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Taking Care of Business by Peter Corris

Taking Care of Business by Peter Corris

Author:Peter Corris
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd
Published: 2014-12-07T16:00:00+00:00


I heard the hymn singing inside when I located the address Piper had given me—the sect’s meeting hall—and took my seat out of earshot on the other side of the road. Best vantage point, but it was hot and the bus shelter didn’t give much shade. I hoped the word of God would end on time.

They filed out, more than a hundred of them, men, women and children, all neatly dressed. A few walked off, most headed for their cars. Among the last out was Black Andy Piper. Dark suit, white shirt, dark tie, despite the heat of the day. He spotted me immediately and beckoned me over. Same old Andy—do as I tell you. I gave it a minute, pretending to wait for the traffic, just to be bolshie.

By the time I’d crossed the road, Piper was standing on his own outside the hall. Maybe Melanie Fanshawe wasn’t a good judge of weight, because he’d definitely trimmed down a bit. A hundred kilos, tops. He’d also grown a grey beard. He looked thinner and older. His black eyes bored into me as I approached, then they drifted away and he seemed almost to smile. Almost.

‘Hardy.’

‘Piper.’

We didn’t shake hands.

‘Come in,’ he said. ‘I want you to meet Pastor Jacobsen.’

We went inside. A man sitting on a plastic chair in the front row of a crowded space turned around as we entered, stood and came towards us.

‘Pastor, this is Cliff Hardy. The man I told you about.’

Jacobsen was a bit below average height, and thin. He wore a clerical collar, beige suit and black shoes. Not a good look. His hair was scanty and arranged in an unconvincing comb-over. Big ears, pale face and eyes, long nose, weak chin. His mouth was pink and damp-looking.

‘Mr Hardy,’ he said in a strong southern US accent. ‘I’m honoured to meet you, sir. Well met in Christ.’ He held out his hand and I took it. He closed his other hand over our grip and I immediately wanted to break free.

‘Mr Jacobsen,’ I said.

He released my hand slowly. ‘I know Brother Piper puts his trust in you so I’ll leave you to your business. Call me any time, Brother Piper.’

‘Thank you, Pastor. I’ll be at the Bible class later this week. Mr Hardy will be my . . . shepherd, I trust.’

‘Excellent.’ Jacobsen picked up a Bible from the lectern and walked away.

‘C’mon, Andy,’ I said when Jacobsen was out of earshot. ‘This is bullshit.’

Piper sank down into a chair. ‘Hardy, have you ever heard the saying, “there are no atheists in a slit trench under fire”?’

I sat in the row behind him. ‘No, and that’d be bullshit too, because I’ve been there.’

He sighed and looked weary. ‘What place does God have in your miserable life?’

I leaned over him. ‘As Michael Caine says in Alfie, “A little bit of God goes a very long way with me”.’

I’ll swear he wanted to tell me to pray, but he held it back. He picked up a manila envelope from the chair next to him and handed it over.



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