Interesting Times
Chapter 11

Copyright© 2011 by Ernest Bywater. All rights reserved

Sunday

The day starts as most Sundays do now. Around ten thirty things change when two people walk in to speak with Matt. He recognises the faces but he can’t remember where from until the first introduces herself as his local state member of parliament and the man as the member for one of the Sydney electorates who’s also the current party leader for the government; the party leader isn’t always the premier because it’s more of a party management position. They’ve a short talk about how happy the local member is for what he’s doing to help the local economy with the new businesses and the building of St Matthew’s Manor.

She smiles wider when Matt says, “I’ve some other land I want to do medium density residential housing on, but it’ll overload the current sewage treatment plant. So I want to build a new one able to handle more than the current one. As the council hasn’t got the funds for it now I’m offering to build it and let them pay it off over a decade or so. Is there any state or federal funding I can apply for to help with this?”

The man with her replies, “Yes, there are a number of federal and state grants you can apply for to help with that! Tomorrow I’ll have one of my staff send you the information on them all. In some cases you can get money from more than one of them provided you end up funding more then half of the project. You can also get some tax deductions each year for the money not yet paid by the council or the grants.”

“Thanks. I’d appreciate all of that information because it’ll make the funding a lot easier and get it done quicker.”

“Matt, I came down to speak to you about this court case.” He stops when Matt frowns, then continues. “The Premier and the Police Minister have the numbers in the party to maintain their positions within the party and be renominated at the election due soon. The polls all show we’re likely to be re-elected, even if this drags out in the courts to well past the next election. So, no matter what, they’ll retain their positions. In that situation is there any point in keeping this going if we pay you a good compensation from the state coffers?” Matt can see his local member isn’t happy, but she nods agreement with his analysis.

Matt sighs before he replies, “So the official party policy is to delay the court case while supporting them and spinning the media! Are they also going to falsify the records so they won’t match the copies I have?” The man doesn’t change his expression. Matt turns to his local member, “I need to speak to George in private, can you please wait outside for a moment?” She nods yes and she leaves the room to visit the children in the wards; and she’s followed by the others when Matt looks at them.

Once all leave and the door is shut Matt says, “George, you need to talk to those in charge of your party. There’s no way those two will be taking their seats in the house after the next election!” He holds up his hand when George goes to speak. “Oh, I know you can probably spin the media to get what you want. However, there’s no way they can be elected if they don’t get out and go to public functions as part of their campaign. Nor can you seat a corpse in the house. Mum and Dad had some very good friends who’ll happily shoot them both.” George is shocked by this. “I don’t need to ask them to do it. In fact, I’m having a lot of trouble stopping them from doing it. The only reason those two are still alive is because I’ve told the people concerned I want them alive and broken. I want them to have the mental suffering of being out of power. The moment it looks like they may skate on this my ability to keep them from being shot ends. Nominating for re-election will be a clear indication they’re going to get by this so the others will act. This is not a case of me doing anything since it’s a case of me not taking action to stop it. Some of the people concerned are experts at this and will get to them. So, no matter what happens, those two won’t be re-elected. It’s a case of either they stay safe and get slaughtered in the booths or they go out and you have to organise a replacement mid-campaign.”

George looks stunned for a moment. “Damn, and what if we have the police arrest everyone who may do this?”

“You could try that. But how will having a few thousands people arrested and detained on the off chance they may shoot two of your party go down with the electorate. You can be sure when you start that Gran and I will pound you in the media by saying why it’s happening. You do realise you’ll have to check everyone they went to school with, and that’s a lot of people with many of them from influential families. The best you can do is to hand over the documents and crucify them.”

“If what you say is true, then you’re right! But I can’t just accept your word on this.”

Matt lies there and thinks for a moment. With a shake of his head he makes a decision he’s not happy with. “George, due to an incident in my past some senior people in the Hell’s Angels have wanted me dead for a couple of years. Recently the risk to me increased a lot. One of the people who owed Dad their life found out about this higher risk a couple of weeks back. I didn’t know about it until after they took action, but the two senior Hell’s Angels who were a danger to me were killed a week ago. A few other not nice people were also killed to confuse the other Hell’s Angels club members so they won’t know who the prime targets were. I didn’t have to ask for anything. It happened when they found out about the risk from other sources. Now the Victorian Police have nothing to identify who did it or why, want to bet our state police can do better? You don’t have to ask the Police Commissioner to show you the file on why they want me. In fact, he can’t because it’s sealed by a court order. However, I can give permission for the local District Commander to show it to you so you can know I’m telling the truth.”

George thinks for a moment, and nods yes. Matt uses his phone to call Superintendent Steve Smith’s private phone to explain he’s sending George over to see him with permission to read the file on the shooting at the school. George leaves a few minutes later, and Matt spends more time talking to his local member about his developments before she leaves. The rest of Matt’s day goes as usual for a Sunday now.


George soon arrives at the local police station and he’s met by Steve. They go to Steve’s office where Steve brings the file up after explaining it’s highly confidential and George is only getting to see it because Matt gave his permission. George is shocked by what he reads, but he now understands why some senior Hell’s Angels are after Matt. However, he’s still concerned about the recent Melbourne shooting. Was it done to protect Matt or is Matt just taking advantage of the fact it occurred. In the end George decides they can’t risk it being a matter of coincidence because deaths during the campaign will ensure they lose the election.


Griffith, New South Wales

In a large winery just outside the city of Griffith, New South Wales, Mario Brindisi, the owner of the winery, is talking to his youngest brother Eduardo. “Ed, I need you to go to Rivers and speak to a young man for me. As you know we’ve lots of money in trusts requiring the approval of a state approved trustee and me as manager to withdraw money from the trusts!” Ed nods yes because he helped set the system up. “Well, the trustee, Jacobs, is held in custody in Rivers for assaulting a young man in hospital. The magistrate denied him bail because he’s seen as a real threat to the complainant. While he’s locked up he can’t access the accounts to approve any withdrawals and we almost lost a few deals this week because of that. As it is it’s cost us a lot of time and money to make other arrangements to pay some big bills we planned to pay from the trusts. We need Jacobs out so we can do business as normal. Go talk to this Matthew Dyer and have him drop the charges against Jacobs. Offer him a few hundred thousand if you have to. It’s cost us more than that to not have access to the money. So do what’s needed to get Jacobs out of the cells and back at his desk!”

“OK, Mario. Consider it done. I’ll get this fixed, one way or another. I’ll drive down to Rivers tonight and I’ll see Matthew Dyer tomorrow.”

The two talk on a few other matters about their business empire before they leave the office to have lunch. Just after lunch Eduardo gets in a car and heads to Rivers with a chauffeur, his executive assistant, and a personal bodyguard.

Week Six

Monday starts as a normal weekday for Matt. However, it changes at nine thirty when Eduardo Brindisi walks in with his bodyguard and assistant. His casual approach is non-threatening so Matt’s guards just watch and wait, as per their orders as they aren’t to look like guards.

Brindisi walks over to the bed and asks, “Are you Matthew Dyer?” Matt nods yes. Eduardo holds his left hand out as he says, “Eduardo Brindisi. I’ve got a favour to ask of you, if I can?” Matt shakes his hand and waves for him to continue. Ed takes a comfortable stand on the left of Matt’s bed while Ed’s bodyguard moves to stand opposite him while facing the doorway and the executive assistant stands at the end of the bed. “My brother and I have a few businesses that make a lot of money. We keep some of the profits in a very high interest fund that’s managed by an accountant. But we have a problem because only the accountant can move the funds about and he’s currently locked up. We’d like you to drop the charges against Jason Jacobs. We’ll even pay you a hundred thousand dollars compensation to do so today.”

Matt just stares at him for a moment. Shaking his head no he replies, “I take it you know Jacobs attacked me and he’s made several threats!” Ed nods yes. “I’m sure he’ll try to carry those threats out. If you can promise he won’t carry out those threats, prove to me you can keep that promise, and pay me ten million dollars in compensation, I’ll drop the charges.”

A stunned Eduardo responds, “We can keep him in line. But that’s too much to pay, way too much!”

“Ed, this bullshit with Jacobs has cost me a hell of a lot of time and trouble while it diverted me from running my own businesses. I figure he’s already cost me several million dollars due to me not being able to pay proper care to my own business empire. Hell, my first contact with him was due to one of my staff making enquiries to buy Jacobs’ business from my petty cash account. I figure ten million dollars is a low price for these troubles.”

While shaking his head in wonder Ed pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and he hits the speed dial for his brother so he can talk this over with him. It’s a lot being asked, but less than they can otherwise lose.

Just when Ed starts to speak a uniformed Mace walks into the room so he can to talk to Matt about something. He sees Ed’s bodyguard at the side of Matt’s bed and he reaches for his handcuffs while saying, “Ben Bailey you’re under arrest for assault causing grievous bodily harm.”

All in the room turn to look at Mace, except the bodyguard. Bailey’s left hand flies inside his coat and returns with an automatic pistol in it. As soon as Bailey’s hand moves Mace’s hand starts reaching for his own handgun. However, Bailey’s gun is out and tracking before Mace even gets his hand on his. Bailey’s hand stops when his gun is pointed at Mason. Bailey smiles when he starts to pull the trigger. This is all happening so fast nearly everyone else is still trying to make sense of it.

When the actions starts Matt leans forward and reaches for Bailey’s left arm with his own right arm. He grabs the coat sleeve and he moves his body backward, thus keeping his forearm straight while he pulls Bailey’s left arm more to the left and out of line with Mace’s body.

The gun in Bailey’s hand fires four times in rapid fire while Matt is pulling on it. Because Matt is pulling on the arm while Bailey fires the bullets move further left with each squeeze of the trigger. The first round flies out the doorway and into the door of the storeroom opposite, missing Sergeant Mason by millimetres; they later find a tear in the side of his shirt where the bullet tore the cloth while just missing him. The second round is fired as Mace draws his own weapon, this bullet strikes the left chest of Eduardo Brindisi. The third round hits Ed in the sternum just as Mace’s gun comes up. Bailey’s fourth round and Mace’s first round sound like one shot when they fire together. Ed takes this bullet from Bailey in his right chest. Mace’s bullet hits Bailey and he staggers back. The coat slips out of Matt’s fingers when Bailey moves backward. Mace fires again on seeing no blood and the way Bailey reacts to the hit as Mace now knows Bailey has on body armour, so Mace’s second shot is to Bailey’s face to make him lose interest in all things due to having his brains sprayed over the wall behind him.

The room is quiet, except for the sound of Mario Brindisi shouting on Ed’s cell phone while he demands to know what’s happening. After a moment’s pause movement breaks out. Ed’s assistant moves to a chair and he sits down while getting his cell phone out. Mason is slow to put his gun back in its holster while using his other hand to activate his radio to report an officer involved shooting. Monica enters the room to check for Ed’s pulse while the rest sit and stare at the scene.

The police are quick to arrive. Scene of crime technicians gather evidence while detectives take statements from all of the witnesses. Ed’s assistant tells Mario what happened and how it came about; making Mario very angry his favourite brother is dead. The requested amount of compensation is passed along and refused by Mario.

It takes until lunchtime to clear everything away and clean up. The rest of Matt’s day progresses as usual, except for the addition of a visit by the trauma counsellor to speak with all involved except Mace and Ed’s assistant. The police have their own counsellor and the assistant left to go back to Mario as soon as the police let him go.

Sydney

George is in a series of meetings with senior party power brokers to talk about the ramifications of his visit to see Matt. Many are stunned and shocked by the information the two are likely to be assassinated if they get off the court cases. Deals are brokered, arrangements made, and orders are given. The Departmental Secretaries get orders to give the wanted information for the Freedom of Information requests today. The last two people George speaks to are the Minister of Police and the Premier. In a meeting with them both he explains they need to give up the fight and go quietly for the benefit of the party. They aren’t happy, but they finally agree to it after confirming they’ve lost all party support.

Griffith

Mario Brindisi is in a meeting with some special people who work for him, plus a couple of his most trusted and senior people. “Eduardo is dead. He took that idiot Bailey with him to Rivers. A local cop knew Bailey by sight and went to arrest him for a very old matter from up Grafton way that’s unresolved. Bailey went for his gun and a shoot out occurred. Bailey had the drop on the cop but the boy Ed was there to see grabbed Bailey’s arm and pulled. The result is Bailey shot Ed three times in the chest before the cop blew Bailey’s brains out. Bailey had on body armour so the cop’s first shot didn’t stop him. If it had Eduardo would likely not have been shot. Although Bailey pulled the trigger I want this Matthew Dyer dealt with for interfering, and the cop as well because nothing would have happened except for him challenging Bailey.” Those in the office all nod yes. “I don’t want this to come back on us so get some freelance professionals to do this. After this I figure they may put some guards on this Matthew Dyer. So have who you get check it out and give me a price first. I want to know when it happens so I can be seen to be elsewhere at the time.” More nods before those who need to take action stand and leave when he dismisses them.

When they walk out of the winery the men from the meeting discuss the situation, and they aren’t aware of the workers on the other side of the vines listening while two of the men talk of what’s planned.

Later in Griffith

That night one of the winery workers sends an email with what he heard to his real boss in the AFP Criminal Intelligence Unit in Canberra.

Dominoes

The next morning is when Superintendent Hall reads his emails, and he becomes very worried. He calls Superintendent Smith and tells him of the intelligence. Smith decides to forward the information to Matt in a quiet visit because he’s very worried about it.

Matt gets an email about government grants and he sends it to Dot.

Tuesday

Just after breakfast Matt is visited by Superintendent Smith and he’s told about the threat to his life by Mario Brindisi. Matt waits for Steve to leave before calling a number in his phone book.

“Hey, Mate, got a moment to talk?” Matt asks.

“Sure, what’s up?” Because Matt didn’t use a name on the cell phone he isn’t. It’s a good security precaution due to cell phone scanners being used by many people for many reasons; and most people find juicy stuff while looking for something on someone else.

“I’ve got an interesting situation you may be able to help me with if you will, and if you have the time to fit it in! You may wish to check the local news and follow the family links west to locate the trouble. I want you to act for me and talk tough to stop them coming this way, please.”

“No worries, Mate, we can adjust our trip. I’ll check it out and see if we can talk them out of making it a major court case.”

“Thanks for that. I’ll see you the next time you’re down this way, OK?”

“Yeah, see you then, Mate.” They both hang up.


Decoding the Clues

Two people are sitting down having a quiet cup of coffee while the man puts his cell phone away.

Frenchy asks, “That sounded odd, who was it, Bingo?”

“Matt Dyer. He wants us to look into something and stop some trouble headed his way that’s just come up. He said to check out the local news and to look for the trouble coming from family links to the west of where he is. I don’t quite get it, Frenchy.”

She smiles at him while she turns to the computer with their Internet access and she starts to check the news from the city of Rivers. In a moment she finds the news flashes about Eduardo Brindisi, so she does research on him. A little later she says, “Well, here’s part of it. The favourite younger brother of a Griffith crime boss and his bodyguard were shot and killed yesterday morning while trying to do a deal with a person in the Rivers hospital. Want to bet they called on Matt?”

“No bet. If some pushy criminal picked on Matt he’d rip their head off, or something similar, no matter how hurt he is. I guess the trouble is coming from the brother?”

“The Brindisi crime boss in Griffith is known for violent retaliation. The reporters wonder about what he’ll do to the people he feels are the cause of his brother’s death. I bet Matt would like protection from this guy in Griffith, Mario Brindisi, sending killers his way. If that’s the case we’ll have to take Mario out of the picture, and very soon.”

“I’m worried, does Matt really know what he’s asking of us?”

“Yes, he does. A few years back you were out of the country when he caused a shoot out between police and some Hell’s Angels because he stopped them from kidnapping some kids by bashing the shit out of their lead man. He got creased while acting as a human shield for one kid. I spoke to him about it later, and I found out he knows violence is sometimes needed for the protection of people. And it was he who warned me, through you, to look into what Bertram had been doing. He knew what I’d do when I found out. Bob raised Matt to be a practical and pragmatic person who knows how things go in life.” Bingo gives a slow nod in reply.

While they prepare the big camper bus for the drive to Griffith they start talking about what they’ll have to do about this matter. They talk for the seven and a half hours and two pit-stops it takes them to drive from Canberra to Griffith. They cover the many possibilities they can think of that may come up, but they agree nothing can be finalised until they find out what things are like in Griffith.

The Rest of the Week

The rest of the week passes with little happening outside the normal daily work for most. Nadia is extremely busy working on the plans and information Matt wants. Dot and Paul are busy in Sydney setting up the new Dyer Services Construction Division. Serge and the other builders are all hard at work on St Matthew’s Manor. Matt and his extended family do their studies, schooling, and other usual activities. Max is told about the Brindisi threat, and he upgrades security around Matt.

The police in Rivers and Griffith keep a closer eye on Brindisi and his people while a couple of very senior police officers wonder when the other shoe will drop. They know it’s in the air but they can’t see it, so they’ll worry until it does hit the floor.

The Rivers Inn Motel

Wednesday afternoon four men check into a ground floor room and they get organised to find out all they can about one Matthew Dyer and what he may have in the way of security. As he’s in the hospital they work out various errands they can do to justify trips to the hospital.

Half an hour later two undercover AFP detectives book in and they get a room directly across the courtyard from the room the four men are in. This way they can easily see when they leave while not being obvious about watching them.

Griffith

Brindisi and his men carry on with business as usual for their many and diverse business activities, legal and otherwise.

Sydney

A group of state politicians are preparing media reports to deal with a turn around of their position on a very hot issue. Each day a new release with a minor change is given out, so the media wonder what’s happening because they can see the slow change in the general tone.

Griffith Gathering

Frenchy and Bingo arrive in Griffith late on the Tuesday after they leave Canberra. Their earlier investigation into Mario Brindisi told them a lot about him, including the location of the vineyard he uses as his residence and main centre of operations. It’s easy to find on Google Maps, and the terrain shows it’s in the middle of a flattish area.

It only takes them one drive by with another hour of checking to know there are only three places where they can see what’s going on inside the Brindisi compound without being in it. The closest is the roof of an old building about five hundred metres from the house while the best is a hill about two kilometres away as it’s in line with the building but about triple the height. The building is rejected as it looks to have a very restricted view into the compound while offering a good view of the entrance. The hill has a good view into the compound itself as well as the entrance, so they choose that one to watch what’s going on in the compound because the third hasn’t as good a view of the target areas.

They set up camp in a small park area behind the hill and take up an observation point just below the crest of the hill. They’re too good to set up on the crest and be seen. Their observations on Wednesday and Thursday make it clear Brindisi is very security conscious and he’s not giving anyone much chance at him. He spends most of his time in his office behind what they think looks like protected glass. When he leaves he goes out in a large armoured vehicle. Friday is more of the same, but with some activity around the public side of the compound. This is a working vineyard and it’s having a special public event the next day.

Saturday morning sees the two on the hill again. Today they have a reason to smile. It’s a bright sunny day and the staff are setting up a large table in the enclosed courtyard at the back of the house. It looks like a big group of visitors for lunch, and that means they may have a chance to do what they need to do. Frenchy keeps watch as Bingo goes back to the bus for a few special accessories. He’s back in a few minutes.

About ten thirty sees a lot of people arriving at the vineyard for the wine tasting and other entertainment going on there. At eleven fifteen some of them start to filter through the house to the courtyard.

By twelve o’clock the entertainment for the public side is going full bore and there’s a group of about twenty or so people in the courtyard talking in small groups. Brindisi and his son, Tomas, are going from one small group to the other to chat with them. It’s clear some people don’t like those in the other groups. At twelve thirty Brindisi moves everyone to the table for lunch and his staff bring the meals out. There’s little talking going on now.

The table has twelve people along each side with Mario at its head and his son at the foot to make twenty-six people at the meal. While they watch the people sit down at the table Bingo says, “Did you see how they shuffled about at the table and the looks on some of the people when they saw where their named place is?”

Frenchy smiles, “Yes. Some were happy to find their places weren’t where they expected it to be and others were upset. The upset ones all ended up nearer the middle while the happiest were those moved to nearer Mario. I’d say the most important people are sitting beside him while the next most important are near his son and those nearest the bottom of the hierarchy or his favour are near the centre of the table.”

“I agree. We’ll only get a few shots away, but from this angle we should be able to get a double count by punching through to the one on the other side of the table if we aim a bit off centre.”

“Yes. You start with Tomas and I’ll start with Mario. We’ll fire three rounds on the tick and see how things are then.” Bingo nods yes and turns to open the gun cases. They’re already lying on their firing mats and have on two layers of latex gloves as well as disposable coveralls.

In only a few minutes both have their rifles set up and ready. Bingo has the laser distance measuring device out to check the range to a pot-plant near the table while Frenchy is setting up an electronics box they have. He puts the laser device down as he says, “One thousand, nine hundred and fifty metres. Set for one nine five oh. No noticeable wind across the range.” Frenchy sets the sights on her rifle. She checks the ten rounds she has out, she knows she won’t need them all but that’s her routine and routine means done the same way to the same standard.

Time to Pay the Piper

Both of them take a moment to make sure they’re comfortable with good target acquisition and practice moving from one target to the next. They lift their heads to look at each other, both nod yes. They pick up a round and slide it into the chamber of their Barrett M99 single shot .50 calibre sniper rifles. These are unlawful for an Australian citizen to own but a friend obtained these for them a few years ago. They use the same ammunition as the M95 sniper rifles they’ve used before at work. The M1022 round is ideal for long range sniper work since it has plenty of punch. The distance is long but well within the maximum range of the M99 with this round. The rate of fire is slower than with the M95 as this rifle is a single shot and they have to hand load it, but the extra range makes it worth the trouble today. The bolts snick home then Frenchy reaches to her left to hit the start button on the electronic metronome. They snuggle into the rifles while they take shallow breaths and centre on their initial targets. They wait. The targets are sitting a little over the table while they start on the desserts placed in front of them. A loud tick comes from the box between the two skilled snipers so both squeeze their triggers. The sound of one shot rings out. Both work the bolts to slide another round in. They sight on a new target. Another tick sounds and they fire. They work the bolts. Slide in new rounds and pick the next target. A third tick sounds and they fire. Both decide that’s it, then Bingo spots a man near the house looking at their hill with a pair of binoculars. He slides a fourth round in, sights, and fires. Both are fast but not hurried while they pick up all their gear, including the spent brass. They pack up and move off at a fast pace as they go around the side of the hill on their way back to their camper.

A few minutes later they’re in the bus. Bingo strips off the gloves and the disposable coverall he’s wearing. He washes his face and hands with a disposable wipe, gets into the driver’s seat, and drives off. Frenchy goes straight to the table and starts cleaning her rifle. In a few minutes it’s cleaned and ready to be put away. Bingo’s rifle is next, then she takes them to the hidden storage area and puts them away. She strips off her disposable coverings and cleans up with a wipe as well. All this is put in a steel bin with an acid solution in it. About twenty minutes after leaving the camping area Bingo pulls into a roadside rest area. They get the bin and pour out the milky fluid onto the ground.

Just Desserts

Brindisi is smiling while he goes around his guests before they sit down to have lunch. He’s using the wine tasting to bring together his top contacts and leaders for a strategy talk. He has a lot to reorganise with his brother dead and Jacobs being locked up with a lot of the money not available to use means several deals have gone wrong and cost him money. Things must change, and those responsible must pay for this. Mario is happy because his people have got men on the ground to collect, and the price is acceptable. All he has to do is send the word back with the first half deposit payment.

Superintendent Michael Thompson arrives just as the meal is ready to serve, and he’s the last to arrive. Mario directs them all to the table as he doesn’t mind waiting for business until after the meal. They don’t talk business during meals as that’s for after, during the coffee and cognac. When they take their seats a few aren’t happy to find they’ve slipped down in his esteem. That should make them improve their work. The roast meat and vegetables are served and eaten while they talk about families and the local news items. The dessert is served and they start to enjoy it. Mario starts to anticipate his special dessert for next week.

All are focussed on their food when both Mario and Tomas grunt and are thrown sideways out of their chairs. Those near them turn to look at them. They see their sides are red just as the sound of a gunshot reaches them. Their heads lift up. The person sitting on the left hand of Mario and the person sitting on Tomas’ right hand both slam forward into the table while the people opposite them are knocked backward out of their chairs. The others are starting to push back from the table when another gunshot reaches them. That sound is in their ears while everyone starts to stand when the two people sitting beside the last two shot slam forward into the table and the two opposite them are knocked over backward. When a third gunshot reaches them all but two of the living diners are racing away from the table. The other two are on the ground beside the table throwing up while the rest scatter for cover.

When Mario and Tomas go flying David, Mario’s senior personal bodyguard, looks around the courtyard searching for killers with silenced weapons. With the sound of the gunshot he raises his eyes to check the surrounding countryside. Just after the sound of the second gunshot reaches them he spots two flashes on a hill off in the distance. While he raises his pocket binoculars to look at the hill he thinks, Surely they can’t be shooting from way out there? He spots another flash, a single one this time, and he wonders what that means. A moment later he knows because he enters a world of pain when his chest is ripped apart and he’s thrown against the brick wall of the house behind him.

A fourth gunshot reaches the luncheon, but there’s no movement in the courtyard. All are hiding behind something solid or lying on the ground while they die. Even the guards have taken cover.

When two minutes go by with no more gunshots one of the guards stands up and goes to check his boss. When he isn’t shot the rest of the diners scramble out of cover to head for the house. Only to stop when they see two men in plain clothes holding up police identification and signing for them to settle down and come inside. Many are very upset because the police hadn’t known of their links to Brindisi, and now they will know of the links.

Andy’s Afternoon

Andrew Spencer isn’t a happy man because it’s a nice sunny Saturday with no wind worth talking of, and he’s not out fishing. That’s bad enough, but he’s at a wine tasting at the vineyard of the man he’s trying to get arrested and charged. The only good thing about it is his best friend, George Nichols, is here too. Their wives organised today. George is married to Andy’s sister who happens to be his wife’s best friend. That’s how they ended up this way. He married his sister’s best friend and his best friend married his sister.

The four of them are sitting at a table having a light meal with the wine when they hear a gunshot, outside and a bit distant. Andy stands as he says, “You lot stay here. George, keep the girls safe.” He heads for the door while pulling his police identification out of his pants pocket and putting it in his shirt pocket. Nearing the main door he hears a second gunshot just as he sees a police officer he knows heading for the door too. Andy calls out, “Senior Constable Evans, come with me.” He keeps walking out of the building while other people push to get in it.

Barry Evans looks over and recognises Detective Sergeant Spencer so he nods yes while he moves toward him. Together they walk outside when a third gunshot is heard and they can hear screams coming from the other side of the main house. When they near the door it opens and several women race out while screaming about people dying. They reach the front door while a fourth gunshot sounds in the distance.

Andy says, “Barry, I don’t know where those shots came from but they sounded like they’re a fair distance out so I don’t expect any troubles from them up close. But take care because some of Brindisi’s people may get out of hand.” Barry nods agreement. Both are unarmed, the usual state of New South Wales police officers off duty. Andy gets his cell phone out and punches for emergency services. They answer, “Sergeant Andrew Spencer, Griffith Police. Brindisi Vineyard, shots fired, reports of dead. Please send ambulances and police support.” They repeat his report and acknowledge the support will be sent.

The two police officers walk through the house and are at the exit to the courtyard when they see a dozen or so people racing for the double doors. Both hold up their police IDs and wave for the people to come into the room. They recognise quite a few of the faces. Andy waves them to a group of seats on one side of this lounge like room, saying, “Please take a seat because we’ll need to get statements about what happened from you all.” He turns to Barry, “Get names and addresses, make sure of the names with ID of some sort. If you can find some pads and pens those who wish to save some time can write out and sign a statement instead of waiting for us to write it for them. If they want legal advisers let them call them.” A number of them pull out phones to start making calls. “Don’t let anyone leave until we’ve had a chance to ask them a few questions. I’m going out to see what’s outside.” Barry nods yes while he turns to ask one of the few remaining staff about pads and pens, the man asked goes off to get them for him.

Andy walks out to study the carnage, and he gets a huge shock when he sees ten dead at the table and another dead at the house wall. That’s eleven dead, and he only heard four shots. He can’t understand it. He shrugs his shoulders as he decides to leave that for the forensic people as he goes to check on the dead. He walks up to each one to check for a pulse. No pulses as all are dead, so he checks their faces.

He starts near the doorway to check the guard first. Then over to the end to check Mario. He moves to his right to check that person. When he looks at the face he gets out his phone and he calls the station. They answer, and he says, “This is Sergeant Spencer, put the Station Sergeant on, please.” The duty constable who answered the phone calls his sergeant over and hands him the phone while telling him who’s on the line. When the sergeant identifies himself Andy says, “I don’t care how you do it or what else is going on, but I need the Shift Commander and the District Duty Officer out at the Brindisi Vineyard as of ten minutes ago. Got it? See if you can find Detective Inspector Wilson and send him out, if you can!”

“Will do, Andy. What’s up?”

“Sorry, not over a mobile phone. But I will say you’ll really wish you didn’t know after I tell you about it later.”

“Ah, right, Mate. See you. Oh, I’ll log you on as special duty as of this moment.”

“Right, thanks for that. List Barry Evans too, because he’s out here helping me with this.” They hang up, and Andy goes on around the table checking the pulses and the faces. He rings emergency services again. When they answer he says, “Sergeant Spencer again. You can turn the ambulances around because there’s nothing left here for them now. Send the government contractor because we’ve got eleven dead.” They acknowledge the report. Andy stands up and listens. He can just hear a bunch of sirens in the distance as the vineyard is a fair distance from town. While he listens some of the sirens stop, but some keep coming.

 
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