Sam Bennett Case Files: Sulfur McWilliams


The envelope had been lying on Sam’s desk since the postage arrived earlier that morning. All other correspondence had been dealt with, but the letter from a firm of Adelaide solicitors, Coen Coen, and Coen was just lying there like a grenade waiting to go off.

“Who did I piss off in Adelaide?”

It was a rhetorical question mostly because there was no one in the office to answer it.

“Better get it over with I guess,” said Sam reaching for the silver letter opener which was a trophy from a particularly difficult case.


Ricky DiMato had been found dangling from a tree, smoke still coming from his shredded clothing. It was obvious that someone had successfully managed to blow Ricky up, but the question was why?

He didn’t appear to be involved in anything nefarious.

He wasn’t fooling around with anyone’s significant other, and he didn’t owe anyone anything.

To be brutally honest, he was a boring little bastard who would never have come across anyone’s radar except for his sudden detonation.

It seemed that his mum loved him, as did his enormous extended family and they paid handsomely to find out who tried to put Ricky into orbit.

The beautifully sculpted silver and amber letter opener had once belonged to Sulfur McWilliams, otherwise known as the ‘mad bomber’. It wasn’t a very original nickname, but it was accurate.

Sulfur McWilliams was well prepared for the day that the good guys caught up with him.

In this instance, it was Sam who confronted him on a sunny afternoon in May. The trail led directly from Ricky’s smoldering corpse to Sulfur McWilliams bungalow on Best Street Northcote.

Sam knocked on the front of number 66 and the man who opened the door fitted the description Sam had been given.

“I’ve been expecting you,” said Sulfur. “You’d better come in.”

Sam put it to him and Sulfur didn’t deny Sam’s accusation, but he did walk across the loungeroom and flick a switch that was concealed behind a portrait of what Sam presumed was Guy Fawkes. To this day, he can remember the smile on Sulfur’s ugly mug.


Lying rather awkwardly on the verandah of the house across the road from Sulfur’s now demolished bungalow, Sam pieced together why he was still alive — somewhat scorched and with a vicious ringing in his ears, but alive all the same.

His best guess was that Sulfur had wired the house with enough explosives to turn his bungalow into kindling in anticipation of this day coming. The time delay that allowed Sam to make it to the street was probably designed to give Sulfur time to escape and leave his pursuers to their fate.

Sam had often wondered where that little voice came from.

On more than one occasion, it had saved his life.

This time, all he heard was “run”, so he did.

When retelling this story he would add, “I never argue with my ‘little voice’, if it says ‘run’ I run and I don’t ask why.”

Sam devoted only a moment to wondering why Sulfur stayed in that bungalow as it was reduced to tiny fragments; only a moment. Everyone makes their own choices in life.

Sam had solved the case and that was the end of that.

The paramedic checked Sam over and told him he was very lucky, but Sam had already worked that out for himself.

The ambo told him to sit for a while before going home. Sam was in no mood to argue.

He told the young police constable everything he knew because it was a waste of time trying to hide anything; the police find out eventually. They move at the speed of a glacier, but they get there in the end and keeping the police off his back was a constant balancing act. The police may not like him at the moment, but life would be significantly more difficult if they took an active dislike to him.

While sitting on the back step of the ambulance, Sam put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the silver letter opener. He’d been playing with it when Sulfur flicked the switch and the little voice strongly suggested that Sam leave the building.

Another moment was spent wondering why he had placed it in his pocket as he was running for the door.

“People do strange things when faced with imminent demise.”

Any further surmising was best done with a large glass of single malt in hand, preferably somewhere more comfortable than the back of an ambulance.

The Tramway Hotel was close by. It was quiet and comfortable. The perfect place to get his hearing back and to reflect on his good fortune.

One of these days he really must work out where that little voice comes from.

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