Prosper had known well before his enlistment that there was wealth for the taking in the Victorian ordinance bunkers, and he was not alone in his desire to make good. Latham had preceded him.
Not for them were the heat-struck gold and opal diggings where so many men hid themselves from the war; spending their years underground away from the daylight ache of a desert sun and far from the gaze of the Territorial police as they scratched and dug in their black tunnels, bent double and spiderlike, looking for a gleam.
Black tunnels that were best lengthened with explosives rather than shovels, and gleam runs best protected with guns rather than iron bars and knives.
A solitary society of mining misfits: they crowded the tin-roofed bars that were scattered about the diggings and waited on the itinerant Prospers to come by their way.
A Saturday night was Prosper’s business night in the diggings – here in a slabsided miner’s bar with his inventory stowed in the boot of his car outside.
He never came alone on these business trips; Prosper travelled with Latham, his silent brute.
This was Edie’s bar, and that was her view of Latham. ‘ Like a corpse, ‘ she said, ‘ until he moves. ‘
Prosper and Latham had a simple routine that was designed to promote and protect the passage of business, just to be sure; for these were all men of hard times.
Prosper first through the door, remembering to stoop low under the lintel, and head straight to the bar with a smile to the wide. A whisky neat and a schooner to chase it down. Then he laid his hat on the bar and turned around, open for business.
Latham followed, and he stooped lower under the lintel and stood by the doorway, where he remained. The men in the bar who knew Prosper, knew Latham, and they ogled the Browning M1911 automatic handgun he had jammed under his trouser belt.
The Door Man.