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BLACK TIE

BLACK TIE
 

In BLACK COMEDY, William Black was challenged by the opportunity to become an Australian of Aboriginal descent in charge of a prison and modernise its approach to custodial corrections. The institution he inherited had not seen or desired change.

 His wife Maria, also of Aboriginal descent but raised by an Italian family in the vineyards and fruit orchards of Griffith, looked forward to running her own restaurant.

 William’s efforts met resistance, and he took his own life when faced with his failure as he saw it, and the responsibility for his wife being at death’s door as the victim of the bombing of her business by his enemies. Now in BLACK TIE, Maria Black, recovering from her injuries and with the help of her friends, takes up the challenge of rebuilding her life physically, emotionally and financially; and exacting her revenge, by fair means or foul, on those who destroyed her husband
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ISBN:   978-1-921919-61-9  
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 208
Genre: Fiction

 

Author: Paul Frisby
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

The sequel to the author’s controversial first novel BLACK COMEDY

 

Prologue 

 

Black Comedy caused a bit of stir, to use an Australian colloquialism. Some people suggested that a lot of the story could never have happened, and now I can confirm that a lot of it did, although not quite in the way it was woven together in the book.

Some readers said that killing off of William George Augustus Black, the main figure (I deliberately avoid the use of the word hero) in Black Comedy, deprived readers of more tales from the inside, if you will pardon the pun. However, in speaking with those who were there, and those there now, and who read the book; I was reminded of how many stories there are to be told, how much more I could have said, and how many tales are coming to light in so many different ways. For example there are now websites full of the iniquities of prison life and systems, as well as an extensive history of literature telling jail stories from both sides of the bars. 

One of the most remarkable of comparisons of the same jail stories being told from both sides are for me the now historic Colditz books, written by Pat Reid, a British prisoner of war, and  Reinhold Eggers who speaks from the German side, and was himself jailed after the war in Russian controlled Germany. These two men typified the cunning young prisoner and his daredevil friends; and the older ethical custodian, often poorly served by his commanders and his staff.

Having drawn this comparison I feel it necessary to mention the exceptions. These are the custodial situations not limited to the custody of genuine criminals (a somewhat ill defined phrase I know); such as the political prisoners of the Gulag (and indeed Eggers who was denounced as anti-communist after the war); the outrages of American military (and its contractors); custodial practices such as rendition; and the most regrettable detention of genuine asylum seekers of all ages, a matter of much contention in Australia at the time of the writing of this book.

Reinhold Eggers gives insights into the story behind the story and the failures of his own command structure. His story gives one faith in the incapacity of any large organisation to run anything efficiently and effectively, even if it was part of the Third Reich. Eggers even tells of a headquarters officer whose family connections with industry forestalled the investigation of possible design faults in electrical security systems. It is proof that nothing changes, and we rarely learn from history. As Scott Adams says most of us are stupid most of the time. 

For those readers of Black Comedy who wanted better for Maria, this book is for you. For those who want a bit more of the intrigue of Black Comedy, this is for you too. Other characters from Black Comedy, such as Fred, Reg, Debbie, Motel and the General are back, with some new ones to taunt the imagination and hopefully make it another good read; as well as a book with a message or two. 

Some people whose advice I have taken along the way have again suggested to me that a lot of the story could never have happened. I can assure you, this time in advance, that lot of it just might, but not quite in the way it is woven together in the book.

 

CHAPTER 1 - sample

 

Whatever was a word that ten years later was to come into teenage cult usage. Late in the 1990s Prison Officer Weston Puceley was a man to whom the word whatever, could have been applied at any stage in his life. Even when he had provided the live grenade for use in the destruction of his General Manager’s wife’s restaurant, both the motivation for doing so and the collateral damage, as the Americans would have said, of the serious injury of Maria Black the wife in question, were to Officer Puceley merely routine and transitory passages in a life noted for its lack of deep motivation. Whatever.

A Thomastown boy whose enthusiasm for education was less coloured by interest than greyed by a bland whatever, led to poor academic results. His achievements in sport were similarly mediocre, lacking in any particular interest. He played football and cricket unenthusiastically with the rest of his class because that’s what everyone did. Whatever.

His subsequent conscription late in the Vietnam War was just another phase in a life of benign acceptance. So was the letter from his wife of twelve months, his old high school girlfriend with whom his relationship had been more a matter of fact than passion, announcing her request for a divorce while he was overseas getting shot at; scarcely caused a ripple in his soul. Whatever.

He returned to Australia and discharge from the army, a man with no relevant civilian skills and a small collection of military memorabilia which he had easily smuggled on and subsequently off HMAS Sydney on his return. The collection included the grenade which in due course was used to blast Mama Maria’s restaurant into splinters and glass shards; through its use by two nondescript discharged inmates. Puceley had also developed a love of Asia and Asian women, whose company he had thoroughly enjoyed during his service, especially after his divorce.

Returning to his home town, Thomastown in Queensland, with nothing special to do and limited education; lacking skills, or talent, or it has to be said motivation for doing anything in particular, along with a lack of objection to the wearing of a uniform, he fell into the job of prison officer. In the early days of his service at least, life was undemanding in the extreme, while the pay was more than reasonable.

The efforts of his fellow officers to take on unapproved second jobs and to screw the system for every hour of overtime was not of his making, nor something that gave him cause for concern. He benefited from his disinterest with what was going on. With no family to add to his costs he had no interest in outside employment. The extra money that appeared in his pay packet from the overtime allowed him to buy a nice house, drive an up to date locally-made Holden car, and have his own sixteen foot aluminium fishing boat.

The level of pay, lack of marriage and the substantial leave provisions for his job, designed to accommodate the stresses of the life of a jailer, stresses which Puceley did not feel, gave him the opportunity to drift through the majority of the year in quiet recreation mainly with his workmates on his rostered days off; and to enjoy an annual overseas trip to Asia. In Asia he could indulge his single male status and financial capacity in all the pleasures on offer; and, as his grandfather had been wont to say, without shitting in his own nest.

Over the most recent years he had developed the habit of spending one week touring and sightseeing, and then a second in sheer relaxation on the Thai island of Koh Samui, where the beer bars, restaurants and poolrooms complemented the magnificence of the scenery, fishing and diving to be had.

On Koh Samui he was now no longer a naive farang but recognised that the girls, seeking funds and fun in that order, saw him as a walking ATM. He saw their attitudes as a pragmatic acceptance of their situation, down from the north to earn money and escape rural boredom, just as he accepted his lot. Whatever.

He took his annual leave regularly about the end of November or early December, and he was as competent a tourist on the island as any other, knowing where to go, what to pay and what to do. He was not an ugly Australian abroad. He stayed away from expatriates living on the island doing suspect land deals, didn’t try to bargain bar fines when they were not inflated, and knew the prices of short times and long times. He stayed at the same four star resort every visit, knowing it was not only clean and very comfortable, but had a whatever attitude to an extra overnight guest in a room when the appropriate accommodation supplement was paid. In short, he understood and respected local custom.

 

~~

 

Weston Puceley, or Wes as he was generally known, had been woken by the Qantas hostess an hour before landing in Sydney on his return flight from his annual holiday. Like all the other passengers he had to deal with the necessity of filling out his immigration form and customs declaration. While he recognised he had rather overdone his last couple of days on the island this year, and was somewhat still hung over from the night before, he knew that filling out the forms now was just part and parcel of the inevitable and necessary bureaucracy of coming home. His age was catching up with him. Whatever.

Little Sunista, Sue, had stayed with him overnight despite the fact that he had been well and truly pissed, and had even given him a final quicky before his rush to the local airport and thence to Bangkok’s Don Muang for his transfer to Qantas. He couldn’t remember clearly but he fancied that Sue and he had been having such a good time he had even forgotten to use a condom a couple of times. Fortunately airline check-in at Koh Samui had been quick and perfunctory, and he did not miss his flight. His luggage was automatically transferred from his internal Thai flight to his Sydney aircraft without further check-in at Bangkok.

 

After landing, and as an experienced traveller, he let the crowd rush ahead and stand waiting for their luggage to come off the plane, while his delay would be minimal with a few minutes of extra comfort in his airline seat. In the fullness of time he disembarked. His silver-coloured hard shelled clam-style suitcase came through the rubber curtain soon after he got to the carousel. Grabbing the handle on the end he clicked the locking catch in the centre of it with his thumb. He pulled it to extend the twin alloy tubes attached from out of the case so he could wheel it behind him; firstly through immigration which, as usual, proved no difficulty, and thence to customs.

Catching up with the inevitable queue he waited, thinking of nothing in particular. He then became aware of a presence next to him, and looked down to see a Labrador on the end of a long leash attached at the other end to a customs officer. The dog was looking up at him with bright intelligent eyes from a seated position next to his luggage. Its tail was slowly sweeping the floor, left to right, right to left, left to right. On meeting his gaze it licked its lips and, still sitting, shuffled a couple of inches toward him, cocking its head to one side. Cute.

The Labrador’s handler reeled up the long leash and slipped the dog a treat.

“Would you come with me please, sir?”

Certainly, whatever.

Wes was taken to a desk away from the queue and behind a small partition where two customs officers waited. It was explained to him that the Labrador was a drug detection dog and had shown interest in him and his baggage.

“Would you put all of your bags on the counter please?” Fine, whatever.

The dog and its handler vanished and the two customs officers put on blue rubber gloves. When asked, Wes confirmed he had packed his own bags and that he had filled out his customs declaration personally on the plane. He was then asked to open his case, which he did with alacrity, knowing he had nothing to hide.

 

The officers removed his clothes piece by piece from both sides of the clamshell, even emptying his dirty laundry from the hotel supplied plastic bag in which he had put them. They found nothing. They then lifted back the lining on one side of the case. Wes heard the Velcro tabs tearing open as they did so. He didn’t know that was the way it was held in and that it could be split down the middle. It was stitched all the way around to the big zipper that closed the clamshell case. Whatever. It was not something he had ever wanted to know, although the customs officers were obviously familiar with the type.

The inside of the hard fibre case was covered with a paper lining. The officers didn’t find anything else on the first side they looked at.

They then went to the other side, the one with the wheels and the sockets from which the handle pulled out so that the case could be towed. Again there was the sound of the Velcro closures being pulled apart, and Wes noticed the paper lining underneath was a different pattern to that on the other side. So did the officers. They also noticed that the valley that they knew, even if he didn’t, that was customary between the two internal enclosing tubes from which the extended handle was pulled, was not there.

One of them produced a knife and, working it under the lining paper adjacent to the zip, lifted enough paper to get a purchase with her hand. She then slowly, patiently and evenly worked the paper lining down the side of the case to the bottom, and across the inside of the case; across the line of the first tube, and then the second tube. In between, taped in the valley was a flat plastic covered package which was subsequently found to contain a kilo of relatively low grade heroin. The package, Weston saw, had a stick-on label printed with a grenade on it.

He was reconciled immediately to what was going to happen to him and the minimum five-year custodial sentence he knew he was going to serve, and why. He could not even imagine any sort of possible defence. Whatever.

 

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