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six. a dead bougainvillea

Continued from here:

https://tomsbytwo.com/2017/05/05/five-keane/

April 1949

Francis wanted to remove both pot and plant. The bougainvillea was a mass of dead prickle bush, the last flowering three years ago, the pot it stood in split into a deep crescent on one side.

Sota, the gardner, advised against it. ‘The smallest birds use it for shelter,’ he said, ‘when the currawongs are hungry.’

~~

 Cleland had found something.

‘Wouldn’t be nice if we could do that?’ Francis said, heatedly. ‘Roll up to the Met, walk all over the desk Sergeant, put our hands out for the keys to the lockup and take what we needed back to the bloody club or wherever!  That silly bugger Cowan even tried on his slippers.’

‘What did Cleland find, exactly?’

Francis’ immediate superior rarely said hello when he picked up his phone and never goodbye.

‘The other half of the postcard.’

Francis could hear regular, even breathing.

‘You mean something that fits into the hole on the back page?’

‘Sounds like it. Now they’re going to want the book back.’

‘How’s that end going?’

Francis looked at his desk calendar, Nick had been in Melbourne for two weeks, looking at language schools and their student teacher rosters.

‘We’ve got them almost in the same suburb at the same time.’

.. click

Two questions loomed in Francis’ mind.

Was he leading this expedition, or was he being watched to make sure he didn’t go off course?

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