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Who We Were



First published in Great Britain in 2021 by

VIPER, part of Serpent’s Tail,

an imprint of Profile Books Ltd

29 Cloth Fair



Copyright © B.M. Carroll, 2021

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 9781788164191

Export ISBN 9781788164207

eISBN 9781782836483

For my family, near and far.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Megan Lowe has failed, at various junctures during the police investigation and the course of this trial, to tell the full story. She has left things out … Important details that reflect badly on her decision-making, her actions, her reputation and, ultimately, her credibility.



The radio crackles just after 7.30 p.m., a half-hour before their shift is due to finish. The streets are quiet, deceptively benign. Megan is enjoying the pleasure of driving for once. Not having to race against time, or worry about taking a wrong turn, or curse other drivers for holding them up.

Lucas is smirking beside her. ‘You have to give it to the old fellas. They know how to turn on the charm.’

The old man they’ve just dropped off to Royal North Shore Hospital said she was ‘just his type’ and if he were forty years younger and not married to his beautiful wife, he’d take her out to dinner.

Lucas played along while he took the man’s temperature and blood pressure. ‘So what’s your “type”, Barry?’

‘Dark eyes, with a bit of mystery to them. And a nice smile. Keep smiling, love.’

Lucas is right: the old men tend to turn on the charm. Bravado to disguise their vulnerability and fear.

‘I couldn’t help noticing that his wife had blue eyes.’ Lucas is still laughing.

They’re stopped at an intersection on Pacific Highway. Megan is thinking about the cup of tea she’ll have back at base before signing off for the night. Her thoughts fast-forward to tomorrow, her mum’s birthday, which should be a joyous occasion but won’t reach the bar. Megan is taking the day off work and they’re going out for a fancy lunch. Because if you don’t manage to make an effort for birthdays you might as well give up.

Car 482, intrudes the scratchy voice on the radio. Category 1B in Killara. A shooting. Details coming through.

Megan glances at Lucas, seeing her own anxiety and adrenalin mirrored on his face.

‘ICP on the way?’ she checks. An intensive care para-medic is usually dispatched as well as an ambulance if the situation is high acuity.

ICP is on another job.

Oh God.

‘Male, fifties, several gunshot wounds to chest and abdomen …’ Lucas reads from the mobile data terminal while Megan turns on lights and sirens and executes a U-turn at the intersection. They’re five minutes away, according to the MDT.

‘Nonresponsive and bleeding heavily,’ Lucas continues, intermittently glancing up to help navigate. ‘Assume substantial internal damage …’

‘Only the one patient? Is the scene secure?’ Megan’s heart pounds just from the thought of what they’re about to walk into.

‘Shooter is believed to have driven away. Police attached and in transit. Neighbour giving assistance … Watch out for the P-plater, Megs.’

The P-plater changes lane at the last minute, and the road ahead is clear. Megan accelerates: two minutes away. Sydney doesn’t have much gun crime. This will make the 9 o’clock news.

Lucas exhales audibly. He has four years’ experience to her six. Car accidents, house fires, domestic violence, heart attacks: they’ve dealt with everything … except this.

Megan scrambles to assimilate what she knows in theory, if not in practice. Thorough visual inspection (it can be easy to overlook wounds if there are multiple entry and exit points). Possible tissue damage to lungs, liver, spleen. Possible rupture of heart, bladder or bowel. Shattered bones can become secondary missiles.

No more time for theory. They’re here. This is real. A squad car has pulled in ahead of them.

‘Just need to make sure it’s safe,’ one of the officers says, through the open window. ‘Sit tight till I give you the nod.’

A short unbearable wait until they’re given permission to enter the scene. The victim is laid out at the entrance of a driveway, a wheelie bin close by. The sight of the bin – something so innocuous and routine – brings a lump to Megan’s throat. In this job she has become desensitised to many things, but seeing catastrophe juxtaposed with the ordinary gets her every time. A resuscitation on a kitchen floor, inhaling the smell of roast dinner. A dead-on-arrival motor-vehicle accident, pop music playing obliviously on the radio. Tuesday night, bin night.

Two people, a man and woman, are assisting the victim, trying to stem the flow of blood using jumpers and jackets. Several others are huddled in a group nearby.

‘What’s his name?’ Megan asks, kneeling down on the cold rough concrete of the driveway. The injured man is wearing a dark suit and what was once a white shirt. Someone had the presence of mind to turn him on his side to manage his airway. A quick glance establishes that his colour is bad – pale and grey – and his breathing is shallow. She knows even before she checks his pulse that it will be barely there.

‘We don’t know,’ the woman replies in a quivery voice.

‘I’m Megan and this is Lucas. What are your names?’ They’re trained to do this: exchanging names establishes an immediate connection and fast-tracks the flow of information.

‘I’m Sarah. I live in the apartment block across the street. I was putting out my bins too.’

‘Darren,’ the male adds. ‘I was parking my car.

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