Excerpt for Devils' Playground by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Chapter 1

All this happened a long time ago. I wouldn’t always be so confused and calm at the same time. I’m sure it’s just a phase I went through. The fact is being here today, entering the gates of my recently vacated high school, that perturbs me, and I really don’t know why. I wanted to cry even though I supposed that I should laugh. I only meant to say goodbye.

My name is Cyril, Cyril Touchcock, and I must tell you I’m not proud of it. From my earliest remembrances my acquaintances, little girls and boys would recoil strangely, strangely at first, and then the little girls would get all shy and eventually they would be oddly attracted to me. The boys would stop to let my name register and then they would want to hit me or hurt me. It was sad. It was embarrassing. It was the bane of me, my name.

I recall that around that time, and particularly that day, phrases of a current punk band’s lyrics danced through my mind. The band called themselves the Cunning Stunts and although Cyril, I hate my name, allowed himself the amusement of their presence, at that time he was not overly fond of idolising pop stars, he preferred face to face personal interactions rather than worshiping from afar some clowns of radio fame that only left him puzzled and guessing.

As I strolled around the grounds of my old high school that weekend Saturday morning I recalled many things all rolled up as one feeling, a mixture of sadness and delight, for I was growing up and the future called, faint and strong, faint and strong. Pardon me if I wind back the clock but this story has to begin somewhere and this is as good a time as any. My school had been good to me and good for me. I had a strong sense of positive nostalgia. I said good-bye to my old school, and you know what I remembered the most – after classes, at the end of the days. I did athletics; the high jump, the long jump, hop step and jump, I did it all, shot put, discus and javelin, sprint running, I did the lot. Until I was exhausted and then I went home, I ate and I went to sleep. The fact is, I didn’t ever do homework, that’s probably why I got the lowest grade in all subjects except English. At English, I was a natural, I was like a fish in water, and I could swim magnificently or so my teachers said. What’s more, I passed matriculation.

The next morning I returned to my favourite place of escape, the soccer ground. Here I had seen personally such great legends as Juventus and Polonia fight to their last breath to win the soccer cup. It was no small feat, I can tell you. I recalled it all, the fast moves, the flying ball, the roaring of the crowd. So exciting, and such a distraction, I hardly knew the time was passing – I said goodbye.

Its 1986, next year, only next year I will be eighteen, and in the eyes of my country old enough to work and pay taxes, old enough to get married and old enough to fight in a war in defence of all the things my people stood for. I was too young for all this. I had to experience more of life, first hand; no one was going to do it for me. All I could remember from high school was, the scientific method, it had inspired me, given me hope when faith seemed to fail me. I didn’t know, I really didn’t know.

What I did know was what my Matriculation English teacher had told me to my face on the last day of the school year. That he knew that my results in other subjects would fail me. He had personally done the rounds of all my teachers begging them to write to the State’s Public School Board and say that though I may otherwise be a total loss, I should be personally recommended for the exception of a borderline pass in matriculation. I am considered a precious gem of expression in the English language. I should not be kicked aside by the powers that were simply because I possessed a sense of compassion too strong for most.

I can still remember, as plain as day, what my mother had told me when I was very young, about eight or nine I was. She said that neither her nor my father had planned for me to happen, I was an accident, a love baby. That there was no plan for me, I must be stronger than others, for I and I alone, would have to decide my destiny. This I subliminally accepted at that time, I was susceptible to acceptances and I did more or less understand.

Chapter 2

I wouldn’t shake, I wouldn’t shiver, but I all but did, when an old acquaintance that I had been familiar with throughout my high school years told me the news. His only uncle was taking a trip to Queensland in his Monaro and he wanted some company. I didn’t shake, I didn’t shiver, I just said, - ‘I’m the one you want.’

We left Adelaide the next week. I was devastated. His name was something I couldn’t pronounce, so I just said, ‘you.’ We drove, actually he drove, non-stop. Where we went the devil may care, we listened to the country radio. They played this song, ‘I want to know what love is’. I liked it. Then, many hours later, as we passed through Tamworth there was a change in scenery on the radio, suddenly the singer sang – ‘I was a man who didn’t know his way, - I was lost just yesterday.’ The announcer said the foot-tapping old-time tune was ‘Cotton Eye Joe.’ I dreamed, and I slept and not before too long we were there. I liked the look of Coolangatta. He dropped me off at the pie shop. Best pie shop ever, anywhere, I mean you haven’t seen, you haven’t tasted such pies. They had twenty varieties. It was awesome.

I took a gap year up there on the Pacific coast of Queensland, mostly in Coolangatta and sometimes in Byron Bay. I often got drunk, I often smoked marijuana and at the end of a long day of surfing on borrowed boards and watching surf movies as music blared, I slept on the beach. I was often hungry and many times, I would enter McDonalds and eat half-eaten hamburgers that people had kindly left on the tables. I wanted to cry even though I supposed that I should laugh, again I had that feeling. It was all the same to me- then. I hadn’t thought what I would be or do with my life. In fact I felt as if I didn’t own a life, just a drifting, wasted bummer, like every summer. In the winter, I exchanged caretaking duties, mostly gardening, for rent-free accommodation in holiday houses and shacks that Brisbane people owned and only used in the summer time.

One time I saw Nicole Kidman on Byron Bay beach. I asked for her autograph, she said OK but I didn’t have a pen or paper and neither did she. Nicole looked sweet, she wasn’t with what’s his face at that time; things were a little frosty, or perhaps business had drawn him away. I wanted Nicole, or somebody like her to be my forever girl. Hah!

I decided not to waste my life. I hitched a ride to Adelaide.

Chapter 3

Cyril turned eighteen soon after arriving back in Adelaide.

When he had returned from his adventures in Queensland, he found that he had gained a permanent sly smile that gave anyone the impression that there was more to him than one could guess, just by seeing him. It was rather infectious.

He was fed up with his name. It was a sissy name. He could still recall the boys in primary school, calling him a dickhead, ‘Cyril Touchcock,’ they would say, ‘What a sissy name!’ That was too much to bear, now that he was eighteen years old and able by law to change his name, if it be his desire, and it was, so he did – legally. Yes, now on the official register and on all legal documents he would be named, Edward Touchcock. His family and friends, in fact everyone he met would now call him Eddy, he liked that.

Let’s get this straight, it’s me Eddy Touchcock, not to be confused with my former title, Cyril, who is the author of these writings. It is with a sense of pride that I state here and now that when in this exposition it is written, ‘Eddy did this,’ or he said that, such or such, it’s only me Eddy writing in the third person. Likewise, in this text you may come across a witty aside or comment seemingly in an authorial voice other than myself, it is only me, Eddy, for only I can render a real piece of my own personal history, I have need here to objectify my life. Yes, it‘s all my own work.

He enrolled at Adelaide University for a Bachelor of Arts Degree course. His chosen subjects being, English of course, Philosophy; he wanted to broaden his knowledge of life from an academic point of view, and Anthropology, everything helps was his motto. As a fourth subject, he wanted to learn a language to some extent, so he wrote all of the choices on pieces of paper mixed them altogether and picked out one – it was Chinese as a second language.

The next step in his improvement was to find independent accommodation, so that he could do more or less what he liked when he liked, and study either in his room or at the university. He perused the notice boards at the university and the first one he selected because it was low rent for a room, was in a rooming house for mature age foreign students. It was at a near city suburb only a quarter hour bus trip to the university. So there was a lot of rubbish, old building material and such in the yard, but it was very cheap and had potential for improvement.

Eddy moved within two days from his parent’s family home to the new residence. He found that the other residents, four of them, were a little older than himself, and formed a mini United Nations in itself. There was a Chinese student who was studying to be an electrical technician. An Arabic man named Mustafa like the father of Aladdin in that fine collection of story telling, One Hundred and One Arabian Nights, who was quite boyish and studied accounting and business finance. A Polish couple, the male in the dyad was a plumber and the girl was a waiter at a city restaurant. Eddy believed he could fit in quite well. The chores of cleaning the various spaces were unorganised. Although there was a kind of roster it was not adhered to, everything got done in a voluntary fashion and in most ways seemed to work. Eddy felt that he had done quite well for himself.

At this early stage of his establishment, he found himself rather disgruntled with the spa, which was a grand affair, accepting up to four people, but as yet he was unable to get it functioning. The plumbing was a makeshift effort done by the no doubt proficient hands of the owner, who also did the electrical wiring for the house, and was unqualified. He had finished off rather incompletely leaving taps bare of handles and the pipes free of surrounding cover as they entered the walls. He worked out how to get the water flowing and to operate the jets but he could not get the water above anything but warm water and as he preferred a hot bath, he desisted from any attempt to make use of the spa. Thus, he was disgruntled, so he kept to his morning routine with a shower, and this inconvenience was forgotten for several months until he had been shown by the owner how to obtain hot water in the spa, a simple matter really, a simple flick of the wrist, and it was done, and he was happy.

Eddy did not blame the owner for the unfinished condition of the house nor for the neglected state of the grounds. It was not the owners fault, thought Eddy, for he had been informed that this man had been a fully functioning mathematics teacher at a suburban high school, such as the one Eddy had attended, for twenty years. However, a dispute in the classroom and a disagreement with the management had caused him to retire early and resulted in the consequent illness of depression. Unfortunately, in order to cope, he now lived in a fantasy world, populated with the characters from his favourite video fantasy, Tomes, which was the most downloaded video for the last five years, and had been made into a TV series, currently viewable by Australians en mass. I was not interested in his obsession, being grounded in a confirmed realism and my respect academically for an expressive style based on a faith in investigative journalism that never failed to produce results, either in relationships or in my academic forays, it was a reliable method of approaching life in general.

As I was walking near my house that day, I remembered my love for graphic accounts of Aussie Rules football games and players, during my yearlong flirtation with that as a child, such as, Lindsay Head, who could actually fly. It was awesome to recall this instance of childhood fascination. I had the owner of the property to thank for that remembrance, in that he was, too, as I was at that time in the distant past, under the media weather, and unable to fulfil his obligations in the running of a rooming house for international students. After all, standards did apply whatever was to prevail. But I remained grateful for the memory.

So I am the little guy that lives down the street, the one you can recognise the face of, but just can’t quite give it a name, or can you? I’m just sticking up for myself by saying, hello. It’s good to chat with your neighbours, over front fences.

As was his liking from a very early age, Eddy engaged people at his bus stop in a little conversation. This time it was an older person, a woman who was maybe, seventy-five years of age. She warmed up straight away and told him that she had been living in that area for forty years and since her husband died she had had to walk out alone. She informed Eddy that people had never asked her name, the locals simply called her, the woman with the dog, as she owned a fox terrier and this being her sole company through the long years was her beloved of all creatures, even neighbours.

It’s funny, you know, because this day she said, was the first day in ten years that she had been out without her dog and then she had met me, she thought that was funny. She also said that the neighbourhood was plagued with rats.

I told her that I had just moved into the house across the road on the corner, and that it was a rooming house for mature age and foreign students. I said that being new to the area perhaps she could tell me about the local shopping facilities and other amenities such as public parks. She filled me in quite knowingly and as the bus drew up we said goodbye until we met again. That was that, such is life. This being the recounting of an incident from my middle teenage years and one that I made a habit of - the talking with strangers at bus stops, for a stranger soon became an acquaintance and could then become a friend, and a friend is like gold; this in another word is a novelty.

Chapter 4

Because Eddy’s overall result in passing his Matriculation was low he did not qualify for a grant but he applied for and was approved for an educational assistance plan that was provided by the Government. In his first week at uni he participated to some extent in what they called orientation. One thing he did was a two-morning information session called Using IT, that meant, information technology. He was informed that computing and use of the internet was provided on campus, but it was early days for there to be a great benefit compared with what was expected in the near future, considering that new programmes, software and the actual number of computers available were restricted. He was told where the available computers were located and some of their functions, for example, they were used in the library to check if certain reference books were in stock and the book’s location in the library building. Being on a low budget Eddy knew he would have to use and borrow relevant books from the library, and that was not a problem for him.

With the small amount of money available to him after deducting expenses, he decided to join a city gym where he could make use of exercise equipment and do weights one night a week. During his first week of orientation, he was offered a smoke of hashish, an imported derivative of cannabis. He did not refuse as he wanted to keep an open mind and experience everything that University life had to offer. He intended to be serious about his studies and not take this opportunity for granted.

English was a breeze for Eddy, he learnt of various means and styles of expression, from very formal presentations to pure personal accounts, including many rules of grammar, and an overview of the history of fiction writing. This aspect fascinated Eddy, for he pictured himself as being a writer of some kind of fiction, he wasn’t sure what. He learnt about the development of the short story, poetry, drama, the novella, and most importantly, the novel.

Our English Professor liked to spring little written exercises upon us. He did this one time, the class the week before had been about Classical Poetry. I didn’t know what to expect, and when he directed us to write a poem in a classical style only spontaneously like a surrealist’s experiment of automatic writing, I was quite baffled. I wrote the poem and added a rather poetic introduction at the top; it was presented thus –

I had a whim, and usually I don’t act on a whim. In a moment of ecstatic rapture I tooketh me to pen a poem, that was waiting there to be discovered on the other side of now and I found it not beyond my power to write –

Oh! My beloved fair wind of time,

I will be yours and you will be mine,

Your accordion sounds with such sweetness,

But alas I must depart,

After some problem,

That obligeth me,

With too little respect for thee.

We had to sign it and hand it to him. The Professor was so impressed with my effort that he instructed me in the following class to read it aloud to the other students. This I did and I signed it with a sigh.

At the end of the year he found that he had gained a distinction.

Having received positive confirmation of his talents in this subject of English he was aware, even at this early stage that he had the potential to be a good writer of fiction. He had caught the teaching bug from his lecturers, if he were to become a fiction writer, then he would be didactic, like his teachers, he would aim to instruct rather than just entertain. His writing style and content would be more than a pleasure for his readers, more than a form of escapism, for he had read a quote from the most read fiction writer in history, after the bible, Agatha Christie. She had said, that she wrote to escape, and she believed that her readers read to escape. This was from another age; he realised, and was not the point of any aspiring artist these days.

To be true there can be up to ten different ways to express the same concept or idea in the English language. Word choice and order is of first concern, then sentence structure as well as the construction of phrases or expressions. However, as well as coming to realise, by now considering myself as somewhat of an artist and not just a writer of fiction, there can be only one true and correct choice and this choice distinguished one as a literary writer.

Although English as a study was very rewarding and promising, it was Philosophy that was all involving, demanding the most from him. In the first semester he studied Religious Philosophy and the second semester was for Marxist Philosophy. The main content of Religious Philosophy was the question of the existence of God.

Eddy was having a discussion with some other students after one of these lectures.

‘It seems to me that the only way to approach this problem is to follow the accepted criteria for the definition of God’s essential qualities. The Professor has said that God is infinite and existing eternally, these are God’s attributes. In the acceptance of these criteria there is but one assumption that can fit the criteria, and therefore be considered as valid. That is, that an analogous equivalent could only be the Universe itself, for it and it alone is infinite and existing eternally. Therefore, as human beings like to believe in something greater than themselves, why not posit that God is the Universe? That would satisfy the criteria and be in no way objectionable to any religious perspective or belief. This will be the argument that I will present as a proof or explanation of, and for, the existence of God.’ Eddy proposed.

He found in the logic of philosophical argument undeniable proof of the capability of the powers of human persuasion and he put his faith in it. He was not such a believer in the ideal philosophy of Plato, a father of Philosophy who held strong sway even today, though he lived in ancient Greece, thousands of years ago. The Relgious Philosophy Professor credited Eddy with a full distinction. Eddy’s second semester philosophy subject taught many variations and interpretations of Marxist thought. It was titled ‘Concepts of Freedom.’ One of the first introduced ideas was a reflection on religious belief, ‘What is God to a man that is his God.’ No such separation between humans and God existed in Eddy’s mind, as God could be equated as being the Universe then it followed logically that everything in the Universe was God including all human beings, everything was Holy, sacred and so existence was not a religious or philosophical problem in any conceivable way. Another view was put forward, by a South American Marxist theological philosopher, concerning the nature of the self. In his conception human beings were self conceptualising and therefore could be considered capable of defining themselves, this was proposed as a reason to believe that human beings would have more freedom in a Marxist economic system, than in a capitalist system being fundamentally justified with reference to religious tenants. Eddy pointed out in his essay of reply to this view that the Marxist view presupposed belief in Plato’s universal idealist reality. To believe in an ideal, unchanging universe was to deny that the universe and human beings within the universe were ever changing. Ideas changed, and ideals were superseded by other ideals, nothing of this universe stayed the same, not a belief in the capitalist system, nor belief in an ideal Marxist projection.

One day the Marxist philosophy lecturer asked the class if they had ever in their lives experienced something that was, ‘inexplicable.’ Eddy spoke up, glad to reveal for the first time some unlikely occurrences that had been happening since he had started at University.

‘Some things have happened to me that you may consider to be paranormal, they seem to me to be totally inexplicable. Firstly, two things, one is that every night I go to bed in the same position, that is, my bed is in the same position but often when I awaken my bed has moved, travelled to the other side of the room. A second thing is that each night without fail I close the curtains at my window, and then, often I awaken with the full light of the sun upon my face, the curtains are open.

‘Another thing is that I believe I have seen a ghost. When I was sixteen, I was coming home late at night. I saw a shadowy figure walking in front of my parent’s house. I recognised the old woman who had lived next door to my parent’s house; she had died five years before that time. I knew she was a ghost because she had no legs below her knees, you see, she didn’t actually walk but seemed to hover along. Perhaps someone can explain these things to me.’

The Marxist Philosophy Professor could not fault Eddy’s logic or mystique, and gave him a distinction for the subject.

Anthropology, on the other hand, was a true mixture of threads, of strands; some of them, like the studies of the belief systems of African tribes or Aboriginal culture was rather boring however they served to furnish Eddy with some of the basic conceptual tools of Anthropological research. It was only when he had to devise a project on his own that he found it at all a challenge.

He had read in the newspaper and saw on the TV news how an Australian woman had been imprisoned for life in Indonesia for possessing a small amount of marijuana. He knew that grass was popular in the country towns of rural Australia. As two contradictory ways of life seemed to conflict, of coarse with some distance between them, he wanted to get the low down. He decided to interview members of the Adelaide Police as well as teenagers on the street, who were the ones who mostly experimented with the substance. A decent project, by any means, thought Eddy. He did not involve himself with participant observation, like many of his fellow classmates; it was an inappropriate method. He stuck to the interviewing procedures he had learnt during his studies and relied on a thoroughly rigorous analysis of results. The Anthropology Professor was very impressed to the tune of a well-earned distinction.

The greatest mystery of all to be revealed to Eddy was the language of Chinese; he lapped it up. He was fascinated with the huge phonetic range that the ordinary Chinese person had to absorb. It was all new to him, all so strange, and yet very simple when a student understood the basic principle of tonal expression. In the end he could hold a polite conversation with someone in Chinese, nothing special, mind you, but he managed to impress the language Professor and accepted another distinction.

Eddy was vaguely installed at the Adelaide University, he still felt insecure about his future occupation. He tried to focus; he was situated between the disciplines of Humanities and Social Sciences and was interested in an occupation that wasn’t just working for money. He liked fiction writing and thought he could pursue this area. So he looked up, patrons of the arts in Australia, there were practically none. But one search resulted - he did have some spare hours for surfing the internet, procuring the answers to many of his questions. However, it was not appropriate to him, as a person intending to be a writer, indeed, a popular artist. It was for a Spanish Bank who dedicated all of their profits towards supporting or sponsoring young developing artists, in whatever field, for financial support in the early years of their career, or otherwise persons to be employed in the Art’s arena. Unfortunately, it was only applicable for Spanish nationals. This, thought Eddy, was a magnificent scheme and if a new bank wished to establish itself world wide, this could be a practical means of eliciting support, and international respect. If only it were to be, thought Eddy, but his wishes didn’t count for much, as he had neither the time nor the means to promote such an idea. Alas, but this much was true, he had regrets for his foreshortenings.

He felt grateful for the use of the resources of such a fine and ennobling institution as this University, the University of Adelaide. However as he contemplated this feeling of gratitude he wondered, was he to be grateful to the accumulated increments of Science and Art as represented here as his discipline of Humanities and Social Sciences, or should he be grateful to God as provider of all these facilities. Did the Universe absolve all, and thus resolve this technical dilemma; did the Universe being all extensive and all inclusive, forgive this merely human pre-occupation; Eddy believed that it did, and he only had to look about himself at the beautifully conceived sense of order to know that this was true.

Eddy’s home life was quite functional and congenial. Although the others in the rooming house kept to themselves, he did have several conversations with the student from Libya. Often this Arabic man, Mustafa, would ask questions concerned with religious practices in Australia. He was a real stickler for the Koran; he worshiped it like the Bible. At one time the man had said, out of context, and seemingly to provoke some kind of manly respect, that women in his country were not allowed an education. Eddy was stunned with this kind of statement and when questioned about that statement the man admitted that the Koran stated, that the Muslim faith demanded of its followers that they respect and love all people, men and women. The belief couldn’t be reconciled with the fact of discrimination in Libya. Apparently, thought Eddy, it’s only how the Koran is interpreted by religious leaders, and he wondered if it was the same in all Muslim countries.

Eddy was informed around this time, by the owner of the rooming house where he lived, that they lived in a Plutocracy. It perhaps was not as he had believed, a Meritocracy, where talent was promoted and rewarded. Apparently, according to the owner, some unbelievably wealthy persons were in control of the world’s economy, they made the significant decisions that would control the fate of us, mere mortals. Although Eddy could see what he was on about, he knew, that these persons who had the power over everyone else, were fragile people, prone to the spiritual sufferings, doubt and uncertainty of most of humanity. Even they at times sought for guidance. He believed that they would respect a voice out there in the jungle of humanity’s destiny, as influencing their views and their personal sense of happiness.

Eddy knew as sure as eggs, that these Plutocrats, were human and as such had hearts that were approachable by another human, possessed with a certain insight and common sense.

There was one question, that kept re-occurring in Eddy’s mind; prone to seek. Did a young woman dress in a sexy manner merely to attract attention or did she actually desire to have sex in any of its various forms. Then again, did she want to have a baby, and start a family, or what? Eddy was perplexed with his naivety. He then supposed, after much deliberation mostly intuitive, that a woman, all women, were individuals who each had their own reasons for this act of provocation. One day he had approached one such woman, and said, ‘Hi, how are you?’ She had replied in a loud voice, ‘You, STALKER!’ Eddy was very taken aback, so surprised was he with this response.

He found himself steering clear of such sexually represented and provocative types of women. He preferred then, to approach for a chat, and perhaps the hope of friendship a more modestly attired female. Someone who dressed like Audrey Hepburn for example, stylishly, he didn’t feel so disconcerted and unsure of himself then; so, so much was achieved by a little self-discipline and he could relax with his assumption, his feeling of calm assurance.

Chapter 5

In the summer holidays Eddy worked part time with the Polish woman who shared his rooming house. She had made enquiries when he had mentioned that he wanted some gainful employment during the holiday break, he worked at the Egyptian restaurant in Rundle Street, part time. He spent four hours a day six days a week washing dishes and doing some simple preparation of vegetables. In his spare time he did what he called free study at the State Library, this consisted of making a list of topics or just words of interest, and finding definitions or references, then he cross referenced relevant notes and searched for their corresponding meanings or other references. He found he could go on this way endlessly, endlessly learning knew things and defining terminology as he went along. It was amazing what a person could learn under the covers of these reference books and they were available to anyone in any big city, say of more than a million, almost anywhere on the planet, although he could not vouch for other libraries in poorer countries where beliefs caused them to have restrictions or perhaps censorship.

One idea that Eddy gleaned from the mountain of reference books that he had waded through was the notion of a, mixed economy, that is, a mixture of socialism and capitalism, and may, he felt, function well practically. Anything short of a dictatorship Eddy viewed as reasonable, he preferred the term, systems go, which he thought expressed his view of people friendly politics.

There was one particular philosopher, that fascinated Eddy. His name was Karl Popper and he was the most recent of the very important theorists. Karl was said to provide the strongest criticism of Marxist thought. He argued from the view of the social sciences pointing out how dominant theories or paradigms were superseded by new, better, more truthful theories. He applied this observation to political systems, advocating the value of criticism of dominant value systems, constant re-appraisal, and renewal. It was to become the major social philosophy of this age and condemned any form of dictatorship.

One day while Eddy was shopping for some curtains in the new Myer centre he became aware of where he was, on the escalator going up. He compared this experience, of being transported upwards on this mechanical treadmill, to studying for his degree at University. The course he was doing was in some way like a treadmill transporting him upwards where he would emerge with a piece of paper, a degree, and with his prospects in life much improved, but he still didn’t know exactly what kind of profession he would like to commit himself to.

I had come upon the term Post Modernist during my first year studies of English, which were quite general in nature, but basically historical. I was dissatisfied with the references that were made in that subject on that topic. It was a by no means agreed upon term and I sought further guidelines during that summer of nineteen eighty-seven in the University Library.

As I walked along North Terrace I was taken with a feeling that I could be anywhere in the world, Paris or Madrid for example. This finely decorated Avenue was only a decade previously just one street in a large country town, but now it was the defining part of a big expanding metropolis that I saw could only grow into a truly international City, like Sydney or New York. It could accommodate, maybe a million more international students, from all Asia or even South America. It was expanding in this way and it, my home City, had this potential.

I felt the potential of my home town as I walked to the University Library that Summer day, and then I searched in that Library for definitions of the term Post-Modernist. It, I found was a reflection of the prevailing Pluralist attitude to culture in general and literature in particular. There was no definite overall view as each theorist or critic had a different view. I was however very taken with a reference to what was termed emergent styles in the Arts. There were only a few examples in Literature but here I felt a strong sympathy for the concept. I was later to pursue this trend.

In the Egyptian restaurant kitchen where he was employed as a kitchen hand there was only Arabic staff. One man’s name was Medhat, and he said that his name was very old fashioned. Actually his full name was Medhat Mohammad Ali and this family name was as old as Egypt itself. No member of his family had ever left Egypt. It was only the advent of television that caused him to want to visit Adelaide. He had seen a documentary about the Adelaide Festival of Arts and as this festival was considered to be cutting edge for the arts, Medhat felt he had to be here, he had to experience its greatness, its majesty for himself. In some ways he was rather like Mustafa, the Libyan man. He seemed to be bragging in a proud way when he said that in his country a son would inherit three quarters of his family’s estate while a daughter would only receive one quarter. I had to hold myself back from showing my offence. I just said that I supposed it was the law in the Koran. He said that, that was true, it had always had been so and he thought it was generous of Alla. Really, I didn’t know how to respond without actually insulting his religion, and if I were to start I may as well take on the whole Islamic world however many millions there were of them. But, then I thought how many women in Islamic countries there were and if I could do anything to in some way lessen the injustice. Even Australian women travelling in Indonesia were sent to gaol for life for some petty crime, it had to stop, it just had to.

God, as had been concietized and affirmed to me by Mustafa, was a presence in my life, that facilitated and allowed for much rewarding and enriching self-reflexion. The Chinese man, who had a room in the rooming house, was thoroughly occupied by the physical duties of his need to earn as much money in any way he was capable of. He didn’t consider any other than his socially conditioned point of view, that is, the extreme restriction at that time imposed by the Communist regime of China in the form of censorship and constriction of individual freedoms, such as self definition. Mustafa I could relate to openly, and we assumed a certain respect for each other that went beyond mere friendship, embracing, as it was, our separate conceptions of our own roles in this play of our mutual conceits.

My conceivings of ‘God’ at that time were brief and fleeting though worthy of extended explication. I believed in my heart, that my conceiving of ‘God’ was a psychological projection that anyone could and possibly did allow to, in my case, come to terms with my up-bringing and bring into the light of my reason the actual facts surrounding such a conception. Such a consideration allowed me to view my role and function as a human being, and my responsibility to humanity as a specific generality. I was soon to become aware of the cries of pain, the fact of hunger, the conditioning and lack of provision for inclement climates and weathers that many peoples were subject to. I also was aware that many amongst us on this planet did not have adequate provisions for their general health and welfare. Such were relevant concerns of mine. I could do practically nothing to relieve or prevent the sufferings caused by natural disasters. I believed I could influence human caused suffering, especially where authorities or leaders failed in their responsibility to those who were subject to their rulings, through a lack of personal insight or understanding of their powers to resolve such things as negative discrimination, prejudice, or ill-conceived views of their personal capacities. In short, I came upon the view that I should judge myself in the same light as others and not neglect this capacity.

This Arabic man, I accepted as a rough equivalent to myself, and found through my own strength of character that I could advise him from the point of view of personal reflection and the insights as regards the truth of any matter that was discussed. I meant not to stand against any man or woman on the planet and say, ‘you are wrong!’ I meant only to devolve my being into humanity and become the spitting image of humanity itself.

I respected the Islamic faith as he personally related to me and, also as he presented in specific books and broachers. My only criticism was with the narrow definition of the role of women. They deserved, I believed in my heart, to not only be regarded as having equal rights but also themselves to be in complete possession of their innate powers of self-definition, and thus define their own individual capability, and role in the play of existence, that had by a process of objectifying come under my observance.

I believed from the observance of my condition that I could allow myself little free time, and also to be prepared to take on as welcome some burdens of community service that I considered myself capable of.

Some of my observers, in the reading of this account may consider that I am obsessive of nature, that I am a preoccupied persona, however I conceive that I am a thinking person and this justifies my observance of my own self awareness.

‘I have certain talents,’ thought Eddy, ‘I’m good at writing short pieces of fiction, I have done this since high school. I like to describe what they define in philosophy as the human dilemma, and I like to tackle the big picture. Perhaps I’m a humanist, I have a certain amount of faith that human beings can confront the problems that can be seen everywhere on this planet, confront them and solve them. It is remarkable that science has already solved so many problems. The scientific method does achieve results; it can solve problems. But what is my role in the near future, am I just to fulfil my obligations and receive my remuneration.’ The leaders in Islamic countries apparently believed that the Koran was all they could rely on in this uncertain world framed by Western powers who were self-seeking and oh, so self-righteous. As a misguided reaction Islamic leaders perhaps copied this righteousness; of capitalism, of science and its modern rationalism, of the whole subjective modernist art tradition and its ultimate commercialism. Perhaps they clung to the Koran because they didn’t have the vision to overcome the challenge of the West, for their faith had served them well in the past. But in this day and age to treat women like that, it was one of the bigger problems on the planet, and Eddy felt that he could somehow contribute to solving it by writing a longer work of fiction, a novel. This year he would dedicate himself to learning the art of novel writing, he may expose some of the facts as they existed in Islamic countries, he may even find a way to resolve in some fundamental way the difference between the West and the Islamic world. Eddy wasn’t afraid of a challenge.

He believed that our economic systems at that time on the Planet lagged behind the technology; the invention of computers and the creation of the internet. The world could be united but as it was nations still competed and struggled, and held back with some notion of redundant national pride from co-operation and collaboration. Nationalism was one of those problematic idealisations that he was not yet to see a solution to, but perhaps at some time in the future he would come to terms with it and shine a light to help people see more clearly how they were perpetuating old antagonisms, old rivalries that need not be. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps one day.

The national theorists of the past had prided themselves on explaining away the very real problems that were still existent, by inventing some convenient ideology that became a belief system, that millions would adhere to, and be motivated by. Eddy saw through the nominal fallacy and intended to focus on the actual problems of contemporary society and perhaps the contemporary world, for, maybe others could see in his strategy a model or guideline that they could apply or adapt to solving problems on their part of the planet. It was logical, and Eddy stood behind his faith in reason rather than being mystified by some grand scheme of ideological means. History could take care of itself, he had a job to do, so he focussed on that and not some self re-enforcing intellectual accommodation that only served to make a person comfortable with their shortcomings.

I sensed an ominous shortcoming in the ways of the West that were as yet acting out the final play of the end time that has haunted the entire twentieth Century. I felt for every child, Mustafa, of the Islamic world, one quarter of the earth’s population who would be entreated to enact a Holy War.

Chapter 6

Eddy planned to enrol in the second year subject, ‘Aspects of the Novel’ at Adelaide University the next week when he was contacted by the Adelaide Police Department on the house phone. A senior officer in charge of recruitment actually offered him the chance of employment, would he be able to attend an information briefing two days later in the week. Eddy was very surprised but responded positively in a strange faraway voice, kind of a little suspicious.

Two days after this, Eddy looked up at the exterior façade of the Police Head Quarters building to the third floor, there he saw a face – the face of his destiny. He climbed the steps, and asked the officer at the reception desk where the recruitment officer was situated. Having been informed of this he proceeded to the lift and was hauled up to the third floor. At the appropriate door he waited and considered the sign on the door, Detective Jameson, and below that, Recruitment Management.

He knocked, he didn’t know why but intuitively he felt that a certain formality was a necessary requirement, even though he was quite punctual. Detective Jameson welcomed him into a spacious and sparsely furnished office complete with a rather oversized desk. This Detective was one of the friendly types who easily managed, somehow to immediately relieve any tension. He informed Eddy that the Police Department had noted Eddy’s serious attitude and dedication when Eddy had been carrying out his research assignment in his Anthropology subject at Adelaide University during September and October of the previous year. An enquiry later had proven worth their trouble when they were informed that Eddy had received distinctions for all of his first year subjects, they were impressed to the point of considering him suitable for a certain investigative mission.

‘So far, does an offer of a contract position, roughly for a period of one year appeal to you, Edward.’ He leaned back in his large leather armchair and gave a grand smile.

‘Sounds fine to me,’ replied Eddy. ‘And by the way, you can call me Eddy, Mr Jameson, you see, I am self defining. Just what did you have in mind that I do for you.’ Eddy was a little disconcerted but he didn’t show it.

‘We have in mind a little foreign travel, a little investigation, undercover work that should be a breeze for a person of your aptitude and obvious talents. Actually we are under Federal pressure on this, it seems the powers that be in Canberra don’t like it when Australians travelling in Asia get caught out on drugs charges and they get sentenced to long prison terms. They are most concerned about this recent case of Jennifer Adams who was carrying a small amount of hashish on her person as she was departing at Jakarta airport for Singapore. She was sentenced to sixty years prison and, there is not much the rest of Australia can do about it. They have their laws but then they are extra strict with Australians and especially females. We want someone relatively unsuspectable compared with the federal police detectives and foreign affairs officials we have been sending up there. We just get the brick wall treatment; this is the law, our law, respect it.

‘There is not much we can do for people caught with hard illegal drugs; heroin, cocaine, ecstasy even opium or amphetamines but we, that’s everyone down from Canberra believes that soft drugs like marijuana or hashish charges could provide us with some leverage. We perhaps could persuade them to take a softer line, if we only knew their way of reasoning on this. So that’s it, we need someone like you who they wouldn’t suspect as being one of our officials to go there, not Indonesia that’s too hot, but Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to get the low down on this. – So, does it sound like your cup of tea. Feel free to refuse, we want someone who is totally committed, what do you say Edward?’

‘If it’s down to me, well I believe as you do, something has to be done. These petty officials have the sanction of their nation state.’ From his studies of Anthropology Eddy possessed the power of knowledge, people were subject to their tribe or nation and had prejudices that allowed for the sanctioning of their acceptance. ‘They believe that they can scapegoat Westerners, that’s how they see Australians, as degenerates, not Muslim in other words, thereby adding prestige to their own regimes. If we can appeal to their pride, even vanity, as being persons not truly exercising personal authority in their positions and its true that they don’t, then we will have won half the battle. We need some way of influencing their leaders, of making them see that this discrimination is not in accord with the Muslim law as they interpret it, otherwise we take up the gun. I don’t want that.’ Eddy was emphatic, he believed.

‘For just a young Aussie you make a lot of sense but will you do this. Will you be prepared to take on this assignment and see it through to the best of your ability? Still, feel free to refuse.’ Detective Jameson was all diplomacy.

Detective Jameson, I have no hesitation in accepting this mission. I will to the best of my ability fulfil the obligations put upon me, and I assure you I am capable of completing this assignment in a satisfactory manner.’

Chapter 7

Eddy remembered his way from the lift down the long corridor to Detective Jameson’s office a week later. Nothing of relevance had occurred in the intervening week other than Eddy doing some deep consideration presupposing the projected mission. Just how he, and he alone, could manage himself in such exotic situations. The police had had time to prepare his contract, and a document containing guidelines, and instructions that he would need to memorise.

‘You have accepted the mission and you must sign this contract,’ Jameson pushed several documents across the desk top. ‘The contract is for an indefinite period of time, but for not more that a year. Read it.’

Jameson was still and silent for perhaps five minutes whilst Eddy perused the fine print of the documents. Then Eddy signed it with his own pen.

‘You have now undertaken to fulfil a training programme. You will be informed of methods of observation; taking note of pertinent details, and interviewing various officials; the customs, the street police, recommended law officials as well as possible referents on the street who could supply you with knowledge concerning current practices and views involved with the transport of Cannabis and related justice proceedings in these various countries. You will be instructed in the skills of the report writing that you will have to do as you go. There is a set procedure that you must follow and repeat in each country.

What you ask and who you ask will vary from country to country and you will be instructed in these matters. You will be video- taped with the chief Detective of the Drug Squad as well as senior Embassy staff to the various countries. You will carry with you at all times copies of these videos only to be revealed to the relevant officials as they may request that you prove your authenticity and authority.

‘That is all for now. Take the contract and documents, study them and return to commence the training programme in one week’s time. The training programme is for one month, then you will go.’ Jameson was officious but at the end of this session he smiled in a friendly way, they shook hands and said goodbye until the next week.

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