Monday 11 August 2008

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Private Investigations

© John Sawyer – August 2008

“I’m going to kill you, you awful person. I’m going to obliterate you. You will become deceased and no one will care; absolutely no one.”

Gerry whispered a “thank you” into is mobile phone and hung up. It’s not the most violent threat Gerry has had since he started the Yarraberg Investigations Agency, but it was certainly the most articulate and politically correct. Probably one of the social workers he’s already interviewed. He had no real leads yet but the threat meant he was obviously getting somewhere. He’d either got too close to the truth or had inadvertently given offence to one of the multitude of diverse groups that make up the inner city arts network.

“Wadda ya lookin’ at? Are you lookin’ at me? I’ll belt the crap outta ya, ya stuck up, fat bastard.”

Gerry was travelling on the 109 Tram to his next lead in a coffee shop in Brunswick Street. The fellow passenger opposite was obviously troubled. He had taken exception to Gerry and joined in the afternoon’s threats. “Err, sorry mate.” Gerry moved to the other end of the tram.

Gerry doesn’t usually travel by tram when he’s on the job, but his partner Gloria had insisted on taking the car to drive a mob of artist girlfriends to a Goya Retrospective Awareness Workshop at Daylesford. An orgy of talk, spa, health food, red wine and all over body massage – whatever that is. She’d be away at least 3 nights, so he would have to make do with public transport, to say nothing of him having to fend for himself in the kitchen.

Gerry had been hired by Kristiansand Songdalen from the Abbotsford Multicultural Friendship Collective to investigate why the funding for their music program has suddenly been cut. He’d decided to meet with members of the funding advisory committee and other local community arts and social work luminaries.

Gerry was sitting at a table for two on the footpath outside Mod-Mocca Café. So far today, Gerry had had 11 long blacks, 3 chocolate mints, 3 ANZAC cookies, two cinnamon donuts and 3 egg and bacon rolls of variable quality. He was more than a little hyped up and also a bit bloated. It wasn’t really the best state to meet Tempest McGregor but the café is the meeting place of choice for this lot.

“Thanks for meeting with me, Ms McGregor.”

“Tempest’s fine thanks Gerry.”

“Krisda, err Singalong, err Krist…”

“You mean Kristiansand Songdalen.”

“Yeah Kristand …”

“…Kristiansand Songdalen”

“Yeah him, the president of the multicultural mob. He’s asked me to find out why they suddenly got a knock back for their funding.”

Tempest McGregor is a very successful arts administrator. She sat there in her lycra gym gear sipping her low-caff soy latte, chewing her roast vegetable wrap and looking absolutely gorgeous. She is one of those hyperactive fitness fanatics who stay trim and taught no matter what they eat. The act of chewing was exercise enough to ensure that any unwanted cellulite faded away before Gerry’s eyes.

“I think Kristiansand’s right to be concerned. Community arts funding is always fickle but this latest funding round was particularly strange. More than $1.5 million of funding was dramatically and unexpectedly cut from existing programs and given to one unproven new program.”

Gerry looked more closely at Tempest as she explained the machinations of the ministerial committees, local ALP branches and bedrooms that made up the decision making venues. She wasn’t a classic beauty. She had a nose that crinkled sideways when she laughed. Her only makeup was unfashionable glossy red lipstick that emphasised her full lips and she had deep blue eyes you could almost swim in.

Gerry decided that Tempest could be trusted with the whole truth. She would be his ally. It wasn’t the most logical decision Gerry had made but he was in love again. Gloria had said it before; many, many times before: “You’re bloody incredible Gerry. Everyone else uses their brain as their thinking organ but not you. Oh no, not you Gerry. You use your bloody dick to do your thinking for you, you silly old bastard.”

No it wasn’t Gerry’s most logical decision, but it sure added to the excitement for the next few days.


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