a black, espionage, spy, part-comic, serious crime, murder and suicide thriller
The venom gland of cane toad (Bufo marinus) contains large quantities of a purported aphrodisiac substance that has resulted in fatal cardiac glycoside poisoning.
I’m writing a book, it’s nearly finished but the ed. wants another 20,000 words, this from a bloke who reckons 1,000 is too much.
It’s a black, espionage, spy, part-comic, serious crime, murder and suicide thriller, set when I was 4 years old, so it’s right for the detail. Like when I was a baby and was passed from one pair of blue uniformed RAAF arms to another, my father to my uncle, both men just back from the war.
Poison plays a magnificent villain in this thriller: digitalis, a glycoside and cousin to monkshood. The Papuans dipped their throwing spears into monkshood. Every wound was fatal.
Digitalis likes killing.
They breed like rabbits, do the cane toads, and they infest grassy acres and the tropics splendide, they litter golf greens in writhing and adulterous mounds and burp at you, brazenly, at midnight or in the early morning.
They lie await in the murk of toilet pans and die in dark corners where they smell all-a-mouldering, only to be retrieved on moving day, when every corner of the house is cleared and the mice husks and snake skins can be collected and burnt in communal pyres where pungent smoke hastens inhibition and an unworldly darkness descends.
The man in the thriller wasn’t killed by ‘nigger’ poison, the police were hasty there, he was killed by cane-toad poison.
But there are questions, because whether his death be suicide by cane toad poison, or murder most heinous .. he had to drink the stuff. The frog juice had to be swallowed, and allowing for the fatal potency of glycoside, there would only have been about a tablespoonful necessary ..
– of a greasy, viscous medicinal compound, with the taste of metal and clothing mould. It makes the gums wrinkle back from the teeth, coats the tongue with a numbing thickness and constricts the throat to make breathing difficult. It inflames the gullet membrane and tears at the vocal chords, and rational thought descends into chaos, then panic. There are visions, and unimaginable swoops of fantasy.
Not unlike the effects of Beenleigh overproof rum, another poison, and one that is openly sucked out of duty free one-litre bottles at international airports by Queenslanders returning home from voyages across foreign borders. Then they chase each other through the darkened carparks, expelling great gusts of yellow flame as they ignite the fumes from their mouths.
If one man was intent on killing another, and bought him the drink that would do so – then he was drinking with his enemy, without his friend knowing it.
The Bookmaker from Rabaul
2015 Bennison Books