If this chapter results somehow in a reduction of crime or drugs on our streets it has served it's purpose.
5. Co-incidental or criminal
The tall, skinny teenage girl looked just like hundreds I had taught to drive over the years. Let's call her Monica. It was her first lesson. After I introduced myself she handed me the payment for her lesson. Normally I took the money after my lessons. I just took it and said light-heartedly: “Do you want it back, if we crash on the first turn?”
With a quick glance at the two notes, a ten and a twenty dollar bill, I noticed two things. Firstly, the twenty dollars bill was one of a very old type, which was larger than the current edition. I had not seen this kind for possibly a year or more. It was still legal tender. I put the cash in my shirt pocket amongst the rest of my money.
The second, unusual, observation was Monica’s mother, watching from an upstairs window of the elegant house, as they we were getting into the driving school car. She had a strange look about her, not like a parent being amused about her daughter struggling through the first few moments of a driving lesson. I did not think any more of it until the following week. The student again produced an out of date twenty dollar bill. How could I not notice it?
I always had a very observing mind. Many times during my lessons I thought that I was coming across people acting suspiciously around houses in quiet suburbs. Of course, I never stopped to ask: “Excuse me, are you entering this yard legitimately or as a burglar?” On one occasion one of my students lamented about having had his car stolen the night before. At the end of the lesson I casually asked for the licence plate, just in case. Sure enough, a few lessons later, I spotted the stolen Holden, a Torana identical to my very first driving school vehicle, parked in a back street in Adelaide’s western suburbs.
Spotting and remembering number plates of friends, relatives or just any outstanding numbers or letters, was something I did not do on purpose, it just came naturally. Years later number plates would play a pivotal role in a puzzling world of numbers, letters and names.
During a course of driving lessons the talk is usually about family, school or other generally safe subjects. I became curious about Monica’s family, triggered by the unusual twenty dollars bills. If it had been just a single one only, I would have forgotten about it. But there were several.
I was convinced that there was some old money stacked away from a previous activity, a robbery perhaps. Monica’s father was only a simple tradesman, her mother did not go to work. My active mind dreamed up a script for a screenplay. The money could have been payment from selling drugs? Monica’s father was an ex-policeman. Gently questioning Monica every week, I realized that large amounts of money were needed for the lifestyle the family lived: The family indulged in all the luxuries and holidays that only wealthy people can afford. The facts did not match.
I encouraged Monica to practice driving in between lessons to gain more experience. She indicated, she was not allowed to drive their second car, but never gave a good reason for it. In the end, I found out from a friend of Monica, who was also having driving lessons, that the family’s second car was a luxury European sports car.
Monica’s final session with me took two timeslots; the cost was sixty dollars. I could hardly believe my eyes. Monica handed me a ten dollar bill plus a very large, old fifty dollar one! Was my theory correct? “Come on, this is just a game you made up”, I argued with myself afterwards. I talked to friends about it, but they thought of it as co-incidence or questioned, why I was bothering? Better to stay away from trouble!
Three years later a drug related shooting took place in Melbourne. My conscience was stirred by this incident and I could stand it no longer. I rang Crimestoppers, a police hotline where you can report crime. I was surprised that the officer asked me for my full name and address, which I gave only reluctantly for fear of possible repercussion, should the information ever get into the wrong hands. I reported my suspicion about the family being involved in some illegal activity without going into great detail. I was fearful, yet something inside me forced me to do it.
I never heard anything further, nor was I asked for any more information. I trusted the police, they would follow it up. My curiosity made me ring up years later to find out if anything had come of it. I still remember the code number I was given at the time - B 1083). No investigation had been instigated.
On another occasion I again suspected that one of my students was involved in drug running. He was well into his 30’s and came over from England where he had met an Italian girl, ten years younger than himself. To me he appeared very average in looks and well below average in intelligence. His manner was nervous, never answering my questions straight forward.
He said he needed his licence by the end of the following month. He had to return to England by that date for some mysterious reason. After a late afternoon lesson one day I did not have change, so I said I would call after my last lesson and pay him the few dollars I owed him. I knocked on the door of the house where he lived with the family and his girlfriend.
A dark haired man in his mid twenties opened the door. Instead of looking at me he took a definite glance up and down the street first. It was so obvious, anyone would have noticed. I said, I came to pay my client the money I owed. He appeared very quietly in the corridor collecting the few coins. Inside my mind, the screenplay unfolded:
The family grows drugs, possibly marihuana. They needed a courier to export into the UK market. They sent the daughter over to befriend a suitable victim, my client. She provides friendship plus...?? As reward he willingly travels to and from the UK with the valuable crops hidden in his luggage?
Was I totally out of my mind? What did this have to do with me, anyway? I tormented myself with questions as to why this and why that. Again it took considerable time before I plucked a the courage to phone Crimestoppers and report my suspicions. I gave them the address wondering what I am getting myself into? I never heard any more about it.
Why did I possess such a sensitive spirit? Why did I see things that others would not even notice? What inside me makes me want to follow these things up, even after years of chewing over it?
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves