Burned

“The business dies without it,” declared Mr M with palpable anxiety.

“We know it arrives tonight, but we don’t know where.”

Nadia’s father and his associates were still desperately poring over a heavily coded message and a map when she snuck into his secret room. Suddenly, the door swung open. Nadia leapt for cover.

“What the hell Benny!” admonished Mr M, “knock 3, wait…knock 2, wait…How many times have I told you?”

“Sorry boss,” whimpered Benny, grasping for the pride he’d felt moments earlier after returning from the first meaningful task he’d been entrusted with; buying burner phones. He chose the ones with flame symbols on them, thinking that was why they were called burners.

Phones were hastily shoved into pockets and the men returned with increasing concern to the code and the map.

“Where is the drop site?!” Mr M demanded of his subordinates. Nadia felt her father’s anger and snuck out of the room. She didn’t know exactly how he paid her private school fees, but she had some idea what ‘hostile takeover’ meant in his line of business. She counted 10 seconds then burst back in with exaggerated clumsy innocence. An uncomfortable silence lingered.

“What about the Eels last night, eh” Mr M said eventually.

“Um…ah….yeah,” replied Stan.

“They’ll win the comp this year,” declared the boss calmly.

With doe eyes and rehearsed timidity, Nadia apologised profusely and asked for the day’s newspaper,

“…for the crossword.”

Her father thrust it at her and his boiling frustration swept her out the door.

Mr M didn’t understand his 13-year-old daughter’s obsession with cryptic crosswords, any more than he understood the code which hid the location of tonight’s shipment. When he emerged in a frantic search for whiskey, Nadia told him. He wasn’t convinced, so Nadia explained the hidden meaning behind each clue, and subsequently the precise location of the drop. Her father didn’t know whether to feel shocked, angry, usurped, proud, humiliated or impressed, so he succumbed to all of the above.

“You got lucky this time,” is all he could muster. Nadia smiled inwardly and returned to her cryptic as her father gathered his boys and rushed to the drop site.

“Move the second I call you on your burner,” added Mr M after he’d explained the meticulous plan to intercept Mr Smith’s shipment.

“Now spilt up!”

“How does the boss know so much about Mr Smith’s operations?” Benny asked Stan when they set off for their posts.

“They were partners until Smith crossed him, took every penny from their biggest haul years back.”

Truck after truck arrived.

The boss waited and breathed deeply. Revenge and riches were within arm’s reach. He was bursting with excitement and desperate to reveal himself to Mr Smith with the haul safely in his possession.

This is it. His trembling hands dialled the number and raised the phone to his ear.

‘Welcome to Flame mobile – your call has been placed in a queue and will be answered shortly…’

Scott Morrison recruits Jarryd Hayne.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed former rugby league player Jarryd Hayne as the federal Minister for Women due to Hayne’s dedication to gender equality. The appointment ensures that the Liberal National Party will always contain one male member who is under investigation for sexual assault.

Morrison persuaded Hayne to join the coalition during a prayer service at Hillsong Church.

“How good is Jarryd Hayne,” Morrison gloated while announcing the appointment.

“You know I love my footy, and I love Jarryd, even though he never played for the Sharkies,” he smirked.

“But no, in all seriousness, I’m very excited to announce Mr Hayne as the new Minister for Women because he is a great role model for young Australian men, who has a great empathy for women. For that reason, I approached him during intermission at one of Hillsong’s rock concerts and asked him to join us in Canberra.”

“What’s more, Jarryd just got married. First of all, congratulations. Secondly, he is now able to empathise with women because he has a wife. I ask Jenny for advice, and Jarryd can ask Amellia for advice.”

Hayne will begin his new role immediately and his first task will be to recount his experiences in the United States.

“We know Jarryd spent time trialling for the NFL,” explained Morrison. “What you might have forgotten is that he was also accused of sexual assault in the US and the matter was settled out of court. Therefore, he will brief the LNP on how to settle a sexual assault case out of court, and how to make everyone forget the alleged incident ever happened.”

Hayne was equally excited about the new role.

“I love women,” he stated.

“I really love them – Aussie women, American women, I love them all, so when Scotty asked me to be his Minister for Women, I said yes straight away. Plus, I don’t do much these days since I can’t play NRL – so at least it’s one way to pass the time.”

Hayne will work alongside a special group formed in response to recent allegations of sexual assault and bullying of women in parliament house. The group contains politicians such as Christian Porter, Barnaby Joyce, Peter Dutton, Alan Tudge and George Christensen, and will report directly to Morrison – except when the prime minister needs to claim plausible deniability.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au

Australian Government to Pay Prisoners.

The Australian Government has shocked the world after launching a program to pay lucrative salaries to criminals. The world-first program will award salaries of up to $AU550,000 to prison inmates who have been found guilty of a range of crimes.

Prisoners will collect anywhere between $AU200,000 to $AU550,000 per annum depending on the nature of their crime and their status within the prison system. Prison gang leaders who achieve their title through bullying, cunning, treachery and cruelty stand to benefit the most from the scheme.

The plan was announced during the worst recession in the country since the great depression as Australia continues to suffer the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fact has drawn strong criticism of the scheme from an already frustrated populace, who witnessed the damage to the economy even before the pandemic.

“This plan is preposterous, outrageous, unfathomable and the worst example of public policy in Australian history” claimed critics across mass media.

“Anyone who has been proven to have committed a crime should not be paid a salary by taxpayers, let alone a salary as high as 500,000 dollars. Crimes of any form destroy the fabric of a society and detract from the lives of the victims, and in many cases they threaten the safety of the country and its institutions.”

Commentators questioned how the government could justify the policy when university academics are taking pay cuts or losing their jobs, when workers at the front line of the pandemic are denied sufficient personal protection equipment and when support for family child care expenses is being taken away.

One critic also highlighted the fact that many prisoners would never be able to earn $AU200,000 a year out in the real world.

In response to the criticism of the program, the current Australian government circulated a photo of the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, building a hen house in his backyard.

Critics and everyday Australian citizens are also horrified that the scheme will award a pension to law breakers once they leave prison. The pension will gift criminals an average of $AU150,000 a year.

“Providing yet more taxpayers’ money to people who have committed crimes is even more ludicrous, especially since many criminals walk out of prison straight into a role as a consultant.

The public would be amazed to discover how many criminals are collecting handsome pay packets from book publishers and from streaming services who pay for inmates’ inside knowledge every time they need to make another gritty reality series about crime and prisons.”

Image: Milad B. Fakurian