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Stumped!


PROLOGUE
There's a cemetery with a splendid outlook in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, in NSW. In
one direction, you can look all the way to New Zealand; in the other you can see the Harbour
Bridge. Magical. Only it's for a cemetery where none of the occupants can see it. That's exactly
what Joe thought. Indeed, it was his only passing thought, as he gazed down at his wife's grave. He
always feared she would die before him. And she had. It wasn't a good death either. Not even
allowing her the time to see their children become adults. But there she was now, remembered in
stone. Lucy Charnock, 1940-1999. She was only 59. People kept saying it was no age, and they
were right. Joe looked at the vacant plot next to it. If it were possible, some days, he felt like he
could simply jump in it, too. Was that the easy way? Not for his two children admittedly. They had
their own lives now. They were moving on. He was standing still. Joe's life seemed permanently in
a waiting pattern. He was forever telling himself to stop being maudlin. He was even going to a
grief counsellor. But for 10 years? That wasn't a good sign. Perhaps the counsellor liked him.
Joe saw death around him, all the time. Every week it was a new dead body, seeing what
horrible things one person could do to another. It had destroyed his humanity, except towards his
children, or maybe Jimmy at work. He believed in justice for others, but he saw none of it in his
own life.
Take me to the grave, he thought. Take me... Nothing happened of course. He had a flash
of Lucy slipping on the cliff edge at South Bondi, her foot giving way.
His prayer for the end wasn't coming true. He couldn't do it. He wouldn't. In the end Joe
believed in life. The sanctity of life. He started at a sound beyond. Suddenly someone was beside
him.
“Closing the gate now, mate.”
It was the caretaker at the cemetery.
“What?! Sure. Sorry.”
“It's a great spot,” he said. “One of the best.”
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