I declare that this is my last will and testament and hereby revoke, cancel, X TEAR UP INTO CONFETTI WITH MY CHUBBY CHEERIO FINGERS, and annul all wills, testamentary acts, dispositions, and codicils previously made by me either jointly or alone. I declare that I am of sound X APOPHYLLITE-CLEAR mind and that this will X TO END ALL WILLS and testament X TO END ALL TESTAMENTS articulates X WITHOUT A PROSPECTOR’S DOUBT my sincerest desires without any undue influence or coercion.
TRUST ME, I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.
I appoint as Executor and Trustee of this my Will (hereinafter referred to as ‘My Trustee’KENNY), Kenneth Goossens of 110 Wolseley Crescent, Point Peregrine, Sydney NSW 1124, Australia. If the nominated person within clause 2 is unable to act as Executor and Trustee of this my Will, then I appoint The Public Trustee in Queensland to be Executor and Trustee of this my Will. X AND HE BETTER DO HIS JOB. I’ve told him exactly what I want to happen. He’s tried to talk me out of it. I’ve listened to and understood everything that he’s had to say. And he knows I’ve disagreed with everything he’s had to say.
SO, THERE IS TO BE NO CONFUSION.
My death is set. Soon I will be dust. As gone and gutted as Mary Kathleen Mine. Cremated like a patriotic snag on January 31st. Scattered to outback winds. My flakes will fly amongst dust clouds and blowfly swarms. Notable floaters will invade the hanging jaws of cattle farmers to settle at the backs of throats, eventually worming their way down oesophagi and intestines to plop in the bottom of dunny drains. X
SIN É AN SOAL.
Propped here on this hospital bed, bent at an obtuse angle, I already feel dead. Putrefactive. My teeth are gone. I have given up on dentures; they do not sit in my semi-paralysed face. The moments now plod without meaning, like the staggering of a drunken wombat. I miss the days when paradise could be conjured, when reality and imagination were one, when all whims could be and were premeditated. Every morning I would wake and clench a chilled, peeled pineapple by its spiky crown and plonk it into a basin of provided liquid chocolate before dunking it into another basin of crushed, recently-roasted macadamias. I would bite into its spiral-indented surface, chomping the entire choc-coated thing, core and all, allowing – encouraging – the insides of my mouth to become fuzzily-numb and juice and chocolate to spill down my chin and naked front, onto the white carpet floors. X
(Q) WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BILLIONAIRE?
(A) SPILLING CHOCOLATE ON WHITE CARPET CAUSES ZERO PANIC.
Now I eat only with my tongue, like a baleen filter-feeder. Before me sits my krill: a tray of mushed prawn-meat and fresh oysters ready to be gulped. They arrive on the hour. They always have. Since the origins of my abundant wealth I have commissioned a perpetual conveyor belt of tuna, scallops, octopi, squid, bugs, and lobster to rotate from ocean to kitchen to mouth. Shift-chefs have forever sizzled seafood and cured ceviche that has been available any time of day, ready to dunk into my maw. I prefer fish barely cooked, ideally raw, wriggling as it goes down. Hundreds of tentacles have twisted in my guts; tiny mollusc muscles have pulsed, like an extra heart. X
I AM NOT HUMAN.
For some time, I have suspected my success is not simply intuition, not simply savvy, not at all luck. Only now, as deathbed deletes all modesty, do I truly know. My life thus far has been but a pupal phase to this realisation. I am what all the churches in Adelaide were built for. I am who Fremantle drunks swear to when they stub their toes. I am the shimmering reflection in waterholes: the great rainbow, vomiting snake. I am divine. My consequences will – like the prehistoric footprint of a Mazda-sized marsupial that over time erodes to reroute creeks, flood villages, and force Queensland’s homes to stand on stilts – shatter civilisations and minds.
Presuming Kenny does his job, wires will send signals, stocks will be sold, and hundreds of phones will simultaneously spasm, howling like Biloela black-cockatoos, forcing business boards to meet and shriek. Junior executives will call managers; janitors will call human resource offices; secretaries will be too busy to answer any of their calls for they too will be calling their bosses to confirm that they too still have jobs.
THERE WILL BE NATION-WIDE DISAPPOINTMENT.
Good. Hopefully this is the kick in the pants Australian ambition needs. It has always been too modest, too cautious. Few follow their wildest predilections. As a tot I was taught to romanticise exploration of inland unknown. So that’s what I did. Got it over and done with. Like a giant invader rabbit, the whole continent became my warren. With an inherited fledging mining company, I burrowed wherever prospectors suggested, digging up resources, setting up mines, buying up the very prospecting companies that advised me, turning the whole landscape inside-out. X
I COMMAND THE VERY TECTONIC PLATES WE FLOAT UPON.
As ordained, more oysters have arrived. I tip the nurse a one hundred dollar note. He, a Lebanese boy, refuses. I demand that he take it. I puff my cheeks and bubble saliva, heave and toss my beached-whale body, growl that I will have him replaced. This last remark makes him reluctantly clutch the green, polymer note with its lyrebird window. He will be uncomfortable around me from now on. He will also be uncomfortable relieving himself of the note. Few want one. The majority go their entire life without ever possessing, momentarily, a $100 note. There is never a good reason to have one. Most hard currency is change, broken pieces, scraps. The $100 is the only currency never given as such.
I, on the other hand, love having Monash and Melba close. The General and the Warbler. Now, I am both. X
WHAT IS A WILL, BUT YOWLED, HOWLED ORDERS?
The 10ft Tall N.T. Boxing Croc to my eldest daughter, Siobhan Caoimhe Aoife Barnard. This gift is unconditional.
The Giant Prawn to my wife, Jarmila Barbora Crowther Barnard. This gift is unconditional.
The Enormous Merino Ram to Dorothy Beckham. This gift is unconditional.
X My monuments (the 10ft tall N.T. boxing croc, the giant prawn, the enormous merino) have been collected from periphery towns (excepting the Boxing Croc, which was reconstructed due to the vendor’s refusal to sell despite a generous offer of $150,000). These were the defining features in otherwise identical outposts. Currently, they reside at my Whitsunday Island golf course. My death will cause these creatures to rise from their concrete foundations and traverse the continent.
SIOBHAN, JARMILA, AND DOROTHY ARE TO RECEIVE NO MONEY.
Signed on this 27 day of AUGUST 2016
at this location ST. ANDREW’S PRIVATE HOSPITAL in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.
SIGNED: Caradoc BarnardCROC
On 21 February 2015, Ms Beckham sent an email to Mr Barnard:
This outlines promises made.
A bequething [sic] to my children:
Ms Beckham’s records provide evidence of a phone call, made by her residency to Mr Barnard on 26 February 2015 at 13:10. On 27 February 2015, Mr Barnard had MineralCorp pay Ms Beckham $3,000.
In March 2016, Ms Beckham claims she met Mr Barnard’s colleague Mr Goossens in the lobby of Waterfront Towers and had the following conversation:
The defendant has called no evidence. Ms Beckham’s testimony therefore was not contradicted (though it was challenged).
The plaintiff bears onus of proof. The standard to which she must prove her case is the balance of probabilities, which involves “actual persuasion” [Stoneheart v Stoneheart  LL 102].
In the circumstance of a claim against a deceased estate founded on verbal commitments that only the deceased could deny, the Court must inspect the evidence closely [Bligh v Bligh  KB 882] and seek corroboration [Bullpit Ltd v Packer  NSWSC 111].
There are a multitude of reasons to cast doubt on the reliability of Ms Beckham’s testimony, specifically her incapacity to provide sufficient reason as to why her claim included $600,000 per annum allowance following Mr Barnard’s death.
Similarly, due to inconsistencies between the version in Ms Beckham’s affidavit and in her verified pleading, I do not accept her assertion of an on-going relationship following June 2015. I also uphold the estate’s claim that Ms Beckham’s characterisation of Mr Barnard – i.e. his over-complimentary nature – is likely untrue. X When you've reduced a man to a quavering, floppy, fleshy mishmash, you know him better than anyone. That includes his family and himself.
Nevertheless, given the amounts involved and peculiarity of circumstance, I do not believe that the whole account is implausible. There is enough corroboration to suggest key actions in Ms Beckham’s testimony did occur. This does not include the alleged annual ‘wage’ of $600,000, for which there is no support whatsoever. Ms Beckham’s request in her corroborated email does not specify that the amounts (i.e. the ‘bequething’ [sic]) X I wish they policed truth as fiercely as spelling. are an entitlement, but rather ‘assistance.’
I believe, however, that there is evidence to determine sufficient likelihood that the conversation around December 2014 of the nature described did occur, which includes discussing the establishment of a $1.8 million trust for each of her children, payment of $50,000 per annum for rental purposes, as well as $45,000 per annum for ‘business’ costs. X Case closed, surely
I do not allow that the terms detailed in the discussion are too insubstantial to form a contract, but I am unconvinced Mr Barnard and Ms Beckham intended to make a contract. Without express statement that their arrangements were legally binding, Ms Beckham’s subjective desires are irrelevant [Morgan v Croatian Orthodox Community of NSW Inc.  211 CLS 88].
In this instance, the motive of spoken arrangements was to establish a relationship, which we will regard as ‘social.’ X Sure, we were just “good friends.” Though the key criterion for this agreement was that Ms Beckham not continue an escorting career, evidence suggests she had already discontinued her employment independently. X Then why am I doing it now? Why do I jetset across the country, seeing more action than the entire Royal Flying Doctor Service? In addition, neither party sought legal counsel, nor recorded their agreement in writing. If Ms Beckham had returned to escorting work, it seems unreasonable to presume Mr Barnard would or could obtain an injunction to restrain her, nor claim damages for her to fulfil the agreed upon role.
On Monday 16 May 2016, Mr Goossens sent Ms Beckham the following:
On the basis of our discussions, we expect you will:
I have arranged $150,000 into your nominated account (see below) in full and complete settlement of all claims.
Ms Dorothy Beckham
ANG BSB 924 200
A/c XXXX XXXXX
Please confirm the bank details are correct. Upon acknowledgement, I will make the transfer.
The following day, at 11:25 am, Ms Beckham sent Mr Goossens the following:
The details are right.
$150,000 was deposited into Ms Beckham’s account that day.
Ms Beckham states she did not agree with the statement ‘full and complete settlement,’ and that before sending the email had the following conversation with Mr Barnard:
Ms Beckham initially said she was unsure whether she had phoned. Later, in cross-examination, she claimed Mr Barnard had initiated the call, possibly from a withheld number. As there is no record of such a call, it is my view that this conversation did not take place. Therefore, I believe the settlement was accepted as ‘full and complete.’
Unlike the conversations, the email correspondence displays negotiation between parties. Her responses convey agreement to terms, and the absence of caveats in responding emails is noted.
Ms Beckham’s case falls apart because neither Mr Barnard nor Ms Beckham intended to enter into a binding and enforceable relationship. In addition, Ms Beckham’s claims are not maintainable due to her accepting the offer of $150,000 in full satisfaction. X No one is ever satisfied. They keep coming back. I promise I will see you again. I will forever haunt the ghost of Croc Barnard.
I therefore give judgment for the defendant, with costs.
The mistake Ms. Beckham makes is thinking that control over one’s body equates to power. It is, rather, control over other’s bodies that grants the greatest sovereignty. Control over the design, which comes from...
…not culture, not God, not me.
…just a sawbones, an aesthetic surgeon. Who believes there’s nothing quite like walking into a room full of people I’ve chiselled.
…in a transformative state, dictated by Central and West Coast American guinea pigs and Dr Frankensteins, with which I am up to date.
Nothing quite like administering botulinum…
The late afternoon is stickiest. There is a heaviness to the air that curls hairs and expands corrugated iron, a stagnant troposphere that seems to deposit oil onto skin, sealing eyelids with a thin layer of grime. Gulla’s lashes peel with oozing suction. Weight precedes sensation as she reacquaints with the predicament of maternity. On her stomach rests her child and his emitted stomach contents, which carries with it an acrid, lactic tang that flares Gulla’s nostrils to the widest diameter. She inhales sour air, causing her flabby chest to hollow and her child to slide and squelch into the indent. He squalls from disorientation and liquid sensation.
Exhaustion had claimed both. The child had fallen asleep in her chest, while she had dozed off on the chilled tile floor coated with blue, unnatural dust. The floor’s pattern has impressed a criss-cross brand on Gulla’s pliable back, dividing up moles and freckles.
The baby caterwauls. Gulla, too, cries. Her forehead scrunches, as if attempting to wring out fear, jolt fortitude. Tears dribble down two pairs of pink, oily, inflamed cheeks. There is more emesis, fetidness of faeces, the inevitability of rash. There is drying, hardening, cracking: inescapable mire. Air, thighs, heads are too thick.
Wood scrapes tile as the front door jams open. ‘Pong, that reeks!’ announces Gulla’s mother.
Gulla’s moans crescendo.
Her mother scrutinises her naked daughter and grandson, sweaty and tear-sodden, a clammy, flushed, fleshy blob. Their very presence raises the humidity. A perverse smirk usurps Gulla’s mother. She shakes her head, as though privy to a joke no one else could find humorous, decisively removed from decency. ‘I’m not dealin’ with this, hey.’ There is a slur and squeak to her speech, her characteristic ‘hey’ at the end of her statement rising slightly to indicate uncertainty, simultaneously a question and declaration aimed at a private confidante, a version of herself that holds no account but the deliquescence of present impulses. Gulla’s mother tosses a greasy paper bag on the floor, stating, ‘Here’s ya chippies, Sea-Gulla,’ and walks out without shutting the door, growling, ‘Toldya not to have it.’ A spurting snigger follows, intending to be overheard, to harm, to draw audiences from surrounding apartments, ensuring multiple witnesses, emitting and spreading, like a voluntary sneeze, her displeasure.
The neighbours are familiar with shouting spats from unit 22, treating them as one does thunder, as something to be noted but ultimately ignored. In the past, police have been called, but this has done nothing to improve relations. The baby’s squeals, however, are a different matter. The previous night’s cries were accompanied by heavy thuds from the adjacent walls, and stomps from the room above. One man yelled, ‘Shut ya fucking kid up!’ from his balcony. That same man now enters the apartment. ‘You’ve gotta shut ya baby up. We can’t do this every night.’ If the man is offended by Gulla’s nudity, he does not show it. He leaves his sweat-stained baseball cap on. ‘This place reeks.’ He scratches his scrappy beard, releasing a small flake of dead skin that floats to the floor.
Gulla buries her face in a blackened cushion, revealing a naked side flecked with acne. If she were not so exhausted, Gulla would be ashamed.
The man yells to be heard through the cries and cushion. ‘I’ve got kids too, mate!’
Gulla stands, places her grumbling child onto the floor, and heads to the bathroom without acknowledging the man.
‘If you don’t do something, I’m going to call child services,’ the man calls. He slams the apartment gate and huffs, ‘Disgusting!’ There are shuffles and mumbles from neighbouring apartments, hints that the man’s complaints are commonly held beliefs, that a consensus regarding judgment of Gulla has been reached, that she is indeed regarded as ‘disgusting.’ Gulla knows this already. Neighbours’ conversations seep through walls, expressing disapproval, distaste, disregard, hatred. She has acclimatised to these attitudes that are displayed in skewed faces and squints in her direction.
Gulla turns on the water and leaps in the stream. The congealed tip of the soap bottle dispenses nothing, so she uses cold water to blast off the pale vomit, the hot water having been shut off for some months. Gulla hopes her shower will result in a refreshed mood. For a brief moment, as the water rushes over her ears drowning out cries and complaints, she forgets she has a baby or neighbours and takes pleasure in the sensation of cooled skin. Without drying herself, she sops through the apartment, picks up her child, and returns to the bathroom. Holding her crying baby in one arm, she reduces the stream’s power, letting the water run down her son’s back. The child continues to wail, his face wrinkled with misery.
Gulla turns off the water and wraps him in a cloth crusted with brown marks. Her child’s sobs quieten. As soon as Gulla puts him on her bed, he again cries. This time, it is a nagging cry. Gulla almost believes she understands. She picks him up and pats his back, resulting in a burp. Gulla puts him back down. He soon dozes. Through the doors, she can hear a booming television, its volume loud so as to compete with her baby’s cries. Gulla hears the word ‘Lotto babies.’ She slumps on a bedraggled sofa and switches on her mother’s television. It is a cheap model that displays fluorescent Korean symbols. Gulla ignores these symbols, content with her level of ignorance, flicking past a story on the election count, unaware she is legally required to vote today.
A news program displays a portrait of Caradoc Barnard, with the title ‘Lotto Babies.’ Despite apathy towards the news, Gulla is aware of this circumfluent story that has captured the nation’s attention over the past few weeks. The richest man in the country, having passed, donated his entire wealth to all Australian babies born on the day of his death. Gulla’s baby was born at 00:00, the stroke of midnight, the start of the following day. At the time she thought it lucky. She later learned it was not. Despite losing enormous wealth by literally a second, Gulla tried to reassure herself that things could be worse. This wishful thinking so upset her mother, it added venom to her scold: ‘You can’t even give birth right.’ Gulla did not understand this blame. She still does not understand precisely why her mother is annoyed she: (a) did not terminate, (b) did not give birth at the ‘right time,’ (c) resisted her mother’s insistence she put her baby up for adoption, (d) retracted her adoption. Gulla understands only that she is the recipient of disapproval, distaste, disregard, hatred. She believes certain people are liked, and others are not, and that there is nothing the latter can do about it. She hopes her baby is not like her.
Gulla switches through the channels, arriving at children’s programming. A fluorescent, two-dimensional bear with a strange dialect chirps of a desire to stomp in mud. Gulla follows the educational narrative with curiosity, smiling as the small bear delights at the rain, identifying with his pleasure and fascination. The bear’s parents come out of their cottage and insist the bear wear a raincoat, first scolding their child, then praising him for enjoying the rain with appropriate clothing. Gulla laughs as the bear laughs, before catching herself. A feeling comes over her like looking into a mirror and discovering a stranger. Gulla realises the televisual forces are no longer targeting her, that this children’s show is not designed for her, that she is not a child but a parent, that time has passed. As though sensing crisis, Gulla’s baby grizzles. Gulla switches the channel to an empty blue screen, before picking up her baby. She coos ‘shh,’ but the baby’s grizzles escalate. Gulla offers her breast, but the baby declines, his upset growing. Gulla does not know what he wants. She suspects sleep, or perhaps better conditions for sleep, a more stable environment without interruption.
Sooner than anticipated, there is pounding on the walls and a ‘Shut up!’ Gulla puts her baby down, slips on day-old underwear, never-washed jeans, and a faded top. She clutches her grumbling baby without dressing him, worms her toes into dusty sandals, and leaves her apartment, shutting but not locking the door and gate. She does not know where she is going, only that she is not welcome here. Gulla does not want to be around when her baby again screams, when her mother returns, when the neighbours come to further berate her.
Though it is dusk, the streetlamps have come on. Warm wind is thick with salt. It reminds Gulla of the end of the school year. She never enjoyed school, but now notes she should have better appreciated former freedom. Gulla notes also she should have brought and stocked the pram. That was the first advice dispensed. Less advice, more a warning provided by the adoption agency worker following Gulla’s renege. ‘I hope you’re prepared.’ There was enormous upset in the agency worker’s tone. Gulla put this down to general disapproval, distaste, disregard, hatred. Her decision to retract her child from adoption had been met with reluctance. Forms were filled out, signed. ‘You’re making people very disappointed. But it is your choice. I hope you’re prepared.’
Gulla’s footwear is inadequate. Already heels are abrading. Her whole body feels raw, rubbed into a tender state. She knows she has chosen this, and yet feels totally at the mercy of other forces. Connected to everyone, subject to their benevolence and cruelty. This moment, walking briskly along cement footpaths and bitumen, is an attempt to disconnect. It is a refusal.
She arrives in a park with trees that cast deep shadows. A monument towers, a statue of someone previously important. An engraved plaque reads ‘donated by Caradoc Barnard.’ Gulla does not read this. She does not know or care for history, the country’s or her own. Only the current moment, in which her baby still squalls, matters. Gulla rests her feet on the sandstone steps. She likes the coarse texture. She relishes the slight breeze, the scent of eucalypt, the park’s emptiness. She is grateful her baby can make noise without reprimand. She strokes and smells his head, believing it smells like toffee. Gulla again offers her breast. This time her baby latches onto her nipple. The sensation is painful, but tolerable. Blisters pulse on her relieved heels. That pain, too, is tolerable. The irritation caused by sweat that falls down unwashed hair and cheeks, too, is tolerable. Gulla is aware of a new conditioning shaping her, a slow erosion she must endure. She notes she will have to walk back, with pain in her heels. She will have to face her mother, neighbours, her baby’s future cries at some point. The baby detaches. Gulla strokes him, lets him drift off to sleep. She, too, drifts off, in the shade of the statue, warm wind blowing against exposed skin.