Blood in the wine:
From Chapter 1
There is some unfinished business I must attend to. Some loose ends to be tied up. Much of my knowledge of the events over the past two years is hearsay and based only on circumstantial evidence. Some questions will be asked of me so I shall put everything in writing. It will not only align my thoughts correctly but also clarify some issues for my inquisitors, if that need be.
The climate and way of life in California suit me and I would prefer to stay rather than go back to Oz to explain. It started and ended in one of Australia's prime wine districts and that is where I shall commence. Then I was in my mid-thirties; in two years I shall be forty.
The rumors and innuendo had persisted in the tiny peninsular hamlet of Harbour Vale, not far from Adelaide, for a number of years. No one had been brave enough to tempt misfortune by venturing into the back paddock of the Consalvi vineyard. The elder of the Consalvi family was Silvio, a force to be reckoned with and no doubt an unforgiving opponent if wronged. With four girls and five boys, it was quite a handful but he kept the reins tightly drawn on the close knit family. The youngest boy, and Silvio's favorite, was Greg. Baptized Gregorio, it had been shortened for convenience by his white, Anglo-Saxon friends. His features possessed all the attributes of his Sicilian forebears but even with his jet black hair, deep brown eyes, and olive complexion, when on the surf beaches of the south coast, girls were prone to mistake him for a sun browned Aussie surfer.
"Gregorio," his mother, Renata, would often admonish him in her halting English, "You should keep company with a good Italian girl. It is no good you running around with all these pale, skinny girls."
"Mother," Greg would reply, carefully avoiding the slightest accent affecting his so precise English speech, "I would have to go fifteen miles to visit the nearest Italian girl and her parents would not even let me hold her hand." ...
From Chapter 3
Some people are born lucky. In my case the jury is still deliberating. When the Ozzie police spirited me into Melbourne on a commercial flight I was given no opportunity to recover from jet-lag. The police van they bundled me into was the size of a small coach but the interior resembled a clapped-out cattle truck. I shared this claustrophobic cattle truck with five others being taken to Hamilton in Western Victoria to face trial for a mass escape from the police cells there. I was to be taken on to Mount Gambier and handed over to the South Australia Police.
One of the group was named Curley, because he was almost totally bald.
"Move along, fairy, right along to the back of the driver's cabin." I moved. He was built like a deformed gorilla that had bashed his head against a River Red Gum tree far too many times.
The other four displayed varying levels of intelligence but confinement in maximum security had obviously dulled their senses along with other parts of their bodies. One was a definite cow's hoof. The only one to whom I could relate in some way was Sandy Truscott. He seemed to be reasonable and immediately struck up conversation.
"You're with us now, cobber.”
"That's all right with me. I have to go on to the Mount.".
His grin reminded me of a tin of worms as he slowly shook his head. I wondered why. Ten minutes out of the city I had the answer ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙
From Chapter 4
∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ The local sergeant was on duty. I was no stranger to the police.
"What do you want?" he snarled.
"I was almost shot."
"Too bad he missed."
"Do you want to know about it?"
"Well, tell me who it was."
"I don't know. It was dark. The car could have been black, blue, or green. It was too dark and it had no lights."
"That's no damned help to me."
"Aren't you concerned someone is driving around town shooting at citizens?"
"Did he get you?"
"No, but I was sprayed with stone from the fence."
"Then how can you say someone is going around town shooting at citizens? You, of all people, have the bloody cheek to walk in here and say someone is shooting at you. You've just been tried for murder."
"I was acquitted, hasn't anyone told you I was found innocent?"
"Innocent be buggered. You were found not guilty of killing a prominent member of our community, that's all."
The distinct feeling that the police were not on my side came to mind. I left the police station with the sergeant following close behind.
"Just remember, buster, there’s a coroners inquiry pending and you’ll be needed."
"Over Curley? I was writhing in agony on the floor when he killed himself."
"So what. You will be needed. Don’t try skipping the country, again. You’re already on watch," he told me.