Flying Pizza

It isn’t necessary for you to read the FIRST STORY in this sequence of stories, but you might like to. Each story is designed to stand alone, but you will see the sequence as you go along. PART ONE was called THE CHRISTENING and you can read it HERE.

SCENE:

A shopping strip like any other. Fallen Angel Pizza does not have a verandah. The shop is sandwiched between a cafe and a shop selling printer ink. This shop has a notice in the window warning that it will be closed until next week — death in the family. Fallen Angel Pizza is just setting up for the evening trade when Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson park their car on the opposite side of the street. A young man is sweeping the footpath as the two policemen enter the shop.

“So, why did you call your business Fallen Angel Pizza?” said Sergeant Wilson.

The Inspector gave him a glance. Inspector McBride liked to be crisp and precise when questioning members of the public. He too was intrigued by the name, but knowing the answer was not likely to lead to the killer. It was too late to shut down this line of enquiry, so he let it play out.

“I didn’t. I mean I did, but only because it was less paperwork to leave the name the way I found it when I bought the business. They charge you for everything these days. Besides, the punters love the name. It does attract a few nutters but. Still, nut bags have to eat, I guess. The crazy ones tip better so the drivers like them,” said William Dundee, whose ancestors had emigrated to Australia only moments before they would likely have been transported. William Dundee had never been to Scotland, but he spoke with a strange approximation of what he thought his ancestors sounded like.

“Do you have contact details for all your delivery drivers?” said Inspector McBride.

“All my delivery drivers?”

“Yes. All of your drivers.”

Dundee held in the smile until he could no longer.

“I’m not Pizza Hut, Inspector. I only have two delivery drivers at the moment.”

“Do they both wear wings?” said the Sergeant.

This time Dundee did not bother to contain his smile.

“Only one. Christopher Dawson. But he likes to be known as Raphael. He wasn’t always into angels until he started working here — or so he says. Mad bugger, but a good worker. Customers love him. He makes about three times what I pay him in tips. Rides around on a bicycle with wings on his helmet which would make him look like Mercury if it wasn’t for the wings glued to his leather jacket. I’ve never seen him without that jacket. Blood good job of sticking those wings on. They seem to grow out of his jacket. Must have taken him forever to get them just right.”

Dundee scribbled something on a scrap of paper and handed it to the Inspector.

The Inspector glanced at it before putting it in his side pocket.

“Thank you for your time, Mr Dundee. We may need to speak to you again.”

“It all seems a bit too easy,” said the Sergeant as the two men stepped into the street.

“I’m not sure what this is, but I’ll feel better when we’ve spoken to this Dawson character.”

“Are you hungry Inspector?” said the Sergeant.

“Good thinking,” said the Inspector.

The two men sat in their blue unmarked car and consumed a pizza while they waited for Christopher Dawson to arrive at work.

The sun was going down, and the strip of shops was bathed in a golden glow that made them appear way more interesting than they actually were.

Eating pizza and the glare from the sun made the two men almost miss the arrival of the winged deliverer.

He was quite a sight. Winged chrome helmet, leather jacket despite the warm weather and best of all, two perfectly formed wings sprouting from the back of his jacket. The golden glow bounced off the pristine white feathers giving them a golden pink hue.

“How do you reckon he keeps those feathers so clean?” said the Sergeant.

“Save that question until we find out if he likes killing people, will you, Sergeant.”

SCENE:

The rear of Fallen Angel Pizza. An alleyway with a wire fence on one side bordering the railway line. Two plain-clothed policemen are questioning a pizza delivery driver.

Sergeant Wilson would like to remove his jacket because he is hot from standing in the afternoon sun. The delivery driver does not remove his leather jacket. A train goes by, and the delivery driver turns to watch it. The feathers from the delivery driver’s wings brush the face of Sergeant Wilson. The sensation is a pleasant one.

“Have you ever delivered to the flats on the Hemingway Estate?”

The Inspector knew that he had.

“Yes,” said the winged delivery man.

“Two Fridays ago?”

“I’d have to check the date, but I think so.”

“Did you happen to notice anything unusual?”

Christopher Dawson hesitated before answering.

“The front door to number twelve was open and I had a sinking feeling that I was too late.”

“Too late for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her. I knew she was in danger, but I thought I had more time.”

“More time for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her.”

SCENE:

Police interrogation room. Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson sit across a metal table from Christopher Dawson. Mr Dawson is still wearing his jacket. Mr Dawson has been given an official caution, and the tape machine is recording. Three paper cups containing water sit untouched on the table. No one even considers lighting up a cigarette.

“You said earlier, when we spoke to you at the pizza shop, that you needed more time to save her. Who were you referring to?”

“The woman who was murdered.”

“Did you kill her, Mr Dawson?”

Inspector McBride liked to get the question out of the way early on. Other officer preferred to wait.

“No Inspector. I haven’t killed anyone in a very long time.”

The Inspector wanted to ask what he meant by that statement, but he felt it would push the interrogation off track, so he let it slide.

“But you were there?”

“Yes. I found her and I knew my mission was at an end.”

“Mission?”

“You must know that a woman is killed every day of the year by someone she lives with. Three hundred and sixty-five women every year. It was my mission to convince this woman to leave before the inevitable happened.”

“Why was it your mission?”

“She had important things to achieve and being dead would mean that she couldn’t achieve them.”

“You’re a strange one, Mr Dawson. If you don’t mind me saying so?” said the Inspector.

“I don’t mind at all.”

“If you found her like that, why didn’t you call the police?” said the Sergeant.

“She was dead. My involvement was at an end.”

“How did you get out of there without leaving a trace?”

For the first time since they had met, Mr Dawson smiled.

SCENE:

The coffee room at the police station where Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson are stationed. The room is large and half empty. The floor hasn’t been swept, and empty coffee cups are spilling out of the garbage can in the corner. Sergeant Wilson would very much like to light a cigarette, but those days are gone.

“The men in white coats went over his flat with a fine-toothed vacuum cleaner and came up with nothing. We could do him for not reporting the crime scene but a good brief would get him off. We have nothing on him. He has to be one of the strangest blokes I’ve come across and I’ve arrested football players so that’s saying something. Still and all, I can’t help liking the bloke. Wouldn’t trust him to have my back, but I like him all the same,” said Sergeant Wilson while chomping on a chocolate croissant.

“There is nothing in her file about living with someone. Someone must have come across her partner. Interview her workmates again. She must have talked about her partner. Women love to brag or complain about their other half.

SCENE:

The back of the shop — Fallen Angel Pizza. Two plain-clothes police are talking to the pizza shop owner. Several men in white jumpsuits are swarming over the body of a dead young male. Trains periodically travel past, making it difficult to carry on a conversation.

“So what did Mr Dawson tell you before he left?”

“He said that there was a body at the back of the shop and that I should ring you blokes because you don’t like it when someone gets murdered and no one says anything.”

“Was that all he said?”

“No. He said that he was sick of not getting there on time, which didn’t make any sense to me because he was always punctual. The customers loved him.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. It freaked me out a bit. He stood in front of me and it seemed to me that his wings got bigger, which is nuts.”

“What did he say?”

The pizza shop owner didn’t want his best delivery driver to get into trouble, but he told them anyway.

“He said he hadn’t killed anyone in a long time, and he thought that this time he might be in trouble. I didn’t ask him what he meant and I don’t want to know.”

The pizza shop owner would have to go to the station and make a formal statement, but that could wait until tomorrow. There were pizzas to make.

A search of Dawson’s flat revealed that he had packed up and left, which came as no surprise to Inspector McBride.

“We need to be very careful about the way we write this one up,” said the Inspector and the Sergeant agreed.

Before going home, they bought half a dozen beers and sat in the park near the Fallen Angel Pizza and ate a delicious pizza, with the lot — on the house.

When the beer and pizza had been consumed, the two men travelled home to their loved ones.

They slept soundly and never mentioned a word of the case to the ones closest to them.

The boyfriend was never charged because he was dead and it’s hard to cross-examine a dead bloke.

The file was closed with a brief explanation that said, the main suspect is deceased. No further action required.

The dead boyfriend’s file mentioned the bloke with the helmet and wings as being the likely murderer.

It also said that after an exhaustive search, no trace of Christopher Dawson aka Raphael has been found.

Loyal and True.

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“What I value most in my friends is loyalty.”
David Mamet

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

There were four of us; as far back as I can remember.
Keevil and the O’Briens were older, but for some reason they let me tag along.
I guess I made ‘em laugh.
A sense of humour opens many doors.
 
We weren’t exactly model citizens, then or now, and we got into a few scrapes but nothing heavy. I could run fast and this came in handy as I always seemed to be the last one to work out that things had gone pear-shaped.
I lost count of the number of times I heard “run!”.
This word was usually uttered by all three of the blokes who were supposed to be looking out for me.
They probably thought that it was obvious that the time to run had arrived and felt that it was unnecessary to say so, then one or all of them would notice that I was still standing there with my mouth open.
 
I still have dreams about being a kid and a voice from many yards away yelling ‘run’.
 
Considering they had several yards head start you would think that I would be the one who got nabbed.
Not so.
I could run, and usually not in a straight line. I worked out that adults were faster than I was, except for the fat ones, so it was only a matter of time before they caught up to me. Not running in a straight line was the key. If I suddenly changed direction often enough they gave up and went after someone else, someone less slippery.
I was usually carrying something we had nicked. “Here, you hang on to it they will never suspect a little kid”; and they didn’t until they did, which was usually not my fault.
 
Most of our ‘hasty retreats’ were caused by Keevil’s inability to hold his nerve. You would never know it to look at him now but back then he lacked a bit of ‘bottle’.
 
This sudden need to ‘head for the hills’ only increased my anxiety.
These days I wouldn’t associate myself with such unreliable accomplices, but i was a kid and the rules were different.
If a bunch of big kids wanted to have you around then you didn’t say no.
 
My other friends were way to frightened to get into any serious adventures.
They were frightened of getting hurt, frightened of what their parents would say and frightened of the police.
None of these fears were unreasonable, but it made for very boring friends and long school holidays.
 
As the years went by Keevil and the two O’Brien’s dropped out of school and went looking for work.
 
Keevil joined the railways as a clerk, W.T got a job in a shop on the High Street and Jimmy O’Brien got a job as a builder’s labourer. You’ve seen the photo of Jimmy, he’s huge, so lugging stuff around all day was easy for him.
 
I stayed at school and eventually went on to University.
I was the brains of the outfit.
Well, that sounds better than it actually is, what I mean to say is, ‘brains’ is what I bring to the gang, I’m not actually the ‘brains of the outfit’, William T. O’Brian is.
 
It was Billy who came up with the capers right from the start.
 
He knew that if we stood out the front of old man McKenzie’s house and threw stones on his roof it would give Jimmy time to scale his back fence and steal a bag of apples.
Billy even remembered to supply Jimmy with the bag.
Old man McKenzie had a big dog that guarded his orchard but Billy knew that the commotion would keep the big dog and his owner busy just long enough to pull off the caper.
 
We sold some of the apples and we ate the rest.
Best tasting apples you could possibly imagine.
 
As we got older the capers got bigger, usually to do with the railways, courtesy of C.J., or building sites that Jimmy had been working on.
 
My job was to keep us all out of goal.
 
I finished my law degree at Melbourne University. Finished second overall for the State of Victoria. The bloke who beat me into first place became a high court judge.
I always hated that bloke.
 
I got a position with Cohen, Cohen and Cohen, Melbourne’s top criminal law firm.
 
I became so successful that the firm offered me a partnership but my name didn’t make it onto the letterhead. I guess Cohen, Cohen, Cohen and Hipshein was just too long to fit on the door, but I didn’t care.
My day job, as successful as it was, was just a diversion. My real firm was O’Brien, Hipshein, Keevil and O’Brien.
 
We were making a lot of money; only money was not the point, it was just a way of keeping score.
 
The photo shows the only time we were all brought in for questioning at the same time.
It was a ‘usual suspects’ round up.
A pointless exercise, but it kept the politicians happy.
It gave us a chance to catch up with some old contacts, and a few new capers were duly planned. It saved us a lot of time because we didn’t have to do the usually running around to plan upcoming jobs, with the usual precautions about being seen and being followed.
 
These precautions might have seemed unnecessary but it was important for staying out of gaol.
 
Victorian law had a ‘consorting’ provision, which meant that they could put you in prison just for being seen talking to a convicted criminal. It was an easy way for the cops to squeeze a ‘crim’ into talking about his associates, and it worked too.
The magistrates were onside and some stiff sentences were handed out to those who refused to ‘rat’.
 
The law had no effect on me as I’d never been convicted of anything. They had tried a few times but the charges were always dropped. You didn’t go after a top criminal barrister unless you had an airtight case. The legal profession looked after its own in the same way that the cops did.
 
You can see from the photograph that no one looks even a little bit worried. We all knew it was a wind up, but never the less I was worried.
 
This whole round-up didn’t make sense. 
Cops are creatures of habit and this didn’t fit the usual pattern. Something was up, and I didn’t know what it was, and that made me nervous.
 
My job was to stay one step ahead and now I was in the dark. Not a good place to be if we were to survive.
 
Within six months I was the only one still alive.
 
Yet again I was left behind just as I was when we were kids, just as I was at school after they all left.
 
Left to fend for myself.
 
It was my job to see the trouble coming and I had failed badly.
 
The police were sick of being made fools of and a hard-core group decided to fight back. The bosses formed the ‘Armed Robbery Squad’ which turned out to be a euphemism for hit squad.
They went on a killing spree that lasted for eight years before a Royal Commission had them disbanded.
Only after Police headquarters was bombed did the politicians decide to act.
A few of the squad ended up in Gaol but the rest simply retired.
 
My crew was never into armed robbery but that didn’t matter in the long run because a lot of the really dangerous crooks believed that someone was feeding the cops information, which was probably true and my mates got caught in the middle.
 
They shot Keevil dead in his driveway. We knew who did it but the cops didn’t care, so we decided to sort it out ourselves.
The resulting gun fight saw the O’Briens mortally wounded.
We had managed to wipe out the gang that killed our friend and at the end of it all I didn’t have a scratch on me.
My ears were ringing and I had a bullet hole in my hat and a lot of blood on my shoes, but that was it. 
 
Last man standing
 
This wasn’t the revenge I was hoping for, but it would have to do.
We could have let Keevil’s murder go by without doing anything about it and we may have survived but that was never going to happen.
It had been us against the world ever since we were kids and we were not going to abandon that now.
My friends paid a heavy price and I’m left to wonder how it might have been.
You probably think that we deserved what we got, that we were outside the law and that we should not have expected it protect us, and you would be right.
 
We lived by our own rules and we achieved something that is precious and rare.
 
We were loyal and true, right to the end.