The sun had been up for almost an hour. It was chilly in the interview room so Ellie clutched her coffee cup close to her chest, savouring the warmth. Phil was making copies of her statement and when he returned she was allowed to leave. She rubbed her eyes. They were sore from lack of sleep. When the door burst open she put her cup on the floor and half stood, more than ready to go home to her dogs, to get away from this horrid situation. But when she glanced up it wasn’t Phil. It was Nick.
She mouthed his name; her voice barely a squeak. As she drew her trembling hand to her mouth he rushed to her and hugged her tightly.
‘It’s okay Ellie. I’m so sorry. I’m here now, and I’m not going to let you go. I missed you so much.’
When she finally trusted herself she said, ‘same,’ and kissed his lips.
They were still embracing when Phil re-entered the room. He cleared his throat and sat behind the desk. ‘Okay, both of you have a seat,’ he said. ‘The latest update from the hospital is that our hit and run victim is in a serious but stable condition. Obviously this is good news but we won’t be scaling down the intensity of our investigation. You’ve both given statements to Peters in Major Crimes, but I need to know if you see or hear anything relating to Mister Homsi or his family.’
‘You haven’t found his family?’ Ellie asked.
Phil looked from Nick to Ellie and shook his head. ’They may have fled because of this incident, we just don’t know. The family car is missing, and the house is empty…um, apart from a kitten. It’s possible they will return to their rented house, or even the house they recently inherited. So I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye out, especially you Ellie. You live in the same town and you have briefly met the daughter.
‘Same goes for you Nick, although your interview with Mrs Homsi wasn’t fruitful, she may feel differently about accepting your offer of help now.’
‘Of course. Hopefully they still have my number.’
‘Thanks for coming forward Ellie, sorry to put you through such a long night.’
Ellie stood and shook his hand. ‘Really Phil, I don’t think I would have got any sleep no matter where I was. But I will now. I’m going home to hit the sack.’
‘Good. I’m pretty sure we can offer you a lift home. How about it Nick? Would you like to drive Ellie home?’
Ellie felt her face heat. Phil’s smile seemed genuine, if a bit smarmy.
‘Goodbye Phil,’ she mumbled as Nick held the door open.
‘I’m so sorry. I acted like a dick,’ Ellie said once they were in the police cruiser.
‘I wasn’t much better Ellie. You were right to be worried about Ahmed.’
‘That doesn’t make me feel any better. I hope he’s going to be okay.’
‘The hospital said he’s stable.’
‘That could mean he’s a stable quadriplegic. I hope he gets back to normal.’
Once they were out of the Kadina town limits the countryside opened up. From horizon to horizon the crops were emerald green. The sky was cloudless and the sun glinted off the sliver of sea to the west. Ellie took a deep breath.
‘It feels like something’s come to an end, but it hasn’t at all.’
‘What do you mean?’ Nick asked.
‘I don’t know, it’s just a feeling.’
‘It’s far from over. The investigation has only just started.’
‘I know Nick, but I feel like…I don’t know.’ She bowed her head.
‘Hey, don’t be like that. If you have a feeling then I want to hear it. You’ve been right so far.’
‘It isn’t very sensible though is it? I can’t live by my feelings. That’s right up there with Feng Shui and Reiki.’
‘You are turning into Sylv.’
Ellie smiled and reached for Nick’s hand. He squeezed hers tightly for a moment and then kissed it.
‘How long can they spare you for?’ she asked.
‘Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I could take a break.’
‘I think so.’
Ellie leaned back into the seat and groaned. ‘We could do a lot in an hour.’
Nick flattened the accelerator.
Felicia was home from hospital, but she had lost her spark. Nam drove more than three suburbs from home to pick up cannoli from her favourite baker, and although he wasn’t a real fan of deserts, their aroma impressed him. He served them on a tray with freshly made coffee and a single white rose.
Felicia merely looked at them, offered an unconvincing smile, and rolled over in bed to face the window.
‘You have to eat something honey.’ He placed the tray on the dresser and sat on the side of the bed. When he reached for her hand she slid it beneath the covers.
‘I’m not hungry.’ Before he could speak she asked, ‘where are the children? It’s so quiet.’
‘Your mum has taken them to the zoo today. The baby is asleep in the nursery. I just gave her a bottle. I cancelled the cleaner. I want you to be able to rest.’
She sat up in the bed and stared at him. ‘My mum? So who is looking after Nonna?’
‘Nonna will be fine, it’s only for two days. Your mum has a carer who visits each morning to make sure Nonna is okay.’
‘But Nonna would hate that. She doesn’t like strangers, especially not in her house.’
‘Please Felicia, don’t upset yourself. Nonna likes this lady, she knows her from the church. Your mum is here so we can give you some rest, so you get better.’
‘Better? You don’t get better from cancer Nam, you die. I will die.’
‘No, no, that’s not what the doctor said to us. He removed the tumour and sent it away to the laboratory, to find out what it is. In his experience he thought it looked benign. He said he was happy with your results.’
‘I bet he says that to everyone, and they die anyway.’
Nam glanced at the tray and gritted his teeth. ‘You won’t get better with that negative attitude.’
‘Oh! So now you are angry. Well go on then, get angry at the dying woman!’
’The only thing that will kill you is your own stubbornness. You need a positive attitude to get through this. It seems like everyone is trying except you!’
Her dark eyes welled with tears and Nam wished he had not lashed out at her. He clutched her shoulders and she bent her head, resting it on his chest.
‘I’m so sorry,’ he said.
‘So am I. I don’t mean to be so much trouble. Everything just seems so hopeless.’
He shook her gently until she looked up at him. He caressed the tears from her cheeks and tried to smile. ‘I have a surprise for you.’
His smile was real now. ‘No, not more cannoli, Yalda.’
When her mouth dropped open, just a fraction, it filled Nam with hope.
‘Yalda is here?’
‘She’s on her way, and with the children too. It will be so good for Franco and Rosa to have company.’
‘But what about school?’
‘They can take a week off.’
‘What about Baltasar and Lilith?’
‘They can go to school too.’
‘What do you mean? How long are they staying?’
‘As long as you like.’
‘But…what about their new life in that little town with the weird name?’
Nam rubbed his forehead. The only explanations that came to him were lies. His stomach felt queasy. This felt like a turning point in his life and he wondered if that was because of Felicia’s illness, or something else.
‘It hasn’t worked out for them.’
‘Did Ahmed leave her for another woman?’ Felicia lunged toward him. She had colour in her cheeks. ‘She should kill him!’
‘No, nothing like that. He, um, had an accident. He was hit by a car. It was a hit and run.’
Felicia was aghast. She made the sign of the cross and began to cry. Nam wondered if it was best to tell her the truth. She gazed up at him and he couldn’t lie.
‘Ahmed is in a bad way.’
‘He could die?’
She nodded as tears dripped onto the bedcovers but her mouth was a determined line. ‘I will be strong for Yalda. She will need me.’
‘We all need you Felicia. The baby, the kids, and especially me.’
This time he rested his head on her chest and she stroked his black hair.
‘Oh baby,’ she crooned and held him close. ‘What have we done to deserve all this heartache. It’s like God is angry at us.’
Nam was not a believer but something in her words terrified him. The queasiness in his stomach now wrenched his gut, and he’d never been so scared in his life.
Two nurses had helped Ahmed to sit up in the bed. They’d used the sheet to slide him, and although they had done it as carefully as they could, it still stirred the fire of pain in his pelvis, and his legs, which were suspended in a traction frame attached to the bed. The drugs made him dizzy and while he had no real appetite, the nurse holding the bowl of soup wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.
He took a sip. It wasn’t soup, it was mushed fruit and he almost gagged. He had a memory of trying to get Lilith to eat vegetables as a baby. Ahmed forced himself to swallow. When the nurse took away the empty plate he told Ahmed that he had a visitor. Ahmed gave a weak smile and felt tears sting his eyes. This was his second day of consciousness and still Yalda hadn’t come to see him. He needed her, needed to hold her. But his caller wasn’t Yalda; it was a cop. The sight of the man, and the ID he held out for Ahmed to observe, made him gag once more.
‘Is he…um,’ the cop said pointing to Ahmed who was sicking up into a bag held under his chin.
‘He will be okay in a minute. That’s the first food he’s had in a while,’ the nurse explained.
The cop sat in the only chair in the cubicle, waiting for Ahmed to stop heaving. Ahmed put his hand over his mouth and tried to get his thoughts in order.
‘Mr Homsi? Are you feeling up to answering a few questions?’
‘My name is Dave Peters from the Major Crimes Squad. You were involved in an accident. Do you recall what happened?’
‘Um, a car, it hit me.’
‘That’s right, but do you remember the events leading up to that collision?’
‘Someone tailgated me, they hit my car hard and I pulled over.’
‘Did you see the driver?’
Ahmed shook his head, suddenly clutching his temples as a bout of vertigo threatened to topple him. He reached for his sick bag and retched a drizzle of saliva.
‘Sorry,’ he mumbled to the cop.
‘It’s okay, would you like me to get the nurse?’
Ahmed almost shook his head but caught himself in time. He pushed himself firmly back into the pillow. ‘I will be all right.’
‘Do you remember the make or colour of the car?’
Ahmed winced in concentration. He knew there would be paint on the back of his car from that monster ramming him. ‘Grey or silver I think.’
The cop nodded. It seemed to be the answer he wanted.
‘So why did you stop? I mean, if the other driver rammed you, why stop?’
‘It was late at night. I thought it must have been a drunk person, or someone who just hadn’t seen me. The road has a few bends, I presumed they came around the corner, too fast to stop.’
‘So you don’t think this incident was malicious?’
Ahmed rubbed his brow and fought the reflex action to shake his head. ‘No…’ But from the time his thoughts had come together, shortly after he’d first opened his eyes, the idea had popped into his head. The more he thought about it, the surer he became. It had been that maniac who’d kidnapped him. At first it seemed impossible. It had happened in the middle of the night on a random stretch of highway. But it was not so unlikely if the mad man had been watching, waiting for him.
The cop leaned forward in his chair and showed Ahmed a document on his IPad. ’You see Mr Homsi, I have a report made by Officer Nick Tran of the Kadina Police stating that you seemed to be in fear for your life. According to his statement you approached an Ambulance Officer in Moonta, she was convinced you thought you were in some sort of danger too. The Ambo in question has since come forward and reported the event. So I have two people concerned for your welfare prior to this event, and then you are the victim of a hit and run incident. You can see why I am thinking this event was not accidental, can’t you?
’And according to your medical chart you have a wound to the back of your head that is healing. This injury was sustained before your accident. Can you explain that?’
Ahmed’s tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. He couldn’t shake his head and he couldn’t speak either. He gave a weak shrug and closed his eyes.
‘Mr Homsi? Mr Homsi?’ the cop’s voice grew louder.
’Excuse me sir; you are going to have to leave my patient for now. He’s not in an intensive care unit for no good reason. I cannot have a man who is trying to convalesce be subjected to a grilling. I can assure you he’s not going anywhere, but you’ll need to come back some other time.’
Ahmed couldn’t make out the cop’s reply but it was gruff and contained at least two swear words. Still he didn’t open his eyes. Long after the footfalls were silent he began to sob, but when he felt the pressure of a hand on his, he blinked the tears away. This was not the same nurse. He couldn’t recall seeing this one before, but the nurse smiled reassuringly and patted his hand.
‘Sorry Mr Homsi, we need to take a few more scans, just to make sure things are healing. I’m going to take you down there now. Are you feeling okay?’
Ahmed glanced around. Beyond the cubicle doorway was the main desk. There were at least six staff, making phone calls, reading notes or working on computers. Everything appeared normal.
‘Ahmed? May I call you Ahmed?’
But the nurse said nothing as he began turning off monitors and disconnecting the fluid line from it’s pump.
‘Are you sure you should be doing this?’ Ahmed’s heart was thudding and he felt the need to pee.
The nurse disengaged the brake on the bed and began to wheel it towards the corridor.
The man moved around the bed and bobbed down to Ahmed’s level. He gave that smile again and it seemed genuine.
’All you have to do is relax. I promise you are in good hands. We wouldn’t move you if it was too risky but our mutual friend, Jackie, wants you with him, and your family.’
‘She and the children are safe and sound with Jackie. We are going to transport you to a hospital closer to them.’ The man glanced towards the desk and then back. His face was serious now. ‘You will be going to a really good private hospital but your name will be different. You don’t need to be worried about anything. Please stay calm.’
‘That’s right, Jackie is taking care of everything.’
Although Jackie had tried to fulfil Ahmed’s dream, it had been Jackie’s man who had tried to kill him. His faith was shaken, and now Ahmed was shaking.
The nurse’s tone was soothing, but not as effective as the drug he injected into the giving set port attached to his fluid bag. Ahmed let the euphoria wash over him. He tried to count the lights as they travelled down the corridor but after four he fell asleep.
Angus had got a great deal on a Holden Colorado. They had packed the back seat and ute tray, but still had plenty of room in the front. Jarrod had never been on a road trip, his mother didn’t have a car when he was growing up, not even a driver’s license. And driving as part of his job was one thing, but a proper holiday with his mate, that was something else. He had butterflies in his stomach and he couldn’t stop smiling.
That afternoon he and Angus had taken his damaged car to a remote location and burnt it. The day was overcast and windy, dissipating the black smoke before it could be spotted by some nosey farmer.
They’d eaten take away pizza and had a couple of beers, like buddies, and Angus insisted on an early night, which was sensible, but Jarrod couldn’t sleep. He’d cancelled the lease on the house he was renting. Jackie had paid the bond. It would be lost now because there was no way Jarrod could give the realtor his bank account details or forwarding address.
Something about his rental property niggled him. Something was wrong. Lawrence had overseen the clean up of the house and the job was done to perfection, but still peace and sleep eluded Jarrod. There was something about the place that put a thorn in his side. He thought back, right from the start and it came to him.
It had been the steel bar that he’d clobbered the Syrian with. He’d dropped it in the long grass in the area past his back fence, where he’d caught the bloke spying on him. But Jarrod didn’t recall picking it up again. It would have the Syrian’s DNA on it. The chances of anyone finding it were slim, the chances of anyone associating it with an assault were even fainter, but still it was there. It had Jarrod’s fingerprints on it. It linked him to the Syrian in a way that his burnt out car, registered in a false name, could not.
The moon was a slim crescent though his blind-less window. It seemed to gaze at him accusingly. He threw off the bedclothes and began dressing, wondering if he should talk to Angus before he left. No, Angus would only panic and he needed to be fresh and alert for the long drive in the morning. Jarrod slipped outside noiselessly.
He watched the apartment window as he started the Colorado but no lights came on. It was just after midnight as he cruised back to his rental by the bay in Moonta. He parked parallel to the back fence and put the car’s spotlights on; they illuminated half the street. He searched methodically, back and forth along invisible lines. It wasn’t until he was scanning the last meter gap to the fence that his foot hit on something heavy. He almost wept with relief.
As he lifted the tonneau cover on the tray of the ute, a police cruiser turned onto his road. Jarrod’s hand went to his crotch as his mouth went dry. The cops pulled up along side him. They were women.
‘Is there a problem?’ the one driving asked.
‘No, no problem…just checking the tail light…but it’s okay.’
Both cops got out at the same time. One walked to the rear of his car while the other loaded a straw into a breathalyser.
‘Yep,’ the one at the back of the car said, ‘they are working.’
‘Would you mind blowing into this for me sir. That’s it, keep blowing, keep blowing, okay.’
The other cop was now checking out the front of the car, which was fine, but it still made Jarrod nervous.’
‘So what are you doing out at this time of night?’ the breathalyser cop asked.
‘Just heading home,’ he replied.
‘And where’s home?’
‘Well…um…not really home. I’m here on holidays, staying at Wallaroo, at the Marina.’
The other cop got in the cruiser and ran a trace on the ute’s numberplates. She returned to where he stood; hands on hips and not smiling. ‘So what’s your name sir?’
Jarrod pulled his wallet from his back pocket and handed her his driver’s license.
‘Are you the owner of this car?’
‘No, it belongs to my mate…we are travelling together.’
‘And what’s his name?’
Jarrod’s mind had gone blank. Angus had an alias but he couldn’t for the life of him remember it. He’d just seen it, on the paper work for the car. What is it Jeff or Jed?
‘Excuse me sir,’ both cops had their hands on their service pistols.
‘I…I have a migraine, I can’t think when that happens.’
‘We need to know who the owner of this car is. You can see how this looks, you driving a car, but not even knowing the name of the registered owner?’
Jarrod nodded and one of the cops pulled a pair of handcuffs from her belt.
‘Jerry, his name’s Jerry Phillips. Sorry, I get a bit of memory failure when I have a migraine.’
The cop put the cuffs back and shrugged to her partner. They stood staring at him and he realised he was scratching his crotch again.
‘Sorry,’ he muttered, ‘just a habit.’
‘Sir do you feel fit to drive?’
’Yeah, sure, it’s just pain in my head. It’ll go soon enough.
‘We can call you a taxi.’
‘It will go soon. It’s fading already. Thank you for your concern.’
‘Okay, drive carefully.’
They stood watching as he drove away at a crawl, and before he reached the highway they were a few hundred meters behind him. He wanted to gun the motor, to get far away from them, but instead he stuck to the speed limit. At some stage between nervous glances in his rear view mirror they had turned off. Jarrod did a double take, but they were gone.
He grinned and turned the radio up loud. It played some crappy country station but he didn’t care. Some shit song about tying yellow ribbons on trees came on. He didn’t know it, it probably came out before he was born, but by the second chorus he was singing along. He’d just had a lucky break and tomorrow was going to be brilliant.
Jarrod overslept the following morning and for some reason that made Angus grumpy. He persistently stomped around the apartment and “tsked” every time he saw Jarrod sitting or not moving quickly enough.
‘Lighten up man,’ Jarrod finally said. ‘We don’t need to break some speed record.’
‘We have a long drive ahead of us, that’s why I wanted to leave early. I don’t want to be on the highway at night.’
Jarrod scoffed and asked, ‘what? Are you scared of the dark?’
‘No, idiot, I don’t want to hit any kangaroos.’
‘But we have a roo bar.’
‘I don’t care,’ Angus raised his voice, ‘I don’t want to hit a roo anyway.’
‘All right, lets go then. Jeez you get moody.’
Angus started to open his mouth and then snapped it shut. He picked up one of the last boxes containing food from his pantry cupboard and headed for the door. ‘Hurry up!’ he barked over his shoulder.
Jarrod took a last look around his room then slung his backpack over his shoulder. It was almost eight thirty and he thought that was pretty early. Clearly Angus had gotten out of the wrong side of the bed.
They stopped in Kadina for petrol. This was the town that, along with Moonta and Wallaroo, made up the Copper Triangle. Jarrod didn’t like the place. It wasn’t on the coast, and although it seemed to be the business hub of the region, it had no soul, just a forgettable county town.
While Angus filled the car Jarrod went to buy some food. He was browsing at the packets of crisps when a cop walked in. It wasn’t one of the cops from the previous night; this one was a bloke, and he must have known the shopkeeper because he chatted with him for some time. Jarrod wanted to stall until the man left but he was running out of time. Any minute Angus would be in to pay and he’d be angry again if he caught him standing around. So he sidled up beside the cop and fought down the paranoia that these situations always brought on. Ever since his first brush with the law at thirteen, cops made him feel uneasy.
He glanced at the man without moving his head, but for the double-take he was not so sly. He felt as though his blood had frozen in his veins and he had to hug himself to stop the trembling. This was more than some baseless fear. He knew this cop. He pushed his food forward on the counter but kept his head dipped low. He felt the cop’s gaze but the man said nothing. He pay-waved the purchase, grabbed his snacks and raced for the door. Just outside he passed Angus.
‘Jesus man, are you okay?’
But Jarrod didn’t stop. He knew he was hyperventilating and needed to sit down. Rain was starting to fall as he reached the car. He flopped into the front passenger seat, but he didn’t close the door, knowing that his paranoia and claustrophobia were closely linked; he needed air and space. He took deep breaths while his heart still beat at a rapid tempo.
Angus returned to the car and asked him to close his door, which he did, but not before opening his window, despite the drizzle.
‘What’s up man?’
Before he could reply he saw the cop walking towards their car. He was frowning, like he’d just figured something out, and he was heading straight for Jarrod.
‘Get the fuck out of here! Now Angus!’
Angus started the engine. ‘Jesus Jarrod, what’s this all about?’
‘Just drive, just go!’
The cop was only a meter or two from the door when Angus hit the gas. The car slew out onto the damp road and they sped away.
‘Why was that cop coming to talk to you? Do you know that guy? Are you in trouble for something? You didn’t shop-lift something did you?’
But Jarrod couldn’t answer. He had his head between his knees taking in whooping breaths and trying hard not to scream.
They left the town and joined the highway, which took them away from the region. It was quite a few kilometres before Jarrod could trust his voice.
‘I know you think I’m paranoid, and I know I can be, but…that Syrian guy, I know he was spying on me, and now that cop…well that just proves that this whole job is a set up.’
Angus threw a confused split-second glance at him and shrugged. ‘I have no idea what you are babbling about man.’
‘Jackie has it in for me.’
‘You aren’t making any sense.’
‘Did you see that cop?’
‘No, not really, why?’
‘He’s Jackie’s brother.’
‘What?’ the sceptical tone had left Angus’ voice. ‘I’ve seen a guy that looks just like Jackie too, was that him?’
‘Probably,’ Jarrod stared out the window, trying to make sense of the situation.
‘So that cop, he knows you?’
‘He should, we spent half our lives in the same community. I’ve known him since primary school.’
‘But would he still remember you?’
‘Yes, of course he would. I remember him.’
‘Did he speak to you?’
They drove in silence, both caught up in their own thoughts. Angus turned on the radio but Jarrod immediately switched it off. He rubbed his brow with his left hand, his other lay limply across his crotch.
‘Why would Jackie set up this job in a location where his brother is based?’ Angus asked.
‘So I would get caught,’ Jarrod said without hesitation.
Angus was shaking his head. ‘No, that doesn’t make sense.’
‘Yes it does. None of this has been coincidental, not the Syrian and not Ty.’
‘Oh. But why would Jackie go to such lengths just to get you into trouble. He seems a very resourceful man. I’m pretty sure if he wanted to get someone locked up it wouldn’t be done in such a convoluted manner. And what makes you think he has it in for you anyway? From what I could gather you’ve worked for him on and off for years. If he’s kept you on he’s probably happy with your work.’
‘Something happened a long time ago. I was never sure if Jackie knew I was involved. I mean, we wore masks, but I think he’s since found out.’
‘Oh, shit. That’s not good.’
‘No, it means I’m finished.’
Angus squirmed in his seat but said nothing.
Jarrod gazed at the scrub as they flew past it. ‘I’m finished,’ he muttered again.
Another ten minutes passed when a groan from Angus indicated trouble. He’d taken a glance in his rear view mirror and now his face was set in a panicked grimace. Jarrod spun so fast in his seat his back made a cracking sound.
‘Jesus! He’s gaining on us.’
‘Now hang on mate, don’t let’s lose the plot. It could be some other cop. It could be a coincidence, and whoever it is, they don’t have their flashing lights on.’
‘Not yet!’ Jarrod hissed.
‘Okay, okay,’ Angus was scanning the landscape in front of them. ‘There is a sweeping bend coming up, as soon as we’ve passed it we’ll pull off the road anywhere we can. We wait for him to pass and then high-tail it back to Kadina. There is another road we can take to connect to the main highway. So let’s stay calm and focussed, we’ll get out of this.’
They accelerated coming up to the bend and once the cop car was lost from view Angus broke, but not so hard that he left skid marks.
‘There!’ Jarrod pointed to a track leading into an area of scrub. ‘Turn now!’ He clutched the dash in anticipation of the sharp turn.
Angus hit the rocky path at speed. They bumped along almost fifty meters from the road and came to rest behind a thicket of eucalypts. The rain sodden ground prevented dust, which would otherwise have left a tell-tale plume in the air. It was a silent and tense wait. Their gazes never wavered from the gap between the trees.
A second later they saw the cop car fly past. Angus hit the gas and turned back to the tarmac. He took a quick glance before shooting out on the roadway and back the way they had come. By the time they reached the outskirts of Kadina they were sitting on one hundred and eighty kilometres, but as they passed the eighty sign they slowed to the speed limit. They took the truck by-pass road to avoid the town.
‘We’ll stay away from the centre of town. We still don’t know if that cop following us was Jackie’s brother. If it wasn’t, he could still be cruising around the area. We don’t need to cross paths with him.’ Angus was checking his rear mirror every second or so. Once they reached the outer limits again he drove fast but was ever watchful for traffic and radars. They made it to the small town of Bute without passing another car. From there the road to Snowtown would meet up with the main highway.
‘We may be in luck,’ Jarrod said.
‘Yeah,’ Angus replied but his tone lacked confidence.