sage looked at the sky, the CEO at Port Hedland spoke to
The four white-coloured Toyota Turbo Diesel S.R.5s, with identical Jayco
Sterling twenty-three footers gracing their rears, stood lined up to use the
fuel pump at Munjina Roadhouse, 261 kilometres from Port Hedland. The drivers
sat behind their steering wheels and waited while the Big Mack semi’s belly
swallowed diesel for some fifteen minutes. Each man felt nervous and exhausted
from their night’s activities. The result of their efforts now being reported on
the airwaves around
Bob Gray led the pack and at sixty-six he emerged first from his mother’s womb. With shaved head and weighing 115 kilos, a beer gut, piercing blue eyes, a broken nose and his solid build gave the first impression of a tough character. He retired some ten years ago after TTP sacked him for crashing a forty-million dollar diesel train engine towing 100 carriages full of iron ore. At a million dollars clear profit for each 100 carriages of the ore to reach Port Hedland, the powers that be were not impressed. The speed of the engine when it crashed recorded eighty kilometres an hour, well over the required speed for a diesel engine with the load behind it.
The big money deserted him and so did his wife. She went back to
The idea to blow the dumpers came from him and he mumbled out loud as he sat waiting to fill his vehicle. “A top job – we have more to do, yet.”
In the second vehicle sat Bernie aged sixty-three, 179 centimetres and fit. One could, if one knew his mother, imagine she may have strayed somewhere along the way as he bore no resemblance to his other brothers. He retired from TTP some eight years ago when the boss discovered his wife in bed with Bernie. He joined the Army Reserve in Port Hedland and took a detailed interest in explosives and his speciality – the lunch box with TNT. The walls of his van camouflaged four F888 Steyr Standard Army issue rifles and ammunition, four RPG7 rocket-propelled grenades, and two light direct-fire support M72 rocket launchers. The lunch boxes placed on the two dumpers did their job. At the time of the explosion, no employees were in the area. This explosive would kill anyone within a distance of seven metres.
Bob and Bernie planned to camp at Savannah Camping Grounds,
Bruce would say to
“For now we rest up and play tourist for the next few days,”
“How did we agree to get into this situation, Bruce?”
“Bob is a persuasive bastard and so is Bernie. We all agreed back in Broome to do this. Give the corporate world a shake up. They picked TTP for the obvious reasons.”
At the Savannah Camping grounds Bob and Bernie put their vans side by side and settled in to the place.
“Bob, feel like a beer?”
“Is the Pope a Catholic?”
“Here, put your laughing gear around this.”
“Thanks, mate. I’ve got a mouth like the dried floor of a bird cage.” Both men pulled out two plastic deck chairs and sat down outside their vans and swigged cold VB. “With the first mouthful the dust is washed away; the second you get the taste of the beer.”
As they sat and watched, dusk turned into darkness and they listened to the sounds of the bush life now emerging to live in the darkness. Bob said, “The vote by the four of us to buy identical vehicles and vans will pay off for us.”
Bernie responded, “Yeah Bob, a bloody good idea. I remember a comic artist who
drew illustrations for a magazine in
“The moral of the story, Bernie, is don’t stand out in the crowd. And how many
white Toyotas towing a van do you think are on the road? I’d take a guess,
heaps, and they are all travelling around
Bob opened the lid of the esky and handed Bernie another can. “You need another beer.” Bob opened his can and took a long swig of the icy-cold beer and said, “Yeah, you’re right you know. Stay out of sight and stick around up here. The aim is not to get caught or draw attention to ourselves.”
“The vans we have are set up for us to survive in comfortable style. The Queen size bed, full ensuite, plus fridge, freezer and washing machine, television and air conditioning. We can survive out here for months. I think it is a good plan. Do you agree?”
“Yes, Bernie, I agree. I know I talk too much; we all must be tight-lipped. Say nothing to arouse suspicion on ourselves and we should be alright.”
“Yeah, and we are not demanding anything from the company. They will think it is
a terrorist attack. As we know, the Indonesians are coming through Port Hedland
without too much scrutiny. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. You know what I mean,
One of the cleaners picked up ‘The Courier Mail’, from
The mobile phone has uses no one imagined twenty years ago. Now you can download
internet information, take photographs, send email and text messages, and even
use it to
detonate explosive devices
such as the two which devastated the dumpers twenty-four hours ago. Bernie would
use the phone for the next mission and experience told him, destroy the
phone and the sim card. Don’t be like
the silly bastards in
Detective Sergeant Jeff and Detective Smith were stationed at Port Hedland. They
were flat out each day keeping up with the crime committed in the area. Crimes
against the person: Assaults, Sexual and Serious, leading to Bodily Harm and
Grievous Bodily Harm, Manslaughter and Murder. The last twenty-four hours for
them had been chaotic. Their first Terrorist Attack. A big job. The
Superintendent at Karratha was to be briefed re: the sabotage at TTP. No sleep
for them and into their second day of the investigation, Jeff spat the dummy out
and told his boss, “I am doing my best, get me the Feds up here who handled
“Yes, I am sending our Bomb Squad and Forensic. At this point, I feel we will come up with a lead. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Keep on it and get a result fast.”
He mumbled to himself as he finished the conversation with the Superintendent, “Bosses.”
He turned to Willie as they stood at the explosion site looking at the twisted rail lines and the twisted steel on the side of the two huge dumpers used to transfer tonnes of the iron ore from the carriages to the site proper, from where the ore was transported by conveyor belts to storage areas at the site, ready to be loaded on ships for export, “Willie, have we cordoned off enough of the crime-scene area?”
“Yeah, as you can see both areas around the dumpers and the whole of the area including the lagoon have been cordoned. We have a dozen blokes called in on overtime.”
“You know I have interviewed security – they saw nothing. The female named Maria Lions heard the explosion around midnight and called the police. She saw the red glow towards the dumper site and did not see anybody in the nearby area. She checked the car park area and saw nobody leave in a vehicle. She saw smoke coming from the dumper site and called the fire brigade on her mobile – we will take a detailed statement from her as soon as is convenient.”
“Get one of our blokes on to doing just that ASAP.”
“Yeah well, I have interviewed the two control officers on duty at the time. They told me they lost power on their computer screens at one minute past midnight. Their job is to give instructions to engine drivers who bring in the iron ore on the diesel trains. At this time there was no train movement in the vicinity of the dumpers. This told them the time of the explosion as the computer links run beside the railway tracks. The tracks close to the dumpers were blown from their supports. Twisted pieces of metal; we have verified this by inspection.”
“Yeah good Willie, I will speak to them also. I have spoken to the shift supervisor named Davidson. He told me he had heard the explosion as he came back to his office from a meal break. He had seen no one acting in a suspicious manner in the vicinity of his area.”
“Boss, there were two welders working on the site near the dumpers close to the lagoon around ten last night. There are boot prints everywhere there. Plaster casts of the imprints will be done. We will interview them and take possession of their boots. Both are on night shift. I have sent a car with two of our blokes to interview them and take statements and possession of their boots.”
“Good stuff, Willie, and you know we have a hot one here. While I think of it, Willie, get in touch with Customs and Immigration and find out how many Indonesian passengers came into Port Hedland in the last six months and how many have left and returned back again.”
The detective sergeant looked worried as he scratched his head and wiped the sweat from his forehead with a sweat-stained handkerchief. He thought to himself, as he looked at the two wrecked dumpers, this act has stuffed the whole operation here and the flow of iron ore. A lot of money comes into town from this operation, and a lot of people work here. Each time a train comes in towing 100 carriages filled with ore, a million dollars in profit is made. Hard to believe, yet it is true.
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