P.S.O Jules Stewart
I hold the photograph in front of us and Peter and I trace out the differences, the before and after. The left half of the image is in the shadow of the southeast corner of Fort Sefton. The right half of the image, with the tree in the background is still a pile of rubble with part of the house still standing. With the front removed the interior of the house has been ravaged by the elements and looters. Fixtures have been ripped out, stairs hang pointlessly not quite reaching the ground, precarious, no bannisters, wires dangle from ceilings and spill from holes in the wall. The electricity supply long since disconnected. We walk up the street towards it still calling out the remnants we can identify from the photograph to each other. See that section of garden wall, that shrub, that doorframe. When we are a few paces from the rubble we hear voices and I motion Fat Peter to be quiet and we creep to the side of the house so we can listen unseen.
‘Be reasonable Estelle. You’ve had a fantastic life compared to the path you were on. Look around you – this is where you would’ve been brought up. This – this hovel – in these ruins – or best case scenario in a strata one family starter cube.’
‘With my family.’ A voice wails back, ‘with people who loved me.’
‘No more than me Estelle, you are my daughter, I’ve made sacrifices for you, to protect you.’
‘You mean to protect yourself, to cover your tracks. Roberto had no hold over me and Morgan just didn’t want to live a lie.’
‘Morgan that spineless idiot jumped, that was nothing to do with me. And you didn’t really know Roberto, do you think people like that ever have enough.’
We can see Estelle and Jet now as they emerge from a back bedroom and head towards the half staircase. Estelle gestures towards it. ‘Just go now – I’m not coming back with you and this time you can’t make me. I’m not a child and if I end up back in the strata I won’t keep quiet about this.’
‘And if you stay here?’ Jet’s tone alters a metallic tang to her words that hold a threat.
Estelle falters, ‘What do you mean? I’ll just stay here. I'll get a job down here. Help people.’
‘That wasn’t quite what I meant Estelle.’ Jet says as she steps towards her. ‘It’s a question of trust.’ She lunges towards Estelle who steps away and crouches down in the corner at the top of the stairs, Jet grabs hold of her and as Estelle stands to push her off Jet looses her footing on the broken edge of the floor. She falls with a thud and a crack as her head hits what was once a tiled hallway. Estelle on hands and knees peers over the edge of the upstairs floor and we rush from our place round the side of the house to Jet’s side but we are too late. She stares up towards the sky, her head and body broken, a pool of red spreading out from under her head.
Fat Peter is reaching up to Estelle, ‘Don’t be alarmed, don’t worry.’
Estelle in shock is speechless and frozen. Fat Peter hauls himself up using a rope hanging by the side of the useless stairs, I’m amazed at his agility and for a second see him as Peter Wallinski. He picks Estelle up and passes her down to me. I walk her to the remains of the garden wall and sit her down facing away from the corpse of Jet Wong.
‘It was an accident.’ I say, ‘A tragic accident. It’s all over now. Jet Wong accidentally fell to her death and here you are safe. Found. If you want to be found.’ I say.