The Incumbent: Chapter 27

It's an intricate web of murder plots, government conspiracies and rampant tanning. Oh, and the future of the entire nation.

ZDNet Australia is proud to bring you a serialised version of Phil Dobbie's novel The Incumbent. A new chapter will be published here as part of his blog each week on Tuesday. You can also buy the entire book by clicking here.

'You're not coming in,' the security guard said to Musson, at the doors of Radio 2IQ. He was proud with how he managed to string the words together. He had said it many times before but it never seemed to come out in the right order.

'It's alright, he's with me,' said Whimplestein, arriving at Musson's side.

'And who are you?'

'I'm his psychiatrist.'

'Well you are definitely not coming in. No psychiatrists, it's the rules.' That was 12 words in succession, the guard's personal best.

'But this man is a guest on the Adam Willis breakfast program,' Whimplestein explained.

The guard asked them to stand aside while he spoke into his walkie talkie. He listened intently to someone and didn't seem happy with what he heard.

'Okay, you can come in,' he said begrudgingly, motioning Musson through the door.

'And you,' he stabbed his finger into Whimplestein's chest, 'you are permitted in so long as you try not to psycho ... psycho...'

'Psychoanalyse?' offered Whimplestein.

'Yeh. So long as you don't do that to any of the presenters.'

The bouncer was correct with his initial observation that Musson seemed more mentally unbalanced than the average visitor. He had definitely taken a step backwards, but it was only in part Whimplestein's doing. On that cold night after the consultation he had followed the psychiatrist's directions to Woodburner's house, intent on murder. Except, of course, he'd started off in totally the wrong direction and arrived, by sheer coincidence, at the home of notorious underworld identity, Spicer the Slicer.

Spicer opened the door to a man practically foaming at the mouth, his saliva filled with venom and hatred. He wondered whether he was campaigning for the Liberal Party.

'Woodburner?' He spat the word out, some spittle landing on Spicer's neatly pressed shirt.

'No. You must have the wrong house. Are you selling something?'

Musson was taken aback. He was sure he had followed the directions carefully, but this man clearly wasn't the 'face of VastTel'.

Spicer, who behind his wafer-thin underworld persona was a caring human being, invited the distressed character in for a cup of tea and some scones that he'd finished baking moments earlier. After a few hours, talking late into the night, Musson was back on track and any thoughts of killing anyone at VastTel had vanished from his mind. His only anger now was towards his psychiatrist, who he was convinced had opportunistically used him to further his own personal agenda.

It was unfortunate that the two men had been slung together again by circumstance on the day of the radio interview. If they'd met just a few days earlier who knows what Musson would have done, but even his anger towards Whimplestein had mellowed with time. Beneath it all, Musson was quite a balanced individual, as far as murderous psychopaths go, and the two men greeted each other warmly.

What had really stoked the fire in Musson's belly was the unfortunate arrival of another phone bill from VastTel. There had been a long period of no contact with the phone company, but his initial, inaccurate phone bill remained unpaid. A 48-page reminder had found its way to Double Bay, with a disproportionately high late fee added to the total. It reached him just as the car arrived to take him to the radio station. The mad man had been fixated with it on the journey across town, which was just long enough for him to return to his original ambition — he was now more convinced than ever that he must kill a VastTel executive, and meeting Woodburner this morning was his first real opportunity. Whimplestein had seen it in his eyes the moment they met. They both wanted Woodburner dead and today, he thought, was the day that Musson would do it.

The Incumbent is Phil Dobbie's first novel and these excerpts have been used with his permission. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. To purchase the entire novel in digital format, click here. It is also available in printed format ... for more details click here.

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