There is a particular sadness, an internal sorrow, a certain resignation to the futility and misery of life. On rare occasion the astute observer could see this internal pain reflected through John Blakewell’s cynical frown. More often, his carefully tended mask projected an aura of quiet optimism and empowering confidence. At a clean six foot tall, John’s frame neatly filled out his perpetually dull suits. Always dark grey or black and rarely featuring any embellishments, his suits never failed to contrast starkly with his garishly coloured ties.
It started innocuously enough. Damian, his civilian aide, stuck his head into John’s personal office in the Australian Police Headquarters of the Satroan Islands. The Embassy needed to speak to John urgently. He contemplated going for lunch before heading over to there, suspecting that this was just another in a long line of public relations nightmares. The newly elected Labor party was desperate to find an excuse to pull the Australian police out of the Satroan Islands, John was determined not to give it to them. For the first time in his thirty-six years, John actually felt that he wanted to stay, that he belonged in this job. He had finally found a position that suited him, where he would not quickly grow bored. Australian Police Commissioner to the Satroan Islands. It was a bit of a mouthful, but the job provided a never ending variety of work, from investigative street work to endless politicking. For John, the highly stressful and overbearing workload was essential. It allowed him to feel alive.
Damian stood expectantly in the doorway, awaiting his response.
“I’ll head up and see Matthew after I’ve had some lunch. I’ve been summoned up there too many times this week. It’s about time they learnt that I have a job to do here and it isn’t going to get done if they summon me up there every time the prime minister gets a little shaky about the latest polls.”
“Ah, sir… They aren’t summoning you. Consul Green is here, in person, himself. Right now. He says it’s too urgent to wait.”
John’s eyebrows raised in questioning surprise. What could possibly be so urgent as to warrant the consul’s personal attendance? Short of a military coup, or an attack on the Australian Embassy. But he would undoubtedly already know about either of those and, anyway, Matthew Green would never have waited to see John in person, let alone for John’s aide to clear the way.
John strode to the door, and ushered the familiar face of Consul Matthew Green into his office as he shooed Damian out. Matthew face was an intriguing, concerning, and awkward mixture of sadness and terror as he closed the door behind him.
“John. I, I think you should probably sit down for this. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you John. Your father died yesterday.”
John half-sat and half-fell in to his large chair, numb and speechless. How could this have happened? He had not spoken with his father in a number of months, maybe a year, but he had been in good health when he had last done so. Surely, he would have heard if his father had been ill. Yes, there was bad blood between the two of them, and worse between his brother and him, but surely had his father been ill he would have heard about it. His father was still young, barely sixty, to just fall over and die was unthinkable. This could not be true.
“John. They need you to go back to Australia straight away. It’s more complicated than you might think.”
“My father’s dead Matthew how much more fucking complicated can it get?”
“He was murdered, John.”
John fell back in his chair, his mind reeling and unable to focus coherently.
“He was found in his yacht yesterday after the owner of the vessel in the neighbouring moor reported hearing a struggle. The New South Wales police want you to fly back down there and help them with their investigations. I’ve already organised some emergency leave, and there’s an air force flight that leaves tomorrow morning for Darwin with a connecting commercial flight to Sydney almost straight after. I’d put you on commercial all the way, but you’d have to catch a couple of planes to get to Kuala Lumpur first, which is just too time-consuming.”
“Thanks, Matt. I appreciate it. Gimme a minute will you.”
Matthew nodded tersely as he walked out of the office, wondering what was going through John’s mind. It was a bizarre set of circumstances. He had neglected to mention that the police were having difficulty locating John’s brother and that, even more puzzlingly, John’ s father had left some sort of cryptic death-bed message for John that the police had been unable to decipher.