Calypso Queen is set mostly in the local Queensland area and is another crime-fiction story from this prolific author. 

Dunstan Hayes is a retired army officer and fearless fighter who now owns a boat business. He also owns a marina at Runaway Bay where he moors his boat Calypso Queen whilst being a compulsive gambler in his spare time. 

When Evan Bates comes into his life and saves him from two thugs he gets talked in to having his boat used for drug smuggling. 

A fire insurance claim worth millions is investigated by Reg Kelso, a character from the previous book, and a dangerous web of corruption and attempted murder is played out in this gripping story. 

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-23-7  
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 214
Genre: Fiction


Author: John Meskell
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

Books by the same author  

UFO’s Food for Thought

Murder without Reason

Neurotic Predator Unmasked

Gross, Unethical Conduct

The Dragon’s Breath


TIME HAD BEEN GOOD to Dunstan Hayes and it was said by some that at forty-four he was still a handsome man. When he smiled his teeth shone like white ivory beneath a heavy dark moustache. There were few wrinkles etched into his face, he was tall and broad shouldered, with thick dark hair parted on the side.

There was not too much that Hayes had not got up to in twenty-six years of service in the Royal Australian Army, seven years attached to the elite Strategic Air Service, parachuting behind enemy lines at night in Vietnam and again in Iraq during the Desert War. He had gained a reputation of being a fearless killer and in time, rose through the ranks until he made captain and was best known for his expertise with explosives and incendiary devices.

Being an expert in such matters enabled him to travel extensively on loan from the Australian Army. He lectured in army colleges throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, demonstrating how to make explosives from ingredients easily obtainable and purchased from supermarkets, garages and roadside stalls. Simple, cheap devices, powerful and deadly, made efficiently from sulphuric acid, chlorine, petrol, sugar, gunpowder and Condies crystals to name a few.

Still single and now retired from the army, Hayes had his sights set on owning his own small boat business. He became very emotional if the subject of boats was ever mentioned in his company; it was like a disease he couldn’t comprehend, and he lived, slept and ate boats twenty-four hours a day, owning a vessel moored in the Brisbane River near Bulimba.

It was the one love of his life, his bewitching enchantment, his idealistic pride and joy: a fifty-five-foot, fibreglass motor/sailer named Calypso Queen, with a 100hp GMC diesel engine and a seven-hundred-litre fuel tank.

The vessel had everything any modern sailor could ever desire, with a conventional shaft attached to a fixed-blade propeller, an engine room soundproofed, and ample room for a Yamaha generator. Hayes spent every bit of his spare time sailing his boat in Moreton Bay and had done several cruises to the Bay of Islands in the north island of New Zealand.

He had planned his future after retirement from the army and reasoned it would, to all intents and purposes, be in the game of buying and selling pleasure craft from a marina, hopefully situated on the water. He further decided that if this venture ever came about he was not going to be tied down to any particular boat manufacturer to exclusively sell their product. Rather, he wanted to be a freelance operator selling all types of boats and marine equipment to potential consumers.

Subsequently, after he retired, six months went by before his enquiries found the property he was seeking. It was perfect for his wants: a marina on the banks of Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast. Hayes was able to purchase the rundown property and business from a man who was retiring due to ill health.

The first thing he did was move his yacht from Brisbane down to Runaway Bay where he anchored it in front of his newly acquired marina. As well, there was a boat sales yard attached alongside the main building and a slipway running out of deep water up into the main showroom through roller doors. It was a large slipway, big enough to house vessels up to sixty feet in length, where hulls were scraped and cleaned and given a repaint of anti-fouling. There was a staff of five: a female secretary, who knew all the ins and outs of the business, and four males, two of whom were engaged in the sales side of things, and the other two carrying out fibreglass repairs.

After two years his business began progressing steadily and Hayes restored the marina business back to the standard it had once boasted before the previous owner became too ill to continue.

To all appearances Hayes was a very successful businessman; however, beneath the cloak of success he presented to the world there was another side to him. He was an irresponsible and compulsive gambler, an obsession he had no control over despite repeated attempts over many years to overcome. On more than one occasion Hayes had come close to ‘going down the gurgler’ because of his overwhelming compulsion to get rich quick.

While in the army he ran a starting-price betting service with immunity from prosecution. He had a regular clientele of army mates, and quickly established a reputation of never welshing on a bet no matter how big it was. Consequently he made a great deal of money from this virtually untouchable enterprise.

The only people he had any concern with were military police; however, he was never bothered by them and was quick to learn that while he conducted his betting business on Commonwealth ground and was scrupulously fair in all his betting transactions, he never would.

Now, years later, Hayes finished work in his marina one Saturday night and decided to indulge once more in his favourite pastime. He parked beneath the Gold Coast Casino, stepped out, and pushing a button on his key chain he heard the central locking system of his vehicle click into place. As he did he heard a scuffle a few car spaces away and looking around he saw two men wearing dark balaclava masks kicking at someone on the ground.

Without thinking, Hayes roared at the assailants, ‘Hey, what the hell do you pair of bastards think you’re doing?’ and moved towards them.

Both men stopped their kicking and Hayes heard a groan come from the ground. The nearest man was tall and slim, and immediately pulled a knife from an ankle scabbard and waved it menacingly at Hayes.

‘Fuck off!’ he sneered, lunging at Hayes with the knife.

Hayes jerked his head back and easily evaded the knife which struck the car next to him. He had not engaged in any hand-to-hand unarmed combat for many years but then again, he had also never forgotten what to if such an emergency ever presented itself, but then again a trained combatant seldom does. He exercised daily, kicking and thumping a heavy punching bag to keep his reflexes finely tuned. What happened next would seem a blur to the untrained observer; his movements were almost too quick to distinguish.

Ordinarily the blow Hayes directed with the heel of his palm would have shattered his opponent’s ribcage, thrusting bone splinters inward and upward to impale heart and lungs. But Hayes kept control and did not strike hard enough to kill; just enough to smash a couple of ribs. His opponent was a rank amateur and nothing more than a punk in his estimation and he did not want the cops hunting him for killing an insect like this fool.

The adrenaline which had been surging through his body began to ease now the initial altercation had subsided somewhat with assailant number one on the ground nursing a busted ribcage.

The second thug was already charging at Hayes with his cosh swinging. It was a wild swing executed in panic and Hayes merely twisted in the confined space and kicking upward at the throat of his assailant, his shoe struck the thug below the chin and his jawbone snapped.  At the same time Hayes struck like lightning with his right arm moving upward and tilting slightly inward, striking his opponent’s right arm at the elbow and dislocating it. As the man dropped to the ground in sheer agony, Hayes did not muck about and finished the job off by ripping his foot into the assailant’s solo plexus.      

The victim of the attackers stirred on the ground. Hayes helped him to his feet and picked up his unopened wallet. ‘These pricks won’t be worrying you again,’ said Hayes handing him the wallet. ‘Come on let’s get out of here,’ he said, kicking the first assailant in the head now beginning to stir.

‘Hell, good God almighty,’ stuttered the man, climbing to his feet. ‘Shouldn’t we call the police?’  

‘What for?’ grinned Hayes, his heartbeat now pumping at a steady rate. ‘No good calling the coppers, these pair of bastards got more than any court would dish out to them.’

‘But what if one of them should die?’ he stammered.

‘Don’t give it another thought,’ said Hayes. ‘Only the good die young but not these pair of pricks. However, I’ll alert the security staff without giving myself up if it worries you that much,’ he said.

Hayes guided the man to a nearby light and began to tidy him up. The man looked at him gratefully. ‘My name’s Evan Bates and I can’t thank you enough for your help. Christ, those two bastards must’ve been waiting for someone like me to come along,’ he shuddered

‘I’ll guarantee they won’t be waiting for anybody else for a long time,’ said Hayes with a grin. ‘Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. Luckily you’re not too bad and believe me, I’ve seen worse.’

They moved to the gents’ toilet and Hayes left Bates splashing his face while he phoned security about the two thugs he had left lying on the ground.

Bates looked at himself in the mirror and apart from a few abrasions he did not look too bad taking everything into consideration. He washed his face and combed his hair and wetting his handkerchief wiped at the stains on his trousers and shirt. Although still not feeling one hundred percent he nevertheless had fared well thanks to Hayes’ timely intervention. His arms were painful where he had been warding off the blows from his assailants, but apart from that he was all right.

He walked out to the bar area still feeling a little shaken and found Hayes at the bar drinking on his own. He moved over to Hayes and gripped his hand warmly. ‘I’d like to thank you for what you did. What’s your name? I don’t even know that!’

‘Dunstan Hayes,’ said Hayes with a grin.

‘What do you do for a living? Shit, you took care of those two bastards like a professional,’ said Bates.

Hayes laughed. ‘No, not really, just simple self-defence I learned in the army. I sell boats at my marina, in Runaway Bay.’

A head shorter that Hayes, Bates had thinning hair, brown eyes and was dressed in casual clothing. A blue striped T-shirt hung outside his waist over cream trousers.

‘Boats eh? I own a boat,’ he said.   

Bates had mentioned something which in his wildest dreams he would never know about: the magic word he had dropped to Hayes in conversation – ‘Boats’!

Never one to make friends easily, Hayes’ barrier dropped a little at the sound of the enticing word emanating from the mouth of Bates.

‘What sort of a boat do you own?’ Hayes asked, still trying to sum up Bates.

Bates warmed to the conversation. ‘I’ve got a thirty-five-footer. She’s a triple-hulled Kauri timber job, twenty years old and built in New Zealand and if I may be so bold as to say a great little battler in heavy seas.’

‘What sort of an engine do you have in her?’ Hayes asked, with interest showing in his eyes.

‘A four-cylinder Perkins diesel,’ Bates smiled. ‘Just the right size and low on fuel consumption.’

‘What’re you drinking?’ Hayes asked.

‘Rum and coke,’ Bates replied.

Hayes signalled the bartender and ordered the drinks and saw a table being vacated. ‘Let’s sit over there,’ he indicated. They talked about boats and sailing for several hours and Hayes told Bates about his yacht and the sea voyages he had made.

Bates nodded and sighed. ‘I sort of stick to the waters in Moreton Bay and up through the Barrier Reef islands,’ he said to Hayes. ‘I’m not too clever with navigation and I think if I got out past the reef and the sight of land I’d get lost,’ he added dejectedly. ‘Where’d you learn to navigate?’

Hayes was now completely relaxed. ‘I went to navigation classes about twenty years ago and I learned a great deal from those classes, how to read a sextant and all that stuff. I’ve just retired from the army after twenty-six years and I learned plenty of things there, particularly with map reading and celestial navigation. So I guess you could say I had a head start in that regard.’

‘What rank did you get to?’ asked Bates, signalling the waiter for another round of drinks.

‘I made it to captain, believe it or not,’ Hayes smiled. ‘I did it the hard way up through the ranks and not through a University course like the young men and women do today. They come straight into the service with the rank of lieutenant, and know it all. Quite decent people mind you, and a few years afterwards I guess they get to grasp the important things that count.’

‘So you’ve knocked around a bit?’ Bates said. Hayes heard envy in his voice.

‘I guess you could say that,’ Hayes agreed. ‘I’ve served in Vietnam, been in the Desert War on loan to the Yanks and lectured in a few army colleges in Canada, England and Asia about explosives and incendiary devices. I lived in Thailand for a few years in Bangkok as well as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

‘Yeah, I guess you could say I’ve been lucky in my life. It never cost me a cent and all on the Commonwealth Government,’ Hayes chuckled.

They had another round of drinks and Hayes was beginning to get tipsy and enjoying the company of Bates.

‘No wonder you knew how to take care of those two bastards in the car park,’ said Bates. ‘I think I’ve seen you in here before.’

‘You must come in here on a Saturday night if you’ve seen me here before,’ said Hayes.

‘Yeah, I come here a fair bit,’ replied Bates. ‘I’m a shit of a gambler though and I mainly come here to pick up a bird if I can. Are you married?’

‘No,’ Hayes smiled. ‘The right one hasn’t come along yet but I’m doing all right being single, I don’t have to answer to anyone and come and go as I please. How about yourself?’

‘Just about divorced. We’ve been separated for a while now and no doubt she’ll get just about everything I own except my yacht which I live on. Fortunately for us, I suppose, we had no kids to worry about. However, it was probably one of the reasons why we split up – she always wanted kids.’

They had a few more drinks and moved around the tables until they came to Hayes’s favourite game, Roulette. Hayes liked playing Roulette, it was fast, and it was not long before he was winning several thousand dollars. Bates followed his play and he too came up winning several hundred dollars. Hayes quit while he was in front; he had his money back and had also won twelve hundred dollars. He and Bates returned to the bar for a final round of drinks.

‘You haven’t told me what you do for a job?’ Hayes commented.

‘I’m not doing anything at the moment. I’ve just finished a job as a car salesman. The firm I was with went bust and I’m out of work but I’ve got a bit put away to last me for a while,’ Bates said.

Hayes handed him his business card. ‘You can get me there most days of the week. Call in any time and I’ll take time out to teach you a bit about navigation. My boat’s moored nearby and I’ll show you over it,’ he enthusiastically said.

Two days later Bates arrived at the marina.

‘Okay, I’m accepting your offer to have a look at your boat,’ he smiled.

‘No problems, we’ll grab the dinghy and paddle out to her,’ Hayes said. As they neared the boat Bates saw it was constructed of fibreglass with two stainless steel masts set into the upper deck with sails securely tied along stainless steel booms. Two jib sails were furled, forward of the vessel. Waves slapped up against the sides of the yacht and drawing alongside, they scrambled up a small stainless steel ladder hanging down to water level.  

Bates studied the immaculate polished woodwork, the scrubbed teak decks and ropes laid out in perfect coils with a rich gleam emanating from the highly polished copper binnacle. Midships included a galley with bleached mahogany cabinets and matching deck. A microwave oven swung on a pendulum from the deck-head and a maze of electronic gear was visible: echo sounder, GPS and satellite navigation systems, compass, ship-to-shore radio, computer and print-out machine.

A television receiver overlooked a comfortable stateroom. Bates realised how much in love Hayes was with his boat; he had spared no expense in fitting it out and the results were outstanding. 

‘Here’s my small chart cabin,’ said Hayes indicating a small space built beneath the companionway. Bates saw a fixed swivel chair in front of a chart table, with an overhead light fixed to the bulkhead. There were rolls of charts protruding from pigeonholes.

‘I’ve got maps here for any part of the world. That’s one of my favourite pastimes, plotting these overseas journeys. However, I know I can never partake in this fantasy, never go away on any of those planned voyages. They’re too far distant and I’d be away from my business too long but gee, it’s fun making believe.’

Hayes tapped a book with his finger. ‘I’ve kept this book and noted all my coordinates, distances and points to take satellite navigational readings.’ He sighed. ‘I’ve had some great trips to New Zealand on several occasions and apart from the occasional trip to the Tongan Islands and Fiji, that’s about as far as I’ve gone.’

‘Well, it’s a lot further than I’ve ever been,’ Bates laughed. ‘Like I said, if I got out of the sight of land I’d get lost.’

‘We can fix that without too much trouble,’ said Hayes. ‘If you can make the time I’ll teach you the basics of navigation. The rest should come easy to you. Have you got satellite navigation installed in your boat?’

‘No, not yet, but I intend to do in the near future. It’s been continually on my mind,’ said Bates.

‘When you do get that installed, navigation is a piece of cake and really, it’s probably the most essential piece of equipment you should have. You’ll find there’s nothing to celestial navigation and anyhow, I’ll help you with that,’ Hayes said confidently.  

It was because of their common love of boats that a firm friendship developed between the two men and they began to meet and socialise together in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. Bates sailed his boat from Brisbane down to the Gold Coast Broadwater where he anchored his thirty-five-foot yacht near Hayes’ vessel.

When one of the marina employees left through illness Hayes immediately employed Bates in the sales department. It turned out to be a wise move: Bates was a born salesman.

However, as fast as the money was coming in Hayes was gambling it away, completely obsessed with his insatiable gambling disease. One evening, while he and Bates were having a few drinks in their favourite habitat, the Gold Coast Casino, and busily engaged in watching the passing parade, Hayes noisily smacked his lips and in a serious manner said, ‘You know, Evan, I’ve got some problems and they’re beginning to smother me.’

Bates looked questioningly at him waiting for him to continue.

‘Cash flow, mate, cash flow. I’m down to rock bottom. It’s not the first time, but this time it’s not good,’ he said.

‘How come?’ Bates asked. ‘Your business seems to be going along alright.’

‘Yeah, it is, but I’m afraid I’ve been losing too much in this fucking place and to the bookies,’ Hayes dejectedly replied. ‘I’m frightened of losing my boat more than anything and I can assure you things aren’t real good.’

‘I’ve got a bit stashed away if you want a loan I’ll help out. Interest-free too,’ Bates smiled.

‘I appreciate that but surely there must be another way to get around this problem.’

Bates looked around to make sure no one was within hearing distance. ‘I know a way,’ he said, his voice lowered.

‘I’m all ears,’ said Hayes. ‘What have you got in mind?’

Bates took a deep breath and exhaled, pursing his lips. ‘Ever thought of putting that boat of yours to work for you?’

‘What’ve you got in mind, Evan?’ Hayes asked.  

‘What about getting into the smuggling business, like doing a couple of trips to New Zealand now and then and at the same time being very well compensated for your efforts?’ Bates grinned.

‘You’d have to be talking about drugs. Forget it. I don’t want to be on the Feds’ hit list and lose my boat. Besides, that’s one thing I’ve been against all my life and anyone smuggling heroin or cocaine into our country is ratshit as far as I’m concerned. I’ll give them up every time and you’d have to have rocks in your head to even think about it.’

‘Mmm, point taken, but what about marijuana or in its compressed form, hashish? It’s not a hard drug and that’s what I was alluding to. I’d never have anything to do with hard drugs either, but these days a dollar’s a dollar and getting harder to get as we travel along,’ said Bates.

Hayes ordered two more drinks; he bent down and tucked a shoelace into the side of his shoe, his mind racing overtime.  Straightening up he peered intently at Bates, his expression unchanged.

‘What do you know about smuggling marijuana, Evan?’

‘I’ll deny this conversation ever took place if you somersault on me, which I would never believe,’ said Bates. ‘I’ve got a bit of brass hidden away for a rainy day just by doing a few trips in my boat. I know if I had your knowledge of navigation I’d have a great deal more stashed away and not from hard drugs either. If you’re interested, I’ve got a good contact. Think about it and let me know in a few days. The money to be made is incredible and the good part is it’s guaranteed.’

Hayes leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling in deep thought. He looked back at Bates and said, ‘I’ll give it some thought, but if I do come into this it’s got to be well planned and done my way, and my way only. Is that understood?’

Hayes did give Bates’ suggestion some deep thought. He looked over his books with his accountant Bruce Davies and the predictions were grim. The accountant was very terse with him and scolded him for his insatiable gambling. ‘You can’t go on like this, Dunstan. If you do you’re going to run head on into disaster and at a fast rate of knots.’

‘I have a friend who’ll lend me some money interest-free to get me out of trouble – can I wait a few months?’ Hayes muttered.

‘I’m afraid not, Dunstan, you’ve got to come up with twenty-five thousand dollars right now or you’re going to have to sell up, that’s how much money you owe your creditors. Mate, if you go down the gurgler here on the Gold Coast the word will spread like wildfire and no one will want to have anything to do with you.

‘If you’re going bad you’ll find out you won’t have as many true blue friends as you believed you had. There are more smarties here to the square mile than the rest of Australia put together and if you haven’t got money they’ll wipe you like a dirty asshole,’ said Davies.

‘That bad, eh?’ said Hayes. ‘Alright, I’ll see my friend tomorrow and find out what he can lend me.’

Hayes left his accountant’s office feeling very dejected and made up his mind that if he got out of this trouble he was determined to finish with gambling from that moment onwards. It was going to be hard but the lesson, as harsh as it was, would make him realise the folly of his ways.

When he arrived back at his marina he and Bates took a stroll along the jetty and stood looking at the small fish darting about in clear water. Hayes kicked at some stale bait adhered to the pier timber and watched it drop into the water with a school of small fish attacking it.

‘I’ve been thinking about your suggestion. Circumstances at the moment are such that I’m obliged to give it some serious consideration. But I need twenty-five grand right now to get myself out of trouble,’ Hayes said uncomfortably.

Bates never hesitated. ‘That amount is no problem. I can set you up immediately if you’ve decided you’re in with me on that deal I spoke about.’

‘You have my word Evan, my mind’s made up and I’m in as of right now.’

‘Okay, you stay here and wait for me. I’ve got my money snookered away in a safe place. How much was it, twenty-five grand, is that right?’ Bates queried. 

Hayes nodded. ‘Yeah, but don’t let yourself go short. It’ll be a few months before I can pay you back.’

‘You’ll find it might be a bit quicker than that with a bit more on the side,’ Bates smiled.

Three hours later Bates returned with the money and handed it to Hayes. ‘Whatever you do, you can’t declare where you got this money as it would pose too many difficulties for me with the Government.’

‘Don’t worry, Evan, I understand,’ said Hayes.

Hayes went straight to his accountant’s office and handed him a brown envelope. ‘The money’s there. I’d like you to pay it out for me and get my affairs straight again. That’s black money, I don’t want any receipts and I don’t want that to be able to be traced back to me. Can you handle that for me?’

Brian Davies pondered for a moment and said, ‘Alright, Dunstan, this is the first and only time so don’t come back to me again with any schemes like this and on no account do I want to know where you got that money. If asked, all I could ever say about you is that you’ve always conducted your business in a proper manner, and you’ve probably had it snookered away for a rainy day or something like – have you got the message?’

‘Received and understood.’ Hayes left the office a very relieved man. At least he had his head above water once more and he intended to keep it there.


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