Replacing the receiver, the forty-three-year-old leaned back in his black leather executive chair and stared at the ceiling. An eerie shadow of himself moving among the furniture, elongated by the angle of the illuminated desk lamp, conjured up memories of the many nights he had slept as a boy, behind the piles of contraband stacked up in his family’s living room on the Stones Road, unable to face the short journey down the corridor and past his mother’s bedroom door.
OK! That’s enough.
What had happened to Juan Antonio García’s mother? Why hadn’t she arrived off the boat in Sydney with her husband and sons? Why did he even care? Jeff shook himself out of the obsessive train of thought. The runt had killed his wife, and this evening he had received a life sentence to prove it. The widower knew he must learn to accept the guilty verdict as justice.
So with what did society expect justice to furnish a victim’s life partner? The Queen had succeeded in removing one more murderer from the streets. Big fucking deal! There were plenty of far more dangerous criminals still roaming free, and with a much greater likelihood of striking again. The Sydney Mafia remained alive and well for example, Jeff had no doubt.
What would justice mean to him if he had been able to choose its form? This was a tough one. Definitely not financial compensation, a concept which never ceased to intrigue the intellectual whenever he read about other cases. Was a couple of million dollars really going to ease the suffering after losing a loved one? No amount of compensation could bring his children’s mother back, and the Diamonds had more than enough money as it was. The financial whizz-kid, Gerry Blake, had made this so.
‘What do I want, angel?’ he posed to Lynn’s spirit. ‘Are you there?’
The intellectual inhaled sharply. Before his second question had left his lips, the tingling sensation in his chest broke him out of his morbid rêverie.
‘Hey! So you are there. Christ, it’s good to feel you again. I’ve missed you. He’s going down, did you see? I guess you know that already.’
Again Jeff’s left pectoral muscle twitched. He had reached the end of one of the longest weeks of his life, and without question one of the most difficult. Kierney mustn’t hear him crying, he thought. Not again. She needed her sleep.
‘Come with me onto the balcony, angel, please,’ the bereft husband requested. ‘I want to talk to you. Our little girl’s sleeping. She’s so beautiful, Lynn. So, so beautiful. Just like you.’
Grabbing his cigarettes and lighter off the coffee table, where he had left them with his keys, the songwriter slid the glass door open and took a seat at the table overlooking the lights of the northern suburbs. The traffic was still noisy down below, and there was no breeze to speak of. Smoking his first cigarette in a while, he concentrated back on the subject of justice.
Within a second or two however, inspiration was upon him. On his feet again, Jeff ran through the apartment and back into the office. He rummaged around in the desk drawers until he found a small voice recorder, checking its batteries and testing it with a few choice swearwords to relieve some tension. There were memoires to be captured for posterity. How had Rose Milne described him and his beautiful best friend? National treasures?
‘National treasures, my arse,’ he mocked the judge’s words as he reinstalled himself in the open air. ‘Did you hear that too, baby?’
Jeff picked up what remained of his cigarette and rubbed his tattoo through the fabric of his shirt. How did one document a national treasure? How would he do justice to Lynn’s story? To their story?
‘D’you know what I want, angel?’ he asked into the chilly air. ‘I want a long, lingering kiss that makes my insides burst into flames. I want the soft skin of your naked body wrapped around me, intent on speeding things up while you’re urging me to slow down.’
The stinging was gone from his chest now, replaced by a dull but pleasant ache. This peculiar physical reaction was most likely only generated by his own mind, the lonely soul recognised, yet it was helping nonetheless. The little, red light on the Dictaphone flashed regularly to remind him it was waiting for more.
‘I want our kids to have a mother, and I want a friend to share my crazy ideas with,’ he continued, in tears once more. ‘Is that too much to ask? I don’t want a man to go to prison for the rest of his life. How does this help Jet or Kiz? What sort of justice is that? I want our daughter to continue on the journey you were taking her on, towards the lady she oh-so-nearly is. And I want our son to be able to swap tales of Olympic glory with someone who gives a damn.
‘I want this endless torrent of words to pour into your detoxicating smile. I want a reason to check my watch ten times every hour when I’m away from home, to see how soon I can get away. Jesus Christ! I want to stop describing my self-pity and get on with doing all those constructive things we were right in the middle of, angel. I want my level-headed wife to help me resist the temptation to ring our dark-haired gipsy girl every night when she starts her law degree at Sydney Uni’, to make sure she’s safe and happy and still misses her papá.’
With his head in his hands, Jeff wept away the stresses of the last few days. He was convinced he was being heard on some level, although the beating of his heart overpowered any other sensation right at this moment.
Sniffing back the tears, he lit another cigarette. ‘I want my patient and compassionate lover to remind me I’m being unreasonable and hypocritical when I criticise our son for not coming home for Christmas just because he wants to chase girls. And I long to perform again on stage with our family and see you smiling with the joy I know it gave you. The same joy it gave me. And Jesus, Lynn... I long to have more of those long discussions over dinner with Jet and Kierney about life lessons in humility. That’s fucking justice, don’t you think? We had all those things, angel. That’s what he took from us. That’s what a guilty verdict should buy us.’
And those were the things the Diamonds would never receive from the Australian judicial system. This type of compensation wasn’t listed in the bound volumes of laws and legal practices he had seen in Judge Milne’s chambers. With a soothing melody lolloping around his head, no doubt introduced by his dream girl as an instruction to put such antagonism to bed, he switched off the voice recorder and let it drop with a clatter onto the glass table-top.
‘Mañana, angel,’ he promised the night air. ‘Tomorrow I’ll start afresh. I’ll write our life story, baby, and therein you’ll find justice. En nuestra vida singular.’
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