The following is an excerpt from the novel GOLD! It’s a little over 1,000 words, so should take around five minutes to read. The action takes place near the Two Brothers gold mine, north of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in 1980.
But first — a brief synopsis:
Malcolm Kincaid is a self-made man. He is also a ruthless businessman and opportunist. He knows what it takes to build and maintain a business empire, but how far will he be prepared to go to achieve his goals — and what will he sacrifice along the way?
Rachel, Malcolm’s one-time fiance; his business partner, and father of his child, finds herself forced to work with the man she has grown to despise.
Unaware of his true parentage, their son, Lachlan — after first studying for a law degree — advances through the ranks as their company grows into a mammoth corporation, while Rachel does her best to mitigate Malcolm’s increasing influence on him. This task becomes more difficult when Malcolm appoints Lachlan as manager of a new mine.
Lachlan soon has his own set of challenges: A fractious and sometimes domineering wife with a drug dependency; a child of his own, and a conscience that often leads him into direct conflict with his Machiavellian ‘uncle’.
Over the years, Malcolm Kincaid uses, abuses, and dominates associates and family alike, crushing all opposition in his pursuit of wealth and power.
When he allows the pollution of an Aboriginal settlement’s water supply, however, he faces justice of a kind he could never imagine.
GOLD! is a tale of greed, betrayal, family conflict, rape, and murder. It is also, however, a story of love and loyalty, and of how one man’s pride and prejudice can lead to terrible retribution.
(This excerpt takes place about one quarter into the story.)
November 17th 1980.
Malcolm had already opened another can of beer by the time Jamie started the Land Cruiser and headed down the access road toward the Goldfields Highway. He stood on the verandah, watching as the receding taillights glimmered in the deepening twilight.
As Jamie neared the mine turnoff, he popped a cassette into the Cruiser’s player. John Lennon launched into ‘Beautiful Boy’, Jamie’s current favourite song, and he cranked up the volume as he swung onto the bitumen. Thirty minutes and he’d be home. Home to Rachel; and his own Beautiful Boy, 17-month-old Lachlan.
Warren Burroughs—Rabbit, to friends and coworkers—couldn’t remember a longer, more frustrating day. What started out as a routine run from his depot in Coolgardie, to Kambalda—a mining town 60 kilometres to the south—and then up to Menzies with a ‘hot shot’ delivery before returning home, had turned into an epic comedy of errors.
Delays and unexpected problems were a fact of life in the transport industry, but today had been one to take the cake.
A round trip of a little less than 400 kilometres, the whole thing should have been done and dusted by mid-afternoon. When dealing with mining company hierarchy, however, things rarely went to plan. Although he had been on the road by six am, and arrived at his Kambalda destination before seven, it would be well past midday before he was on his way north again. The mine site office had not been aware he was even coming, let alone prepared his load.
Communication glitches like these were common. He settled himself in the corner of the office to wait while the staff located the replacement pump he was to deliver. Then, of course, they had to complete all the necessary paperwork and finally arrange someone to load it onto the back of his ageing Kenworth for the next leg.
Next came the news that the low-loader organised to bring the pump out to him had broken down. He was welcome to drive on-site to collect his load, but first, he’d have to do a short induction course. Once he completed this, it was time for lunch, so there was another hour’s wait before he got the OK to proceed onto the mine site and collect his cargo.
After leaving Kambalda at a little after 1:30 he eventually reached his drop-off point around 4 pm.
Fortunately, things went more smoothly this time. Probably because they had been champing at the bit waiting for the pump; the breakdown having halted production for the past 24 hours.
Then, at 5:30 pm, he was at last on his way home. All he had to worry about now, he thought, was dodging kangaroos.
He was just passing Lake Goongarrie, a sprawling salt lake on the east side of the road, when a voice called over the two-way radio.
“G’day there, Rabbit, you old bugger!” It was a voice he knew well.
“How you doin’, Ralph?” Rabbit replied, “Havin’ a good run? How’s the new rig going, by the way?”
The north-bound road train, its three trailers loaded with supplies bound for Menzies and beyond, thundered noisily past. Rabbit’s unladen rig swayed as it did so.
“Oh, you know,” Ralph said, “same old shit, different shovel. I’m having a better day than you, apparently. I hear they held you up a bit down at the Kambalda site.”
The bitumen grapevine was working to its usual standard, Rabbit thought. “Yeah, you could say that,” he replied. “Sometimes I swear that if I had a duck, it’d bloody well drown.”
Ralph laughed, though Rabbit didn’t hear it and continued with a sigh, “Yeah, you know the drill. This is WA after all; ‘wait awhile’.”
“You got that right,” Ralph replied. “Oh well, you keep it safe and stay upright Rabbit. I’ll catch you on the flip side.”
“Roger that. You too, Ralph.”
The radio was already starting to crackle, so there was no time for any real conversation. Still, it was good to hear a familiar voice now and then. Rabbit wondered how the old-timers had coped in the days before CB radios came into being. For that matter, spare a thought for the old bullockies and camel drivers who’d often go for weeks or even months without seeing another soul.
Rabbit reached down and upped the volume on his cassette player. A familiar Slim Dusty tune filled the air, and he began to sing along, grateful there was no one else there to suffer his discordant rendition. He noticed a light-coloured four-wheel-drive approaching the highway on his left, about a kilometre away. Someone had been working late, it seemed. The land around here was dotted with many small and medium-sized mines. As desolate and uninviting as it looked, this was a genuine gold mine of opportunity, this barren land.
As he approached the mine access road, Rabbit eased back on the accelerator. Was that clown going to stop? Surely he’d seen the truck coming. His rig was hardly invisible!
Before he knew it, the Land Cruiser veered straight onto the road not fifty metres in front of him.
Rabbit jumped on the brake and clutch simultaneously, and as the tyres squealed in noisy protest, he braced himself for impact.
Jamie knew he should have stopped before driving onto the highway. He knew because he had driven out from this access road so many times before. He also knew that had he not consumed so much beer in the last few hours, he would have stopped.
But now it was too late for recriminations; too late for anything but to hold on and hope for the best.
The Kenworth’s bull bar caught the four-wheel-drive on the right front side, spinning it around like a toy. The rear of the Toyota then collided with the leading edge of the big rig’s trailer, which sent it careening off the roadway and straight into the large quartz rock with ‘Two Brothers Mine’ painted on it in bold, red letters.
Although the Land Cruiser was barely doing more than thirty, the force from the impact was enough to drive the engine block through the firewall and into the driver and passenger area. The steering column struck Jamie square in the middle of his chest, breaking several ribs and squeezing his lungs to around half their volume.
Immediately after the collision, the scene was eerily quiet. Rabbit’s eighteen-wheeler remained upright, but the driver himself was unconscious and would be for several minutes. Few truckies in those days, and in truth even in these days, bothered with seat belts. A trickle of blood snaked its way down his forehead and dripped onto the dashboard.
In the wrecked Land Cruiser, Jamie struggled to stay awake. A vain struggle, however. His heart, fuelled by adrenaline, was pumping hard; pumping his lifeblood out of his body, from severe crush injuries to his legs, and onto the floor.
Strangely, the cassette player was still working. As Jamie drifted into unconsciousness, John Lennon was singing; “Life is what happens to you as you’re busy making other plans.”
Thanks for visiting, and for checking out this brief excerpt. You can sign up HERE to join my mailing list. I’ll be sending out occasional freebies and bonus content from time to time, as well as offers from other authors whose work I admire.
The first bonus you receive will be a Short Story Collection (around 22,500 words) called ‘The Ravine and Other Tales’. The Ravine started life as a chapter of the book, but I culled it because it didn’t fit with the genre. There’s a touch of the supernatural in it, if that’s your thing.
GOLD! is, for the most part, a story about family relationships and secrets. I didn’t want this chapter to muddy the waters.
GOLD! is available from Amazon as an eBook or Paperback.
Amazon.com.au/dp/0648961109 for Australian readers or amazon.com/dp/0648961109 from the US site.