Competing - Prologue 1
Colin Williams easily wears a tan from working hard outdoors. He’s tall and solid. Like a Karri tree is part of the forest; Colin is part of Australia but he runs like a tree would if a tree could run, looking most uncomfortable and unnatural.
Colin believes he’s alone on the quiet road, noting and appreciating the flora and fauna. His rugged face is beaded and the sweat is running down his back and stomach producing large wet patches on his faded Emu Lager tee shirt.
He’s wearing his favorite black footy shorts because they’re comfortable and remind him of when he played ruckman for Subiaco Juniors, long ago in the days before – before he was married.
Kath had been really annoying this morning – she knew he woke up ready - why waste it? How dare she say ‘No’! It’s all those stupid articles she reads in her magazines: ‘Men who can’t commit… Has he found your G spot?’ Jesus!
Her not-making his lunch and having her there, in the office all day wasn’t working. He knew when she applied for the job that it would cause problems. Sure, the money’s great and she loves it, but a man has to have his privacy.
It doesn’t worry Mary - in fact he reckons it turns her on. They’d better be more careful though. If Kath ever found out…
Mary is always right there, so willing; like a little puppy, following him around.
What the hell! Mary will do anything for me - Kath wouldn’t lick my arse. Sure, she’ll go through the motions.
The thought of his cultured and correct Kath going through those motions made him smile, distracting him for a while.
Kath was different to anyone he’d ever met before – mind you, he’d only been twenty-three and fresh out of National Service. Her smooth voice and serene manner impressed him. She was an older woman by two years with experience, and she loved him. God, how she’d loved him!
Once he’d got her into bed he’d been surprised and thrilled by her total abandon. Women didn’t scare him anymore. If she knew about the others; but no, his Kath wouldn’t believe it anyway.
He imagined Kathy with Ann Gillies. The two of them, with him in the middle… Now what made him think of Ann? Tits of course! Kath still had the best tits – even after two kids.
He thought again about waking up. Kath was sound asleep so he’d pattered her on the bum and climbed on. She wouldn’t let him in – Bitch! As she had rolled over to confront him, one of her breasts had been exposed by her nightdress. For the first time in a long time, he’d really wanted her.
After a few years a man needs fresh meat to keep the marriage alive. Christ, if he had to be faithful for the rest of his life he’d cut his balls off. What Kath didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt her and she didn’t know – not yet. He’ll have to talk to Mary.
Since the kids came along Kath’s changed. She’s a natural mother; he couldn’t fault her there, and he loved his kids but he wished she wouldn’t mother him. Sometimes, he felt ten years old – a naughty boy, caught out.
He knows it’s just her way of loving him, but he wants the old way – the secret, wanton, abandoned Kath when her only desire was to please him.
When had it all changed? Was it on the farm, in Manjimup, when she had first seen him kill something? I’m a butcher for Chrissake - we have to eat! That’s why I keep the bloody animals – they’re not pets.
In the early days, it was the only way we could afford meat. She should be proud of my skills – Dad was a butcher for 25 years – and a good one! Best Butcher’s shop in Subiaco. An icon.
He thought about the day Kath caught sight of their new Muscovey drake raping the chickens, the large aggressive duck surfing on top of the smaller Silkie Bantams. It held their necks down hard, biting, stabbing with its beak and pushing the head into the ground, as they squawked in terror.
Kath had been so upset she’d sent him out to the chook pen to stop it.
She hadn’t expected to watch him trying to chop its head off; to watch him holding the bloody bird by the neck; his knee digging its white body into a tree stump. Or hitting it over and over as its head jerked and screeched with each useless blow.
He’d had to hit it a few times before it gave up the ghost – the bloody axe was blunt!
Colin heard her screams – so had all the neighbors and he’d rushed in to comfort her. Wrapped in his embrace she started to calm down a bit. Then she opened her eyes to warm, fresh blood on his chest and on her face. He’d never seen a woman really hysterical before. She acted as if he was the monster!
It made him shudder remembering those screams - her face - her accusing eyes. One of the few times in his life, he was really scared.
Ever since that day, whenever he was working in the paddocks at home, Colin carried a butcher’s knife, tucked into a loop in the back of his jeans.
He didn’t ever want to have to bludgeon an animal to death again – a quick, clean, painless slicing of the throat was far more efficient. He would remember to turn his back to the house next time; didn’t want his daughter going off her head too.
The pounding of his feet in the dust was setting off his hay fever. Good job he was nearly there, on the final hill. The tarmac was heating up and Colin was looking forward to the cooling shadows created in the dip. The sun had some bite, even thought it was still early. He loved summer.
* * * * *
Peter Watts Brown runs down the hill along the same lonely road on the outskirts of Perth, Western Australia. The almost imperceptible earphones of his Walkman emit classical encouragement as he eats up the bitumen. He starts work at 7.30am. He’s exactly on time and delicately sweating in his immaculate labeled sports gear.
Two flocks of noisy Black Cockatoos screech past on their way to their own meeting place, their shadows momentarily cooling Peter, but he doesn’t hear them. They fly above and zigzag in front, appearing to race him and each other toward a stand of old Tuart trees at the top of the next rise.
Fine puffs of dust thrown by the breeze through the yellow Wattles lining the road, rise gently with each measured step of his brand new trainers. Only two more hills and he'll reach the Animal Research Station.
Peter runs gracefully and with apparent ease. It’s a natural movement for him, also a natural inclination although some would say he loves confrontation.
He wonders why he is feeling a bit out of sorts today, perhaps because he hasn't reached his sexual target for the month.
Peter considers a busy sexual itinerary as important as a well-balanced diet and a highly organized mind. He decides to increase the length of his run tomorrow. It was most unlike him not to attain his goals.
He is after all a Colonel in the Army Reserve, staffed by volunteers and vital to the Regular Army. Peter’s day job as a technician with the Department of Agriculture is only one step on the Government ladder. He intends to eventually be Director, sees himself making Government policy one day, but feeds his soul with army maneuvers - his true calling. He enjoys the uniform, the power of command and the perceived prestige.
His favorite opponent at work is Colin Williams.
Colin is in line for promotion that Peter feels he deserves. He also wants Colin's wife Kath. Both have a team entered in the grueling Blackwood Marathon held in the South West. Each needs the validation of crossing the finishing line before the other. Both will do anything to win.
The heat of exercise makes Peter horny. He remembers his little black book.
Listed carefully are all the women who’ve worked casually on the station since his arrival. It’s a secret game he enjoys, seducing each woman who works for him, starting with the boss advantage.
His usual plan is to charm them while they work under him and wait until they leave, before going in for the kill. Of course it was just another game.
He’s extremely discreet and makes sure they are too, usually targeting married or attached women - women scared of being caught out.
He has his system down to a fine art. Only his victims know of his sexual itinerary, he employs a pseudo-gay approach!
Great shame he hadn’t managed to contact Mandy Hughes yet. Penny Fowler had gone and got married since leaving the Station three years ago.
Ann Gillies was a challenge. He’d spent a lot of hours priming her, those endless, tanned legs tempting him with their wayward posture. Her casual style of mini skirts and cut-off tee shirts labeled her a sex siren calling to his baser instincts.
Well, no problems in that department! There’s nothing amiss there.
Didn’t he prove it? Attacking like a tiger, licking, biting and stroking – a pure male animal! Oh, she played the game well, dodging, running and screaming.
God, those screams were the siren’s call.
His mind jumped to Jenny, another of his conquests, and felt his slight erection dying. Ann really pleased him, but Jenny… one of the few times he’d broken his own rules. He got involved with Jenny. She reminded him of his mother, a nice person, but nice people made him feel vulnerable.
He couldn’t perform with nice girls, he felt out of control, needed to be master doling out pleasure or punishment, whichever he commanded. Sluts must be punished - must pay for their whore-ish ways. He’s safer with sluts.
God, it’s hot. He rubs the sweatband on his wrist delicately across his forehead. If he increases his run he’ll have to allow extra time. But that’s no good – he can’t afford it! Time is money and hungrily calculated.
Instead of walking his dog, he could run with it along the foreshore. With its magnificent views across the river to the city, he was proud of his South Perth address. Of course it was all due to his meticulous planning.
Peter enjoyed fooling people. He’s laughing all the way to the bank with a quite reasonable pay scale after staying the course for seventeen years in the Public Service. And it’s a bonus he’s paid for his compulsory leave whenever he can wangle reconnoiters.
His little investments hadn’t done too badly either, he knew he was secretly envied by others less capable than himself. He had position, power and double pay.
He was a well-respected member of the community, a member of the local golf club, Rotary and a Colonel in the Army Reserve. He wore designer clothes, drove a Volvo and was known by name at all the best restaurants, establishments he frequented often.
Peter mentally reminded himself to ring his Sergeant when he got to the office. It was time for another recce; perhaps this time they could go down to Denmark, on the South Coast of Western Australia? There were a few cliffs to scale and lots of pristine beach to run on.
Many good connections owned holiday homes in the area. A lot of business was done on the Denmark golf course and surrounding wineries.
During their last excursion, there had been a bit of a problem with one of the new recruits who wouldn’t tow the line. He thought the Reserve was a cushy way to earn two salaries – Brown soon changed his mind for him. There had been the usual mumblings in the ranks of brutality, but he always ignored them – his men learnt respect for their Colonel.
Staff gossip at the Research Centre called him a Toy Soldier. But who’s laughing now, hey? Who’s pocketing a nice extra pay cheque every fortnight? Who’s got the swank address? Who pulls a different babe every Friday night? Who? Who? Who?
Ever since he was a little boy desperately trying to please his father, he’d dreamed of his future in the Services. He would never forgive the Regulars for rejecting him - they missed out on a fine officer. But no matter! He's fallen on his feet. The Reserves appreciated his talents. At least he was a soldier on weekends.
He’d added the Watts to plain Brown when he’d become a Colonel. There was no objection from the family forgotten in an Eastern suburb of London, because they didn’t fit the mould he prepared so carefully for himself.
And it didn’t take him long to rise in the Reserve ranks – money and how you play the game are all-important. His life consists of a series of games. He approached them all the same way, employing the three P’s: Planning, Preparation and Purpose.
A business degree made it easy to get into any government department, even as a technician. He’d been through all the different sections and didn’t have to get his hands dirty to know the ropes.
He also knows what his workmates think of him, but it doesn’t matter. There were always those prepared to fall for his incompetent routine, those who would rather do the work themselves than let him stuff it up (deliberately).
The Research Station was the cushiest job he’d fallen into yet. Everyone worked at their own pace, so long as they got their jobs done. The only drawback was the awful stench. It took two showers to get the smell of pigs out of your hair!
But Colin Williams made it all worthwhile! He’s so full of himself – he thinks he’s such a lady-killer – Ha! Yes, playing games with Colin’s ego made the day fun.
He didn’t deserve Kath – she’d make a fine, socially acceptable partner for any man. Colin wouldn’t know what socially acceptable was. He’d call it brown-nosing.
At the annual Christmas party Watts-Brown was always in the Minister’s crowd, where he should be of course. As a qualified accountant and administrator, he kept himself informed of all new developments in what was to others, a constant struggle to understand bureaucratic red tape.
Yes, it was just a matter of waiting for Ron’s retirement in six months. He and Colin were the only considered suitable replacements. Of course they’ll see sense and Peter will become Manager of the Research Centre – another step in the ladder.
His thoughts switched to his next big challenge and the reason for this extra training; the Blackwood Marathon Relay Race run by the Rotary Club of Bridgetown. Just to finish the grueling course was a feather in anyone’s cap but he intended his team to finish in the first ten, at least.
Running 12km along bitumen and gravel road until the Blackwood River, canoeing 7.3km along the river to Jayes Bridge, Swimming 900 meters downstream after lunch. Running the final 100 meters to pass the banner to the Equestrian, who had to ride 16km through the Blackwood Valley, nursing their horse all the way.
The final leg was Cycling – 20Km. It was the long, exhausting hills that most cyclists were totally unprepared for. Some competitors attempted all five legs themselves in the 56.3km course. If he thought he had it in him – he’d do it alone.
However, his team were well prepared and carefully chosen. Peter’s preparation had taken two years of quiet observation, picking the best of all the Reservists he could and getting to know the officials of the race.
Usually around two hundred teams entered; teams from schools, community groups, friends and professional athletes - a real mixed bag. But his purpose in entering a team of his Reservists was to beat the Regular Army, Navy and Air Force teams – that was the real challenge. Colin and his little Marauders team were a bonus, an amusing aside. This was a no holds barred situation.
Peter expected to win.
His team members had been pushed almost to their limits. They hated him but he didn’t care - their respect was more important. He never asked them to do anything he couldn’t do as well, if not better, himself.