By Peter Corris
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The man kept his hood up. They walked close together but didn’t touch. They entered a Chinese restaurant doing a roaring trade, but they must have made a booking because they were seated straight off. ’ The head waiter looked sceptically at my jeans, wind- cheater and damp leather jacket. ’ but I restrained myself. I said I had a friend coming. ‘There could be a table for two in about thirty minutes. ’ ‘Pencil me in,’ I said. He smiled, unamused. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of the house red.
Time to work. I transferred Standish’s list and his brief comments on the people on it into a notebook. I had names—Stefan Nordlung, Felicity Standish, Rosemary Malouf, Prospero Sabatini, Clive Finn and Selim Houli. Sabatini was the journalist who’d written on the Malouf matter; Finn and Houli were gamblers. Finn was the manager of a casino at Parramatta and Houli ran a nightclub and a high stakes card game at Kings Cross. Both men had told police that Malouf had lost heavily but both denied having anything to do with his disappearance.
It used to be a relatively pleasant place to go the few times I went there—young, energetic accountants of both sexes working away in apparent open-plan harmony. Perry was a cynic who’d worked for the tax office in earlier days and was thought to know all the angles. He’d complained about executive lunches and desk-sitting piling on the kilos and I’d suggested he join my gym. He did and became an enthusiast. Now there was an air of despondency about the office and many fewer bodies. ‘Well, you have, I think,’ I said.