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the beating

Shady affairs are these things, these beatings. They usually take place outside of the hotel, away from the lights. Not that that prevented an audience, we knew it was on. Testosterone has a perfume.

The big man had been pushing people around in the bar for hours – he had come down from the Kings Cross club that employed him and was playing up to the drinkers in the Sheaf Hotel Beergarden in Double Bay – and he had a reputation, well earned. The town was full of Americans on leave from Vietnam and the big man could cut a swathe through them without being marked.

Tonight he swept into the beergarden again just before the hotel closed and beat a young man to the ground, knocked him down and kicked him around; he was laughing, we were powerless. He kicked him into the garden bed, finished him, and looked up triumphant and into the placid eyes of Denis C.

Denis was an old Waverley boy, a fairplayer and a Randwick forward, his brother a test footballer in both leagues. Denis could simmer his rage, he could smile in the tight moments and smile he did as they both walked together and away from the lights of the beergarden and into the darkened side streets. Both matched for size. Though never for murderous intent.

Like lovers heading to the rented bed they knew what they wanted and like lovers there was a hurry to have it done.

The big man could not withstand the torrent of rage unleashed upon him, blows that were muffled by his clothing and flesh, crackling rips to his ribcage and facial bones, clean solid knuckle on head barrages that spattered blood all around and he soon fell to the ground.

Not done.

Denis knelt on his chest and lifted his glistening head by the collar and punched it down once. Hard. Punched it down onto the concrete and up it bounced and Denis hit it down again. Harder. And again.

Headball.

Somebody pulled him off the still body and everybody slowly drifted away. The big man’s wallet lay by his side, come adrift in the turmoil.

We split the fifty quid almost even and tossed the wallet into a hedge. Left him there bleeding into his clothes.

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