AFTER HOSING DOWN their uniforms and supervising the hideous clean-up task, de Burgh and Bo Dean caught a cab back to the city for their de-briefing. It would have been easier to take one of their own cars back but as both were now in a long-term parking lot, it was easier to catch a cab and charge it to HQ. Besides, they’d be back on duty by nightfall anyway ñ Enya would be heading skywards for Vanuatu as a plain clothes officer, while Bo Dean hoped to join in the sniffer-dog training being conducted at a secret carousel location.
“Well,” Enya sighed, as the cab sped past the old Fairfax newspaper factory, now a reconverted printing press for POD poetry titles, “that was enough gory detail for me.”
“Yeah,” Bo Dean muttered, “and a damn shame too.”
“She could have led us right to the heart of the whole trash novel cottage industry, you know? Ever since it went underground they’re getting harder to catch.”
“Well, if you ask me, that woman’s little stunt was free advertising for us. JC said he found about a dozen Wilbur Smiths in the men’s – ”
“Yeah well JC’s just a can-snoop. The whole world’s full of these books, you can’t say that some woman blowing herself up sends a message to anyone, let alone passengers at an airport.”
“Clint, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
They fell silent for a moment, slightly mesmerized, as the cab passed what used to be the Citylink cheese stick, now covered with the words of a poem by Oodgeroo. The driver accelerated past the Flemington Road turnoff and entered the giant pantoun superstructure that transformed the sounds of traffic into villanelles for the listening pleasure of the Kensington public housing tenants. Bo Dean remembered his first gig as a poet had been held there, inside the housing estate, in front of an audience of several thousand.
“What’s on your mind, Clint?” Enya asked.
“I can feel a poem coming on.”
“Oh, wow. Can I hear it?”
“Sure. Driver, change of plans. We’re going back to the airport. To the Hotel Formule 1.”
Bo Dean grabbed his Personal Life Organiser from inside the standard AP issue canvas bag and began to interface with the Hotel Formule 1 online system, booking a room with two bunks. Then he switched his PLO over to the AP mainframe, and let his superiors know via a browned-out microwavable thought pattern that he and Enya would be an hour late for their debrief.
Almost instantly Captain Enron was on the visuals, his cauliflower nose, a product of a lifetime of drinking sherry, butting almost through the holographic screen.
“Bo Dean, you tell that cab driver to turn around right now. We’ve got no time for your poetry readings in bunk bed rooms. Hell, if you were in France, I’m sure you’d be ordering the buffet dinner too about now. As it is, you’re in Melbourne, and we need you here for that debrief.”
“But Captain, I think we actually need a bit of time out after this one. The woman blew her own head off with a Colleen McCullough! Jeez, I think a buffet meal would be the least I could expect! Lucky for you that’s a Euro-only deal, hey.”
“Look, their rooms may be modern and cleverly designed. They may contain a double bed and a bunk, a washbasin and mirror, a corner table, a TV for viewing national channels and, in France, Canal+ and Sports+. The toilets and showers may be located just outside the room. The showers may be spacious, spotless, and well equipped, with a dry area for toiletries and clothing. But all of that being said Bo Dean, we’ve got a crisis here.”
Bo Dean sighed. It always ended up like this.
“Well, it looks like we’ve got an infiltration of Dan Brown readers in the Air Poet training program.”
“You mean ñ ”
“That’s exactly what I mean. We’ve found some evidence ñ ”
“Yes, some early drafts of what looks like a plagiarised version of The Da Vinci Code. The Chief says you might like to have a look at this one personally.”
“Really? Why me?”
“Because it was found in your locker, toilet head!”
Oh,” Bo Dean said, turning pale this time.