The Trojan Dog

The Trojan Dog by Dorothy Johnston

Book: The Trojan Dog by Dorothy Johnston Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy Johnston
Tags: Mystery, Adult, FF, book, FIC022040
cereal? I tried it, it’s foul.’
    â€˜The concept, dear heart. Access Computing has been given the once-over. OK, they handled it badly. I suppose it’s possible this Angela Carlishaw’s taken off with the dough. But no-one’s proved that Rae Evans had anything to do with it.’
    Gail took a drag on her cigarette and said, ‘You always were a tight-arsed little moralist, Sandy.’
    I saw as if in close-up a long bottle of home-made vinegar on the shelf next to the orange juice. Sprigs of dill or sage floated upright in it, curving over themselves like spiky seahorses preserved in formalin.
    â€˜Thank you,’ I said, forcing a smile. It occurred to me that Gail might be feeling guilty, or if not guilty, then kind of circling around twinges of responsibility that did not sit well with her at all. That was why she’d agreed to see me.
    â€˜I want you to do something for me,’ I said. ‘A story on clerical outworkers. Single mums who’ve mortgaged their underwear to buy ­computers. Trying to work from home with screaming babies in the next room. No need to mention any of the legal players.’
    â€˜I don’t think so.’
    â€˜Just a whack of good old bleeding hearts. It’s the story of the moment, and no-one’s bothering to write it.’
    â€˜Don’t think the boss’ll buy it.’
    â€˜Don’t tell him till you’ve written it,’ I said. ‘If it’s a good read, he’ll print it. I’ll give you some names and help you with the metaphors.’
    Gail raised an eyebrow. I held my breath, realising that in two seconds, without giving it any thought, I’d offered Gail names from my list of outworkers. Of course, Gail had picked it up immediately.
    Then she shook her head and said, ‘Too much of a hassle.’
    â€˜But you’ll do it,’ I told her, ‘for old times’ sake.’
    A guinea pig bit a small boy’s finger and he yelled blue murder. I thought it might be time to leave.
    . . .
    The new glass-fronted buildings in Northbourne Avenue formed a guard of honour, regular, in uniform, standing to attention, their chests polished as dress swords. They bore their logos with a military bearing: Unisys, Sun Microsystems, IBM, a litany, the names of giants.
    And the little ones, the small fry, growing unnoticed like mammals in the age of dinosaurs, like Y and Z Technology, with Chinese characters alongside the English and an amateur sign in block capitals offering TUTORIAL OF SOFTWARE. I looked up computer companies in the phone book. There were pages of them now.
    Lotus, Ivan once told me, had gone from nothing to a billion dollars in three years.

    The police turned up in our section at morning-tea time the next day.
    At first glance, the detectives looked like two well-cut suits joined together at the shoulders, Siamese twins who had miraculously grown to adulthood. Then they separated into a policeman and woman conferring soberly together.
    Detective Constable Gleeson was cool, unsmiling. Her expression never seemed to change. I watched her face while she grasped my hand by the wrist to bring it right over the ink pad, then, holding the base of my thumb, firmly pressed my thumb pad down.
    It was like those stamp pads small children play with, covering their fingers as well as the stamps and paper with red and green and blue ink, enjoying the mess as much as the smudged shapes of rabbits and giraffes that they produce.
    I wondered how many times Detective Constable Gleeson had taken fingerprints, smelling the nervous sweat of suspects under metallic ink while a line of people filed past, polite, affronted or guilty-looking in spite of themselves. I guessed she wouldn’t speak or interfere unless it was to tell the person that it hadn’t worked, to try again. No twitch of facial muscles, no smile of reassurance or grimace of distaste escaped her.
    What if the

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