Chapter 44: Shocked

Author: Jennifer Keaton
Date: 24th June 1998

Rex was beginning to regret boning Erica Sheen. Besides the numerous attempts on his life, he had soiled his pants more than was strictly necessary in a person his age as a result.

Then she'd abandoned him on the road to Byron Bay and disappeared. That Erica had problems of her own and that this had furthered his career did not cross his congealed, hair0lacquered skull as he bobbed in the water under a disused Darling Harbour wharf, which was being converted into a submarine-themed restaurant.

Since his hands were still tied, he was treading water and balancing on a partly submerged 44-gallon drum, waiting until the coast was, as the old saying goes, clear of Finnish henchmen.

Rex wondered why Ray had left him. Had he done something wrong? Piss off Ray Martin and you piss off a career at Channel Nine. He'd be lucky to host an infomercial for Metamucil after this.

Then he noticed the police rescue boat.

"Mother of God! I'm saved," Rex croaked and slid off his drum.

"I wouldn't count on it," came the voice behind him. Rex groaned. It seemed that the number of people on this earth who wanted him dead far outweighed those who didn't. He turned around.

"Van Slooten! You're alive!" he said.

"Of course. You survived with your hands tied, why wouldn't I who has the use of my hands?" Van Slooten replied, clinging to a pylon.

"And now you're going to kill me," Rex said, congratulating himself on not emptying his bowels once again.

"That was a warning. It's not really the police rescue, that is the boat from Water Rats, except the guns on it are loaded. They are looking for you," Riekelt replied evenly.

Rex was incredulous. "Why should I trust you?"

"You know I am the enemy. You do not know about the boat. In the words of your Kylie Minogue: it is better the devil you know,: the Finnish gangster replied. "We have a saying in Finland: If you twice fail to kill a reindeer, maybe you are meant to eat something else."

Pretty stupid saying, thought Rex. Still, believing Riekelt seemed the easiest way out of this situation.

"Now is not the time to discuss this," Riekelt said, producing a knife. "Give me your hands."

An hour later, Rex was sitting in Riekelt's lounge, which for geography buffs was located on the top floor of a Meriton apartment block on Sussex Street, and very spiffy it was too.

He was showered, nursing a whisky and wearing one of Riekelt's suits. Riekelt was similarly attired and supping of the same.

"Okay, I'm impressed by the Samaritan act, do you want to fill me in?" Rex asked.

'It is quite simple. Anttilanien smuggles heroin from Finland under the guise of a stationary and Royal Jelly manufacturer. The Laakksonen family are the biggest drug makers outside of Colombia. I run the Australian distribution and in this country you do not fear the police, they can be bought."

"We tip off Martin about dealers in Cabramatta in return for him turning a blind eye. A Current Affair wins ratings through fear of Vietnamese drug dealers. The Finnish non-threatening image is preserved and publicity keeps prices high. It worked well until Flikka stole a diamond belonging to Anttilanien. We think Erica knows where it is. I'm hoping you'll trust me to tell me her whereabouts. I don't want to harm her," Riekelt said.

"I don't know where she is," Rex said slowly, trying to absorb this information.

"Are you sure?" said a voice entering the room.