The hotel’s Adirondack chair was as flat and hard as my stomach. Uncoiling myself, I stood and stretched, allowing the sea breeze to tug at the thin fabric of my swimmers. I heard Holly whimper at the sight just moments before I felt her running her finger tips down the machete scar between my shoulder blades.
Her lips came up to my ear. “Oh, Ignatius, thank you so much for last night. You were magnificent.”
Turning towards her, I cupped her chin in my hand. “I know you were disappointed when I stopped after eight times. But, frankly my dear, it was getting a bit – what’s the word? – ‘samey’.”
A single tear ran down her café au lait cheek.
Although my heart is usually as hard as my arteries, I relented this time and slipped a $100 note into her bikini top, telling her to go buy something pretty.
Before I could reach the sea, a waiter approached with my lunch – two chilled Feijoa vodkas and a hot Chinese dumpling. Her name was Cui Ping. As tempting as she was, I knew that I’d be hungry again in an hour’s time. Tossing back the drinks and waving away Cui Ping, I gave the waiter a tip: “Don’t wear brown shoes with a blue suit.” Ignoring his grateful thanks, I loped off across the sand to the water’s edge.
Seconds later, my lean, tanned body scythed into the limpid sea just as a pod of dolphins rose to greet me. Calling to them in their clickety-click language, I challenged them to race me to a rocky reef, a mere 12 nautical miles offshore.
Within the hour, I was back on the beach, the exhausted dolphins left far behind. Waiting on the shoreline were three men in hotel uniforms.
The shortest of the trio, a foreign looking chap with patent leather hair and a damp handshake, began to speak: “Mr Wolf, we …”
I cut him off. “There’s no need to thank me. Exercising dolphins is my gift to Nature.”
He continued: “…were hoping you could settle your bill. Do you think …”
“Think?!?” I exploded. “I insist! You’ll have the cheque by late October.”
“This year?” he asked.
“Quite possibly,” I said, patting him on the shoulder. I headed towards the hotel before the men could show their appreciation.
Once inside, an eager room maid tore off my swimmers, sponged me down and dried me with a soft towel. Ideally she could have waited until I had made it past the reception desk but she was insistent.
In my room at last, I dressed carefully, choosing a light blue Sea Island cotton shirt, a black silk tie and dark blue, fine wool trousers. Stepping up to the full length mirror I admired the effect.
“You look like someone rather senior in State Rail,” said a gruff voice behind me.
Dropping into a Wounded Crane stance, I let fly with a wasabi kick, catching the stranger in the chest and sending him flying across the room. Within seconds I was upon him, grabbing his neck. “Who the hell do you think you are, Trinny and Susannah?”.
Only my extraordinary powers of observation saved his life. He was wearing long black robes and a wide scarlet sash around his waist. Stepping back, I recognised him as Sydney’s Archbishop George “Big George” Pell.
Struggling to his feet, the Archbishop looked around the floor. “Where’s my biretta …?”
The edge of my hand sliced down on the back of his neck, dropping him flat to floor. I wasn’t going to let him find his gun.
Lifting his head, he groaned: “Biretta not Beretta. I’ve lost my four-cornered priest’s cap with a tuft on top.”
“Ah,” I said, pulling him upright and patting him down for more weapons. He was clean.
“Let me get to the point, Mr Wolf,” said the Archbishop getting to the point and confirming he knew me. “The Church needs you. Ideally we’d hire an albino assassin linked to Opus Dei but, if you’re willing to powder up, wear pink contact lenses and a cilice, the job’s your’s. Listen carefully – the Pope is coming to Sydney and we need Randwick Racecourse for our special events. However, the racing industry is trying to block us. We want the industry destroyed. We’ll pay $10 million. It’s nothing to be sneezed at.”
Eureka! A plan began to crystallise in my mind, freezing my handsome features into those of Rodin’s The Thinker. What was the difference between a bird and a horse – aside from size, feathers vs hair, number of legs and the ability to fly? Nothing. So, all I needed was a sneezing chicken and access to Randwick stables. Within a week, flu would ravage the equine industry.
Throwing an arm over the Archbishop’s shoulders, I gave him a squeeze. “George, why don’t we find ourselves a couple of frisky nuns and a bottle of Benedictine. You’re going to love this idea.”
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© Greg Flynn 2009