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Joe Fortune Casino $10 free bonus code no deposit required
Joe Fortune Casino Free Spins & Welcome Bonus Open your account with Joe Fortune Casino and receive a $10 Free Chip gift as a no deposit bonus! In addition, get a 200% up to $1000 on the first deposit. In total, new players to Joe Fortune can claim up to $5,000 free chips. Without a doubt, this is the best online casino in Australia. >>Claim Free Bonus Now<<
Joe Fortune Casino Review
Online casino branding can be repetitive. I think it is safe to say that we are running out of creative ways to package table games and slots, although I will give credit to the marketing departments of these operators for giving it a good try. These days I seem to be regularly reviewing sites with VIP Vegas themes or with some sort of animal on the home page (who knew there were so many lucky animals out there?!). Every once in a while, I come across a new casino that is a bit of a headscratcher…like Joe Fortune. At first, I assumed there was someone with a unique name that was willing to be the front man for this casino like Chris Moneymaker and PokerStars. As it turns out, this is just a fictional character designed to be an online casino magnate. OK then…whatever floats your boat I guess. I did manage to wrap my head around this type of branding to complete a detailed review of what really matters, the casino itself.
About Joe Fortune Casino
Joe Fortune is new to the online casino scene, having opened in 2016. A quick peek into the background of the casino reveals that it is owned by Haydock Sports Limited, and operated by a sister company Betting Partners. This spider web of businesses gets a little more complicated, but the quick and dirty on the corporate background is that Haydock is also listed as the owner of Bodog88, which traces back to Bovada, Bodog.eu and Slots.lv. The bottom line – Joe Fortune is backed by one of the largest online gambling conglomerates in the world. Joe Fortune is licensed by the jurisdiction of Curacao. Curacao is one of the more popular places for online casino operators to acquire a license as their licensing board isn’t exactly the most strict when it comes to oversight. This isn’t really an issue when it comes to Joe Fortune because, with the backing of a company like Bodog, players can rest assured that their balances are going to be safe. >>Claim Free Bonus Now<<
Who Can Play at Joe Fortune Casino
This is where it gets fascinating. Typically when I write a casino review, this section is dedicated to me listing a whole bunch of countries that are restricted from playing at the casino being reviewed. In the case of Joe Fortune, it is easier for me to tell you the countries that ARE allowed to play at their site. Ok, are you ready? Here’s who can play:
Yes, you read that right. Joe Fortune is reserved only for Australian gamblers. I will admit that this one confuses me a bit. The gaming laws in Australia make it illegal for offshore operators from accepting play from its residents. It’s clear that Joe Fortune is a foreign entity, so they could theoretically take action from anywhere. I actually like the position they have taken here – perhaps by ring-fencing the casino to only allow Australians will help them at some point when applying for licenses in that country. At any rate, until something changes, unless you live in Australia, you are given permission to skip to my next review.
Joe Fortune Casino Software Suppliers
It’s a shame that players from all over the world can’t play at Joe Fortune because they have amassed some of the best casino software out there to offer at this casino. When you create an account at Joe Fortune, you are greeted by titles from Microgaming, Real Time Gaming (Bodog owns a standalone license of these games), Rival Gaming and iSoftBet. Bringing together the best of all these vendors means that players at Joe Fortune are going to be able to see many different looking games, which enhances the full casino experience. No one is ever going to complain about too much content at an online casino, that’s for sure! The games at Joe Fortune are designed for browser-based play, which means that players are not required to download software to their own machines. Also, the games (for the most part) are mobile-friendly, giving players the ability to get in some action at their favorite pokies (Australian for slots) while they are on the go!
The Good Stuff
So. Many. Slots. If you are a fan of the pokies, then you are going to love playing at Joe Fortune. It’s pretty clear right from the homepage that slot machines are where they are focusing a significant amount of their attention, and we say Bring It On! The casino features the best slots from Microgaming, Rival, and RTG, including the detailed iSlots games that Rival have recently released. These “storyboard” games feature ongoing character development and excellent second screen games.
You will also find many of the slot machine games have progressive jackpots, giving players a chance to walk away a huge winner if their spin of the reels is the lucky one! I will never question a casino that has a ton of progressives, especially one that promotes their winners; no one like to see a huge jackpot that it seems no one ever wins. Some of the current jackpot slots titles include:
Lots A Loot 5 Reel
Fruit Fiesta 5 Reel
Cash Splash 5 Reel
One Million Reels BC
Joe Fortune Casino The Bad Stuff
YOU CAN’T PLAY THERE! Joe Fortune casino is as much of a tease as a stripper on your lap; as close as you think you can get, there is still no touching. All jokes aside, I love basically everything this casino has to offer, but the bottom line is unless I move to Australia, or am diligent with a VPN and a friend’s address in Sydney, I am stuck looking at the goods from the outside. Now, I am not saying you should invest in VPN software and give it a try yourself, I am just saying that it can be done…
Weak Ongoing Promotions
I am stunned by the choices that the Joe Fortune marketing department have made with regards to their ongoing promotions. The Bodog brand was built on aspirational marketing; they would run contests that would reward players with items and trips usually reserved for the fortunate few. This style of marketing has not transferred over to the Joe Fortune brand, deciding instead to focus on more standard deposit bonuses. Even then, there isn’t much creativity on their promotions page – I am hopeful that this will change shortly. >>Claim Free Bonus Now<<
Joe Fortune Casino Game Selection
I noted earlier that when a casino operator is using multiple software vendors at the same time, the benefit goes directly to you, the player. This is for sure the case with Joe Fortune, where you will find a full suite of games that rivals the largest and best casinos around the globe and on the Internet. Pokies (Slots) I could write an entire review page just on the slots selection at Joe Fortune casino. I wouldn’t say that I am the world’s biggest slots player, but when I do play, there are certain brands and titles that I tend to gravitate towards, most of which I see in the Joe Fortune lobby. I stopped counting when I got to 300 different titles, and you can find all the games right there in their lobby. You can use their search tool to find your favorite game, or just filter by the newest games, the jackpot games or the most popular slots on their site. Table Games Now here is my bread and butter where online casinos are concerned. For this reviewer, the quality of the table games is what makes or breaks a casino. It is 2020; there is no reason for an operator to be providing games that are slow or feature shitty graphics. Thankfully, Joe Fortune has chosen software partners who have excellent game quality and design, so I could easily see myself playing at their tables for hours! These guys go all out for their blackjack players as there are almost a dozen different variants available, including all the popular European and American versions of the game. Video Poker For fans of video poker, I have some good news. The fact that Joe Fortune uses more than one software provider means that the options for video poker players like myself are excellent. Those of you who have read any of my reviews of Rival Gaming or RTG operators will know that those two software providers don’t have a ton of video poker variants; at Joe Fortune, they lean more or Microgaming and iSoftBet for these games. Live Dealer Surprisingly, at this time there are no live dealer games available at Joe Fortune. Given the increase in popularity of these games by players and the success this organization has with Live Dealer games on their other brands, I can only assume that there will be an announcement coming that Joe Fortune will be adding Live Dealer options shortly.
Joe Fortune Casino Welcome Bonus
Joe Fortune offers its new players up to $5,000 in Welcome Bonus dollars, which is an excellent aggressive promotion to try to convince you to make your first deposit. What I like the most about this promotion is the way it is administered. As opposed to making a huge offer to players on only the first deposit, this welcome bonus is split over the first 9 despots you make. Here’s how it works:
200% bonus up to $1,000 on the first deposit
100% bonus on the next 8 deposits to a maximum of $500 per deposit
This type of promotion is effective because $500 is a reasonable amount of money at the high end to expect someone to deposit in a casino. Other online casinos have promotions that are offered up to deposits of $1,000 and higher; there aren’t too many people making those types of transactions. >>Claim Free Bonus Now<<
6b Stolen on Runebet by player named after 52 prayer
After approximately 3 months playing on this very well known gambling hosts online poker website "runebet.com" cashing in and out billions of gold and amassing quite a large amount of profit as a semi professional poker player; (probably somewhere in the region of 15-20b) (https://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/Benjicleo/) (https://www.sharkscope.com/#Player-Statistics//networks/PokerStars/players/benjicleo) I referred the website to my irl best friend who also plays poker professionally. Now as online poker has recently been banned in Australia this seemed like a good opportunity to play poker for something that was actually worth more than playchips on zynga or facebook. the games where soft, the cashout process was decent (although at times it did take a while) and the software was decent. During a small session this morning i was booted offline mid hand and to my surprise had recieved an IP ban! i private messaged the site owner who proceeded to tell me that me and my irl friends account had been playing from the same IP address and been colluding, now not only is this impossible because you cannot log into two accounts at the same time, but when i had logged out of my account in the past to try and transfer gold from account to account it wont even allow me to LOG IN for 30-60 minutes due to using a different account from the same IP address let alone have them both logged in at the same time to use together. I asked the site owner what proof he had of this accused cheating as this was an absurd accusation to make about somebody who has been a poker player for years and plays 5+ times a week at the casino in sydney, tracking sessions and is a long term winning player that i would need to cheat to win runescape gold. The proof i was sent was a screenshot of me and my friend playing at the same table from DIFFERENT houses. Is this against the rules? ofcourse not! games rarely ran higher than $100 so when one did run i would call up my friend and tell him there was action at $200 or $400 tables and we would both play. I won pots from him, he won pots from me i made tight folds to him and he made tight folds to me. I often used his account when the cashier had no stock to cash out (which was very often) and a good game was running and i was out of funds on my account, This also is not against runebets rules or TOS. Let me be clear when i say i have NEVER used both accounts at once nor have we ever even played in the same house let alone the same room together. runebet poker is also inaccessible on mobile which rules out the possibility of colluding on mobile while at each others house. long story the site owner banned my friends account while i was using it with MY 6b osrsgp on it and has blocked me and kicked me from the runebet discord making it unable for me to get in contact with him, i have started taking legal action but am not sure how far it will go as rsgp has no theoretical real world value, I am making this post as a very frequent user of the website and as a warning to those who are thinking of gambling there. EDIT: games have been rake free for months (rake is a percentage the casino takes from the pots because you play against other players and not the house, this is where their profit comes from) in the last week or so rake has been added to the games without warning as i presume the owner was running out of money and that is the real reason he has scammed me as one of the biggest winners on his site, because he is broke.
Rapid City Journal (RCJ) - January 21st Edition 1965–1970: Early career Influenced by early-rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues artists, including groups such as The Beatles, The Drifters and The Four Seasons, he favored tightly-structured pop melodies and down-to-earth, unpretentious songwriting. After seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Joel decided to pursue a career in music. In an interview he said of the group's impact, "That one performance changed my life … Up to that moment I'd never considered playing rock as a career. And when I saw four guys who didn't look like they'd come out of the Hollywood star mill, who played their own songs and instruments, and especially because you could see this look in John Lennon's face – and he looked like he was always saying: 'F--- you!' – I said: 'I know these guys, I can relate to these guys, I am these guys.' This is what I'm going to do – play in a rock band'." Joel joined the Echoes, a group that specialized in British Invasion covers. The Echoes began recording in 1965. Joel (then 16) also played piano on several records released through Kama Sutra Productions and on recordings produced by Shadow Morton. Joel played on a demo version of "Leader of the Pack", which would become a major hit for the Shangri-Las. Joel states that in 1964 he played on a recording of the Shangri-Las' "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" but he is unaware of whether he played on the demo or master version; The released single included a co-producer credit for Artie Ripp, who later was the first to sign and produce Joel as a solo artist after Michael Lang, who had given Joel a monetary advance, passed Joel along to Ripp to focus his attentions elsewhere instead. In late 1965, the Echoes changed their name to the Emeralds and then to the Lost Souls. Joel left the band in 1967 to join the Hassles, a Long Island group that had signed with United Artists Records. Over the next year and a half they released four singles and two albums (The Hassles and Hour of the Wolf). All were commercial failures. Joel and drummer Jon Small left the Hassles in 1969 to form the duo Attila, releasing an eponymous debut album in July 1970. The duo disbanded the following October when Joel began an affair with Small's wife, Elizabeth, whom Joel eventually married. 1970–1974: Cold Spring Harbor and Piano Man Joel signed a contract with the record company Family Productions (owned by Artie Ripp but backed by Gulf + Western), with which he recorded his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor (a reference to Cold Spring Harbor, New York, a town on Long Island). Ripp states that he spent $450,000 developing Joel; nevertheless, the album was mastered at the wrong speed and as a result, the album was a technical and commercial disappointment. The popular songs "She's Got a Way" and "Everybody Loves You Now" were originally released on this album, but went largely unnoticed until being released as live performances on Songs in the Attic (1981). Columbia released a remastered version of Cold Spring Harbor in 1983. Joel began his Cold Spring Harbor tour in the fall of 1971, touring with his band (Rhys Clark on drums, Al Hertzberg on guitar, and Larry Russell on bass guitar) throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, opening for groups such as the J. Geils Band, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, and Taj Mahal. Joel's performance at the Puerto Rican Mar Y Sol Pop Festival was especially well-received; and although recorded, Joel refused to have it published on the Mar Y Sol compilation album Mar Y Sol: The First International Puerto Rico Pop Festival. Nevertheless, interest in his music grew. During the spring of 1972, the Philadelphia radio station WMMR-FM began playing a concert recording of "Captain Jack", which became an underground hit on the East Coast. Herb Gordon, a Columbia Records executive, heard Joel's music and introduced him to the company. Joel signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1972 and moved to Los Angeles; he lived there for the next three years. For six months he worked at The Executive Room piano bar on Wilshire Boulevard as "Bill Martin". During that time, he composed his signature hit "Piano Man" about the bar's patrons. Despite Joel's new contract, he was still legally bound to Family Productions. Artie Ripp sold Joel's first contract to Columbia. Walter Yetnikoff, the president of CBS/Columbia Records at the time, bought back the rights to Joel's songs in the late 1970s, giving the rights to Joel as a birthday gift. Yetnikoff notes in the documentary film The Last Play at Shea that he had to threaten Ripp to close the deal. Joel's first album with Columbia was Piano Man, released in 1973. Despite modest sales, Piano Man's title track became his signature song, ending nearly every concert. That year Joel's touring band changed. Guitarist Al Hertzberg was replaced by Don Evans, and bassist Larry Russell by Patrick McDonald, himself replaced in late 1974 by Doug Stegmeyer, who would stay with Joel until 1989. Rhys Clark returned as drummer and Tom Whitehorse as banjoist and pedal steel player; Johnny Almond joined as saxophonist and keyboardist. The band toured the US and Canada extensively, appearing on popular music shows. Joel's songwriting began attracting more attention; in 1974 Helen Reddy recorded "You're My Home" (Piano Man). 1974–1977: Streetlife Serenade and Turnstiles In 1974, Joel recorded his second Columbia album in Los Angeles, Streetlife Serenade. His manager at the time was Jon Troy, an old friend from the New York neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant; Troy would soon be replaced by Joel's wife Elizabeth. Streetlife Serenade contains references to suburbia and the inner city. It is perhaps best known for "The Entertainer", a No. 34 hit in the US. Upset that "Piano Man" had been significantly cut for radio play, Joel wrote "The Entertainer" as a sarcastic response: "If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05." Although Streetlife Serenade is often considered[by whom?] one of Joel's weaker albums (Joel dislikes it himself), it contains the notable songs "Los Angelenos" and "Root Beer Rag", an instrumental that was a staple of his live set in the 1970s. In late 1975, Joel played piano and organ on several tracks on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album. Disenchanted with Los Angeles, Joel returned to New York City in 1975 and recorded Turnstiles, the first album he recorded with the group of hand-picked musicians who became the Billy Joel Band. Produced by James William Guercio (then Chicago's producer), Turnstiles was first recorded at Caribou Ranch with members of Elton John's band. Dissatisfied with the result, Joel re-recorded the songs and produced the album himself. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" was a minor hit; Ronnie Spector recorded a cover as did Nigel Olsson, then drummer with Elton John. In a 2008 radio interview, Joel said that he no longer performs the song because singing it in its high original key "shreds" his vocal cords; however, he did finally play it live for the first time since 1982 when he sang it at the Hollywood Bowl in May 2014. Though never released as a single, "New York State of Mind" became one of Joel's best-known songs; Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett have each recorded covers (Bennett's a duet with Joel on Playing with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues). Other notable songs from the album include "Summer, Highland Falls", "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)", "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", (a live version of which became a Top 40 hit), and "Prelude/Angry Young Man", a concert mainstay. 1977–1979: The Stranger and 52nd Street Columbia Records introduced Joel to Phil Ramone, who would produce all of Joel's studio albums from The Stranger (1977) to The Bridge (1986). The Stranger was an enormous commercial success, yielding four Top-25 hits on the Billboard charts: "Just the Way You Are" (#3), "Movin' Out" (#17), "Only the Good Die Young" (#24), and "She's Always a Woman" (#17). Joel's first Top Ten album, The Stranger was certified multi-platinum and reached number two on the charts, outselling Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water, Columbia's previous best-selling album. The Stranger also featured "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", an album-oriented rock classic, which has become one of his best-known songs. The Stranger song "Just the Way You Are" — written for Joel's first wife, Elizabeth Weber — was inspired by a dream and won Grammy awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. On tour in Paris, Joel learned the news late at night in his hotel room. Rolling Stone ranked The Stranger the 70th greatest album of all time. Expectations were high for Joel's next album, 52nd Street, which he released in 1978, naming it after Manhattan's famous 52nd Street, which, at the time of its release, served as the world headquarters of CBS/ Columbia. The album sold over seven million copies, propelled to number one on the charts by the following hits: "My Life" (#3); followed successes from the album were "Big Shot" (#14), and "Honesty" (#24). A cover of "My Life" (sung by Gary Bennett) became the theme song for a new television sitcom, Bosom Buddies, which featured actor Tom Hanks in one of his earliest roles. 52nd Street won Grammy awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Album of the Year. In 1979, Joel also traveled to Havana, Cuba, to participate in the historic Havana Jam festival that took place between March 2–4, alongside Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Stills, the CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Billy Swan, Bonnie Bramlett, Mike Finnegan, Weather Report, and an array of Cuban artists such as Irakere, Pacho Alonso, Tata Güines and Orquesta Aragón. His performance is captured in Ernesto Juan Castellanos's documentary Havana Jam '79. 1979–1983: Glass Houses and The Nylon Curtain The success of his piano-driven ballads like "Just the Way You Are", "She's Always a Woman", and "Honesty" led some critics to label Joel a "balladeer" and "soft rocker". Joel thought these labels were unfair and insulting, and with Glass Houses, he tried to record an album that proved that he could rock harder than his critics gave him credit for, occasionally imitating and referring to the style of new wave rock music that was starting to become popular at the time. On the front cover of the album, Joel is pictured in a leather jacket, about to throw a rock at a glass house (referring to the adage that "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"). Glass Houses spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart and yielded such hits as "You May Be Right" (used as the theme song, covered by Southside Johnny, for the CBS mid-1990s sitcom Dave's World) (#7, May 1980), "Don't Ask Me Why" (#19, September 1980), "Sometimes a Fantasy" (#36, November 1980) and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", which became Joel's first Billboard number-one single (for two weeks) in July 1980. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" spent 11 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was the 7th biggest hit of 1980 according to American Top 40. Glass Houses won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. It would also win the American Music Award for Favorite Album, Pop/Rock category. The album's closing song, "Through The Long Night" (B-side of the "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me" single), was a lullaby that featured Joel harmonizing with himself in a song he says was inspired by The Beatles' "Yes It Is". In a recorded Masterclass at the University of Pennsylvania, Joel later recollected that he had written to the Beatles asking them how to get started in the music industry. In response, he received a pamphlet about Beatles merchandise. This later led to the idea of Joel conducting Q&A sessions around the world answering questions that people had about the music industry. His next release, Songs in the Attic, was composed of live performances of less well-known songs from the beginning of his career. It was recorded during larger US arenas and intimate night club shows in June and July 1980. This release introduced many fans, who discovered Joel when The Stranger became a smash in 1977, to many of his earlier compositions. The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard chart and produced two hit singles: "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" (#17), and "She's Got a Way" (#23). It sold over 3 million copies. Though not as successful as some of his previous albums, the album was still considered a success by Joel. The next wave of Joel's career commenced with the recording of his next studio album, The Nylon Curtain. With The Nylon Curtain, Joel became more ambitious with his songwriting, trying his hand at writing topical songs like "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon". Joel has stated that he wanted the album to communicate his feelings about the American Dream and how changes in American politics during the Reagan years meant that "all of a sudden you weren't going to be able to inherit [the kind of life] your old man had." He also tried to be more ambitious in his use of the recording studio. Joel said that he wanted to "create a sonic masterpiece" on The Nylon Curtain. So he spent more time in the studio, crafting the sound of the album, than he had on any previous album. Production of The Nylon Curtain began in the fall of 1981. However, production was temporarily delayed when Joel was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on Long Island on April 15, 1982, severely injuring his hands. Still, Joel quickly recovered from his injuries, and the album only ended up being delayed by a few months. In 1982, he embarked on a brief tour in support of the album. From one of the final shows of the tour, Joel made his first video special, Live from Long Island, which was recorded at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on December 30, 1982. It was originally broadcast on HBO in 1983 before it became available on VHS. The Nylon Curtain went to No. 7 on the charts, partially due to heavy airplay on MTV for the videos to the singles "Allentown" and "Pressure". "Allentown" spent six weeks at a peak position of No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the most-played radio songs of 1982, pushing it into 1983's year-end Top 70, and making it the most successful song from The Nylon Curtain album, besting "Pressure" which peaked at No. 20 (where it resided for three weeks) and "Goodnight Saigon" which reached No. 56 on U.S. charts. 1983–1988: An Innocent Man and The Bridge Joel's next album moved away from the serious themes of The Nylon Curtain and struck a much lighter tone. The album An Innocent Man was Joel's tribute to R&B and doo wop music of the 1950s and 1960s and resulted in Joel's second Billboard number-one hit, "Tell Her About It", which was the first single off the album in the summer of 1983. The album itself reached No. 4 on the charts and No. 2 in UK. It also boasted six top-30 singles, the most of any album in Joel's catalog. The album was well received by critics, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor for AllMusic, describing Joel as being "in top form as a craftsman throughout the record, effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles." At the time that the album was released, WCBS-FM began playing "Uptown Girl" both in regular rotation and on the Doo Wop Live. The song became a worldwide hit upon its release. The music video of the song, originally written about then girlfriend Elle MacPherson, featured future wife Christie Brinkley as a high society girl, whose car pulls into the gas station where Joel's character is working. At the end of the video, Joel's "grease monkey" character drives off with his "uptown girl" on the back of a motorcycle. When Brinkley went to visit Joel after being asked to star in the video, the first thing Joel said to her upon opening his door was "I don't dance". Brinkley had to walk him through the basic steps he does in the video. Their work together on this video shoot sparked a relationship between the two which would later lead to their marriage in 1985. In December, the title song, "An Innocent Man", was released as a single and it peaked at No. 10 in the U.S. and No. 8 in the UK, early in 1984. That March, "The Longest Time" was released as a single, peaking at No. 14 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. That summer, "Leave a Tender Moment Alone" was released and it hit No. 27 while "Keeping the Faith" peaked at No. 18 in January 1985. In the video for "Keeping the Faith", Christie Brinkley also plays the "redhead girl in a Chevrolet". An Innocent Man was also nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy, but lost to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Joel participated in the USA For Africa We Are The World project in 1985, capping off a series of successful singles. Following the success of An Innocent Man, Joel was asked about releasing an album of his most successful singles. This was not the first time this topic had come up, but Joel had initially considered "Greatest Hits" albums as marking the end of one's career. This time he agreed, and Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2 was released as a four-sided album and two-CD set, with the songs in the order in which they were released. The new songs "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and "The Night Is Still Young" were recorded and released as singles to support the album; both reached the top 40, peaking at No. 9 and No. 34, respectively. Greatest Hits was highly successful and it has since been certified double diamond by the RIAA, with over 11.5 million copies (23 million units) sold. It is one of the best-selling albums in American music history, according to the RIAA. Coinciding with the Greatest Hits album release, Joel released a two-volume Video Album that was a compilation of the promotional videos he had recorded from 1977 to the present time. Along with videos for the new singles off the Greatest Hits album, Joel also recorded a video for his first hit, "Piano Man", for this project. Though it broke into the top ten, Joel's next album, The Bridge (1986), did not achieve the level of success of his previous albums, but it yielded the hits "A Matter of Trust" and "Modern Woman" from the film Ruthless People, a dark comedy from the directors of Airplane! (both #10). In a departure from his "piano man" persona, Joel is shown in the video playing a Gibson Les Paul. The ballad "This is the Time" also charted, peaking at No. 18. On November 18, 1986, an extended version of the song "Big Man on Mulberry Street" was used on a Season 3 episode of Moonlighting. The episode itself was also titled "Big Man on Mulberry Street". The Bridge was Joel's last album to carry the Family Productions logo, after which he severed his ties with Artie Ripp. Joel has also stated in many interviews, most recently in a 2008 interview in Performing Songwriter magazine, that he does not think The Bridge is a good album. In October 1986, Joel and his handlers started planning a trip to the Soviet Union. He became one of the first American rock acts to play there since the Berlin Wall went up, a fact not lost on history buff Joel. There were live performances at indoor arenas in Moscow, Leningrad and Tbilisi. Joel, his family (including young daughter Alexa), and his full touring band made the trip in August 1987. The entourage was filmed for television and video to offset the cost of the trip, and the concerts were simulcast on radio around the world. Joel's Russian tour was the first live rock radio broadcast in Soviet history. Most of that audience took a long while to warm up to Joel's energetic show, something that had never happened in other countries he had performed in. According to Joel, each time the fans were hit with the bright lights, anybody who seemed to be enjoying themselves froze. In addition, people who were "overreacting" were removed by security. It was during this concert that Joel, enraged by the bright lights, flipped his electric piano and snapped a microphone stand while continuing to sing the current part of the set. He later apologized for that incident. The album КОНЦЕРТ (Russian for "Concert") was released in October 1987. Singer Pete Hewlett was brought in to hit the high notes on his most vocally challenging songs, like "An Innocent Man". Joel also did versions of The Beatles' classic "Back in the U.S.S.R." and Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin". It has been estimated that Joel lost more than $1 million of his own money on the trip and concerts, but he has said the goodwill he was shown there was well worth it. 1988–1993: Storm Front and River of Dreams The recording of the album Storm Front, which commenced in 1988, coincided with major changes in Joel's career and inaugurated a period of serious upheaval in his business affairs. In August 1989, just before the album was released, Joel dismissed his manager (and former brother-in-law) Frank Weber after an audit revealed major discrepancies in Weber's accounting. Joel subsequently sued Weber for $90 million, claiming fraud and breach of fiduciary duty and in January 1990 he was awarded $2 million in a partial judgment against Weber; in April, the court dismissed a $30 million countersuit filed by Weber. The first single for the album, "We Didn't Start the Fire", was released in September 1989 and it became Joel's third and – to date – most-recent US number-one hit, spending two weeks at the top. Storm Front was released in October, and it eventually became Joel's first number-one album since Glass Houses, nine years earlier. Storm Front was Joel's first album since Turnstiles to be recorded without Phil Ramone as producer. For this album, he wanted a new sound, and worked with Mick Jones of Foreigner fame. Joel is also credited as one of the keyboard players on Jones' 1988 self-titled solo album, and is featured in the official video for Jones' single "Just Wanna Hold"; Joel can be seen playing the piano while his then-wife Christie Brinkley joins him and kisses him. Joel also revamped his backing band, dismissing everyone but drummer Liberty DeVitto, guitarist David Brown, and saxophone player Mark Rivera, and bringing in new faces, including multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero. Storm Front's second single, "I Go to Extremes" reached No. 6 in early 1990. The album was also notable for its song "Leningrad", written after Joel met a clown in the Soviet city of that name during his tour in 1987, and "The Downeaster Alexa", written to underscore the plight of fishermen on Long Island who are barely able to make ends meet. Another well-known single from the album is the ballad "And So It Goes" (#37 in late 1990). The song was originally written in 1983, around the time Joel was writing songs for An Innocent Man; but "And So It Goes" did not fit that album's retro theme, so it was held back until Storm Front. Joel said in a 1996 Masterclass session in Pittsburgh that Storm Front was a turbulent album and that "And So It Goes", as the last song on the album, portrayed the calm and tranquility that often follows a violent thunderstorm. In the summer of 1992, Joel filed another $90 million lawsuit against his former lawyer Allen Grubman, alleging a wide range of offenses including fraud, breach of fiduciary responsibility, malpractice and breach of contract but the case was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. In 1992, Joel inducted the R&B duo Sam & Dave into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That year, Joel also started work on River of Dreams, finishing the album in early 1993. Its cover art was a colorful painting by Christie Brinkley that was a series of scenes from each of the songs on the album. The eponymous first single was the last top 10 hit Joel has penned to date, reaching No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and ranking at No. 21 on the 1993 year-end Hot 100 chart. In addition to the title track, the album includes the hits "All About Soul" (with Color Me Badd on backing vocals) and "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)", written for his daughter, Alexa. A radio remix version of "All About Soul" can be found on The Essential Billy Joel (2001), and a demo version appears on My Lives (2005). The song "The Great Wall of China" was written about his ex-manager Frank Weber and was a regular in the setlist for Joel's 2006 tour. "2000 Years" was prominent in the millennium concert at Madison Square Garden, December 31, 1999, and "Famous Last Words" closed the book on Joel's pop songwriting for more than a decade. 1993–present: Touring Beginning in 1994, Joel toured extensively with Elton John on a series of "Face to Face" tours, making them the longest running and most successful concert tandem in pop music history. During these shows, the two have played their own songs, each other's songs and performed duets. They grossed over US$46 million in just 24 dates in their sold out 2003 tour. Joel and John resumed the Face to Face tour in March 2009 and it ended again, at least for the time being, in March 2010 in Albany, New York, at the Times Union Center. In February 2010, Joel denied rumors in the trade press that he canceled a summer 2010 leg of the tour, claiming there were never any dates booked and that he intended to take the year off. Joel told Rolling Stone magazine: "We'll probably pick it up again. It's always fun playing with him." Joel performing in 2007 in Florida On August 25, 1994, Joel and second wife Christie Brinkley divorced, but they remained friends. 1997's "To Make You Feel My Love" and "Hey Girl" both charted from Joel's Greatest Hits Volume III album. Joel wrote and recorded the song "Shameless" that was later covered by Garth Brooks and reached No. 1 on Billboard's country charts. Joel performed with Brooks during his Central Park concert in 1997. To add onto his achievements Joel was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Ray Charles made the induction speech and mentioned the duet Joel wrote for the two of them, "Baby Grand" (a track on Joel's album The Bridge released in 1986). On December 31, 1999, Joel performed at New York's Madison Square Garden. At the time, Joel said that it would be his last tour and possibly his last concert. Two of his performances from that night, "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" were filmed and featured that night as part of ABC's special New Year's Y2K coverage. The concert (dubbed The Night of the 2000 Years) ran for close to four hours and was later released as 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert. In 2001, Joel released Fantasies & Delusions, a collection of classical piano pieces. All were composed by Joel and performed by Hyung-ki Joo. Joel often uses bits of these songs as interludes in live performances, and some of them are part of the score for the hit show Movin' Out. The album topped the classical charts at No. 1. Joel performed "New York State of Mind" live on September 21, 2001, as part of the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert, and on October 20, 2001, along with "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)", at the Concert for New York City in Madison Square Garden. That night, he also performed "Your Song" with Elton John. In 2003, Joel inducted The Righteous Brothers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, noting that his song "Until the Night" from the album 52nd Street was a tribute to the duo. In 2005, Columbia released a box set, My Lives, which is largely a compilation of demos, b-sides, live/alternate versions and even a few Top 40 hits. The compilation also includes the Umixit software, in which people can remix "Zanzibar" and a live version of "I Go to Extremes" with their PC. Also, a DVD of a show from the River of Dreams tour is included. Billy Joel with his band performing in California On January 7, 2006, Joel began a tour across the U.S. Having not written, or at least released, any new songs in 13 years, he featured a sampling of songs from throughout his career, including major hits as well as obscure tunes like "Zanzibar" and "All for Leyna". His tour included an unprecedented 12 sold-out concerts over several months at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The singer's stint of 12 shows at Madison Square Garden broke a previous record set by New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, who played 10 sold-out shows at the same arena. The record earned Joel the first retired number (12) in the arena owned by a non-athlete. This honor has also been given to Joel at the Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia) (formerly the Wachovia Center) in Philadelphia where a banner in the colors of the Philadelphia Flyers is hung honoring Joel's 46 Philadelphia sold-out shows. He also had a banner raised in his honor for being the highest grossing act in the history of the Times Union Center (formerly the Knickerbocker Arena and Pepsi Arena) in Albany, New York. This honor was given to him as part of the April 17, 2007, show he did there. On June 13, 2006, Columbia released 12 Gardens Live, a double album containing 32 live recordings from a collection of the 12 different shows at Madison Square Garden during Joel's 2006 tour. Joel visited the United Kingdom and Ireland for the first time in many years as part of the European leg of his 2006 tour. On July 31, 2006, he performed a free concert in Rome, with the Colosseum as the backdrop. Joel toured South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Hawaii in late 2006, and subsequently toured the Southeastern U.S. in February and March 2007 before hitting the Midwest in the spring of 2007. On January 3 of that year, news was leaked to the New York Post that Billy had recorded a new song with lyrics—this being the first new song with lyrics he'd written in almost 14 years. The song, titled "All My Life", was Joel's newest single (with second track "You're My Home", live from Madison Square Garden 2006 tour) and was released into stores on February 27, 2007. On February 4, Joel sang the national anthem for Super Bowl XLI, becoming the first to sing the national anthem twice at a Super Bowl. and on April 17, 2007, Joel was honored in Albany, New York, for his ninth concert at the Times Union Center. He is now holding the highest box office attendance of any artist to play at the arena. A banner was raised in his honor marking this achievement. On December 1, 2007, Joel premiered his new song "Christmas in Fallujah". The song was performed by Cass Dillon, a new Long Island based musician, as Joel felt it should be sung by someone in a soldier's age range (though he himself has played the song occasionally in concert.) The track was dedicated to servicemen based in Iraq. Joel wrote it in September 2007 after reading numerous letters sent to him from American soldiers in Iraq. "Christmas in Fallujah" is only the second pop/rock song released by Joel since 1993's River of Dreams. Proceeds from the song benefited the Homes For Our Troops foundation. Joel with Mike DelGuidice in 2016 On January 26, 2008, Joel performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra celebrating the 151st anniversary of the Academy of Music. Joel premiered his new classical piece titled, "Waltz No. 2 (Steinway Hall)" arranged by Brad Ellis. He also played many of his less well-known pieces, with full orchestral backing arranged by Mr. Ellis, including the rarely performed Nylon Curtain songs "Scandinavian Skies" and "Where's the Orchestra?". On March 10, 2008, Joel inducted his friend John Mellencamp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Joel's staying power as a touring act continues to the present day. He sold out 10 concerts at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut from May to July 2008. The casino honored him with a banner displaying his name and the number 10 to hang in the arena. On June 19, 2008, he played a concert at the grand re-opening of Caesars Windsor (formerly Casino Windsor) in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to an invite-only crowd for Casino VIPs. His mood was light, and joke-filled, even introducing himself as "Billy Joel's dad" and stating "you guys overpaid to see a fat bald guy". He also admitted that Canadian folk-pop musician Gordon Lightfoot was the musical inspiration for "She's Always A Woman". On July 16, 2008, and July 18, 2008, Joel played the final concerts at Shea Stadium before its demolition. His guests included Tony Bennett, Don Henley, John Mayer, John Mellencamp, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney. The concerts were featured in the 2010 documentary film Last Play at Shea. The film was released on DVD on February 8, 2011. The CD and DVD of the show, Live at Shea Stadium were released on March 8, 2011. On December 11, 2008, Joel recorded his own rendition of "Christmas in Fallujah" during a concert at Acer Arena in Sydney and released it as a live single in Australia only. It is the only official release of Joel performing "Christmas in Fallujah", as Cass Dillon sang on the 2007 studio recording and the handful of times the song was played live in 2007. Joel sang the song throughout his December 2008 tour of Australia. On May 19, 2009, Joel's former drummer, Liberty DeVitto, filed a lawsuit in NYC claiming Joel and Sony Music owed DeVitto over 10 years of royalty payments. DeVitto had never been given songwriting or arranging credit on any of Joel's songs, but he claimed that he helped arrange some of them, including "Only the Good Die Young". In April 2010, it was announced that Joel and DeVitto amicably resolved the lawsuit. 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the release of Joel's first album, Cold Spring Harbor. According to Joel's official website, to commemorate this anniversary, Columbia/Legacy Recordings originally planned "to celebrate the occasion with a definitive reissue project of newly restored and expanded Legacy editions of the complete Billy Joel catalog, newly curated collections of rarities from the vaults, previously unavailable studio tracks and live performances, home video releases and more", although this never fully came to fruition. The album Piano Man was re-released in a two-disc Legacy edition in November 2011. In 2012, Joel signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), and its subsidiary Rondor Music International. Under the agreement, UMPG and Rondor replaced EMI Music Publishing in handling Joel's catalog outside the U.S. Additionally, the agreement marked the first time since Joel regained control of his publishing rights in the 1980s that he began to use an administrator to handle his catalog within the U.S. The agreement's focus is on increasing the use of Joel's music in movies, television programs, and commercials. On December 12, 2012, Joel performed as part of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden, a concert held for all the victims of Hurricane Sandy. He changed the lyrics to "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" to make it relate to all the damage caused by Sandy. In May 2013, it was announced that Joel would hold his first ever indoor Irish concert at the O2 in Dublin on November 1. He subsequently announced his return to the UK for the first time in seven years to perform three dates in October and November. Joel played two arena dates in Manchester and Birmingham plus a very special show at London's Hammersmith Apollo. In October, Joel held a surprise concert on Long Island at The Paramount (Huntington, New York) to benefit Long Island Cares. The venue holds a capacity of 1,555 and sold out in five minutes. Joel headlined a solo arena concert in New York City for the first time since 2006 when he performed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on December 31, 2013. In 2015, Joel performed 21 concerts (in addition to his Madison Square Garden residency) from January 7 to August 2 in various cities around the U.S. and Canada. On December 3, 2013, it was announced that Joel would become a franchise of Madison Square Garden, playing one concert a month indefinitely, starting with a date on January 27, 2014. Joel performing at Madison Square Garden in 2016 On January 7, 2014, the Billy Joel in Concert tour began. Joel kicked off the 2014 New Year in the Amway Center (in Orlando, Florida) and performed several cover songs such as Elton John's "Your Song", Billy Preston's "You Are So Beautiful" (in tribute to Joe Cocker), The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Can't Buy Me Love", and "When I'm 64", Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne", and AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" (with Brian Johnson). Rufus Wainwright joined Joel during the concert to sing "New York State of Mind". Joel also performed an unusual set, including the song "Souvenir" (from 1974's Streetlife Serenade) and excluding "We Didn't Start the Fire". On August 4, 2015 Joel played the final concert at Nassau Coliseum before the arena underwent a $261 million renovation. On April 5, 2017 Joel played the first concert at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum. On June 24, 2017, he returned to Hicksville High School fifty years after his would-be graduating class received their diplomas, to deliver the honorary commencement address. It was also the 25th anniversary of receiving his own diploma from the same High School.
It was raining lightly. I slinked along the Yarra Promenade, heading away from the crown casino amidst the somber Melbourne crowds. I spotted Kenny standing on the Evan Walker bridge, looking down into the water, staring at patterns of concentric circles of raindrops hitting water— cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was in off duty clothing. Brown fleece collar jacket, characteristic sunglasses and exposed balding head with tufts of stringy black hair. I’ve been spying on Officer Lothar for over a month. Ever since the yellow envelope turned up on my desk, addressed, ‘Urgent. For the eyes of -P. Dronefire’—inserted, a photograph of our mate Kenny, and a stack of hundred dollar notes. That’s me, Pharlap Dronefire’, (I work as a private investigator, from my inexpensive offices in South Yarra.) Kenny’s been staying in a hotel in Southbank since Monday. I watched with binoculars— and waited till he left this afternoon, then followed behind him on the busy bridge crowds, crossing the river as the last glimmering rays of the sun fell behind the skyline of skyscrapers, domes and architraves on the Hexton North bank. They say there are no corrupt cops anymore, well it’s true the old boys clubs were all taken down by the commissions in the 90’s and 00’s. They aren’t hiding in plain sight perhaps, but the smart ones just evolved, Kenny Lothar is one of the most cunning corrupt cops I’ve ever reviewed. A real bastard. If my hunch is right, Lothar dropped business mogul Art Herraway off the very same bridge I now watched him standing on, chopped up body parts in a green garbage bag —submerged now beneath ice cold, turpid Victorian water. That was three years ago today, it’s no wonder Kenny was staring down so melancholically into the green water of the Yarra river. He’s got a lot to think about. We cross through the Flinders Street Station tunnel, and I follow at a safe distance in the busy commuter crowds. I almost lose sight of him as the green and yellow tram pulls past, ringing it’s gentle chime— but I just catch his frame as Kenny ducks into a small Vietnamese restaurant on the other side of the street. Shortly, I sneak in and take a seat at a small table behind a patterned screen, where I can see him but he can’t see me. I order a raw beef Pho, taking a moment to absorb my surroundings and re examine Kenny’s case files in my mind. Something happened whilst Lothar was on the beat in Sydney, I’m sure he was involved with a murder that happened on Mcellhorne stairs in Kings Cross. Then he gets some contacts in the Victorian Police and transfers to Melbourne, but whatever he was up to in Sydney— he’s continuing it down here—I’m sure of that. There’s an underworld of clues, from the Walsh street massacre, to the gangland killings of the nineties. Unsolved murders and connections that create a puzzle leading straight to Kenny. Twenty two orange gold fish swish their tails longingly in a nearby fish tank next to a wooden statue of Bhudda. Fumes and aromas float over the counter adorned with green dragon carvings and a row of ceramic maneki-neko cats waving their arms in unison, below— Kenny’s balding head wrinkles with tension as he waits for his food. I won’t pretend he doesn’t scare me. If it were just for Kenny’s underbelly credentials, and links to the Melbourne mafia— that would be enough to make me think twice about taking the case. But there’s more to Kenny Lothar than just power and murder. He is into some strange things— the occult. Pacts, rituals, self flaggelation. The case is so out of my usual line of work, I can’t help but wonder what the fuck I am doing taking it up. I was slurping cautiously at my pho for two or three minutes before I got the break I needed. Kenny stands up to use the bathroom, leaving his wallet on the table. I know I’ve only got a slim chance to get it right, standing up as if I’m also going to relieve myself, then the subtle yawn, and sleight of hand. Before anyone notices I’m back out on the street, not having paid for my Pho, running —and holding the keycard for Kenny’s hotel room in my pocketed hand. The rain increases. You get some weird cases as a Private Investigator. Most are straightforward; spying on cheating partners, divorce cases, over protective parents. Then there’s the ten percent, the odd cases from secretive private contractors, where you only learn bits and pieces about your client, what they want to find out and why. No doubt a lot of it is criminal linked, even though I do my best to filter out those types of clientele. Some of them are just perverts, mad eccentrics. This particular client was extremely secretive. Dealt only in cash, and written correspondence. I’d have hesitated entirely from being involved, but it’s good pay— and I’d do just about anything to help nail that prick Lothar. As I’m walking back over the bridge towards Kenny’s hotel I start thinking about the objectives. The guy wanted pictures of Kenny’s hotel room— he was very specific about that. Seems very hung up on Kenny’s private activities. Wanted detailed notes and photographs on any occult rituals he was conducting. I mean—What the fuck, right? Ever get the feeling you’re getting caught up in the dangerous weekend games of eccentric rich people? I pulled my collar up, ducking out of the rain inconspicuously into the Travelodge lobby. Trying to appear casual and sure of myself as I walked past reception and entered the elevator. Kenny’s apartment was on the tenth floor, apartment 1001. Fortunately there was no one else in the lift, and I guiltlessly approached Kenny’s door once in the top floor. He had the ‘No servicing- do not disturb’ card over the door handle. The keycard tripped the beeping lock, and the door opened. There was a strange musty smell that hit me the instant I opened the door to his room. Then the vision hit my eyes, he had been busy! Kenny’s hotel room was messy. It was a fairly big room, one huge decorative pillar marking the left wall, and drawn velvet curtains adorning broad, thick windows overlooking the city. There was a hexagonal table beneath the window covered in papers, and an adjacent chair on top of a zebra patterned rug which seemed to be concealing something staining the floorboards. The floor of the adjacent room was covered in curious objects that required detailed analysis. I resolved to first examine the table and the rug. Moving aside the chair, I quickly flipped up the zebra rug, and gasped as I observed the curious design beneath. I took three photographs of the symbol with my phone, before continuing my analysis. It was a huge symbol, inked on the floorboards. The pattern was a kind of triangle with three six-shaped arms attached to all the vertices. My first thought was that the red stain was painted with blood, but as I touched the wet surface I concluded that it was more likely some thick kind of ink, pigment or paint. Certainly the symbol had been created for ritual occult purposes, thus far unknown. I carefully placed the rug exactly where it was, so everything would be found exactly where Kenny had left it. From my current vantage point I could see that there were two more symbols painted red on the walls in the first room; a circle with a serpentine line running through it on the left wall, and a symmetrical triad of lines on the right wall. I took some more photos of the symbols, and the layout of the first room with my phone. I sat down at the table now, quickly examining the note books, covered in scrawled handwriting, books and reference material scattering the surface. It was immediately clear to me, that all of the written material was directly related to the ritual which Kenny had been enacting in the adjacent room— so I figured I’d better get a look at that room before any of the written material would make a lick of sense. I walked cautiously towards the doorway marking the dark room beyond. I tried the light switch, but it appeared that Kenny had tampered with the power circuit. I turned the flash feature on, and snapped a few more pics of the dark room. A friend of mine was a cop, who investigated the Hotel room of Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock, the guy who turned his hotel room into a fortress of guns, before killing 58 and injuring 515 people at a country music concert. My friend had told me going inside that room had filled him with such a sickness and revulsion at being in the lair of such a demented mastermind he’d had to take psychological leave for a month. I was starting to feel the same sickness exploring Kenny’s hotel room. The most obvious aspect of the layout of the darkened room was the kind of checkerboard Kenny had painted in the middle of the room. The entrance to the room was marked in each corner by two pillars, with square plinths, and miniature stair cases leading down each side. Leaning against the ridged pillars were an ornate Axe, and on the other side was a heavy, Ancient gold shield emblazoned with a red scorpion. Scattered all around the checkerboard were a vast array of objects which could at first be construed as random clutter, but only slowly developed a sense of order — that chilled me to the bones. Drawn on squares of the checkerboard I could make out an upside down crescent moon in the lower corner, and a thin, narrow isosceles triangle in the upper right corner. To my horror, I saw too, in the centre of the checkerboard was a yellow piece of parchment — upon which appeared to be resting ; a bleeding, severed human hand. I now realised with abhorrent terror that the red liquid pouring from the severed hand was the same texture of the symbols in the first room, they had indeed been inked in somebody’s blood. Victim currently unknown. The smell of death became suddenly more disconcerting. At the back of the room, lining the entry to the bedroom there were two classic statues, of Ancient Greek appearance, depicting the forms of two voluptuous women. Immediately in front of me, at the foot of the doorway to the darkened room was a sigil— two circles joined together by a malignant double-U. I was unable to process the other scattered objects at that time, so resolved to return to Kenny’s notes which would hopefully bring some clarity or closure as to the meaning of these horrific scenes. Once more, I sat down at Kenny’s chair. I flicked through several lined note pads, until I found a diagrammatic illustration of some of the items in the other room. This did help provide context to at least some of the items in Kenny’s ritual. Nothing about the severed hand. The illustrations were grotesque and horrific. The placement of items in the other room mimicked very closely the items in the illustration, but the labels didn’t provide much more than a superficial meaning to the display. The shield leaning against the left pillar, with the scorpion engraved on it was marked as ‘Soldier’s Shield from Motaris’, whilst the decorative axe leaning against the right pillar was labelled ‘The Axe of Sagron’. Scanning the other illustrations I saw that the W shaped sigil was revered as the ‘Sigil of the Star Diver’, whilst the two statues of naked women were labelled ‘The Godess of the Dawn’ and ‘The Sister of the Moon’ respectively. These sculptures were given particular significance—as an ethereal field between the feminine statues was labelled ‘The Gateway’. Another marking got my attention, and I had to return to the darkened room to confirm its presence, because I hadn’t noticed it the first time. Sure enough, inlaid beside the checkered board there was a cornucopia wedged on a tripod from which fumes were emerging- grey streamers billoughing through the darkness. Based on the diagram I gathered that there was ritual incense burning in the cornucopia and that this was the origin of that strange smell I had noticed on first entering the apartment. Returning to the diagrams, I began to panic as I realised that the herbs burning in the cornucopia weren’t in fact incense as I had first deduced, but some form of hallucinogen— utilised to accelerate the heightened state required for completion of the ritual. Instantly I started to feel light headed, wondering if the hallucinogen was already taking some effect upon me. I must have inhaled quite a large amount already, I covered my mouth with a handkerchief to create a temporary toxin mask. Just then, my paranoia was exacerbated, as I heard a clanking noise at the front door. I shivered, my soul sinking. Had Kenny returned early and been granted a spare keycard from reception? I cowered beneath the door, my heart began to pound in my chest like a professional’s basketball. Once more the door latch quivered and shook as though somebody were jangling the latch on the other side. Finally a voice called out, it was a vibrato tone, female, with an Eastern European accent; ‘Mr Lothar? This is cleaning. Do you want the service? Clean sheets? Mr Lothar?’ I breathed a sigh of relief, and summoned the deepest voice I could; ‘No thank you. Busy thank you.’ The sound of trolley wheels slinking away indicated the woman had taken the hint. I breathed heavily, trying to recuperate from the trauma. As I stumbled away from the door, suddenly I felt a terrible sensation within. I realised that the hallucinogens were indeed taking effect. My head throbbed, and my face grew red, filling with blood. Then my eyes began to mist up, and I felt my body growing weak— soon I fell to the carpet upon my knees. My vision was drawn to the terrifying sight beyond the large glass window— framed by red, velvet curtains. Something had occurred outside. Something uncanny and horrific. The day had changed. The sun was gone. Nature had somehow leapt off its natural track of organic physics. That which we call daylight and night had lost dimensional form, and their aspect had merged with the vast indescribable void of the universe. It is almost impossible to describe the hallucinations I saw outside that window, except to say that the Melbourne skyline was changing rapidly, in the nature of a time-lapse video. Architecture, once familiar became foreign and disorientating. It was as though I was watching the build up of human culture along the Yarra from a perspective outside of the usual constraints of time. I remembered from my history classes, that the aboriginal Wurundjeri tribes had called the Yarra river Birrarrung, meaning "Place of Mists and Shadows". Never did this description seem so apt, for what appeared to me now — a world only perceivable as a kind of fog of place. First, all of civilisation seemed to vanish, as indigenous tribes gathered beneath gum trees for their corroborees, then did I see white settlers, and British red coats come and conquer the land, then suddenly dark and futuristic sky scrapers leapt from the earth. Now something happened that even further defied explanation. My body seemed to grow numb and limp, and collapsed upon the floor. The truly strange aspect however, was that I watched this happen, seemingly from outside my own body. I found myself now, somehow as a ghost inhabiting the space apparently outside of my usual physical and mental constraints. As I looked around the hotel room, everything within seemed ominously different, red hued and sinister. Particularly a curious demonic glow originated from the other room where the ritualistic items had been laid out upon the floor. There was an odd electric energy coming from within that room now. Most of all, there was a plainly visible force field of energy growing, like a vortex, between the statues of the two Greek Godesses. This vortex now seemed to open up, like a gateway—- onto a world with a red sky. Beyond the gate was an immense marble staircase leading downwards into some unknown ethereal city. I summoned up the courage to journey through the gates, knowing that I was surely hallucinating from the unknown drug, but prepared to ride it out. I stepped down the strange marble steps, coming into an unknown, slightly futuristic city. Perhaps it was Melbourne in the future, I couldn’t discern with any confidence. There did seem to be some grand palace or castle where the Crown Casino had been, and Kings Road was marked by a distinct vibrant road built of shiny red bricks. There were no cars, or streetlights- but all around were immense skyscrapers and modernist buildings made of glass and steel. The river water of the Yarra had apparently dried up completely. I soon stood on the ground where once the Waterside Workers Hotel had been, there was now only a curious labyrinth of white, marble stair cases leading up and down in a confused jumble of intention. For a moment I sat on the step, flustered and bewildered by the strange situation and the concrete real ness of my imaginary world. I felt the presence of a kind of grid of familiarity— stretching out on the horizon. I felt strange allures pulling me and enticing me onwards. I feared these forces, and yet could not deny them. There was an odd heat and humidity. Something was compelling me to descend further down upon the staircases, heading underground into the catacombs beneath this strange city. The further down I went, the more intense the heat became, until finally there appeared an open platform which looked out into a vast abyss of plateaued rock and raging flame. Amidst the hades-like landscape in the lower caverns, my hallucinations now took full and plain form. Amidst the acreage of darkness and flame a titanic figure now came forward. The giant’s skin was lush crimson, and his naked body was taught and muscular, his head barely resembling some insectoid creature of earth. But the enormous, many sphered and barbed tail which swung from his buttocks, and his claw-like hands identified him as a giant humanoid scorpion of some form. The scorpion demon, who was half engulfed in flames now bent in the darkness, almost crouching in the opposite direction to me. I soon discerned that he was engaging to speak with another small figure, perched on a plateau of rock far out on the other side of the chasm. Something even more peculiar happened then; my body suddenly seemed to go utterly limp. At first falling in an almost fainting motion, my mind suddenly faded as though into a dream-like place. I was no longer a walking human, but a floating invisible mass, a watching eyeball floating over the caverns of fire. Soon, I drifted and became the voyeur overlooking the terrible scorpion being, and as I grew closer I soon was able to view with clarity the other being he was talking to on the rocky plateau. It was Kenny Lothar. I tried to analyse my dream logic, obviously it made sense that I would hallucinate about Kenny, he was at the forefront of my mind due to the case. But as I began to overhear the conversation of the unlikeliest acquaintances, I marvelled at my mind’s fantastic longing. ‘The ritual is underway’, the sinister balding figure in sunglasses had stated. The immense flaming scorpion being flexed it’s muscular neck, and clamped it’s jaw, leering like an avalanche over Kenny; ‘Do you know what forces come to roost under cover of the red skies of Val Galais?’ Asked the scorpion in a booming voice. ‘My role is not to question the will of the beings outside the dome..’ Kenny replied cunningly; ‘Mine is only to serve.’ The giant red scorpion flushed its face and furrowed its brow in gesticulation; ‘That is a good answer, puny mortal. But I know that your species is incapable of acts that aren’t driven by the most base desires of personal gratification. You follow commands because you wish some of the glory of the coming age to be bestowed upon yourself. Confess it!’ ‘If I am to be gifted any fortune by supporting the armies of the winning side, should there be any discomfort in it?’ Kenny retorted, ‘All that matters is the end goal. Victory for the beings outside the dome!’ The scorpion glowed with wicked pride; ‘Yes! It is true. For the watcher is at hand, and the sacrifices are being made, piece by piece. The vultures move into place, and the shapeshifter reigns in the land of the setting sun. The dead armies shall hold back the forces of Tennylind and a new dark age shall Dawn’... I watched with fascination as my hallucinations played themself out. With intrigue I followed Kenny’s monologue as he spoke about his dark motives. I knew they were not real, just the product of my delirious brain trying to draw loose ends together. Nonetheless, in my imagination Kenny Lothar began to explain to the horrific scorpion demon his back story in this hideous plot. He spoke of the corrupt police forces in NSW, and how they had gone underground during the Royal Commissions of the 1990’s. He spoke of secret meeting places in Bishop’s Valley, Bathurst, Canberra and Ballarat. Organisations united in a common purpose, to protect the agenda of corrupt white men; the Freemasons, the Druids guild, The order of the Red Seal, The Knights of the Roman Grid, The Future guard. He spoke of gangland killings, and shuffled ranks in the Victorian Police. In my dream, Kenny was not acting alone; but conducting his nefarious rituals for wealthy underground cults. I knew the dream was becoming too absurd now, and like my mind was rejecting outright the state of being, I felt my ethereal self begin to drift and return to Kenny’s hotel room where I lay unconscious. Strangely, however, my awareness of that perpendicular plane of existence didn’t utterly fade. I watched with my mind’s eye, as Kenny slowly ascended a labyrinth of marble staircases, until at last it appeared as if I was watching —as Kenny exited the elevator of the hotel. He seemed to walk in a tangent universe just beside my own, walking alongside his hotel room. I was now floating above my own body, which lay unconscious on the hotel floor, as Kenny entered through the vortex of colour. But something was magnificently wrong. Surely, I thought, I was still hallucinating. Yet, why did the room look so enchantingly similar and yet different? As I floated above as an ethereal mist, I noticed that all the ritualistic paraphernalia lay in the adjacent room exactly as it had —- with only one minor difference.... The decapitated hand was no longer placed ceremoniously on the parchment in the middle of the checkered floor. Nor were the strange three symbols painted in blood in various locations in the room where my body lay unconscious. With infinite terror, my mind started to leap to horrorible conclusions. Kenny was rubbing his skin, as if coated in a thin layer of goo. He appeared to be adjusting to his transition back into this reality. How absurd this dream was becoming, I thought to myself. With malice, Kenny now begun to pace around the dark room, as if checking the artefacts for his ritual. He then raced to his desk, checking over his notes, and reading furiously. I tried to move my body, or wake from slumber, but I remained trapped in that elusive immaterial dream space. I continued to watch paralysed. Kenny now turned in his chair with terrible and malevolent purpose. Returning quickly to the other room, he appeared to see something. I watched with horror now, as he came back into the main room holding the decorated Axe from the ritual. I began to curse under my breath with fear, as Kenny methodically approached my unconscious body. He had the most sadistic look of glee in his eyes, and malice on his lips, as he grinned with yellowing teeth. With one sharp movement, Kenny raised the heavy axe above his head, then with a movement as swift as light, the heavy metal carved through the flesh and bone of my left hand. Although still detached from my body, I somehow still felt a piercing pain in my wrist, that ached like swollen agony, and throbbed with pain, yet I had no mouth to scream. Satanically satisfied, Kenny squatted next to my decapitated hand, extending two fingers and dipping them into my freshly drawn blood. Time seemed to flash forward, or backwards as Kenny timelapsed around the room, creating the strange symbols on the walls and floor which I had investigated. Then returning the bloody Axe to the pillar it was resting against, and moving my gored and grotesque severed hand into place on the parchment on the middle of the checkered floor. Somehow this all made some terrible sense in my dreaming mind, that I had perhaps become a part of Kenny’s terrible ritual. That was then. This all stands now, only as some sort of curious dream. The severing of my hand, I can speak about with certainty. For when I awoke in a hospital bed, my left arm was nothing more than a stump. Mercifully the doctors stopped the blood loss, and probably saved my life, though how I got from Kenny’s hotel room to there, I’ll never know. It’s been a significant period of recovering, and for now, the investigation of Kenny Lothar is on hold. Right now I am too fearful for my well being to continue. However, I feel this will not be the last time I have a run in with that dangerous and reprehensible character. (This is the second story surrounding Private Investigator P.Dronefire. You can read the first story 'The Cockroaches Between the Clues' at 'The Weird Fiction of Goitye Powerhouse) https://weirdfictionofgoityepowerhouse.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/the-cockroaches-between-the-clues/
It is truly gut retching to have an editor draw red pen over your life, my life, not a piece of creative writing that I imagined into being. It was akin to saying; “This aspect of your life is unacceptable to the reading public”. http://annikacleeve.com/2015/05/the-original-version/ Please read my chapter as I originally intended it. (spelling errors and all) Ben’s Rebirth As I have already written, rarely did a day go by where I didn’t think about how Ben was faring. Even if I chose not to think of him, Poppy was at the the age when she need to know every detail of her history. I had stopped flying over to visit him once I met Austin, but our co-habitation only lasted eighteen months. I had stopped calling him, and I rarely wrote. I still received letters from him most of which were pleading for financial assistance for his new music career or for a piece of gym equipment or occasionally he wanted escape money. He had absconded for the clinic twice but had very quickly been returned, one time he had made it as far as Sydney. The only way they caught him there was that he had enrolled in a mental health program in order to get his much needed medicines. It had been too long since I had heard from Ben so I decided to write him a letter and send him some recent pictures. To my surprise they were returned “Unknown at this address”. I freaked out! ‘How could he not be known there?’ I instantly got on the phone to the hospital. Due to the privacy act they could tell me zip. They told me that he no longer lived there but was still a patient. I was furious! I was his next of kin and they had not even thought to inform me that they had released a potentially homicidal schizophrenic back into society. Just by chance I rang directory assistance to see if they had a number for Ben registered in Brisbane as luck would hav it there was only one. I immediately rang the number. To my surprise there was a familiar voice on the line. “Ben is that you?” “Yes is that you Annika?” We talked for another two hours, like we had never been apart. He was reborn! He seemed sane again. He was happy, and had a new found maturity and optimism about him. He wanted to know all about Poppy. And then came the question I had been dreading….”When can I speak to her?” How could I tell Ben, the dotting father that she thought he was dead? I felt torn between the love of my life and my flesh and blood. I told him that I will talk to her and we will take things slowly at first. He agreed. We discussed what to tell her about his absence, we felt the truth best. All this time I had lied to her and now I had to tell her that I had deceived her to protect her. I was going to have to beg her for her understanding and forgiveness. I was so scared and ashamed of myself. The three hours before she came home from school seemed to go so quickly. I wanted to never have to have this discussion, I wanted the clock to slow down, to put off the inevitable for just that little bit longer. I knew this day would come but I expected Poppy to be in her teens by then. I just didn’t think that eight years of age was old enough to absorb the complexities of her father’s condition. But the truth needed to come from me rather than her answer the phone one day and her ‘dead’ father is on the line. I ordered a pizza (bribe food), to butter her up. But the truth was I was in no mood to cook. Her pretty little face lit up when she saw the pizza hut box, I felt guilty knowing that with in half and hour she would more than likely be in a fit of tears and hysterics. I didn’t waste any time beating around the bush with her first bite of Hawaiian pizza I told her the true story about her father’s illness. How had had abandoned us in my time of need, because he had concerns about his own health. She was visibly hurt by this statement. I had always told her that her father was over the moon upon learning of my pregnancy. I started to sweat, I could feel my heart rate accelerating. If that hurt her how could I possibly go on? But the ball was in motion. “Your father was sick, and needed to get away from any sort of pressure” “Maybe if he had gotten to know me he would have gotten better” My emotions bleed. This poor child felt responsible for her father’s illness. “Maybe your right, but his mother felt that he needed a holiday, so Ben being the ever respectful son did as his mother wished.” She looked torn. Even at her tender eight years she could understand a loyalty conflict between a mother and a new baby. “But your dad didn’t get better. What he really needed was medical help and counselling. His mother just didn’t want to accept it. She felt that by ignoring the problem it would go away. But she was wrong and for that mistake she paid the ultimate price”. She sat glued to my every word. There were no tears just intense concentration, I think that she could sense that this was just the beginning of a long and dark story. I braced myself for the next onslaught of emotional torment. Life had come full circle now I was the parental tormentor. All my childhood promises and vows to be an honest mother, to never cause my child shame or hurt had failed. I had a knot in my stomach the size of a tennis ball. My throat felt constricted. I longed for a cigarette but I never smoked in front of Poppy. “Your dad spent eleven months travelling, when he got back he lived with his parents. I still sent him letters every week, but he never replied. You dad was from a wealthy family and your grandpa was worried that we were after their money. So your grandpa refused to let your dad make contact with us. But sweetie your dad always thought about you and loved you.” At this point I could see a fight with Poppy’s will and the tears in her eyes, she was fighting not to cry. “Your grandpa and your dad fought all the time about you and I. They fought about your dad’s mental condition. They fought about a lot of things. Then one night your dad’s mental state got the better of him and he did something bad.” “What mum, what did dad do?” “He killed your grandpa with a hunting rifle!” She was in shock. Her Elizabeth Taylor eyes just stared at me. Disbelief written all over her face, but she also knew that I was telling the truth. We were still sitting opposite one another, she didn’t seek my comfort and she still wouldn’t give way to tears. Her jaw hung, a million unspoken questions coming from her eyes. “Your dad was found the next morning curled up in a shed and taken to a Brisbane hospital. He was never charged with murder because your dad has what’s called ‘schizophrenia’. That means that he thinks that he hears voices talking to him. Sometimes they tell him to do bad things. On the night of this nasty incident your dad thought that he was Jesus and your grandpa was Satin. So your dad thought that he was saving the world by killing the devil. “Mum was this all caused by the brain tumour in his head?” “Darling your dad never had a brain tumour! I always knew that he had schizophrenia but didn’t want to tell you”. My sentences were flowing thick and fast now as the guilt in me took over yearning for some understanding for my deception. “People understand very little about your dads disease. People are highly critical of the people who suffer from it. How many times have you heard people say “Look out for him; he’s insane!”. When you were little I told a few friends the truth about your dad then one day you got in a fight a day care. The manager of the day care had heard about your dad being a schizophrenic and decided that your behaviour was related to your fathers condition. She asked that I get you counselling and keep you away from the centre until you have a clear bill of health. It was at that point that I realized that being honest does not always pay. I decided to never tell anyone again the truth about your dad, and that included you!” So mum does that mean that dad didn’t die of a brain tumour?” I wasn’t ready to answer that question, I was still too busy trying to get her to understand why I had to lie to her for her entire life thus far. Little Poppy was mature beyond her years, to my surprise she was comprehending everything that I was telling her. “Sweetie, you are too honest for your own good, and a lousy secret keeper. “I tried to bring some much needed humour into the conversation. “Every year you tell me well in advance what you have made me for mother’s day. I knew that if I told you the truth that you would somehow let it slip to one of your friends of the minute then spend the rest of your school days regretting it. I had visions of you being ridiculed for your entire school life and on…..”Poppy’s dad’s a mental case, Poppy’s dad is a murderer. I didn’t want you to be exiled in what should be the best time in your life. Do you understand?” Mum is dad dead? “No!” It was at this point that we both started to cry. A little trickle of tears streamed down one side of each of our faces. “For five years your dad has been a patient in a mental hospital, every six months or so I stay in touch to see how he is. Until recently there has been no improvement in his condition. In fact last year he seemed to be getting worse. But last week I wrote to him at the hospital, only to be told that he had been realised. The doctors told me that he is now totally recovered and providing that he stays on his medication he should be able to function normally in society.” “Where is he?” She was no longer interested in anything that I had to say, her father was alive and she wanted him! “I spoke to him today. He is living in Brisbane, he wants to hear from you too, so why don’t we write him a letter and send him a photo?” She was no longer reachable she walked away from me and my confidence was shattered. But she returned within seconds holding our cordless phone in her hand, “Mum call him now I want to talk to him.” “Poppy do you understand how serious a condition that your father has, do you understand that he does not function like you and I? You will have to go slow with him darling any bit of pressure could push him over the edge all over again.” “Mum call him!” I dialled Ben’s number, all the while preying that he would not answer. I needed to spend more time talking to Poppy, I needed to re-acquaint myself with Ben. I wanted to see with my own eyes that he was better before I let him lose on our daughter. There was so much hurt that could come of this, and I knew that I would be the one mopping up the piece if and when that hurt came. “Hello” Shit he’s home! “Hi Ben it me Annika. I just finished speaking to Poppy, she is so happy that you are well and is dying to speak to you so when you are ready you just tell me and I will let you talk to her.” “Sure put her on”. I thought that is what he would say but hoped that he would suggest some time in the not too distant future. Reluctantly I handed the phone to my tear stained daughter…..”hello….Ben…..Dad? This is Poppy!” I walked away. I poured myself a wine and went out the back to light up a Winfield. Before I could reach the back door I could hear laughter. That was the happiest day in Poppy’s life. But how was she going to treat me? As I drank my wine and then another to the background noise of laughter and singing I contemplated where I was going to go next. I knew that they were going to be inseparable from now on, and I knew that he would want to come over, is that what I wanted? And would it make a difference what I wanted? I was frightened. I still believed that he was capable of harming us as he had his own father, or was I just being overly protective? I smoked and I drank, then I smoked and drank some more, when I cold wind woke me from my thoughts I looked at my watch. I had been outside lost in my thoughts for close to two hours. It was 11 o’clock and a school night. To my surprise Poppy was wide awake sitting on the couch talking about the spice girls with Ben. Yet again I must play the bearer of evil and doom…”Poppy say goodnight to your dad, it’s very late and you have school tomorrow. You can call him again another day. Tell him that he’s welcome to call you again anytime he want’s to. Now go and brush your teeth while I say goodnight to your dad.” Reluctantly she said goodbye and handed me the phone. “Annika thank you so much for calling. She is an absolute delight. You have done a marvellous job raising her”. “So what did you guy’s talk about?” “Anything and everything, her gymnastics, my childhood, her favorite subjects. Please let her call me more often, I promise to do everything I can to make you proud of me again.” I wanted to say so much to that statement. I searched my library of emotions..had I ever been ashamed of him? The answer was no, but I simply didn’t have the energy to go into it now. I had a child upstairs waiting to be tucked in. “Ben I would never stop her from calling you, if that would make you feel good. And I want you to pick up the phone and call us whenever you feel the need.” We spoke for a little while longer but finally I hung up. Poppy was curled up in my bed smiling from ear to ear. “Poppy do you forgive me for lying to you, do you hate me? Do you understand why I did what I did? I was desperate for reassurance. “Mum I understand why you lied to me, but I’m still a little bit angry. But I still love you.” Said with the honesty that only a child can muster. “I love you too and I’m sorry, please know that I was just trying to protect you from hurt.” I gave her adorable forehead the longest kiss, pulled her doonah up to her neck then left. For six months, Poppy would be delivered to the door at 5.30 by her Nanny only to run past me like a gust of wind, and straight to the phone to her father. Every conversation ended with “see you soon”, these words chilled me to the core. On one occasion Poppy passed the phone to me with a sentence that bought goose-bumps to my skin, “Mum, Dad needs to give you his flight details, so that you can pick him up from the Airport!” I instantly wanted to vomit. Sure enough he had indeed booked a flight to Perth for Poppy’s 9th birthday. He assumed he would be coming to stay with us, my God he must still be insane if he thinks that’s happening! Mean while Poppy was dancing by herself in the lounge room beaming with joy, with a smile a mile wide. A smile of complete and utter ignorance I thought to myself. I simply told Ben that I was nowhere near a pen and I would call him tomorrow for all the details. Translation; when Poppy is out of earshot. The following day I called Ben bright and early, my eyes felt like sand-paper from a completely sleepless night. I hated being stern with him, but I told him that under no condition was he to stay with us, that he would need to find a back-packers or some other option. He was hurt and surprised, but reluctantly agreed. About three weeks before Poppy’s birthday Ben called me about 5.30 in the evening. I was juggling preparations for a complicated dinner party and a cordless phone precariously resting on my shoulder. So I was in no mood for a deep and meaningful conversation. “Annika, they took all my money!” “Who did?” “The Casino!, I have them six hundred dollars in cash, then they gave me some chips to play with, by the end of the night they had all their chips back, but they won’t return my money!” What do you say to that? “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that Ben, you win some you lose some, that’s life”. “But that was my money to come and see Poppy with”. “Look Ben, I am up to my eyeballs in cooking at the moment, can I call you later and we can discuss our options?” There was the longest silence on the other end. “Sure, goodbye, I love you”. I felt an ominous feeling come upon me, like the world had suddenly stopped and I was the only one moving. I shook it off and got on with my dinner party. As habit would have it, Poppy tried to call her dad the moment she walked in the door to no avail. My mind was reeling, I knew something was wrong. I tried to call Ben all the next day, no answer. Then the next day, even in the middle of the night knowing he had to be home sleeping. But they all went unanswered. By the second week of being unable to reach him, I started to call the police and the hospitals. By the third week I called the morgue. They had no record of Ben Forrester, but somehow I knew he was there. “Please, he is a 29 years old, 6’3 Eurasian male, he has depression and severe mental health issues, please find him for me?” The following day, at 3pm, (so I was still working in my Eve attire), two police officers arrived at my door, the moment they took off their hats to me I knew exactly why they were there. I know what I should have felt, sad, lost, grief stricken but all I felt was relief. I welcomed them inside and offered them a seat and a drink, to which they declined both. “Would you like to take a seat Miss Cleeve?” I did as instructed; “Miss Cleeve, you reported a Mr. Forrester of blah, blah, blah address?” My head was exploding, just get on with it! How did he die I wanted to scream at them, “Yes Sir I did.” “Well I am sorry to have to tell you that he has been found deceased. It appears that he took his own life some three weeks ago”. Now I felt sad, but not for me but for him. I felt sad that he felt life was not worth living. But I knew Ben better than that, I knew that on that evening he had last called me he had realised and excepted that he was indeed incurably insane. He couldn’t live like that, but more importantly he could not burden me with his insane ways. This was confirmed to me a month later when I went to clean out his flat, and found his suicide note left for me. I never cried, not one tear. For me my Ben had died when Poppy was two, not when she was nearly 9. I had had 7 years excepting that I would never see that school boy again, that champion swimmer, that professional pilot, that handsome, sexy smooth talker, that great dancer, great chef and life of every party. He was long dead. Ben couldn’t live in the shadow of that man. I was bought back to the moment with the dreadful reality, that I would have to tell Poppy her dad was dead, again! I looked at the police man and said…”How do I tell my daughter?” I knew they couldn’t answer that question, but they were expecting some sort of reaction from me, because I had just been sitting there silently in my own thoughts and memories. He couldn’t look me in the eye, his vision was fixed on some non-relevant mark on the wall for fear of being dragged into this perceived emotional mine-field. “I don’t know, Miss, I imagine that will be very difficult”. There was nothing that the police could do for me (as usual) so I showed them to the door and thanked them for the information and their compassion. The blonde police officer shook my hand. While few words had actually transpired an hour had passed to my amazement. Poppy would be home soon, but I did not want to delay the inevitable, so I called her nanny and explained the situation and asked her to bring Poppy home at 5pm. I then rang our G.P and asked him if there was any medication I should have on hand to calm her nerves, he faxed a script to the chemist, I went and filled it. I booked tickets to Queensland for that evening, so that I could make arrangements for his funeral. I then packed two small suitcases for us, I sent an email to her school reporting her absence for the next week. I dressed appropriately, took two glasses of gin and tonic, one Winfield and waited for the dreaded doorbell. Carol our Nanny, was already in tears when I opened the door to greet Poppy, so she knew something was up. “Poppy, come sit down darling, we have some bad news”. “What”, as she came to sit beside me. “One of our loved ones has died”. Before i could go on, she started firing names at me. “Nonnie?” “No, Sweetheart, Nonnie’s fine”. “Uncle Dieter?” I knew this could go on all night, so I swiftly bought her questioning to an end. “It’s your dad, Sweetheart, he committed suicide”. “He was just sick of being schizophrenic, he couldn’t live with it any more”. “But he was all better now, he was cured, he was going to be rock star, and take me on tour, and we were already writing songs together?” What do I say to an ever optimistic, father loving, nine year old who has now lost her father twice? “Babe, I know you are hurting, I know, and more importantly he knew you loved him, but he made his choice and now we have to live with it”.
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