A Novel Excerpt: From Chapter 4 of The Con, by Gael McCarte
I invite you to enjoy this excerpt from my novel, The Con, Chapter 4, Anna Lennox psychologist meets biker chief, Tony Trapone (Trap-onie) for the first time. It is not the last time she sees him. Set in Western Australia, the spelling and idioms are Aussie.
He was a well dressed and muscular forty year old male. His long blonde tipped hair was tied in a neat and brushed pony tail. Surf and sun had tanned and life had etched his face, making his face appear older than his stated age. He had an ever ready smile. He wore a tight fitting short sleeved shirt. To advertise his attributes he had rolled up the already short sleeves to expose his killer biceps and associated biker tattoos. His jeans were equally tight. His ready to seduce face on he entered her room.
Tony Trapone spoke with a lyrical almost musical tone with a slightly gritty element. It could be described as 'sexy', 'really sexy', even 'hot'. His self introductory approach was ingratiatingly pleasant. He portrayed the sense that he was entirely comfortable with himself and believed that he was the consummate good guy.
He was skilled at instilling that belief in others. At least, for the duration of the first meeting. He had piercing blue eyes and a practiced flirtatious demeanor. Anna introduced herself and asked how he would react to being counselled by a forensic psychologist. Tony said that the forensic part was not an issue but the fact that she was an attractive woman might be. He watched carefully to compute Anna's response to that comment. Had Anna not read his record she may have been charmed, instead she was alarmed. Tony noted it.
Anna was pleased Crystal had cleared the building as she knew she would be vulnerable to Tony's version of predation. Tony was an entrepreneur who founded and developed a vast state wide empire within the security industry. Tony had named his company 'The Guardians'. It was a duly certified and legally registered company. He was tight lipped about his dealings and the activities of The Guardians.
Unbeknown to Tony a specialised Organised Crime Police task force had compiled a thorough brief explaining the extent and nature of his business dealings, brutality and crimes. The brief had been couriered to Anna a week ago. It read like the script of a block buster movie. She was riveted to it through to the end.
Tony's trained army of uniformed security guards operated as the bouncers at night clubs. They were the keepers of the peace at special events. They operated the metal detecting doorways in secured buildings, such as the Courts and the personal banking areas of banks that pander to the wealthy. When The Guardians were assigned to guard the entrances to various venues their placement had little to do with securing the building or event. Their presence was strategic placement of personnel. They knew which drug dealers to allow into events and which to keep from attending. Those who belonged to Tony's network were given priority; those who paid Tony a sizeable fee received a second tier registration entrance. Those in neither group were not admitted. Ever.
It was great press when the investigative reporters blazed headlines about the many drug dealers identified and kept out of the family event by The Guardians. Such headlines told the good people that they were safer because of The Guardians. They reiterated to the drug world that only those who belonged to, or paid Tony the required fee would be admitted. Those who did not risked being exposed by the unwitting reporters. Such reports reassured the readers, on both sides of the issue that The Guardians were in control. The family events, or rock concerts, or private parties, or night clubs were no safer from drug lords with The Guardians on watch. The dealers who were present had bought their ticket. This negated the possibility of turf wars. Tony was in control, at least of this domain. Tony had another army of trained security system installers. They lay kilometers of electrical cables and outfitted alarms in the most opulent of Perth's homes and businesses. The electrical engineer in charge had been retrained through the Department's free education and housing support given to offenders who seek training in legitimate fields. A car thief and a house burglar he had asked to be trained as a lock smith but the Department baulked at that, granting him instead entrance to a well known trade school.
The Guardians particularly focused on the Western suburbs where real estate was the most expensive in the country. Here grand lords and ladies of society displayed their wealth in bricks and mortar and verdant manicured gardens behind ornate wrought iron electric gates. The Guardians knew how to install and maintain the impressive state of the art tamper proof alarms they sold. . They knew where the wires were should they need to be cut at any time. They also were the only ones who knew how to neutralise them with the touch of a key on a computer keyboard kilometers away.
Additionally they wired and rewired the security systems of the bikie club houses, businesses and private homes of gang members. Rivals could cut but they could not disable the security systems in facilities owned by The Guardians. The Guardians ran blinds and double blinds to disguise and protect the actual operating systems. Any errant computerized access to the security systems was equally protected.
Tony employed his now adult step son, Gary, to break into the prestigious businesses or homes and trip the alarms. The Guardians, parked around the corner from the unlucky home owner would rush to the rescue as Gary fled. Gary returned to the home or business a few minutes later, dressed in his blue Guardian uniform, looking more like a Police Officer than a criminal. He encouraged that client to call the local newspaper and tell them what happened. He advised the homeowner that a rash of such burglaries had happened in that immediate area. He explained that the homeowner now had a duty of care to ensure that the neighbours who were not protected by a Guardian alarm system understood that they needed to be.
The traumatized homeowner was often open to suggestion and desperate not to have his neighbours experience burglary. As occurs in traumatized settings the rescuer is idealized and over trusted. Gary was that rescuer, and due to the circumstance his instructions took on the power of a hypnotic suggestion. His directions were usually followed. If the distressed homeowner could convince others to become alarmed and protected by The Guardians (did they not respond immediately?) it would mean something good came out of his own distress.
In the unlikely case that the homeowner was resistant to the idea Tony's executive assistant made sure that the reporters of local newspapers knew who it was that saved the day. The reporters at the major newspapers were not usually interested. The reporters at the local suburban newspapers were bored and leapt at news that made them look 'investigative'. Tony called them his 'print whores'. He didn't care if it was front page or page 6 as long as it was printed.
Tony and his armies were bikies. Some were bald with red beards and others presented as respectable businessmen. Others looked like hard working tradies, which they were. Some were mules, some were nominees, some were patched up members but all were Tony's boys at heart. And they were genuine bikies, bona fide, no imitations tolerated.
Tony's third army was the drug arm of the business. This was a tightly controlled network of home bakers who specialised only in amphetamine production. The youngest baker was a 17 year old virgin high school science nerd with acne whom no one would suspect of such activity. Tony's oldest baker was a 69 year old grandmother who had recently acquired the ability to make good gear. Tony's outfit was organised with military precision. The bakers were assigned to distributors who then worked on their own customer base. Each segment of this business stream was protected by The Guardians. Tony made many millions a year from this arm of the business. It was more lucrative than the security business.
Administering the Guardians was labour intensive. As time consuming as it was, Tony needed it as a legitimate front through which to launder the excessive riches 'amphets' amassed for him. With the introduction of the 'unexplained wealth taxation law' he had to explain to the taxation department the origin of his fortune. High in a glass skyscraper, overlooking the Swan River one of the most influential accounting companies in Perth prepared that explanation.
Tony's long criminal history described a vicious warrior who founded and directed his own war of weapon procurement and drug distribution. He lived hard, he partied hard and he put many of the women who had loved him in hospital or women's refuges. When one of his ladies begged entrance into a refuge she was turned away and dissuaded by the Police from insisting on admittance. Her being there would endanger the staff and other clients. The confidential and suppressed addresses were not suppressed to him. Tony knew the location of each refuge.
When Tony was aged twenty two he lived in the gold fields' area of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. His female partner disappeared. The story he told was that she had just taken off, gone, left him with her two boys, Gary and Phillip. He had raised them. What else could he do? What else indeed? After all they needed a home. Their old man was a drop kick; the little boys had no one but him, Tony. Anna knew it would be a rare woman who would go interstate never to be seen again, leaving her two young sons with a non relative. Anna thought a more likely end to that story was that their mother's mummified or desiccated body would one day be found down a dry, hot, abandoned mine shaft in Kalgoorlie.
This was the one story about his life that Tony would tell, up to a point, and as he did he oozed testosterone. He described himself as "A good mate who liked to ride a Harley for recreation, and that was it". Anna knew that was not a fraction of 'it' but today her goal was not confrontation but to attempt to establish non sexualized rapport with this highly sexualized offender. She soon realized she had her work cut out for her.
Tony had been arraigned on organised crime charges when it was discovered that many of the richest of Perth's homes were systematically robbed. They all had one thing in common, they were protected by a state of the art, newly installed, tamper proof Guardian Security System. Tony was arrested. With that one arrest an empire collapsed. Or so the Police said. His armies were unemployed. Temporarily. The Police loudly congratulated themselves on the televised nightly news and in print media headlines. But before the local newspaper could print the full glory of their victory Tony had sold his list of clients and home bakers to an alternate 'brother' club. 'Sold' is too permanent a description for what happened, it was more 'rented'. Once Tony took care of the little legal misunderstanding the list would be 'sold' back to him, the rightful owner. But between now and then he needed to cleanse the records of any 'misperception' his security empire was involved with drugs. The only thing that had actually changed, and that change was temporary, was the name of the mongrel at the top of the dog pile.
Anna left the office quickly; she later described her exit to Max as 'fleeing'. She shook out her hair, removed her shoes and suit jacket and sat. The breeze cooled her face and arms as the creep meter imbedded in the back of her neck settled. Once she felt released from Tony Trapone she started the engine and drove to Fran's store.
She picked up half a dozen fresh baked muffins and drove home, bare footed, windows down, radio blaring.*****