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Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland

By Adrian Hyland

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Right,' said McGillivray. ' McGillivray nodded patiently. He'd been in the job so long he may well have acquired some competency in the language of the mad. Psychological illness was rampant among the Indigenous communities of the Centre, services to deal with it stretched at best. Cops were often the front-line troops. McGillivray's off-siders didn't look so patient. Ross and Col glanced at each other, rolled their eyes. Griffo, a big flabby bloke with a high voice and a shaved head, fiddled restlessly with the cuffs on his belt.

Word travelled fast. By the time I got back to my Hilux it was staggering under a load that would have broken the back of a Shanghai bus. There were old blokes squinting down their rifles, little old ladies armed to the gums with nulla-nullas - fighting sticks - and crowbars, young mums with undies in their hair and babies on their breasts, kids with globs of snot bubbling under their nostrils. Slippery Williams, with a confidence that belied his name, was casually reclining on the roof. Lincoln materialised in the passenger seat next to me.

Sorcerers out here can cure you or kill you, depending on the mood, and Blakie's mood tended to swing towards the murderous end of the scale. He was occasionally called upon to save the sick from whatever was possessing them, and they did tend to make speedy recoveries, though my father contended that that was more from fear of their doctor than anything else. But when the doctor had it in for you, that was it. You might as well give up the ghost, say your good-byes, start the sorry business. He could rip the bones out of your body with a single glance, send his manti - his spirit familiar - into your skull and suck the eyes out of their sockets, seduce your woman from the other side of a claypan, turn himself into a whirlwind and hurl you into the clouds.

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