“The Denz soon lost his companion and found the dark-skinned, black-eyed, bare-breasted women of Rambaka Sambai offered considerably more than he had been offered by the travel agency in Sydney or the Kiwi with the buck teeth and big feet. Soon he was reclining on a seagrass mat, shaded by a plaited palm-frond roof. The facts of life as lived by the Sambaians were demonstrated to a very willing Australian. Cushioned from reality by the effect of the kava, he listened while it was explained that, here on Rambaka Sambai, he could take as many women as he desired, concurrently or simultaneously if he preferred. Incredulous, he accepted another half coconut-shell of kava, grinned stupidly at the smiling faces surrounding him, felt their smooth-skinned hands upon him, pleaded brewer’s droop and passed out.
Denzil awoke as the sun peeped over the ocean in a blaze of golden glory. Overhead brightly coloured parrots greeted the new day with screeches and chased each other in the palms. Inside his head, keeping perfect time with his pulse, someone was beating the J Arthur Rank gong. He raised his head from the matting and attempted to sit up but the effort brought the beating to a frenzied crescendo and, though he could swear his eyes were open, he could see nothing through the haze of pain.
Hours later, when the sun beat down on the palm-frond roof above his head, Denzil crawled outside and tentatively stood up. Shading his eyes with one hand and scratching his backside with the other, two significant facts registered simultaneously: the ocean was completely devoid of any kind of vessel… and he was no longer in possession of his wallet.”
(What a shame the splendid art work on the covers of these audiotapes wasn’t matched by some good marketing…)
“‘Dobie! C’mon out, you lazy bastard!’ Hackett called from the wire fence that surrounded the small, white-painted house that stood on a rise near the creek. The soft slapping of bare feet sounded on the narrow cement path that bridged the sandy waste between the gate and the house, and the dark-skinned Annie faced him squarely, her sleeves rolled up to the elbows, sudsy hands on her hips.
‘Boss, if you want Pete at this time of day, you won’t find him ‘ere,’ she said fiercely. ‘‘E’ll be doin’ the fence over Battler way… probly ‘avin’ ‘is smoko by now.’
Hackett’s face creased into a sheepish grin and he apologised to Dobie’s wife, pushed his hat to the back of his head and reached inside the utility for the microphone.
‘Hey Pete, you on the air?’ There was silence at first then, through the crackle and hiss of static,
‘Something’s come up, Pete. Meet me at the airstrip ASAP. I’m going there now.’
‘On me way, Boss!’
Hackett had pushed the single-engine Piper Warrior out of the hangar and was carrying out a thorough pre-flight inspection when Dobie stopped his truck in a cloud of fine, red dust.
‘Goin’ somewhere, Boss?’ he asked, casting a curious glance over the suit-bag that lay on the battered leather grip beside the aircraft.
‘Sydney…’ Hackett continued his external inspection of the aircraft. ‘…For starters.’ He turned his attention to Dobie.
‘Sydney! Bit sudden, eh, Boss?’ Tall and spare, the manager shifted his weight repeatedly from one foot to the other, clearly wanting answers, yet not quite bold enough to ask the questions.
‘Yup.’ Hackett’s inability to satisfy Dobie’s curiosity made him feel awkward. He felt an explanation was due, but could tell him nothing more than, ‘Something just came up.’ He whistled the dogs and pointed to Dobie’s truck. Obediently they jumped on the tray.
‘Okay, Boss,’ the wiry manager said with a shrug of his bony shoulders and a look of undisguised puzzlement on his face.
‘Sorry to drop you in it, Pete.’ Hackett loaded his gear and climbed into the cockpit. ‘I’ll give you a call.’
Dobie stood sombrely beside his vehicle stroking his long chin. The boss didn’t sound too sorry.
‘When youse comin’ back, Boss?’
‘Can’t say. Probably in a few days.’ Hackett fastened his harness.
‘Bit sudden, but.’
‘Yeah, sorry mate. Take care of things here and take the dogs for me.’ He cut off any further exchange by closing the door and starting the engine. As he turned the Warrior on to the strip, he glimpsed Dobie, puzzled and unhappy, standing beside the truck with his hands in his pockets. He lined up the nose and opened the throttle. Feeling guilty that he had found himself quite unable to tell the man the reason for his sudden departure, he released the brakes and the Warrior started moving. It gathered speed quickly, disappearing along the airstrip ahead of its own dust cloud, to emerge above it, a small, shining insect climbing crabwise into the stiffening westerly breeze before turning south-east towards Brisbane.”