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security, how it works

Jim Tregonning moved to Ballina after ten years in the Byron hills, sold up and bought an apartment on the river. Jim’s getting a little long in the tooth and the Richmond almost under the windows made the place feel about right.

Ten years without locking a door or window up there, daughter’s border collie the security. Her and a peach face that never shuts up. Now Jim has to deal with the keys of a secure apartment.

Rule number one: never, ever leave the premises without a front door key in your pocket.

Because this is what happens when you do.

The unit’s front door closed with a solid click the same instant Jim realised he didn’t have any keys in his pocket.

Roll forward one : there’s a spare front door key in the car in the garage below the block. The secure garage thinks Jim, so who would lock their car? Jim takes the lift and lets himself into the garage from the lift lobby. The door goes click behind him.

Roll forward two : the car is locked.

Roll forward three : Jim can’t get back into the lift lobby without a front door key so he exits the garage using a utility door to the street. The door goes click behind him.

Roll forward four : Jim’s on the street. His good wife is three blocks distant chasing the dragon, with her handbag, in there a spare key. So away goes our Jim, not quite jogging.

Roll forward five : imagine seeing a man leaning over a woman playing the slots and she’s emptying everything in her handbag on top of the buttons. Then he takes the empty bag and holds it up to remind every cattle farmer and his wife in the room what it looks like to feel up a half-grown calf for castration. But there’s no gonad in all that leather. The key’s in her other bag, back there.

Roll forward six : the block is managed by a strata management outfit, their shopfront and master-key access just across the road. It’s 4:10 pm on the Thursday before Good Friday and as Jim crosses the four lanes of traffic he spots a sign pasted to the strata office front window. Up close it reads ‘ Closed for Easter from 4:30 pm today.’

It’s 4:17 pm. They’re closed.

Roll forward seven : one of the rules of creation is that there always is a locksmith within a cigarette’s distance of a strata management office. They co-exist. And they’re open. Another thing about locksmiths, they talk and look like Homicide detectives working a second job.

Jim asks if he can get a security key cut for his block. The big man takes a walk into his office and comes back with a thick file. He takes Jim’s name, id’s it against his driver’s licence and flicks over a few pages, show’s interest in one.

‘You say unit 9?’


‘And you’re Jim Tregonning?’


The big man walks over to confer with an offsider, shows him the page then they both glance at Jim. He walks back, slow and heavy, like a jailor, except he wants to keep Jim locked out.

‘Records here say that unit is owned by an Andy Randle.’

‘He’s the bloke I bought it off a year ago.’

Again the big man shuffles through the file, then he looks up, shakes his head.

Roll forward eight :

‘Sorry mate, can’t do anything without the strata mob’s official say so. They’re just up the road.’

He looked at his watch.

‘It’s only twenty-five past, they’ll still be open.’

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