Operation Camilla

By: Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

CHAPTER ONE





Donald Blackman howled with outrage as the dog squatted right in the middle of his new false grass lawn. Dropping his mail and paper, he ran across the grass and aimed a kick at the beast. The big yellow dog evaded the kick, dancing just out of range, pink tongue flapping from the side of its mouth. Blackman lost his balance, skidded on the wet grass and sat heavily on his bottom. He looked quickly about to see if anyone had observed him, but the early morning street, thank God, was quiet and empty. He picked up his slightly mangled newspaper and brandished it at the dog. The dog barked once, dropped low in front in what Blackman interpreted as mockery, then lifted its head as if hearing a distant call, turned and trotted away.

Blackman strode across his front lawn, plucking damp trousers away from his bottom. Something squelched beneath his foot, and he looked down and roared with rage, scrubbing his foot on the artificial grass and smearing the fresh dog poo more thoroughly over his suede desert boots. Seven o’clock and he could already feel the day slipping out of his grasp, sinking into the vast, amorphous expanse of wasted days that had become his life. He let himself into his semi-detached office and tossed the day’s mail and the soggy paper onto his secretary’s desk.

In the sanctum of his inner office, he threw himself into his chair and glowered out the window. The day stretched ahead, void of client meetings, void of court appearances, void, if he were honest with himself, of work. The only files he had that were current were a couple of conveyancing matters. He had had to refer most of his regular clients to other practitioners following his trouble, when his practising certificate had been suspended for three months. None of them had come back when he’d reopened his doors. Not a single one. He was relying on his mates at Acme Real Estate for a trickle of conveyancing referrals, but they didn’t even generate enough income to cover his secretary’s wages.

A few nice, juicy divorces, that was what he needed. High net worth individuals meant rich pickings for the family lawyer. High net worth individuals with children, he mused. Those were the best; the arguments about custody and access could drag on for years, with many court appearances. The nastier it got, the more he raked in.

He heaved his bulk out of the chair, stumped back out to the front office and picked up his newspaper, his mind filled with dreams of golden wealth furnished by human misery. If only, he thought, there were some way to make people get divorced.

That prat John Mills was on the front page again, accepting some award. Smug bastard. Businessman of the year. Look at him with his bloody trophy wife and his five blond children. I’d like to have you in my office fighting for your life, you smarmy git. You wouldn’t look so bloody pleased with yourself then.

He frowned suddenly, bending over the paper to look more closely at the photograph. That wasn’t the woman he’d seen Mills with at the Commercial Club last week. She was blonde and uptight-looking. The woman he’d seen last week had been a slutty-looking brunette, with tits the size of watermelons and a skirt that looked like it had been sprayed on. Heh, heh. So Mills was playing away, was he? Dirty bastard. He chuckled appreciatively.

There was nothing much of interest in the paper. Blackman skimmed through it, sneering at the picture of the happy children who’d found their lost dog and the one of the stupid hippy festival. The hippies were no good. They lived on their commune, didn’t own enough to bother making wills, and there were never any family law matters; they didn’t bloody get married in the first place, and they never seemed to argue over their children even if they did split up. You might get the odd criminal matter – marijuana and the like - but that wasn’t worth anything; they were always on Legal Aid, so you could only charge the scheduled fee. Someone like that Mills, that was what you wanted. An enormous asset pool with that thriving department store, probably a self-managed superannuation fund, big expensive house, probably a holiday house too. And plenty at stake, with the five kids. Yes, if only Mills were getting a divorce. If that uptight bitch ever found out about the other woman…. He drifted into a pleasant reverie, where a now-humble Mills shivered in the client chair, begging for his help. Allegations of child abuse would make it go on even longer. Sometimes, if you were lucky… of course, a discreet rumour might spark such allegations. As long as it wasn’t traceable….