The Legacy

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Award Category
Golden Writer
Logline or Premise
Angus Kincaid is a down-to-earth working-class Aussie bloke. He wouldn’t hurt a fly—or would he?
Until, that is, he finds himself drawn into the shady world of gangsters, protection racketeers, and The Mafia
In 1930s Australia, life was simple. Angus is about to see how complicated it can get.
First 10 Pages

Note From the Author

THIS STORY TAKES PLACE in Western Australia over an approximate 26-year timeframe, starting in 1939. Notwithstanding the disclaimer above, many of the locations and events mentioned are based on fact. The story, as written, is fictional and should not be construed as anything else.

Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is located in the south-west of the state. Kalgoorlie, where much of the action takes place, is around 400 kilometres north-east of Perth.

This story contains depictions of domestic violence. Whilst not excessive, these scenes are not outside of what was considered acceptable at the time and are pivotal to the storyline. There are also instances of other forms of violence and drug use.

Chapter 1.
Friday, February 2, 1939.
Midland Junction, Western Australia.
ANGUS KINCAID GRITTED HIS TEETH as he tightened the last retaining bolt on the engine cover. The scream of the knock-off siren rang in his ears and the smell of oil, grease, and hot metal assaulted his senses. He smacked the metal surface with satisfaction before tossing his spanner into the waiting toolbox, where it landed with a soft thud.
‘About bloody time,’ he said. ‘I hate Friday afternoons. Every hour seems longer than the last.’
He turned to face his co-worker, Brian Croker. ‘At least we finished the job. That loco’ll be back on the tracks tomorrow. That should make the foreman happy.’
Brian offered a weary smile. ‘Happy? That’ll be the day. I haven’t seen a smile cross his lips since he won the Melbourne Cup sweep three years ago.’
They shared a laugh. It was true. Old Mundine was stingy with his smiles—as he was with everything else.
The two made their way to a corner of the workshop where a young apprentice had placed two buckets of water for hand-washing, along with a bar of Velvet soap. The water, he had warmed using the steam injector from a nearby boiler.
‘That first beer is gonna taste mighty good,’ Brian offered as he scrubbed at the oily grime.
Angus grinned in agreement. ‘Sure will. Even better if I could get sweet Valma to dip her tits in it first!’
They laughed heartily. Valma was the new barmaid at the Railway Hotel, a local pub where many of the workshop employees washed away their gritty thirst on Friday evenings. Angus had fancied her from day one, but so far hadn’t made it past flirty small talk. Tonight, he told himself, was the night he’d make his move.

Angus Kincaid—Gus to his friends—was just three weeks shy of his 22nd birthday. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, he’d emigrated to Australia in 1920 along with his older sister Margaret and their mother, Nellie. His father, James Iain Kincaid, had been seriously injured in the Battle of Amiens just weeks before the end of The Great War. Repatriated at the end of August 1918, his mind and body ravaged by the effects of shellfire and mustard gas, he never made it home. Nellie had only one chance to say her goodbyes before he succumbed to his injuries in a rehabilitation hospital.
Angus had no memory of his father. Nellie never spoke of him; the hurt and loss were too much to bear. At the first opportunity, she packed up the family and they set off to build a new life in Australia.

* * *

Thirty minutes later, as each was draining the last of his first pot, Angus noticed a familiar face breasting the bar.
He nodded in the newcomer’s direction, saying, ‘Isn’t that the new Irish bloke?’
Brian glanced over. ‘Yeah, Pat something-or-other. Just fresh off the boat, I hear.’
‘All we need,’ Angus grumbled. ‘Another bloody foreigner.’
Brian chuckled. ‘Listen to who’s talking. Where did you say you were born?’
‘I may be a Scot by birth,’ Angus replied, ‘but at least you can understand me when I talk’.
As if he heard his name, the newcomer turned in their direction and raised his glass. After taking a swig, he began moving toward them.
‘He’s coming over. Play nice hey?’ Brian said.
‘Me?’ Angus said, his eyes wide with feigned innocence.
Angus caught Valma’s eye, showing her their empty glasses. ‘Two more of the same, Love,’ he called. Valma gave a wave and a friendly smile. And I could give you something to smile about—Angus thought.
The new worker arrived and offered his hand to Brian and Angus in turn.
‘Patrick Devlin,’ he said. ‘Just started this week. Oi recognised you two fellas from the workshop. Thought Oi’d make me acquaintance.’
‘G’day Paddy,’ Brian said, shaking the newcomer’s hand vigorously. ‘I’m Brian. And this sour bastard is Angus, though he prefers Gus.’ He jerked his thumb in Angus’ direction.
‘Angus? That’d be a Scottish name, would it not?’
‘Yeah, so don’t rub him up the wrong way,’ Brian offered. ‘You know what these highlanders think of bogtrotters.’
‘Aye, but aren’t we all Australians here?’ He raised his glass, nodding as he did so.
Valma arrived and placed two brimming glasses on the bar, scooping up a handful of change and counting out the required amount.
Angus took a long pull from his beer. ‘Well, drink up, me Aussie mate. It’s your shout next.’

Patrick, or Paddy, as he would be known from here on, was older than either Angus or Brian. His hair had a tinge of grey and his visage had the appearance of someone who had been around the block more than a few times. His thin face and aquiline nose—a nose that had obviously been broken more than once—and an old scar across his cheek told Angus he probably would not be a man to quarrel with. At almost six feet, he was taller than either Angus or Brian, though less solidly built.

They chatted for a half-hour or so, between pots of ale, before Brian took his leave. He had a young wife at home, and dinner would be on the table. Paddy noticed Angus’ gaze drifting regularly in Valma’s direction.
‘She’s a beauty, t’ be sure,’ he said. ‘You know her well?’
‘Not as well as I hope to,’ Angus replied. ‘I’m planning on sticking around ’til closing time tonight. She lives nearby, and might be needing someone to walk her home.’ He punctuated the last with a wink and a cheeky grin.
‘Best of luck to ye,’ Paddy replied. ‘Best ease up on the drinks then, else you’ll be in no fit state to walk y’self home, let alone her.’
They shared a laugh, and Angus made a mental note to take Paddy’s advice and moderate his intake.
‘Anyone waiting at home for you, Paddy?’
‘No, just the landlady—and it’d take more than a few of these to make me fancy her.’ Chuckling, Devlin raised his glass to emphasise the point.

It was almost nine, and the crowd had started to thin, when Angus ordered what would be their last drinks for the night.
‘Val,’ he said conspiratorially, ‘I don’t like the looks of some of the crowd tonight. Would you like me to stick around and see you safely home?’
She flashed a smile that quickened his pulse. ‘I suppose you think that’s the first time I’ve heard that line,’ she said with a friendly grin. ‘But thanks. I thought you’d never get around to asking.’ Her smile was genuine, even playful, Angus thought. She glanced across to Paddy. ‘What about your friend? He seems to have had a skinful.’
‘Oh, Paddy’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘He’s big and ugly enough to look after himself.’
‘Time, Gentlemen,’ the manager, Mick Shannon, called. Angus sculled the last of his beer and signalled to Valma that he’d be waiting outside.

* * *

Paddy had stayed chatting with Angus outside the double front doors and when Valma appeared, he took his leave. As the tall Irishman lurched away, Angus noticed two men huddled near the street corner. He’d seen them inside, but they weren’t familiar. He knew they were not from the Railway Workshop.
Valma slipped her arm in his and gestured in the opposite direction. ‘It’s about half a mile this way,’ she said. ‘I won’t be able to ask you in, though. My dad will be waiting up for me. He watches me like a hawk at the best of times. When he sees you with me, he’ll turn into Hercule Poirot.’ She laughed lightly.

Angus had no idea who Hercule What’s-‘is-name was and cared even less. He’d admired lovely Valma, however, since the day she started at the pub. He’d dreamed of asking her out, but never actually thought she’d be the least bit interested in him. Now, here he was, gallantly promenading with Valma on his arm, and walking her home. This is one for the books—he thought.
They’d just turned onto Amherst Street when Valma stopped abruptly. ‘Did you hear that?’ she said, her voice tremulous.
‘Probably just a stray cat or something,’ Angus said. ‘Come on, let’s keep moving, anyway.’ They hadn’t gone more than another fifty yards before they both heard it. A sound like a shuffled footstep. Valma’s nails dug into his arm as her grip tightened.
‘Sugarbox!’ she said through clenched teeth, before adding, in a whisper, ‘I really hate walking home at night. There’s hardly any light around here and this bit, in particular, gives me the willies.’
They were approaching a large spreading street tree, one of only a few in the area, where the streetlights failed to pierce the gloom. As they entered the shadows, a figure suddenly loomed from the dark.
‘Got a light?’ His voice was guttural and slurred.
They both stopped in their tracks. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t smoke,’ Valma said.
‘Your boyfriend does. I saw him with the makings in the bar.’
Angus pulled a box of Redheads from his pocket and offered them to the stranger. ‘Here, keep ‘em.’
The man stood in their way, as he slowly rifled through the packet—producing a match and striking it before applying the flame to a tailor-made between his lips. Angus was about to force his way past when two powerful arms grabbed him from behind.
‘What the … ?’ Angus twisted his body, trying to shake the vice-like grip that held him, pinning his arms to his side and dragging him backwards. Valma gave a muffled scream. At the edge of his vision, Angus saw she was struggling to escape the clutches of another, slightly smaller man. Cigarette Man stepped forward and quickly rammed his hand over her face, smothering her cries beneath a dirty-looking rag. Angus caught the heady scent of chloroform.
In desperation, he swung his head savagely backward, striking his assailant in the face and splitting his top lip. ‘Fuck!’ the man cried, but didn’t release his grip. ‘Best you just take it easy, Mate,’ he growled into Gus’ ear. ‘This is going to happen, one way or another. You can watch, you can bloody well join in for all I care, but this little tart has given us the come-on for ages. Tonight, she gets to learn what it’s all about.’

Valma’s struggles were growing weaker. Angus raised his right foot and brought his heavy work boot down onto the man’s toes, grinding with all his might as his assailant bellowed with pain.
Cigarette Man turned his attention from Valma, as she slowly slid to the ground, and thrust the foul-smelling cloth over Angus’s face. Holding his breath as long as he could, and still struggling against the reverse bear-hug, Angus threw his weight against the man behind him and kicked fiercely—hoping to connect with Cigarette Man’s balls, but without success. He did manage to rake the man’s shin with his boot and was rewarded with another shriek of pain.
Just as Angus thought he could hold on no longer, the bear-hugger emitted a loud grunt and his grip relaxed.
Using all the strength he could muster, Angus broke free. He drove his fist into Cigarette Man’s face, feeling a satisfying crunch as the man’s nose was rearranged before finally getting to deliver the nut-crushing kick he had earlier attempted.
As the kick’s recipient doubled over in agony, Angus spun around in time to catch sight of Paddy Devlin’s face as he delivered a knock-out blow to Mr. Bear-Hugger. The attacker slid to the ground, unconscious. They turned their attention to the third man, who had watched the proceedings with wide-eyed horror. Paddy stepped toward him, and he turned and fled, leaving Valma propped against a fence.
‘You better run,’ Paddy called after him, ‘but Oi’ve seen ya face Bucko. And Oi’ll be watchin’ for ya.’
Cigarette Man was staggering away, holding his face with one hand and his bruised gonads with the other. Blood oozed between his fingers. Angus grabbed the would-be mugger simultaneously by the scruff of his neck and the back of his trousers and propelled him forward, sending the unfortunate attacker head-first into a power pole. There was another crunch, and the man collapsed onto the ground. Steadying himself with one hand on the pole, Angus delivered two vicious kicks to the man’s ribs. ‘Take that, ya fuckin’ arsehole!’ he bellowed.
Cigarette Man, obviously unconscious now, made no sound. As Angus prepared to deliver another, Paddy grabbed his shoulders.
‘Whoa. Whoa. Easy, Bucko. You don’t wanna kill the bastard.’
Angus whirled around. Fire blazed in his eyes.
‘C’mon,’ said Paddy. ‘Leave him. Let’s check on Valma.’
Angus’s fists clenched and unclenched for several seconds. Finally, he said, ‘Okay, Paddy. You’re right, I guess.’ Looking back at the unconscious form before him, he put the boot in just once more for good measure before turning his attention to Valma.
She groaned as she began to regain consciousness. Cigarette Man obviously had not been able to administer as much chloroform as intended.

Valma’s head swam. The nauseating chloroform smell had abated, but its effects lingered. Somewhere, in the deepest recesses of her mind, she heard voices and the sounds of a struggle. She heard Angus shouting, and another voice, Paddy? but couldn’t make out the words.
Then, someone was holding her beneath her arms, lifting her gently to her feet. She struggled to disentangle herself and Angus’ voice came to her. ‘Easy, Val. We’ve got you. You’re okay now.’
She tried to speak, but no words came. Her last coherent memory was of the match flame as the dark stranger lit his cigarette. The flame that now burned brightly in her memory even as her consciousness slowly returned.

Between them, Gus and Paddy helped Valma to her feet. She swayed unsteadily and Angus took her into his arms. ‘C’mon, Mate,’ he said. ‘Let’s get her back to the pub.’
They both looked around. Seeing the two attackers were still out cold, they hurriedly made their way back toward the Railway Hotel.
‘Oi didn’t like the look o’ them fellas,’ Paddy explained as they walked. ‘They were watchin’ as you left the pub, so I thought Oi’d follow along for a bit, just in case.’
‘Bloody glad you did, Mate,’ Angus said. ‘I dunno where it might have ended if you hadn’t.’
They made the return journey, a little over three hundred yards, in less than five minutes. As they neared the hotel, Paddy ran ahead and began hammering on the heavy double doors.
Mick Shannon was just about to kill the lights when the pounding began.
‘We’re closed,’ he called, pausing with his hand on the light switch.
Paddy maintained his assault. ‘Open up, Mate. We need help.’
Mick swung the door open. He stood framed in the light from the bar, a heavy cudgel raised in readiness.
‘Relax, Bucko,’ Paddy said. ‘It’s Valma. Some bastards tried to jump her and Angus.’
Mick’s face paled when he saw Valma in Angus’ arms. ‘What the … ?’
‘Let me lay her down somewhere,’ Angus said, carrying her through the entrance. ‘There were three of ‘em. The mongrels tried to knock her out with chloroform.’
Shannon quickly cleared a table near the corner, and Angus laid Valma gently on it.
‘I think I’m okay,’ she said feebly. ‘Really, let me stand.’ Valma made to rise to her feet before falling back onto the table, moaning softly.
‘I’m calling the cops,’ Mick said. ‘There were three, did you say?’
While he waited for the phone to answer he said, ‘Was one of ‘em a redhead, and another an Italian-looking bloke?’
Angus nodded. ‘Aye,’ said Paddy. ‘And a tall fella wearin’ a trilby hat.’
Looking at Angus, he said with a grin, ‘He’s gonna be walkin’ funny for a while, Oi reckon.’
Angus managed a smile. ‘He will, at that.’
‘Chalkie Wight’s stand-over men,’ Mick said. ‘That bastard’s been putting the heavies on me for a while. He promised me there’d be no more rough stuff if I paid up. Well, this is going to change things a bit.’

Angus and Paddy exchanged glances. Was that it? Some sort of protection racket that got out of hand? Angus had heard of Chalkie Wight—everyone had. He had a reputation as some sort of local gangster. Someone you don’t mess with if you value your health.
‘If they were Chalkie’s men, I don’t reckon they would have been following his orders,’ he said. ‘Not from what I’ve heard, anyway. Bad for business, he’d say.’
‘Well, when the cops get here, we don’t mention Chalkie Wight, okay?’ Mick said. ‘Just give them a general description and leave it at that. I’ll handle Wight myself.’