Unsolved

Are y’all keeping up with this serial narrative?

Here’s Part 1 to get you going. From Gina Barton: Mark Zera and his father made their way down the deserted rural road from their home to Franklin High School and back again. As his father drove slowly through the darkness, Mark ran back and forth behind the car, scanning the roadside ditches for some sign of his brother.

John, 14, hadn’t come home from school that day. Maybe he had been hit by a car and was lying there, hurt, needing help.

Mark and his father searched for a glimpse of John’s green jacket until the unseasonably warm February evening surrendered to a chilly winter night and rain started to fall, soon mixing with snow.

Back at home, the boys’ mother dialed number after number, the rotary phone impossibly slow.

“Have you seen Johnny?” she asked her son’s classmates, his friends, their parents, the neighbors.

No. No. No. No.

Manning Up

Konrad Marshall: Billy is a mean bastard. He has a lot on his mind. He isn’t getting shifts. His missus is nagging him for petrol money. Didn’t he already give her some?

Billy gets a beer, tries to relax, but she won’t let it rest. Won’t get off his back. So he stands over her. Holds her down. Yells in her scared little face. Grabs her skinny shoulders and squeezes, nice and hard.

Eyes wild, he screams some more. Kicks her out and locks the door.

Billy is a mean bastard. He is also not real. Billy is a hypothetical case being discussed in group therapy by real men, who have found themselves in similar situations.

The task before them – “mapping the incident” – is simple. Highlight the facts. Identify what Billy was thinking, then feeling, then what his partner felt.

One by one, they say what went through Billy’s mind …

“Shut the fuck up,” offers Andrew.

“What’s she done with my money?” asks Aaron.

“She’s lying to me,” says Garry, nodding.

“How dare you?” says Allan, shaking his head.

The men know how Billy thinks. They’ve been there. They are domestic violence offenders but they want to change, so they’ve come here – to a facility unlike any other in Australia.